Expensive Mac MythsMacs are easy to use, reliable and stylish. There are however some myths about Macs that can cost people a small fortune. What I would like to address here is why a lot of Mac users end up getting rid of their old computers way before they should.

Here are some myths I’ve heard:

“Macs don’t break. It’s just outdated”.

Generally speaking Macs are higher quality than most PCs. Of course they are also 2 to 3 times more expensive. However Macs do break, even fairly new Macs. If your Mac is slowing down or giving you errors it may not be because it’s outdated. It could just be in need of some minor repairs.

“I’m outside of the warranty and it’s too costly to fix”.

If you are basing this off of a quote from a Mac store, shop around. Parts and service directly from Apple are very expensive. You may be able to find a local computer repair service willing to professionally fix your Mac for less than half of what the Mac store quoted you.

“I need to have the latest version of the Mac OS”.

Apple releases OS updates fairly regularly and strongly encourages users to buy new computers. Before you run out and buy a new Mac simply to have the “latest and greatest” ask yourself two questions. 1. Does my current Mac still meet my needs? 2. Is my purchased software and hardware (printers, copiers, etc.) going to work with the new Mac OS?

For example: Say you paid about $600 for an older version of a professional photo editing software (like Photoshop) that works well for you. That version may not be compatible with the new Mac OS. So you are then forced to buy a new version in order to use it on your new computer. There is also the possibility you may not like the new version of the software.

Here’s another example: You bought a very expensive color printer that you need for your business. It works very well and will probably last you years to come. You then buy a new Mac only to find out the manufacturer has not released a new driver for the current Mac OS and it will be several months or even a year before they do. Your printer is now useless until the driver update is released.

It’s quite possible that some planning and a simple repair to your old Mac can save you from tons of headaches and hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars in costs.

I recommend that if it turns out that you do need the latest version of the Mac OS, try upgrading your computer first. More memory or a new solid state drive can breathe new life into your Mac. Chances are you paid a pretty penny for your Mac. It should serve you well for a long time. Treat it like an investment rather than a fashion statement.

Remember you can always give us a call. Advice is always free.


We all love using Facebook to connect with people, read articles, and see pictures of friends and family. What if you are looking for a friend of yours that you have not seen in years, and come across a Facebook page that you believe is your friend’s but in reality has been created by a scammer?

Scammers are using a tactic called ‘Profile cloning’. The tactic has been around for several years but is becoming more prevalent in 2016. It has become a serious security threat. Scammers have recently been targeting people over the age of 50, the majority being women.

Many people whose Facebook page has been cloned are claiming to friends that they have been “hacked” however this term is not completely accurate. The scammer has not logged into Facebook with your user name and password or taken over your account. They have simply taken public information, your profile picture and name, and created a new profile with that same information. The original profile created on Facebook has not been compromised.

When the scammer creates the new profile, they will send friend requests to everyone you are friends with already. Your friends may think nothing of the new profile and accept a friend request without a second thought.


When scammers clone a Facebook profile, what are they hoping to accomplish?

They want to use your Friends list to send them private messages in order to try to scam them.

Here are some examples of scams they use:

  • They use Advance Fee Lottery Scams in order to lure victims into believing they have won an international lottery. Because the victim has won a large sum of money, the person sending you the messages requires a driver’s license, passport, and or your banking information in order to send you the money you are owed.
  • They claim that you are stranded out of the country and need a short term loan to help you get back to the United States. The recipients think they are talking to the person they know and may agree to loan the person money so that they can get home.
  • The scammer may pretend to be your friend in order to get a large amount of personal or financial information from you.

What to do if you or someone you know has had their Facebook profile cloned:

If it’s a friend double check to see if they have created a second profile before proceeding. If the person tells you they have not created a second account, report the profile to Facebook as someone who is impersonating you or your friend.

To report a cloned profile to Facebook:


  1. Go to the cloned profile page.
  2. Click the 3 dots (…) next to the Message button.
  3. Click Report.
  4. Click Report this Profile.
  5. Click They’re pretending to be me or someone I know.
  6. Next click Report to Facebook.
  7. Post on your timeline (or tell your friend to) that you have been cloned and tag the people who have added the scammer as a friend. Include a link to the cloned profile in your post. Once Facebook has deleted the cloned profile, they will also delete your post with the cloned profile link in it so don’t be alarmed when the post disappears.


How to help prevent this from happening:


  1. Keep your Friends private. If they can’t spam your friends they have no reason to clone your profile. On your page click on Friends. Click the pen icon (manage). Click Edit Privacy. Under “Who can see your friend’s list”, select Friends.
  2. Don’t Friend anyone who you aren’t already familiar with.

You may want to search for your name on Facebook in the city which you live in. Just to make sure this hasn’t happened to you already. It’s possible you’ll find other people with your name, just make sure they don’t have your picture and other information as well.

Happy Facebooking!

Will Stagefright kill Android?

I’ve been a big fan of Android phones since day one. I went from using a Blackberry to an Android and never looked back. Of course with features and versatility comes risk. Over 950 million Android phones are out there being used every day. We store our phone numbers, e-mails, calendars, private notes and all kinds of other important data on our phones.

A security vulnerability that could hack, steal or even erase your data is a serious problem

So when a security vulnerability is found in the Android operating system that could hack, steal or even erase that data…that’s a serious problem. It’s called the Stagefright vulnerability (aka Heartbleed for Android).

It was found by Joshua Drake, a security researcher, back on April 9th. He reported it to Google and they released a fix shortly afterward to our wireless carriers. What can happen is a hacker sends you a multimedia message, or MMS, with a malicious code in it. Your phone automatically receives the message and interprets it without your permission. Bam you’re infected. What happens after that depends on what the hacker tells the code to do.

The question is, why haven’t we gotten this very important security fix yet? We haven’t received it, because our carriers are dragging their feet. The way the updates for Android work is like this; Google releases the update to the carriers, then they put the update into their own code and then release it to the public. Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile and all the other service providers from great to small have gotten this fix from Google, but as of today, not one has released it.

You would think that the security of 950 million customers would be a top priority
to these companies, but apparently not.

Maybe after few thousand angry letters they might listen. In the mean time, there are two options: Root your phone or simply change a setting.

Rooting your phone isn’t exactly easy and it comes with a risk. You are basically replacing the operating system of your phone. If you mess it up, you can ruin your phone. It voids your warranty to even try it. It’s definitely not for the non-tech savvy or the faint of heart, so for now, changing the setting is probably your best answer. Here’s how (UPDATE: If your phone has received the update to fix Stagefright you don’t need this. Check HERE to see if your phone is on the update list or install the Stagefright Detector app mentioned below to make sure):

How to turn off auto-receive for MMS:
1) Open your text messaging app on your Android phone.
2) Go to settings and find auto-receive MMS.
3) Turn it off.
4) Hit back to return to the app.

Here’s a quick tutorial if you need it:

You can also try this one:

There is a minor inconvenience with turning this off. That is you will have to click a button to receive any attachment (pic, etc.) from a text. It will stop auto-receiving these attachments thus foiling any attempt to insert any malicious code to your phone without your knowledge. It is still possible to get infected if you click on an infected attachment, so be careful who you open attachments from. If you don’t know who they are, don’t open it. It’s basically the same rule for unrecognized e-mail attachments. When in doubt, leave it out!

If you have any questions regarding this or any other computer issue feel free to contact me via the Contact Us page or by e-mail. Safe (mobile) computing!

UPDATE: If you want to know if your specific phone is vulnerable there is a Stagefright detection app by Zimperium INC. Just go to the Play Store on your phone and search for “Stagefright detector app” or click the below link for more info.


Please note that the app DOES NOT fix Stagefright. Its only purpose is to tell you if you are vulnerable. The only way to fix it is by applying the update from your carrier when they release it. You can still greatly reduce your chances of infection by changing the MMS settings mentioned above. Cheers!

UPDATE 2: It looks like a few Android devices have been finally updated! Here’s a short list:

* T-Mobile Galaxy Note 4
* T-Mobile Galaxy S5
* AT&T Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge
* Verizon Note Edge and Note 4

If your device is on the list make sure you go to Settings>About device>Software update to get the update if you haven’t already.

UPDATE 3 : Here is a more up-to-date list of phones that have received the Stagefright fix so far:

Is Windows 10 really free?

Who doesn’t like free stuff? For Windows users there is a lot of free software out there. Today it seems like there’s a lot more bad than good. Free software often means they want something in return. Our personal information, search history or maybe just payment for the full version later. So when Microsoft tells its Windows users that it is going to give away Windows 10 to everyone that has Windows 7 or 8, you have to ask yourself; what’s the catch?

Microsoft has been talking about offering Windows as a service but hasn’t specified what the term “service” means.


Typically it would mean paying monthly or annually, the way Office 365 is now offered. In other words, you don’t actually own the software and if you stop paying, it could stop working.

Despite this, back in January (2015) Microsoft’s Executive VP of Operating Systems Terry Myerson said Windows 10 would be free to anyone who had Windows 7 or 8 and would continue to keep it current for the lifetime of the device at no additional charge.

Doesn’t that sound like Microsoft is contradicting itself? If Windows 10 is supposed to be a service that you pay for then why are they giving it away for free? Why does Microsoft want you to have Windows 10 so badly? Here’s a theory: the Windows Store.

There is one thing that Microsoft envies about Apple. The App Store. It has generated over $25 billion in revenue for Apple (mobile apps included). As of Windows 8, Microsoft has implemented it’s own app store on the PC, but since Windows 8 has been a flop it has only seen limited success. So, how can Microsoft get everyone to start using the Windows Store? Give away Windows 10 which is pretty much just a fixed version of Windows 8.

Well, what if everyone upgrades to Windows 10 and people still don’t use the Windows Store? The internet is chock full of websites that offer software directly from the company’s website to your computer via download. Will Microsoft put a stop to that somehow? I have a feeling that may be their next step, or at the very least, they will try to discourage Windows users from doing so.

In the meantime Windows 7 and 8 users have a choice to make and a year to make it. Do we upgrade to Windows 10 or stick with what we have? My suggestion is to reserve your copy of Windows 10 for now but don’t upgrade until Microsoft gives us some answers. Microsoft needs to clarify what it means by “Windows as a service”. We need to know if we will be charged for other Windows 10 features and end up with some kind of limited version of Windows 10. Will we be forced to use the Windows store in Windows 10? Is there any reason at all to upgrade besides getting a better version of Windows 8?

Don’t worry about accepting the free Windows 10 offer for now. There’s no commitment in doing so and you have a year from the July 29, 2015 release date to actually apply the upgrade to Windows 10. Worst case scenario you can ignore the upgrade and stay with what you have now.

Of course you can always count on me to keep my ear to the technological floor so stay tuned for further updates regarding upgrading to Windows 10!

Black Friday Computer Buying Guide

toycomputerRor How to NOT buy a Thanksgiving “Turkey”

I know a lot of people can’t wait for Black Friday deals to come around. There are loads of deals to be had but how do we know when we are actually getting a deal? As the saying goes “you get what you pay for”. So how do we know if what we are getting is a good deal for a good computer or a fair price for a cheap computer? Here are some simple tips that can help you decide.

Know your brands
Companies like Acer have driven the cost of computers way down which sounds good at first but they have done so at the expense of quality and a lack of tech support. So the better brands like Dell and HP have had to compromise as well in order to keep their prices competitive. It’s true that “they don’t make them like they used to” but I would definitely stay away from Acer, Gateway and eMachines, which are all the same company, as well as any brand you’ve never heard of. Keep in mind the quality of the hardware in a computer directly affects the cost and even the better brands have “economy” models. I would still recommend Dell or Asus.

The cost of power
Your computer’s brain is its CPU or central processing unit. The vast majority of its speed will come from it so it is important to know which CPUs are slow and which are fast. This is another way that manufacturers can keep the cost of a computer down. If a computer costs $300 it’s a pretty safe bet it’s nowhere near as fast as a computer that costs $600. However sale prices do have a tendency to muddle this view.

So how do we choose? There are tons of different CPUs out there and a lot to consider so I’m going to make it easy. Right now Intel processors are on top. The best three are the Intel i3, i5 and i7. The i3 is low end but not too bad so if you’re on a budget that may be the way to go. The i5 is a good above average processor and the i7 is of course high end. I wouldn’t really recommend the i7 unless you have some money to spare and want to stay ahead of technology or if you need the extra horsepower.

Love and hate: Windows 7 and Windows 8
Some people can’t stand the Windows 8 interface (menus and visuals). If that’s you, should you shun a computer with Windows 8? You may not have to. Thanks to certain apps, you can have your good ol’ start menu back along with the look and feel of Windows 7 on your Windows 8 computer. Windows 7 computers may be hard to find in stores so if you see a good deal on a Windows 8 machine but are not sure if you’re going to hate the interface, don’t worry, you can always change it.

Still have questions? No problem. I’m here for you. Give me a call during business hours or email me anytime.
Happy shopping!

BTW did I mention I build high-quality custom computers?

File Organization Made Easy

Directory TreeA simple guide to keeping better track of your files using Windows 7 or Vista

Before I became a computer technician, the files on my computer were a mess. I would lose data and tons of work only to find them later in a place where they didn’t belong. If you find yourself in the same situation, here are some tips to keep your files organized.


Understanding the directory structure

Almost since day one, Windows has offered a place for users to keep their files: “My Documents”. In more recent versions of Windows it’s just “Documents” and it’s located under your user folder along with Pictures, Music and Videos. You can get to these folders by looking under your user name on the Start Menu. The basic structure of these folders will help you keep your files organized by category or type.


Turn on the Navigation

There’s nothing like having a map to keep track of where you are. So turning on the Navigation Pane is definitely a good idea when you’re learning to manage your files. Here’s how you do it. In Vista and Windows 7 open Documents and find the button that says “Organize”. It should be toward the top left of the window. When you click it, it will drop down showing the option “Layout” then make sure “Navigation Pane” is checked. If it’s enabled, you should see the file structure on the left part of the window. When you put your cursor over the folders you will notice a white triangle to the left of some of the folders. This indicates the folder has subfolders under it. When you click the arrow it will turn downward and black, indicating that the folder is open, allowing you to see the folders in it.


Simple Subfolders

Let’s say you have a ton of photos. Of course when you copy or import them from your camera you’re going to put them under the Pictures folder right? After a while it’s going to get very difficult to find a specific picture when they are all piled up. Even when your camera creates subfolders with the date, it can be difficult. Why not create an easy to understand folder system that helps you keep them organized? If you made a new folder under Pictures called “Hawaii Vacation 2008” you would know exactly where to look to find those pictures.


Making New Folders

Creating a new folder (or subfolder) somewhere is easy. Simply right-click on an empty space where you want the folder, select “New” and then “Folder” from the menu that appears. Then type the name of the new folder. If you don’t type a name it will be labeled “New Folder” and if that already exists then it will get a number added to it. To fix this or if you ever want to change a folder name later, right-click the folder and select “Rename” from the menu and then make your changes.

Now that we have a new folder to put our pictures in, we need to cut the pictures from where they currently are and paste them into the new folder.


Make a Selection

Now that you know how to make a new folder, name it properly and see where it’s located, let’s start organizing. First if you haven’t already, make a folder where you want your files to be. Then using the navigation pane, go to the folder where the files are that we need to move. Now select the files by using one of three methods.

  1. If all the files you want to move are in one folder, you can go to that folder and hit Ctrl + A. This will select all the files there.
  2. If you want some but not all the files and they are in a row, you can click the first file once to select it. Then while holding Shift, select the last file. All the files in between will be selected.
  3. If you only want a few files you can hold Ctrl then click the files you want. This can also work to deselect files so if you want all but a few files, you can use Ctrl+A to select all the files then hold Ctrl to deselect the ones you don’t want. Try it!

Move = Cut + Paste

Your files should now be selected and ready to cut. Right-click one of your highlighted files and from the menu that appears select Cut. Now you can navigate to the folder you created and right-click again on an empty space. Select Paste from the menu and viola! Your files are in their new and easy to find location.

Is your cell phone safe?

7 tips on downloading mobile apps and increasing your phone’s security.cell phone security

It seems that almost everyone owns a smart phone. You can access the internet, e-mail, share files, play games and even print. All that information can be stored on your phone; does this mean we should be concerned about security? You bet.

Here are some ways to keep them out:

  1. You get what you don’t pay for.
    Most free apps you can download in the app store are sponsored in order to help pay for the app and its updates. Some use simple ads, while others gather information from your phone and sell it to marketers to pay the bills. Apps that you pay for are less likely to do this.
  2. Just say no to 3rd party apps.
    Some people have found ways around paying for apps by downloading them from websites. Stay away from this. Google and Apple both have security requirements in order to post an app in their stores. Websites don’t have these restrictions and the apps they offer may have been modified to include malicious code.
  3. Check the rating. Read the reviews.
    See what people are saying about the app. A good rating is not enough. Somebody may have noticed a problem with an app’s behavior and is trying to warn others.
  4. The less permissions, the better.
    You may notice when you are about to install an app that there are certain permissions that appear (iPhone users should check under Details before installing). Some apps need to access your phone’s account information, call history or the internet. Sometimes this is necessary for the app itself to function and other times it is not. Ask yourself if these permissions correspond with what the app is meant to do. The less permissions the app requires, the safer it is.
  5. Be careful when you update.
    Apps don’t always get better as they go. Sometimes the developer will release an update with bugs or the newer version may now have ads. Again, refer to the reviews to see who is unhappy about the newer version and why, before you decide to update.
  6. Install a mobile security app.
    If you are worried about the current state of your mobile device you can try installing a security app. ESET Mobile Security, 360 Mobile Security and BitDefender are among the best apps right now. They will allow you to scan for malicious apps, do a security check and some even help you recover a lost phone.
  7. Backup your data.
    Like the data on your computer, you should never keep it in only one place. Make sure you have a copy of your files, pics and music on your computer or a backup drive. If you’re not sure you can live without those files, back them up. Try Google Drive or Dropbox.

Still have questions or need help? Feel free to let me know at service@gocomputerace.com.

“Russian hackers steal over a billion passwords”


Recently in the news we heard about a group of Russian hackers who managed to steal 1.2 billion usernames and passwords. While we still don’t know what the hackers were planning to do with these passwords, there is one thing we can safely assume, it won’t be good.

What can we do?
Change your passwords right away. We should not give them time to use any of the information they have taken. Keep in mind there are some important guidelines to maintaining your security. Here are some tips on how to do so:

1)      Do not use old passwords. If you have used the password online in the past, chances are they already have it. Come up with a completely new password.

2)      Do not use common knowledge passwords. Using your son’s name and his birth date may sound like a great idea but it’s not. It’s commonly used and hackers may already have that information. Also avoid passwords that use your address or phone number.

3)      Add special characters to your password. Using an exclamation mark (!) or an asterisk (*) will make your password more difficult to hack or steal. You may also consider changing letters for numbers or special characters. For example; “P4$$w0Rd” would be a lot more secure than just “password”.

4)      Keep your new passwords in a safe place. Everyone’s biggest complaint about passwords is being able to keep track of them. Write your passwords down on a notepad and keep it hidden or locked away. You can also create an unshared (or offline) document on your phone. For example Notes on the iPhone or S Memo on Samsung phones. You can also try a password app on your phone. I recommend sticking with off-line apps that don’t talk to the internet or backup online. Try aWallet Password Manager for Droid phones.

Still have questions or need help? Feel free to let me know at service@gocomputerace.com. I also welcome any feedback about this blog.

Leaving XP

Leaving XPHello XP users,
I’m sure you’ve heard that Windows XP support has come to an end. As a result, your old XP system is more at risk with each passing day. You may still be very happy with XP or may feel like you have no choice but to stick with it due to some old software or a printer you have that only works with DOS or XP, so here are your options.

1)  Stay with XP:
This is definitely the riskiest option.  If you have to stick with your old software or hardware in order to keep working, it may be your only option. If that’s the case you should consider taking the computer off the internet to prevent any outside threats from getting in, or at the very least, limit your internet activity to a few, safe websites. By safe I mean websites you are familiar with and have decent security. No social, file download or email sites. The fewer the websites, the better.
Remember, this is not the best option. You should take immediate steps to transition away from whatever is keeping you on XP. Disaster may not strike right away, but it can and probably will.

2)  Try to upgrade to Windows 7:
This is something I don’t usually recommend for older PCs. It can cost several hundred dollars and in the end, doesn’t usually perform as well as a machine that was designed for newer operating systems. For a little more, you can buy a new Windows 7 or 8 machine that will perform much better.

3)  Buy a new computer:
Buying a new computer is a good option and is not terribly expensive, especially if all your software runs on Windows 7 or 8. If your software doesn’t work with newer versions of Windows you still have options. Something you can try is compatibility mode which allows older software to work on a newer version of Windows.
More work does goes into purchasing a new computer because it takes time to transfer all your files and install your programs on the new machine. However, I think this is still the best option.

About Windows 8:
Don’t let Windows 8 keep you from buying a new machine. Yes, a lot of people don’t like the interface but it can be dealt with, even changed. There are ways to make Windows 8 look and function just like Windows 7 or even XP. You can also special order a computer with Windows 7. Contact me if you have questions about this.

How do I know what version of Windows I’m using?
Simply right-click on my computer and select Properties from the menu. Under the General tab you should see info about your computer including what version of Windows you are using.

If you feel like you are stuck with XP, don’t worry. You do have options. Give me a call and we can take a closer look at your options.

Is Your Slow Computer Affecting Your Health?

The internet is a very useful place and people spend hours and hours everyday utilizing and exploring its vastness. But for those unfortunate individuals with slow computers, time may be spent more in frustration instead of quickly finding the information they were looking for. This infographic from crucial.com takes a look at why slow computers can be  a detriment to good health.

[Click image for full size version]

 Is Your Slow Computer Affecting Your Health?