I am a big fan of Anker products. They have reliable products that meet a variety of charging needs at decent prices. The prices today, however, are especially nice as is detailed in this article from PC World.

Forget about Christmas in July. This year, you can save big with Black Friday in July. Amazon Prime Day kicks off on July 16 , and the retailer’s warming up for the blowout by offering some steep deals leading up to the event. Today, you can snag all manner of Anker’s popular chargers, cables, and portable batteries at mostly unheard-of savings.

Source: Anker’s fast-chargers and portable batteries are on sale for unheard-of prices for Amazon Prime users

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Apple has released iOS 11.4.1, which offers fixes for some bugs, as well as USB Restricted mode. If you are unsure how to update your device. iMore gives good step-by-step instructions in the link below:

Source: How to download and install iOS 11.4.1 on your iPhone or iPad

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Cord Cutting – Part II

Last summer, after our “cord-cutting” experience, many of my friends suggested that The Computer Monkey should offer cord-cutting services. Due to the varied and unique nature of people’s audio-visual equipment and needs, I had no desire to do that, but I did create a post about our experience to help others who might be thinking about cutting the cord themselves. Recently, someone who appreciated that post contacted me. No doubt there are many others with similar questions so I turned the questions and my answers into a post.

Without cable what option does one have to receive local news, an antenna?

Yes, many local channels (like ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and PBS and more) are broadcast over the air and can be received by your TV directly with an antenna or to your whole house with a whole home antenna. See this page to determine the broadcast channels available in your zip code.

How do we watch our favorite cable shows like the ones offered from Food Network, DIY, HGTV, History Channel etc? Is there a way to watch reruns? 

In order to watch other cable shows you need two things: a device and a service. The device is a physical piece of equipment that connects to your TV and audio visual equipment that allows you access to the service of your choice which provides the shows. Just like if you have subscribe to Netflix, you have to have some device that lets you open the Netflix app. Most of the streaming services have several packages to choose from so you can see what channels each one offers. This article covers the Top 10 Streaming Services. See the chart below to help determine which product is a device and which is a service. One important factor to consider when choosing a service is whether live content is available. For example, there are some services that may claim to have the Fox News Channel, but they may only have certain shows from it available after they air, not the actual live broadcast. Most of the services offer “DVR” service so that you can “record” your favorite shows to watch at your convenience. I used quotes because they do not actually record your shows they simply give you access to them when you want them. Finally, most of the services offer trials, so be sure to try before you buy.

Devices Services
Roku products, Amazon FireTV/Stick, Google Chromecast/Chromecast Ultra, Apple TV For more traditional cable TV shows: Playstation Vue, Hulu, Sling, Philo TV, YouTube TV

Movies and other shows: Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO Now, YouTube TV


My husband is a huge sports fan, where do we watch live sports without cable?

Many live sporting events are available over the broadcast channels. For ESPN, ESPN U, FS1 etc. you will need a streaming service that offers the channels you need.

Do you need a device like a Firestick or Roku for each TV and is there a streaming subscription fee for each?

 Yes, you need a device to deliver the service to each TV but the streaming service typically is for your household. There could be some limits on how many devices can run the streaming service at one time but that varies by service. On your main TV you will probably want a more feature-rich device like a Roku Ultra or Amazon FireTV, on lesser used TV’s you could certainly use a Roku Stick or Amazon Firestick.

In our case, we saved about $100 per month from what we had been paying with cable TV — even more if you consider what our bill would have been after the $3.00 monthly fee for each digital converter box that was going to be required for every TV we had. Please comment below with other questions and I will try to answer them.

 

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The Windows 10 – 1803 Update

Chances are that if your computer runs Windows 10 then you have had a major update in the last few weeks. According to AdDuplex, over 50% of Windows 10 devices have received the 1803 update worldwide, which is significantly faster than the major fall update took. Based on anecdotal and professionally documented information, it is also more likely that you would have had some problems after this update which does not appear to be as “issue-free” as the major update that came out last fall. Not all of the issues are errors, but some are simply changes that may cause difficulty or a learning curve for some users such as the first one in the list regarding the removal of the Homegroup feature. Additionally, listed below are some of the known issues people have experienced. If you are experiencing problems after the update but you are still able to use your computer, check frequently for updates that may come available that will hopefully address some of those problems. If you have problems that cannot wait for an update and you need help resolving them please schedule an appointment.

Some of the most common 1803 update issues and some of the changes to features:

  • Problems with printers that can be corrected by uninstalling and reinstalling the printer driver
  • Networking issues where shared computers or devices are no longer visible on the network (even on networks where the Homegroup feature was not in use)
  • The update fails to install resulting in blue or green screen errors
  • Homegroup Removed
  • Other Features That Have Been Removed

 

 

 

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Just in time for the release of the Windows 10 Spring Creators update, Microsoft announced that 90 percent of the computers running Windows 10 have been updated with the Fall Creators update that was released in the fall of 2017. AdDuplex.com compiled the Windows 10 data into some interesting graphs. In addition to the graph used in this post, you can visit their page to see the Windows 10 Fall Creators update manufacturer breakdown, the deployment timeline and more. No other update has been deployed so rapidly, but since updates are not really optional it makes sense. Having so many users updated to the latest version helps with security issues and benefits the Windows 10 community of users over all. The more users there are on a version, the more that version get “tested” which flushes out bugs that need to be addressed. Look for the Spring Creators update to roll out next month which will hopefully address some those aforementioned issues.

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There are times when even The Computer Monkey needs computer support. I began using Microsoft 365 Business last year and it has been one of the best decisions I have made for improved productivity and work flow. The integration with an existing website domain for email can be a little complicated especially if you are not that familiar with MX records and behind-the-scenes website functions — of which I know a lot more than the average bear, but that’s about it. There have been a few times that I have had to contact Microsoft 365 Business Admin support and the service has been outstanding. The process to submit a request for them to call me is simple and well integrated with the product. I was even able to upload screenshots or other documentation of the issue so that they had clear information about the problem before they called me back, typically within a few minutes. The support people I spoke with were very knowledgeable and were able to resolve my issue quickly and completely.

I often have to work with support staff on behalf of my customers if it is an issue that must involve a manufacturer due to warranty etc. One of my pet peeves is when I submit detailed information in an email or chat window and the response that comes back makes it very clear that they have not really read the information I have given (after the obligatory auto-response that they received my email and will respond within 24 hours). With Microsoft 365 Business Admin support that annoying experience has not occurred. The Computer Monkey is not a big enough fish to be a reseller for Microsoft so this post is not self serving. I make it a practice to provide and extol excellent service and Microsoft definitely gets it right here.

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Windows 10 Update

Microsoft has announced the release of the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update which will be rolled out to Windows 10 users next month. The version number of the April 2018 update is 1803. The update will take several weeks to reach all Windows 10 customers. You will probably notice once your computer has been updated, but if you want to see what version of Windows 10 you are using, right click the start button, then System >About and scroll down to the bottom of the screen to see your Windows Specifications.

With Windows 10, you can postpone an update so that the update happens at a time that is convenient for you, but you cannot postpone it indefinitely. Eventually your computer will update. Most computers will update without any issues, but some will experience a problem after an update. It is important to have a good backup of all of your data at all times but especially before a major update like this one, just in case something goes wrong. If your computer fails to complete the update successfully, you can always schedule an appointment with The Computer Monkey for help.

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Health Information In Case of An Emergency

In an emergency you may be unable to tell first responders critical information about your health. But if you take a few minutes to setup the Medical ID in your iPhone, it may be able to provide the health information they need. Apple.com already has a thorough web page about it so there is no need to repeat the steps here. This Apple Support page will give you the steps to set up your Medical ID and make it available from the lock screen for emergency personnel. Android manufacturers provide something similar as well. A friend of mine who is a medical professional told me about this feature and how much emergency professionals rely on it to help those in critical situations so share this tip with the people you love.

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Yesterday, a Texas friend of mine, told me a few “You Know Your From Texas” jokes she had seen on Facebook:

“If you’ve had a long telephone conversation with someone who just dialed the wrong number, you may live in Texas.”

“If someone in a Lowe’s store offers you assistance but they don’t work there, you may live in Texas.”

Those are cute, but something similar and not as funny came to mind when I saw Apple’s instructions about how to properly uninstall iTunes on this Apple support page.

If you have to uninstall 6 programs to fully uninstall iTunes, Apple may have a problem!

Six, wow! Not only that, but it must be done in a particular order to avoid “unintended effects”. Keep in mind, some of these take several minutes to uninstall. This process is not quick. There are many more “complex” programs that would require less from their customers. If you are lucky then simply uninstalling iTunes will take care of your issue but if it doesn’t, hopefully jumping through Apple’s hoops will.

 

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What To Look For When Purchasing A Computer

When shopping for a computer, the processor is one of the most important components that the average computer user never considers. Unfortunately, people will often evaluate a computer based on criteria that doesn’t determine the quality of the computer. And in doing so, they spend more money in the long run because they buy a new computer every 3-5 years and they are unhappy with them most of that time. The computer that I use as of this writing is over 7 years old and I have no desire to get a new one any time soon. It was not inexpensive, but it has excellent components. I want to help you have the same success. Here are the main components of a typical computer and the importance of each:

 

  • Hard Drive: People are often impressed by the size of the hard drive. The truth is, the worst computer on the market might have a 2 terabyte hard drive. The hard drive is the physical disk that stores your programs and data files, so when evaluating the hard drive you do need to choose one that is large enough to meet your needs, but bigger is certainly not better. The only people that need a 1 or 2 TB hard drive are those who are storing a vast number of large files like photos and videos. A 500 gigabyte (GB) hard drive is more than enough for most users. A solid state hard drive is different from traditional SATA drives because there is no spinning disk so they cannot “crash” like a traditional hard drive, but like any computer component they can still fail. The major benefit to an SSD is speed, but with that benefit comes a higher price tag.
  • RAM: RAM is the Random Access Memory. Very simply put, it holds the temporary calculations as the processor (“brain”) works. You typically would not evaluate a computer on the brand and type of RAM used in it unless you were building one yourself, but you should consider how much RAM it has. According the Microsoft, the minimum requirement to run Windows 10 on the most common (64 bit) computers today is 2 GB (gigabytes). The key word there, being MINIMUM. I do not recommend less than 8 GB for a Windows 10 computer.
  • Processor: Even a large amount of RAM will not be of significant value if the processor stinks. Like referenced to previously, the processor is like the brain of the computer. If you start narrowing down your search for a new computer by the processor you will be well on your way to making a good computer buying decision. Typically, if a computer has a higher-end processor, the other components are going to be good as well. When evaluating a processor you really need to consider the particular model, not just the type. The Intel i7 is a higher-end processor family, but even within all of that family of processors there are excellent ones and moderate ones. This page at Futuremark.com gives you a concise ranking of them where you can select “laptop” or “desktop” at the top to narrow it down further. I suggest that you print or bookmark that webpage in your phone so you can have it with you at the store. Seeing this type of ranking will give you a better understanding of why the laptop with the  i7-7500U is $521 and the one with the  i7-6700HQ is $999. The processor is the most important component to consider when purchasing a computer. Unfortunately, it is often the one that the average user overlooks.

I hope that this information will help you wade through the selection of computers at the store or website where you shop. But if you still would like assistance purchasing a computer, please contact The Computer Monkey to schedule an appointment. One final tip is to not be intimidated by the salesperson in a computer store. Some are great and really knowledgeable. Others are not, but they like to sound like they are, or they have certain models or brands that they have been instructed to push. In my experience, the salespeople who try to intimidate you with their “vast knowledge” are the ones who know the least. The best ones will have a teacher’s heart and genuinely want to lead you to the purchase that is best for YOU.

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