Tools Toys and Technology

Just another WordPress site

Tools Toys and Technology - Just another WordPress site

Suppressing your Surges

Your home electronics are attacked multiple times on a daily basis by invisible threats. While we often warn about viruses and malware, an even more universal danger is electrical surging. Most of us recognize that lightning produces tremendous electrical discharges. The power of lightning is so great that even the best surge protectors simply fail to withstand the forces of nature. During a lightning storm, the only way to be absolutely sure that your devices won’t be damaged is to unplug them.

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Announcing the New Roku 4

Anyone that has followed this blog or attended any of my Streaming TV presentations knows that I am a big fan of Roku. I’ve had one ever since it was introduced several years ago, at that time streaming only Netflix. Now it has over 2,500 channels with 300,000+ movies and TV shows.

I could probably be called a TV junkie. I have TVs in my living room, office, bedroom, and oh yes, I can’t forget the motorhome. Each has a Roku attached.

I’ve had the original Roku, Roku 2, Roku 3, and now I guess I’ll have to upgrade to the latest and greatest, Roku 4.

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CuriosityStream – Streaming Documentaries from Discovery Channel Founder

New Addition to My Favorite Streaming Channels

A new channel has been added to programming lineup of the Roku streaming set-top box. CuriosityStream has been dubbed the “Netflix of documentaries,” and I think that’s a perfect description. I’ve added it to my favorite Roku channels list (right next to Netflix) and I love it. CuriosityStream has given me one more reason to abandon my expensive satellite TV service, full of mind-numbing, so-called “reality” shows and unending commercials.

I’ve only had CuriosityStream for about a week, but so far I’ve watched everything from shows on Quantum Physics (simplified) to historical documentaries on Greece and Rome, and a discussion of the “Curious World of Dreams.” Some of their programming is timeless; others cover quite current events, like the Pluto flyby and the confirmation of past liquid water flows on Mars, for instance.

CuriosityStream is not free. It has two subscription levels: a very reasonable $2.99 a month for standard definition and $9.99 a month for eye-popping 4K super HD. The standard definition option is available now. The 4K option will launch later this year. All programs are commercial-free.

They give you a free month to evaluate the service. I’m currently in my free month, but I have no intention of cancelling once my free period expires. To start your free month, go to:

Need a New Router?

Once you have a wireless electronic gadget, you definitely need a wireless router. It lets your devices communicate with each other and connects your home network (a local area network or LAN) to the internet (a wide area network or WAN). In brief, it is the control center for your home network. Beginners initially rank setting up and configuring a wireless router as somewhere between a necessary evil and an arcane, mysterious exercise. With a little practice, it is possible to be successfully up and running in just a half hour.

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The Hazards of Being First in Line

Apple computer fans have become accustomed to frequent free revisions of the operating systems for their electronic companions. In fact, OS X El Capitan is expected to arrive this October. Android, Chromebook and Linux variations periodically produce free continuing revisions. The free upgrade to Windows 10 for current home users of Windows 7 and 8.1 has come as a welcome but puzzling surprise.

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Out With the Old, In With the New

If you have recently become the proud possessor of a new computer, sooner or later you’ll have to figure out something to do with your old computer. You did remember to copy all the useful information from that old computer, didn’t you? Did you also remember to withdraw that same computer from limited installation programs or online services – like Adobe Photoshop Elements, iTunes, Office 365 and others?

By this time, we’ve all learned that older doesn’t mean useless. If the aging computer is less than 5 years old, it may make sense to repurpose rather than recycle it. If you are one of the owners of the remaining 650,000,000 Windows XP computers, please note that your PC is at least 6 years old! XP was first sold in 2001. Refurbishers will usually reject computers more than 5 years old.

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Ready or Not, Here comes Windows 10

Microsoft has finally officially announced that the release date for Windows 10 will be July 29th. This is a few months earlier than the previous vaguely stated “before the end of summer” announcement, but months later than a flurry of rumors had wistfully predicted. Over a billion Windows 7 and 8.1 owners will soon be able to claim their free upgrade. For those not eligible for the free upgrade, new retail copies of Windows 10 and new computers with Windows 10 will also be available on July 29th.

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Beware of Scammers Offering to “Fix” Your Computer

Continuing my summer theme on Computer Security, today I want to address the issue of companies that contact you, alerting you to problems with your computer and offering to fix them. Sometimes these offers come up on your computer. Other times you get unsolicited phone calls warning you of problems with your computer. Either way, they are bad news.

One of the most notorious and seemingly never-ending swindles is the Windows Support scam.

Many people I know have received calls from someone purporting to be from “Windows Support.” Personally, I’ve received these calls countless times. When you answer, they start out by telling you that they are from Microsoft or sometimes just “Windows Support.” They’ve called to warn you that they have detected problems with your computer, and they can fix them online. They may have you run a program that lists a whole host of things that are supposed to be malicious. In fact, the things displayed, while they may look strange to you, may be completely benign. To “fix” these issues, they ask for your credit card and remote access to your computer. Not only can this cost you money, but when you open up your entire computer to a complete stranger, you have done the virtual equivalent of opening the front door of your house to a thief and inviting him in. They may install malware on your computer; they may download sensitive files. Whatever they do, they are definitely up to no good.

Another approach is a popup that may appear on your computer, warning you of a problem and instructing you to call a number to get help.

When you get someone on the line, they may claim to be a Microsoft contractor who has been authorized to take care of issues with Windows computers. At this point, the scenario becomes quite similar to the Windows Support scam. They request remote access to your computer, and then proceed to install virus and malware protection (programs that are actually available to you for free). You will not only be charged for these services at the time they are provided, but they may enroll you in a monthly recurring charge (sometimes without your knowledge) to supposedly monitor your computer and keep you free of problems.

Know this…

Microsoft will never contact you about a problem with your computer. And any kind of pop-up warning that instructs you to call someone else for help is not on the up-and-up.