Tuesday, August 9, 2016

MICROSOFT, WINDOWS 10 AND A PARADIGM SHIFT

Microsoft has a new way to force us into Windows 10. Well, it's not exactly new; they've been doing it for about a year already - it's just getting worse. And it has to do with updating and installing patches on your computer.
Windows 7 and Vista allow us to control how and when we install updates. Windows 8/8.1 and 10 do the thinking and make the decisions for us. It seems this is one of the biggest reasons Microsoft has been pushing their users to Windows 10 - more control for them, less for us.
Should your Windows 7 computer need a hard drive replacement or an operating system reinstallation or even a System Restore, getting Windows Update working again will be a monumental task, if it works at all. Waiting for Windows Update to check for updates has been taking 8 to 12, even 24 hours just to check for updates. Downloading and installing the updates takes almost as long.
There's no official Microsoft fix for the issue, though there's a lot of advice online. Suffice to say it's taking two or three times as long to do the job as it used to before the *change*. Microsoft barely acknowledges it's a problem. The solution, for them, is for you to go to Windows 10 or buy a new computer with Windows 10.
What to do if it happens to you? Each case is different, but it might be time to look for a new computer. The labor alone to reinstall a Windows Vista or 7 computer has doubled.
Maybe you think now would be a good time to ditch Microsoft and head over to the Apple Store. If so, I bid you farewell and good luck. Or, maybe you just don't think you need a computer anymore, since you mainly use your phone or tablet to play games on Facebook and maybe look at your email once in a while. Let's be realistic - portable devices are the future. But for anyone who still wishes to create anything (documents, photos, projects) or do real research or store much of anything (music, photos, genealogy info, invoices and receipts) it's more manageable to do so on an actual computer.
If it's time for you to change to a new computer (do NOT buy the Windows 10 upgrade for your existing computer - the cost plus installation and data transfer will go a long way towards a new computer), let's talk. I've been buying a decent Dell Windows 10 laptop for under $600, and a nice, new all-in-one Canon printer that does everything anyone could want for under $100.
Times change, technology changes, our needs change. Change is the only thing on which we can rely.
Cathy Contant
cathy@cathycom.com
315-573-4905 (texts welcome - please identify!)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

JULY 20 2016 - RECENT UPDATES

JULY 20 2016 - RECENT UPDATES

In addition to the usual patches and updates released by Microsoft on the 2nd Tuesday of each month, these are also important updates to install.
1. JAVA - Version 8, update 102 was just released. You may see a prompt to install the update, and you can follow that prompt, but be sure to UNCHECK any boxes offering 3rd-party software such as security scans or toolbars. Easier: run the Ninite update if it's installed on your computer. No decisions to make, no additional Potentially Unwanted Programs (PUPs).
2. ADOBE FLASH - Current version is 22.0.0.209. This one can't be updated via Ninite, but should update itself if auto update is enabled. If you want to check your current version go to the Adobe web site, then click Flash Player in the lower right corner and follow the prompts UNCHECK any box offering anything other than Flash.
3. ADOBE AIR - Easily updated using Ninite, or install when prompted, or install from the Adobe web site as above.
4. ITUNES - Just updated to version 12.4.2.4. Install when prompted, run Ninite, or go to the iTunes web site.
5. MOZILLA FIREFOX - Now version 47.0.1. Updates easily from within Firefox, or run Ninite.
Restart your computer after installing updates, and if you leave it on all the time, restarting it several times each week will help it run better. Restarting finishes installing and uninstalling apps and updates and empties temporary files.
Questions? Contact me here, or via text, phone or email.

Cathy Contant 315-573-4905 http://cathycom.blogspot.com/

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

WINDOWS 10 IS INSTALLING ITSELF AND I DON'T WANT IT - NOW WHAT?

WINDOWS 10 IS INSTALLING ITSELF AND I DON'T WANT IT - NOW WHAT?
Did you wake up to find Windows 10 installing on your computer, against your will? You're not alone. However, you're also not stuck.
DO NOT SHUT IT OFF - let Windows 10 finish installing, then just run the wizard to revert back to Windows 7. If you were on Windows 8/8.1, stick with Windows 10 for a much better experience.
Within 30 days after installing the Windows 7 upgrade you can roll back to Windows 7 by clicking the Start button, then Settings - Update & Security, then Recovery. Choose Go back to Windows 7 and follow the prompts.
Your files should all be where you left them, and you've now reserved your free copy of Windows 10 should you want to go there in the future when things stop working well with Windows 7.
If you want help or have questions, send a message, text, email or call me at 315-573-4905.

Cathy Contant 315-573-4905 cathy@cathycom.com

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WINDOWS 10 - HOW ABOUT NOW?

WINDOWS 10 - HOW ABOUT NOW?

Uncle. Sort of. If you've been waiting to install the Windows 10 upgrade on your Windows 8/8.1 or Windows 7 computer, you've probably been wondering when - or if - to let the upgrade install. 

Now that Microsoft has confirmed they really will start charging $119 to upgrade to Windows 10 after July 29, 2016, the question becomes more compelling. This does not mean "they've worked out all the bugs and now it's safe to upgrade". There will always be "bugs" in software - your Windows Vista/7/8/10 and MAC computers install updates and patches every month, if not more often. Here's how to decide whether to go to Windows 10 or leave well-enough alone. 

1. Know that you never have to change from Windows 7 (or Windows 8/8.1) if you like things the way they are. Microsoft will support Windows 7 into 2020, and 8.1 into 2023. All that means is after the cutoff date there will be no more (supposedly) security updates created for that operating system. Your computer will not just stop working. Working well, is the question.

2. Over time the applications and hardware on an older computer will become less-compatible with current software and Internet standards. This means that web pages will load slower, and possibly wrong or not at all. Web pages and browsers change all the time - technology moves forward - and no one browser nor any individual web page will always work perfectly at any point in time, even now. 

NOTE: When you get an error on a web page, try going to that page in a different browser before pushing the panic button. When the battery is dead on the Ford, get in the Chevy and go to work. 

3. If your computer is more than 2 or 3 years old, it may not have the hardware to allow the Windows 10 upgrade to install or run properly. Stick with what you have or buy a new computer. 

4. If you're using Windows 8 or 8.1, you'll probably like Windows 10 better. If you're using Windows 7, you may or may not like Windows 10 better, but it will be more compatible with software, web sites and hardware down the road. After a week you won't notice a difference.

5. If you're using Windows XP or Vista, there's no free upgrade to anything for you. It's time to buy a new computer. Your old, reliable computer is running on borrowed and dangerous time.

6. Know that if you DO change to Windows 10 and really don't like it after giving it the old college try, you can still go back to your old operating system within 30 days. Reason enough to give it a try.


If you've decided to stay with your current operating system, stop worrying about whether or not you should upgrade. Microsoft said they will stop prompting to upgrade after July 29. You will simply use what you have, as you've done since you got it, until you decide to replace the computer. Congratulations, and please check your data backups. 

If you've decided to plunge ahead and take advantage of the free Windows 10 upgrade, there are a few things to do before installing. 

UPGRADING TO WINDOWS 10

1. Check to be sure your computer can be upgraded. Right-click on the Windows 10 icon in your System Tray, then click Check My PC.

2. Back up your data (anything you don't want to lose). Twice. 

3. Find the installation files and license numbers for any software you want to use. (Microsoft Office, Quicken, QuickBooks, Photoshop, etc.) Anything you've installed will need to be reinstalled after the upgrade.

4. Find the Recovery media you created when your current computer was new, or make it now. 

5. Remove any add-on security software you've installed (Norton, McAfee, Microsoft Security Essentials). And consider using the included Defender in Windows 10 instead of buying 3rd-party security software. It works great, and there's nothing out there that protects us from us. You'll still need tools to remove adware, spyware, trojans and worms that appear out of nowhere. That's a different post.

6. Follow the prompts and let Windows 10 install. It will take some time, and there will be things to configure when it's done (I'll post about this later). Oh, and if you don't like Microsoft's new Edge browser you can still use Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox or just about any browser you want. You'll just need to install them, or run the Ninite updater if you have it.

Microsoft has made the upgrade process as easy as possible, but it's still a daunting task and takes hours to complete. If Windows 10 sounds like it's right for you now, and would like it to just appear with all the updates and new Recovery Media and your data in the right places, I can help. 



Cathy Contant              315-573-4905               cathy@cathycom.com

Thursday, April 21, 2016

JAVA UPDATE 92

Java update 92 was released last night (April 19, 2016). If Java is on your computer (you'll know because a popup will offer to update), install the update.
If you're using the Ninite updater, run it to avoid any 3rd-party software that Java likes to install along with your update. More here:http://www.geekwire.com/…/oracle-adds-amazon-search-engine…/
And if your Ninite updater hasn't been updated to not include QuickTime, it needs to be done. You can manually remove QuickTime, but if you're using the old Ninite it will be reinstalled when you run Ninite. So - create a new Ninite updater or contact me for details!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

INTERNET EXPLORER HELL

Is Internet Explorer giving you fits? Are you suddenly seeing MSN when you open IE instead of the Home Page you preferred? Is it crashing/freezing/just not right?

It's not you - it's Microsoft. If you missed the opportunity to tell Internet Explorer to keep your current Home Page after last week's updates, you'll now find it bogged-down by the media-heavy MSN web site - the default for Internet Explorer. However, it's simple to fix. 

Go to the page you want to use as your Home Page. If it's Google, go to https://www.google.com, hit Enter and let the page load. Quick, huh? Now, in Internet Explorer, go up to the toolbar and click Tools - Internet Options. The first button says "Use current" - click it, then click Apply, then click Close. 

Easy. 

For those who can't wait to shout things like "Use Chrome!" "Use Firefox!" "Use a Mac!" I'll simply say use whatever you like. Don't let anyone tell you any particular browser is better/faster/safer than another - at least of the Big Three. If they give you a hard time make them prove it - that stops them every time. Top honors bounce back and forth so fast no one can keep up with the "Best Browser of this Hour". And you don't need to. Keep all three on your computer and up-to-date and you should be able to access most legitimate web pages with ease. 

Remember, no browser loads every web page perfectly every time. Web pages change constantly, browsers change constantly, and we simply roll with the changes. Know how to use more than one browser, just as you likely know how to drive more than one brand of car. 

If you're asking yourself "What's a browser?" we have more to discuss - or you have some Googling to do. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

QUICKTIME - SHOULD I REMOVE IT?

QUICKTIME - SHOULD I REMOVE IT?

UPDATE APRIL 19 2016 - APPLE SPEAKS. 

And they say Windows users should remove QuickTime from their computers, now. http://www.engadget.com/2016/04/18/apple-ends-quicktime-for-windows-support/

Don't know how? Follow this link: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205771 or ask for help. 


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- 
You've probably come across some dire warnings in the last 24 hours about the dangers of QuickTime, which is a plugin from Apple that plays media on your computer. You don't have to have an Apple computer to use QuickTime; if you ever used iTunes, you probably have QuickTime.
There are some very recent reports that Apple has stopped supporting QuickTime, which means they're not fixing known security holes in the program. Interestingly, Apple is mum on the subject to date. These warnings are coming from two places - TrendMicro and Homeland Security. That alone should make us suspicious as to the validity of the scary warnings.
  
However, if you'd like to remove QuickTime from your computer you can follow the instructions here: https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT205771
If I've worked on your computer and you're using the Ninite updater to automatically seek out and install updates for certain programs, you should be aware QuickTime is included. So, if you remove QuickTime, then run Ninite at a later time QuickTime will be reinstalled. That means, you need a new Ninite. You can go to the Ninite web site and build your own updater, or contact me for help.



Cathy Contant   315-573-4905    cathy@cathycom.com