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Do It Yourself or Consult A Pro?

Are you an Uncle Joe?

I cherish many memories of my Uncle Joe.  He and my Aunt Becky provided me my first childhood job working in their Hawaiian Bliss shaved ice trailer at tristate festivals and fairs.

One time while vacationing with them at their Waycross, Georgia, home, my Uncle Joe even arranged for me to play a piano solo for Garry Jones, the pianist of my favorite Southern Gospel quartet Gold City.

But my Uncle Joe was also stubborn and sneaky.  Before he passed away last December, his health had been declining.  Several years ago, his doctor told him he needed to quit smoking cigarettes.  Otherwise his life would be greatly shortened and less than enjoyable.

Instead of adopting a plan to break his unhealthy habit, he would make excuses to run errands so he could take a few puffs several times every day.  Hoping to not get caught by Becky!  (Even though I and my mom had seen him many times driving his van in town, smoking a cigarette.)

I understand quitting smoking is extremely hard.  While all of us inherently know not smoking greatly improves our health, some people just won’t give it up.  Even if the doctor tells you it’s really your only choice.

diy-or-professionalWhen it comes to technology, it’s tempting to do it all yourself – whether it’s for your personal home use or your local business.  It’s easy to dismiss the advice of computer professionals, hoping to save a few pennies.

That decision usually results in unintended problems, which cost more to correct.  Just like not listening to your doctor.

Sometimes having an expert’s guidance and assistance really is the best option.

Starting A Business Ain’t Easy

Laurie’s been a client of mine for six years.  We’ve maintained her personal computers by keeping them protected against viruses and safely backing up her important pictures and documents.

When she and her husband decided to start their own business, Laurie called for advice and assistance in purchasing the right computers and software.  She thoughtfully answered my questions and attentively listened to and adopted my recommendations tailored to their business’ specific needs.

Not only did I provide technical expertise, I also offered practical business advice to help them avoid many common mistakes new business owners make.

They’re on the right track to a successful business venture as a result of seeking and implementing recommendations of professionals – myself, their accountant, their lawyer and others.

It’s Just A Cable Modem, Right?

Norma recently received a new cable modem in the mail from Time Warner for her home.  She needed to replace her existing modem to take advantage of the faster Internet speeds soon to be available in our area.

Although the Time Warner customer service agent said it would be easy to install, Norma called me.

I advised her that depending on the device Time Warner sent her, a special setting may be necessary to avoid problems with her wireless network.

I explained that another client recently had a new modem installed at her house, but because the cable guy didn’t properly configure it, she had problems keeping her tablets connected wirelessly.

Norma asked that I install her new modem to make sure it was set up correctly.

Sometimes DIY is a good option.  But it’s never a bad idea to seek input from a professional first.

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Vista & Office 2007 Users: The End Is Near

Windows Vista

“Change is inevitable.  Change is constant,” wrote former British Prime Minister and author Benjamin Disraeli.

No where is it more true than in the world of technology, where changes occur over months rather than years.

Only two years ago, I issued the “final notice” about the death of Windows XP. 

Today, I’m alerting you to the upcoming end of life for the Windows Vista operating system and the 2007 versions of Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).

Microsoft will no longer support or issue updates for Vista machines after April 11, 2017.  The same will happen for the 2007 versions of Microsoft Office on October 10, 2017.

Simply put, you do not want to use your computer – especially on the Internet – after those dates.  Doing so will leave you extremely vulnerable to virus infections and hackers looking to steal your personal information.  Repair options will become limited as well.

Many new software programs and hardware devices, such as printers and scanners, won’t work on these older computers.

 

Google’s Pulling the Plug Early

Internet Explorer 9 is the latest version of that browser available for Windows Vista.  Many websites do not display properly in Internet Explorer 9, as you may have already discovered.

A common workaround has been to use Google Chrome, my recommended web browser.  However, Google has decided to end its support for Google Chrome on Vista PCs this month – one full year before Microsoft puts Vista to sleep for good.

Continuing to use Chrome on a Vista computer after this month will make your PC more susceptible to viruses and hackers.

You could switch to using the Mozilla Firefox browser on your Vista computer.  But that’s not my best recommendation.

So read on…

 

How To Know If Your PC Runs Vista

First, you need to determine if your computer’s operating system is Windows Vista.

To do this, simply open your web browser and go to http://www.WhatsMyOS.com.  This website will detect and display the operating system installed on your PC.

 

What Version of Microsoft Office Are You Using?

No matter what operating system you’re using, you also need to know if your version of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook needs to be upgraded.

To check what version of Microsoft Office is installed on your computer:

  1. Click on the start button in the bottom left corner of your screen.
  2. In the right column, click on Control Panel.
  3. Click on “Programs and Features” in the window that opens.
  4. Scroll through the list until you find one that says “Microsoft Office” with the year following it.
  5. If the year reads 2007, read the next section.

 

What Actions You Need To Take

Is your computer either running Windows Vista or are you using a 2007 version of Microsoft Office?

Better start planning and budgeting for upgrades.

Most Vista computers cannot be cost-effectively upgraded to a newer version of Windows.  You need to plan on purchasing a new or recertified computer.

I strongly discourage you from buying a computer with Windows 8 or Windows 10.  These operating systems still have major problems and privacy concerns – which will cause you headaches and cost you lots of dollars to repair.

Although the big box stores can’t sell you a computer with Windows 7, Calibre Computer Solutions can.  You’ll be much happier with a stable, working computer that won’t break down nor cost you a fortune in repairs. 

Older versions of Microsoft Word and Excel can be easily upgraded to a new version of Microsoft Office.  Or you may be able to convert to the free OpenOffice software that does basically the same thing.

Your best option is to call us today to schedule a consultation so we can guide you through the upgrade or replacement option best suited to your individual needs.

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Mission: To Protect You

Profit From Advice

“You were right!” the email subject line proclaimed from my inbox.

“Windows 10 took over my computer.  … I hate it!  …  Now I am a prisoner to Windows 10.  Can it be reversed and let me have my old system back?” inquired a client.

I could have saved him from so much frustration, I thought to myself as I began my reply to his message.

You see, for months I’ve been shouting the warnings and dangers of Windows 10.  In tech columns.  Email newsletters.  Special email announcements.  Phone conversations.  In-person discussions.

I’ve even offered a very inexpensive way I can easily prevent Windows 10 from doing its damage.  Saving clients money and frustration.

But so many ignored my passionate pleas.  Some sadly suffered the consequences that could have easily been avoided.

Another preventative solution we offer at Calibre Computer Solutions is a web filtering and protection service.  For just pennies a day, it’s extremely effective at reducing your risk of virus infections on your PC.  Much better than just antivirus software alone.

The web protection software blocks you from visiting – either intentionally or accidentally – websites known to contain viruses or otherwise harm your computer.

Not too long ago, a client called me irritated that our software kept him from getting to websites he wanted to visit.  He requested I remove the web protection software from his PC.

As I talked with him and had him show me how he performed his Google search for the website he wanted to go to, I saw that he was being blocked from going to a known harmful website that would immediately infect his computer if he were allowed to go there.

The Google search result looked like it was the legitimate website he was searching for, but a closer examination revealed tell-tale signs that it was a fake site.

It took me about 40 minutes to show and convince him that the web protection was doing its job.  I demonstrated he could access the legitimate site he desired to visit.  I explained the software had already blocked him from visiting hundreds of harmful sites in the last 30 days.

My client wisely decided to keep the web protection software on his computer.  Otherwise, he would have called me later in the day scheduling an appointment for a virus removal.

Receiving warnings or even being prevented from doing something dangerous or deadly is a good thing.

It’s akin to driving through town.  As you approach the railroad crossing, the lights flash, the bells ding, and the gates descend.  Your path is blocked because of an oncoming train traveling 50 miles an hour.

You could choose to huff and puff, demand that you want to cross those tracks right now because you’ve got places to be, and maneuver your car around the gates.  Doing so could result in serious injury or worse.

But heeding the warning or accepting being denied access would save your life, save your money, and save you pain.

My messages to you – whether you’re a client of mine or simply someone who only reads this tech column – are written with the same heartfelt desire:  to protect you from bad situations with your computer and to make using your computer more enjoyable and less expensive.

But I can only proclaim the warning and offer the advice.  It’s up to you to do something with it.

I echo the conversation of Rowena and Stryder in the book A Dark Champion:

Rowena: “You can’t save the world, Stryder.”

Stryder: “If I save one person, then I have saved their world. … I might not save them all, but I have to save as many as I can.”