PC

Close up on businesswoman backing up her computer, which is a good computer security habit.

Computer Security Habits You Should Adopt

Close up on businesswoman backing up her computer, which is a good computer security habit.

Protect your computer security at all times.

Computers are an essential part of our everyday lives. Whether it’s the cell phone you carry in your pocket or the desktop sitting in your room. They help us work and do our day-to-day task. Without them, our world becomes far less convenient. What is more important than the machine itself is your computer security habits. Protecting your computer from any type of malfunction or malicious attack is important to protect your private data. Let Geek Aid walk you through a couple of ways to ensure you aren’t left vulnerable.

Always Update Your Computer Security

Anytime you boot up your computer, the first thing you should do is check for updates. A new update to your operating system isn’t just an annoying notification that pops up. An update is a vital part of keeping your computer safe. New viruses are born every day, and some hackers even create ones to attack specific operating system. A new update is your computer company’s way to fighting off these infections. The longer you wait to update your system, the more vulnerable you are to an attack.

Change Your Password Game

Over and over we need to remind people to change their passwords. Many use the same password they have been using for several years for every account. This is a bad computer security habit. If your password becomes predictable, you are giving hackers the opportunity to access your devices, personal accounts, and more. Generate random passwords or strong ones that use a combination of letter, numbers, and symbols.

Create Computer Backups

When in doubt, regard Murphy’s law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. As your computer grows older, it’s is more likely to experience random glitches and crashes. You shouldn’t worry too much though as you can prepare for these kinds of unexpected events. Make sure that you regularly create backups. Do it every 2 weeks or every month to make sure the latest information and files are safe and secure. If you need help, there are some useful tips online on how to back up your system.

Email Carefully and Navigate the Web Safely

Going on the internet helps us gather information, stay on top of the news, and do so many other tasks at lightning speed. However, the internet isn’t always safe. Browsing on the web or opening up an unknown email is how a lot of people contract viruses. You have to be more careful. Do not open or download attachments or files from people or sources you don’t trust. Also, shareware and free downloads are often packed with malevolent software.

Investing in Antivirus Software

An extra antivirus software on your machine won’t hurt. In fact, these types of software are your number one barrier against hackers trying to steal or mess with your private data. They can set up firewalls and detect viruses attempting to penetrate your computer’s defense. Do some research and spend some money on a good antivirus software.

Have a broken, glitchy, or vulnerable computer? Then call Geek Aid at 877-GEEK-AID. We specialize in home and office IT, as well as computer setup and virus removal. Find out what we can do for you.

Introducing Sway, from Microsoft

Microsoft has a new app. It is called Sway, and it is designed for telling stories. Basically, Sway will act as an alternative to the already popular PowerPoint when it comes to developing a presentation. If you have Windows 10, you can get the Sway app now. It is also available for download by Office 365 users. A Windows Phone app is in the works. How will Sway differ from its predecessor?

Because they are backed up to the cloud, Sway presentations are easy to embed in a website or share with other users. Instead of presentation pages, you use cards. It is easy to rearrange the storyboard and edit cards. To keep things simple, much of Sway is automated. While this may feel limiting to some, it will keep others from spending endless amounts of time working on a presentation that needs to be done by tomorrow.

This is one major difference between Sway and PowerPoint. You can’t actually create anything in Sway. You create your content elsewhere and then upload it to your story. Again, the point of this is to streamline the process. You can connect Sway to accounts in Facebook, YouTube, and Flickr to draw content.

You can also import your existing documents such as a PDF, a Word doc, or a PowerPoint presentation (which automatically converts it to Sway). You also get to choose which direction is more convenient for scrolling between horizontal and vertical.

The fact is that this new app does not replace PowerPoint in any way. It is, however, a simple way to throw together a quick presentation with preexisting materials that can be embedded into a website or easily shared via the cloud.

In the meantime, despite being designed to streamline the process of presentation making, Sway is not simple to use right out of the gate. There is a learning curve, and it won’t begin saving you time until you have had the chance to play around with it a little or watch some instructional videos.

Improve Your Windows 10 Experience With These Tricks

The Windows 10 upgrade is already a huge step up from Windows 8, but you may enjoy it even more if you know about all of the useful features. Here are a few that we love and think you may be interested in.

Update Your Start Menu

Boy were we ever glad to get the Start Menu back! Now it is time to customize. Right-click on those tiles to unpin them from start, pin them to your taskbar instead, or resize them. You can actually adjust the size of the start menu too by hovering over the edge and dragging it like you would a window. You get even more features to customize by right-clicking on the desktop and selecting Personalize and then the Start tab.

Switch Between Virtual Desktops

Windows 10 allows you to create more than one virtual desktop. This allows you to have one for work, one for play, one for the kids, etc., without having to log out and back in as a different user. Just click the task view button on the toolbar when you want to change desktops or get rid of one.

Start Talking to Cortana

Open the Cortana app to turn on the “Hey Cortana” feature. Be sure to choose the option that allows your computer to learn your voice. Then you can just start your command with “Hey, Cortana!” instead of having to click in the box anytime you want to ask your assistant for something.

Are You Using Microsoft Edge?

Yes, we know you love Chrome and Firefox, but it is time to give the new Microsoft browser a shot, especially if you need to comment on an existing web page. Just click on the Web Note button, chose among the highlighter, pen, or eraser, and you can make notes directly on web pages to save and send.

Biometric ID

If your computer or tablet has the technology for it, a Windows 10 upgrade allows you to unlock your device with fingerprint detection or facial recognition. Just go to “Settings>Accounts>Sign In” to see what options are available to you.

 

I’ve Installed Windows 10 – Now What?

For Windows 8 users, the first thing that you will notice about Windows 10 is that it is a much more user-friendly operating system. We are going to take a closer look at a few of the features that users are enjoying from the latest version of Microsoft’s OS.

The Start Menu

It’s back! While I’m sure every person on the planet didn’t hate the Windows 8 Start Screen, most of us did. The old Start Menu has returned in Windows 10, but with some significant improvements. Those tiles that you may have despised are now super convenient, allowing you to keep all of your favorite apps front and center in your customized Start Menu. The tiles have gone from an annoyance to a convenience.

Windows 10 for Mobile Devices

One of the major mistakes made with Windows 8 was Microsoft trying to develop an OS that would look and act identically across devices. It is just not reasonable because people use their tablet differently from the way that they use their desktop (and their smartphone too). In Windows 10, Microsoft finally acknowledged these differences, and while the concept is the same across devices, there are small variances that make the OS easy to use regardless of whether you are at a desk or on the go.

Apps Open in Windows

Windows are what gave the OS its name and what made it so convenient for using multiple programs at once. Windows 8 destroyed this entire concept by always going full-screen for apps. In Windows 10, everything opens in a window, even your apps. It’s perfect for using multiple apps or programs at once. Plus, there is a task view button on the taskbar that allows for quick switching even if everything is maximized.

A New Way to Browse the Internet

Goodbye, Internet Explorer, and good riddance! The world’s worst Internet browser has been replaced by Microsoft Edge, and this new browser may be enough to keep you from running for Chrome or Firefox. Microsoft Edge is fast and allows for great collaboration with the ability to mark a web hpage and forward your notes to contacts.

All-in-all, the first impressions of Windows 10 show that it is a major improvement over its predecessor.

Important Custom Setup of Windows 10

No doubt you were excited to receive your free upgrade to Windows 10, especially if you were languishing under the idiosyncrasies of Windows 8. But now that you have the new operating system, what should you do with it? Here are a few settings you should check and set to meet with your personal preferences.

“Hey, Cortana!”

Cortana starts out as one of the Start Menu apps, so unless you immediately deleted it, you can easily navigate to your Cortana settings. What is Cortana? Your personal assistant to help you remember things, provide you with weather updates, suggest local restaurants based on your personal preferences, and so much more. The default setting, believe it or not, is for Cortana to be off. So if you want to use this feature, you will have to enable it. Be sure to turn on the “Hey, Cortana” voice activation, and set it to recognize your voice. It only takes a minute.

Avoid Surprise Reboots

Keeping your operating system up to date at all times is vital to security. That is why Windows 10 automatically updates whether you want it to or not (this is for your own good). The good news is that you can schedule restarts under the Advanced Windows Update options. Select Notify to schedule restarts to get an advance notification. After all, an unexpected reboot while you are working can be super inconvenient (although not as inconvenient as a security breach due to not updating at all).

Disable Wi-Fi Sense (unless you really want to use it)

Wi-Fi Sense automatically sends anyone in your contacts list an encrypted password to your network (and vice versa when you are in range of their network). The questions are: Do you want to trust every contact in Outlook, Skype, and Facebook with your network key? Do you trust their networks to be secure – enough so that you want to connect automatically? If you answered no to either of those questions, you will need to disable Wi-Fi Sense. It is found under Change Wi-Fi Settings>Manage Wi-Fi Settings.

Just because Windows is new, it doesn’t mean that you have to be happy with every default setting. If you did not perform a custom setup, these are a few places to start.

IT Suggestions for SMBs

Your business may be small, but it still relies on technology fairly heavily. What can you do to make your IT run smoothly (especially since you probably don’t have the resources for an entire department)? Here are some IT suggestions for small businesses that can help you to maintain security and stability.

Update That Software

Whether it is your operating system, your web development software or Java, be sure that your software is kept up to date. These updates fix known security issues and are your first line of defense in warding off a virus.

Malware Avoidance Techniques

Let’s face it. Most people unwittingly put malware on their own machines. Hackers just leave malware lying around where we will download it unsuspectingly. With that in mind NEVER:

  • Click on an ad that does not seem reputable or that offers unrealistic promises
  • Follow a link in an email, even from contacts, without knowing where it goes
  • Click “okay” to download something you did not specifically request

Create a Web Presence

Small businesses need a website and some social media content. You may also choose to have a blog. Instead of hiring out for SEO work, you may be able to take care of things yourself. A freelance writer can be your best friend if you are not a wordsmith yourself. Don’t forget to check your social media sites regularly and respond appropriately. Avoid controversial topics.

Have a Backup

Nowadays we often backup our data on the cloud, but you may also want a second computer in case of emergency. The next time you upgrade your machine, save the old one. If your current computer goes bad on you and your data is backed up in the cloud, you can pick up right where you left off (albeit on an old device). This will give you time to get your computer fixed.

Have a Service Tech On-Call

In the meantime, having a tech that you trust can allow you to get things up and running at full speed again quickly. Be sure to keep your favorite repair shop in your phone contacts. These IT suggestions for small businesses should keep things a little smoother, especially if you use a lot of technologies.

New Updates for iMac and MacBook Pro Are on the Way

What can we look forward to in the next model of the MacBook Pro and the iMac from Apple? Let’s take a closer look at the latest news.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro will feature the Retina Display and a new touchpad. It is the same Force Touch one that is featured on the 13 and 12-inch MacBooks. If you haven’t felt this new style of trackpad, by all means, check it out for yourself. The sensors that Apple has put in this thing to create the right feel for a touchpad are astounding. The high-end model of this laptop also features an AMD graphics card while the less expensive model will include the older-style integrated card.

Are you ready for lightning-fast hard drive speeds? That’s right, the new iMac will feature a solid state drive. And don’t worry about having to recharge often. Apple is taking their already leading battery life and extending it. You can now browse the web for up to 9 hours before having to plug in. In the less expensive version of the iMac, you get a standard drive, but since the drive holds 1 TB of data on top of the cheaper price tag, you may not mind the slightly slower hard drive response. A dedicated GPU will provide better video viewing and gameplay thanks to AMD Radeon tech.

With a 256 GB SSD, the MacBook Pro will run about $2,000. There’s a $2,500 model with some additional features. What about the iMac? This Retina 5K Display device will cost between $2,000 and $2,300 depending on selected features. While neither device is cheap, it’s nice to see Apple trying to offer a lower-end option at a more reasonable price and a higher-end option worth the extra money for those who can afford it.

Are You Ready for Windows 10?

After a long wait, and a lot of negative feelings towards Windows 8, Microsoft is finally ready to unveil Windows 10. If you use Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, hopefully, you have already signed up for the limited-time free download offer. If not, go ahead and get your free upgrade before it is too late.

Why Windows 10 and not 9? For one thing, I think Microsoft is trying to leave Windows 8 as far behind them as possible. Plus, maybe they are trying to end the curse that only odd number versions of Windows are any good. Regardless of the reason, we have high hopes for Windows 10. Here are a few reasons why.

First of all, Microsoft promises increased security, which really is a must considering the fact that Windows has been the least secure OS as long as most people have been using computers. Once again, Windows will be available across your Microsoft devices including on your tablet and phone. What new features do we have to look forward too?

Internet Explorer is now Microsoft Edge. Does that mean you will want to ditch Chrome or Mozilla? Maybe. Edge allows you make notes on websites and forward those notes to others. This feature also follows over into the new Microsoft Office, making viewing and editing documents a seamless experience.

The start menu is back! But don’t worry if you have gotten used to the tiles. They will still be there, just not as prominently. Plus, Cortana, your digital assistant, will be available on all of your devices now. After all, why shouldn’t your digital assistant be available at any time?

With all of the excitement surrounding Windows 10, we’re hoping that there is not some sort of big letdown. If there is one thing that Windows 8 taught us, it’s that consumers need to take new releases on a test run themselves before it can be determined for sure if the next big idea was actually a good idea.

Get Ready for Office 2016

Microsoft is not pulling any punches with their latest line of products. Hot on the heels of the Windows 10 buzz, Microsoft has released a preview of MS Office 2016. There are new features that will be useful to users whether they are at home or the office. Plus, this version is truly cross-platform software and should integrate seamlessly, even if you use Apple or Android devices. Let’s look at some of the most impressive features.

Real-Time Collaboration

The new collaboration feature allows more than one user to work on a document simultaneously. You can view changes being made by another user as they occur. If you use Office web apps, this may sound like old news to you, but it is a hot new feature for desktop users.

Smart Apps

These are applications that learn as you use them. Clutter, for example, removes clutter from your Outlook inbox by analyzing your habits and prioritizing each email that comes in. Do you sometimes have trouble remembering the Excel, Word, or PowerPoint command that you need? The Tell Me app anticipates what you need and provides the command for you. Insights is another app that utilizes Bing, the Microsoft search engine, to get you more info from the web on highlighted text in a document.

Excel Gets a Facelift

In the modern world of data analysis, the person with the best charts and graphs is king. That is why Microsoft has modernized the look of all of the charts and graphs in Office 2016. Plus, there is a forecasting feature that utilizes the data you have already input to project future figures.

Testers Wanted

If you want to try on MS Office 2016 for yourself, all you need is a computer with Windows 7 or higher. If you presently use Office 2013, you will have to uninstall it before you can download 2016. This is not a test product for new users, but if you love all things Microsoft and are familiar with previous versions of Office, Microsoft wants your feedback.

Will Lasers Be the Solution to Our Broadband Concerns?

One of our broadband concerns is that its capacity is nearly at full capacity. The world is processing more and more data all the time and more activity than ever is taking place on the Internet. Cloud computing has introduced a world where data is no longer stored locally, but it still needs to be accessed instantly at any given time. According to one group of experts, the Internet will need to be rationed within the decade if things continue their present course. Plus, half a billion people are poised to access the Internet for the first time over the next couple of years.

The Race for an Answer

Every tech company is searching for the ultimate answer. Take Google’s approach with Project Loon. Using balloons that float about twice as high as aircraft fly, Google is trying to stretch coverage to reach even the remotest areas. On the other hand, Microsoft is taking the underwater approach by placing cables under the sea to shore up their cloud-based systems.

How Lasers May Provide the Solution

Researchers are looking into using lasers, particularly infrared lasers, to increase bandwidth and speed by as much as 200%. The reason they feel the increase will be so dramatic is the fact that almost nothing uses the terahertz frequency.

Besides just university researchers, private companies are doing their own research. One tech periodical noted that three of the nation’s largest Internet service providers are experimenting with new technologies that promise ultra-high bandwidth.

The technology has already been field tested in a remote part of Nigeria to see if spotty connectivity could be bolstered using the new tech. Testing also has occurred in Mexico. Both ventures were successful and showed promise that lasers will soon be providing better bandwidth and download speeds for all.

In fact, one researcher, who started studying lasers over 20 years ago, postulated that terahertz frequencies could provide 20 times faster communication speeds than gigahertz technology. If this works, lasers would clearly answer some of our broadband concerns.

 

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