Month: February 2015

Get a Jump on Spring Cleaning with this Special Offer

This offer includes one onsite visit and a remote six-month checkup.

The onsite visit will include:

  • Check of your security software for up to date virus and malware protection.
  • Install of new security software if needed.
  • Installation of ad blocking software, if desired.
  • Review all installed applications for unwanted programs.
  • Review browser extensions for unwanted add-ins that can slow down your browsing or cause unwanted ads.
  • Verify your backup options are working and review other options for fail-safe backup.
  • Check of your WiFi performance.
  • Review password management.

This Special Offer also includes an additional remote six-month check up.  I will connect to your computer remotely – we will be on the phone together when I do this – to review all of the above. 

The cost for this service is $199*.

* Note:  The cost of additional software is not included in this price.  Problems requiring additional onsite visits will be billed at our usual rate.

Keeping it Clean – Block that Site

There is a lot of porn online and most of it is not the the soft focused, girl next door type that I grew up with sneaking peeks at my dad’s Playboys.  It’s definitely stuff you do not want your young children to see or come across accidentally (I’m not saying Playboy is okay – just that there is a big difference between that and online porn.)  Here’s a recent piece from the Times on this issue

One place to start is this Google page, Safe Search Kids.  Not only is it a safe search engine for kids which you can set as the default on your kid’s computer, it also has lots of information about general Internet usage and other alternatives.

One such alternative is Net Nanny.  Net Nanny allows you, the parent, to set up criteria for what your child can view.  It has built in levels based on age and maturity. It also gives you the ability to customize all the settings.  For instance, you can set an option to warn about a site instead of explicitly blocking a site.  Additionally, it can be set up to send you reports on all the sites that have been blocked or warned about.

Using these types of controls is a personal decision. There is no right or wrong.  I do think it is important to discuss with your children why you are putting protection on their computers.  This is not something that should create an adversarial relationship between you and your child.

Smart TV – Not So Smart – Clean Up those Settings

Last newsletter I wrote about the hopeful death of 3D TV and how Smart TVs are not always so smart.

Another problem, maybe you’ve experienced it – I know many of my clients have, is that they bring home their new high-def, smart TV and find that every movie they watch looks like a soap opera or as if it were recorded on video tape. Personally,  I find it distracting and not pleasant to watch.  Luckily it is easy to fix through the TVs menu selection.

Typically, you will go to the Picture controls and look for something titled Smoothing, Motion Control, Auto Motion or Motion Flow and turn it off.  That’s it.

Here is an article about other pre-set options you might want to change.

Keeping Your iPhone Clean

I’m coming clean with you about my iPhone upgrade strategy – I upgrade every other version.  For me, this means that I’m still carrying around an iPhone 5s.  I am  jealous of the larger screens many of my clients have but I will hold out for the 6s or 7, whatever Apple calls it.

In the meantime I often find that I run low on memory but I have found ways to deal with this problem.  Here are my strategies:

First, open Settings -> General -> Usage.

Under Storage select Manage Storage.  This will show you all your apps and how much space they are using.  Chances are music or photos are the largest memory hog.  To reduce memory usage you can delete photos.  To reduce music, change your sync options with iTunes.

Another potential big user of memory is Messages (text and iMessages) particularly if friends are sending you photos in messages.  You can clean up your messages by opening the Message app, select Edit which displays a circle next to all the conversations.  Tap the circle next to the conversations you want to delete and tap “Delete” at the bottom of the screen.

Other apps may hold lots of data and to clear them out the best solution is to delete the app and then re-download the app from the App Store.

There are also third party application that can help.  One such is Phone Expander which is currently in beta.  I’ve used it successfully.  It’s fairly straight forward.  It clears lots of hidden data on your iPhone.  If you have questions about it, email me or call.

What Happens to those Archived Messages in Gmail

I like to keep my inbox clean so when I get a new email I either file it, delete it, or archive it.

In Gmail, when reading a new email, there are a number of icons across the top.  The one that looks like a trash can will send the message to Trash – pretty obvious.  The icon to the far left will Archive the message. If you use an iPhone and you swipe left on a mail message typically the options are More, Flag, Archive.  Archive makes the message disappear just like sending it to Trash but, what really happens to it?  Is it trashed?

No.  It is archived which means it’s taken from the inbox and preserved somewhere else for safe keeping.  Where it is kept is not obvious.  The easiest way to find an archived message is to search for it by typing in the sender’s name in the search box at the top of the screen or a keyword from the email subject line.  Another option is to scroll down the left hand side of the Gmail screen until you see “More”.  Click the down arrow and select “All Mail”.  This shows all your mail, including archived mail, and you can scroll through it looking for your Archived message.

Tax Time Scams, etc. – Avoid these Dirty Deeds

It’s tax time and that means that tax scams are in full swing.  Most of the scams take one of two forms – phone calls and email.  The phone calls are the scariest because if you’ve answered the phone, the person on the other end will identify as an IRS agent and,moreover, your Caller ID will probably read “IRS”.  They will tell you that you owe money and offer ominous threats.

You may also get very official looking emails threatening you about money owed.

Neither is legitimate.  Read this from the FTC about such scams.

The most important take away is that the IRS will never contact you by phone or email.  I suggest that if your Caller ID reads “IRS” don’t even answer.  If you get an email with IRS in the title, don’t open it – delete it.

Another scam to be aware of is email from Anthem or Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield.  Anthem is the parent company of Empire, the largest health insurance company in New York State.  They recently suffered a “hacking” breach.  If you get an email from them asking for personal information delete it.  If you are unsure call them.  Use the phone number on your insurance card.  Do not use the phone number in any email.