Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

If you use any sort of social media….Facebook, TikTok, Instagram…..MySpace……you might be familiar with the concept of TBT.  Throw back Thursday.

People have great fun revisiting posts and sharing pictures of themselves from days gone by.
Well this week, I’m doing a little TBT of my own.  I’m posting a tip this week that I originally posted years ago.  So if you’ve been a loyal reader all this time, feel free to move right along.
However, over the last few years we’ve added a lot more friends, followers, and clients – and this is something that may be helpful to them.  Plus the program has been updated a bit  So here it is.  The first.  EVER.  
 Throwback Tip Thursday
(or whatever day of the week you read this)!!!
If I had a dollar for every time I heard the phrase, “I swear, it wasn’t working when I called you!”, this would be me:
And sometimes when I hear that, the problem never happens again for the user.  There are times though where it happens five minutes after we hang up the phone.   

Rather than try to rush and call me while it’s still happening, sometimes it’s best to document what’s going on.  I’ve also found though that most people look at me like I’ve grown a second head out of my neck when I say, “just take a screen shot!”  Apparently this is a foreign concept to most people.  

In the original tip, I spoke of the Snipping Tool (which actually is still an option, but is going to disappear at some point).  This time however, I’m going to talk to you about the Snip & Sketch Tool.  And if I loved the Snipping Tool, I’m absolutely twitterpated and smitten over the Snip & Sketch Tool.  

It can be found by clicking on your start bar, type Snip, and you’ll see the Snip & Sketch icon pop up as an option.  
Your screen will kind of gray out and you will see a small box of options at the top of your screen:
Lemme zoom in on that for you.  One second.
Moving from left to right, you have the following options.

First, the Rectangular Snip.  If you click on this, you select some point of your screen and drag the rectangle around the portion you want to “snip” (don’t release the mouse button until you’ve completed your rectangle).  It basically cuts it out of your screen so you can then save it as an image.

The second option is the FreeForm Snip.  This allows you to select some point of your screen and you hold the mouse down as you draw whatever shape you want (again, don’t release the mouse button until you’ve completed your shape).  You may want a circle, or to highlight only certain people in a photo.  Whatever is within the section you draw will be your snip.

The third option is the Window Snip.  You may have Quickbooks open on the left side of your screen and Excel open on the right.  You want a snip of the entire Excel window.  When you choose the Window snip, you then select whichever window you want a snip of.  

The fourth option is the Fullscreen Snip.  You choose this option and it will automatically snip your full screen (even multiple screens if you have multiple monitors).  

At the end you see the X, which is just to exit out if you’ve changed your mind in the two seconds it takes to open the program.

Once you have your snippet, you can add writing, highlighting, or other edits, and then you can save it by clicking on the disk icon.
I highly recommend pinning this tool to your task bar so that whenever you have something you want to document – to show me, or just because you want to save and cherish it forever – it’s just a mouse click away from being able to do it’s job!  All you have to do is right click on the icon, and select Pin to Taskbar.
Even if you don’t use it to document something you called me about, it’s still a great tool to use anytime you need to send us an email because you can snip a specific error you’re getting, or show what your screen is looking like.  It’s always helpful for us to diagnose something when we can see it!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Ahhhh, technology.  It’s such a wonderful thing!  It allows us to be more productive.  It keeps us connected to family and friends across large distances.  It grants us access to practically any television series imaginable so that we can watch all 4,000 seasons in one weekend and not even feel a little bit guilty.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  As wonderful as technology is – it’s also very sneaky, and CANNOT be trusted!

“But Larilyn!” I hear you saying in your inner dialogue voice.  “What on earth do you mean by that?  My whole life is centered around my devices.”

I respond by saying this.  First of all, you are on earth so your life centers around the sun.
Second of all – as great as technology is, there is so much about it that can’t be trusted.

Take emails for example.  Think about what it takes for you to set up an email account.  You log onto your favorite email site – Hotmail, AOL, what have you.  You tell them what your name is and what you want your email address to be.

Think about that for a moment.  You tell them who you are.  You pick the name.  They don’t check your ID.  They don’t do any kind of verification.  They take you at your word.  

I could tell them that I am Snuffleupagus, and they wouldn’t bat an eye.  They would just wonder why I don’t write to Big Bird more often.
The same is true for phone numbers and caller ID.  I can set up a phone line through a VOIP provider (many companies use VOIP lines now instead of land lines).  Part of the set up process is I tell them what I want my caller ID to show up as.  So I could tell them that I am Phoebe Buffay, and that’s what will show up when I call people.
And now I hear your inner voice again.  “Okay Larilyn, that may be true…..but who cares?  Why does it matter?”

I will tell you why it matters.  Because as a people, we are too trusting.  We get an email that says it is from our childhood best friend and we get excited and will click on any link he has sent us because we fondly remember our childhood and think that he can be trusted. 

Or we get a phone call that says it is from Microsoft, and we will believe them when they tell us that our computer has been compromised and we have to give them $400 for them to run a scan and repair – they just need the money and access to our computer.
So please – always confirm the sender of an email if it seems phishy.  Or even if it doesn’t but it’s not someone you’re expecting something from – just confirm it with them!  

Pay little attention to the phone number or the caller ID.  If it’s a number you recognize but doesn’t sound like the person you know, it might not be legit.  If it says it is coming from a legit business but you don’t have any business with them, it might not be legit.  And if a legit business is calling you, they need to confirm who they are, they don’t need you to confirm who you are!

Don’t trust people saying they are from Microsoft or any other kind of tech support.  You know us in the office.  If it’s not Scott, Jose, or Larilyn, it’s probably not legit.  Shoot us a quick email or give us a call.  We’ll let you know if it’s a scam. 

Just be careful and everything will be alright!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

I was trying to figure out some big life altering tip for this week, but nothing I was finding seemed right.  And as I looked and looked, a phrase kept popping into my head.
So…..I took a step back and thought – what is something simple that everyone can use? 

Well, I know I always love finding a new keyboard short cut.  When you spend all day on a computer, it’s the little things, right?
Sometimes, even though I type really fast – my brain goes faster than my fingers.  And so sometimes while I’m typing, I realize that the word I just typed – you know, the word practically – somehow came out looking like…..
The whole word has to go.  So I could do one of two things.  

Option A – I could furiously type the backspace key to the beat of Gloria Estefan’s absolutely appropriately titled hit…..
OR….

I could go with option B – the newest shortcut I am going to share with you.

Did you know that if you hold down the Ctrl button when you hit the backspace button, it will actually delete an entire word.  And bonus….this even works on a Mac!

With one simple hit (unlike Ms. Estefan’s discography), your mistake vanishes like it never even existed.

You just tested it, didn’t you?

Would I LIE to you?

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Today I want to talk about something that has been a basic function of Windows since…..well…..
 
It’s a very handy thing to know about and to use, but most people I know don’t even know that it exists!

It makes typing much easier if you have to use symbols that you don’t see right on your keyboard.

If you’ve never found yourself in a situation such as this, keep moving.  Nothing to see here.  

However.  If I’ve piqued your interest…..
(If you haven’t already figured out that I’m a major nerd, I feel like this left no doubt in your mind….am I right?)

Let me introduce you to the Character Map.
As you can see, it shows you a plethora of characters and symbols.  It shows you every available character within a font – and you can pick all different fonts!

If you only need a symbol or character once, you can select a character and it will show up in the “Characters to copy” box.  You then copy it and paste it into whatever you need.

However, the real reason that I’m absolutely, devastatingly in love with the character map is what you can learn from it to make your life easier.  It makes my heart go pitter pat.
Say you do a lot of work where you type up copyrighted material, and you constantly have to put in the copyright symbol.  You could find the symbol and copy and paste it a million times.  You could even go into the Character Map and select it and put it in a million times.

Orrrrr…..you could pay attention to the lower right corner.
You see where it gives you a keystroke?  That is actually the secret combination of keys to hit in order to put the symbol that you want into your text without ever having to cut, paste, or open the character map again!

Let me tell you – this came so in handy during my many years of French class!  I just memorized the right key strokes for my cedilla and accent marks, and then I could type like the wind!  

One does not type 110 WPM without learning the shortcuts on the keyboard.  35+ years of piano playing probably doesn’t hurt either, but I digress…..

I hope this tip helps you shave minutes off your typing needs in the future!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Has this ever happened to you?

You are having a conversation with your family, or perhaps watching a show, or you are just a generally inquisitive mind and you want to Google something.

So you open up your web browser and start your search.  Along the way, you find an article, and then a link to another article, or another page…..and before you know it.  WHAM.  
 
You’re down a rabbit hole.

Yeah.  Me neither.

Anyway….what I wanted to talk about is actually when you are in said rabbit hole and are reading previously mentioned article and you come across a word, or a phrase, or perhaps a name or event title – and you have clue what it means.
Context is no help.  Shouting to my husband to ask if he knows what it means yields no results.  I don’t really want to go down a second rabbit hole.  I’m kind of busy here.  However, I need to know.  

I could open a new tab and start a new Google search.  However, do you know what’s even faster?
Don’t be silly.  Roadrunners may be fast, but they can’t use technology.

Did you know that if you highlight the word/phrase/whatever it is and right click on what you highlighted, you can select the option to “Search Google”?  Or if you are on your iPhone, you can highlight the word and hit “Look Up”.  Same thing!

Swear.  Cross my heart, hope to die.

Now, this may not be the most amazing tip I’ve ever posted.  Or the most time saving.  But it is a tip.  And I bet you’ll try it!  Hey – every second you save adds up in the end, right?

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

I have a confession to make.

I’m a hoarder.  

But not really the kind you’re thinking of.
 
No, I’m not talking about that kind of hoarding.  I’m talking about the fact that when it comes to things on my computer, I like to save them.  Pictures, emails, memes galore.  Every paper I’ve written for most of the classes I’ve ever taken – you never know when I’ll need that essay on the many reasons why the chicken may have actually crossed the road.  You name it, I have it saved and ready for if the need for it ever arises again.

It’s great that we make folders and sub folders and organize files and such to our hearts content, but somtimes it’s hard to remember where the file I’m looking for can be, or maybe I actually have a topic that I want to review and I want to look at multiple files dealing with that topic – but they’re spread out all over creation.
 
Fortunately, there is a great feature that helps with this.  You know how online, people can tag things with key words or phrases that help to search for them?  Did you know that you can do this on your own computer with your files?

When you are saving a file in Microsoft Word or Excel for example, there is an option under the file name for More Options.
Once you click on that, it will open up another box where you can name the file, tell it where to save – just like normal.  However, at the bottom you will see the option for Add a Tag.
You can click and type whatever tags will help you stay organized.  For example, I might tag this blog as “Tips” or “Computers”.  

The great thing about Tags is that then when you are looking for something on a certain subject, you can find all of the files you have on the same topic without having to navigate across all different folders and subfolders.

All you have to do is open your File Explorer and in the Search This PC box at the top right, type tags: and the tag your’re searching for.  So for example, tags: tips.  You can whittle down as much or as little as you like of where the tag will search – searching your whole PC or just your Documents folder or perhaps your Desktop – but whatever you search, everything that has been tagged with that particular tag will show up for you.
Isn’t technology simply the best??

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Do you guys have little sayings that help you remember things?  For example, 30 days hath September, April, June and November.  All the rest have 31, except for February who can’t keep it together to make it to the end of a month.

Wait.  I may have improvised the end of that one.
Or the one I’ve heard parents use to figure out the limits on presents at Christmas time?  Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read.
Well when it comes to security on your computer – whether it be your actual computer log in, or your email log in, or your financial institution log in, there’s a saying for the different types of security that can be used.Something you know – this can be anything from a user name and password, to a PIN number, to a secret pass phraseSomething you have – an ID of some sort or a cell phone where you can receive verification codes, or use an authenticator appSomething you are – think biometrics, eye scans, or fingerprint confirmationMost sites we use rely on option number 1.  Something you know.  If you have your user name and password, you are in.  

However, more and more we are moving to two factor (or even multi factor) authentication.

What does this mean?  Well – your user name and password is one factor of the security equation.  That is one factor authentication.  To use two factor, you use a second option of the security equation.

Many phones and even some laptops will take the something you are approach – relying on your finger print or facial recognition to let you access your device.

Many platforms, such as Google for your Gmail, allow 2 Factor as an easy option to turn on.  Once on – whenever you log in from a new device, it will want to confirm that it is you through a second level of authentication.  
The great thing about this is that you can have it send a code straight to your phone.  So no matter how hard a hacker tries to get into your email – even if they are sly enough to figure out that your password is f1ve1$b1gg3rthAnf0ur – they still won’t be able to get into your account.  As soon as they enter your correct password, it will automatically send you a code to your phone.  And they won’t have any way to guess the code before it expires.

Some sites will use an authenticator app – easily downloaded from your app store.  Then you scan a QR code so that their code will show up.  This allows you to go in and find a code for the site you are trying to log into instead of waiting for a code to be sent to you.
When it comes down to it, a lot of this can seem like a frustrating pain in the rear end.  However, it’s the world we live in.  The “bad guys” are getting smarter and smarter, and they don’t care who you are or how nice you are – they want to take advantage of you.  So it is important that you use any and all safety measures you can to ensure that you and your information are safe.

If you need help figuring out how to use two factor authentication, just reach out and we will be more than happy to help!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

You guys.  You may have noticed by now that when I get talking, I can go on and on.  I share information, but I get a little silly.  A little sassy.  Maybe even a little snarky.  Some may say it’s a problem.  I say it’s personality.

But sometimes it’s just rough to come up with more than a few things to say.  Especially if I don’t have inspiration strike.

And so today I come before you with just a short tip.  However, don’t be deceived by appearances.
This is a single tip.  A short tip.  But it has saved me time often.

Have you ever been trying to find something on a very specific topic, or a very obscure topic.  You go to our best friend Google and type in the search and it gives you a page of links to search through.  You click on a link and are met with a wall of words.

Where do you start?  How can you find where in that mass of vocabulary is the one sentence or section you’re even interested in?

Well – let me introduce you to my friend:  CTRL + F.  

Although, if you are a Mac user, you may be more familiar with my weird cousin CMD + F.  

If you hit CTRL + F (or CMD + F), it will pop up a little box, usually at the top right of your screen for browsers such as Chrome, but I’ve actually used this tool in many applications and sometimes it pops up elsewhere on the screen.

I digress.

In that box, type the specific word or phrase you are looking for and hit enter.  It will take you to the first mention on that page.  AND highlight it!  And even better, if that doesn’t seem to help much, you can hit the little down arrow in the same little pop up box and it will take you to the NEXT mention.  And so on and so forth.

Also, it will keep you from wasting time because if you type in your word and it doesn’t show any results, you know you can back yourself right on out of that page – these are not the words you’re looking for.

So I hope this saves some of you a little time in the future.  Until next time!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

A few months ago (although, at this point of the COVID-19 crisis, maybe it was actually a year ago?  Or maybe it was yesterday?  Time has no meaning), Scott came back from a conference for work where many vendors had booths that he could wander to and learn more about their products.  As is typical of such functions, they all had small gifts and branded prizes to hand out in the hopes of earning your business.

Scott brought one of these small gifts back to the office and gave it to me, and I must say – it is one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.

What could it be?  A laptop?  A gift card?  Whimsical socks??
Not for this girl.  This girl got way over excited and totally enthralled with her brand new….top of the line….branded after some vendor or another (that honestly, I couldn’t actually tell you who it’s from.  I blame the stars in my eyes when I look at the beauty.  Totally blocks out the brand name)…..drum roll please:
My heart beats a little faster just looking at that computer cleaning tool.  I miss it dearly.  I know it is safe, tucked away at the office in my side drawer, waiting for my eventual return when all goes back to normal.  It has a microfiber side that allows me to dust the monitor, and the little bristle side to get in the little nooks and crannies of my keyboard.

And yes.  I realize that I have just attained a level of nerdiness that most of you probably would like to social distance yourself from forever.  I’m okay with that.  Nerd power.
 
I know I’m unusual.  Most people don’t think about this.  However, during this time of a global pandemic, it is something we all actually need to think about!  Some of you probably want to disinfect your work space when you return to work – or even want to disinfect your personal computers.  So I wanted to give you just a few do’s and don’t’s that apply to your computer workstation so that you can clean without ruining your machine! 

*DO unplug everything from power before you do any kind of cleaning (make sure you properly turn things off first)

*Please DON’T use Windex or bleach.  First of all, your computer screen generally isn’t glass (there are a few exceptions – like a Mac or tablet).  And secondly, Windex doesn’t disinfect anything.  And bleach….that’s just overkill.

*DO use something like rubbing alcohol, but do not put it directly on the computer.  Put it on a soft cloth, preferably something micro-fiber that won’t leave dust particles behind.  Then use that moistened cloth to clean the computer, keyboard keys, or mouse.

*****Side DO:  If you are doing this to disinfect, also consider wearing gloves while wiping everything down

*****Another side DO:  You could also choose to use something like a Lysol wipe, but make sure you wring that puppy out until it’s so dry it thinks it is the surface of the Sahara Desert.  Even let it sit for a few minutes after wringing it out so that it really gets dry.

*DON’T over moisten that cloth.  Electronics don’t take well to being soaked.  A little can go a long way.  Slightly damp is all you need.  Wring it out before cleaning the computer.

*DO use compressed air to clean your keyboard.  And make sure you actually stand your keyboard on one end at an angle so that anything the air dislodges will actually fall out of the keyboard, instead of just floating around on the inside having a party.

*DON’T try to use any kind of stick, pen, probe, or anything to get under the keys of your keyboard.  That’s how keys get broken, and that’s why we can’t have nice things.  Stick to the can of air.

Keeping these tips in mind, your desk will be sparkling clean in no time!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Something I’ve seen a lot of over the last few weeks is a rare sight.

The return of dinosaurs.
Okay – not real dinosaurs.  And not even the precious and cute animatronic ones found at a Disney theme park.

I’m talking about old computers.  

And when I say old computers, I don’t mean computers from 1990.  When you still had a green screen.  And command line was common.  And Oregon Trail was my jam.
 
When it comes to computers for business purposes, we generally recommend considering replacing every 3-5 years.  Anything older than that belongs with the t-rex if you ask me.

What we have seen over the last few months (thanks a lot COVID) is people suddenly using their personal computers for business purposes.  And a lot of times, these computers are old and not maintained or kept up to date.

So I have a few tips for you that might help get a little more life out of your old computer if it’s just not in your budget to put the poor thing out of its misery and buy yourself a new one.

1.)  Updates are your friend!!  And there are two different types of updates you need to make sure you are doing. Operating system (this would be Windows updates or Mac updates) updates are important.  In fact, anything older than a current version of Windows 10 (such as Windows 7 or even version of Windows 10 previous 1809) are no longer support by Microsoft.  And Apple doesn’t support anything older than Mac OS 10.15.4 / 10.14.6 / 10.13.6.
 It’s also important to do manufacturer updates.  So if you have an HP, you would want to use the HP Support Assistant to check if there are HP updates for your system.  Or if you have a Dell, there’s an app on your computer called Support Assist. 

You want to make sure both your computer and it’s operating system are up to date! 
2.)  Restart your computer regularly.  You don’t need to restart it every day, but once a week is a good guideline.  And if you are using a laptop, remember that simply closing the lid is NOT restarting.  So you still want to make sure you restart once a week.

3.)  Remove unwanted programs.  Sure, back in the early 2000’s, everyone was using AOL Messenger.  However, if you don’t use it – remove it!  Clean up that space and get rid of it!

4.)  Go through and delete unwanted pictures.  It’s great that we have digital cameras and can take fifty shots of a sunset so we get the perfect one.  However, keep the one and delete the 49!  Pictures take up a lot of space, and the older your computer, the more I bet you have on there!

5.)  Use disk clean up.  This will help get rid of some of the temporary files that bog your computer down that it just doesn’t need – hence the label “temporary”.  To do this, simply hit the Start button (the Windows logo on the bottom left of your screen).  Type “Disk Cleanup” and select the application that pops up.  It will open up a box and you can check off all of the items that you want it to clean (I go for it all!) and hit okay.  

Hopefully as you do these things, your computer will have a little more pep in its step.  But remember, even a dinosaur with pep in its step is still…..a dinosaur.