Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

January 2018
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Happy New Year! I hope every one of you had a lovely holiday season, and are looking forward to a healthy and productive 2018!

With the new year comes some new topics. Firstly, Facebook quizzes, and how they might not be as much fun as they seem. Next is an article about iPhone batteries, much in the news recently. And lastly, I clean a lot of unnecessary software off of computers - here's some software to uninstall.

Julie Marto 
PS - Need some help setting up that new tech gear? Give me a call!
Facebook Quizzes 

You see them all the time - cute viral Facebook quizzes that ask the make and model of your first car, or the name of your third grade teacher. They wonder if you can remember your first phone number, or how old you were in 1969. They seem perfectly innocuous, and literally hundreds of thousands of people, including a bunch of your friends, have already answered. What can be the harm?

The truth is, those quizzes are not nearly as innocent as they seem. They might well be set up by identity theft harvesters who build information profiles to hack into accounts. These quizzes help them  match names with email addresses and the answers to security questions.  

Even quizzes that aren't explicitly looking for answers to security questions can expose your private information to marketers. Any time a quiz requires you to log into your Facebook account to get, or share, your results, you are sharing your Facebook profile information and your friend's list with the quiz writer, whoever that might be. 

My recommendation is to ignore Facebook quizzes - there are plenty of other fun ways to connect with friends on the internet, and these quizzes are not worth the risk!
Apple iPhone Slowdown

Big tech news in December was   an admission from Apple that their software updates have been throttling older iPhones, ostensibly to even out performance issues with older batteries. This is vindication for those of you who don't want to replace your older iPhone, but feel like it just doesn't work as well as it did when you got it. Guess what - you are right!

Facing a ton of bad press,  Apple announced a reduced price battery replacement program for any iPhone 6 or newer suffering from diminished battery capacity. As the slowdown is officially meant to deal with the inevitable effects of an older battery, the only fix is to replace the battery with a new one - not an easy task, as it requires proprietary parts and a visit to the shop.

The lower priced battery replacement will be in effect for all of 2018, and you should take advantage of it if you can. According to my research, Apple will not replace your battery unless its capacity is below 80%. You can take your phone to an Apple store for them to test your battery, or test it yourself by downloading a free battery checking app, such as the aptly named Battery Life.

The reduced price for a battery replacement is $29.00, and you can start the process by   clicking here   and registering for the program, or calling Apple directly at 1-800-MYAPPLE. That will get you an appointment at the genius bar, to arrange for your repair in an Apple store or at an authorized repair center. I would expect there  will be a battery shortage at first, so you might have to wait a while before your battery is in stock. Good luck, and I'd love to hear from anybody who takes advantage of this program!
Software You Don't Need

I've been ComputerMom for 23 years now (geeze, I'm old!) and in that time I have seen a lot of once useful programs come and go. Some free software previously recommended has been supplanted by better options built into the operating system, and some has lost its luster due to other reasons. Here's a list of some common "free" programs I uninstall as a matter of course:

CCleaner - once highly recommended to remove temporary files and disk clutter, CCleaner was famously hacked last September, and can be a source of infection. Windows has a good built-in disk cleaning tool, so I would suggest using that and uninstalling CCleaner.

DeFraggler - Windows 10 automatically defragments hard drives as part of its internal maintenance -  there is really no need to manually defrag any longer. 

WinZip Trial - Windows has a built in zip file extractor - simply right click on the zipped file and choose "Extract All". If installed on your computer, WinZip will take over that function for you and insist you buy the program if you want to open a zipped file. WinZip is not free software, and you must uninstall WinZip trial to use the free Windows file extractor.  Unless you need advanced file compression capabilities, I highly recommend you do.

SuperAntiSpyware - a legitimate spyware removal program I used many years ago, I have been seeing this installed on computers that have had "Microsoft Tech Support" scammers log onto it. As part of their "fix", they download and run the free trial, which then nags users to buy the pay version. If you have this on your computer, uninstall it. If you don't know where it came from, you might want to ask me to look your system over.

MacKeeper - a Mac "clean up" utility that does more harm than good, I uninstall this immediately when I see it on a Mac. MacKeeper will nag you to upgrade it, and will "check" your system for problems of its own making. It can be tricky to uninstall, so if you have it on your Mac you might want to schedule a service call.