GEEK FREE

Don’t Waste Your Money

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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 →

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TV-Internet-Phone Service Providers

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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 →

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Pet Peeves During Covid-19 Lockdown

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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 →

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Smart Television Apps

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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 →

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New Microsoft Office App for Tablets and Phones

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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 →

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My 2019 Laptop Buying Dilemma Revisited

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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:
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Rich Communication Services (RCS)

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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 →

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Public Wi-Fi Security Q&A

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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 →

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Free Backup & Recovery Software Worth Trying

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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.
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Snip & Sketch App

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By Joe Callison
18 September, 2019

If you use the Snipping Tool in Windows 10, you have probably seen the message from Microsoft about it moving and suggesting you try Snip & Sketch:
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Password Security

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By Joe Callison
7 August, 2019

A friend recently asked what I thought about signing into a site using your Google or Facebook account credentials rather than creating an account for that site. I have not chosen to do that myself because of concerns about the data that could be shared between the sites and what they might do with it. It got me thinking that maybe it would be good to do some research on this and other password security questions that frequently come up. Let’s look at four common questions:   Continue reading →

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Desktop, Laptop, or Tablet?

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By Joe Callison
4 July, 2019

Lately SenCom has been asking members what type of device they think they will be using the most for their computing over the next few years- desktop, laptop, or tablet. Statistics on global sales of computing devices at https://www.statista.com/statistics/272595/global-shipments-forecast-for-tablets-laptops-and-desktop-pcs/ show a shift from desktops to laptops as the main device, while tablets sales have been decreasing. Projections for new sales of each over the next few years are almost flat. Comments by SenCom seniors show preference for devices with larger displays and keyboards, which generally favor desktops.   Continue reading →

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Printing from Mobile Devices

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By Joe Callison
11 May, 2019

Most people now use an Ethernet capable printer that is connected to their home network either by wire or wirelessly. There are several easy methods available to also print from a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet to a printer when both are connected to the same home network. Even if you are using a USB only printer connected to a computer on the home network, your mobile device can still be set up to print to it as long as the computer and printer are on and available when you want to print. I just set up my Android phone to print to a USB printer connected to a desktop computer by using Google Cloud Print.   Continue reading →

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Problems with Windows 10 Feature Updates on Old Computers

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By Joe Callison
13 March, 2019

Windows 10 was released in July 2015. Many older computers manufactured as far back as 2007 were upgraded to Windows 10 during the free upgrade period. All seemed well until the feature updates were rolled out twice per year and difficulties in updating the old computers began to surface. Being stuck at one of the feature update versions for the remaining life of the old computer would be more tolerable if not for the limit of only 18 months of security updates Microsoft provides for each feature update version.   Continue reading →

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Is it Time to Consider a Chromebook?

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By Joe Callison
24 February, 2019

Chromebooks were introduced in 2011 as low cost alternatives to Windows and MacOS computers. They run the Google Chrome OS using either Intel or ARM processors. The goal was to make computers and the internet available to the masses for under $200. The first Chromebooks were a little pricier than that and had very few capabilities as a computer without being connected to the internet. Since then, Chromebooks have become available from sub-$200 models up to $600 or more for high-end models.  Continue reading →

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My 2019 Laptop Buying Dilemma

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By Joe Callison
14 January, 2019

It has been quite a while since I have provided updated buying tips for laptops. Partly it has been because of frustration with my own search for a replacement for my wife’s 2009 model Dell Inspiron 1750 laptop. It is still working and does everything she wants, and she does not want to give up the features it has that she loves. Continue reading →

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What to do with Old Computers

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By Joe Callison
9 December, 2018

After purchasing a new computer there is often a question of what to do with the old one. If you are like me, I do not want to see it go to waste or recycling if it is still useful to someone. Here is my evaluation of whether it might be worth using by another person:   Continue reading →

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Tips for Slow Computers

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By Joe Callison
3 November, 2018

Many low budget laptops and small desktop computers are provided with very low performance processors, such as the Intel Celeron or Pentium models or the older pre-Ryzen AMD models. Even some of the older Intel i3 processor models are very low performance. You will probably become aware of the performance limitations when trying to use the computer while it is running a scheduled antivirus or antimalware scan, or when Windows updates are being automatically downloaded in the background. You may notice that the computer becomes painfully slow at doing more than one task at a time. Continue reading →

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October is for Techies!

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By Joe Callison
6 October, 2018

October is an exciting month in the world of computer technology. Whether you are in the Apple, Microsoft, or Google camp, all sorts of new products arrive at this time of year, just before the holiday shopping frenzy begins.   Continue reading →

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Surge Protection – Are You Protected?

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By Joe Callison
31 August, 2018

Point of use surge protectors, usually in the form of a power strip, are probably used by most of us for at least some of the more sensitive or costly electronic items in our households. Did you know that your surge protector has likely been subjected to multiple surges if it is over two or three years old and may have diminished or even no protection left? If it has an indicating light, usually red, to indicate the protection is working, then there is at least some protection left in it. This is different than a light in the on/off or reset switch that only shows if it has power or not.  Continue reading →

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No More System Image Backup?

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By Joe Callison
23 July, 2018

Microsoft is no longer supporting the System Image Backup feature of Windows 7 that was carried over to Windows 10 and plans to eventually remove it in a future update of Windows 10. Few people were using it and often had trouble using it when they did. There are many third party programs that are easier to use, have more features, and are available in both free and paid versions. We will take a look at some of the best and most popular programs available for Windows and also macOS, as using Apple’s Disk Utility to create a system image backup is no picnic either.   Continue reading →

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Are You Seeing Red?

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By Joe Callison
4 June, 2018

Internet browsers have recently begun displaying red warning pages about potentially unsafe websites you are about to navigate to. Google analyzes keywords and attributes found on the page that might indicate danger and flags the site in a database that is also used by some other browsers for their warnings. It is possible for a site to be flagged as dangerous that is not, and Google will investigate and remove a listed site from the database if requested to do so, though it may take some time for that to happen.   Continue reading →

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Searching for Tech Support

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By Joe Callison
8 May, 2018

I continue to hear stories from people who were scammed or almost scammed from fake technical support providers. Most recently it was someone looking for help with their Amazon Kindle. Thankfully they got nervous about giving personal information to a stranger over the phone and ended the conversation by saying they would have their computer consultant (me) get back to them if needed.   Continue reading →

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Bluetooth Wireless Technology

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By Joe Callison
15 April, 2018

Bluetooth is finally becoming a very usable and useful feature thanks to two major improvements:
First, the new Bluetooth 5 standard has greatly improved the performance in both speed and distance over previous versions of Bluetooth. New devices already supporting the standard include Apple iphone 8 (and X) and the Samsung Galaxy 8. New headphones, earbuds and speakers are also available using the new standard, and are now able to work with the Low Energy mode first introduced with Bluetooth 4. This will greatly improve the battery life for wireless audio peripherals. The new standard also supports Dual Audio, streaming the same or different audio to two devices simultaneously.   Continue reading →

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Digital Tracking

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By Joe Callison
13 March, 2018

If you browse the internet or use a cell phone, you are leaving digital tracks that can be monitored by others for financial gain or other purposes. These tracks include information obtained from your internet viewing and searches and location information from your cell phone usage. Some tracking you have no control over. A cell phone that is turned on connects periodically with cell phone towers which record the “cell,” a small geographical area, that the phone is located in.  Continue reading →

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Know Beans about Java

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By Joe Callison
14 February, 2018

There is a lot of misunderstanding about Java, partially because of the confusion with the similar sounding JavaScript. Java was developed by Sun Microsystems almost 23 years ago. Sun was acquired by Oracle Corporation. Java was intended to be a “write once – run anywhere” programming language using a virtual machine that can be run on any processing platform.   Continue reading →

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Meltdown, Spectre and WPA3

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By Joe Callison
13 January, 2018

I tried to resist writing on these because they are everywhere in the media already and there have been new developments almost daily as companies frantically prepare their responses to the vulnerabilities. You can follow new security updates easily by looking at the Security Alerts and Updates on our own SenCom web site. The technical details and many helpful links and manufacturers’ responses are also contained in the following alert by Homeland Security.   Continue reading →

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Email Tips

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By Joe Callison
26 December, 2017

There are two methods that most people use for handling email. The most common method these days is using a web-based email client. Examples are Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, Gmail, or anything else that opens up in your web browser to connect to the host email servers to view or send email that is stored by the servers. The other method is an email program or app that installs and runs on your computer and connects to the host email servers to download the new mail to your computer for storage. Outlook Express and the older versions of the full Outlook program available from Microsoft as part of the Office suite (not to be confused with outlook.com which is web-based) are examples.   Continue reading →

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Deleting Internet Accounts

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By Joe Callison
3 December, 2017
(updated 29 November 2019 to add a link under Instagram)

There could be many reasons for needing or wanting to delete old internet accounts, if for no other reason than removing personal data from inactive accounts to reduce the chances of it being hacked. Finding instructions on how to do it may be a bit of a challenge. Sometimes the instructions provided by a particular internet site are hard to find or understand, and are explained more clearly by other sources that provide “how to” articles or videos.    Continue reading →

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Last Chance for Free Windows 10 Upgrade!

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By Joe Callison
9 November, 2017

Time is quickly running out for a free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10. The extended deadline that was intended for those needing accessibility features or “assistive technologies” is ending on December 31, 2017. It is available whether you use accessibility features or not. The link is below:
https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/accessibility/windows10upgrade?ranMID=24542&ranEAID=TnL5HPStwNw&ranSiteID=TnL5HPStwNw-u…q837srr4UGM1Qo7jIQ&tduid=(f73661ca7380245d9398e7af4f9c7854(256380)(2459594)(TnL5HPStwNw-u…q837srr4UGM1Qo7jIQ)()

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