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.
 

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Alright – we’re all pros at working from home now, right?

Okay Gladys, I see you over there – still working at your office.  I’m not talking to you. 

Actually, I still am talking to you because even though this might not affect you work wise, you might still want my tip for your normal life.

I digress……
Even though we’re working on week five thousand and three of self isolation (at least it feels like it), you might still be able to tweak a few things to make yourself more productive.

Today I want to talk about QOS on your home network.

What is QOS?  It stands for quality of service.  It’s how your router chooses which devices in your home get to go to the front of the wi-fi line. 

Have you ever been right in the middle of a Zoom call when the apple of your eye decides it’s time to start his online game championship and your Zoom call suddenly becomes choppy and pixelated?  Or are you trying to upload that important report at the same time that your teenager is downloading all of the Twilight movies in order to have a marathon binge watching session?

 
You can change all of this by giving your work computer or device priority in the QOS settings on your router.  That way, your device will always be at the front of the line.  Most routers support QOS settings and can be accessed through your router web portal or an app. 

And of course, we’re here to answer any questions.

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Impersonators aren’t a new thing, right?  They’ve been around since…..well…..at least since Elvis.
Something that is newer though is impersonation emails, because those have only been around since…..well, you know.  Since email became a widely used thing and bad guys decided to get involved.

What is an impersonation email?  Basically, it’s a phishing method where the bad guys send you an email that is crafted to look like it’s coming from someone you know or someone with authority in your organzation.  It’s all about impersonating someone that they are not.  

This makes it tricky to detect because they have gotten very good at making their emails look legit and like they are coming from the person they say it is.

But not all impersonations look alike.
So in order to help weed out imposters, most email users already have basic imposter detection in place.  It will look for things that seem a bit fishy.  For example, it might see [email protected] is emailing [email protected] – but Sarah’s domain is actually something different (like, inmotionisgreat.com) and is impersonating an inmotionnet.com email address.  So the email gets flagged because the email server can see the impersonation.

Or maybe [email protected] emails something to [email protected], and this gets flagged.  Sure, she may be forwarding something from her personal email to her work email.  Definitely a possibility.  However, it still gets flagged because it’s also possible that someone is just trying to impersonate Sarah and impersonated her personal email address instead of the domain email address.

When it comes down to it, being educated and aware is the most important thing.  So while it’s good that your email probably has some protection in place, still remember to be cautious when opening emails.  If it is from someone you don’t know, even if it looks like it’s coming from your own domain or office, don’t click links or attachments until you verify the sender.

Even if it is from someone you know but they are asking you to do something such as send a wire transfer or change account credentials and you weren’t expecting this from them – don’t do anything until you verify that it is from them.

And above all – please, please, please don’t add your own email address or domain to any allowed lists or filters.  That just makes it too easy for the bad guys.

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Well.  Life is upside down.  I feel like we’re all playing a huge game of Don’t Touch the Lava.  You know, the game kids play on a playground?  Don’t move, don’t fall, don’t touch anything….stay at your home base and survive!!

Just me? Hmmmm…..okay.

Anyway!

Since so many of us are now working from home, doing distance learning, and social distancing – we have seen the rise of the use of any and all apps that allow us to see people we can’t actually see in person.
One of the biggest platforms that people have been using is Zoom.  They’ve offered their services for free in a lost of cases, so a lot of schools and businesses have jumped on the Zoom bandwagon.

Now….I don’t want to completely bash Zoom.  However, what we have been seeing is that the more people use it – the more vulnerabilities are being exposed.  There are some legitimate security and privacy concerns with more and more people using it.

We would recommend that you take a look at your options when working remote.  A lot of businesses already have resources they are paying for that they aren’t fully utilizing. 

For example, do you have Office 365?  Then you have Microsoft Teams, which has a lot of video conferencing capabilities and messaging capabilities.  

Do you pay for Google Business apps?  Check out the Hangout, Meeting and Chat features.

Even if you don’t currently have these options, the companies are also offering their services – such as Google offering some of its features for free, and Microsoft offering Teams for free for six months.  It’s worth talking to us and figuring out what resources your business has available to it.

And if you DO need to use Zoom, please pay attention to the news and make sure you are doing all you can to stay safe as you use it!  Make sure you set your own password for the group (don’t use the default) and don’t send links in the chat!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Guys. Let’s get serious for a second.

Were all of you forced to update to Windows 10 like I was????

Let’s not lie. I HATE CHANGE. However, there is nothing so consistent as change, especially when it comes to technology!!

So: decision time. Find the good, positive changes and embrace them, or be miserable.

I don’t like being miserable.

So here are a few tips and tricks that you may not have been aware of that will make Windows 10 more bearable!

1.) New start menu look

 

 

The new start menu gave me shingles.

Seriously, all those tiles, so much in your face – I just couldn’t take it. Maybe you’re the same way. Thankfully those tiles can be REMOVED.

Simply right click on any tile you don’t want to see, and click on Unpin from Start Menu.

 

 

If you’re OCD like me, you will be left with no tiles at all. And peace in your life.

2.) Shake away unnecessary windows

Does your computer desk top sometimes look like mine?

 

 

So many windows open. All at once. You start working on one thing, and then your attention gets pulled in another direction, and then another direction, and then before you know it – chaos.

And then I can’t focus.

Okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but this tip is still a cool thing to fix this overly dramatic situation.

Whichever window you want to actually work in, click in the top of that specific window and while still clicked, shake the window back and forth.

All other windows will minimize, leaving only the window you want to work in visible.

The other windows are still open, they’re just minimized. And if you want to bring them all back right away, just click and shake again!

3.) Snap windows to size

Sometimes when I’m working, I need to have at least two windows open at once. And since I have two monitors, easy peasy! I can have my instructions for what I’m doing open on one monitor, and then the application I’m working in on the other monitor.

However….what about when I’m working on the taxes? And I need one window for the instructions, and one window for Quickbooks, and one window for the spread sheet, and one window for the other spreadsheet, and one window showing me a live stream of a meadow to keep me calm amidst all the insanity? I only have two monitors!

Well, this new tip is fantastic! You can *snap* a window to size. So, if I need to have two windows open in the same monitor, you just click and drag it all the way over to the side of the monitor. The window will automatically snap to that half of the monitor. And then you can snap the other half to the other side of the monitor.

 

And if you have three or four things you need open at once? You drag things to the corners of the monitor, and it will snap into a quarter of the monitor!

 

4.) Heads or tails?

Are you as indecisive as I am? Is that just me? No? Well, here’s a silly but USEFUL thing that Windows 10 can do for you.

Click the start button and type “flip a coin”. Click on the “Let’s chat” option that comes up and see what the results are!

 

 

So there you go! Just a few little things to help find the silver lining in this madness we call Windows 10!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

Have you guys met my friend, the scroll wheel of the mouse??

Guys…..this little beauty is the unsung hero of the mouse.  Well….not that the right click or the regular click are sung heros…..uh, I digress.

Point being, EVERYBODY knows that you can use the scroll wheel to scroll.  Up and down a page all the live long day.  But did you know that there are other things that this scroll wheel does?

The one I use most commonly is when I am looking for something online.  Let me share a little secret about me.  I am indecisive.  I couldn’t choose a restaurant for dinner or a gift for a friend if my life depended on it!  So when I’m looking for something, rather than click on an option, then go back, click on a new option, then go back – I’d rather open up each option in a new tab.  Then I can look at them, ponder them – maybe bookmark them to look at later.  And the scroll wheel has three functions that really help me out!

When I find a link I want to click on, instead of clicking on it with the left click, I click on it with the scroll wheel!  This automatically opens the new page up in a new tab.  Then I can go through pages of Amazon, and have my potential contenders all left open, instead of trying to go back and remember what I liked best.  This usually results in me making a folder on my bookmarks tab labeled Gift Ideas that I then bookmark all the contenders to look at later.

If I have a folder of Gift Ideas that has a whole slew of options I’ve bookmarked, and it is now time to make a decision, if I click on the Gift Ideas folder with the scroll wheel, it opens every bookmarked page in that folder!

When I have finally made my decision, and I now have a plethora of tabs in my browser, I can just click the scroll wheel anywhere on each tab to close it – I don’t have to navigate to the X in the corner.

And this is why I generally don’t do too much online shopping and I just wander the aisles of Target instead.

Happy scrolling!

Larilyn’s Tip of the Week

We all use Google, right? For everything from the best chocolate cake recipe to which is the best microwave/dishwasher combo to buy (there’s a chance that might not be a thing).

Did you know that there are companies who pay for their name to come up in a Google search? It is pretty much guaranteed that when you search a topic, you will see sponsored results pop up among your legitimate results. This probably isn’t the most harmful thing most of the time, but it’s something important to be aware of.

For example, if I’m searching for that best chocolate cake recipe, it doesn’t matter that ten or eleven sites down on the list, there is a sponsored link from Kraft (you can tell it’s sponsored because of the ad box on the left). I might look at their recipe, I might not. Either way, no harm, no foul.

However, if I’m having issues with my Mac computer, and I can’t find the number to the local Apple store (why you wouldn’t call US is beyond me), I might google Apple tech support. And look at what is the very first result:

A link to a company with no affiliation to Apple whatsoever. Could possibly still be harmless, but it could also be a Phisher just waiting for a bite from someone willing to pay any price to get their computer back up and running.

So keep this in mind the next time you’re Googling!

6 steps to keep yourself safe online

We all use the internet, and nothing is going to change that.  But can we all use it safely?   

Avoiding sketchy websites used to be the key to protecting yourself online, and for the most part, it was rather easy to do.  But now, avoiding malicious websites is only part of the gig.  You can be infected with viruses, spyware, trojans, and other ruthless malware simply by opening up the wrong email, clicking on the wrong link, or landing on the wrong website (whether it’s a sketchy website or not).  However, this doesn’t mean safeguarding your online world is a lost cause.  

Protecting yourself online involves some work on your end, as well as a high degree of good ol’ fashioned suspicion.  Here are six basic steps you can take to better protect yourself online.      

Use strong passwords.

Craft your passwords to be strong, and you’ll easily sidestep a vast majority of online threats.  In the event of a serious data breach, the stronger your password, the less likely it is that your account information will leak out.  But what does a strong password look like?  Try a phrase with capital letters, numbers, and symbols.  Just make sure the phrase is altered from account to account.  Here are two examples:

  • EyelookGood9032!
  • CookiesRprettyGud*89

 

Be suspicious of emails.

When it comes to emails, always be skeptical of who messages come from and what they’re asking you to do.  Malicious emails can be extremely targeted, making them very believable.  It’s important never to click on links, download files, or follow through with a request until you validate the email and its contents.

 

Shop only on trustworthy websites.

Sometimes it might be tempting to purchase products on obscure websites—maybe the product you’re looking for is hard to find, or it’s considerably cheaper on other, less popular sites.  But is it worth losing your financial information to a thief or infecting your computer with a virus because you found a tee-shirt two dollars cheaper on an obscure website?   

 

Install a good anti-virus.

There’s no reason you shouldn’t have a good anti-virus installed on your devices.  You can purchase software for a relatively decent price and install it on all of your connected devices.  Even though operating systems and browsers come with their own security, it’s important to layer on the security as much as possible.   

 

Lock your device.

You should always have your connected devices locked—PC, laptop, tablet, phone, and anything else you may have.  There should be a password to access your device and then additional passwords to access applications and online accounts.  

 

Know the settings on your browser.

Your browser’s settings can help you protect yourself online if you know what to look for.  You can block pop-ups, secure your privacy, turn off search history, and ask the browser to notify you of malicious sites.  To learn more, do an online search of your specific browser, and you should be able to find a comprehensive how-to list.  Here’s a useful list of security settings for Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer.