Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

September 2015
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Welcome to September, a fun month, as I will be hosting a booth at  Medfield Day  on Saturday, September 19th. You can find me at booth number 201, in the parking lot across from Frairy Street. I'll be offering up advice, giving away great freebies, and raffling some free  ComputerMom services . Please stop by and say hi!

For my Comcast customers, did you ever wonder what that Xfinity Wifi is that you see wherever you go? It's actually pretty interesting, and there are some benefits and pitfalls to look out for. For all you Windows 7 and 8 users, I spent most of August doing Windows 10 upgrades on all sorts of systems, and I have some recommendations for you.

And last but by no means least, I want to thank you all very much for voting ComputerMom  Hometown Best for Computer Repair  for the third year in a row! I am really grateful, and hope to be able to thank you in person on the 19th!

Julie Marto 

508-333-8176 (cell)

P.S. If you drop off a system with me for a flat rate service, ask about a Windows 10 upgrade - if I think it's a good idea for your system I'll upgrade it at no additional charge!
Xfinity WiFi - What the heck is it?

OK Comcast customers, I'm sure you have noticed something called Xfinity WiFi that seems to follow you everywhere and tries to connect at the most inopportune times. Sometimes it's great - you connect to it and have internet on the road. And sometimes (especially in your own home) it's just an annoyance. I see a lot of confusion about this topic, so let me try to explain.

Comcast is trying to create the country's largest wireless hotspot network by using customer equipment to broadcast a signal accessible to all Comcast customers. When you install the latest Comcast cable modem - the type with built-in wireless - it actually comes with two separate network signals. One, usually called Home-XXXX (some number) is your private network. That is only usable by you and those folks you give the password to. The second, public network, is called xfinitiywifi, and is  accessible to any Comcast customer who logs in with their Comcast email and password. 

Although concerns have been raised over Comcast using your equipment to broadcast this signal, they insist that there is no overlap - the networks are totally separate and nobody can get into your private network through the public network. Also, each signal is only broadcast as far as the antenna can go - in other words, the range is as limited as the range of your private WiFi. The public network is designed to let other Comcast customers use the internet if they visit your home or business, without forcing you to divulge your  home network password. There has, however, been plenty of controversy over the whole system and some tech writers advise you to opt out if you can.

In my experience, the biggest issues I have seen with Xfinity WiFi come when people mistakenly use it instead of their private network in their own homes, or if it's been set as the preferred network on laptops, tablets, and other portable devices. As it's a public network, it's not secure to use as the main network in your own home. Make sure you find out the name of your home network, enter the password for it, and make that the preferred network on all of your systems. If xfinitywifi is at the top of your network list, your device will ALWAYS try to connect to it over any other network!

If you have any problems with this, or you wish to opt out of the system and can't figure out how to do it, please give me a call to schedule a home visit and I'll straighten it all out for you.
Windows 10 Upgrade Recommendations

As Microsoft won't let any of you forget, Windows 10 is here and the upgrade is free. A month into the one year free upgrade period, I have recommendations for you all. I've completed quite a few upgrades myself, and cleaned up a few that were done at home. Most upgrades have gone smoothly, but some have had issues, including one gentleman who's computer reacted so badly to Windows 10 that I rolled it back. That's the exception - but here's what you need to know so far.
  • The good news is that everybody who has had a successful upgrade to Windows 10 has actually liked the interface and found it much easier to use than Windows 8. If you are currently using Windows 8 in its native form,  you will probably be much happier with Windows 10 and should upgrade at your earliest convenience. 
  • The worst problems I have seen were clients who tried to upgrade their own computers that were virus infected. I had a few non-booting systems dropped off for me to sort out. Please, if your computer is not running well, drop it off with me for a servicing rather than assuming a Windows 10 upgrade will solve your problems! I'll install Windows 10 after cleaning the system, a much better approach. If you wish to perform the upgrade yourself, run several virus and spyware scans first, and make sure you have installed all your manufacturer's updates.
  • Older printers may not be supported and may never have drivers for Windows 10. I had a client with both an older system (that had issues) and an older printer. We found a workaround for the system issues (it involved turning the system on twice, strangely enough) but her printer would never work. However, it's not all bad. If you have an older printer your Windows 10 upgrade might just force you to move to a newer, modern WiFi printer that can print from your iPhone or other portable devices. Sometimes it's just time for newer equipment!
I continue to stand by my original assessment - almost everybody should upgrade to Windows 10 during the free period, but there's really no rush for most people. Let the pioneers and early adapters work out the bugs.

Pro Tip - check out this article if you no long wish to be nagged to upgrade!