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.



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





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. 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.


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.


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.


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. 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.


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.



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 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.


Recent Email from Cox Causes Concern

The recent email from Cox regarding their customer’s email server settings has generated a lot of phone calls and emails to The Computer Monkey. The main question they ask is whether it is legitimate or some type of scam. As someone who has lead presentations on avoiding scams and cleaned up countless computers for victims of scams, I am thrilled that people are looking at it with the healthy skepticism that I always recommend. So, let me first address the “scam” question and provide a few tips for how you can tell if it is a scam or not. Then, I will provide information and links about what your response to the email should be. (Skip to Changing Your Cox Email Settings below)

First, it is NOT a scam or phishing ploy. Cox will be making some necessary and important changes to security on their servers for their customers. These changes require that their customer’s email application settings are correct so that Cox customers can still access their email servers. So how can the average user be confident that it is not a scam? You can look at the email heading and see that it is indeed from a address and that it is addressed to you, however, it is possible for the address to be spoofed to make it look like it is from someone it is not so the heading alone is not enough.

The main thing you should consider is the action required in the email. What are they asking you to do? Are they asking you to click on a link, login somewhere using your account user name and password, provide them with sensitive information such as a credit card number or download a file?

Let’s look at the body of the email:

So far they have simply provided and explanation and information. The rest of the email gives you the information that you need to apply the changes. They do provide a link that you can click on, but they also suggest that you can “type it directly into your web browser” which is the safer way to handle it. You can be confident that it is safe to type into your web browser because that is Cox’s website. You should always pay attention to what is right before the .com, .org, .gov, .biz etc. For example is safe, “” is NOT or at least, it is NOT a Cox website — “” would be an address for a website called “” which may or may not be a legitimate website. This difference is perhaps one of the most important things you can understand about website addresses and staying safe online. It should be noted that misspelled web addresses are also a common ploy of criminals – for example, fake: versus legitimate:

Continuing to analyze the Cox email, we see that they also provide steps for you to do which do not involve clicking on anything or providing any sensitive information like your email password. They are simply giving you the proper settings for YOUR email program that you use to read your email. Scams or malware bait usually involve an urgent request for you to provide sensitive information or click on something that is going to get you into trouble without giving you other options.

If you are in doubt about an email it is still better to be cautious and call the customer service number for the company involved. There is certainly no harm is checking first, but I wanted to provide a few tips to help you evaluate questionable emails.

Changing Your Cox Email Settings

Now, to address how you make these necessary changes to your email program. Cox provides very good information on their website for the most common applications that people use. I will link to those below. Not everyone uses the email applications they support in the information they provide, so I will include some screen shots of the settings for users of emClient, another common email application. Even if you don’t use one of the applications Cox or I have addressed, the setting information changes are the same. They key is to find the Accounts section in the settings of your chosen email application.

Below, I hope that I have provided the information you need to make these changes to your Cox settings, but if you need assistance please contact The Computer Monkey. These settings can be adjusted in a matter of minutes via a remote connection.

The basic settings instructions Cox provides for any email application:

Links to instructions for specific email applications:

iOS (iPhone, iPad etc.)


Outlook 2007-2016

Mozilla Thunderbird

Mac OS

Windows Mail (Windows 10)

EmClient (see screenshots below)


Unlike the majority of computer vulnerabilities announced in the last few years, the latest Meltdown and Spectre threats exploit a flaw in the computer’s processor. There are very few processors that are NOT affected, in fact. Processes are the execution of the software that is going on constantly on your computer and the processor is the engine behind the execution of the processes. The Meltdown or Spectre vulnerabilities allow the secure memory information of a running process to be read which could expose sensitive information like passwords, banking information etc.

The processor manufacturers (Intel, AMD, ARM – click to see their responses) along with software developers are working quickly to provide information and patches to address is the issues. There are a few things you need to do to protect your computer as much as possible and try to avoid some of the complications that can arise from the multi-vendor response to this situation.

Obviously, one of the most important updates came from Microsoft, who recently released a security update in response. This has caused a problem for some users whose anti-malware/virus product had not yet released an update that was compatible with the Microsoft update. This situation cause some users to experience failed updates or blue screen errors. In response to the vulnerabilities and the resulting patches to operating systems, browsers and anti-malware/virus software, here are the steps you should take:

  1. Update your anti-virus/malware software. Most of the major developers of these products have addresses the Microsoft patch issue by now. Many of my customers use Malwarebytes. Malwarebytes has released an update for it. If you use Malwarebytes you can right-click on the Malwarebytes icon in the System Tray in the bottom right-hand corner on your taskbar and click Update. If you simply want to see if you already have it you can open Malwarebytes, click on Settings and then the About tab. The Update Package Version should be 1.0.3624 or higher.
  2. After you have installed the latest update from your anti-malware/virus software, then check for the Windows Update. Type “Windows Update” in the search box on your taskbar or start menu and click on “Check for Updates”. Install any important updates that Microsoft recommends.
  3. The best way to minimize your computer’s exposure to these vulnerabilities is to install the important software updates and any chipset updates that become available for of your computer.

If you need assistance with any of these suggestions you may contact The Computer Monkey for support.