Thursday, July 20, 2017



We've made it past Patch Tuesday without much disaster this month. Thank you, Microsoft.
If your computer seems sluggish and unresponsive, check to see if it's downloading the huge Creators Update for Windows 10. This update will take a few hours and the best way to keep it from bothering you is to let it finish. Don't close the lid to your laptop or let your desktop go to sleep if it's working on a big Microsoft Update. If you do, your computer will be in a perpetual state of trying to download, install and finish the update. Here's how to check for Microsoft Updates in Windows 10:
In the search (Cortana) box type update, then click on Check for updates in the results list. If you see "Feature update to Windows 10, version 1703" is downloading, bingo - you're getting the Creators Update. Let it happen. Remember, Windows 10 is the last version of Windows and will simply be updated more frequently.
iTunes, Java, Flash, Adobe AIR and CCleaner have new updates. If you have the Ninite Updater installed you can run it to get all but the CCleaner update. You'll need to go to the web site to download the new version of CCleaner, but READ CAREFULLY and don't be mislead into buying the Pro version. use the free version.
Time to check your data backup to be sure anything you don't want to lose is being copied somewhere off your computer. It's a great feeling to know your photos and documents are safe until you go to retrieve something and find the backup failed long ago.
Have questions or want help? Send me a Facebook message, text, email or call 315-573-4905. Share with those you love!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017



You want to save or email something on your computer screen, whether it's a recipe or photo in your browser, part of a newspaper article or an error message on your screen. There are several ways to do it besides taking a photo with your camera or phone.


Available in Windows 7, 8.1 and 10, this is a great tool to learn to use. In Windows 7 click the Start button (lower left corner, unless you've moved the Task Bar), then start typing snipping tool in the Search box. In Windows 8.1 and 10 just start typing in the Search (Cortana) box on your Task Bar next to the Start button. Choose Snipping Tool out of the results, then click New. Draw a square or circle around the part of your screen you want to keep (capture), then save it as a new file in a place where you can find it.
Here are two links that explain in more detail, but be SURE not to click on any ads or downloads!

You can always press the PrnScn button on your keyboard while you're on the screen you want to capture (it will save the whole screen), then open Paint (search for it as above) and Paste. Save, print or send at will.

Questions? Let's chat!

Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


Welcome to Patch Tuesday

Microsoft has released a number of updates today, and if you have Automatic Updates enabled you should start seeing the request to "Update and restart" your computer. If you want to be sure you have the latest patches and fixes you can check for updates manually. On Windows 7 click the Start button, then click on Windows Update in the menu. On Windows 8.1 and 10 Click Start - Settings - Update & Security - Windows Update.
Other apps and plugins with updates today are CCleaner, Adobe AIR, Adobe Flash, and Adobe Shockwave. If you have the free Ninite Updater, run it now. Note that CCleaner doesn't have an automatic updater and you'll need to download and install the current (FREE) version. Adobe Flash should update itself; allow it if prompted.
Have questions or want help along the way? Call, text or email me and we'll take care of it.
Cathy Contant 315-573-4905

Wednesday, June 7, 2017



SPECTRUM CUSTOMERS: did you get an email from Spectrum with a download link for your free McAfee Security Suite software? Think hard before installing it.
If you're using Windows 10 or 8.1 your computer already has good security included - it's called Defender. If you're using Windows 7 or Vista you can use the free Microsoft Security Essentials.
There's no need to purchase or subscribe to additional security suites. In fact, if you want to install McAfee, Norton, WebRoot, Avast, AVG or any other antivirus or security software you'll need to disable Defender or completely remove any other previous security software already installed on your computer.
Viruses aren't the problem today they were years ago. That's because any good, up-to-date antivirus program will do the job. When you add a suite of programs that include firewalls (your computer is already operating behind several firewalls), identity protection, online backups and malware and spyware protection you're adding layers of stuff running in the background. This slows down your computer with additional programs running, slows down your Internet experience and sends your activity back to the security suite's home servers.
And your computer still isn't protected from self-inflicted malware, which causes the vast majority of computer problems today.
Still think those pricey security suites protect your computer from everything, or most things? Almost every computer that comes into my office with McAfee, Norton or WebRoot installed is infected with malware. Why pay for protection that gives you a false sense of security?
A free offer is pretty appealing, but it helps them more than it does you. Just say no!

Saturday, March 25, 2017



Surpassed in popularity only by Outlook Express, Windows Live Mail (WLM) has now joined its predecessor in "No Longer Supported" heaven. While most Internet Service Providers (ISPs) stopped helping customers with WLM when Microsoft first announced end of support, at least we could still install and use it... most of the time. 

No more. Microsoft has put up another wall to attempt to finally kill off WLM and now gives an error when we try to install or reinstall it. Yes, there are ways to force it to install (for now), but to what end? It's over and it's time to move on. "Not supported" translates to "not safe to use" if you value your identity, data and computer. 

What are the options? Here are a few.

1. You can keep your existing email address, and use it from the provider's web mail web site. That means any browser, from any device that connects to the Internet, as long as you know your email address and password. For Time Warner Cable - now Spectrum - you can go to , then enter your email address and password. You'll see your current messages there, and you can send and receive new messages. You can't import your old messages, which is why you should keep your Windows Live Mail on your computer - to access your saved and sent emails. Once you've been using the webmail site for a while, all the messages you send and receive will be available there - up to the provider's storage cap. TWC/Spectrum has a cap of about 1GB. Your contacts (email addresses) can be exported from WLM and imported into web mail. 

To ensure that our email service performs well, we have placed restrictions on the size of email sent and received as well as the overall capacity of your TWC Mail account.
Each TWC Mail account has a default of about 1 GB of storage. The owner of the master email account can adjust the size of individual mailboxes to distribute the allotment as desired.
Subscribers can send emails of up to 30 MB in total message size, including attachments. Attachments can be up to 20 MB. Subscribers are allowed to send emails to up to 1,000 recipients every 24 hours per IP address. Emails can have up to 99 recipients in each of the "To" and "CC" fields.
Subscribers can receive emails of up to 30MB, including attachments. Adequate storage space must be available for the email to be received.

2. You can install Mozilla Thunderbird, which lives on your computer and either stores the messages themselves on the web (IMAP) or on your computer (POP). It's a great way to save your emails, especially if you have a lot of them and go over the cap. Thunderbird is free, open-source software, which means you can use it without cost, but if you like it a donation to the project is appreciated. 

3. If you're using Windows 10 you can use the included Mail app. Most people agree it's too basic, too hard to use, and not ready for Prime Time. 

4. You can create a web mail account with Google (Gmail), Microsoft (Outlook/MSN/Hotmail), Yahoo, or many other providers, or your own domain. At any point in time people will prefer one webmail product over the others. They all work the same way - you go to a web site from any browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Edge, Google Chrome, Safari, etc.) and any device connected to the Internet, then log in with your email address and password. Web mail is inherently slower with fewer features than a local email client such as WLM, Thunderbird or Microsoft Outlook (included in the Microsoft Office Suite such as MSO365 subscription). Most people don't like web mail after using a local client for many years. We get used to it, because it's convenient, efficient and the way forward. 


While web mail is slow, in my 20 years' experience online Microsoft's Hotmail/Outlook/MSN is about the slowest. Yahoo and AOL are old, the companies are in flux, and the email address may not present the image you'd like. Time Warner's own webmail site has been malfunctioning for months, at their own admission. 

Web mail is free. Which is good and bad. Free is usually good, until there's no one to call for help. And when you're forced to look at ads while you read your email, because not much is truly free and nobody gives you their costly and time-consuming labor for nothing. Privacy? Whether or not you read the privacy policies, you should assume your data is being collected and sold, no matter what web site you visit. It's certainly possible one service is more aggressive at data collection and sales than others, but only for one moment in time until the rest catch up. 

Considering the options, and understanding many people use Android phones with Google accounts now, plus the fact that Gmail gives you 15GB free storage instead of 1, plus a suite of free apps that actually work most of the time, I've moved over to Gmail. Google Drive is a great way to store documents and pictures, Google Calendar actually syncs with my Outlook Calendar, and Gmail is probably faster and more reliable than most. 

You don't have to give up your old email address; it's always a good idea to have more than one. But give the free Gmail a try if it's time to abandon Windows Live Mail for you.

Need help with the changeover, or backing up your data? I can help. Contact info below.

Cathy Contant  315-573-4905

Thursday, March 16, 2017



Now just click this link and follow the prompts to pay your invoice via PayPal. Ask if you have questions!

Thanks very much for your support!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017



It's Patch Tuesday, Valentine's Day, and a great day to make your computer safer to run. Maybe even speed it up and *gasp* protect anything you don't want to lose by backing it up!

Microsoft releases updates (patches) all the time, but the second Tuesday of the month brings the majority of them to us. Windows 10 will download and install the updates automatically, and you don't have much to say about that. I'm finding out that's probably a good thing, if the alternative is not installing the updates at all. Windows 8.1 gives you a bit more control, and Windows 7 leaves you mainly on your own - or at least makes you work harder for the updates.

Why do you want them? It's not all for the flashy new enhancements - it's to keep your computer safer from malware, hackers and scammers by fixing newly-discovered security problems. Yes, you do want them. Yes, sometimes an update is not quite right and some fixing needs to happen. So what - at least most of the time your computer, your data and your identity are safer with the latest updates than without. 

Which updates? All of them. Windows, Office, Adobe , Java, CCleaner, iTunes, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Mozilla products, Google products, QuickBooks, Quicken and any other software that may have been installed since your computer was new will put out updates. 

How? Aside from the Microsoft updates, each app or program will have its own way of installing updates. Many times you can simply open the program, then click Help - Check for updates or About. If you have the Ninite Updater - and you do if I've worked on your computer either hands-on or via remote - it's a very simple process to run it and be done with it. Otherwise, depending on the operating system on your computer and the application itself, you may need to go out to find, download and install the updates. **DANGER ZONE** Searching for updates via Google, Yahoo or other search engines can land you in very bad territory. If you don't know where to go to find the update you need please ask someone who does know. Ask here, ask on Facebook, ask a savvy friend or relative - just beware of following advice after Googling it!

It's time to update my step-by-step recommendations for regular updates and maintenance, and you'll find that in the next post. In the meantime, let the Windows updates install and restart your computer when prompted. Run Ninite if you have it, and check your backup system - external drive, online service such as Carbonite, or something you've devised yourself. 

Ask if you have questions! I'd rather prevent a problem than fix one. 
Text, Facebook message, email or call anytime. 

Cathy Contant   315-573-4905

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



You've probably seen the prompt to update Java. If you have the Ninite Updater installed on your computer - and you do if I've worked on it - run that instead of worming your way through the Java prompts, trying to avoid 3rd-party software they'd like to shove onto your computer.
Current version of Java is now 8.0, version 121
If you're still unsure you can go to the Java check page and verify or update from there. Or ask for help.
NOTE: Use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to go to this link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


You may have seen a message telling you CCleaner isn't compatible with your version of Windows. It results from a recent Windows update and isn't a big deal.
You can uninstall CCleaner and reinstall it, which actually is the best answer because Piriform (CCleaner's developer) released a new version of CCleaner today anyway.
Most of us only need the free version of CCleaner. None of us need anything more running in the background to slow things down, collect our data and report home.
CCleaner is a utility for cleaning out temporary files on your computer, among other uses. It is not an antivirus, malware remover or protector of any kind. However, running CCleaner regularly (at least weekly) might remove any malware lurking in your temporary files waiting to be triggered.
Some people complain that after running CCleaner they have to type in their saved user names and passwords on some web sites. Yes, that's one of the big benefits of CCleaner. Knowing your user names and passwords is a minimum basic skill necessary for using a computer online. You can configure CCleaner to not wipe your user names or passwords, but practicing logging in once in a while is a valuable skill. Don't be so lazy.
Remember - free version only, watch what you're clicking, follow the prompts and never allow 3rd-party software to come along for the ride if offered during the installation. No Google Toolbar, no McAfee or Norton Security scans. None.
Ask if you have questions.