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Mail Server Settings
Username: Your E-mail Address (email@example.com)
Password: Your Password
Account name: hamsfork.net
Password Encryption: Normal
Auth: Yes (your e-mail address and password)
Password Encryption: Normal
Driver and Startup Issues
In General, Windows 10 does not
require that you mess around with System Drivers.
Manufacturers send current driver versions to Microsoft
and they are checked and sent out regularly with Windows
Update. That said, there are certainly cases where drivers
can be updated for some hardware, most notably Video Cards
and some more esoteric hardware. In most cases
troubleshooting drivers these days is as simple as
uninstalling the device (using Device Manager) and
rebooting to allow Windows to reinstall. The single
biggest problem we see with folks who think they have a
driver problem is with installing "Driver Fix It Tools",
these are ALWAYS malware.
Another common thing that causes folks
to think their system has problems is Windows Update
itself. Some updates can take a few hours to install on
slower systems, the user gets impatient and reboots during
the process, this often results in a Black Screen which is
even more infuriating. Always wait for Updates to install
and wait for a few hours for black screens to wake up.
- Task Manager
- Task Manager has similar function but different
controls in the various versions of Windows, watch for
this when you switch Windows versions
- Ctrl-Alt-Del is the fastest way to get to Task
Manager, from the Start or Search menus you can run
taskmgr.exe as well.
- You can enable or disable startup items, which
requires a reboot after changes. This is best
and most easily done with msconfig.exe however.
- You can start or stop Services but not change their
startup setting. This allows you to test if a
service is causing a problem.
- You can start and kill applications/tasks and
processes. To start a new application/task use the
- System Configuration (msconfig.exe)
- Changing Startup mode.
- The "General" Tab shows the three basic startup
- Normal - load everything normally
- Diagnostic - load only required stuff (minimal)
- Selective - Same as diagnostic but a bit more
- The "Boot" Tab
- Usually "Safe Boot in minimal" is what you are
going after here, save the other stuff for the
- Remember to turn "Safe Boot" off (uncheck) after
you have setup for the next boot test.
- The "Services" Tab
- You can enable or disable some or all services
here. I start out with the handy little
"Hide all Microsoft services" checkbox "ON" then
disable the remaining stuff which will be "third
party" (not Microsoft), reboot and see what
- Services snapin (services.msc)
- You can modify behavior of any service from here, be
careful, remember what you do, mistakes can be fatal
- Safe Mode from the keyboard - F8 (same as "Safe Mode -
Minimal" from msconfig "Boot" tab)
- Power on the system from cold (not from sleep mode)
and be tapping F8, on most systems you will get a
startup menu which will have "Safe Mode" as a choice.
- Some machines use F2, F10 or F11 to provide a
similar menu so you may have to fuss around to find
- Device Manager
- You can immediately see devices which have failed to
start and why they failed (usually).
- Disable broken devices while you fix other stuff,
right click the bad one, click disable.
- You can usually uninstall a bad device (and it's
drivers) and let windows try to reinstall it, failing
that get the new drivers over at the OEM web site.
- Armed with this you are ready to do battle.
- System starts but never gets to desktop.
- Start up in safe mode using the Function Key method.
- Run msconfig.exe from start menu or Task Manager (if
Start Menu is broke).
- Switch to "Safe Boot - Minimal" and reboot.
- If all goes well turn off safe boot minimal and
selectively start a handful of services at a time from
the msconfig "Services" tab.
- Trial and error is the game here. Start with
all Applications off (apps are more likely to cause
trouble) and try all services, if it fails shut off
all the third party (Hide Microsoft and turn off all
remaining) and try again, over and over.
- Once you find the trouble makers, determine what
they are, download new drivers, uninstall
applications, etc etc until you slowly bring your
system back to a Normal Startup configuration or just
decide you can live without trying to fix it.
- Using Event Viewer
- Probably the best way to see whats going on is the
logs and Event Viewer shows most of those. Some
entries are totally cryptic and unintelligible, toss
those into a Bing, Yahoo or Google search and see if
you can find anything about it.
- Anti Virus Programs are so commonly troublesome that
you may want to uninstall it as soon as you can get to
normal mode, safe mode typically won't let you uninstall
applications or run scans. Windows Defender can't
be uninstalled but you can turn it off in it's settings.
- Finally: Save yourself a lot of time, gnashing of
teeth, pulling of hair, biting of fingernails and bring
it to us. Experience counts when looking for
needles in a needle stack, and some things are simply
not fixable and you just need to revert or restore.
Troubleshooting Internet Issues
- Know Your Hardware. Modems, and WIFI/Satellite CPE
have indicators that provide valuable information, know
what they mean and at least what they look like
normally, solid, blinking, color, etc.
- Reboot Everything. A simple reboot often fixes "stupid
computer syndrome", a monthly reboot is a basic
maintenance item, do it at your convenience. Modem, WIFI
CPE, Satellite CPE, Routers, Access Points,
Switching, PCs, Laptops, Tablets, Readers, Smart
Phones, Smart TVs, everything connected to your network.
- Using "Process of Elimination" try to narrow down if
one system/device is hogging the bandwidth. One system
downloading updates, streaming music, streaming a movie
or infected by malware can easily use your bandwidth
without you knowing it. Big updates are notorious, high
quality routers can track individual device usage making
- Scan for Malware. Malware can cause innumerable
problems, the least of all, slowing down your Internet.
Once you find that one system hogging up everything,
scan it, preferably with multiple scanners as no
one scanner will catch everything.
- Test your speed using a quality, third party, speed
test. Don't rely on your ISP's speed test, being
close to you it won't give you a real picture of your
- Run a simple PING sequence to a reliable third party
DNS system such as Cloudflare (18.104.22.168) or Google
(22.214.171.124). If your ISP has a problem telling them PING
times and dropped packet count will alert them to pay
attention to you and help them with troubleshooting.
Tip Of The Day List
The Start Menu is Keyboard Friendly and Faster
The "Windows Key" on your keyboard brings up the Start Menu,
that's it's job. Once open, use the arrow keys to move to
the desired option and "Enter" to execute. Keyboard
shortcuts are often faster than moving your hand to and from
Check and Adjust Notification Center
Notification Center, Action Center, whatever you call it
(the text bubble icon on the right end of the Taskbar), can
be a great tool if you take the time to set it up the way
you want. It notifies you of things from all over your
system, alarms, mail, phone, messaging, some useful, some
not. Go to "Notifications & Actions" to set up what you
do and don't want to see. When it turns ON click it, it
could be important.
Quick Desktop Access or Peek
High End Systems can run so many programs at the same time
that it can get confusing with so many windows open. Jump to
the Desktop with that little Button at the far right end of
the Task Bar, right click it to set it's hover view options.
Multi Desktops For Power Users
High Powered Systems have a lot to offer and Windows 10
makes things much easier for Power Users. Multiple Desktops
let you arrange groups of active programs to help clean up
the clutter. No more full Taskbar, just open another
desktop. Use Task View from the Taskbar to get going with
Avoid Advertisements on download pages
Downloading software comes with a common hazard, Social
Engineering Advertising. Download sites sell advertising
space and the advertisers will commonly place ads with
"Download Now", "Start Now" and "Continue" trying to make
you think this is the download you are after. Watch for
New Device? Be Sure To Wipe That Old One
Your Mobile Device or Computer has your Personal Information
on it. Even if you don't think it has much be sure to wipe
it after transferring your data to a new one. Give it away
or throw it away but protect yourself first, It's Your Life.
Yes We Can Do That.
More Handy Hotkeys
Windows+Arrow - Snap open app to the left or right side of
Windows+Shift+Arrow - Move current app to other monitor
PrtScn - Take a simple screenshot
Alt+tab - Cycle through open apps
Alt+F4 - Close current app
Ooops, Reopen That Closed Tab
Ever close a tab by mistake? Me too. Ctrl+Shift+T will
re-open the last closed Tab.
Stay Secure When Traveling
Before you travel: Assume every network you connect to
cannot be trusted (Public). Use a VPN. Update OS and
Anti Virus. Lock with a strong password. Remove private data
you don't need. Install or activate remote tracking and data
wipe in case it's lost or stolen. Encrypt the storage
device. Turn off Bluetooth and WiFi when not in use. It's
YOUR LIFE, don't give it away.
Check Those Browser Addons, Extensions and Plugins
Some Browser Addons, Plugins and Extensions cause slowdowns,
malware, adware and innumerable problems, Some are totally
cool, but all need to be checked for usefulness, and kept
upgraded. Remove the ones you don't use or have no idea what
Always be Aware of Your Privacy
With Voice and Video Recorders in everyone's pocket
you need to also be careful who you talk to and where you
are. Confidential information is not for everyone yet
everything you say and do is on display for the world.
Use Custom Installs
When installing any new software or operating system always
use the "Custom" or "Advanced" Install. It takes more time,
you have to answer more questions but you can eliminate all
sorts of garbage you don't need and have a look at important
privacy settings. If you don't understand something you can
safely leave it at it's default setting or take the time to
look it up.
Windows Snipping Tool
Need a screenshot without showing your private data? Windows
Snipping Tool can get you there. Open Snipping tool or hit
Windows+Shift+S, highlight the section you want copied and
it gets transferred to your paste buffer, just paste it into
any doc, e-mail or paint. Great for sharing troubles
with your tech guy.
Don't Be Fooled
Social Engineering, nothing new here, been around for
thousands of years. Scammers, Con Artists, whatever you want
to call them, try to trick you into doing something you
normally wouldn't do. Today it's easier for them
because you can't see them, using e-mail or social media
they pretend to be legit and target millions of people
hoping to fool just a few. Don't fall for it, verify people
you communicate with, remember, anyone can call himself
anything he wants. Your name is NOT unique.
Mute That Noisy Tab
Ever have multiple Tabs open in your Browser and have one of
them start playing some ad music or crap? You can easily
find a noisy Tab AND Mute it, look for a little "Speaker"
Icon on each Open Tab in the Tab Bar, click to mute.
Get Less Search Garbage
Getting too much crap when you search? Try searching a
specific Site like this. In the search window or address bar
or Cortana add site:website to the end of your search,
something like this:
'how to customize lock menu site:microsoft.com'
This will search over at microsoft.com for 'how to customize
lock menu'. Very handy.
Protecting Kids With DNS
There is a new DNS service that claims to protect your
devices from numerous malware sites, porn sites, phishing
sites and other nasties. This sounds like a great idea but I
have yet to try it out. Let me know if you do. The website
is https://cleanbrowsing.org/ you can check that out. The
addresses they use are 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52,
you need to set those as your DNS Servers, set your router
to protect your entire home/business.
Windows Options For Fast, Secure Login
Windows has a number of Login options for more secure and
faster login than the basic password, Face Recognition,
Fingerprint, PIN and Picture. Always set your system account
password, it's your data, protect it.
Be Aware Of WIFI and Bluetooth Status
WIFI and Bluetooth, both wireless connection devices, can
allow scammers to get in, shut them off when not in use.
Wireless connections can often be hacked and exploited,
scammers can grab info from your phone or laptop in seconds,
don't invite that crap. They also use considerable power,
especially Bluetooth, shortening battery life. Airplane Mode
is OK for a laptop but on a cell phone you need to turn off
WIFI and Bluetooth individually so you can make calls and
Lock Up When You Leave
Don't leave your Computer open to prying eyes when you leave
for a break or a day, your personal information or Company
Data can be compromised in seconds. If someone does sit down
at your system any damage done could be blamed on you,
computers log everything. "CTRL L" will lock your
system or "CTRL ALT DEL" will bring you to a screen where
you can click "Lock".
Review Your System Logs
Your Computer logs almost everything, errors, events,
Internet activity, Program activity, logins and a ton of
other stuff. You should review those logs periodically
to catch issues before they become problems. One of
the most important issues people miss is signs of a failing
hard disk, you loose everything when it fails and your logs
warned you months earlier. If you don't read your logs
at least bring it in for routine maintenance, we certainly
will. "Event Viewer" is the tool.
Uninstall Old Software
When you get new stuff don't forget to remove the old stuff.
Old software just slows your system, printers, scanners and
such install software which loads up on boot then waits for
the device to connect, a device which died and will never
connect. Go into Add and Remove Programs and Uninstall
things from those old devices. Then go into Devices and
Printers and remove the old devices there as well. If
you do this before you install your new device you won't
remove something new by mistake.
Computers Need Love Too
A twice yearly Computer Checkup will keep your system
running smoothly and securely, extends it's life and saves
you money. A computer that lasts 4 or 5 years and works well
during it's lifetime is more cost effective than one so
crapped up you throw it out after a year or two. Routine
Maintenance precludes problems and saves money, Just Do It.
Flash Drive Trouble
Flash Drive, USB Stick, Thumb Drive, whatever you call it
they can be very handy and very dangerous. Flash Drives can
fail, contain virus' and malware don't trust them.
1) Don't insert a USB Drive you've found, throw it away, it
may be infected.
2) Don't insert Flash Drives that you don't trust.
3) Don't backup to Flash Drives unless you have multiple
4) Don't use your Flash Drive at work, infections work both
5) Encrypt your Flash Drive if it has sensitive data.
Avoid unsolicited mail (SPAM)
Never respond to SPAM (Unsolicited Mail OR E-Mail) with your
personal information. Anyone you do business with should
have your account information and never ask for such things
as Credit Card, Password, Social Security Number or PIN
through Mail. If you have a question look up their number on
their web site or phone book and contact them yourself.
Shopping Season, Set Up PayPal
A payment Service such as PayPal keeps your credit card
number off of the net, the vendor will never see your Credit
Card Number so it really minimizes attacks both computer and
Shopping Season, Review Your Credit Cards
Your Credit Card Statement should be reviewed regularly
during heavy use, the sooner you see a problem the easier it
is to fix or stop. When in doubt call your Credit Card
Shopping Season, Secure your Device
You are no more secure than your computer or mobile device,
get a thorough checkup prior to shopping season. Yes
We Can Do That!
Shopping Season, Verify Encryption
Do Not purchase on a non encrypted connection. Verify
encryption by the HTTPS Protocol (S=Secure), and some type
of browser indicator such as a green Address Bar and/or Lock
Shopping Season Tips: Verify The Site
Always make sure you are shopping at the site you expect to
be shopping at, know where you are. Fake sites are rampant
so look at the URL (Site Address) to make sure of where you
are. Thieves will create fake sites with a similar look and
name to the well known site, Don't Fall For It.
Cool Tools: E-Mail Client
Need a more powerful E-Mail client? Thunderbird can get you
there, doing anything Outlook can do except hurt your
wallet, it's Free. It looks and feels different than you may
be used to so expect to spend some time learning it.
Cool Tools: Web Browser
Want to try another Browser? Mozilla Firefox and Opera are
my picks. Both are mature, fast and well behaved. Opera even
has a built in VPN if you are really security conscious.
They're free, install them both, sometimes you feel like a
nut, sometimes you don't.
Cool Tools: Office Suite
Need a good Office Suite with full Document and Spreadsheet
Processing? Apache Open Office is for you. Open Office can
replace Microsoft Office, is more mature, reads and writes
more file formats and it's Free. If you are familiar with
Word and Excel you'll have no problem with Open Office.
Cool Tools: Graphics Editor
Need a powerful Graphics Editor? GIMP is that tool (GNU
Image Manipulation Program). GIMP is an excellent
replacement for Photoshop and it's Free. This is a serious,
professional Tool, expect to spend some time learning it.
Cool Tools: IP Scanner
When you want to know what's attached to your network an IP
Scanner is your tool. I use Angry IP, it's fast and simple.
Don't be scanning the entire Internet though, The Internet
Gods frown on that.
Find Your Lost Device
Enable Remote Track to find and even wipe your mobile device
should it be lost or stolen.
Mobile Devices Need Updates Too
Make sure automatic updating is turned ON for your device
AND for it's apps. Updates help insure security issues are
fixed and new options and features can be installed.
Check App Privacy Settings
Always review the Privacy Settings of any new app you
install. Does it need access to all your personal
info? Does it need to track your location? (turn off
location tracking and only allow for apps that really need
Install Only Trusted Apps
Each Mobile device has a "Store" App built in where you can
download "Trusted Apps", Apple App Store, Google Play,
Amazon App Store and Microsoft Store vet their apps for
malware. You can usually trust these.
When downloading from other sources check reviews, check the
vendor, check that it is actively updated and if still
unsure Ask A Pro!
Secure Your Mobile Device
It's unlikely your mobile device will be hacked, it's more
likely you will lose or forget it. Enable Automatic Screen
Locking! Protect your phone with a strong password or
Don't Drink and E-Mail
There are so many ways E-Mail can come back and bite you,
always slow down and think about it before you E-Mail.
Emotions mixed with the ease of E-Mail (and social media as
well) do not usually end well and emotions are terribly hard
to relate when writing. Slow Down! Draft that message on
Notepad or your word processor, spell check it, read it
through, have a cup of coffee or simply use the voice
feature of your phone, call and talk, your tone of voice
relates so much more than the words ever will.
E-Mail Auto Complete, Another Troublesome Friend
Everyone loves auto complete, it's everywhere, spell
checking, word processing, spread sheets, browsers,
everywhere, it's great until it isn't. When you use
auto complete with your E-Mail "To" lists you can easily
insert the wrong address. Watch It!
E-Mail Distribution Lists, Another Troublesome Friend
Distribution Lists are a single E-Mail address which is used
by a server to send E-Mail to a list of people, it's common
in groups and such. Send one E-Mail and 10,000 people get
it, handy until that wasn't your intent. Be careful when
replying to someone on a list to not send it to the list
address and watch when using auto complete that a list
doesn't come up by mistake.
E-Mail Is Not Private
Remember postcards? E-Mail is like that, pretty much anyone
can read it. E-Mail has virtually no privacy protections and
once you send it you can't get it back and you can't control
who sends it to someone else, it's in the public now. Work
computers and e-mail can be monitored by your employer and
e-mail can be used in court. If you need privacy use
the voice feature of your phone, call instead of e-mail.
E-Mail Reply, A Troublesome Friend
Be very careful when you "Reply" to an E-Mail, this can be a
friend and your worst enemy, know how it works.
To - this is a list of recipients who will get the mail, the
person or persons it was intended for, everyone sees this
CC - Carbon Copy, this is FYI, they see the mail and the
"To" recipients see that they saw it.
BCC - Blind Carbon Copy, same as "CC" except the people in
the "To" and "CC" list won't know.
Reply All - This is the trouble maker. When you use "Reply
All" it sends your reply to everyone in the "To", "CC" and
"BCC" lists And if that isn't bad enough if someone you
"BCC'd" does a "Reply All" then everyone else will know you
had "BBC'd" that person.
In general, I recommend that you never use "Reply All"
unless you know exactly what you are doing, it's very
Different Passwords For Different Accounts
Many folks, too many, use the same password for everything,
BAD IDEA. If your password is cracked, bypassed, shared or
stolen, every account is now vulnerable. At the very least
you will need to reset every account, at the worst you loose
Use 2 Step Verification
Turn on "2 Step Verification". Basically this forces
you to very that it's really you by texting a code to your
mobile device or e-mail that you must respond to.
Usually used when making critical changes and when logging
in from another device.
Secure Your Password List
We all have a list of accounts and passwords, Protect It!
1) A paper list should be in your fireproof safe.
2) A digital list should be encrypted, use "Save As" to
encrypt your personal stuff with a password.
NEVER Share Your Passwords
Keep your passwords secret, never trust someone to keep it
secret for you.
1) If you must allow access to a password protected document
or account, change the password to something simple before
allowing access, then change it back to your strong password
2) If you must share a password by e-mail follow step 1
above but never transmit the word "password" or "passwd" in
the e-mail, remember e-mail is not secure, this is
particularly important if you use g-mail.
Use Strong Passwords
Strong Passwords include:
1) 8 or more characters
2) A combination of letters, capitols, numbers, specials
1) Words from the dictionary
Different Browser for Different things
Using one Internet Browser is fine but sometimes you
just need to use something different. Here's a quick look at
the popular Browsers in my personal preference order. Many
features are turned off by default so have a look at the
settings when you first install any program, turn on the
favorites bar, import your favorites/bookmarks, check your
privacy settings, learn how to start "in-private" browsing
if you value your privacy.
1) Edge - fast, easy, no muss, no fuss, well integrated,
default Windows 10 Browser.
2) Firefox - Faster than most, many add-ons and extensions,
mature, generic, works well for general use.
3) Opera - fast, built in VPN (best privacy), mature,
generic, works well for general use.
4) Internet Explorer - Good old IE, well known by most
people, old, slow, doesn't run some new tech.
5) Chrome - fastest, many extensions, doesn't run some tech,
Google Marketing Privacy Issues (beware).
I advise using Edge and Firefox for general use, when one
won't work the other will, set your default to one of
these. Some webmasters just hate Microsoft and exclude
Edge and IE compatibility, Firefox can get past this in most
cases, some require Chrome which has privacy issues sending
data to Google. I always advise against installing any
Google related software due to it's marketing vs privacy
FYI, I use Firefox as my default, with it's "Containers"
extension. This reduces targeted advertising.
Disasters Happen, Be Prepared
Two days, two disasters averted, minimum downtime, no data
loss, that's what I call being prepared. Save Time and
Money, repair expensive systems and always, always Backup.
1.Corporate server attacked by Ransomware. Transfer
operations to another corporate server over VPN, recover
data from backup to that server and wait for a few days for
the new server to come in to transfer back, minimum
downtime, no data loss, no ransom paid.
2.Company NAS (Network Accessible Storage), primary backup
device, failed. Troubleshoot and repair with new power
supply, no downtime, no data loss.
Desktop Buyers Guide
a new Desktop System? Business productivity
down? Need a bigger screen and keyboard?
Switching to Internet Streaming for Home
Entertainment? Really Bad Ass Gaming? Decide
your spending limit according to your wants,
needs and budget then give Us
a call, there are so many options one could
write a book.
Desktop systems differ from laptops and
tablets in that they are not battery
powered. Being stationary gives a few
advantages, upgrade-able, more powerful,
more storage, reduced cost.
Budget - It's cheaper to build a desktop
than a laptop, that's pretty simple. A low
end system will cost about $50 less than an
equivalent laptop. A high end system can be
several hundred $ cheaper than an equivalent
laptop. $1200 - $1500 is the sweet spot for
most users, business users can get away with
a bit less as they usually rely on servers
to do the heavy lifting. A good Mid Range
system that can play big games, won't slow
you down with Quicken and has a nice big
monitor will run about $2000. High end
Gaming systems expect to spend $3000 -
$8000, sounds steep but keep in mind the new
video cards can cost $2000 alone (and you
can have more than one).
Upgrade - Most desktops use standard
components which are highly competitive
saving you $, hard disks can be added to get
more storage, video cards are replaceable
(important for gamers). Low profile systems
are less expandable but take up very little
space, a nice chassis can last 20 years or
more by doing incremental upgrades over the
years. Water cooling, lighting, style, so
Power - Laptops are limited in power by
cooling ability, that's pretty simple, once
unleashed in a desktop chassis your computer
can help heat your house. 1500W power
supplies, water cooling, multiple CPU's,
multiple GPU's, yup the big systems can get
hot. PS, water cooling is quieter than
Laptop Buyer Guide
Time for a new laptop? Back to school? Christmas Gift?
Birthday? Kick Ass Gaming?
Decide your spending limit according to your wants, needs
and budget then do a little on-line shopping.
$0 - $500 - this is a toy, you can barely get a good phone
for this, don't bother unless you want a toy.
$500 - $1000 - this is a better toy, it will do what a good
phone can do plus have a big screen and keyboard.
$1000 - $1500 - now you're talking, this is the sweet spot
for your average consumer level laptop.
$1500 - $2500 - This is what you really really want, it will
easily replace a desktop.
$2500 - $8000 - This is gaming and engineering level, big
boy toys ;)
What to look for:
CPU Intel i7 and i5, AMD Ryzen and A Series. Intel is
mainstream, AMD is budget. The more Cores the better.
SSD (Solid State Device) >256GB for performance and HDD
(Hard Disk Drive) >1TB for storage.
RAM - 8GB Minimum, 16GB good, 64GB Gaming.
Video - Most have integrated Graphics and for most things
this is fine. AMD or Nvidia have too many models to
list here. Look for separate GPU for gaming.
Who to look for:
MSI, ACER and ASUS have many great machines with little or
No adware, bloatware or junkware installed. I advise
avoiding Dell, HP, Toshiba, Sony and most other mainstream
dealers to avoid their sales and bloat crap.
Where to go: I typically advise Newegg for best
pricing and shopping guarantee.
Stop Sharing Stupid Stuff
Sharing things you find on The Internet is one thing but
sharing things you see on Facebook is totally dangerous.
Competitions, give a ways, "help this sick ...", "I'll give
money if you ...", "You are a genius if ..." "share this
..." are sure signs of scammer activity. Scammers and "Like
farmers" start these stupid posts to gather personal
information, when you share them you share your friend list
and your friends friend list and on and on. Now I will admit
there are a number of valid business related posts that give
away stuff, some even ask you to share, I don't like it but
it does happen, use common sense here.
Keep in mind that the US Govt. is now examining election
tampering primarily caused by off-shore Trolls sharing their
stupid stuff and people re-sharing this crap. Use your
common sense here, share things you know are true, share
your life experiences, but STOP SHARING STUPID STUFF.
Learn To Use Your Network
WiFi, Satellite or Optical Internet Service
have one thing in common, The Router. Your
router creates and secures your network for
you to use as you wish, whether you access
your private network with WiFi or Ethernet
doesn't matter, learn how it works,
configure it and keep it secure.
Connect one printer for everyone to use,
if your printer doesn't have Ethernet or
WiFi you can share it from the computer it's
Connect a Backup Disk, even a small NAS
(Network Attached Storage) can backup
Connect a Media Storage Device, share
your music, photos, videos and docs with all
your devices. A big NAS can serve as both
Media and Backup Storage.
Guest Networks allow friends to access
the Internet keeping your LAN (Local Area
Network) private and secure.
A Router VPN (Virtual Private
Network)can protect your entire network (at
the expense of ease of browsing).
Router Access Rules can enforce child
access times and web site blocking.
Router Logs can let you examine
Help Your Computer Live 10 Years or More
Power Issues are your computers worst enemy. A high
quality UPS (Uninterruptible Power Source) can fix that.
Ever notice when your light bulbs burn out? They pop when
you turn them on, applying power causes a current surge
which damages the bulb. Ever notice your lights "dim"? Line
power can fluctuate, these "brown outs" also cause high
current issues and are particularly hard on motors in
furnaces, washers, dryers, reefers, etc. Same with your
computer, it will last longer if you never turn it off AND
protect it with the active protection of a UPS.
A good UPS is an insurance policy, they have their own
warranty (usually 3-5 years) and offer a guarantee on
protected equipment, yup, if lightning blows your gear they
pay for your gear. Don't confuse a UPS with an extension
cord, a UPS has active power conditioning and a battery for
brown outs and black outs. Make sure your UPS can
handle the load you want to protect, printers for instance
are really hard on a UPS and need a much bigger size than a
computer or TV or X-Box or router or switch. Yes We have
those in stock.
Tired of Fake News? Setup RSS Feeds
Social media is full of "Fake News" and Opinion based
censoring. All the major social media platforms censor what
you see based on their opinion. What can you do to get Real
News? Use RSS Feeds to get the story. It's free, it's easy,
and it gets the news directly to you.
Howto - The are many news sources such as Associated Press
(AP) and Reuters which feed stories to the media. The media
takes the story, edits it to fit their opinion and gives it
out as "news". You can quickly bypass this spin by
going directly to the source and "subscribing" to their RSS
Feed. First, poke around and pick the source you like. For
this TOTD I'll pick Reuters (what I use). Go over to the web
site of the source you like and look for their RSS Feeds,
Reuters has theirs at this URL https://www.reuters.com/tools/rss.
RSS Feeds have a special Icon , look for it.
Copy the URL of the feed you want and paste in into your
Favorites or Favorites Toolbar. From then on that link will
show the top stories, you can see the headline and click to
read the story. Need help? Give us a call.
Microsoft Never Calls You
The number of cold calls claiming to be Microsoft has really
jumped recently (we answer several a day). There is
simply one thing to say about these calls, THEY ARE A SCAM.
Microsoft will never call you, no reputable service company
will call you, no Anti Virus company will ever call you,
this is ALWAYS A SCAM. Never allow anyone you don't
know to access your computer. If you do allow a scammer into
your system you will loose data, privacy, security, and
anything they can find in seconds, they can lock up your
system and hold it for ransom. Don't fall for it.
Dropped Calls? Get a Cell Phone Booster
Cellular signal is pretty iffy around here. Fix that with a
good Cellular Signal Booster.
Howto - There are two types of signal boosters, fixed and
mobile. Have terrible reception in your home or
business? Grab a fixed booster. These mount outside
your building and bring the signal inside, amplify it, and
connect multiple phones. These are great for remote homes,
business' and inside metal buildings. Dropped calls or no
signal on the road or in the field? Grab a mobile
Booster. These mount in your vehicle bring the signal
inside and amplify it, depending on brand and cost these
usually support only one phone.
We keep Boosters in stock as well as many cellular phone
accessories, chargers, and cases.
Google, Siri, Cortana, Alexa, Be Careful With Cool Stuff
Computers have some really cool things to make your life
easier, the most useful is something you use every day,
"Search". A computer can dig through tons of stuff and find
just what you want in a matter of seconds. Your Smart Phone
is a Computer, with a Cellular Phone shoved in, which brings
The Internet to your fingertips wherever you are, these are
fun times we live in. BUT with all this cool stuff comes the
responsibility to use it safely.
Telling Cortana or Siri to get directions to a restaurant is
totally cool and easy BUT allowing them to listen to every
word you say is dangerous, there have already been instances
of recorded conversations being sent to contacts that the
user had no idea had been sent. Turn OFF Auto Detection of
key words such as "Hey Siri" and "OK Google", if your
computer can hear and react to a voice command like that it
means it is always listening and there is always the
possibility that a mistake will happen. Set your search
engines to react to a finger pressing a button or icon.
Don't use voice commands? Check your setup to make sure
these things are turned OFF. Just love your auto voice
detect? Just be aware of the privacy issues that it
It's NOT The Computer, It's The Software
Show your computer a little love, give it a checkup twice a
year to keep it running like it was new. A good maintenance
program will extend the life of your computer saving you $
over time. Don't throw away that slow computer, bring it
back to life with a checkup.
The average computer costs about $1000 to $1500 and will
generally last about 4 years, a high end system can easily
last 6-8 years or more. Technology changes, routine system
updates, software updates, virus and malware scanner
updates, all add to the work your system has to do, above
and beyond the work you need to do. Now add in all the
accumulated trash, errors caused by viruses, malware, pups
(probably unwanted programs), crapware, adware, bundleware,
and bits and pieces of programs running in the background,
it's no wonder your system slows down a few days after you
buy it and after a year or two you want to throw it out.
That's when we can help save your money, spend $100 a year
on Routine Maintenance, keep that system running like
new. Even a brand new computer can be cleaned up of
all the manufacturer adware and can benefit from our Routine
Maintenance Program. Give us a call 307-877-6612.
Protect Your Personal Information
Now that folks are starting to see how invasive companies
are into our personal information, all the news, law suits
and congressional inquiries going on, lets look at some
steps you can take to avoid data collection. Protecting your
personal information is difficult, if not impossible, but
there are many things you can do to help yourself.
1.)Avoid Public Mail servers such as Google and Yahoo.
The big search engines market your private information and
it makes sense for them to read your e-mail as well, and
2.)Change your default search engine. Search Engines
examine your searches and cookies to glean information for
advertising and marketing.
3.)Change your DNS to 184.108.40.206. You can configure your router
to protect all your systems from DNS snooping. 220.127.116.11
is the NEW Cloudfront DNS System, they don't snoop and they
delete their logs every day.
4.)Clear your cookies. Set your browser to clean up your
cookies, history, downloads, etc, when you close your
browser. Cookies are what causes lamp ads to come up on
Google the day after you purchased that new lamp.
5.)Use "InPrivate" Browsing. Most Browsers can be
started in "InPrivate" mode which basically doesn't store
your browsing session, deleting cookies, history, temp
files, history etc. and disables toolbars and extensions.
Firefox has a nice extension just for this called "Multi
Account Containers" and a "Facebook Container"
6.)Use a VPN. A "Virtual Private Network" hides your
location in the world by spoofing your IP address. VPN's are
a pay service so expect to pay. The Opera Browser has a
built in VPN (and it's free).
Backup, Backup, Backup
Your computer won't boot up, "Hard Disk Fail". Now what? All
your pictures, mail, recipes are still there so you take it
to your computer guy, we have a look and ooops, too bad,
your hard disk is bad and you'll need a new one, you have a
backup right? Nope? Say goodbye to those baby pictures.
You only need to backup your personal data, games and
programs will need to be reinstalled anyway so no problem
there, and there are many ways to backup. Most users usually
just need to backup documents, pictures, videos, favorites
and downloads, these locations will have your personal
stuff. Business users may have that same list as well as
servers with databases that need to be protected.
Howto - Windows comes with a backup program, it's simple,
you just plug in your backup device of choice and run the
backup program, it'll ask a couple questions and that's it.
Home users with very little data can get away with a couple
flash drives, got lots of data or several computers, an
external hard disk or a networked Hard Disk makes backup
effortless after it's setup. Business users need to be
a bit more involved with their backup, a better, multi-disk,
high capacity device and periodic checks, perhaps even a
multi device, off-site setup for critical data in the event
of a disaster (fire, flood etc). Your mobile devices
generally use google or apple accounts to automagically
backup your pics and stuff, but check that it's setup
Backup, Backup, Backup. It's cheap and easy, pictures
can never be replaced and customer data loss can ruin a
Beware Free Software
"You Get What You Pay For" is sage advice in the software
world, most free software does what it says but comes with
the baggage of adware and malware. There are exceptions
though as some of the best software is free, OpenOffice
(office suite), Firefox (browser), Thunderbird (E-Mail) and
Linux (OS) to name a few.
People are always looking for free stuff, the most common
being things to fix your computer, this is probably the
worst of the freeware as there isn't a program out there
that can "fix" your computer, it takes several tools and a
person to get a corrupted system back online. People often
think drivers are the problem and here again the malware
folks are lurking, don't trust anything except OEM (go to
dell.com or hp.com etc.), these days Windows 10 will keep
those updated through Windows update. Video and Music tools
are another dark hole, rippers, converters and such are
chock full of malware. Buyer Beware, Do Your Research.
Wired or Wireless, Depends on The App
Let's bring The Internet to your home or business, what we
call "Internet Service". There are 2 wired choices, DSL and
Optic Fiber and 2 wireless choices, WIFI and Cellular Packet
The bottom line here is, wired is fast and reliable,
wireless is inexpensive and convenient. You can have a
wireless access point to provide local wireless in your home
or business. Smart Phones access The Internet anywhere they
can get service and can even create a "hot-spot" for other
devices to connect too with a limited distance.
DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) - most common, uses your phone
line for speeds up to about 20 Mbps (Million bits per
second). DSL is generally quite able to provide 2-3 movie
streams and good quality gaming. Best choice for most homes
and small business'.
Optic Fiber - At over 100 Gbps (Giga or billion bits per
second) this is the big boy but it's expensive. New to our
area so you may need to get on a list for install. If
you can afford it or are running a business this is the way
to go, multiple streams, low latency (great gaming) and
brand new glass fiber to your building.
WIFI - Basically radios provide around 20 Mbps service and
many things can affect the quality. Rain, snow, lightning,
buildings, trees, an errant mobile radio a disgruntled
neighbor or someone being a jerk can cause interference
which makes wireless the least reliable. Using simple,
inexpensive radios makes it the least expensive. 1-2 movie
streams are usually doable but you will see buffering due to
intermittent drops even with 1 stream. Budget choice for
home and small business for basic browsing and e-mail.
Cellular Packet Data - Virtually every cell phone provides
some sort of Internet access. This Internet service is
the least reliable but totally convenient. In metro
areas packet data can stream movies and music, in rural
areas not so well. This is most useful for general
communication and when it works it's great.
Don't Trash that Old Computer, DONATE it
Have an old system sitting around waiting for the dump run?
Refurbish that old boy and donate it to someone. Any Windows
7+ system is still good these days and once refurbished,
quite capable of providing home or business computing,
Internet, Office apps, E-Mail, and School work. One of our
Non-Profits or a student would be happy to snap it up.
You've probably seen our refurbs on Facebook and may have
questions so here's the scoop. Those usually come from
someone buying a new system and rather than throwing away
the old one give it to us. We give it a clean Windows
install (removes personal info), full set of Windows updates
(over 300 at last count), drivers and necessary Internet
apps (Java, Reader, Flash, Silverlight, DirectX, IE11),
install Open Office (Free Open Source Office Suite) and
Thunderbird (Free Open Source Mail Client) and offer it up
"FREE to good home or non-profit OR for $ if you can afford
it". They are always snapped up for free, usually by the
non-profit orgs here in town.
Take out the Garbage
Removing things that you don't need will help speed up your
system. Uninstall programs you don't use, clean up your
Desktop, clean up your Startup Tasks.
Howto - A cluttered Desktop slows you down all day, move
things to your Documents, Pictures, Downloads folders where
they belong. Open explorer and simply drag and drop.
Uninstall programs you don't use but be careful, don't
uninstall something if you don't know what it is. Click
"Start" type "Add or Remove Programs".
Many things startup on boot, slowing the boot as well as the
daily work. Click "Start" type "Startup Tasks".
Note that things you turn off here can be turned back on if
you need it.
After all that do a "Disk Cleanup". Click "Start" type "Disk
Protect Your System with a Virus AND a Malware Scanner
No single Anti Virus or Anti Malware Solution will protect
your system from everything, you need one of each, Virus AND
Malware scanner. The problem you run into with this is
when the two scanners conflict and this happens often,
especially with commercial Virus Scanners. The rule
here is use a good virus scanner and a good malware
scanner. The top virus scanners are generally fine
along with the top malware scanners, since they have
different (but similar) jobs they usually get along.
Howto - Use one of the top virus scanners (Windows Defender,
Norton, McAfee, Sophos, Eset, Kaspersky) and update and run
a full scan to make sure things are clean. Reboot and
install a trial version of one of the top Malware Scanners
(Malwarebytes AntiMalware, Spybot Search and Destroy).
Update and scan to grab up anything the virus scanner
missed. Work your system a few days and if it looks
good you can upgrade to the Premium Version of the malware
scanner. No wasted money here.
Our favorite combination: Windows Defender and Malwarebytes
AntiMalware. Defender comes with Windows 10 and is free,
updates itself with Windows Update and works well.
Malwarebytes AntiMalware has a free trial version and a
Premium Version (we carry that in stock).
Cut, Copy, Paste, With Keyboard Shortcuts
There are many Keyboard Shortcuts that can really speed
things up and make daily use of your computer much easier.
Remember in a previous post I mentioned everything is an
"object"? Well you can group objects together into one big
object and using Shortcut Keys, do things like cut, copy and
paste from one place or program to another.
Howto - Lets say you want to copy text from an e-mail into a
Facebook post. First using your mouse place the cursor at
the beginning of the text you want, hold down the left mouse
button and "drag" it to the last of the text, highlighting
it along the way. This creates an "object"
(highlighted text) which you can now copy into the "paste
buffer" with "Ctrl-C" (hold down "Ctrl" key and tap "c").
You won't see anything happen but it did. Then move to the
place where you want the text to be placed (the post window
in Facebook), position the cursor with your mouse to the
spot where you want the text to be and "paste" it in with
"Ctrl-V". Also you can right click objects and find
"copy" and "paste" in the "context sensitive menu" (yay
right click) and the "delete" and "insert" keyboard keys do
the same thing. Here's a short list of common keyboard
Ctrl + A select All
Ctrl + X Cut selected object
Ctrl + C Copy selected object
Ctrl + V Paste selected object
Ctrl + Z Undo an action (ooops button)
Ctrl + Y Redo an action
Alt + Tab Switch between open apps
Alt + F4 Close the active item or app
Windows open Start Menu
Windows + A open Action Center
Windows + C open Cortana in listen mode
Windows + L Lock your PC
Windows + D display/hide the Desktop
Esc Stop or leave
See the full list here
When in Doubt: Reboot
When your computer or phone is being stupid try this simple
We know it sounds like a cop out but you'd be surprised how
often it works. Sure, there are times when a reboot
won't work and times it doesn't make sense, but it does give
your system a chance to put everything back together. Here's
why, if you have malware, a virus, some poorly written
program, too many programs running, memory getting low, an
older system you're nursing along until it dies, an update
installing, etc etc, it gets the chance to close everything
up, wipe it's memory and put the basic system software
(Operating System) back together. It's simply a first step
to troubleshooting any computer, try it, reboot once a week.
Right Click Everything
Use the Context-Sensitive Menu to find shortcuts to things
you want to do. Right Click (right hand side mouse
button) everything and you'll start learning how Windows
works, what things are, what you can and can't do. Click an
item or Click off of the menu to close it.
Howto - Everything you see in Windows is considered an
"object" and every object has "properties", things you can
do or settings you can change or look at. Your Desktop, the
Taskbar, Program Icons, files, Apps, Everything, has a
"Context Sensitive Menu". A "Right Click" activates
this menu and it will pop up with items particular to that
object. Every object will have a different menu of things
you can do. The Menus "Content" depends on what you
are doing (context). For instance, right click on an Icon on
the desktop and in most cases you'll see you can Rename that
item, right click on the desktop itself and there will not
be a Rename option.
Windows Search can find Anything
Use Windows Search (Cortana) to find files, settings and
programs quickly and easily.
Howto - Click "Start" icon (lower left on desktop taskbar)
or "Windows" key on the keyboard (Windows Logo Icon) then
just start typing. You can ask a human readable
question like "what time is it?", or a document name like
"resume" or an application name like "word" or a program
name like "msconfig". Windows will display a list of
search results which you can click to choose or just hit
"Enter" on keyboard if the one you want is
highlighted. If it can't find anything applicable on
your system it will search on The Internet using your
default browser and search engine. For instance, type
"internet" into Windows search and you will see Internet
Explorer, Edge, Firefox (any browser you may have
installed), Internet options settings like block popups, and
delete history, and stuff over at Microsoft Store.
Keep in mind every system is different, your results may
Better Facebook News Feed - Sort It!
Facebook provides 2 ways to sort your News Feed Posts and
1. Top Posts - this sort shows "the most popular posts
from friends", this is basically what Facebook thinks you
want or should see. This is the default sort.
Howto - YOUR News-feed, In the Right column, next to "News
Feed" click the More icon "..." click the setting you want
and check this as it will revert to the "Top Posts" setting.
2. Recent Posts - this sort shows "posts from friends,
Pages and groups in the order that they were
posted". This is what most folks want to see.
Howto - Group page, scroll the news feed column (middle one)
down to where the posts start, at the top left is a Heading
"Recent Activity" and a drop down icon, click the icon,
click the setting you want.
Basic Service Rates
We do maintenance and support by remote control for your
convenience. If necessary we may require the system to be brought to
our shop (in house). Onsite, Server and MultiUser environments
billed at standard hourly rate only.
$49 Quick Check
You stay home, we work remotely to clean up common crap related to
malware, spyware and identity theft and check for common system
problems such as hard disk failure
$129 Routine Maintenance
This is our comprehensive yearly maintenance we recommend for every
computer. We can start this maintenance remotely and if something
bad happens you may need to bring your computer to us, takes 2-3
$69 Virus Malware cleanup
Comprehensive virus/malware cleanup
$149 System Reinstall
Backup your data, perform a factory restore or OEM install, install
all updates and software, restore data. Some options may not
$69 Data Backup/Restore
Create System Restore Disks or basic
Backup of your personal data to CD, DVD or Flash Media (if
<4GB). We can usually recover data from failed system as
$39 Software Install
Software install 1 package per workstation (remote or in house).
$39 Hardware Install
Hardware install 1 item per workstation.
$79 HOURLY RATE
Our Standard Rate for remote or onsite Service, single or multiuser
environment. Overtime or weekend at standard 1.5x rate.