Stop Your Technology from Stalking You
Unless you’re a reality television star, you probably don't like the idea of being watched at all times. So, why would you want your technology to know all about you? With digital technology today, it’s far too easy for our devices to turn creepy. Here are some suggestions to stop the stalker-like tendencies of the technology you rely upon.

Today’s marketing and online communications are all about customization and personalization. If you like a friend’s picture of an Art Deco door in Belgium, you see many more posts featuring similar designs. Or if you view an area rug on a website, you’re suddenly bombarded with ads for rug stores when you next go online.

This can add convenience, but it is also unsettling. What companies online know about you could be more detailed than what your friends know. Take the following steps to regain control of what your computer, phone, and apps know about you.
Review your privacy settings

Whether going online from a phone, laptop, desktop, or tablet, get to know the device’s privacy settings. Some important settings to review include:
·        email tracking – this can let people know if you opened their message or not;
·        location tracking – personalizes recommendations but also tells search engines where you are;
·        voice recordings – manufacturers use these to train virtual assistants, but pause this to keep your conversations to yourself;
·        purchase history – this helps feed the machine so that businesses know how to target you in the future.
Opt out or block ads

Opting out of ads limits the information collected from your browser or device. The site or business still receives basic information about you, but you will no longer receive targeted, interest-based ads any longer. Apple’s iOS 14 allows app blocking, and you can also express your choice on Android devices.

Otherwise, use browser ad blockers, such as uBlock Origin, or JavaScript blockers, such Ghostery, to limit ad tracking. Also known as content blockers, these software programs prevent ads from showing on websites you visit. You can find ad blockers for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, and Internet Explorer.
Check your permissions

Watch the permissions you give apps. We have already talked about checking device settings, but you can also limit the permissions you give to apps. For example, social media accounts have privacy settings that allow you to control what's logged about you.

Plus, check permissions for other apps. Clash of Clans doesn’t need location services, for instance. Or you might not want to give Slack access to your microphone and video recordings.
Use webcam covers

Covering your webcam stops someone from potentially seeing and recording you. If you think you’d see the light come on to show the webcam is in use, know that hackers can disable that. A simple sliding webcam cover closes the webcam when you are not using it to avoid a cybercriminal having access.

Covering your webcam can also come in handy in all those online meetings you’re having. A covered camera means you don’t run the risk of your colleagues catching you unprepared.
Limit information you provide

Social media has created a culture of oversharing. There are probably many things you’ve seen about friends online that you would rather not know. You’re also sharing more than you need to with the companies that you interact with online.

If you’re filling out a form for a download, you might fill out only the required fields. When you add an app, be stingy with your personal details. Think about it from a need-to-know perspective. For instance, that home design game you love to play doesn’t need to know where you went to high school or with whom you bank.
Need help keeping the privacy-busting algorithms at bay? Our IT experts can configure device settings to limit information gathered about you online. Contact us today at 940-282-0290!
What to do When Your Warranty Runs Out
Most technology you buy in stores comes with a warranty of some sort. It might be included or an add-on. Still, it is unlikely to last the lifetime of the device or software, and it seems inevitable that your desktop will die immediately after the warranty runs out. Don’t worry, you still have options.

Murphy’s Law of warranty says that you will have no problems with your computer or printer while it’s covered. Then, as if waiting for the most inconvenient time to go bust, the technology fails just after your warranty ends.

After the frustration of looking up that warranty plan to see the expiration date a few weeks ago, your first response might be to take that device back to the store. You’ve noticed they have a service desk, and that’s where you made the purchase. But the technicians on-site are likely to send your laptop to the manufacturer repair. That could be far away, which negates the convenience of taking it down to your local store. You could wait weeks for your item to get to the repair center. Then, it stills needs attention and returning to your store.

Also know that many manufacturers charge a premium for outside-of-warranty repairs. Now that you’re one or two years into a relationship with the products, they hope you’ll decide upgrading is easier. They actually have a planned lifecycle for computer hardware and plan the warranty end accordingly.

Of course, if you are within days of your warranty's end, ask if the manufacturer will continue to cover the technology. Sometimes it actually will. The manufacturer may also use this opportunity to sell you an extended warranty.
Some help with manufacturer warranty
Our first piece of advice? Be proactive about technology issues. Don’t put off getting something looked at. You may discover you could have saved money by having it checked out under warranty.

Check your eligibility by visiting the manufacturer’s website and typing in the product serial number to check the warranty. Quickly find the page by searching the manufacturer’s name and “check warranty status.”

It’s a good idea to keep track of when your warranty is set to expire. That way, you’ll be more likely to request service in a timely manner. Don’t believe us? Have you ever planned to take an item back to the store only to leave it until the return window has closed?

Small business computer repair shops specialize in repairing out-of-warranty devices. They can run diagnostic tests to determine the problem. Then, they'll help you decide whether it’s worth the cost of repairs. If so, they can fix it at a competitive rate.

Plus, you get personalized service. There’s also the peace of mind that comes from knowing where your computer is at all times. You're not worrying about it shipping around the country to a manufacturer’s repair shop. The timeline reduces, too, as the IT experts are on-site at a convenient computer repair outfit.
We can help keep your computers and other technological devices up and running. Contact us today at 940-282-0290!

Brian W. Norby
(Owner of both BWN Computer
AND That Computer Man)