Everyday Tips from the ComputerMom 

Sptember 2017
 
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Wow, September already! Hope everybody enjoyed their summer, and had a lovely holiday weekend. I admit this is my favorite time of year - if only the days weren't getting shorter, it would be perfect!

Between back to school and back to work, now is a good time to assess your technology and make sure it's all in good order for the coming year. This issue addresses two hardware related topics - home WiFi coverage, and "senior" laptops. 

I'll be at Medfield Day on Saturday, September 16th with goodies and handouts. Hope to see you there!

Regards,
 
Julie Marto 
 
PS - I'd like to give a huge thank you to everybody who voted ComputerMom Blue Ribbon Hometown Best for the fifth year in a row! I can't tell you how much that means to me! 
Eliminate Dead Zones with
Google WiFi   


One of the most frequent problems I'm asked to solve is how to improve WiFi coverage in my client's homes. Any number of factors can lead to poor WiFi coverage, where the size of your home, the location of your router, and even the materials used in construction of your house can create dead zones, or areas where the WiFi isn't consistent. With schools requiring internet access for homework, and the proliferation of streaming video for entertainment, fast and stable WiFi is more important than ever.

 

Many people purchase WiFi range extenders to address this issue, but they are not a good answer. Their performance can be inconsistent, and, even if the extender works perfectly, anything connected to a WiFi extender will have its internet speed reduced by 50%. In the past, I have recommended powerline networking solutions, but those systems can be finicky as well, and tend to fail relatively quickly due to continual electrical surges. 

 

In the last few months I have installed several Google WiFi mesh systems in homes with WiFi range issues, and it seems to be the easiest and best solution so far. The base Google WiFi system, which costs about $300.00, consists of 3 low profile devices. One is attached directly to your modem, and the other two are placed strategically within your home to create a seamless network which reaches everywhere.  One kit will cover 4500 square feet, and you can purchase additional units individually if you require even more coverage. Simple to set up (I can do it in an hour visit) and managed by an app on your smartphone or iPad, call me if you think you are a good candidate.

Older Laptops - Fix or Replace?

Your old laptop has given you great service for years, but now it's acting up. Is it time to replace it, or does it just need a little TLC? It all depends on how old the system is, and what kind of problems you are experiencing. Here's a checklist for both Windows and Mac users.

Windows

Is it just too old? Look on the system for a Certificate of Authenticity label. If it references Windows XP or Vista, you should probably just replace the system. Microsoft no longer supports either of those operating systems, which means they are no longer safe to use on the internet. If the COA references Windows 7, or if you have no COA (which might mean you have Windows 8 or 10) then it is worthwhile to investigate further.

BTW, although they are very quiet about it, you can still upgrade a Windows 7 or Windows 8 system to Windows 10 at no additional charge. I am happy to do that for you as a flat rate drop-off service!

Is the hardware damaged? If your old laptop has broken hinges, a cracked screen, or a touch pad that doesn't work any more, it's probably not worth fixing. If you know it had a liquid spill, it's definitely time to get a new one. However, a few missing keys on a keyboard, or a battery that no longer charges, are usually relatively inexpensive repairs. Check your model on Amazon and see if they sell  reasonably priced third party replacements.
 
Does the system start up? Even if you can't get Windows to work, a system in good physical shape that starts up and tries to load Windows is probably worth fixing. Your system might have a Windows issue, or a virus/malware problem, and a simple flat rate servicing could bring it back to life. Or it could have a failed hard drive, the most common hardware failure I see. Replacing the hard drive with a solid state drive will both make the computer usable again, and upgrade it so that it will actually be better than new. 

Mac

Is it just too old? Click on the Apple menu in the upper left, and choose "About This Mac". The screen that pops up should tell you the model and year of your Mac, or give you a serial number you can use to look it up here. If your model and year cannot run MacOS Sierra, it's time to replace your Mac, as it will no longer receive security updates from Apple.

Is the hardware damaged? Macs are more expensive than PC's, so sometimes it's worthwhile to fix expensive cosmetic damage. Broken screens, keyboards, and batteries are all repairs which should be done by a Mac specialty shop, which I am not. I refer clients who need those types of repairs to Computer Loft in Allston. As with PCs, if your system has had a liquid spill and is exhibiting problems, it's probably not worth fixing.

Is the system slow? You might just need a flat rate clean-up, or you might benefit from a hardware upgrade. You should definitely maximize the system's RAM, however I have had tremendous results installing solid state drives into older MacBook Pro systems. If you think your old system might be a candidate, give me a call and we can discuss your options!
Come See Me at Medfield Day!

For the fourth year in a row, I'm hosting a booth at Medfield Day, Saturday September 16th. My booth is located on North Street right near the Montrose School, and I'd love you to come by and visit!
 
I'll be handing out some great freebies, including my fabulous ComputerMom screen cleaners, and I'll be raffling off some ComputerMom services. Additionally, this year I am bringing some unopened HP printer ink that I've collected from clients who replaced their printers. Check my list against the kind of ink you use, and come by and pick up any I have that works for you - first come first served!

Free Ink List

HP 02
Pink (2)
Dark Blue (2)
Light Blue (1)
Yellow (1)
HP 45/78
Black/Tri-color Combo Pack
HP 88
Black
Cyan/Magenta/Yellow Combo Pack
HP 920
Pink
HP 901XL
Black (3)
HP 51641A
Tri-color
HP 15A
Laserjet Black Laser Toner (2)