Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

July/August 2017
 
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The lazy, hazy days of summer are upon us, and everybody seems to be heading somewhere to enjoy them. Hope you have something fun planned!

A longtime client asked me for advice about leaving her computer at home while on vacation, so that's the topic of my first article. As many of you will also be bringing your tech along with you on vacation, I've updated an article from the summer of 2014 about travelling with technology. I've also included a summer packing list of gadgets and accessories you might want to take on the road.

By the way, I am not planning an extended vacation for myself this summer, just a few days off here and there. So don't hesitate to call with any problems or issues!

Regards,
 
Julie Marto 
 
PS - Vacation time is a great time to drop your system off for a tune-up. Leave it with me while you are out of town, and come home to a perfectly working system!
Leaving your tech while on vacation

Summertime is not only a time of sunshine and fun. It's also the season for thunderstorms and power surges. I can't tell you how many times I hear someone tell me that they came home from vacation to find their computer, printer, or internet not working. Here's how to protect yourself, and what to do if you find yourself in this situation.

  • Invest in a high quality surge protector, and replace it every few years. I've said this before, but surge protectors are like bicycle helmets. They can only absorb so much abuse before they are no longer doing you any good. And don't think that every power strip is a surge suppressor - most provide minimal protection at best. 
  • Consider getting an Uninterruptible Power Supply - Among other things, a UPS provides a built in battery backup in case you lose power, providing for a smooth and orderly shut down for equipment that needs to remain plugged in at all times.
  • Unplug your computer, printer, and modem before going away. The best way to protect devices against electrical damage is to eliminate the source of electricity. And while you are at it, unplug your home entertainment system, your device chargers, and your toaster!
  • If you do come home to a system that won't start up, try this simple trick before giving me a call. Unplug the desktop, or, if it's a laptop, unplug it and remove the battery. Then hold the power button down for 30 seconds. Reconnect the power and see if the system starts up again. I can't tell you how often this easy fix works!
  • If you have internet issues on your return home, always try resetting the modem first. Pull the power cord from your modem, wait 30 seconds, then plug it in again. It can take up to 5 minutes to finish rebooting, but you should have your internet connection back.
Do's and Don'ts for Vacationing with your Electronics 

(Updated from my July 2014 newsletter)

Summer is in full swing, with beach, barbecues, boating, vacation rentals - it's nice to get away from it all. But of course you want to stay in touch and use your electronics as well. Here are some points to keep in mind.

Don't -  leave electronics in a hot car. Overheating delicate electronics can cause permanent damage. Keep your phone off the dashboard, and if you find you have left your tablet or laptop in a hot car, allow it to cool down for an hour or so before attempting to use it. 

Don't - use public WiFi to access financial or email accounts.  Public WiFi networks are notoriously insecure, and you never know if someone is trying to steal your log in information. Use your phone as a hotspot to check email and bank accounts, and save the public WiFi for surfing gossip blogs! 

Do - invest in protective cases and waterproof gadget bags for any device you might want to take to the beach or on a boat, like your phone, tablet or Kindle. Water and sand damage can be devastating - a $20.00 case can be a great investment, but even a zip-lock bag can make a big difference in a pinch!

Do - consider the  ramifications if your phone, tablet, or laptop gets lost or stolen. Back-up your important information, put a strong password on each device (even if you don't use one when at home) and implement  remote wipe and device tracking software when possible.  If you can, leave your "real" laptop at home and travel with a system that has minimal personal information on it.  
Summer Gadget Packing List

You've packed your bathing suit and your flip flops, your hat and plenty of sunscreen. But have you thought about what you might want to pack for your technology? Here are some ideas!

Portable Bluetooth speaker -a small Bluetooth speaker is the best way to share your music at a summer cookout. There are lots of good ones on the market, but we have an Oontz Curve, which has served us well for several years. 

Extension cord/power strip - vacation properties can be light on outlets, and the ones they have can be difficult to access behind furniture. Pack an extra extension cord with a power strip to make sure you can all charge at once

Multiple device charger - while you are at it, you don't need to bring a specific charger for each device. As long as you have the correct cables, one charger with several USB ports should do the trick.

Portable power bank - We've all run out of juice on the road. A portable battery pack can recharge your devices when you can't get to an outlet.

International outlet adapters - most electronic chargers can be used internationally, but our US plugs don't work overseas. If you are traveling abroad, make sure to pack the right international adapters for your destination!