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4 Tech Predictions for the New Year

Tech Predictions

“Technology is anything that wasn’t around when you were born,” computer scientist Alan Kay aptly states.

I remember the days of listening to cassette tapes on a Sony Walkman, listening to the radio for hours just waiting to record my favorite song, and even having to access the Internet using a dial-up connection.

With every passing year, new innovations bring massive changes to the technology that surrounds us.  What’s common today will soon be replaced with something else tomorrow.

For your enjoyment, I present to you four technology predictions for 2018.

Widespread Adoption of New Digital Interfaces

Android smartphone users love to brag how their devices are the pioneers for many features in mobile technologies.  They enjoy taunting Apple iPhone users, like myself, with phrases like, “We had that in our phones two years ago.”  (Yes, Cai and Scott R, two of my techs, I’m talking about you!)

When Apple introduced the iPhone X in October, it adopted facial recognition as the way to unlock your phone.  Some Android devices also use facial recognition and iris scanning to access them.

But digital interfaces will begin appearing elsewhere too.  Vehicles will start to incorporate facial recognition to save unique settings for each driver.  Fingerprint scanners will be used to allow access to various facilities, like your neighborhood gym.

Subscription Models Become the Norm

Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, Pandora, and a host of other companies have already acclimated consumers to paying for movies and music on a month-to-month basis.

Adobe switched to subscription-only plans for its entire suite of creative products in 2013.  Microsoft is now encouraging consumers and businesses to purchase the Microsoft Office software through its recurring Office 365 subscription plans.

You’ll see many other software and service companies switch to offering their products and services by subscription instead of one-time purchases.

Cryptocurrencies and the Blockchain Continue To Rise

If you’re not familiar with the terms “cryptocurrency” and “blockchain,” you may want to start doing some research.

The blockchain is simply an online ledger, originally designed to track cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin in a secure and efficient way.  But the technology has been quickly adopted by other industries because it reduces cost and improves efficiencies.

Despite advice by uninformed financial talking heads on TV, early investors in cryptocurrencies and other blockchain technologies have pocketed major gains. 

While it is still a volatile investment, in-the-know investment advisors predict continued growth throughout 2018.

Security Breaches Continue And Cybersecurity Remains A Big Focus

From the WannaCry ransomware attack that crippled over 300,000 computers worldwide to the Equifax security breach that compromised financial records of as many as 143 million people, such incidents will continue to regularly occur throughout 2018.

As a result, small businesses will see the need (and even be mandated) to adopt better cybersecurity protections to safeguard information stored on their computers.

It’s impossible to predict the future – especially in the tech world.  But in December, it’ll be fun to look back and see what changes actually occurred.

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3 Affordable Home Automation Gadgets

You wake up at 5:59 a.m. to the warm glow of sunlight in your bedroom. Peering out your window, you see the stars still out and the moon shining brightly.

“Alexa, set scene ‘Morning,’” you say. Within seconds, your house illuminates into soft shades of orange, blue, and white for an energizing ambience.

As the clock strikes 6, your home’s heat kicks on. You find your morning coffee waiting for you in the kitchen. You enjoy your breakfast and leave your house at 6:30.

Behind you, your lights and coffee maker power themselves off. Your home’s temperature is allowed to drop below 50° to save energy. Throughout the day, your lights turn on and off at seemingly random intervals to make your home appear occupied, deterring potential home invaders or sketchy neighbors.

That evening as you drive up your driveway, your garage and front room lights turn on to greet you. You walk inside your recently warmed house to find your TV already tuned to the evening news.

When you walk into your comfortably cool bedroom at 10:00, you command, like an officer in 1969’s Star Trek, your house lights to turn off by saying “Alexa, set ‘Bedtime.’” A single soft light in your bedroom slowly dims over the next hour. You now fall into a natural deep sleep.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a futuristic home like this? I sure think so.

And that’s why I’d like you to know something – for under $1,000 you can have your home transformed into a “home of the future.”

Let me walk you through the three devices that made this 20th century sci-fi-esque day possible.

How are you able to enjoy sunlight at 6:00 in the morning? This is thanks to Philips HUE lights.

These Wi-Fi enabled lights can be controlled using nearly any phone or smart hub. At your fingertips (or even just your voice), you’ll have timers, beautiful scenes, GPS capability, and 16,000,000 beautiful colors.

These lights are my personal favorite of available smart home devices. They’re relatively affordable at about $70 per bulb. These bulbs are installed in regular light sockets for ultimate ease of installation.

Who wouldn’t want their coffee made and TV turned on for them without even flipping a switch?

Belkin agrees and has graced us with their Belkin WeMo Mini for just this purpose (or anything else you can think of).

At just $30 each, the WeMo Mini is the cheapest and simplest way to modernize your home. All you have to do is plug your WeMo mini into a wall outlet and your coffee maker into the WeMo. Then set your desired on/off times via the WeMo app and… voilà! You’ve automated your first task.

You can do the same thing with nearly any other device, such as a TV, lamp, space heater, or even a toaster. And at just $30, why not?

In this perfect home, you may have noticed your home’s temperature smartly adjusting throughout the day. This is thanks to the Nest Learning Thermostat ($249).

It has tons of cool features, like voice control, detailed energy use reports, and smoke detection (with add-ons). You’ll save an average of 10-12% a year on your energy bill, thanks to its adaptive adjustments.

As you adjust your home’s temperature throughout the day, the Nest thermostat learns your habits and creates a schedule accordingly.

Technology is super exciting and can make your life so much easier. However, getting started isn’t always so easy.

Bonus: Amazon Echo ‘Alexa’
Talking to many of these devices is made possible through a Amazon Echo device. The least expensive in the Echo family, the Dot, is just $50 and allows you to speak commands to a large variety of home automation gadgets and listen to online music, podcasts and radio. Alexa can also tell you information, set timers and more. Google, Bose and Apple also make similar assistants.

Email me at christian@calibre-cs.com if you have any questions, are interested in having us set up home automation for you, or just want to share your knowledge and experiences.

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Take Your Old, Slow Computer And … Speed It Up

The October 31st deadline was approaching.

Jan, a busy local business professional, knew she needed to do something quickly about her frustratingly slow, five-year-old Dell computer. She depends on her PC every day to serve her clients and employees.

Her time is pressed from early morning to late evening between a constantly ringing cell phone with calls from clients and employees needing her assistance, numerous visits to client homes and offices, and time-critical meetings to meet a variety of important deadlines.

Her painfully slow computer hampered her ability to efficiently conduct her business. She could turn it on, log in, and fix a cup of coffee before it was ready to be used.

Having read my warnings about the dreadful Windows 10 operating system, Jan called me seeking advice about buying a new Windows 7 desktop or if there was another way to speed up her sluggish PC.

Fast forward to last Thursday night at the Gibson County Chamber of Commerce Annual Banquet.

“My computer is so much faster!” Jan excitedly shared with me. “It’s so nice to be able to turn it on and it’s ready just like that.”

Ready in 30 seconds!

What did I do that now makes Jan’s computer ready to use in only 30 seconds?

I installed a new solid state hard drive and doubled the amount of memory.

An affordable combination that significantly improves performance and adds additional life to an otherwise old PC.

Until recently, most computers shipped with mechanical hard drives. These drives are fairly reliable, cheap, and provide plenty of room to store pictures, documents, and music.

But as prices have dropped, solid state hard drives are becoming more popular – both in new computers and as reasonably priced upgrades for older ones.

Why consider upgrading your hard drive?

If you have an older computer that works well but crawls at a snail’s pace, you should seriously consider upgrading to a solid state hard drive.

It’s cheaper than buying a new computer, allows you to keep your existing operating system (which is hopefully Windows 7), and gives you the speed boost you desire.

What makes them better?

Without getting too technical, solid state hard drives (SSDs) perform better than mechanical hard drives in four primary ways:

1. Your operating system and programs load quickly because of faster read/write speeds to and from the hard drive.
2. The likelihood of a failure of the hard drive is significantly reduced because there are no moving internal components.
3. They consume less energy and operate more quietly. If you’re using a solid state hard drive in a laptop, you’ll notice you can use it on battery power much longer.
4. Fragmentation of files is less, which means your computer can find necessary pieces of data faster – translating in to faster performance.

A painless upgrade

Upgrading your current computer to a solid state hard drive is fairly easy. Unless you’re having other software-related problems with your computer, your existing hard drive can be imaged over to the new solid state hard drive.

All your programs, files, settings, desktop background – everything – will be copied over exactly as is to the new hard drive. You won’t even notice anything’s changed – other than the speed of your computer.

If you’re tired of wasting time waiting to use your desktop or laptop – and it’s otherwise working well for your needs – consider upgrading to a solid state hard drive.

It’s almost like having a new computer – without the cost!

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How Not To Get Locked Out Of Facebook And Other Online Accounts

“Hi, Scott.  I need your help,” the voice on the other end of the line greets.

“I’m locked out of my Facebook account and can’t get back in because I don’t remember my password.  Can you help me?”

While I happily try to assist, I know the chances for success are extremely low.

Facebook, Google and most other online services do not have a phone number you can call, speak to a live person, and have them reset your password.

Instead, your only option is to rummage through their web-based help documentation, submit an online form, and hope the requested information you provided is sufficient for someone to eventually send you instructions on how to get back into your account.

The majority of the time, this fails.

Why Account Recovery Fails

All online services provide you an easy way to recover lost passwords or regain access to your account.  The account recovery process typically involves sending an email to your email address or a text message to your cell phone.

So what’s the problem?

Most people never set up their recovery information in Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, Amazon, and other commonly used websites.

Those who did when they first created their account seldom update their recovery information when their email address or phone numbers change.

How To Set Up Recovery Information

Each platform differs slightly in how to set up your account recovery information.  Here are links to instructions on how to do so on some of the most common websites:

Don’t Wait!

Avoid the frustration of forever losing access to your online accounts.  Invest a few minutes right now to take these important steps:

  • If you don’t already have a second email address, set up an alternate email address with Gmail (www.gmail.com).
  • Log in to each of your online accounts (Facebook, Gmail, Pinterest, eBay, etc.).  Configure your recovery options in each of them.
  • Associate your cell phone number, if you have one, with the account.
  • Set periodic reminders to make sure your account recover information is kept current.

 

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How You Can Avoid The “I Wish I Would Have” Lament I Hear Frequently From Clients

“I’ve not talked to one person who has had anything good to say about Windows 10,” Barbara expressed when she picked her laptop up Friday after having us perform our recommend bi-annual Windows 10 Check-Up Service.

“I figured Windows 10 wouldn’t be a bad operating system, but boy was I wrong!  I wish I would have gotten a computer with Windows 7 instead,” she lamented.

Oops!

I hear regrets like this from clients almost every week.

They didn’t know any better when they were shopping for a new PC.  They just bought what they saw on the store shelf or mistakenly took advice from a big box store sales geek and came home with a Windows 10 computer.

Only to quickly realize it was a mistake.

YOU don’t need to suffer like these unaware clients.  But you DO need to make a decision quickly to avoid that same fate.

Take a moment to answer these four questions:

  • Is your current computer more than five years old?
  • Is it running slow?
  • Are you having constant problems with it?
  • Have you been thinking about upgrading to a newer computer, but just haven’t bought one yet?

If you answered yes to one or more of those questions, it’s important you finish reading this column.

You Already Know This

Regular readers of this column know I strongly encourage you to stay with the Windows 7 operating system.  It’s time-tested, proven reliable, and easy-to use.

You’re familiar with it.  You know how to use it.  Your software programs and hardware devices work with it.  It’s a solid, mostly problem-free operating system.

The Dilemma

But effective October 31, 2017, Microsoft is forcing all PC manufacturers to stop selling new computers with Windows 7.

All new computers after that date – no matter where you buy one – will come with the problematic Windows 10.

(If you visit any of the big retail stores now – like Walmart, Best Buy, Staples, Office Depot, you will only find Windows 10 computers.  They only sell Windows 10 machines because they take their marching orders from Microsoft in the form of spiffs and other monetary kickbacks.)

Whether you buy a new desktop or laptop now at a big box store or wait until after October 31 to buy one anywhere is a bad decision – because of Windows 10.

The Raw Truth

When you buy a Windows 10 computer, you’re buying a PC that’s suffering from a terminal illness.

I’m sorry to use such a crude comparison, but I’m telling it like it is.

The way Windows 10 is configured right out of the box and with each forced update, Microsoft creates frustrating problems and errors on your computer requiring frequent, costly repairs and regular check-ups just to make sure your PC runs the way it’s supposed to.

I’ve written extensively in the past about the major issues with Windows 10 and don’t have room to explain them in-depth in this article.

I encourage you to download my free report “7 Frighteningly Dark Secrets Microsoft Desperately Doesn’t Want You to Know About Windows 10.”  It outlines many things that should concern you about Windows 10.

Visit http://www.caliibreforhome.com/windows10secrets.

What Choice Will You Make?

If you’ve been considering buying a new (or refurbished) desktop or laptop, you need to do so before the end of October.

I don’t want to see you, like Barbara, buy a computer you’ll hate – because it’s hard to use, requires regular visits to the PC doctor, and seriously invades your privacy without your knowledge or consent.

Independent computer companies – like Calibre Computer Solutions – can still order new and some refurbished computers with Windows 7.  But the absolute deadline is October 31.

I invite you to call me today to discuss your options.

Maybe you don’t need a new computer – just a good tune-up and upgrade of your existing one might make it last longer.

But if you do need a new one, you don’t want to wait until it’s too late and you’re stuck with only getting Windows 10.  It will be a purchase you’ll regret for years to come.

 

 

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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.

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7 Common PC Problems – And How to Fix Them (Part 1)

Early this spring, I visited Dr. Kocher for my annual physical.

“It looks like you’ve lost some weight,” he smiles, noting that I dropped to 154 pounds this year from 178 last year.

“Yea,” I cheerfully reply.  “I’ve been regularly working out at the gym since January.  I’m feeling a lot better.”

He listened to my heart and lungs, tapped on each knee, and asked a handful of other questions.  Then he sent me out the door with well wishes till I visit again next spring.

I remain mostly healthy throughout the year – by exercising and eating (mostly) right.  Which is why I only need to visit Dr. Kocher for my annual checkup.

The story is similar for 37 of my clients with their computers.

They bring their PC in twice a year for a Comprehensive PC Tune-Up Service.  This allows us to perform the thorough diagnostics, deep cleaning and optimizations designed to detect and prevent major computer problems.

Because these clients also observe good computing habits year-round, they typically don’t experience any problems between appointments.

In this two-part series, I’ll share with you seven common PC problems I see affecting many of my clients’ computers and give you helpful tips in how to avoid them.

Relying on Free (or No) Antivirus Protection

Of all the virus-infected computers clients bring into Calibre, I’d estimate 90 percent of them are “protected” by a free antivirus program – like AVG, Avast, Avira, or Microsoft Security Essentials.  Sadly, some don’t even have antivirus protection at all.

Hackers and cybercriminals use viruses and malware to break into your computer, steal your personal information, and damage your files.

Malicious attacks, such as the WannaCry ransomware outbreak in May, are becoming more and more prevalent and destructive.

Purchasing and installing a strong antivirus program designed to protect against the newest type of viruses and malware is one step in avoiding major, costly PC problems.

 

Neglecting to Back Up Important Files

Early Monday morning, a business client called seeking assistance in restoring a critical spreadsheet an employee had mistakenly deleted overnight.

Because they wisely implemented our data backup solution two years ago, I restored the Excel document in less than five minutes.

But most PC owners – home and businesses – neglect this essential protection for their computers.  Many assume nothing bad will ever happen to the files stored on their PCs.

Yet, hard drives fail, viruses infect, people delete, and natural disasters happen.  All of which can cause all your pictures, documents, and music to be forever lost.

You can back up your files in many different ways.  Some are better than others.  But if you don’t have a back-up system in place, you need to get one today.

 

Using the Same Weak Passwords

 

Think about your most common password.

Is it a really easy one – maybe using an ordinary word followed by some numbers?

Do you use that same password for multiple websites?

Weak and predictable passwords make it incredibly simple for hackers to gain access to your email and online banking accounts.  Using the same password for everything opens your entire online world to unscrupulous people.

Two steps you should take:

1) Create stronger passwords.  Choose one with a variety of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols.

2)  Safely store your passwords in a password management program, like LastPass (www.lastpass.com).  This allows you to easily retrieve and remember them.

Join me next time for the remaining four common PC problems and how to avoid them.

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3 iPhone Apps That Will Make Your Summer Vacation More Enjoyable

Venturing out on a summer getaway? Summer is a great time to pack your bags and escape your mundane everyday life for something more adventurous.

Planning your excursion can sometimes be a stressful experience. These three mobile apps can help you find fun and interesting things to do, stay within your budget, and even include pets in the excitement.

LocalScope

LocalScope is an iPhone app that scours the web for information and presents it all to you in a neat, convenient fashion. For just $2.99, you can easily search for local food, museums, hotels, gas stations, coffee shops, shopping centers, and anything else that may pique your interest.

After searching, you’ll be presented with nearly every bit of information you need – pictures and reviews to restaurant menus, contact information, and even maps.

What makes LocalScope unique is that it pulls information from all your favorite websites, and some you may not have even heard of, including Google Maps, Facebook, Yelp, Instagram, Foursquare, Twitter, Wikipedia, and Garmin.

You’ll also be able to navigate to your destination of choice from within the app. Once you’ve enjoyed your local attraction, you can easily post reviews and pictures and share your experience with your friends from within LocalScope.

Trail Wallet

When you’re relaxing on vacation, it’s easy to spend more money than you planned. That’s why Trail Wallet is here to help.

Once you set your daily budget for either your trip or the whole month, Trail Wallet lets you enter in all your purchases and define tags and categories to help you organize them. You’re allowed 25 items per trip in the free version; after that you must pay $4.99 to unlock unlimited items.

You can create your own tags and categories, and then use them to narrow your search results to make finding what you’re looking for easier.

Trail Wallet boasts a very intuitive interface, making it easy for you to navigate your purchases and get an overview of your trip expenses. It is a joy to use, with several themes and interactive avatars to choose from. You can view very detailed charts of your spending data, with plenty of filtering options so you only see what you want to see.

If you happen to be visiting another country, Trail Wallet will even automatically convert your money to the local exchange rate of over 200 countries.

Power users can also export trip data from the app into their favorite accounting software.

BringFido

If you’re like most pet owners, you want to take your furry friend everywhere you go. With BringFido, you can easily find pet-friendly hotels, outdoor restaurants, parks, and beaches near you. Most entries contain detailed photos and reviews, which you can also submit yourself.

BringFido includes a built-in map, displaying nearby pet-friendly attractions and how to get to them. You can then contact the destination you’re interested in with the information provided in the app.

Booking pet-friendly hotel rooms through BringFido is incredibly convenient. You can enter the size of your pets and how many you have, then be given detailed pricing and booking for your desired destination. However, it is worth noting that some users have complained about the reliability of booking within the app, but regardless, it is a great start to your hotel search.

If you don’t have an iPhone, BringFido also offers a website with all the convenience of the free app.

I’d love to see and hear about your summer excursions. Email me your stories and photos at christian@calibre-cs.com.

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Doing This One Thing Can Fix Many Computer Problems

With a red face and simmering emotions, you pick up the phone and call your trusted computer professional because your PC once again has chosen to make your life extremely difficult.

For the last half hour, you’ve tried everything you know to cajole the irritating pile of assembled electronic components to cooperate with you. But to no avail.

The calm voice on the other end of the line greets you and asks about your problem. After unleashing a flurry of frustration about how your computer has completely ruined your day, you hear four words that cause you to roll your eyes and make you want to scream:

“Have you tried rebooting?”

“What?” a voice shouts inside your head. “Seriously? I’m calling you for help and the first thing out of your mouth is ‘reboot’? What kind of computer genius are you?”

Why it works

Believe it or not, rebooting fixes a myriad of problems.

It works for almost anything electronic that’s behaving badly – desktops, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and routers.

We often forget to try the simplest, most basic troubleshooting step because we get caught up in the problem. Our minds immediately think solving it always requires a trained professional’s intervention.

Rebooting restores the misbehaving gadget to a clean slate, which is why it works most of the time. It gives the device a fresh start. It’s akin to your going to bed at night utterly exhausted, then waking up the next morning completely refreshed.

What it can fix

A slow computer.

Your PC can slow to a crawl for a variety of reasons. Some causes can be cleared up by a quick reboot.

Your computer’s memory – also known as RAM – is constantly processing lots of tasks and information. It provides short-term storage for frequently used programs and processes.
Sometimes it gets overwhelmed, which causes your PC to slow down. Rebooting flushes everything from the RAM, allowing your computer to run faster.

A locked up or slow program

Your Windows operating system and every program you use – like Microsoft Word and Google Chrome – is made up of code, or instructions, that tell your computer what to do and how to do it.

Occasionally, something interrupts the processing of those instructions. Or they develop what’s known as a memory leak, a condition where the program keeps hogging memory that it’s not using.

This can cause slowness and even error messages. Again, a quick reboot can clear up these conditions.

Network or Internet problems

Do your wireless devices have problems pulling up websites or communicating with your printer? Does your Internet speed seem as slow as dial-up?

Simply unplugging and plugging back in your modem and router will often restore the speed and connectivity issues.

What if it doesn’t fix it?

A reboot will not fix all your computer problems.

Failing hardware and virus/malware infections are just two examples of things a reboot won’t resolve.

By rebooting first, you’ve at least attempted the easiest fix for common annoyances. And when the IT person on the phone tells you to reboot your device, you can proudly say, “I’ve already done that!”