Posts Tagged ‘computer’
So you splurged over the holidays and bought a brand-spanking-new laptop. Or you decided to pool all those gift cards and upgrade your home computing hardware. Let’s face it – you needed to put that old desktop that was still running Windows XP out to pasture. Feels better, doesn’t it?
Now that you’ve gotten all our browser favorites and music moved over to the new machine, it’s time to think about clearing it off your desk. But before you bring it in to Best Buy for recycling or donate it to a worthy non-profit, don’t forget to wipe your hard drive.
It’t hard to keep track of all the important personal information you end up storing on your computer, so it’s a good idea to scrub all the memory on the machine before letting it leave your possession. Selecting all the files and deleting them is not enough. Some data recovery tools can recover deleted files. To make sure you none of your personal information goes out with your computer when you let it go, there are some extra steps you should take to make sure your hard drive is really blank.
Fortunately, Geek Squad is here to help. A while back, we put together a ” Two Minute Miracle” video to help people understand how to securely wipe their hard drive before handing it to someone else for reuse or disposal. Check it out here:
We also have a Tech Tip on our website outlining how to wipe a hard drive. Find it here.
If you have any questions about this, we have Agents available 24/7 at 1-800 Geek Squad or chat with an agent here.
Frustrated with your computer or cell phone? Embarrassed to ask your kids/grandkids for tech help? You’re not alone. According to AARP, 33 percent of Boomers report frustration with technology. Here’s some tips to help you take control of your technology.
One of the most popular computer questions people have about their computer is “Why is it running slowly?” Through the years, we have narrowed down the list of possible reasons to ten:
1) Too many programs are running at the same time.
It is common for users to download utilities, applications, and other programs that run in the background. The more programs that are running – whether you see them or not – the less “attention span” your computer has to do other things you are asking it to do.
Avoid downloading web browser-helpers, more than one anti-malware program, or applications that claim to “speed up” your internet or your computer, as each one added will slow down your performance. (It’s also a good idea to uninstall programs that you do not use to increase your machine’s processing speed.)
2) There’s not enough free RAM.
Random-access memory (RAM) is what your computer uses for temporary working and thinking space. The more programs running at time, the more RAM is used. If your computer is running slowly, it could be because too many programs are running, and not enough RAM. To make your computer run faster, run fewer programs at a time or upgrade your RAM.
3) You have a virus/malware infection.
Internet slowdowns and slow computer operation can be a symptom of an infection. To find out if you have a malware problem, use an anti-virus and anti-spyware application to find it – like the free scanning tool we have available in the Self-Help area of our website.
4) You have low hard drive space.
Lack of hard drive space often affects older computers, or computers that do a lot of video editing or design work. Hard drives, which store all of your computer’s information, have a finite amount of space. Once they’re filled up, the computer no longer has the ability to manipulate files. The computer will slow down, eventually becoming unusable.
Generally, Windows will alert you to “low disk space” if this is the case. Moving some of your less-used files – such as pictures, music, and movies – to an external hard drive would free up some of your computer’s hard drive space and make it run faster. Deleting temporary files and performing a disk cleanup are also good ways to reclaim wasted space. Another solution? Install a bigger hard drive.
5) Restart your computer.
Every once in a while, it is a good idea to restart your computer. A computer cannot complete some of its updates until you restart. Restarting your computer can also free up memory resources tied up by buggy programs.
6) Sharing a wireless network.
If your internet is running slowly, but your computer is running quickly, you could have a lot of activity on your wireless network. Check to see if anyone else on your network is doing something that uses a lot of bandwidth (like streaming video or playing online games), as this can make your computer run slowly. You should also make sure your wireless network is secure so someone else isn’t using your Internet bandwidth. If your wireless network is not secure, Geek Squad recommends you create a password to secure your data and ensure strangers don’t join your network.
7) Too many “bells and whistles.”
Animated pointers and hi-resolution images of your favorite vacation spot may look nice, but they can also slow your computer down. Since animations and images load into memory every time you start your PC , there is less processing power available for more important tasks.
8) You have a scanning program running.
When a scanning program such as an anti-virus, anti-spyware, or automatic backup is running, your computer may respond slowly. We don’t recommend disabling these, as they are an important part of your computers safety. These programs should be run at least once a week, but don’t plan on using your machine while they are running.
9) Your computer barely meets your software’s minimum requirements.
Software usually has a list of requirements for things like processor speed, operating system, memory (RAM) and hard drive space. These specifications are the absolute minimum levels needed to make the software run. If your computer just meets the requirements, the software will run, but it might not run well. Try to meet or surpass the system “recommendations” of your software, rather than just meeting the bare “requirements.”
10) You have a fragmented hard drive.
It’s important to defragment your hard drive to help the computer organize itself better and make sure it runs smoothly. Think of your hard drive as someone who really likes to be organized but is always in a big hurry. Because you hard drive is low on time, it might save bits of a file here and pieces of it there, rather than all together. This works fine for a while, but eventually everything is scattered, and it takes your hard drive longer to find everything and get moving. Defragmenting is like a really big clean up. Your hard drive will put everything back in the right place and, as a result, will be able to move more quickly.
That’s it! If you’ve follow these ten steps, it should help you resolve a decent amount of your slow computer problems. There’s always more to learn, and lots to do in order to keep your computer running smoothly. Of course, there’s always help from Geek Squad, if you need it, but don’t be afraid to try some things on your own as well. We’ll always be available for you at www.geeksquad.com, at 1-800-GEEKSQUAD (1-800-433-5778), or at a Geek Squad precinct in a Best Buy store near you.
Agent Wiebusch carries badge number #3881, and has thwarted rogue technology issues since 2004, helping clients in store, in their home or business, and now online. When away from computers, he enjoys playing sports, playing videogames, and tinkering with motorcycles, classic cars, and anything else fast.
In part one of our Holiday Light Show series, we showed you how to set one up using computer hardware with a light controller. In part two, we covered how to control it using specialized software. In our final segment, there are a few extra items to consider before settling down with a big bowl of candy for the trick-or-treaters to arrive.
It seems obvious, but you can’t have a light show without lights. However, even here you have a technology choice to consider. Over the years, holiday lights have improved. The old strings of colored lights (with large glass bulbs prone to breaking) were replaced with smaller, more efficient incandescent lights. In recent years, even those have been largely replaced by LED lights.
LED lights use much less power (and last much longer) than older incandescent lights. Basic LED lights often only have two states: “on” and “off”. That’s great for a static display, but in a light show you want lights that can fade in, twinkle and dim.
Thanks to improvements made for home LED floodlights, dimmable LED holiday lights are starting to arrive on the market. These lights help eliminate flicker, and allow a wider range of light levels that are not subject to outages created by the voltage fluctuations your light show requires.
Before purchasing any lights for your display, take the time to research the dimming capabilities of those lights to avoid finding out they won’t work as intended.
You may wish to consider how your light show visitors are going to enjoy the music you’ve setup along with your visual display. Hooking up a set of large speakers to a stereo to play your holiday music may not provide a great listening experience for those who pull up on the street to enjoy the display from their car. The extra noise can also be an annoyance to your neighbors who have to listen to the same holiday tunes for hours on end.
One technological solution is an FM transmitter. You can find both self-build kits as well as pre-built units from several makers. The transmitter takes the audio output from your light show computer and broadcasts the music across a FM radio channel of your choosing, just like the Mister Microphones of the 70s.
The transmission signal is very weak, which is why no FCC license is required to use and operate one. It is strong enough, however, to broadcast a steady signal out to the car radios of the visitors on your street.
When looking at FM transmitters for your display, look for a device that allows both stereo and mono audio options. This gives you some flexibility. Stereo will sound better, but mono signals generally transmit further. You’ll want to make sure that it’s reasonably small enough to fit in whatever outdoor weatherproof housing you may use, and use a standard outlet or battery supply.
A nice optional feature to check for is “automatic gain control” (AGC), which helps to keep the music volume from being too loud or soft between the different songs played.
Once you have your transmitter, visit the website http://www.radio-locator.com to find the best unused FM frequencies in your area to use with the unit.
And that’s it! Between these three blog posts, we’ve covered all the angles for making your customized light show one to remember. Getting all of these different technologies together can take time and effort, but the payoff of seeing the effect your light show can have on visitors makes the project worth it.
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.
Steve Jobs is gone. The founder and father figure of Apple has died, leaving us all wondering what will happen in the wake of his passing.
Steve’s impact on modern computing is incalculable. When you look at technology (MP3 players, smartphones, tablets, and laptop/desktops) in pop culture, hardly a segment of it doesn’t have Steve’s handwriting all over it.
Steve had a unique vision. It didn’t always buy him friends. He was a perfectionist in every sense of the word. “Good enough” wasn’t in his lexicon — and aren’t we glad for that! He was an uncompromising visionary, and his vision & drive brought a true marriage of form and function together in Apple products that first delighted print and design professionals, and then the rest of the world.
Each Apple Keynote with Steve was a magical event, looked forward to with great anticipation. “What new piece of technological wizardry will he unveil now?”, we’d ask, sitting on the edge of our seats. And like the master showman that he was, Steve would spin it out like a well-crafted yarn — releasing tidbits slowly, bit by bit, until — with a final flourish — he’d unveil the final bit of magic. Whether it be a new iPod, new iPad, Macbook or the like, he did it with style — and the people voted with their pocketbooks, gobbling up the new technology and cementing his impact on the world.
The loss of Steve came like a blow yesterday. Yes, we all knew it would happen eventually — and when he stepped down as CEO, I figured it would be sooner rather than later. That still didn’t lessen the impact when I heard he was gone.
Steve: you walked the land as a giant. You showed us the power of true belief, what happens when you aren’t afraid to dream, and are willing to follow thought with action. You showed that it is possible to marry form and function, creative design and excellence in performance — all with class and style. You inspired a new generation of dreamers, and left your mark upon the land.
You will be remembered.
So what happens when a non-Windows OS gains traction? Well, the inevitable happens – and people using such systems without malware protection face a nasty wake-up call (yes, even systems with fruit-based logos adorning the front). Today’s example? Mac Defender.
Mac Defender first appeared in May 2011 as a browser pop-up screen, stating that the computer is infected – and that Mac Defender can remove the infections. The truth? It’s actually a false antivirus application with a built-in malware payload. It demands payment to work, so once users enter their credit card number… BAM! (They’ve got you.)
Malware like this is nothing new. Malware is constantly evolving, as hackers find new ways to wreak havoc on your computer, or to obtain your confidential information. And once you’ve been infected, removal can be complicated – often requiring Geek Squad Agents (or other experts) to get it cleaned up.
To protect yourself from malware, all computer users should follow these tips to help them stay safe:
- Update your operating system often. People avoid updates because they seem like a hassle. System updates include fixes to vulnerabilities often exploited by malware. Updates are your first line of defense against infections.
- Don’t download suspicious-looking programs. If it looks suspicious, it probably is so avoid it! Only download programs and updates that you are familiar with, and then only from official (safe) resources.
- Email attachments and links: be cautious. Most people know better than to open attachments or links in email from unidentified sources. It’s common for many malware applications to harvest email address books on infected computers and send out copies of the infection on your behalf to your family and friends. Got an attachment from a friend or family member? Give them a call to verify whether they actually sent anything. When in doubt, toss it out – no matter how tempting it is to open.
- Beware of pop-ups. Like Mac Defender, these pop-ups may look like legitimate warning messages from your operating system. They try to trick you into purchasing, downloading or installing some sort of application that can infect your computer. Clicking on them often loads malware onto your computer, and can lead to all sorts of headaches. Get to know what to look for to close pop-ups (tiny “X” or red dot for closing the window in the upper corner), and NEVER click anywhere else within it.
- Avoid giving out personal or financial information. If you are prompted to provide credit card information and you are uncomfortable with where you are submitting it, walk away. (Only provide credit card information to authorized sources that you trust.)
- Install protection software. To reduce threats to your computer, purchase and install protection software. Anti-virus software is a good start, and there are programs with internet security available that can help prevent hackers from getting into your computer and stealing your personal information.
- Scan your computer for viruses or malware – especially if your computer is sluggish. Quite often, Internet slowdowns and general slow operation of the entire computer can be one of the symptoms of an infection. When in doubt, scan the computer for a malware infection to determine if this is the cause.
Malware – regardless of who’s behind it or what operating system it runs on – is a fact of life for computer users. Yesterday, it was only Windows-based PCs. Today, it’s fruit-labeled ones. Tomorrow? (Hey Linux, I’m looking at you.) By following these simple tips and making sure your operating system is up to date, you can avoid most of the headaches that come with a malware infection.
Agent Agents Android anti-virus Apple CES computer Dancing With the Stars DIY DIY (Do It Yourself) projects do-it-yourself facebook Geek Squad Global Positioning System Google GPS HDTV Holiday Home Theater how-to internet iPhone Laptop laptops malware Microsoft netbooks PC Security skype Smartphone Spyware Tablet Technology tech savvy gifts tips travel twitter Two Minute Miracle Update Video WiFi Windows 7 Windows XP wireless networking