January 2015 – Purchasing a computer

Purchasing a Computer

(Originally written in March 2012).  Purchasing a new computer can be frustrating and fearful -it should be fun though and can be.  Deciding whether you’ll purchase another Windows computer or switch to Apple needs some thought unless you’re in a position where you’re just looking for a way to browse the internet and check email on an absolutlely beautiful system  Now you have to decide if you’re going with a tablet computer, an iPad or just using your phone!

Fearful because you think you may be purchasing the wrong thing and at the wrong time.  Frustrating because you spend a great deal of time looking for the best deal and attempting to transport your computer to your home or office.

Our office

We have Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1, Mac OS (desktop and laptop), iPads and iPhones represented in our office.  We use laptops and desktops depending on what we are doing.  Web site development or email from a laptop can be very handy.  We use our iPads all over the house and in our kitchen area.  We use for weather, news and as a dictionary when we have disputes over the meaning of a word.

The Basics of your computer purchase

In short, you need to determine what you want, the items that are important (i.e., speed, storage, monitor size, etc), your budget, determine if you want a laptop or desktop.  If you’re going with Windows or Mac, figure out if you are doing the setup yourself, shop to find the best price and service and then make the purchase.

Purchase a Laptop or Desktop?

Choosing a laptop or a Desktop depends on what you want to do.  Are you moving around and need to check email and internet sites?  Then it’s obvious that you need a laptop — or is it?  Smartphones and the iPad are helping people move around now without having to carry their laptop with them.
Do you like having a larger screen when you’re going to be working for an extended period?  You can indeed connect a monitor to most laptops.  Thus, we’re still not clear on whether we need a laptop or desktop.

Windows or Mac?

Really folks, it depends.  We are trained in computer science and just stepped into the Mac arena three years ago.  We must admit that using a Mac is quite pleasant.  There are annoying parts of the software from time-to-time, but overall we are pleased.  A big plus to a Mac is how well it operates with an iPhone, iPod and iPad.  Also worth mentioning is the ease of processing photos and then saving them to process in an email or otherwise.  Very nice.

If you’re considering a Mac and have been a Windows user, it pays to determine the true cost of conversion and the learning curve that you will experience.  Are you tolerant to change and also tolerant to learning new things?

There may be additional software purchases since you can not simply install the Windows version of Microsoft Office onto your Mac (they are different).  You may also find other pieces that you have to purchase and it pays for you to spend the time figuring that out (i.e., Quickbooks for example).

There are nice emulation packages (VMWare — but be wary of any time they offer discounts or rebates as they fight to avoid paying them) which can allow you to have Windows run on your Mac.  It doesn’t take over the Mac but only runs Windows in a program window.  This would allow you to perform activities in a Windows environment like you’ve been doing — thus eliminating the need to purchase other software.  This ’emulation’ assumes that you also have a copy of Windows to install (the CD/DVDs).

What we’ve seen so far

When our clients throw out the psychology of ‘instant gratification’, take the time to think about the purchase and shop with various vendors for pricing, they are happy with their purchase.  Our clients that are open to change do well switching from a Windows system to a Mac.  Those who take the time to examine everything they are doing on the ‘old’ computer (the one they are replacing) and determine how to do that on the new computer do exceptionally well.

To consider as you get ready to purchase

Budget – it’s important to decide how much you want to spend on your computer.  Once you shop, you’ll be able to determine a general budget amount.  You’ll want input from your technical support person to ensure you are not excluding important parts or services (i.e., do not exclude the cost of your technical support person if you use one).  Again, ensure you know every cost so that you are not surprised.

How long you’ll be using the system – if you’re looking for a system that will make it through a year or so, you may have success purchasing a system from a local store or local vendor.  If you’re looking for a longer timeline, ensure you plan for this.

Support of the product you are purchasing – if the system were to having operational issues (aka, quit working), how quickly do you need to have it working again?  The support plan is critical to understand so that you are not surprised.

😉

Windows 7 – Computer Support and Repair – Vail Colorado

To have a Windows 7 system, by default, login to a domain rather than the local system OR requiring that the user ENTER the domain themselves, try this registry update.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\System]
“DefaultLogonDomain”=”DOMAINB”

NOT PROVEN TO WORK YET – 5/21/14

Add a Startup program for All Users – Windows 7

For All Users
NOTE: The all users Startup folder is a hidden system folder located at:
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

Find your Dell Service Tag Information – Windows 7

Computer Repair Avon Colorado – Dell Service Tag Info

To get support from Dell or to find software for your Dell computer, you need a piece of information called your ‘Service Tag’.  Though strangely named, it’s a key to great information for your technical needs.

In the ‘old’ days (had har), the Service Tag information was included in the ‘Help’ information in Windows.  Thus, it was easily found when you needed to have your computer checked.  Most of the time there is a sticker on the computer with the information BUT the computer is generally under a table and you just don’t want to crawl under there to retrieve it.

With Vista (we believe), it is no longer included in the Windows Help information (why? because it must require additional labor to put the information in the Windows OS) and you have to find it yourself.

So if you are on the phone with Dell OR if your friendly technician asks for the information, you can get it for them.

First, click on the Windows start ‘bubble’ (where the old “START” button used to be) and in the ‘Search programs and files’ box, enter CMD.

You should see CMD.EXE underneath the area labelled PROGRAMS.  Click on it and you’ll be taken to a new window (black background with white text).

From this window, a CMD prompt, enter the following:

C:\>wmic bios get serialnumber

While this information works on all Windows systems, on a Dell system it will provide you with the Service Tag (on an HP desktop, it provides you with the computer serial number).

Once you have the information, you can use it on the Dell Web site for maintenance and support or provide it to your computer repair person to allow them to help you along your way.

Reach My Computer
Vail and Avon Colorado – Computer Support and Repair

Mac OS X – Keyboard Shortcuts

For those that are moving from Windows to Mac OS (Apple), the keyboard and it’s related shortcuts can be frustrating.  It will take some time to memorize the keyboard shortcuts, but you’ll eventually get accustomed to it.  Finding out how to get yourself positioned at the start or end of a line can be quite annoying as HOME and END just don’t work the same (without tweaking your system — in some cases).
Don’t get frustrated and simply take your time.  It will be worth your struggles in the end.

A handy reference for you can be found at Apple’s list of keyboard shortcuts.

Enjoy!  If you have questions, let us know!

Reach My Computer

Computer Support and Computer Repair
Vail Colorado
9790-748-8436

 

April 2012 – Email on everything

i want my email everywhere - no matter where i am on the planetI want my email everywhere!

With the ever growing dependence on email, it’s only natural that you want your email wherever you are and on whatever computing device you happen to be using (i.e., iPhone, iPad, iMac, Vostro Laptops, Optiplex desktops, home-made computers — you get the point).

It’s certainly possible to accomplish the task.  As we find ourselves consulting with clients about their  various technological tasks, we remind them of the fact that technology just isn’t perfect.  The quicker we all accept such, the better we’ll feel — and operate.

Our office

We have computers of every ilk and are about to embark on the purchase of an iPad or two (depending on how well my Apple stock performs).  For our smart phones, we use iPhones and like them very much.  One of us is more dependent on email at the computer while personally I want to have my email accessible anywhere.  In the IT consulting business, it’s just easier and looks really impressive to clients.

The Basics of email

In short, you need to determine the role of email in your business or life.  We’ve recently discovered wisdom around checking and depending on email less frequently throughout the day — some recommend checking email twice daily — WHAT!  We must share that we’ve been trying it and, overall, feel much less anxious.  There is some degree of truth in the success oriented around planning your day.  Email, since it has an addictive nature, can derail your efforts just like we find happens in Facebook (to expand, once you look at your Facebook account, you jump around looking at other things until realizing that an hour has passed and you’ve done nothing productive).

Email on your phone, computer or other?

Granted, email is a very popular form of communication and in many cases can be a source of income (i.e., travel agents who rely on email for business leads).  Personally, email is a source of questions from clients ranging from ‘how-to’ to scheduling an onsite visit. It’s more casual since I’ve learned to keep in touch by phone for important things — like emergencies.
So, I find it useful to have my email flow to my iPhone.  I can respond to email that seems urgent (but again, not an emergency).  Overall for me however, I use my iPhone to quickly eliminate email that I know I do not  need (i.e., a sales email from Best Buy — I’ll shop when I’m ready not via and email alert — that’s just my approach).  I use my iMac as my base camp for email management, organization, storage, etc.  It’s the place I want to have everything organized so that I know where it is for future reference.
Optionally, I find it useful to have web access to email when I am on the road in distant cities.  I can, for instance, check email from a  hotel computer and respond with a full keyboard.  I must keep in mind that the response should be short and not necessarily of content that I want to keep at ‘base camp’.  It the email chain is important, I BCC myself so that I can store it when I am back at base camp.

What we’ve seen so far

Many are jumping at the chance to be in the ‘cool crowd’ and float on the iCloud (or other cloud based solutions).  It is indeed a phenomenal concept.  There are challenges to using this approach (at least as of this writing in April of 2012) that are more than some can tolerate (for instance, the recent challenge is that email ‘vanishes’ when using iCloud/IMAP — this is not anecdotal and is indeed happening regularly).

To consider as you go forward

Base Camp – if it’s important to store email somewhere, treat one of your systems as the source, central location or your base camp.  The concept may not work in the initial phases of your expedition, but over time becomes a place where you can find email that is important and necessary (i.e., emails that are related to a purchase of your Abercrombie summer tee collection).

Email on your phone – depending on how you approach it, your phone can become overwhelmed with old email.  It can also, while trying to help you, erase email after a certain time period has passed.  Thus, treating it as a transitional element may be a better approach.  Not to say that your world cannot be managed by an iPhone or other smart phone though.

Is your email critical to your success? – if the answer to this question is yes, you must ensure you have a plan to manage your email.  If you receive a large number of email daily, the process of management can become overwhelming — not to mention difficult on a smart phone.  Thus, a plan becomes important.  Not all approaches work for everyone, so you need to determine a way that works for you and your life / business.

😉

January 2015 – Purchasing a computer

Purchasing a Computer

(Originally written in March 2012).  Purchasing a new computer can be frustrating and fearful -it should be fun though and can be.  Deciding whether you’ll purchase another Windows computer or switch to Apple needs some thought unless you’re in a position where you’re just looking for a way to browse the internet and check email on an absolutlely beautiful system  Now you have to decide if you’re going with a tablet computer, an iPad or just using your phone!

Fearful because you think you may be purchasing the wrong thing and at the wrong time.  Frustrating because you spend a great deal of time looking for the best deal and attempting to transport your computer to your home or office.

Our office

We have Windows 7 Pro, Windows 8.1, Mac OS (desktop and laptop), iPads and iPhones represented in our office.  We use laptops and desktops depending on what we are doing.  Web site development or email from a laptop can be very handy.  We use our iPads all over the house and in our kitchen area.  We use for weather, news and as a dictionary when we have disputes over the meaning of a word.

The Basics of your computer purchase

In short, you need to determine what you want, the items that are important (i.e., speed, storage, monitor size, etc), your budget, determine if you want a laptop or desktop.  If you’re going with Windows or Mac, figure out if you are doing the setup yourself, shop to find the best price and service and then make the purchase.

Purchase a Laptop or Desktop?

Choosing a laptop or a Desktop depends on what you want to do.  Are you moving around and need to check email and internet sites?  Then it’s obvious that you need a laptop — or is it?  Smartphones and the iPad are helping people move around now without having to carry their laptop with them.
Do you like having a larger screen when you’re going to be working for an extended period?  You can indeed connect a monitor to most laptops.  Thus, we’re still not clear on whether we need a laptop or desktop.

Windows or Mac?

Really folks, it depends.  We are trained in computer science and just stepped into the Mac arena three years ago.  We must admit that using a Mac is quite pleasant.  There are annoying parts of the software from time-to-time, but overall we are pleased.  A big plus to a Mac is how well it operates with an iPhone, iPod and iPad.  Also worth mentioning is the ease of processing photos and then saving them to process in an email or otherwise.  Very nice.

If you’re considering a Mac and have been a Windows user, it pays to determine the true cost of conversion and the learning curve that you will experience.  Are you tolerant to change and also tolerant to learning new things?

There may be additional software purchases since you can not simply install the Windows version of Microsoft Office onto your Mac (they are different).  You may also find other pieces that you have to purchase and it pays for you to spend the time figuring that out (i.e., Quickbooks for example).

There are nice emulation packages (VMWare — but be wary of any time they offer discounts or rebates as they fight to avoid paying them) which can allow you to have Windows run on your Mac.  It doesn’t take over the Mac but only runs Windows in a program window.  This would allow you to perform activities in a Windows environment like you’ve been doing — thus eliminating the need to purchase other software.  This ’emulation’ assumes that you also have a copy of Windows to install (the CD/DVDs).

What we’ve seen so far

When our clients throw out the psychology of ‘instant gratification’, take the time to think about the purchase and shop with various vendors for pricing, they are happy with their purchase.  Our clients that are open to change do well switching from a Windows system to a Mac.  Those who take the time to examine everything they are doing on the ‘old’ computer (the one they are replacing) and determine how to do that on the new computer do exceptionally well.

To consider as you get ready to purchase

Budget – it’s important to decide how much you want to spend on your computer.  Once you shop, you’ll be able to determine a general budget amount.  You’ll want input from your technical support person to ensure you are not excluding important parts or services (i.e., do not exclude the cost of your technical support person if you use one).  Again, ensure you know every cost so that you are not surprised.

How long you’ll be using the system – if you’re looking for a system that will make it through a year or so, you may have success purchasing a system from a local store or local vendor.  If you’re looking for a longer timeline, ensure you plan for this.

Support of the product you are purchasing – if the system were to having operational issues (aka, quit working), how quickly do you need to have it working again?  The support plan is critical to understand so that you are not surprised.

😉

Windows – Copy photos from SD to your Computer

Managing your photos on WindowsIf you happen to have a camera card reader in your computer (and this may work in other variations), you can copy photos to your computer in numerous ways (it depends on how comfortable you are with each method).

With Windows XP, after placing the card in the reader, you are prompted asking you ‘What do you want Windows to do?’

One of the options SHOULD BE, ‘Copy pictures to a folder on my computer using Microsoft Scanner and Camera Wizard’.  Highlight/click it and select ‘OK’.

Follow the prompts and select the photos to copy to your computer (in most cases, all of them).  Name the grouping of photos and select where to store them (I recommend ‘My Pictures’ and then in a subdirectory name — an option is to name them by month/year perhaps).  If you want, you can opt to delete the photos from the camera at this point.  Finish and enjoy the photos!

If you want to clean up your camera card, you can do so through ‘My Computer’ if you are comfortable with that approach.

Shared Calendars with Godaddy

Using Calendars with Godaddy

The mission:

Find a calendaring system that will allow people to share a calendar AND have it updated on their respective computers and phones.  Budget should be observed and ease of use must be present.  Reminders and alerts should be present also.  Wireless synchronization is a must.

Assumptions:

1. You have your own Godaddy account

2. You have a domain that you can apply the calendar too (i.e., garnerfamily.com)

3. You want to share your calendar across all platforms — Outlook, iCal (Mac OS), iPhones

4. You’re ok with sharing the calendar under one email versus another (i.e., under the wife’s email versus the husband’s — you can overcome the ego issues).

Benefits of a shared calendar:

1. No need to email notices if everyone is looking at the same calendar.  Notices appear as they are added.

2. Other : by having your own domain for calendar sharing, it allows you to also have a domain for email (versus using gmail, hotmail or otherwise).  Also with your own domain, and if you use a provider like Godaddy, you’ll have access to phone support (which you don’t get with Google, Hotmail/MSN and others).

Comparisons:
1. Gmail – doesn’t integrate well and requires the business version (it appears) to have the updates flow to your phone.

2. Exchange – would do the trick, but Godaddy requires an ‘all or none’ approach with Exchange email.  Thus, most people won’t go this way — especially for home use.

Godaddy has calendaring in their services and, depending on your setup, you may have free access to use the tool.  We have the calendaring option since we own so many domains and services.

Findings:

1. You need to have a Godaddy account (or email) to be setup as someone that can update the calendar.

x. Outlook isn’t cooperative with sharing calendars — you can view your calendar but not update it.  The CALDAV approach is not well integrated (if at all really) into Outlook and it’s not clear if it will ever be (just don’t understand that from Microsoft — there must be a bigger strategy at play here).

2. You can synchronize the calendar to your iPhone (not sure about a ‘group’ calendar though).

Synchronizing your iPhone to the calendar (CALDAV)

  1. From the Home screen, tap Settings.
  2. Tap Mail, Contacts, Calendars.
  3. Tap Add Account.
  4. Tap Other.
  5. Tap Add CalDAV Account.
  6. Complete the following fields, and then tap Next.
    • Server — Type caldav.secureserver.net.
    • User Name — Enter your Calendar user name, which is your email address.
    • Password — Enter your Calendar password.
    • Description — Enter a name for your Calendar to display on your phone.
  7. Tap Save (there may be a requirement to accept the server certificate — watch for this)
You must publish or share your calendar in Godaddy to allow it to be opened in Outlook.
Login to your email account (where you gain access to your Calendar) and open the Calendar.
Open SETTINGS then SHARE CALENDARS.
Click on the Action button to ‘Enable Publish URL’.
Login from the computer which has Outlook (this allows you to COPY the convoluted URL to the clipboard so that it can be pasted into Outlook).

What kind of file is this? File Extension information

File Extensions

For the most part, all files on your computer have a file extension (i.e., Excel files are .XLS or .XLSX — depends on the version of software).  Thus, as you are looking for files on your computer, sometimes you need to know what to look for.  The intent is to build a collection of file extensions here for both the support person and for the do-it-yourself support person.

Quicken – information on their site is here