Archive for the ‘Home Remedies’ Category
“Cool. I didn’t know it could do that!”
That’s a phrase Agents hear every week. Most customers spend a good deal of time preparing for their major tech purchases – comparing features, checking system compatibilities, measuring dimensions and reading product reviews. The strange thing is that many seem to forget how their new gizmos can simplify their lives between the time they say “I’ll take it” and they get it out of the box at home. Yeah, it’s all in the manual, but who has time to read the manual?
Here are some tips and tricks you may have forgotten since the salesperson mentioned them back at the store. Never hurts to be reminded…
There’s so much more you can do with a smartphone beyond making calls.
So many people said technology would kill reading as a pastime. But e-readers and tablets have only increased our appetite for the printed word. Here are some steps you can take to help your devices help you.
These days televisions are for more than watching shows and movies. High-definition displays and internet connectivity mean getting the most out of your TV is a bit more complicated than making sure all the cables are hooked up correctly. Here are some things to keep in mind.
Web connectivity has made gaming systems more fun than that old Nintendo machine you grew up playing.
If you aren’t sure that you are getting everything out of your new computer, home theater or gaming system, we can help.
Agent Ron G. has been battling the forces of unruly technology run amok since 2001, prior to Geek Squad’s acquisition of Best Buy. When not busy creating video & technical training content for Geek Squad Agents in the field, Agent Ron enjoys home brewing, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines.
According to a recent study, more than 8,000 mobile devices were left behind at just seven of the country’s largest airports in the last year. The most common places mobile devices were left behind? Transportation Security Administration (TSA) checkpoints and restrooms.
Losing your mobile device – smartphone, tablet or laptop – can be a traumatic experience. Life in the modern world is so device-driven that suddenly being without the gadget you’ve come to rely on can be amajor inconvenience. Even more of a drag than paying for a new phone is recovering all those saved contacts, emails, documents, photos, music files and passwords c — if you even can, that is.
Don’t panic. We’ve got some helpful tips for you to lock, locate and recover your device, and give you better peace of mind.
Locking your device with a password can help ensure that your data is kept safe in the event of loss or theft.
For laptops, mobile devices and tablets, we recommend using a strong password that is at least 8 characters long. It should contain a combination of numbers, letters and symbols, using a combination of upper and lower case whenever possible. For added protection, laptops should be physically locked when left unattended (even at home). Finally, never write down your password (it makes it easier for someone to find it) or tell anyone what it is.
If you misplace your device before you’ve had a chance to lock it with a password, make sure to change the passwords to all personal accounts your accessed through that device before it disappeared, or else whoever finds the device will have access to all of them. This is especially important for email accounts, online banking login information and social media sites, because they tend to contain the most valuable personal information.
Also, be sure to contact your service provider when you discover your device is missing. Many providers are able to remotely lock your device or account, helping to prevent unwanted phone calls, data usage and costly fees.
While passwords and locks are a good first line of defense, there are several additional ways to protect your device if you set it down somewhere, or it falls out of your pocket.
One of the first things to do is install a mobile security suite on your mobile device. On Android smartphones, free apps like Lookout Mobile Security, Norton Mobile Security Lite, Seekdroid Lite and Webroot Secure Anywhere Mobile let you remotely locate your device, lock it, and/or delete all the data in it.
Users of the iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch can get similar functionality by, installing the free Find My iPhone app. Users can sign in with their Apple ID, and a map showing the approximate location of their device will be available. The app gives users the option of displaying a message on the lost hardware, locking it down, or remotely wiping it.
For even more security, you might want to check out Geek Squad’s Locked & Found app($2.99/month). It allows users to remotely lock their device and use GPS to locate it. Plus, if someone finds your device, they can report it through the device even if you locked it. If your device is stolen, Locked and Found can take a picture of the person holding the device and turn on a screaming alarm. We also have a 24/7 service available to facilitate getting your Apple, Android or Blackberry device back to you, and is included in Geek Squad Protection plans (or can be purchased purchased as a standalone app).
LoJack for Laptops is another lock, locate and recover service available specifically for laptops. As with the services for smartphones, LoJack allows subscribers to remotely lock and delete files from the laptop if it is ever stolen. The system uses patented technology to track the laptop and assist local law enforcement to recover it. Plans start at $40 per year.
If you haven’t installed a security program on your device, you can always try locating your device by contacting it via phone, text or email. If you’ve installed them, you can use free services, such as Skype or Google Voice. You can also send the device a detailed message with information on how to return your missing device through email or SMS message using Gmail.
Equipment is replaceable. Often times, data is not. Make sure you don’t lose your data by regularly backing up your gadget’s information.
With the proper utilities, you can easily synch your smartphone or tablet to your computer using the USB port to transfer information. You can also use a cloud storage app such as iCloud (free) for Apple and MyBackup Pro ($4.99) for Android, which allow users to back-up and access their mobile device’s data from any location. If you’re a Google+ user, the Instant Upload feature automatically uploads photos and videos from your smartphone to a private album, so you never lose a memory.
With PC laptops, software programs such as Genie Backup Manager ($39.95), Norton Ghost ($69.99) and Second Copy ($29.95) automatically maintain current archives of your personal information (as does Time Machine for Macintosh computers). You can access cloud storage sites such as Evault and IBackup from any Internet connection.
Want to back things up the old-fashioned way? Burn it to CD/DVDs, or manually copy your data to external hard drives or USB devices (just remember to back up your data on a regular basis).
No matter which approach to securing your mobile devices your choose, always remember that in our mobile world, data security comes down to three words – lock, locate and recover.
It’s that time of year again. Time for togetherness and fellowship, Holiday parties and Open Houses, seeing old friends, entertaining relatives and sitting down for large, traditional meals. In today’s world, your guests will bring more than cheese balls and fruit cakes – many will be visiting with their own devices and special technology needs.
Knowing this, isn’t it better to be ready to deal with them? Don’t let technical hiccups involving visiting relatives and their devices add the blues to your holiday festivities. Let Geek Squad help you, with some tips and tricks on how to wrangle those unruly devices and make them behave.
Toward that end, Agent Laura M. put together a three part series last holiday called “Holiday Tech Tips.” We thought it might be a good idea to rerun the series, so let’s start at the beginning:
In the first article on building your own computerized holiday light show, we discussed the specialized light controller and PC. In this article, we’ll talk about the technological glue that holds those devices together – the software. You will need two software tools (a sequencer and a scheduler) to create your display.
At a basic level, a holiday light show is just a sequence of instructions sent to a light controller that synchronizes your light display to your music. There are a number of good free/paid software suites available that include a sequence creation tool. For this year’s show, I am using the sequencer included in the LightShow Pro software suite.
Sequencer software makes the task of creating a show easier. It does this by showing a visual display of the music that helps you create slices of time within the show that you essentially “paint” with various lighting effects using the different light setups in your display.
Making your lights turn on, off, shimmer or flash at just the right moments in your show can take a few hours of work, even for a 5 minute sequence. For those who don’t have the time to craft elaborate shows on their own, there are collections of pre-made sequences available through groups that share their creations. (Professional sites that provide light show equipment also make sequences available.)
Once you have your collection of sequences and music, you’ll want to setup a playlist to entertain your holiday guests. Scheduler software allows you to arrange your work on a calendar and repeat shows as often as you wish.
Many scheduler tools will allow you to setup more advanced options, such as having the current sequence selection automatically posted to a Twitter account. (Some even upload webcam footage of the current show to social media or the Web!)
If your software is properly setup, you shouldn’t need to access the PC while the show is running. As a Geek Squad Agent, I like to be able to troubleshoot issues with the show without having to drag a monitor, keyboard and mouse to the outdoor box housing my controller and PC.
I use the Remote Desktop Connection tools built into Microsoft Windows to connect to the network via my home PC. I have also installed a software tool that works with the Splashtop app that is available for both iOS and Android. I like having full access to view and control the PC using my tablet from anywhere that has access to the Internet. (This explains why my neighbors sometimes see me standing in front of my house at night working my tablet and watching my show.)
Agent Derek has been removing techno-stress from the lives of his Geek Squad clients since 2005. When not providing remote help as an Online Support Agent, he likes to take to the road on a vintage motorcycle for adventures through Ohio country highways.
ace the facts: filth is everywhere. We spend a significant amount of time in our ongoing battle against filthiness. Shower, scrub, soap (lather, rinse repeat) as we sluice the dirt away from floors, counters, dishes, and windows. Don’t our electronic devices deserve the same care and attention?
With the fresh scent of spring blowing our cares away and awakening us from our sluggish winter torpor, now is the perfect time to treat your electronics to a refreshing spring cleaning .
Just as dead skin can clog pores and lint can block up lint traps, dust in our electronics can cause major malfunctions. Laptop and desktop computers, with their cooling fans and contained cases, are especially notorious for being dust magnets. Grime covered fans can jam, causing machines to overheat. Dust blowing from the vents in your computer can cover your furniture with unsightly grey fuzz. An especially filthy computer could even be a fire hazard if left on for an extended period of time!
Fortunately, a vigorous application of compressed air will send the dirt packing and make your PC feel years younger. We recommend taking your computer into the garage (or any other dry, sheltered outdoor area) for this task, or have a vacuum handy, lest you desire to breathe deeply of the billowing clouds that may result.
Have a can of compressed air primed and ready? Yes? Ok, stop trying to scare the cat with it, and follow these simple steps:
Now that the interior is clean, let’s look at the outside, shall we? Make the screens of your electronics more beautiful and renew their original luster and brilliance by treating them to a gentle scrub as part of your spring cleaning. A microfiber cloth and screen cleaning solution is all you need to free your televisions, cameras, cell phones, and computers from the built-up smears and smudges of a winter spent indoors.
With your electronics powered off and in a brightly lit location, try this:
Computers and television screens aren’t the only devices that could use a fresh start this spring. The things we touch every day naturally accumulate dirt! It’s a good idea to wipe down your mouse, your keyboard, and any shiny, dust-collecting surfaces of other home electronic devices.with antistatic electronic cleaning wipes. Always remember – clean electronics are happy electronics. (At least, in our world they are.)
Have a computer that’s really dusty? Don’t want to get your hands dirty? That’s ok. The Agents at your local Geek Squad Precinct are equipped with stout hearts (and rubber gloves),. andwill banish the dust from your PC without fear. Bring your computer to us today for a tune up that includes cleaning, or consider investing in a Tech Support subscription that offers virus removals, physical cleaning, and other services for up to three devices.
It’s that time of year again – St. Patrick’s Day! That day when, regardless of your ethnic background, everyone is Irish. You dress up in green, wear a “kiss me I’m Irish” button, and hit the pubs for some fun with friends new and old.
Sometimes, however, this can lead to just a little bit TOO much fun. Whoops! Someone spilled green beer all over your table and your new smart phone. What to do???
No need to panic. Grab a towel and check out this Geek Squad handy-dandy guide to save your cell phone from liquid damage.
Before we look at drying out your phone, let’s talk about how to prevent liquid damage from happening in the first place.
First, do not lay your phone on any surface around or near liquid. Keep it away from your pitcher of green beer, be careful where you put it in the bathroom (we’ll let your imagination fill in the blanks) or anywhere else it has the potential to be dropped into or covered in liquid. Keep your phone in your pocket/purse, backpack, man bag, satchel, bag of holding, or whatever else you use to carry around your personal treasures.
You might want to invest in a water-resistant case to protect your phone. Try a case like the Otterbox or the very versatile, fully waterproof Lifeproof cases. If you’re still not a fan of using cell phone cases, you can have your cell phone waterproofed by the folks at Liquipel. While the initial investment for waterproofing can run anywhere from $50-$100, it’s completely worth avoiding water damage to your phone or the high costs of replacing/repairing them.
If it’s already too late and your cell got dropped into liquid after a fight with an ornery leprechaun, here’s that guide we spoke about earlier:
That should take care of it! With a little foresight you can avoid such problems. But quick response should your phone and emerald-hued alcohol come into a rendezvous with each other, you can avoid having to say “farewell” to your trusted communication side arm. That is until you see the latest eye candy version and want to upgrade. Good luck, and check back for more articles!
-Agent Laura G.
Geek Squad Online Support
Technology is changing. And it evolves more quickly every year, putting your beloved laptop or desktop further and further from the lightning fast bundle of awesome it was when you bought it.
Geek Squad Agents often hear: “It was so fast when I got it, but it’s really slow now!” Don’t start digging a hole in the backyard yet.
Computer sluggishness is often software related. You might have picked up malware, which can be removed by a professional. It could also be the result of resource mismanagement problem like too much software running at the same time. If you look at a list of software on your computer, you may find more has been installed over the years than you thought. Sometimes a simple optimization – the oil change of the computer world - could be enough to clean up the clutter and put some life back into the old box. You can often do this at home and can be as simple as uninstalling programs you no longer need and disabling things like browser toolbars and extraneous startup items.
But maybe you’ve optimized your computer and it’s still as sluggish as a frozen snail. There’s probably more going on than a software issue. Maybe a piece of hardware is starting to malfunction and needs to be replaced. Or maybe your computer hasn’t quite caught up to the present day and needs a loving hardware upgrade. It’s important to consider the age of your pc, upgrade potential and cost, and your computer’s relative value, before investing hundreds of dollars in upgrades. New hardware can be a either good investment or a waste of money. Some careful analysis will often help you determine the best course of action.
RAM (random-access memory) is the least expensive hardware to upgrade and may be a good starting point if your machine has 2 gb (gigabytes) or less. You can spend less than a hundred dollars on new RAM and gain a significant performance increase because the amount of RAM in your computer dictates how many applications can run comfortably at the same time. Visit bestbuy.upgradebase.com to see if your computer could benefit from a memory upgrade.
The next thing you might consider replacing is a failing hard drive. Your drive may be on its last legs if your machine has extremely slow performance, experiences random shut downs, and occasionally refusals to boot. A hard drive is the device that holds all of your personal information and operating system, which is why it is important to save your stuff. If you backup your machine regularly, replacing a hard drive can be a good thing. Newer hard drives often offer significantly more space and may give you a performance boost. A new hard drive will cost between 100 and 200 dollars and if you’re handy with a screwdriver, can be easy to install. You will also need a copy of your operating system to install on the blank drive. If you don’t have these discs, contact the manufacturer of your computer to order them.
If you’ve replaced the RAM and the hard drive, or replacing them won’t help, things will start to get expensive. Though every situation and household budget is different, I use the ‘rule of three’ when deciding the fate of my computers. If the computer in question is over 3 years old and repairing or upgrading it will cost more than 300 dollars, it may be time to send your old friend to the great recycling plant in the sky. Your local Best Buy is happy to recycle your used electronics for free and our friendly PC sales team can talk you through the transition. Geek Squad can also assist you by transferring your data from your old machine to your new one. For the remainder of the month of February, when you purchase a Microsoft Premium laptop, the data transfer is free!
As always, for a more complete optimization, hardware consultation, or virus removal your local Agents can give you a hand. Like mad scientists, we bring dead things back to life using the power of electricity. (Insert maniacal laugh here.) Call 1-800-GEEKSQUAD, chat with an Agent on www.geeksquad.com, or stop by your local Precinct at Best Buy to learn more with a free consultation.
-Agent Laura M.
Every day, Counter Intelligence Agent Laura M, of Precinct 329, heroically removes malware and saves the personal lives of computer users in Maple Grove, MN. She has a vitamin D deficiency from playing too many video games. She likes animals and books.
2012 brings in a new year of resolutions for many of us. But those shouldn’t be limited to you. Don’t forget to consider your computer too! Today, Geek Squad has some New Year’s resolution tips for your computers. These maintenance tips will help you start off on the right foot, avoid problems, and help with your PCs performance!
Keep your PC clean of clutter!
Over time, hard drive space can get used up by temporary files (from the Internet, program installations, and more). The easiest and safest way to get rid of these and reclaim disk space is to use the built-in Windows Disk Cleanup Utility. You can search for “Disk Cleanup” in the start menu, or find it under “All Programs” > ”Accessories” > ”System Tools”. Not only will this utility safely find the files unnecessary for your PC, but will allow you to select which of them to be removed.
Another source of frequent clutter on your drive are files stored by your Internet browser. These files accumulate as you surf the net every day. To clear these unnecessary temporary files in the latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 9, click the gear icon in the top right-hand corner of your browser and select “Internet Options”. On the very first page/tab, you’ll see a “Browsing History” section in the middle of the window, with the option to “Delete.” On the next window, you get the option of deleting some or all of that data. Some of the information stored within Internet Explorer, like cookies, you may want to keep, as they help track when you revisit certain websites, preferences from last visits, however you can choose to delete all the information here safely. If you’re using another popular browser, like Firefox, you would find similar options under a “Tools/Preferences” menu, typically listed as “private data.”
Keep your PC healthy and up to date!
Updates are an important part to keeping your PC/Mac as secure and bug-free as possible. If you are using Windows, search for “Windows Update” in the Start Menu, or find it directly listed in the “All Programs” menu. On a Mac, you can click the Apple logo in the top left-hand corner of your screen, and click “Software Update.” For both, it will scan your computer and check for any available updates. Once it has determined which updates you need, you can review them prior to installation, and determine if they appeal to you. If you’re not sure what something is, just use this rule of thumb: if the update is not listed as important, then you don’t have to install them; they’re optional. Anything listed as important, however, is vital to keep your computer as secure, and well behaved, as possible.
Keep your PC safe!
Antivirus or antimalware is another thing to keep in mind while maintaining your PC. If you have an active antivirus program, we recommend opening it on occasion to make sure it is up to date, and has scanned your PC recently. If you don’t have a current antivirus program installed, there are several recommendations we can make. Norton, Trend Micro, and Kaspersky all make very effective products for a variety of terms and options. If you prefer a no-cost solution for your antivirus, we can also recommend Microsoft Security Essentials. While lacking some of the features of a paid antivirus product, it offers you basic protection, and is updated by Microsoft themselves.
Keep your PC dust free!
Lastly, there is the physical cleaning of your PC. If your PC is over a year old, or in a dusty location, you may want to clean it with compressed air. Keeping your PC clean of dust allows air to flow more freely, keeping the temperature down, and protecting the PC from overheating. If you choose to use compressed air, be careful and follow the instructions listed on the can. Not doing so could result in damage to your computer from condensation (hold the can upright, spray in short bursts).
Geek Squad recommends performing these steps every 6-12 months, to keep your PC in optimal condition. Not sure this is a project you want to undertake? These are some of the same steps Geek Squad Agents utilize when performing a PC Tune-Up on your PC. Agents are standing by 24/7/365 to keep your PC in prime condition. Chat with an Agent today at GeekSquad.com or give us a call at 1-800-GeekSquad.
Agent William G. has been an Agent with Geek Squad since 2004. If he’s not working on computers remotely, or contributing to the Geek Squad Intelligence Blog, he can be seen skateboarding in the city streets of Atlanta.
Holidays are no exception. One of my favorite projects is a yearly Halloween graveyard lightshow I put together for my home display. Check out this video I created explaining the basics behind on the spooktacular show!
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