Family Member #2: That Windows/Android Geek

We all have that anti-Apple geek who will always be on the Windows and Android camp. That's okay because Willie The Tech Man has a recommendation for these people. It's probably a safe bet to just ask them yourselves. But, if they are indecisive then I have some recommendations for you. Keep in mind that if they have it already, you can always exchange. Make sure you keep a receipt of the item you buy.

1. COMPUTER

1.1 DESKTOP

1.1.1 DELL INSPIRON

In my opinion, Dell makes the best Windows machines out on the market. The Inspiron series are powerful desktop machines that are half the cost of others. My favorite one is the Inspiron 3847.

1.1.2 NEWEGG

More than likely, this person I'm recommending products for has already built a desktop machine themselves. If that's the case, I would recommend a Newegg gift card. Newegg is a place where you can buy computer parts for a low price. The gift cards come in electronic, as well as physical form. Trust me, a true geek will know what to do with this gift.

1.2 LAPTOP

1.2.1

 

2. TABLET

2.1 NEXUS 9

 

2.2 LG G PAD

 

3. PHONE

3.1 NEXUS 6

 

3.2 LG G3

 

3.3 MOTO X & G

 

4. SMARTWATCH

4.1 LG G WATCH R

 

4.2 MOTO 360

Why I call on everyone to stop using Windows

tl;dr: If you are using Windows, you should really stop and consider why you are. If the answer to that question is only because of familiarity, I would strongly recommend you consider stop using Windows and look into a Chromebook or an iPad. If you have to have a standard computer operating system, you really should consider a Mac or even Linux if you can.

Windows 10 was first announced on September 30, 2014 ahead of a July 29, 2015 release date. Microsoft claims Windows 10 is the very last version of Windows, meaning, it will just continue to get minor upgrades and will no longer be refreshed every 3-5 years. Everyone, including Willie the Tech Man, thought that this would be great for Windows going forward because Microsoft wouldn't have to "wait" for a new version of Windows to fix major issues or overhaul a feature in Windows that might need it. Unfortunately however, this continuous updating of Windows has lead to major problems.

When Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary update on August 2, 2016, customers were reporting a whole mess of problems, including but not limited to, blue screen of death when update finished, Windows Store apps not working, Windows Update not working, and sadly I could keep going. What's more frightening, is that Microsoft is forcing users to update whether they want to or not, because they want everyone to stay updated and secure. In theory, this is good because most users forget to update their system, which is critical these days because of security risks. However, you are forced to update whether or not your computer will successfully complete it or not and you can't do anything. 

All of this has made me start advocating against using Windows. I'm calling all Windows users to try something different and to quit the madness that is coming from Redmond, WA. Most computer users do not need Windows anymore.

Here's an experiment you can try if you have doubts about moving away from Windows. Open Google Chrome, or really any web browser, and see if you could do all your computing just from the browser. My suspicion is that many could accomplish this. Think about it, you check your email online, you can edit documents online, you can play games online. Okay sure, video editing you might need a traditional desktop but you can get a Mac for that.

I've found that most computer users only use Windows because it's familiar. What if we said that about everything else in modern times? I use a well over a sink because it's familiar. I use a radio over a TV because it's familiar. It's like the beginning of the PC when everyone was trying to steer clear of it because traditional pen and paper was familiar and yet we've since moved on from those days to everything being stored on the computer. I think it's time to do the same with the Windows operating system. Here are some alternatives to consider.

Chromebook

A Chromebook is a great choice for several reasons. The hardware is very familiar to users by having the laptop form factor, Chrome OS is very easy to figure out, and coming soon, Chrome OS will be able to run most Android apps which will give you access to a wide variety of apps and services from the Google Play Store, just like on your phone if you own an Android. Finally, you don't need to worry about viruses because if the Chromebook were to get one, there is a "power wash" feature which completely restores the Chromebook to it's factor state and since your files are in the cloud your files are all right there when you set it up again.

iPad

An iPad is another good choice, however it is quite the shift from a traditional computer. You are dealing with a touch screen which is more interactive, in my opinion, than a traditional computer. Like Chrome OS, iOS is very easy to learn and has all the apps for web browsing, editing documents, etc. Finally, once again you don't need to worry about viruses because you are locked down to the App Store where all the apps are approved by Apple before they are put in the store.

Mac/Linux

If you honestly can't survive in just the web browser, for example if you do video editing, than a Mac is a good choice, the Mac Mini sells for $500 which is a pretty good deal. If you're feeling really adventurous, you could try a version of Linux, but word of warning, it is not as easy to learn, even though there are Linux operating systems that have graphical UIs. My favorite Linux distributions are Ubuntu, Fedora, and Debian. If you are curious about Linux, here is a great beginner's guide to Linux.

Conclusion

The only reason I can see people keeping their Windows computer is for hard core gaming, I will admit that hasn't been figured out yet, but in my opinion, Apple could easily get into this space by releasing a gaming version of the Mac. Will they do that? Probably not, but it's wishful thinking. But I believe that a gaming edition Mac would be a really good seller because I know gamers who own mostly all Apple products, a Macbook, an iPhone, and an iPad but they have the one Windows machine solely for gaming, and they'd like to consulate the two computers and be able to do everything on the Mac. Again, it's probably wishful thinking but it's plausible.

In the end, Windows has had it's day. I believe Windows just gets more and more frustrating for us users to use. In addition, there are not a whole lot of reasons to stay with Windows anymore. Of course, Willie the Tech Man will continue to provide support for Windows machines as he always has. However, keep in mind that there are other options to consider. What operating system do you use? Let me know in the comments and give me your thoughts.

PSA: If you have QuickTime for Windows, you should probably uninstall it

If you have Apple's QuickTime installed on your Windows machine, which you probably do if you've installed iTunes before, you should probably uninstall it unless you have a really valid reason for running it. Why?

On April 14, Trend Micro posted that they discovered two zero-day security vulnerabilities in the Windows version of QuickTime. Trend Micro then went on to report that Apple was not going to patch these vulnerabilities. The Department of Homeland Security then also recommended that Windows users should uninstall QuickTime.

On April 18, Apple officially confirmed that it has stopped support for QuickTime on Windows, however you can still download it on Apple's site. Apple has not updated QuickTime for Windows since January 2016 with version 7.7.9.

In order to uninstall QuickTime, all you have to do is uninstall it like you would with any other Windows program. All you have to do is open the Control Panel, and navigate to the Programs and Features. Scroll down and find QuickTime Player, and click it once and then click the Uninstall button and follow the instructions on screen.

If you are looking for a good alternative to QuickTime, I would suggest VLC media player from VideoLAN. QuickTime on the Mac is unaffected!

Source: http://blog.trendmicro.com/urgent-call-act...

Family Member #1: Grandpa/Non-Tech Savvy Individual

You probably have an older family member that's not really tech-savvy (I have one too, it's okay). Fortunately, there are products out there for him/her to at least get started in the technology realm. Willie the Tech Man recommends either an Apple iPad or a Google Chromebook to start.

1. FEATURES

Both the iPad by Apple and Chromebooks are great solutions not just for family members who've never owned a computer before, but for people that have owned one as well. I always recommend a tablet or Chromebook for any person that is looking for a new computer. The one exception that I make is if you have a Windows program that you have to run for work or other purposes. In that case, check out my blog post on how to protect yourself on a Windows machine (coming soon).

Think about it, if all a person does is check e-mail and surf the web for the most part, an iPad or Chromebook can do all those things and more. Among many reasons, both the iPad and Chromebooks are very secure as you will see in the descriptions. These two devices are great for replacing those complicated Windows machines. Here are some features unique to the two devices.

1.1 iPAD

The iPad is a great choice for non-tech savvy individuals for two main reasons. First, the iPad is tightly locked down by Apple (which is good for people like grandpa who might otherwise accidentally download bad software by accident). It's almost impossible to get a virus on an iPad because of that tight security.

Finally, the iPad is very easy to use and very easy to teach. My grandpa is in his 80s and not at all tech savvy. I taught him the very basics on how to use an iPad. As a result, he can unlock the iPad and get to his Bible app for church all on his own without my help.

If you are working with a non-tech savvy individual that is complaining that his fingers are "too big for the screen," fortunately, there are styluses that you can buy for the iPad online for very cheap. Here is an Amazon search for styluses specifically made for the iPad.

If the iPad doesn't work out for this individual, there is another option.

1.2 CHROMEBOOK

If you're working with someone who just has to have a mouse and keyboard, I would recommend a Chromebook. Chromebooks are designed all around Google's Chrome OS. To put in simple terms, Chrome OS is basically as if you had a regular Windows machine but the only program you could use was the Google Chrome browser.

The great thing about Chromebooks is that you can not get a virus on the machine. Even if you manage to get a virus or if your non-tech savvy individual somehow happens to mess his machine up, there is a feature called Power Wash. Power Wash resets the computer to the beginning, as if you turned on the Chromebook for the first time. And because all of your documents and email are saved in Google's cloud automatically, you don't ever have to worry about backup. Just login with your Google Account and all your stuff is there.

Willie the Tech Man would recommend an iPad first before a Chromebook, but this is a great compromise if this individual does not want a touch screen and/or wants a keyboard and mouse.

2. DISCLAIMERS (SORT OF): INTERNET CONNECTIVITY AND PRICING

Okay, there is a small catch to these two devices, Internet access. You will have to have Internet access for most of the features of these two devices to work, especially the Chromebook. Thankfully, both the iPad and Chromebook allow you to put data plans from the cell phone providers, (AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.) so that way you don't need to buy Internet access from the cable company, although that is an option as well if you don't want to pay data bills. Make sure if you do use data that you keep an eye on that usage otherwise your bill will be really high if you go over your usage for the month.

Pricing for Chromebooks are $200-300* as of the writing of this blog post (don't get the Chromebook Pixel, it's a waste of money). However, pricing for the newest iPad Air is $499*⁺ for 16GB and $599*⁺ for the 64GB model. If your budget is tight, you can get an iPad Mini for $399*⁺ at 16GB and $499*⁺ for 64GB (if you're on an even tighter budget, last year's iPad Mini is $299*⁺ for 16GB and $349*⁺ for 32GB).

If this helped you, please give a Like, and if you have any questions, or I didn't explain something clearly enough, please leave a comment below.

*Data plans will make the price $50-100 more expensive.

⁺Prices are listed as of November 23, 2014 and can change. Visit apple.com/ipad to see current pricing.

Flashlight Apps may be tracking your every move...

Did you know that a Flashlight app could be tracking your every move and you wouldn't even know if they were tracking you? Just one year ago, the FTC sued Android app developer, GoldenShores Technologies for letting advertisers use it's flashlight app, Brightest Flashlight Free, as a way to track and sell your information. The commission ruled in favor of the FTC and as a result, GoldenShores was required to remove user data from its database before the ruling, as well as, create a Privacy Statement letting users know that there data might be sent to advertisers. You might say, "Well, great! None of my information is in their database anymore!" However, they didn't say if the advertising companies' databases were also cleared or not. So your identity could still be floating in mid air to these advertisers.

Since this ruling however, there are now more flashlight apps in the Google Play Store that have been popping up that have way too many permissions added to them. Just look at the requirements that Brightest Flashlight Free claims they must have access to on your phone in order for you to use their app (see image below).

brightestflashlightpermissions1.jpg

Keep in mind, this is a Flashlight app and it wants access to where you are 24/7, it wants access to all your Photos and Videos (including the ability to modify or delete their contents), your camera and microphone, and what WiFi connections you've connected to. You thought that was bad, oh no there's more (see below)...

brightestflashlightpermissions2.jpg

In addition, it wants access to your phone's identity (phone number, serial number, etc.) as well as the ability to have full access to your own network, reading your Home screen settings and shortcuts AND install and uninstalling shortcuts to your phone. All of this, for a Flashlight app. A flashlight app should NOT under any circumstances be required to have any of the permissions I just mentioned to work. It only should need access to the flashlight, and the flashlight only!

Normally, I'm the guy who doesn't really care if people see my data as long as it gives me services in return (i.e. Apple, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, etc). However, if a service wants to collect my information solely for the purpose of collecting my information, then that service or app shouldn't have my business and it shouldn't have your business.

Fortunately, there are solutions. If you have any iOS version, you shouldn't worry too much about this issue. Apple has a tight control over what apps you can install and what these apps have access to. However if you have iOS 7 or above, you can access the flashlight by opening Control Center. You can do this by swiping from the bottom to the top of your device and selecting the icon that looks like a flashlight (no app required).

appleflashlight.jpg

On Android 5.0 Lollipop, swipe from top to bottom to access your notifications and then swipe top to bottom again to access your Quick Settings and turn on the Flashlight feature (no app required).

androidflashlight

If you have a device that is running Android 4.4 or below, then all you have to do is before you click Accept on a Flashlight app, check the Permissions before you approve it. If the app requests your Location or for Network access, then it's probably a good idea to stay clear of it.

If you would like to read the entire FTC article, you can do so by clicking here.

Source: http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/6/5181472/...

Welcome to my new Blog!

I'm very excited to start this blog on my Willie the Tech Man website. This blog will consist of anything that I think is interesting for you to know about the tech field.

This blog will primarily be here to serve as the first place to go when you want updates on how my company is doing, mention any new features/enhancements that come to the website or my services, and in general about the progress of my company. In addition, this blog will also be used to LIVE blog major tech events like the Apple Keynotes, Google I/O, Microsoft's Build, Facebook's F8, and more.

I want to thank all my customers for giving me the opportunity to come into your homes and businesses to advise you on tech purchases, as well as to fix your electronic devices. I hope that this blog will be beneficial to the nerd inside all of us. :)

Thank you!

Willie the Tech Man!
a.k.a. Willie Scott, President and CEO