Why is my VOIP (Voice Over IP) Terrible? Is it my ISP?

Voice Over IP (VOIP) can be great.  All the features you ever wanted and needed…Inexpensive..Portable…Crystal Clear Voice Quality…  It CAN be great. There are many cases where VOIP though can be terrible – Dropped calls, you can only hear about every other word, the other party can only hear your every other word, calls not going through…  It CAN be terrible. If your VOIP service is on the terrible side – First – Let’s explore what’s the CAUSE of the problem.  The two major reasons for bad VOIP are – 1 – A Poor VOIP provider (yes, some are better than … Continue reading

More Password Management Ideas (No Cloud Allowed!)

In my last blog entry, I talked about using some ‘Cloud’ based Password Managers to keep track of your passwords across your many devices.  As I was writing the blog I was imagining some of you who would be ‘yelling’ at the text – “There’s NO WAY I would store all of my passwords in the Cloud!”.  The reality is that what you are storing in the cloud is just an encrypted file that only you have access to, BUT, I can certainly understand the hesitation.  If you are looking for ways to manage your passwords and strictly keep them local … Continue reading

What are my favorite Antivirus programs? (and why!)

I received this email from a listener, Scott: Dan  –  I was wondering what is your favorite Antivirus for 2015, and what do think about programs like iolo System Mechanic Professional?       Thank you.      Scott Unfortunately, when you ask most ‘computer geeks’ what their favorite Antivirus program is, you’ll usually get the name of some popular or free Antivirus application.  More interesting, to me at least, is if you ask them WHY (I LOVE to ask WHY!) – you get either a strange look or something like “Well, I’ve had it on my computer for a few … Continue reading

How to format an SD Card properly

Has your SD Card suddenly lost it’s capacity?  Have you unsuccessfully tried to format your SD card in Windows?  Formatting your SD Card with standard formatting utilities may not result in optimum performance of the card.  You should use the “SD Formatter Tool” to properly format the card and/or get the full capacity back if your card has been corrupted.  Here’s a link to this free software: https://www.sdcard.org/downloads/formatter_4/ You’ll also find a link to an SDXC card driver.  If you plug in a new, eXtended capacity card into the SD Card slot of some computers, it may not recognize it … Continue reading

Is your GMail account one of the 5 million compromised?

This past week, we found out that there was a list of about 5 Million GMail accounts and passwords released by a hacker group. The good news is that it probably was NOT a hack of Google.  You can check if your GMail account was one of them here: https://isleaked.com/en If your account has been compromised, a couple things you can do are: 1 – Change your password right away! 2 – Enable 2-factor authentication!    

‘Resetting’ your old Smartphone fails to truly erase your personal data

In a study by security software vendor Avast, they purchased 20 Android smartphones from eBay and were able to recover from the phone – 40,000 photos – including 250 nude selfies, along with 750 emails and text messages, 250 contacts, identities of 4 previous phone owners and one completed loan application. Users THOUGHT they were doing a ‘clean’ wipe and factory re-install on their phones.  It turns out though that after doing this wipe and re-install, your private data can often be quickly retrieved using generic, publicly available software. With all of the personal data we store on our smartphones, … Continue reading

Great, Free alternative to Microsoft Outlook

One of the reasons many users have stuck with the Microsoft Office Suite instead of using one of the free Office alternatives has been because there has not been any/many good alternatives to Microsoft’s email client, Outlook.  Now, there’s a new version of a full-featured email client called eM Client version 6.  Like Outlook, it not only gives you access to your email, but also Calendar and Contacts.  It supports major email servers like GMail, Exchange, iCloud, etc.  Like many Office alternatives, this one is very similar in features, capabilities and look to Microsoft’s Office products and is FREE (for … Continue reading

Run Android & Apps on your PC!

There are a TON of great apps that are made for your Smartphone.  Like any other program though, apps can only be run on the operating system they were made for.  So you cannot run Windows applications on a Mac, for example, and you cannot run Android apps on a Windows PC.  But what if you have an app that was made for a smartphone, but you would rather use it on your computer (with full physical keyboard access, unlike on most smartphones)?  Maybe you want to try out a new version of Android or develop and test an app … Continue reading

Send large files that are too big to email

Most email services limit the size of files you can attach to your emails.  Typical limits are from 5 to 25 mb (megabytes).  So what do you do if you have a file to send that’s larger?  Here’s a great new service that lets you send large files to others.  They’ll allow you to send files up to 1GB (that’s 1000 megabytes) for free.  What’s better is that you don’t even need to register or setup an account.  You just drag and drop your large file, enter the ‘from’ and ‘to’ email addresses and you’re done.  Here’s the link: Files … Continue reading

Tech Habits you should adopt

UPDATED Security Software If your antivirus software is not updated (you should have the latest version of the software and the latest virus definitions), it does NOT offer basically any protection.  If you don’t want to pay for one, there are many free choices that offer good protection.  If you have an old, outdated one installed, you must uninstall it first, before installing a new one. SCHEDULED Backups If you have any important data on your computer (pictures, music, documents…), you should be backing up the data to either an external hard drive or an online backup service – or … Continue reading

What to do with your Windows XP machine once you buy a new one.

So you’ve been putting off upgrading your beloved Windows XP computer for a long time now.  But with support ending for Windows XP, it’s time to upgrade.  But…your old machine still runs fine, so it’s a shame to just toss it away.  Here are a couple ideas for what you can do with that old machine to keep it alive and useful: Give it a Linux makeover For a long time, I have made the suggestion that you could, and maybe should, have a separate ‘secure’ machine for sensitive transacting on the web.  Why not use your old machine for … Continue reading

Recover lots of Hard Drive space by deleting old Windows Update files

Microsoft recently released an update for Windows 7 SP1 that allows us to remove old Windows Update files that we no longer need or want.  Windows routinely saves a lot of files that will allow us to uninstall some of the Windows updates.  But, except in the rare case that you find a problem that was caused by one of the Updates, it is very rare that you would have a reason to remove the Update(s). This update is actually a plug-in for the Disk Cleanup utility already installed on your computer (Start -All Programs – Accessories – System Tools … Continue reading

Find your lost or stolen phone

Losing your smartphone is not a good feeling.  Make sure you have these enabled to help you locate your lost or stolen smartphone (and here’s the links to the websites where you can locate your device): Android Device Manager: https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager Apple iCloud:  Locate your device Sign in to icloud.com/#find with your Apple ID (the one you use with iCloud).  

How to Erase your Smartphone before Trade-In/Selling/Giving Away

We store a lot of personal data these days on our smartphones (and about 60% of everyone in the U.S. has a smartphone!).  When it’s time for a new phone and you are considering selling, trading-in or giving away your old one, it’s very important to erase all of this data to protect it from getting into the wrong hands.  It’s not difficult to do and although most people receiving the phones are honest, it’s not worth taking the risk to let ‘them’ have your phone and all of it’s contents. Notes/Warnings: Performing this Reset/Erase will PERMANENTLY DELETE ALL of … Continue reading