Posts Tagged ‘Geek Squad’
Saving digital files used to be so easy — just hit “Control-S”, and “Bam!” — your spreadsheet was saved. If you wanted to take the file with you, you just burned it onto a CD, and you were off.
But the modern world of mobile computing has made preserving digital files a bit more complicated. It’s not that the way files are saved to computer memory has changed. (After all, its still just a bunch of 1s and 0s, when you get down to it.) It’s the sheer number and variety of devices that contain your digital content that’s making the keeping of your digital information safe (and retrievable) challenging.
It used to be all those files were saved on the computer you created them on. Now — with digital cameras, tablets, laptops and smartphones — most of us create and store digital content on a number of devices. Most of those gadgets can share files either wirelessly, or via removable storage media, so passing files, photos and music between devices has become incredibly easy. (This makes it even more difficult to figure out if you saved that pic of your mom with cake on her nose… and where you put it.)
As most Geek Squad Agents will tell you, the key to many things in life (including effective digital storage) is to come up with an good procedure and stick to it. Since everyone’s file preservation needs are different, an effective system usually involves a customized combination of standard tools.
While doing some research recently on storage solutions, we came across a wonderful series of articles on CNET explaining the techniques and technology behind digital file preservation called “Digital Storage Basics. It was just the right combination of detail and overview to help just about anyone spec out an effective digital storage system, and is definitely worth the time.
Check the articles out here:
Drawing on their ingenuity, love of new technology & desire to learn new things, a small team of Geek Squad Agents took a chapter out of Red Bull’s Stratos “book” and gave stratosphere flight a try. The payload? A Geek Squad Agent’s badge. The capsule, christened Icarus I, also contained two GoPro HD video cameras to capture the flight in all its glory.
The Geek Squad code of conduct calls for Agents carry their badges at all times. On those rare occasions when badges are misplaced, they tend to go on “walkabout” – traveling to undisclosed locations in ways that demonstrate Geek Squad’s tech know-how and culture. Eventually these badges are returned to their owners, who are inducted into “The Geek Squad Brotherhood of the Traveling Badge.”
This latest traveling badge, owned by Agent Shedrick Williams (#13337), flew to a height of 90,000+ feet and covered a distance of more than 165 miles before landing several hours after lift-off.
So why call it out today? Because today (January 31) marks the 55th anniversary of Explorer 1, the first satellite launched atop the Juno booster from LC-26 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Missile Annex. It was a first for NASA and we wanted to honor their accomplishments by announcing our first ever flight on this date.
For more information on “Icarus 1″ (including onboard video footage, schematics, and more details), check out our web page at www.geeksquad.com/icarus.
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 (besides sending badges to near space).
Here’s a few simple keyboard commands to get you started:
Want to see Windows 8 mouse and keyboard shortcuts in action? Check out our fourth Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” video, “Mouse and Keyboard Shortcuts”.
For further tips and walkthroughs on how to use your Windows 8 device, check out our previous blog posts (here, here and here) on Windows 8, head over to geeksquad.com’s “Windows 8 tips and tricks” section (geeksquad.com/Windows8) for 11 Windows 8 walk-throughs, or check out our entire “Two Minute Miracle” video series to help get you up to speed in no time.
Agent Ron 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, public speaking, international travel, and learning how to cook new cuisines.
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.
One of the cool things about Windows 8 is this: if you have the right hardware, you can kiss your mouse goodbye. The new Windows OS is specifically designed to take advantage of all the benefits of a Touch interface. While the OS still lets you use and keyboard and mouse if you wish, let’s take a look at how Windows 8 helps you use your Touch interface effectively.
Lost without a mouse? Can’t get around in Windows without right clicking? Fret not — right clicking is as simple as tapping on an app on the screen and flicking downward to display the App commands bar.
With Windows 8, you can do much more with your Touch enabled device. Want to zoom in or out? Pinch together your fingers on the screen, or stretch them apart. Want to see previously used Apps? Swipe from the left edge of the screen. Want to close an App? Swipe from the top of the screen to the bottom.
If you read our previous blog posts on Windows 8 (here and here), you know that we have been preparing for this for a while now. Check out our third Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” video, “Touch 101,” in the Do It Yourself section of our website for more tips on using Touch in Windows 8. There you will also find a series of other helpful Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” videos with tips and walkthroughs to help make your transition to Windows 8 an easy one.
Agent Ron 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.
This news rocked the halls of Geek Squad corporate (Best Buy) this afternoon. If you know anything about your typical Geek Squad Agent, Star Wars is pretty much embedded in our DNA. (Heck, more than a few Agents list “Jedi” as their religious affiliation on various social media sites.) So news of this sort is bound to cause comments to fly around our ranks.
Fast on this announcement came another one: Disney plans on releasing new Star Wars movies every 2-3 years. While arguments amongst Star Wars fan boys may abound, one thing they are united on is the desire for episodes 7 – 9 to finally be produced. Will we see such a thing out of this? Will they bring back the characters we grew up with (Luke, Leia, Han, Chewbacca)? Will it connect with the Expanded Universe, or start off fresh?
Very little is known, yet one thing is for sure: the Star Wars universe just got a whole lot bigger – and we’ll be standing not-so-patiently by (with money in hand) to see what happens next.Agent Ron 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, learning how to cook new cuisines, and immersing himself in epic space opera set “a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away.”
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.
Windows has been the backbone of the world’s computing experience for decades. With over 400 million users worldwide, people have grown used to some standard elements in their Windows experience — like a Start Menu, for example.
Most previous versions of Windows have had the Start Menu. Going back to 1995, it’s been a given that you could find it at the lower left corner of the screen. For Windows 8 new users, finding out the Start Menu is no longer there may be a bit of a shock.
Before you start to panic, take a deep breath and relax. The Start Menu isn’t really gone — it’s just been transformed into something more useful: the Start Screen.
If you read our previous blog post on Windows 8, you know that Geek Squad has been preparing for this for a while now. Check out our second Windows 8 “Two Minute Miracle” video, “Here Comes the Smart Screen!”
For further tips and walkthroughs on how to use your Windows 8 device, check out Geek Squad’s Windows 8 tips and tricks section (geeksquad.com/Windows8) for 11 walkthroughs and “Two Minute Miracle” videos to help make your transition an easy one.Agent Ron 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.
Mobile phones, tablets and portable computers — oh my!
In a world that is constantly on the go, we are always looking for new ways to be entertained while on the road, in the air or relaxing at home. The Google Play market for Android devices gives mobile app users a wonderland of games to keep them occupied any time of the day. Here a few of my favorites that won’t break the bank!
A fantasy-puzzle game that takes players through a realm of dragons, knights and other fairy tale creatures. With many diverse puzzle games and over 50 levels to adventure through, this free storytelling adventure will pass the time while it helps build your mental muscle.
A new take on a zombie adventure! In this game you are a blacksmith, and your world has been taken over by a curse. It is up to you to defeat the curse. Your main companion is an ill-tempered , uncooperative zombie head. You have swords, crossbows and a musical horn to complete quests, solve puzzles and beat monsters as you seek to save the world.
Moving from fantasy into sci-fi, this graphically brilliant star fighter game brings together the worlds of Wing Commander and Starcraft. In this flight simulator game you complete missions, upgrade your ship and destroy space monsters. Star Splitter 3D is not your typical mobile game and will require high-powered hardware to play.
Are you into creating your own world? Then Cosmic Colony may be just the game for you. This Sim City-style game puts you in the shoes of an architect /astronaut who has been sent to build, maintain and expand a space colony on a distant planet. With the help of your trusted scout robot E.A.R.L., your goal is to build your colony while exploring the vast uncharted lands of the Planet Mochwoi.
In this now-classic mobile game, you advance through levels by using a slingshot to hurl specially-powered birds at a variety of structures. Your goal is to move through each level (using the fewest birds possible) while making sure the evil Pig kingdom members are crushed under the rubble of the buildings you destroy. With many expansion packs, Angry Birds provides players with substantial problem solving opportunities and Pig-ageddon. (It’s a word. Look it up.)
From free games to those that cost a few bucks, the Google Play app market has gaming entertainment for all ages and gamer styles! These are just a small taste of the massive market place, so check out Google Play on your device and make your own top five. You will never have a boring airport wait or family car trip cross country again!
Ah… portable electronics — the joy of modern technology. The most appealing thing about touchscreen phones, notebooks, netbooks and tablets is their portability. We take them just about everywhere we go. We toss them in our backpacks, our purses, and our pockets. And sometimes… they pay the price.
Although they are designed to resist the rigors of daily use, the screens on our favorite mobile devices are actually very fragile.Most laptop and netbook Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs) are less than ¼ inch thick. (Touch sensitive screens of mobile devices are even thinner.) If twisted, poked hard, or if just enough pressure is applied to the back of the LCD assembly, the screen on any of these devices will crack.
None of us are perfect. Accidents happen. What can you do to recover when the inevitable happens?
If you look at the screen, you might see/feel physical cracks in the tempered glass. Imagine stepping on a frozen puddle in the wintertime and seeing the ice crack under your foot. If you were to run your finger over the cracks, you may feel sharp edges or flakes of glass. Unless you like glass slivers embedded in your flesh, you might want to avoid running your hand across a screen you think is cracked.
You may or may not be able to see anything on the damaged screen when it is powered on. This usually occurs when the device is dropped or the screen is flexed past its breaking point. It can also occur if something is banged against the screen, or if you shut something hard in between the screen and the keyboard.
|Sometimes the glass won’t break, but your screen will appear to have a large splortch (it’s a technical term, look it up) of blackness with trails of black that radiate outward like tentacles from the blob. This type of damage is caused by pressure being applied either to the screen itself or to the back of the unit. This damage is common when a device is stepped on or sat upon. The glass doesn’t break, but the chemical inside that renders the image is leaking.At a basic level, your device screen is like those glowsticks you get at Halloween. Inside the plastic tubing is a thin glass container with a chemical. If you apply enough pressure, the container will shatter and the chemical inside comes out. The same principle applies to your LCD screen.|
|No matter how well you care for your product or how careful you are, accidents will happen. The best way to protect yourself against accidental damage and cracked screens on all mobile devices is to purchase a repair or replacement plan that covers accidental damage when you buy the device.|
Agent Kate B is a 3 year veteran of Geek Squad, currently on assignment at Geek Squad City. Follow Kate on Twitter @AgentKateB.
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