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Monitor Upgrade

Is your computer’s monitor up to date?

When the dimensions of television screens changed a few years ago, so did the dimensions of computer monitors. Older televisions and monitors were an almost-square aspect ratio of 4:3, known as “Fullscreen.” Newer televisions and monitors are a much wider-than-tall 16:9 aspect ratio, known as “Widescreen.”

If you have a desktop computer that runs Windows 7 or newer (or a Mac that runs one of the newer iOS operating systems) and your monitor is still 4:3, you may wish to replace it.

Not only will the display of a newer monitor be that much more brilliant than what you are used to (screen technology has dramatically improved since you bought your older monitor), the newer software you are already using is specifically designed for a widescreen display.

And … if you buy a new monitor, be sure it has a built-in webcam. You’ll certainly want to video chat with your friends and family on your nice new screen!

Support Scam

We’ve talked about support technicians who call you claiming to be from Microsoft (they are not; hang up). But what about tech companies you call for support? Sadly, another possible scam.

For example, you search for “HP support” or “Google help” and find a support phone number. You call, explain your issue, and the person on the other end offers to help by accessing your computer remotely and then charging your credit card for the help.

Did you really call HP or Google? Maybe not. Did you call a reputable third-party support company? Hard to know. Did they fix the problem? I hope so.

But, in the meantime, you have let a stranger into your computer (what did they take out? what did they put in?) and you have relinquished your credit card number. Are you better or worse off than before you called?

Here are some tips for getting help but not getting scammed:

  • Rather than use a search engine to find support, use your search engine to find the company’s official website. (Don’t include the word “support” or “help” in your search). Once at the official website, click your way to the support options. Be patient.
  • If someone offers to access your computer remotely, politely decline. Instead, tell them that you are pretty savvy with the computer (whether you feel that way or not!) and ask them to talk you through the steps. You can always hang up — and be completely detached — if you are not getting the help you need.
  • You might not have to give your credit card because you might not (should not?) have to pay for help from the company that created the product or service.
  • If there is a charge, ask the cost up front. You might even keep an extra low-limit credit card on hand for these instances. If you feel you need to cancel the card, you will not be canceling the card you use every day.
  • If phone support doesn’t work, try taking your machine to a store you trust or hiring someone to help you on-site.

Please don’t get scammed!

Get A System

Quick … do you know where your keys are? How about your wallet? Your smartphone? Thank goodness! When you need them, you’ll have them.

How about your passwords? Do you know where they are? You need those too.

Do you have a system to keep track of them?

Your passwords should be easy for you to find and to update. Some systems are better than others: tacking stickies to your computer is not very good; storing your passwords in your phone so you always have them with you is better. (Be sure to lock your phone though and store that passcode elsewhere!)

Some password reminders:

  • If you change a password, be sure to change it everywhere you store it (email, wifi, etc.).
  • Do not use the same password for everything.
  • Passwords are case sensitive.
  • Just because you don’t have to enter your password each time (email, wifi, etc.), doesn’t mean you don’t have one!

Do Not Disturb

Do you silence your phone at night to keep after-hours ringing and beeping from waking you or anyone else?

If yes, do you sometimes forget to “unsilence” it, going all day — or at least all morning — missing calls and (possibly) worrying friends and family?

Been there.

Rather than manually silencing your phone, try the “Do Not Disturb” option. This feature lets you schedule the start¬†and end time¬†that you wish your phone to be silent. You can also customize the feature by designating from whom you will and will not receive calls at night.

The Do Not Disturb feature is different in different phones. For more information, click on the appropriate link below:

iPhone (Apple):

Android phone (Motorola, LG, Samsung, etc):

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