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Thanksgiving Thoughts and Black Friday “Bargains”

Thanksgiving Thoughts

“There’s one thing I should be … giving up now, and that’s worryin’ about life.”

Those lyrics from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill’s first collaborative album resonated with me as I began writing this column.

This week is Thanksgiving. The one day of the year we intentionally set aside to be grateful for all the blessings in our lives. It’s a day when we should quit worryin’ about life and focus on the good.

Here are just a few things I’m thankful for:
• The opportunity to get up each morning, breathe in the fresh air, and work out at the gym
• A loving, supportive family who is always there for me
• Each of you, the readers of this column, I can serve by providing practical advice and useful tips to help you better understand and use technology
• My three dedicated staff members – Christian, Cai and Scott – who help make Calibre the company it is
• The privilege of working with the PCHS Marching Tigers. Music is a wonderful thing and working with a dedicated group of young people is so inspiring.

I could list dozens more. I bet you could too.

What’s on your list of thanks?

I encourage you to take just 5 minutes today and write out some things you’re grateful for. For that short period of time, I guarantee you’ll stop “worryin’ about life.”

Black Friday “Bargains”

If you’re looking for a cheap laptop this Black Friday, Best Buy’s selling one for only $99.99.

But before swiping your credit card to make that purchase, you might want to consider if you’re okay with throwing your hard-earned money away.

(How many hours do you have to work to make $100?)

This steal-of-a-deal laptop can barely be called a computer. It’s hardware components are almost the lowest you can get.

It’s 2 gigabytes of memory is painfully inadequate to run the Windows 10 operating system.

The 32 gigabytes of storage capacity leaves you unable to install future, required updates to the Windows 10 operating system. This means you’ll be bombarded with constant pop-up warnings to install updates that you can’t install because there’s no room on the PC to do so.

So after about six months of use, your $100 laptop is now a useless heap of plastic.

Why do computer manufacturers and big box retailers sell these “bargain” PCs?

To appeal to people who only look at price when buying them.

I’d encourage you to skip the Black Friday “deals” on computers because most of them will cost you more in the long-run for repairs and updates in order to make them last.

An investment in a good, quality computer may cost a little more up-front, but you’ll spend less overall and you’ll have a faster, easier-to-use, and more problem-free PC.

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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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The Worst Gift You Can Give This Christmas

White elephant gifts are great for office holiday parties and informal get-togethers.

When you’re buying presents for loved ones, you want to give gifts that bring them happiness and joy.

But this Christmas morning, I know many well-meaning spouses, parents and friends will inadvertently give one of the worst gifts that could be given. A gift that will bring confusion, frustration, and in some cases – extreme anger.

What is this horrible gift, you ask?

A desktop or laptop with the Windows 10 operating system.

These devices will be popular presents neatly wrapped under thousands of brightly lit and beautifully decorated Christmas trees because they’re relatively cheap, they’re easily purchased from the big box stores and online, and they’re marketed as spectacular and easy-to-use.

Yet what hides underneath the colorful wrapping paper and bow is like a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

Over the past several months, my staff and I have calmly listened to dozens of clients vent their dissatisfaction and utter dislike for their Windows 10 computers. We’ve heard complaints like,

“It’s not easy for me to use.”

“Nothing seems to work right on this thing.”

“My Windows 7 computer ran faster than this.”

They all wish they had either known about or heeded my warnings before they upgraded existing or bought new computers with Windows 10.

Instead they were misguided by the big box stores sales geeks and Microsoft’s online ads distracting them with the bells and whistles, the glitz and glam of Windows 10, hoping they would never discover the frighteningly dark secrets hidden beneath the operating system’s shiny façade.

I don’t have room in this tech column to fully explain all the evils of Windows 10.

But I have written a 20+ page eBook that you can download for free at my website that you need to read BEFORE you gift your loved one that new computer.

In this eBook, you’ll uncover seven important secrets Microsoft desperately doesn’t want you to know about Windows 10, including:

• Microsoft’s forced updates can crash your computer – and it’s YOUR problem, not theirs.
• Your operating system is filled with intrusive ads embedded throughout Windows 10.
• Microsoft uses your Internet connection – even when you’re not online.
• Many apps are missing important features to make them useful.
• Where’d that program go? Microsoft can automatically uninstall software or hardware it doesn’t like.
• You have NO privacy in Windows 10. Nearly everything you do is tracked and reported to Microsoft – which even puts the NSA to shame!

The final pages of the guide will give you specific actions to take, depending on your computer situation.

Download the free eBook at https://www.calibreforhome.com/windows10secrets.

If you got duped into buying a Windows 10 PC as a gift for someone this Christmas, you’re not the most horrible person on the planet.

Simply print out the free eBook and gift it with your present. In many cases, your Windows 10 present can be rescued.

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Christmas Shopping For A New PC? Avoid These Pitfalls.

When it comes to buying a new computer, it’s always tempting to go for the “special buys” or “great deals” offered by big retailers. These are the computers advertised for $299, $399, and even $499.

The upfront cost is appealing and sounds like a great bargain. But are you really saving money in the long run?

Most individuals begin their computer shopping by looking at the price. Unfortunately, this is the wrong place to start.

Your new computer purchase should be dictated by your needs – both now and up to five years in the future. Are you only using your computer to do light Internet browsing, checking e-mail, and typing letters in a word-processing program? Will you be doing anything with digital pictures or videos?

Many of the computers offered at appealingly low prices usually have just enough power to run the basic components of the computer. To keep the price low, manufacturers use slower processors and slower hard drives. Overall, the performance of the computer suffers.

Users often find that these machines don’t function the way they want them to, requiring them to spend hundreds of dollars to upgrade the computer to obtain satisfactory performance.

Some brands also use lower quality parts in the machines to help keep prices low. These lower quality parts fail more frequently, requiring costly repairs sooner than later.

Finally, all the computers lining the shelves at the big box stores are loaded with unnecessary programs, fondly referred to by computer professionals as “bloatware.” These programs take up space on the computer’s hard drive and can slow the computer down. In some cases, they create the potential for conflicts and other computer problems.

So what looks to be a great deal and a money-saving purchase more often than not becomes a money pit. Frequent and costly repairs erase any savings you may have had on the purchase price.

A reliable, quality computer system doesn’t have to cost a fortune. But when buying a computer, it is important to consider the total cost of ownership rather than just the cost of buying it.

A trusted computer professional that understands your needs can help you make a wise, money-saving purchase, creating a more enjoyable computing experience.

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Considering A New Computer For Your Home or Business? Why You Need to Act Now!

Immediate Attention Required

“Windows 8 is a like a bad blind date.”  I shared that blog post headline when Microsoft released that operating system four years ago.

I strongly encouraged you to avoid buying a new computer with Windows 8 because of its myriad of problems and inconveniences.  Many other tech gurus and bloggers echoed my thoughts.

You still had the option to wisely purchase a PC with the tried and true Windows 7.

Fast forward to today.

The headline now reads, “Windows 10 is a terminal illness for your computer.”

But Microsoft is taking it one step further.

Unlike in 2012 when they introduced Windows 8, Microsoft is now forcing all new computers to come with the atrocious Windows 10 operating system installed after October 31.

You will no longer be able to purchase a new desktop or laptop with the stable, easy-to-use Windows 7 after October.

What’s So Bad About Windows 10?

Unfortunately, I don’t have enough room in this column to explain in full detail the major problems with Windows 10.  But let me highlight two.

(For my complete thoughts about Windows 10, download my free report 7 Frighteningly Dark Secrets Microsoft Desperately Doesn’t Want You To Know About Windows 10 at https://www.calibreforhome.com/windows10secrets)

  1. Forced updates can crash your computer – with few remedies.

Keeping your PC up-to-date with the latest operating system updates and security patches is a primary defense against virus infections and hackers.

But it’s not always a good idea to install updates as soon as they’re released.  Microsoft notoriously releases updates without testing them, resulting in a slew of frustrating problems and crashes.

Windows 10 takes away your ability to install updates when you want them.  Instead, Microsoft forces them to install.

I’ve already seen several computers crippled by the latest update to Windows 10.

 

  1. You have NO privacy in Windows 10. Nearly everything you do on your computer is tracked and reported to Microsoft – even putting the NSA to shame.

While we don’t know exactly what information Microsoft gathers from your computer, we know they’re capturing an enormous amount of it.

It most likely includes:

  • What websites you visit,
  • What programs you use,
  • What devices you have attached to your computer,
  • And so much more.

We also know that, by default, Windows 10 Home can:

  • Control your Internet bandwidth usage
  • Install any software it wants whenever it wants
  • Display ads
  • Log your browser history and even your keystrokes

And yes, it’s legal for Microsoft to do this.  Because you agree to it as soon as you power on your Windows 10 computer.

The future of Windows 10 doesn’t look promising.

That’s why I refer to it as a terminal illness for your computer.  Because it will require regular, frequent check-ups by a computer professional to fix its problems and keep it running.

 

Time’s Running Out

This is your siren call.

If you’ve been casually thinking about or seriously contemplating buying a NEW desktop or laptop computer for your home or business, you want to do so BEFORE the end of October.

Calibre Computer Solutions can still order you new computers with the much-preferred Windows 7 operating system.  You won’t find them at the big box stores.

If you wait, you will be forced by Microsoft to buy one with the privacy-invading, update-crashing Windows 10 operating system.  A decision I guarantee you will regret.

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“I’m Not Just Buying A Computer,” He Said. So What Was He Buying?

Business Relationships

I don’t know Greg.  But Greg knows me, even though we’d never met.  He’s read this column for the past several years, sharing in my personal stories and technology insights.

He urgently reached out for help when Windows 10 unexpectedly took over his work computer Memorial Day weekend.  Although I was on vacation in Chicago, I called him, provided brief assistance, and told him I would have my technicians reach out to him first thing on Tuesday.

My technicians followed up as promised and quickly reverted his laptop back to Windows 7 so he could resume work.

When Greg recently purchased a new business and needed an office computer, the former owner told him to just go to one of the big box stores and pick up a computer.

Instead of following that advice, he told the former owner, “I’m not just buying a computer; I’m buying a relationship.” 

Then he promptly called me to discuss his needs and order the right PC to fulfill those requirements.

Greg understands that in life there are certain areas in which the relationship you have with a vendor is significantly more important than the product or service itself.

It’s probably also the reason the director of a local non-profit organization sought my counsel about some email issues they were experiencing and to provide feedback about suggestions they had received from their web designer and their current IT provider.

I gave him my honest opinion – go with your IT provider’s recommendation.  I provided him some insight into potential problems they could experience with that recommended solution and suggested a way to proceed without being locked into a horrible experience.

I could have suggested that our email service was his only best option, but I knew that for his particular situation, what our friendly competitor offered would fit their needs.  And there was no compelling reason for him to switch right now.

The director previously reached out for my input about whether or not he should upgrade his computers to Windows 10.  (My reply:  Absolutely NOT!  Discover why in my free report at www.calibreforhome.com/windows10secrets).

Building relationships on trust, courtesy, and common sense is what I strive for each and every day with every client – home user or business user alike.  Not just ringing up a transaction.

I work to get to know my clients.  What they like, their hobbies, their families, and more.

Relationships transcend any business transaction.  Having a great business relationship with your doctor, dentist, auto mechanic, realtor, financial advisor, insurance agent, and computer technician are among some of the most important ones you can develop.

The Cheers theme song sums it up perfectly:

Making your way in the world today

Takes everything you’ve got.

Taking a break from all your worries

Sure would help a lot.

Wouldn’t you like to get away?

Sometimes you want to go

Where everybody knows your name,

And they’re always glad you came.

How are your relationships with various business professionals?  Is it time go where they know your name and they’re always glad you came?

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Are you spending dollars to save pennies?

Penny Wise Pound Foolish

 

Suppose for a moment you’re shopping for a new car.  You’re not extremely picky about its features.  You don’t need built-in GPS, leather seats, or a premium sound system.  It only serves as your mode of transportation from point A to point B.

At the first dealership you visit, the salesman points out a very inexpensive model.  It’s your basic car – no bells and whistles.  It has a set of tires, a clean engine, and looks reliable.  This car would most likely meet your needs.

You decide to check out a second dealership to see what they have.  The salesman there offers you a similar car.  It doesn’t have any of the fancy add-ons, either.  It too has a set of tires, a clean engine, and looks reliable.

But it’s more expensive than the first car you looked at.

What you don’t realize are the hidden, yet important, differences between the two cars.  Many “features” of the second car make it much safer for you to drive, guarantee it will last longer, require less frequent repairs, and overall provides a more pleasurable experience.

If you chose to buy the first car because it was cheaper up front, you would find out that the constant frustrations and repairs it needed over time would make it more expensive than the second car.

This is known as total cost of ownership.

Unfortunately, I see many people fail to consider total cost of ownership when buying a new computer – especially around Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Big box stores advertisements scream that you can get a laptop for $180.

But as Time magazine reported in October 2012: “While the main supposed draw for Black Friday is good deals and ultra-low priced “door busters,”… pricing studies… highlighted the fact that Black Friday didn’t offer the best value for shoppers, especially when it comes to popular holiday purchases like electronics and toys.”

Did you notice the one key phrase in their statement?  Didn’t offer the best value.

You can buy all sorts of items at low prices. But the real question is, are you getting something of value?

Answer this question honestly:  Do you seriously think you’re buying a quality, long-lasting laptop when it’s priced at only $180?

The only way manufacturers and retailers can offer these computers at such ridiculously low prices is because 1) they’re made with lower-quality components that have a higher failure rate and 2) they’re subsidized by software companies that load up the computer with junk programs that slow the computer down by as much as 40%.

I’ve seen plenty of these cheap computers (desktops and laptops) come into our shop just a few months after they were purchased.

They have problems like:

  • the hard drive had crashed (thus causing the user to lose all their data files) or
  • the computer wouldn’t power on because the motherboard died or the power supply had failed.

When you buy one of these cheap computers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’re throwing your hard-earned money away.  

You save a few bucks now, but end up spending way more in the end – either paying for repairs or having to buy another, usually more expensive, computer to replace the cheap one.

A second reason to avoid the Black Friday/Cyber Monday computer specials is because all of the PCs at the big box retailers will come with Windows 10.

While Windows 10 does offer some benefits – such as a functional start menu and slightly faster performance – it is still plagued with problems.  Just like its awful predecessor Windows 8.

  • Incompatible software programs.
  • Printers and other devices that don’t work with it.
  • Errors caused by faulty updates
  • And an endless list that I don’t have room to include

The biggest concern with Windows 10 concerns Microsoft’s lack of care about your privacy.

In a 45 page document, Microsoft basically grants itself very broad rights to collect everything you do, say and write with and on your devices in order to sell more targeted advertising or to sell your data to third parties.  Microsoft appears to be granting itself the right to share your data either with your consent “or as necessary.”

Here’s the most troubling statement from their new policy:  Microsoft “will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have good faith belief that doing so is necessary to,” for example, “protect their customers” or “enforce the terms governing the use of the services.”

The definition of “good faith belief” leaves the door WIDE open to interpretation. 

Hello, Big Brother!

Bottom line is this:  I don’t like seeing people get suckered into buying something that isn’t truly a good purchase and a wise use of their money.

I like a good deal as much as you do.  But I’ve learned it’s often best to save money by paying a little more up front.

I’ve wasted enough money trying to save pennies by spending dollars.  Haven’t you?

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“But I Only Paid $299 For It!”

A few weeks ago, Diane approached me about having a lot of unwanted, annoying, and sometimes obscene pop-ups appearing on her laptop. She inquired about what might be causing them, what I recommended be done to get rid of them, and how much it would cost.

Having never seen her computer, I suggested she schedule an appointment for me to run full diagnostics to accurately determine the problem and best resolution (remember my last column?). I also gave her a ballpark estimate of what the repairs would cost.

“But I only paid $299 for it!” Diane sighed. “It’s just a cheapy I bought at Walmart around the holidays.”

I hear this comment quite frequently from computer owners who are experiencing troubles with their desktop or laptop. Many of them saved money up front by purchasing cheap devices at the big box stores. Then when they experience issues, they find the cost of repairs is easily half or more of what they paid for the machine itself.

The unvarnished truth

First, let me boldly address the elephant in the room.

When you buy cheap, you’re going to experience problems faster and more frequently than if you had invested in a good computer. The only way retailers can offer you ridiculously low prices on a computer is for four reasons:

1. They’re made with lower quality components that have a higher failure rate. Meaning you will have to either repair it or junk it.
2. They’re loaded with useless software that slows the computer down and can cause problems right out of the box.
3. They lack the essential hardware to adequately run the operating system and your software programs.
4. They’re taking a loss on it just to give you a good deal (unlikely, but does happen around holidays).

No matter why it’s cheap, the fact is ANY type of repair will cost 50% or more of what you paid for the computer.

You just have to decide whether you want to spend your hard-earned money to repair it or waste your cash again on another cheap piece of technology that soon will cause you the same problem.

When should you repair and when should you replace?

In Diane’s case, her problem resulted from a virus or malware infection. It’s a software problem that can happen to any computer no matter how much one paid for it.
Other clients, like Rick, experience a hardware problem – like a failed motherboard or crashed hard drive.

Software problems, especially virus infections, happen on every computer. I recommend spending the money to repair the computer because it’s typically going to be cheaper than buying a new one (especially a good one).

Even if it ends up costing slightly more than you paid for it, it may be worth repairing because some of those costs may be for actual software programs, such as virus protection, which you would have to pay for with a new computer anyway. So those costs can’t really be included in the cost comparison.

Hardware problems are a different story. If you bought a cheap laptop or desktop and find it needs a new hard drive, the cost of hardware and labor will probably be equal to or more than what you originally paid.

In this case, I would recommend replacing the computer – but don’t make the same mistake by buying another cheap device. Instead, wisely invest your money in a reliable computer recommended by a true PC tech, not some sales geek at the big box store just looking to earn a commission.

If you wisely purchased a good computer, but are unfortunately suffering a hardware failure, I would recommend repairing it only if it meets these criteria:

• The total cost of repairs is less than 60% of what you paid for the computer
• The computer is less than 5 years old
• The computer adequately performs the tasks you need it to

Otherwise, you’re smarter purchasing a new, reliable computer – again from a true PC tech, not a sales geek.

Your individual situation may be different, but these are my general guidelines when making repair versus replace decisions. I would be more than happy to advise you what’s best for you. Drop me an email at info@calibre-cs.com.

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Stuck Using Windows 8? 5 Helpful Navigation Tips

Windows 8

Windows 8. No matter how glamorous, appealing and trendy Microsoft and some of its PC manufacturing partners try to make it look, IT SUCKS!

It’s NOT user-friendly, it’s NOT easy to use, it’s does NOT work well on a regular desktop or laptop computer, it requires a HUGE learning curve, and it’s VERY FRUSTRATING for normal computer users. (You can still read my complete review of Windows 8 by downloading it at https://www.calibreforhome.com/Windows8Report)

I’ve spoken with computer professionals nationwide, as well as some of my more “techie” friends. Every single one of them who has tried Windows 8 say the same thing – “it’s HORRIBLE!”  Then they proceed to permanently erase it from their computer and reinstall Windows 7.

Thus far, I’ve been fortunate to only have had to work on one computer with the Windows 8 operating system installed. I think this is because most of my clients (and hopefully readers of this column) heeded my warning late last year to stay away from – no, avoid like the plague – buying any computer with Windows 8 on it.

However, I’m sure some of my readers didn’t hear (or heed) my Paul Revere-esque alarms. Now they’re struggling trying to make sense of this strange, new operating system.

(By the way, just because all the computers at the big box stores come with Windows 8, does NOT mean you’re stuck with it. We can still order new computers with Windows 7 preinstalled – saving you the headaches and frustrations of Windows 8.)

So for those of you who maybe got a new computer with Windows 8 for Christmas and haven’t yet returned it or thrown it out the window, here are a few tips and tricks to help you:

  • Use Search to open programs. When your computer powers on, you’ll see what is now called the Start screen. Unfortunately, it’s flat and doesn’t show all the software installed on your PC. However, you can launch programs using Search from the Start screen (located on the right side of the screen). Simply type in the name of the program you want, then click on the program’s name in the list of search results.
  • Forget the tiles, go to the desktop. Well, almost. The start button in the bottom left corner of the screen no longer exists. But you can go back to the familiar desktop by pressing Windows+D on your keyboard. (The Windows key on your keyboard has the Windows logo and is usually to the left of the spacebar.)
  • Quickly navigate to everything else. The Windows+X key combination gives you access to the control panel, power options, programs and features (where you add or remove programs) and much more.
  • How to close apps. Windows 8 apps do not have close or minimize buttons in the top right corner like a Windows desktop program. To close an app, move your mouse pointer to the top of the screen until it becomes a hand icon, then left click, hold and drag down. The app will minimize, allowing you to drag it to the bottom of the screen. Or, just press Alt-F4 to save a few steps.
  • Customize the Start screen. When you install software on your PC, their tiles are automatically added to the Start screen. But you can add your own. Simply press Windows+Z, select All Apps, then right-click the program you want to add.

Windows 8 is VERY CONFUSING. If you don’t already have it, avoid it. If you do have it, I would strongly suggest purchasing the book “Teach Yourself Visually Windows 8.”  It provides step-by-step explanations with pictures. You’ll need to keep this book next to your computer at all times!  You can purchase the book here:  http://amzn.to/132jmoS

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Avoid Getting Ripped Off on Black Friday

Black Friday 2012

Christmas is just 42 days away. As Black Friday and Cyber Monday draw closer, you will be bombarded with TV and print advertisements from all the major retail stores touting the “great deals” offered if you roll out of bed at 3 a.m. (or earlier!).

But when it comes to desktops and laptop computers (and even televisions), are these “deals” really saving you money?

The answer is a resounding NO!  For at least 2 reasons, which I will explain.

An October 8 article in Time magazine reported: “While the main supposed draw for Black Friday is good deals and ultra-low priced “door busters,”… pricing studies… highlighted the fact that Black Friday didn’t offer the best value for shoppers, especially when it comes to popular holiday purchases like electronics and toys.”

Did you notice the one key phrase in their statement?  Didn’t offer the best value.

You can buy all sorts of items at low prices. But the real question is, are you getting something of value?

According to website DealNews.com, budget (think cheap) laptops hit an all-time low of $180 on Black Friday last year.

Answer this question honestly:  Do you seriously think you’re buying a quality, long-lasting laptop when it’s priced at only $180?

The only way manufacturers and retailers can offer these computers at such ridiculously low prices is because 1) they’re made with lower-quality components that have a higher failure rate and 2) they’re subsidized by software companies that load up the computer with junk programs that slow the computer down by as much as 40%.

I’ve seen plenty of these cheap computers (desktops and laptops) come into our shop just a few months after they were purchased. They have problems like: the hard drive had crashed (thus causing the user to lose all their data files) or the computer wouldn’t power on because the motherboard died or the power supply had failed.

When you buy one of these cheap computers on Black Friday or Cyber Monday, you’re throwing your hard-earned money away. You save a few bucks now, but end up spending way more in the end – either paying for repairs or having to buy another computer to replace the cheap one.

In this tight economy, can you really afford to not get the best value for your money?

A second reason to avoid the Black Friday/Cyber Monday computer specials is because most of them will come with the new, horrendous Windows 8 pre-installed.

If you’re a regular reader of this column, you’ll remember that on August 7, I detailed why Windows 8 is a nightmare of an operating system for most computer users.

  • The look and feel has drastically changed from what you are used to. They’ve taken away the familiar START button, as one example.
  • It will require you hours to figure out how to do things that you used to be able to do with just a click or two of the mouse.
  • You cannot play DVDs without purchasing the Windows Media Center add-in from Microsoft or using another program to play DVDs.
  • Some of your existing hardware (printers, scanners, digital cameras) and software may not work with the new operating system. Thus you will have for spend MORE money to buy hardware and software that does work with Windows 8.

My complete report about Windows 8 can be downloaded for free from our website at  https://www.calibreforhome.com/Windows8report. (NOTE:  We can still order computers with Windows 7, but your big box store retailers cannot.)

Bottom line is this:  I don’t like seeing people get suckered into buying something that isn’t truly a good purchase and a wise use of their money. I hope you will share this information with your friends and family, so they too can make the right purchase for their next computer.

As always, I’m willing to assist you in making your next computer purchase. Simply call our office at (812) 386-8919 or e-mail me at shartley@calibre-cs.com.