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Windows 10 Users: What You Need To Know About the Creators Update

Get ready Windows 10 users! Microsoft’s forcing another major update to your PCs.

This update, called the Windows 10 Creators Update, began being rolled out to users in mid-April. But because it’s a massive update, it’s been a relatively slow process.

It’s not been until recently that many of my clients using Windows 10 (despite all my ranting and raving about how horrible it is) have received their notification to install the update.

While the Windows 10 Creators Update brings new features and functionality to your computer, it also presents its own set of problems that could cause you frustration and a trip to your computer doctor.

Here’s a brief rundown of what you need to know.

What’s New?

Paint 3D.

Gone is the old Microsoft Paint program, which allowed you to crudely draw images reminiscent of elementary school artwork.

With Paint 3D, you can draw, import and create pictures of all types – yes, including 3D images. If you have a touch screen computer, you can even use a stylus to perfect your masterpiece.

Night Light.

Sleep experts warn against using computers, tablets and TVs an hour prior to bed. The blue light emitted from those devices can negatively affect your ability to fall asleep.

With Night Light, you can now have your PC automatically reduce the amount of blue light at sunset or at a specific time at night. Allowing you to use your computer till you’re ready to doze off.

Although third-party programs, like F.lux, have offered this functionality previously, Microsoft now incorporates it directly in the operating system.

Better Control Over Updates

One of my biggest complaints about Windows 10 – aside from its horrific invasion of privacy as it records nearly every single thing you do on your computer – is the lack of control over choosing and installing Windows Updates.

While Microsoft still forces every update on your PC, the Creators Update gives you the ability to postpone updates for up to a week.

It also now allows you to set longer active hours, so your computer doesn’t automatically install an update and reboot right in the middle of when you’re using it.

Beware of These Problems

Features in the Creators Update can be beneficial if you’re using a Windows 10 computer. So I encourage users to install it (not like you have a choice, since Microsoft will force it on your computer soon anyway).

But you should be aware of these two issues:

  1. The Windows 10 Creators Update is a massive download.  It can take several hours for your computer to download and complete the install.You shouldn’t use anything other than a high-speed cable Internet connection to download the update to your computer.

    One of my clients recently got hit with a massive overage fee on his cellular data plan when Microsoft decided it was his time to receive the update download.  Other clients using slower Internet providers, like Frontier DSL, have experienced problems with the Creators Update installing because of a corrupted download.

    I’ve also heard reports of computers being completely unusable after a failed Creators Update installation.  The only remedy in such cases is a complete wipe and reload to the original factory settings – which could mean loss of all your pictures, documents and music and a hefty repair bill.

  2. Installing the Windows 10 Creators Update reverses most of the privacy changes made on your computer.Several of our safety conscientious clients with Windows 10 PCs have had us perform our Windows 10 Optimization Service.  We modify a large number of settings to reduce the snooping Microsoft does as you use your computer and to improve the speed and performance of your computer.

    After the Creators Update is successfully installed, many of those settings must be modified once again so Microsoft can’t track your every move.

Final Words of Wisdom

Avoid Windows 10 at all costs. If you’re thinking of purchasing a new computer, be sure to buy one with Windows 7. You won’t find them at the big box stores, but computer companies like Calibre Computer Solutions can still order them – but only until October 31.

If you already use a Windows 10 computer, you’ll be wiser to let a trusted computer professional well-versed in Windows 10 to install the Creators Update and make sure your privacy settings are configured to protect you.

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Cryptocurrencies: Not Just For the Black Market

Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin.  Cryptocurrency.

You may recognize those terms being associated with cybercriminals holding your personal information hostage.  Often you’re instructed to pay the ransom using Bitcoin, if you want your files decrypted.

Despite the negative connotation, Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are becoming a popular alternative form of payment and potentially profitable investment vehicles.

What are cryptocurrencies?

Cryptocurrencies basically are digital assets designed to work as a medium of exchange, according to Wikipedia. 

Even though many of them have the term “coin” in their name, they usually don’t come in physical form.

The website blockgeeks.com provides a great summary:

 “Cryptocurrencies are digital gold.  Sound money that is secure from political influence.  Cryptocurrencies are a fast and comfortable means of payment with a worldwide scope, and they are private and anonymous.”

They also highlight five attractive qualities of using cryptocurrency either as a method of payment or investment vehicle:

“1.) Irreversible: After confirmation, a transaction can‘t be reversed. By nobody. And nobody means nobody. Not you, not your bank, not the president of the United States, not Satoshi, not your miner. Nobody. If you send money, you send it. Period. No one can help you, if you sent your funds to a scammer or if a hacker stole them from your computer. There is no safety net.

“2.) Pseudonymous: Neither transactions nor accounts are connected to real world identities. You receive Bitcoins on so-called addresses, which are randomly seeming chains of around 30 characters. While it is usually possible to analyze the transaction flow, it is not necessarily possible to connect the real world identity of users with those addresses.

“3.) Fast and global: Transaction are propagated nearly instantly in the network and are confirmed in a couple of minutes. Since they happen in a global network of computers they are completely indifferent of your physical location. It doesn‘t matter if I send Bitcoin to my neighbor or to someone on the other side of the world.

“4.) Secure: Cryptocurrency funds are locked in a public key cryptography system. Only the owner of the private key can send cryptocurrency. Strong cryptography and the magic of big numbers makes it impossible to break this scheme. A Bitcoin address is more secure than Fort Knox.

“5.) Permissionless: You don‘t have to ask anybody to use cryptocurrency. It‘s just a software that everybody can download for free. After you installed it, you can receive and send Bitcoins or other cryptocurrencies. No one can prevent you. There is no gatekeeper.”

Big-name stores accept it

Bitcoin, the most popular cryptocurrency developed in 2009, is accepted as a valid form of payment by a growing number of retailers.

Overstock.com, Expedia.com, Target, Subway, Whole Foods, Dell, Dish Network, and dozens of others will allow you to buy products or services and pay with Bitcoin.

Better returns than the stock market

Teeka Tiwari, editor of the Palm Beach Letter, encourages his investors to purchase Bitcoin and other select cryptocurrencies for investing.

His research shows investing in cryptocurrencies outperforms the stock market by huge percentages.  He admits, of course, it is more volatile and risky and no one should put their entire nest egg into it.

How do you get it

The easiest way to obtain Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is by buying them through an exchange service.  Coinbase is one of the most popular and easiest to use.

For more details on cryptocurrencies and step-by-step instructions on how to obtain them, visit http://bit.ly/cryptocurrencyguide.

NOTE:  Information provided in this column is not intended to provide any form of financial or investment advice or counseling.  Seek assistance from a qualified investment advisor before purchasing or investing in any cryptocurrencies.

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7 Common PC Problems – And How To Fix Them (Part 2)

Benjamin Franklin wisely wrote, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

This holds true in all areas of life, including with your technological gadgets.  My clients who observe good computing habits year-round typically don’t experience many problems between their regularly scheduled PC Tune-Up appointments.

In my last column, I shared with you the first three of seven common PC problems that I and my techs deal with daily.  Today, I’d like to share with you the final four and offer helpful tips in how to avoid them.

 

Forgetting to Install Windows Updates

Cybercriminals and hackers attack your computer by taking advantage of security holes in your PC’s operating system. 

The two latest ransomware infections – Petya and WannaCry – rendered hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide inoperable.

Those computers wouldn’t have been affected had those PCs been kept up-to-date with the latest Windows Updates.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install Windows Updates on your computer or set your computer to automatically do so. 

 

Forgetting to Install Updates for Software Programs

Just as important as installing Windows Updates is installing updates for common software programs.

The critical ones to keep current are Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Most of these programs run in the background when you’re browsing various websites, so you may not even know about them.

If you don’t keep these updated, your computer is highly exposed to viruses and malware – because hackers commonly exploit these programs.

PREVENTION TIP:  Regularly install updates for Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, Adobe Shockwave, and Java.  Be warned, tho, some pop-ups you receive prompting you to update these programs may be fake.  It’s best to go to www.adobe.com and www.java.com to manually update these programs.

 

Downloading Programs From Unreliable Sources

You desire to use your PC for fun and games.  A quick Internet search reveals an exciting new game you can download for free.  So you do.

Moments later, your computer becomes infected with all sorts of extra programs and new toolbars fill the top of your web browser window.  Your PC begins running slower.  You’re greeted with pop-ups every time you try to access the Internet.

It’s extremely important to only download and install programs from reputable websites.  Many websites offering free software contain malware, which can range from annoying to causing serious computer problems.

PREVENTION TIP:  Only download software from websites you know and trust.  Carefully read each screen during the installation process to make sure you’re not installing any unwanted or malicious add-ons.

 

Using Unsecured Wifi Connections

Unsecured wifi connections allow you to connect your laptop, mobile phone, or tablet without requiring a password. 

While it makes accessing the Internet easy, it also exposes your personal information and files to others who are connected to the same wifi connection. 

If it’s your own home wireless network that doesn’t require a password, you’re allowing anyone who’s near your home the ability to access your Internet connection and even your files.  You could be held legally liable if they conduct illicit activity while connected to your Internet.

PREVENTION TIP:  Secure your home wireless network with a password.  Use caution when connecting to public wireless networks; avoid accessing banking and other personal websites on these connections.

When you apply these recommendations, I guarantee you’ll see your PC doctor less often.