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GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison

The purpose of this blog is to be a resource for consumer information on computer related technology without getting too technical (free of geek speak) and without cost (geek for free) – thus the name “GEEK FREE”.


FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison

Warning! This blog is for geeks only. If you are not comfortable working with the command prompt, Windows registry, system restore, administrative tools and such, then you are welcome to read, but please FOR~GO trying anything you read here on your own. SenCom and the author will not be responsible for your actions and the results!

Posted by Joe Callison in Introduction

Windows 11

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
12 July 2021

Introducing Windows 11
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-11

Much to my surprise, Microsoft chose to name their “new and improved” version of Windows as 11 instead of creating a catchy new name- a missed opportunity in my opinion. I guess they were still stinging from the Millennium Edition and Vista names that did not go so well. Now let’s see if they can actually get the new version out to computer manufacturers soon enough to be pre-installed in new computers for this holiday shopping season or if it will have to be installed later as a free upgrade. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Linux as an Alternative Operating System

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
10 June 2021

For decades computer hobbyists looking for a free or low-cost alternative to Microsoft Windows or Apple macOS operating systems have turned to Linux. Because of its reliability, modest hardware resource requirements, and low cost, it is now widely used for embedded operating systems for smart devices and a large percentage of computer servers powering companies and the internet. In recent years, improvements in the distribution process by organizations such as Ubuntu have made it more accessible to even those with modest computer skills by using bootable “live” CD or USB downloads that let you try it out without installing on the computer unless you choose to do so. Of course, the performance will be much faster when installed rather than running from the CD or USB files.

CAUTION: Choosing to install Linux on a computer will reformat and overwrite your existing files and operating system unless you do it properly to allow for dual-booting Linux with your existing operating system! If you are unsure about the process, get help!

Great improvements in the available graphical user interfaces have made Linux very user-friendly for existing Windows and macOS users, with some user interfaces even mimicking much of the look and feel of those operating systems.

What is Linux?
https://www.linux.com/what-is-linux/

History of Linux
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Linux

Linux Distributions
https://distrowatch.com/

Some of the Best Distributions for Windows (or macOS) Users in 2021
https://www.fossmint.com/linux-distribution-for-windows-users/

Some of the Best Distributions for Beginners, Mainstream and Advanced Users in 2021
https://www.techradar.com/best/best-linux-distros

Linux is a great choice for those wanting to continue using an older desktop or laptop computer that does not have the resources to run the latest operating system version from Microsoft or do so satisfactorily, or to just use it as a Linux computer to explore its capabilities.

One of the benefits of Linux is the huge availability of free quality software to try out. You may be familiar with some of the most popular ones that have also been available for Windows users such as LibreOffice (Microsoft Office alternative), GIMP (photo editor), Audacity (music editor), VLC (media player), and many others.

SenCom’s membership in APCUG (https://apcug2.org/) gives you free access to workshops on Linux topics and the Penguin Platform blog for more resources for Linux users.

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Advantages of New WiFi Standards

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
21 April 2021

Wifi technology and the routers and wifi adapters using it have advanced a lot in recent years. It is difficult to explain the nuances of wifi technology without getting geeky, so bear with me a little as I attempt to explain some of the terminologies as simply as I can. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Building Your Own Computer

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 April 2021

Many of us like the idea of putting together our own computer. Not only is their satisfaction in building something yourself, but you can choose to put more or less money in the parts that you choose for your build depending on their importance to you. Even kids have been able to assemble their own desktop computers from parts these days. Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 1 comment

Smart Home Device Privacy and Security

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
7 March 2021

The use of voice-activated devices, smart TVs, and other smart devices, are becoming more and more common in our daily lives. So much so that we usually do not even give a second thought to reviewing the terms and conditions for privacy and security information when installing them, or bother to look at the relative settings when setting them up. Perhaps we are being a little too trusting of the companies producing the devices to look out for our best interests.   Continue reading →

Posted by SenCom in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Technology and Covid-19 Vaccination

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
26 January 2021

Kansas City area county health departments are all employing technology to help roll out the Covid-19 vaccinations. Below are links to websites and images of the areas for signing up to be notified when it is your turn to be vaccinated and the vaccine is available. Using your computer, tablet, or smartphone to sign up for notification is the most efficient method. Telephone numbers may be available also but may involve long wait times. These surveys are for notification only, not appointments for getting the vaccine.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 1 comment

Fixing Windows Password Problem

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 January 2021

I ran across a pretty useful trick for unlocking a Windows computer with a forgotten password for the only local account with administrator access, assuming file encryption had not been enabled. For a locked Microsoft account, see the instructions in https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/account-billing/reset-a-forgotten-microsoft-account-password-eff4f067-5042-c1a3-fe72-b04d60556c37).   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Troubleshooting with Windows Safe Mode or Clean Boot

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 December 2020

When looking for solutions to problems using Windows, you will sometimes read advice to run in “safe mode” or run after a “clean boot”. They both do similar things but there are some differences that can make one more appropriate than the other for specific situations.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Free Creative Programs for Beginners to Professionals

GEEK FREE
by Joe Callison
18 November 2020

There are some great free open source programs available that I consider good enough to not only recommend to beginners to try out, but that will satisfy the needs of most professionals. Of course, if you find a program useful and want to support the developer(s), you are encouraged to donate to them.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Using Command Prompt: Network Commands in Batch Files

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
10 October 2020

Probably the most common use for the command prompt is to run ipconfig to view the network properties. It only takes a few steps- opening the command prompt app (at least two steps) and typing ipconfig and then enter (two more steps). A batch file can be created to reduce these tasks to just opening the batch file which then runs the tasks for you. A batch file is created using a plain text editor such as the Windows Notepad app.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Understanding Internet Speed

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
10 October 2020

How fast is my internet connection? Am I getting what I am paying for? These are common concerns for consumers, especially if they think their internet connection is too slow. We will look at this from the top-down, starting with the service from the internet provider to the residence or business, then the modem/router that provides the local network over wire and wi-fi, and finally the adapters in the computer devices connected to the local network.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

How to Create a Personal VPN

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
8 September 2020

I had some time during the Labor Day weekend when it was too hot to do anything outside, so I was experimenting with a VPN feature in an ASUS router in the SenCom computer lab. It began as an investigation into the possibility of adding access to a classroom management program running in the computer lab from a remote student’s computer.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Solving Video Conferencing Camera and Microphone Problems

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
29 August, 2020

Solving Video Conferencing Camera and Microphone Problems

Because of privacy concerns, the use of cameras and microphones on electronic devices has become complicated. The operating systems (Windows, macOS, Android, iOS) have settings to either allow or block apps from using the camera and microphone. By default, they are initially blocked until you change the settings. If you access the video conferencing through an internet browser (Edge, Chrome, Firefox, or Safari for example), the privacy settings of the browser will also initially block access until you change the settings in the browser. This is often done when first accessing video conferencing through a browser when a message appears for you to either allow or block access to the camera or microphone (two separate messages). Doing so will change the browser settings for you, but sometimes you just get a message that says you need to change your browser settings to allow access.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Mac Computers: a Love-Hate Relationship

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
8 August, 2020

Full disclosure: I do not own or regularly use a Mac computer. I have provided technical support and upgrade services for several clients with Macbook Pro, iMac or iPad devices over the years and have virtual MacOS systems running on my Windows computers to help increase my knowledge and skills to support them.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 2

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
5 August 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ping”, “pathping”, “tracert”, and “netstat” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Don’t Waste Your Money

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
1 July, 2020

Don’t Waste Your Money
We all like bargains, but sometimes they may not be the good deal they appear to be. Some to watch out for are below.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 1 comment

Using Command Prompt: Network Commands Exercise 1

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
27 June 2020

This exercise will use the network commands “ipconfig” and “arp” in the Command Prompt. The commands will also work in PowerShell. Running in administrator mode is not required, but can be invoked by a right-click on the app, select More and then Run as administrator. Help for using commands and all of their options can be viewed by typing the command followed by a space and then /? and then press enter.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

TV-Internet-Phone Service Providers

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
27 May, 2020

Some members have been wanting us to talk about television/internet/phone service providers in the area. It is a very complex subject because they all have advertised promotional prices for bundled packages that do not include a lot of other fees, taxes and other extras that apply, nor do they advertise what the normal price will be after the introductory rate for the first year or two that it typically lasts.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Router Admin Basics

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
23 May 2020

What we refer to as a router is typically a multi-function device that performs more tasks than just routing communications among multiple Ethernet connected devices on your home network and to your internet service provider’s network. It is also a gateway to remote networks through the internet, and usually includes a wireless access point and a firewall. It is sometimes incorporated into a cable, fiber or DSL modem rather than being a separate unit.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Pet Peeves During Covid-19 Lockdown

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
2 May, 2020

Maybe it is from watching too much television these days, but I am really getting irked by what I see as potentially bad deals often taking advantage of senior citizens.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Gee, What’s the Big Deal About 5G?

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
6 April 2020

There is much confusion, misunderstanding, and even conspiracy theories about 5G cellular communication. The “G” in 5G does not stand for gigahertz like your router. It does not stand for gigabit speed like your internet service. It is simply a new generation of cellular technology involving new radio hardware and new software techniques that allow more efficient use of the available frequencies and new frequencies that are being added for cellular communications.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Smart Television Apps

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
31 March, 2020

As we are for a time mostly isolated from face to face contact with people, many of us with computers, tablets or smartphones have learned to use video chat and conferencing to keep in touch with family, friends, and associates. If you have not tried it yet, you are encouraged to take part in one of our upcoming virtual SenCom meetings. Be sure to frequent our website kcsenior.net for information.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

USB Drive Not Shown in File Explorer

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
29 February 2020

I have recently encountered a problem on some Windows 10 computers that I have not seen before. When plugging a USB flash drive or USB external hard drive into a computer, it normally recognizes a new device has been added as noted with a familiar sound, then a device driver may be loaded by Windows if needed, as indicated in a notification, and finally a notification announces that the device is ready to use. When you go to File Explorer and click on This PC, the new storage device is shown with a drive letter assigned.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

New Microsoft Office App for Tablets and Phones

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
21 February, 2020

Many of you know that Microsoft Office apps such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote are available as individually downloadable apps for free in the Android Play Store and Apple App Store for tablets and phones. If you only use one app, such as Word, that may still be your preference, but if you would rather have more of the Office suite available through one single app, you can now have it that way for both Android and iOS. Just search for Microsoft Office in the store and select the app called Microsoft Office: Word, Excel, PowerPoint & More and make sure it is from Microsoft Corporation. After downloading and installing the app, it will appear as a red on white icon simply called Office. If you have a white on red icon called Office Mobile that looks similar, that was just an old link to get you to download the individual products. I uninstalled that app from my phone to avoid confusion.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

My 2019 Laptop Buying Dilemma Revisited

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
26 January, 2020

I can’t believe a year has passed since writing about “my 2019 laptop buying dilemma.” During the after Christmas 2019 holiday sales I finally gave in to buying a new HP Envy 17t after a $200 price reduction. It had enough of my desired features at the right price to go ahead with the purchase:
Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 2 comments

Rich Communication Services (RCS)

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
5 January, 2020

Short Message Service (SMS) has been used since 1992 for sending text messages over mobile phone carrier service. It is limited to 160 text characters per message. Some enhanced message services were developed that could handle up to 1600 characters per message, but a real advance in capability came into use after about 2005 with Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS). This expanded the capability of text messages to also contain files such as photos, videos, audio and documents. The data limit per message was initially 300 KB and then later increased to 600 KB, which is not enough for high resolution photos or video so they are compressed into smaller, grainier images. Since internet servers are utilized for storage and transfer of data between carriers, MMS is not real-time. Another breakthrough has begun to be rolled out in 2019 with Rich Communication Services (RCS). Theoretically the data limit per message is over 10 GB, but in practice may be limited to something less by the carrier service used.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Device Manager

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
21 December 2019

Windows Device Manager can be accessed in Windows 10 by right-clicking on the Start icon to get the menu, by typing Device Manager in the Cortana search box, or by using the old Control Panel desktop app. Device Manager is useful for troubleshooting or updating computer device drivers for hardware installed in or attached to the computer. Even if the hardware is removed, the previously detected item will still show with a light colored icon in the list and can be seen by clicking the “Show hidden devices” under View. Abandoned devices that are not likely to be connected again can be removed from the list by right-clicking on the item and choosing “Uninstall device” or if you have both toolbars checked in the Customize settings under View you can select the item and click on the red X in the snap-in toolbar, which only shows when applicable for the item selected. Similarly you can disable a device or update its driver from the right-click menu or the toolbar.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments

Public Wi-Fi Security Q&A

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
29 November, 2019

Does using HTTPS (secure HTTP) make internet browsing on public wi-fi safe?
Currently just a little over half of websites use HTTPS only in their designs. Others may use it to establish the initial connection with the user and then revert to HTTP for displaying some content to avoid the extra burden of encrypting/decrypting data. Some allow initial connection with HTTP and then redirect to HTTPS. This opens up opportunities for a “man in the middle” interception of the non-secure transmission and redirecting it to the attacker’s own content.   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

GEEK FREE
By Joe Callison
30 October, 2019

Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

The File History feature in Microsoft Windows 10 or Time Machine for Apple macOS are fine for automatically backing up user files to another hard disk drive (HDD) or solid state drive (SSD), but should your main drive with your operating system and program files suddenly die, it is very convenient to have a recent backup of your complete system that can be restored quickly and easily onto a replacement drive.
The System Image Backup in Windows can be used, but it is not very simple to get to, often fails to complete when performed, is terribly slow, and a pain to find the backup VHD file to explore the contents.
Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in GEEK FREE, 0 comments

Yes, You Can Still Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free

FOR~GO
(For Geeks Only)
By Joe Callison
28 September 2019

As of September 23, 2019 the free upgrade to Windows 10 is still working except for those blocked from the upgrade due to hardware or software incompatibilities. The following link details how to perform the free upgrade and how to determine and possibly fix any software blocks to the upgrade: https://wccftech.com/how-to/upgrade-windows-7-download-windows-10-free/   Continue reading →

Posted by Joe Callison in FOR~GO, 0 comments
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