Disclaimer: This advice is for the home user and some small business owners. If you work in a corporate environment, consult you I.T. staff regarding password management methods.
It may seem old school or not-secure, but using an alphabetized address book may be the best way to manage your passwords. Let's look at the main options for password management:
-Using one or three passwords for all the different Websites you access
-A password management program, such as LastPass
-Password encryption schemes, such as using acronyms for phrases (e.g. IALTPSAS = I'm a little teapot short and stout) and maybe adding a number to the beginning or end (e.g. 22ialtpsas).
-Keeping passwords in a Microsoft Word document on the hard drive of your computer.
Except for the first and last options in the above list, all of these are viable and relatively secure options. The problem with them is that they may not be feasible for most computer users. You probably have at least a few passwords written down, but they may be scattered about. You may have your passwords written in a book or on a sheet of paper that has lots of other information, therefore making finding your passwords more difficult.
Until other methods of authentication are available, convenient, and widely accepted, password management is here to stay. The future may bring keyboards that can sense who is using them, widely applied thumbprint scanners, facial recognition and other authentication methods that may make keeping track of passwords a smaller burden.
You see, if you have shared resources (e.g., printers, network attached storage, etc...) on your network, you have to be on the same street (with different house numbers) in order to see and use network resources. If you have the same wireless network name (AKA 'SSID') and wireless password sprouting from both your gateway and Google WiFi, you probably won't have problems getting on the Internet, but you will likely have half your devices connecting to the gateway and half connecting to Google WiFi.
This is a problem because with home networking, you need to be on the same street to see each other on the network. Being on the same street on a network means that you have the same first three octets of your IP address the same. If you haven't changed or disabled the WiFi settings on your gateway before setting up Google Wifi, then half your devices may have an IP address that starts with 10 and half will have IP addresses that start with 192. If you have a wireless printer, it might end up with an IP address of 10.0.0.54 and if you're trying to print from a computer that has an IP address of 192.168.86.33, the computer will not 'see' the wireless printer, even though the wireless printer perceives itself to have a healthy connection to a network.
Possibly the most challenging part of this is locating your gateway's username and password combo. Don't forget to try the default of username: admin and password: password.
Setting up a wireless printer entails either (a) using a software 'wizard' from the manufacturer or (b) setting it up manually. If the software wizard fails, then you're left with having to set up your wireless printer manually.
To manually set up your wireless printer, you'll need to (a) use WPS, where you push the WPS button on the printer and then (within 2 minutes) push the WPS button on your router or (b) use the tiny LCD screen (shown above) and laboriously find the place to enter your wireless password so that your wireless printer joins your wireless network.
Once your wireless printer is successfully added to your network, then Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Droid phones should all be able to find it without any trouble. On the other hand, PCs often have trouble finding network printers, even when other devices are able to print without a problem.
If your PC can't easily find your wireless printer, you can add it manually. The first part of this process is to find out the IP address of your wireless printer. This can be done by (a) working within the tiny LCD screen or (b) logging into your router's administration page and looking for your printer in the 'attached devices' section.
After figuring out the IP address of your wireless printer, adding a wireless printer manually on a PC entails these steps: (a) Click on the gear icon after clicking the start button, (b) choose devices, (b) choose printers and scanners, (d) choose add printer or scanner, (e) if it fails to find your printer, choose 'the printer that I want isn't listed', then 'add printer by TCP/IP address or hostname' and type in the IP address of your printer and click next.
If you have trouble setting up your wireless printer, the two hardest parts of this process would be working with the tiny, clunky LCD interface on your wireless printer or logging into your router to find out the IP address of your wireless printer. Feel free to call me for assistance. I will give you 10 - 15 minutes of free support.
These Indian scammers are insidious, but most of them are not skilled hackers. If you let someone from India take over your computer, a malware scan is in order, but odds are that you do not have a new virus. There are exceptions, one of the most common being that the scammer got frustrated with your reluctance to give him or her a credit card or bank routing number and went ahead and deleted some of your personal files as an act of vandalism. Less likely (because it requires skill) would be to run some malware on your computer. The latter scenario is possible but not probable.
The primary goal of Indian scammers is to impress you with their ability to take over your computer and move the mouse around, showing you what are completely normal activities and logs (e.g., MSCONFIG, Event Viewer, CMD-TREE) and to falsely characterize them as indicating that your computer is infected or otherwise malfunctioning. It is like the scams that used to happen at oil change places, where they show naive car owners a very dirty air filter, making a case that the car owner's air filter needs replacement.
You know the saying "fool me once, shame on me...", well forget that, no shame on you. And don't let others shame you for allowing yourself to fall victim to this. Sadly, the world we live in includes this kind of victimization.
Repairing a slow computer is usually not an arduous process. PCs usually get slow because of junk accumulation and too many narcissistic 'helper' programs loading at startup. It is a fallacy that a full hard drive causes a slow PC. It is actually rare that having too many files on your computer causes it to be slow. The three main tools to start off with in attempting to repair a slow computer are MSCONFIG, Task Manager, and Ccleaner.
MSCONFIG and Task Manager are the primary tools you use to stop useless processes and services from loading at startup. Regarding your computer being slow, think of your operating system (Windows or Macintosh) as a teacher with a classroom full of children. Some of the children are well behaved and some of them are not, but as more children enter the classroom and begin begging for attention, the teacher gets distracted and cannot do his or her job as well. It can take experience to know which processes and services to turn off, so if you haven't worked with MSCONFIG or Task Manager before, I advise you to turn off one service at a time and then reboot your computer to make sure everything still works. You can accidentally turn off your video or the relationship with your printer if you're not careful turning off processes or services.
Ccleaner can be run before or after MSCONFIG and Task Manger. Ccleaner may not have as direct of an impact on repairing a slow computer, but it will most likely make your WWW browsers work faster and better.
I will optimize your PC or Macintosh computer with these three tools for $30. If that does not improve performance markedly, then other software-related steps can be taken or it might be necessary to upgrade hardware.
The main two hardware upgrades that can speed up a slow computer are increasing the amount of memory in your computer and switching to an SSD (solid state drive). Increasing the amount of memory in your computer is typically a quick and reasonably priced process ($80 total for parts and labor), whereas switching over to a solid state drive is not as quick or as cheap, but has better odds of improving the performance of your computer.
If you have a Macintosh, the same software-related or hardware-related steps are taken, except that you use Macintosh software tools first to attempt to repair a slow Macintosh computer. On a Macintosh, the parallel programs are System Preferences>>Users and Groups>>Login Items and a 3rd party program called Onyx. If taking those steps does not markedly speed up your Macintosh, then the exact same hardware-related steps could be taken (i.e., upgrading memory or to a solid state drive). Depending on the Macintosh you own, either of these steps could be quite arduous, due to many Macintoshes (iMacs and some Macbooks) being specifically designed to be difficult to upgrade.
Give us a call if your computer is slow. It is possible that we can do some quick fixes over the phone or that your wireless Internet speed is the culprit (especially on the Macintosh).
I would estimate that the practical speed of Centurylink's cheapest DSL speed is too often 125Kbps. Let's compare that to Comcast's cheapest cable speed of 10Mbps. I used a calculator, and found that Comcast's cheapest plan is 80 times faster than Centurylink's cheapest plan. For reference, dial-up had a practical top speed of 53Kbps.
The problem with this is that your computer can't properly access the Internet or do updates with speeds as slow as Centurylink's. Current Websites have images, videos, ads, and plugins that require about 10 times the speed that the cheapest Centurylink plan offers. In addition, the primary way to keep your computer safe from malware is to update Windows, anti-virus, and many other programs on your computer.
So, if Centurylink is your ISP, I suggest either switching to a cable Internet provider (such as Comcast) or upgrading your plan. The extra cost may be $20/month for Centurylink's better plan.
Now, how do I know Centurylink is too often slow? I will admit my research is anecdotal. Take a look at the screenshot above. The primary thing that Google thinks your are searching for when you type in "Centurylink is" happens to be "slow," not "down," "bad," or "owned by such and such." Also, during my tech support travels I have never once found Centurylink's cheapest speed to be satisfactory for use, especially in the suburbs.
I care about my customers, and I hate to see them with invalid Internet service.
I have recently seen an uptick in the amount of people who are getting fake calls from (or false requests to call) Microsoft. Sometimes these calls are out of the blue and sometimes they manifest as a phone number that shows up on a scareware Web page, urging you to call immediately because your computer is supposedly infected.
The thing you should know is that Microsoft will never call you for any reason. If you had the most virus-infested computer in the state of Minnesota, it would be your ISP (e.g., Comcast or Centurylink) that might contact you, but even that is unlikely.
The point is to be very suspicious of these kinds of tactics, for they use social engineering. Social engineering is a type of hacking that involves capitalizing on human nature to infiltrate systems. In the case of these calls (usually coming from India and Bangladesh), the scammers are capitalizing on your trusting nature and desire to be a good steward of your technology.
What should you do if you get a call like this? Hang up or interrogate them and then hang up. You are probably no more likely to be infected because one of these scammers called you. Unless you let them take over your computer remotely, they have no idea as to whether your computer is infected or not.
This is a new, slimy business model in India, Bangladesh, and other countries in that region, where call centers prey upon Americans through the telephone.
If you want to feel safer after a call from a scammer, call a trusted tech guru and/or run a virus scan with Eset online scanner.
Stay safe out there.
I really care about my customers and I wish technology was easier to keep up with. At the same time, I do run into several common misconceptions that are simpler (albeit less intuitive) than learning grammar or cooking, and most of my customers are better than I am at both of those things. I want my customers to be effective users of technology, so read on to see if you are making any of these mistakes.
The most important thing to know in using a PC or a Mac is about your files. You should know where your files are, what type of files you have, and whether they are backed up. At the very least, you should know where your files are. Neither the PC nor the Mac make file management intuitive. Both operating systems will do oddball things when suggesting the place to save your files. Sadly, the only answer is to be vigilant and knowledgeable about where your files end up.
The most common terms that are misused are download, upload, Google, Internet, and modem/router. Downloading is the act of downloading a file to your device (computer, tablet, or phone). It happens all the time, even when watching a YouTube video or visiting a Webpage. You may not realize it but when you watch a video on your computer, it is downloading to your computer. The more common manifestation of actively downloading something is when you choose to save a file from an email or Web page to your computer to a specific location.
The term 'upload' actually means to do the opposite of download, where you upload a file so that it can then be downloaded. Usually, when a customer uses the word upload, they actually mean install.
Google is a company that is primarily in the search engine business. They also sell advertising, offer apps (Chrome and others), have a Webmail (Gmail), and do several other things. But, Google is not the Internet, nor is it a browser (although they do make a browser, Chrome).
People often mix up the functions of the device/s that get them access to the Internet. Most homes in the last five years have what is called a 'gateway' device that gets their devices online. A gateway is a device that does the job of both a router and a modem, and Centurylink's gateways do a poor job at both, whereas Comcast's are good enough to be comparable to a $100 device from a retailer.
Although not as important to know as many other tech concepts, there is an odd ratio of reliance to obliviousness regarding browsers. At least 85% of what people do on their computer is through a browser, yet most users don't really know what a browser is or which one they are using. Examples of browsers are Firefox, Chrome, Safari (usually on Macs), and Internet Explorer/Edge. Browsers display Webpages, and that's really all they do. They seem to do much more, but that's because Web pages do much more than display text and images. You can watch videos, send/receive email, download files, and even create Web pages through a browser. Know which browser you like to use and why, along with the main things you can do with a browser, such as type in a web address, create a favorite/bookmark, and download files.
The most common thing I wish I saw less of is people who cannot live without their email but they have almost no idea how their email works or best practices regarding it. This is especially the case with small business owners. Email was was not designed to handle all that we (and spammers and hackers) throw at it. Things you should know about email are: (a) whether you are using Webmail, pop3/imap, or Exchange email, (b) how to avoid spam and junk mail (and the difference between the two), (c) how do download attachments and then what to do afterwards, and (d) how to organize (delete!) email.
Just as you're a better steward of your car when you know that you shouldn't drive it hard when the engine is cold or skip changing the oil, you should learn as much as you can about the primary things you do with technology. You may think your tech support person is being a 'grammar nazi' when they correct you when you call a folder a file (or vice versa), but I assure you we are not. We want to find a solution to your problem and know that this is much easier if you, the customer, know the correct terms and functionality of technology.
SEO (search engine optimization) is analogous to dating, mind-reading, research/experimentation, and providing free informational seminars to promote your business. SEO is analogous to several other things, but these four are some of the most prominent comparisons.
SEO is analogous to dating in that even when you put your best foot forward, many potential customers will take a quick look at your Web page/s and quickly leave. Conversion rates are low across most industries, so you're attempting to attract fickle and picky customers. (By the way, I am often one of those fickle and picky customers).
SEO is analogous to mind-reading, too. You have to guess at and research what your potential customers are typing into search engines when they desire what you offer. It is likely that you will have to step out of your persona as an expert in your field to come up with keyword ideas. Customers are likely using search terms that you, as the expert, find odd and off-topic.
That's where the research and experimentation part comes in. You come up with a group of potential keyword ideas and you use various tools (e.g., Google's Keyword Planner) to see if your ideas match what people are searching. You may end up surprised by how your favorite keyword ideas have zero search traffic. After you find some keywords that are relevant and getting a good amount of search traffic, you plug them in (don't stuff them!) to your written content and then check (with tools like Google Analytics) to see if you're getting quality visits (not bounce visits) to the page with that content.
The concept that some small business owners have the most trouble with is that you typically have to give away insights and industry information to rank well in organic search results. So, SEO is analogous to giving free seminars to promote your business. Lawyers, insurance agents, and many other professionals have been doing this for centuries. I believe that this can be difficult to stomach for two main reasons: (a) it feels like you're giving away trade secrets and empowering more customers to do things themselves instead of making a service call and (b) it's a lot to keep up with. For B, keep in mind that you don't have to put up a trade magazine's worth of content every week. After an initial understanding of content creation is in place, one to three hours a week is often all that is necessary for a small business owner to create content that will help with SEO.
SEO is both art and science, both mystical and clear, and both complex and easy.
Questions and comments are welcome.