Archive for 'mobile devices'



To go along with creating the fastest Internet network possible, 3 key components are the Internet Service Provider, modem and router. I discuss the ISP component in another blog. Read below about Modems and Routers

Modems and Routers 

All Internet connections require a modem where both the Internet line and your computer are connected. You might have a router connected to the modem, so that you can have many devices accessing the Internet – thus creating a home network.

A modem is a small boxlike device that connects to the Internet line or cable that comes into your house. There is usually 1 port to connect a network cable to a device, usually a computer. This device is the lifeline to the Internet. A modem is usually supplied by your ISP.

A router is another boxlike device that allows your Internet connection to be shared with other devices such as printers, scanners, handhelds and other computers. Today this router usually has a wireless component to it, allowing for devices to connect without being plugged into the router. The Modem, however, is usually plugged into the router. You can purchase a router from any major big box store or any online computer store. Linksys, Apple Airport, Netgear, Asus are among the major brands.

Standards for both Modems and Routers have changed over the years. If either of these 2 boxes are 5 years or older, you might want to get a new one that can handle the faster speeds. The modem is usually supplied by your ISP and usually can be swapped out for a new one. Routers can be purchased for a couple of hundred dollars. You should look for the 802.11 number. The newest technology uses 802.11ac. Most routers being used today are 802.11n. The slower, older versions are 802.11g and 802.11b. Check the number on your router – if it ends in g or b, an upgrade is needed!

Lastly – make sure your modem is PASSWORD PROTECTED! You do not to allow unauthorized use of your network!

One Ring Phone Scam

Modern mobile bankIf you are like most people, when you miss a call, you are curious as to who called you. There is a scam that preys on that curiosity! They randomly call your cell phone, after one ring they disconnect. When you call them back you can rack up big charges!

These calls originate from outside the country. The international dialing fee costs you $19.95 initially, then $9.95 per minute! Some of the area codes used are 268, 809, 876, 284 and 473.

If you receive a call from an unidentified number, rather than calling it back, do a Google search of the number. Many of these numbers will pop up as being scams!

In addition, on many phones you can block numbers by tapping on the “info” button, scroll down and tap “Block this caller.”

When in doubt – do not answer. If the call is legitimate, they will leave a message!

If you think that you have fallen for this scam, contact your cell phone carrier.

For more information, check out the Better Business Bureau website.

Technology New Year’s Resolutions

The new year is a time many of us make resolutions – to exercise more, eat healthy, focus on family etc. Now is also a good time to make some technology resolutions. Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Resolve to use strong passwords. Your dog’s name, birthday or the word “password” are not only a poor idea, but they leave you open for identity theft. Use random letters & numbers and insert special characters and upper case letters!
  2. Resolve to BACKUP! Cloud backups are probably best, but external drives that will automatically back up your files is also good. Or, if you are like me – I do both! It only takes one hard drive failure to lose those photos and documents to make my point!
  3. Resolve to organize your files – “I know I saved it here somewhere!” Create folders for your documents.
  4. Resolve to not let your smart phone interfere with your dinner out or your driving or your family! Whatever is on that text or email can wait!
  5. Use BCC when sending that funny story or cute picture. Also, if the email contains other people’s email DELETE these before sending. Your recipients will be grateful! Don’t know how to use BCC? The new year is a great time to learn!

New life for old gadgets

miniWere you one of the millions of people who received a new iPad, iPod, tablet or smart phone for Christmas? Now that you have a new one, what do you do with your old one?

First – do NOT throw it in the garbage. Parts in that gadget are harmful to the environment!

Sell your phone – Many places offer a rebates or will buy your device –  and are a few. You can also try selling it on eBay or Amazon. If you are doing any of these – be sure to set the phone back to the factory settings!

Donate your phonePhones for Soldiers is one place. They use donated phones to give to soldiers, sailors and airmen to call home. My son was able to use one of these on Thanksgiving Day. He was still in boot camp and had no electronics with him. Verizon provided these phones for the day so all the recruits could call home! The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is another worthy place. They accept many electronic gadgets. Some are given to women who need them, others are refurbished and sold to help support this group’s mission.

Repurpose your Gadget – If you have an older iPad, tablet or smart phone, there are many apps that young children can use on them. It’s amazing how adept they are to this technology!

iPads and Tablets can also be used an electronic picture frames – load you favorite photos and run a slide show from it.

Use your device as a dedicated mp3 player or alarm clock!

Recycle your device – If none of these seem feasible – then take your device to be recycled. Many towns have programs for this. In addition places like Best Buy, Staples, Apple and your phone carrier have recycling programs. You can also research places at the epa website.

Is Your Internet Fast or Slow?

hareWhich is better faster or slower? You know that commercial where a group of ankle biters are asked that question and in return give creative answers that only young minds can think of! The point of the commercial, in case you missed it, was to sell a faster Internet connection. How fast is your Internet connection?

First, to test your Internet Speed there are several websites, Charter Speed Test and are just two that gave me similar results.

When you run the test, you will get 2 numbers – download and upload. Download is the amount of time it takes for your web browser to load pictures, pages and other web page elements, or for your email to download attachments. Uploading is when you send pictures or files either through your web browser or email. Today you can get speeds anywhere from 10Mbps (megabytes per second) to 50 Mbps for downloads and significantly less for uploads. There are many things that will affect your personal results – your computer, modem and router.

Think of it this way – if you had an automobile built in the 1920’s how fast could you go on an empty 4-lane highway? Or, if you have a NASCAR automobile, how fast can you go on the highway at rush hour? Your Internet connection’s “highway” is usually referred to as bandwidth.

Newer computers have faster processors, which affect all aspects of your computing, including your web experience. If you have viruses, malware or other issues that in general are slowing down your computer, do not expect your web surfing to go fast either!

Your Internet enters your house through a cable or phone line. This is then connected to a modem. If your computer is connected directly to this modem, then you will be getting the fastest speed allowed by the connection and modem. However, most homes have several devices that share the Internet connection, either by wire or Wi-Fi. If that is the case, then your modem is connected to a router.  The more devices devices (iPads, smartphones, laptops, desktops, even TV’s!) connected and using the Internet, the slower your Internet will be.

If you think you are not getting the speed you are paying for, you might want to start with the modem. Your modem was probably supplied by your ISP. If it is 4 or more years old, it should be upgraded.

Next, and very importantly is your router. The standards for routers have changed. In 1997 the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) developed 802.11 as the standard. That could handle 2 Mbps! As the need for bandwidth grew, so did the standard. Next came 802.11 a/b, 802.11g, 802.11n and now there is 802.11 ac.  You should be using at lease 802.11n. Most computers are not equipped to handle the ac version yet.

Sorry if this was too technical for you. Just know that if you have the same modem and router that you had 5 or 6 years ago, maybe it’s time to replace them!

Understanding Location Services on iPhone

I’m sure you have gotten the message from an app – “Google Maps wants to use your current location”  – but you are not sure what that means. Your smart phone has GPS built in and many apps are able to take advantage of this.  This can be good when you are lost and need directions to your destination, or to locate the closest Starbucks. This is also good when you have lost your phone and wish to locate it. However, this location service will also “geo tag” your photo with the location a picture was taken. You post this picture to Facebook and this information is embedded with the photo. If you think your secret vacation spot is still a secret after posting, you’re wrong! Many a celebrity has inadvertently given away the location of their homes this way. In addition, you might be putting children at risk by identifying their location to pedophiles.

If you have a smart phone, chances are you have activated a location app such as, Find My iPhone, or Where’s My Droid. These apps can locate your device as long as it is turned on and accessing a cellular or wifi network. However, thieves know about this and would probably disable the GSP as soon as they steal your phone.

How can you take control of your location services on your iPhone?

Go to the Settings and Select GENERAL General Settings







Scroll down and select RESTRICTIONS.
When you do this you will need to put in a 4 digit passcode. It is recommended that it NOT be the same 4 digits you use if you lock your phone.




Now you can see all of the apps that have access to the GPS.

Location On

You can toggle the on/off switch for the individual apps.

SCROLL down to the PRIVACY section and touch Location Services.

Again, you will see a list of Apps that are using your location. You may turn these on or off as well.



Location Services

Before you leave this screen, select DON’T ALLOW CHANGES.

Now, if your phone is lost or stolen, your Location Services cannot be easily turned off.

They will have to enter your passcode to access it. has tutorials for other devices, like Kindles, Android and Windows phones.

Public WiFi – Great in a pinch – but far from secure!

For the third time in fourteen months my family, as well as many others in the northeast, found themselves without power for a week or more. Unlike last time, we were prepared with an automatic generator that worked beautifully! We made sure that the cable devices coming into the house were also on the generator lines, incase it was only electricity that was out. Unfortunately several large trees came down on our street wiping out power, cable, and unfortunately part of a house. We had no way of leaving since we live on a dead end street.

What does this have to do with technology? Actually a lot! I manage the websites and social media for several businesses, including a school system. I needed to post school closures and other emergency information on the web and Twitter.

Since I had the electricity to power my electronics, I only needed to get connected. Fortunately, I was able to turn my phone into a “hotspot”, that is a WiFi connection using my cellular plan. While not ideal, it served the purpose! You can check these sites out for your Android or iPhone.

One day while checking on a neighbor, she indicated that she was headed over to the library to use their WiFi as she had some bills to pay. My safe surfing tentacles immediately sent out a code red! Public WiFi + Banking = Potential disaster!

By now, most of you know to look for the https when logging onto password-protected sites. The “s” at the end of the http assures you that any information entered will be encrypted. However, you need to input a password to get to the https! It is that password that anyone with access to the public WiFi can steal. In addition, when you log onto the public WiFi, you might actually be logging onto a “hotspot” that someone else has created and made to look like the library, donut shop or other free WiFi. Once they have your password, they can log into your accounts!

There are a few solutions that should protect you.

  1. If you have the ability to use your cell phone data service (not WiFi) use that. It is more difficult for hackers to gather your information from the cell network.
  2. If your bank offers a “Pass Key” use it. A Pass Key is a onetime use code that is transmitted to either a tag or your phone. Unfortunately, many small area banks do not offer this. I do not recommend switching to a mega-bank just for this feature!
  3. Use a VPN. VPN stands for “Virtual Private Network”. From your computer, you are logging onto another computer that you know is secure. Many people already have this through work, but you can set up your own.

One final word – A good rule of thumb when using free WiFi – do not do anything or post anything that you would not put on a postcard for all to see!

By the way, my friend decided to pay her bills the old fashion way – snail mail!

E-Mail Pet Peeve

Are you guilty of forwarding that cute cat picture to your entire address book? Did you receive a funny email that you have to immediately forward to all your friends? Please STOP!

Every time you “forward” an email, you are sending the email address of EVERY recipient that has been sent this email. Sometimes the email has been forwarded so many times, those previous emails end up in an attachment that some email programs cannot open.

First, there are three lines that can be used to send an e-mail: TO, CC, and BCC. Use the “To” field when you want the recipient to take action. Use the “Cc” field as a way of informing others of something, but no action is needed. Use the “Bcc” field to send an email to many people without disclosing their names and emails to everyone!

Second, COPY the content, picture, joke from the original email and PASTE it into a NEW mail document! Your friends will thank you for not having to scroll through all the past email addresses and comments!!

One more word about Bcc – there are those people who every time they respond to an email “reply to all”, if you have used Bcc they will only be replying to you and not everyone!

Where did I leave my phone?

302  – the number of events; 2,300 the number of medals that will be awarded; 67,000 – the number of cell phones likely to be lost or stolen during the London Olympics! About 40% of these phones will be “smartphones” Android or iPhones.

This statistic comes from Venafi, a management solutions firm. It calculated this number from the average number of cell phones normally lost or stolen in a two-week period in London and the number of people expected to be in London for the Olympics.

While replacing these phones could cost you anywhere from $200 to $600, yes, even if you have insurance, the bigger issue is the data contained on these phones! This should be a wake-up call for those of us that use these phones. If your phone lands in the wrong hands your personal information could be at risk. We use smart phones for banking, travel reservations, online purchases and even business documents.

Your first layer of protection is to lock your smartphone’s screen. I know it’s a pain to type in a cade every time you want to use it!

The next layer is to make sure you have activated “Find my iPhone” or “Lookout” for Android phones. These apps allow you to locate your phone, remotely lock it and even remotely wipe the information from the phone. I even suggest testing these apps to make sure you know how to use them. Maybe bookmark the websites on your home computer!

Other tips:

  • Do not store sensitive information on your phone, or if you have to, encrypt it.
  • If you lock down your phone, make sure that you remember the password! There is no way to retrieve it if you forget! You can reset your phone – but that will wipe out all data!

Back-up your data. Your wireless service should offer a backup system, but in addition Google offers backup for the Android phones and Apple for the iPhones.

Treat your smartphone with care – in the wrong hands it can make a mess of your life!


Recently, Microsoft opened a store in the Danbury Fair mall, in close proximity to the Apple store (I guess that is marketing 101 as fast food, furniture stores and auto dealers all seem to do the same thing!) A dear friend of mine was in the market to replace her 10-year-old Windows machine, so this was the perfect opportunity to check out both the new Macs and PC’s!

We started at the Apple store. As usual it was buzzing with people. We started by looking at the Macbook Pro’s. Interestingly enough, they are starting to phase out the CD/DVD drive. I guess this makes sense, as more and more we are moving to the cloud, and many programs are Internet downloads. The sales associate, was knowledgeable and gave my friend several options, including buying a desktop and iPad. We briefly looked at the new retina display Macs, I’m not sure it is worth several hundred more in price.

With her head spinning, we went to the Microsoft store. There were significantly fewer people, but the store was also larger. There were ample number of laptops, desktops and tablets. They had stools at the display machines – so you didn’t have to stand! I was surprised that they did not have any machines demoing Windows 8, since there has been a beta version available for a while now.

The sales associate did inform us that all machines sold at the store have already been “decrapified.” Yes, that is a real term! Most PC’s come bloated with trial programs and other nonsense that there is actually a program called “Decrapify” that techs use to streamline the running of PC’s.

The baseline price for the PC’s was lower, but you have to make sure you are getting all the features you need, including camera, usb ports etc.

After trying both, my friend was leaning toward the Mac because of the receptiveness of the track pad, ease of use and built in features. As an aside – both have new operating systems being released – if you buy a Mac, you can upgrade for free, if you buy a PC, you need to pay $14.99.

If you are in the market for a new computer – I would be interested to know which way you are leaning!

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