"Have you tried rebooting?" is a classic tech support question that every computer user knows by heart. It might sound like a cop-out, but there is a good reason why your repair guys suggest rebooting before anything else.
Before I tell you why, keep in mind that rebooting works for all kinds of gadgets. It works on your computers, wireless routers, home entertainment systems, tablets and smartphones.
In fact, you can apply the same advice to any computer program or app that's acting buggy. If your Web browser is misbehaving, for example, shut it down and open it up again.
But why does rebooting work?
Let me set up a non-techie example. Have you ever been writing a letter and gotten interrupted for just a second? You can pick up where you left off with very little effort.
But what happens if there's a string of interruptions, or a major interruption that takes you away for a few hours or even days. You can't just jump back in to the letter without reading it through from the beginning.
Maybe you read it and decide it doesn't even make sense anymore, so you start over.
Well, that's similar to how electronics work. A minor glitch usually isn't a problem. It will just slow things down for a minute while the system recovers.
A bunch of glitches or a really serious glitch, however, can completely interrupt the gadget's train of thought. It can't pick up where it left off.
So, everything might freeze. Or you'll get something like the infamous Windows Blue Screen of Death.
At that point, the best thing to do is start over. Rebooting lets the gadget start over from square one, hopefully without running into any more glitches. And in many cases, the glitches don't pop up again.
That's why tech support folks will often ask you to restart your gadget when something goes wrong. It's an easy, no-fuss fix that weeds out minor problems.
Windows Key + e: opens File Explorer
Windows Key + d: takes you back to desktop
Windows Key + m: minimizes all programs
Windows Key + +: zooms in
Windows Key + -: zooms out
Here are a couple:
Avira Antivirus- WIndows or OSX (Macs)
Just be sure your personal computer is protected against viruses!
Another question we hear is what is ransomware?
Ransomware is a kind of malware (malicious software) that criminals install on your computer so they can lock it from a remote location. Ransomware generates a pop-up window, webpage, or email warning from what looks like an official authority. It explains that your computer has been locked because of possible illegal activities on it and demands payment before you can access your files and programs again.
How do criminals install ransomware?
Ransomware is usually installed when you open a malicious email attachment or when you click a malicious link in an email message or instant message or on a social networking site or other website. Ransomware can even be installed when you visit a malicious website.
The CryptoLocker virus is a example of ransomware. This is a dangerous new class of virus that locks you out of your computer - unless you pay to unlock it. There are ways to get your computer back without paying up, though. First, check to make sure the virus is the real thing. Some hackers are using fake ransomware to trick you into paying big bucks, even though your computer isn't really infected. If the virus is real, you'll need help from a powerful anti-virus software like the AVG Rescue CD. It was designed to battle the nastiest of viruses. Of course, prevention can save you the headache of getting a nasty computer virus in the first place.
Remember, legitimate companies will never send you files through email or text. I recommend deleting suspicious emails right away. And never follow a link or download a file if you're not absolutely certain it's virus-free. This is a particularly nasty virus and removing it doesn't guarantee files won't be lost. So make sure to back up your files regularly. Viruses can also leave sensitive files damaged for good, so you want to make sure you have copies of your data in a secure location.
Let's take an informal poll: Raise your hand if you have NO bad habits. Those of you who raised your hands obviously have a habit of lying, so put them back down.
Some bad tech habits are obvious. You use the same password for every account. Maybe you text during family dinners or share too much on Facebook. You definitely want to work on fixing any of these.
1. Forgetting to clean
When was that last time you cleaned your phone? Or what about your computer screen, keyboard or mouse? Really?
Studies have shown that phones can have 10 times more bacteria than a toilet seat. Keep some gadget-friendly antiseptic wipes near your computer and phone charger. A good cleaning of your gadgets at the end of the day will keep the germs at bay.
2. Having multiple users per account
Having multiple users using the same gadget isn't just bad for cleanliness. It's also not great for your security.
You're giving everyone access to your favorite websites and apps. Browsers can store usernames, passwords and even financial information.
Recently, a toddler made news for buying a car on eBay using her dad's smartphone. Talk about an impulse buy!
On a computer, this is easy enough to prevent. In Windows, go to Start>>Control Panel and select User Accounts. On Macs, go to System Preferences and choose Users and Groups.
Multiple accounts keep everyone's information separate. If you have sensitive information, be sure to create a password for your account.
3. Not taking breaks
You're working hard on a time-sensitive project. Hours fly by as you type, your focus never leaving the computer screen.
I'll give you an A for effort, but an F for taking care of yourself.
Be sure to get up and stretch, move around & get the blood flowing in your legs.
4. Not upgrading
I'm talking upgrading the programs themselves. I know many of you reading this still use Windows XP. You might use Internet Explorer 8 or even 7 as your browser.
Time to UPGRADE!
I understand why you haven't. Upgrading can cost money. You're used to the way things work. The newer versions might seem more complicated.
Well, those are valid reasons, but at some point enough is enough. And in the case of Windows XP and IE, Microsoft has said enough. They say 13 years of support are enough.
Windows XP's end-of-life date is coming up in 2014. After that, it's receiving no more security updates. It's already missing key security features found in later versions of Windows. This will just make it easier for hackers to attack you.
Internet Explorer 7 and 8 are in a similar boat. They're way behind on security features and they don't work well with newer websites.
5. Treating public Wi-Fi like private Wi-Fi
Public Wi-Fi is great. You can get online with your laptop at the airport, coffee shop or hotel. If you're using a smartphone or tablet, it's a great way to avoid using up your cellular data plan.
However, you really need to be careful what you do while using it. Don't forget that it's a wireless NETWORK. That means you're sharing it with other people.
Don't think logging in to an encrypted public network is any better. On your home network, encryption keeps hackers out. On a public network, hackers are just other members of the public. They can log in just as easily as you can.
Some hackers even set up fake public Wi-Fi networks. If you connect, they can monitor everything you do.
As a rule, don't do anything sensitive while using public Wi-Fi. Always assume someone can see what you're doing. Keeping that in mind will help you stay safe.
Lots more tech tips at www.komando.com
1. Take a screenshot Your friend just made a hilarious typo in their text message and you want to share it with your other friends. Capture it as an image with a screenshot. On an iPhone, press and hold the Home button along with the Sleep/Wake button. You should hear a shutter click. The screenshot will appear in your Camera Roll or Saved Photos section. On Androids, hold the Power and Volume Down buttons at the same time. The image is saved to the "Captured Images" folder in your Gallery app. That only works in Android 4.0 and higher, though. For Android 3.0, 2.3 or earlier, use an app like Airdroid.
2. Salvage a wet phone It's a heart-stopping moment when you drop your smartphone on the ground. If you don't have a good case, there's a chance it won't survive. It's even worse if you drop it in the water. Unless you have a waterproof case, your smartphone is sunk - literally. First, and most important, DON'T turn it on. If you turn it on with water inside, you'll fry it. Instead, wipe it down with a dry microfiber cloth. If the gadget is dirty, you can clean it with isopropyl rubbing alcohol. If the phone has a removable battery, take it out. Then fill a container or bag with uncooked rice and put the smartphone in the container overnight. The rice will help pull the moisture out of the gadget. Under no circumstances put the phone in the oven or microwave! The next day, put the phone back together and turn it on. If it starts up, congratulations! If not, you're off to the store for a new one.
3. Find a lost or stolen phone You can take your gadget everywhere you go. But once you're there, it's easy to leave it. Ipads & Iphones support Apple’s Find My Phone app. This allows you to use a computer or another iPhone to find your missing phone using GPS. You can also remotely lock and wipe your phone as well. Android gadgets have Where’s my Droid app.
4. Don't share your location Smartphone cameras are great for the casual shutterbug. If you aren't careful you're also sharing your location with everyone. Smartphones can embed GPS information into photos that anyone can read. You could turn off GPS when you're taking pictures. To turn it off on your iPhone, go to Settings>>Privacy Location Services. You can turn it off for everything or just for the camera. On an Android, go to Settings>>Location Services and turn GPS off when you don't need it. For Windows Phone, go to Settings>>Location to turn off Location Services.
5. Creative smartphone uses
Smartphones have way more features than you use. App designers have figured out some creative uses that you will love.
Heard for iphone is always recording using your smartphone's microphone. At any time, you can save audio from up to 5 minutes in the past.
Awareness for Android and iPhone uses your smartphone's microphone to keep track of noise around you while you're listening to music. Any sounds louder than regular background noise gets sent to your headphones.
Instant Heart Rate for iPhone and Android uses the phone's camera to figure out your heart rate. It detects the light passing through your finger and how it changes as your heart beats.
Metal detector app- iphone & android’s have you covered. They use your phone's built-in compass to find metals. You just need to hold your phone close to the ground.
Tips for Secure Passwords
The strongest password would actually be a string of random characters. Unfortunately, something like "Tl|_|,BwwB2R" isn't easy to remember. Or is it? Here’s how I came up with it. You can use a catch phrase, quote or even a song lyric. Song lyric example: "Tramps like us, baby we were born to run." I took the first character from each word. Not bad, but it could be better. So, I added some symbols in place of similar letters. U becomes |_|, the "to" from the original lyric becomes 2. Then, I capitalized a few of the letters to make a stronger password that I can remember: "Tl|_|,BwwB2R". Worst passwords-"password" or "12345". Remember to change passwords often to avoid your accounts getting hacked.
Cool Ways to use GOOGLE
Easy Math With Google
Here’s an example of something extra you can use Google for. Try
typing “1+1=” into http://www.google.com
Then try typing “Baghdad time” in the search window.
Really, it works, try it! You'll get the official time for that location.
And you'll find out that:
12 kilometers = 7.45645431 miles
Here’s a link to more information about using Google for all kinds of things:
Cleaning your gadgets at home & work is a great defense!! Start with powering down our gadget and remove the power supply. DO not spray anything into or onto your gadget. Avoid using alcohol based cleaners & anything abrasive on touch screens or your monitors. Give your tablet & phone a good rub down with a micro fiber cloth & be sure you wash that cloth to avoid germ build up. Now to focus on your computer, keyboard, & mouse. BE SURE to wipe them down daily especially during the cold & flu season, its especially important if you share that computer with others, like in our district Computer Labs. Unplug your keyboard & mouse or shut them off if they are wireless & remove the batteries. That keyboard probably has a fair amount of bread & cookie crumbs in between those keys. So turn the keyboard upside down & lightly hit it on your desk after a few minutes & you will be amazed when you see what comes out of that keyboard! Give it a blast of compressed air, then wipe the keyboard with a bleach free disinfecting wipe. On your laptop you can use the compressed air on the keyboard & track pad then clean with your wipe, just be sure it is off! To clean your desktop computer case, use the disinfecting wipe to go over the metal & plastic surfaces. On the monitor use a soft, lint free cloth. I have had people tell me that you can throw your keyboard into the dishwasher, that is NOT true!!!!! So please do not try it. Also remember to wipe down your landline phone, remote controls, doorknobs, faucets, and appliance handles. Place a bottle of Germ X & tissues by your computer and use them often to avoid spreading germs.
To scroll web pages, don’t bother grabbing the mouse and placing your cursor on the scroll bar to anchor a page. Simply hit the “space” key to move down the page and “shift” plus “space” key to move back up.
When filling in online forms (such as your address), most folks know they can “tab” through to save time, but what about that cumbersome state pull-down? When it’s time to state your state, simply type the first letter of your state (e.g., “T” for Texas). The first time you hit “T’ you’ll see Tennessee (alphabetical order), hit T twice and there pops Texas.
To enlarge your Web screen, when on a PC, hold down the “Ctrl” key while tapping the “+” (plus) key to get your desired screen size. Too big? Again, hold down the “Ctrl” key, but tap the “-” (minus) key instead.
You want to sound intelligent in your texts, minding your periods, sentence capitalization and all that. Not necessary, though. Your smartphone is smart, too. Just hit the space bar twice and it’ll enter periods, spacing between sentences and sentence caps for you.
Once upon a time *69 was the quickest way to call someone right back. For today’s smartphone users, the “call” button is all it takes. You don’t even have to go into recent calls to redial your last contact.
If having to hang on for long-winded voicemail instructions/intros makes you want to scream, hang on. Your mobile phone offers a keyboard command allowing you to skip straight to recording your message. Commands vary by carrier (for example: Verizon: *, AT&T and T-Mobile: # and Sprint: 1).
Quickly check your balance, by carrier:
For optimal performance it’s just as important to keep the computer clean on the inside. An overload of files and outdated software can waste valuable hard drive space and slow your speed.
Click the button > then Panel > then choose > followed by where you’ll see a complete list of your software programs. Select what want to delete and click
You can also shed unnecessary files on your hard disk and free up disk space by using on a regular basis. It removes temporary files, empties the Recycle Bin, and clears a variety of system files you no longer need.
Click the button. In the search box, type
In the list, click
In the select the check boxes for the file types you want to delete, and then click
In the confirmation message that appears, click