THE INTERNET IS RUINING MY BRAINS

2016 August 19
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by J Storlie

Okay, not really. At least, I don’t think so. But sometimes, I wonder.

When I was a kid, I spent every spare second at the library. If I wanted information? The library. If I wanted entertainment? The library. If I wanted quiet, away from all of the chaos and noise of school and teachers and parents and peers who didn’t understand me? THE LIBRARY HALLELUJAH. Well, sometimes, the pet store. But mostly, the library.

I mean… what is the life cycle of an eyebrow hair? What kind of apple did Eve eat? What is the pigeon population of New York compared with sparrow population? When I was a kid, there was one way to get this information, and thanks be for those long-suffering, quietly shushing, ever-so-patient librarians who were always there to help me find what I needed.

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(You can find more gems like these on the New York Public Library’s Instagram feed.)

Anyway, these days, I don’t go to the library. I still use the library. I check books out online, and read them on my devices, and listen to audio books on my phone in the car. I love the library. I just never actually step foot in it. If I want information, I don’t need to leave the house. I don’t have to ask a teacher, or call someone I might know who has expertise in that arena. I just have to say, “Okay, Google…” and tah-dah! Information! All kinds of it! More information than you can shake a stick at!

(Okay, I don’t actually say, “Okay, Google…” I just type in my search, because talking to my phone makes me feel like a dork.)

But what of information integrity? What about honest reporting, and freedom of the press? There was a reason for the First Amendment. We, The People determined that we have a right to the free access of information. But, I mean… what good is all of that information, when we are so flooded with sources that it’s nearly impossible to sort the wheat from the chaff?

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“Young people, who are the majority of our audience, are angry, disenfranchised and they don’t like or trust mainstream media outlets. They’re leaving TV in droves, but music and news are the two things that Generation Y in every country are excited about and interested in.”

So, what can we do? How do we navigate the big wide world of information without total overload? How do we encourage critical thinking in our culture?

“Before the internet there were two important things to teach: content and skills, like writing,” November said. “Now there’s a third skill which is to build out your network to the world.”

Learning is a lifetime endeavor. Critical thinking is essential to the progression of our species. Technology offers us the ability to access huge amounts of information, and that is amazing!

Now, we just have to learn how to wield this amazing power for good. We can evaluate the information we’re offered, share it and invite commentary, and debate with reason and an open mind. We can plan events, attend gatherings, build networks with people who share valuable, accurate information, and use our new tools to connect and inspire. The Internet doesn’t have to ruin your brain, and social media doesn’t have to ruin your social life. Use it! Get involved! Pay attention!

Oh, and call your grandma. We know you hate talking on the phone, but she forgot her Facebook password again, and she never remembers to check her email.

We’re sure you’ve seen the horror stories.

2016 August 10
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by J Storlie

MAN KILLED WHILE PLAYING POKEMON GO AT SAN FRANSCISCO PARK

28-YEAR-OLD MAN CRASHED INTO A TREE PLAYING POKEMON GO

TWO PEOPLE FELL 50 FEET OFF A CLIFF IN SAN DIEGO

FOUR TEENAGERS HAD TO BE RESCUED FROM A MINE AFTER BEING LOST FOR OVER FIVE HOURS

These stories are scary and tragic, and a reminder that safety should always come first. Unfortunately, there are countless accidental deaths every year, many of them related to recreation.

The Good Stuff

There’s a lot more positive to this phenomenon than media sensationalism may suggest. For example, Pokemon Go is helping kids with autism and Asperger’s:

“They want to play ‘Pokemon Go,’ and so does he, so it gives them something in common to do. The kids are so fixated on catching Pokemon that they are concentrating on finding them more than they are concentrating on his behaviors like they usually do,” Koppelman said. “As a result, he is finally finding himself in the middle of groups of kids he doesn’t even know, being welcome to play with them.”

There are also many stories showcasing the way the game can improve the lives of the mentally and physically ill. A Michigan children’s hospital is using the game to encourage young patients to do physical activity and socialize with each other. “Physical activity is not something patients necessarily want to do,” said J.J. Bouchard, digital media manager at the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital in Ann Arbor, Mich. “But kids got excited about the game, so they don’t mind. Playing Pokémon Go encourages them not only to move, but also to go out of their rooms and talk to one another or to the hospital staff.”

And it looks like playing the game can even improve the health of the rest of us.

Within hours of Pokémon Go being available for download, it was driving people in the HealthUnlocked team to go for a walk. There were soon conversations about where they walked the previous night and, rather than lunches at their desk, they were off walking to get a Pokémon. Some people in the office have estimated they are walking more than 5K extra during the day since downloading the game.

And of course, we’ve all seen the stories about increased shelter dog walks and adoptions.

pokemon dog adoption

I’ll tell you a little secret: I grew up a nerd. When I was a kid, it was not cool to be geeky. It was not cool to get together and nerd out on the things I thought were cool. Now? It kind of is. Having fun with your friends is more socially acceptable than ever, and the merging of technology with pop culture is not only inevitable, but an incredibly positive addition to the way we socialize. Will people be harmed, while engaging in their chosen form of recreation? Will they die? Will they discover dead bodies, or be mugged?

Yes. Accidents will happen, people will make poor choices, and some may even be injured or killed, if they don’t mind basic safety guidelines while indulging in their recreation of choice. That super sucks. I’m sorry, you guys. I wish I could make the world a safer place to have fun in.

Sidenote: Time magazine did an interesting piece earlier this year, on why Americans are more afraid than they used to be.

Fun is fun!

I don’t think the answer is to get rid of the fun. Every time you leave the house, you’re putting yourself in danger. I’m pretty sure most forms of recreation were mocked, in the beginning. I mean, why would one want to go about pedaling on a contraption with two wheels, when we have two perfectly good feet? Why would one want to slide down a mountain on two long, slim boards? Why would a group of friends want to cloister themselves in someone’s basement for hours on end and play tabletop games?

Because it’s fun. We like fun. Play is important for everyone, even grownups!

…adults play for many important reasons: building community, keeping the mind sharp and keeping close the ones you love.

And, says Brown, there’s another big factor: If we don’t play, there are serious consequences.

“What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they’re not much fun to be around,” he says. “You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.”

In other words, all work and no play makes everyone a whole lot duller.

Yakima Networking enjoyed our Pokemon event at Kissell Park immensely. It was amazing to see people from all walks of life, gathered together and socializing, enjoying picnics and free wifi provided by Washington Broadband.

We are social animals, this is one more way that we get to have fun and be social, and you know what? I think that’s pretty awesome. So, what now? Well, get out there and catch ’em all! And look forward to more fun and features. Be safe, have fun, and ignore the naysayers.

Well, I mean, pretty much. You might want to stay off their lawns.

Phishing Scams not just websites anymore

2014 December 10
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by J Storlie

Back in 2010 we talked a little about Phishing sites and emails looking for your passwords. Link

 

Click Here to lean how phishing works!

Today’s scammers have moved up in the world and are looking for more than just your passwords.

Every day we get phone calls or people walking into our shop saying that Microsoft or a similar support company called them and told them that their computer is infected or has some sort of problem. They then say that they need to remote into your computer to fix it. There is a catch however, you have to pay them anywhere from $200 dollars and up to do this.

 

First off Microsoft will probably never call you and tell you your computer has a problem. They have multiple articles on their website stating just that.

 

Avoid tech support phone scams

 

Last year Eugene Kaspersky, the head of the global IT security company Kaspersky Lab, wrote an article saying that 5% of home computers around the world are infected with either malware, spyware, or viruses. That included machines that are running a current antivirus solution. That’s at least 50 Million computers worldwide. So its safe to say Microsoft can’t take the time to call every single home user with a virus. So who will call you? Unfortunately,  scammers looking to cause harm to your computer and swindle you out of money.

Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money and get personal information. Cybercriminals can also do this by tricking you into installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your (or some company you do business with) computer. Security breaches can happen in any number of ways.

 

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Phishing Site

 One of the most successful ways to get into someones computer is to ask the user let them inside the computer. They call or email you then have you navigate to a website and download some remote software, there by allowing them into your machine. After gaining remote access they can do practically anything to your computer. Including pulling saved passwords out of your web browser and downloading anything you might have saved on your machine all with out your knowledge.

 So how can you protect yourself from Phishing emails, websites and phone calls? Just asking a few simple questions can make a big difference.

 

  • Who is asking for information? Are they claiming to be Microsoft or another support company?
  • Does the email or website have spelling and grammar errors?
  • Are they calling and telling you that your computer is causing issues online?
  • Are they offering a fee service or subscription, if so why do they need a credit card?
  • Is this the IT company you normally use?


Those are just some simple questions that you can ask yourself and the caller when you encounter a possible phishing site or phone call. People and companies prey on the average users lack of knowledge in these areas. So never be afraid to hang up the phone and call us. We deal with issues like this every day and are more than happy to give you free advice on how to proceed.

 

Sources

 

 

 

Windows 10

2014 October 20
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by J Storlie

Windows_Product_FamilyWindows 10, are you excited because we know we are. Late last month microsoft released Windows 10 for tech preview so some of the things mentioned below may or may not be in the final version of the OS. This is just a tech preview giving your IT professionals a heads up of things to come.

So being the geeks we are we got excited and downloaded it. The general opinion of our techs is that we like what we see. Now I could ramble on and on about all the cool new features but for now I’m just going to cover some of the things that we liked to most.

 

Windows 10 Desktop

Windows 10 Desktop

Have no fear, Microsoft brought users back the feature that everyone is familiar with, the all powerful start menu. No more updating to windows 8.1 or installing a third party piece of software to give you all back what most of us need and love. Now they did keep the tiles for touchscreen users in addition to a classic start menu. By adding tiles to a start menu they are making it easy for touchscreen users as well. Tiles can be added, removed or re-sized depending on customization by the user.

Dual desktops for users need I say more. All under the same user you can have one desktop for work one for play and another for well whatever, its pretty cool if you think about it. Have your games all setup and ready to go under one desktop and work spreadsheet, document and banking on another. Keeping it all in one place but organized at the same time.

Now most people may not know about this feature but it has been around for a while. Task Viewer its not much different from the Alt-Tab keyboard combination shortcut, but it has gotten a facelift and its own button the the taskbar. This highlighted feature should make it easy for power users to switch between windows and tabs.

Family Safety is another addition to windows 10 that we like sure windows 8 and 8.1 had this feature but how many people know about it and or use it. Family Safety enables parent to have control over kids accounts. Taking control over the websites you want your children to have access to. Set time limits on when kids use the computer and what apps they have access to when they use it. All based on a schedule you determine. Control games and windows store apps based on rating or title. And activity reports on users all under family safety. See what your kids were up to when they were signed onto the machine.

Family Safety

Family Safety

 

Keep in mind that this is just the tip of the iceberg for Windows 10. We enjoyed playing with the preview and putting it through its paces. Now lets see what Microsoft will add to it and show off when they talk more about it early next year.

Free Computer Coloring Book for Kids

2011 March 7
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by J Storlie

Yakima Networking would like to share this free printable coloring book with your children. You can print one page or every page.

Download the Yakima Networking Coloring Pages

Why Your Computer is Slow

2010 October 16
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by J Storlie

One thing I hear a lot from people, is that their computer was fast when they bought it, but now it’s slow. Maybe they upgraded to a million megabyte hard drive, so it would never slow down. But hard drive space isn’t the only thing that can slow down your computer. If your computer is running slowly, there might be more than just disk space issues to be resolved.

Yakima Computer Store - Yakima Networking sells RAM upgrades

RAM upgrade for a faster computer

Issues With Viruses, Spyware, Trojan Horses Or Malware

Whenever your computer is suffering from a virus, spyware or malware issue, it will become difficult to use because these things flood your computer to the point that it becomes overloaded and eventually you will not be able to do even the simplest task, like opening a web browser. If your computer has any of these things, you will need to make sure you run through a few different virus scanning programs and run a registry cleaner afterward. We can do this in the shop, or you can do it at home. You should probably turn off system restore before you begin and clear out your Javascript cache, too. Many of these programs are designed to re-install themselves.

Not Enough Memory

Your computer uses something that is known as Random Access Memory or RAM for short. The more RAM your computer has, the more programs you can run and processes you can do at one time. (For this reason, RAM is oftentimes referred to as your computer’s memory.) However, if you don’t have enough RAM, it will become bogged down and unable to do much. The only ways in which to correct this problem is to upgrade your RAM or stop running and doing so many things at the same time. If you have to have a lot of things open or need to do a lot of things at once, then you have no choice but to upgrade your computer’s memory. We carry and install RAM upgrades, it’s a quick procedure.

Too many things to do at once

So what if you have the maximim amount of RAM your computer can accommodate and it’s still running slowly? Check the “automatic update” settings on some of your programs. You’d be surprised which programs are set up “stay awake” waiting for updates as long as your ocmputer is on. One easy way to check, on Windows XP, is to expand the menu of active programs in the bottom corner of your screen (where the clock is) right-click or click on each icon to see what it is. Your antivirus and firewall should be running constantly, but other things don’t need to be. Change the settings on these other programs, so that they don’t automatically start every time you power up.

Registry Errors

A lot of slow computers are plagued with registry errors. These will oftentimes go undetected because they are so hard to pinpoint. Essentially though, these errors occur whenever your registry files become corrupt over the course of time. Adding, updating and removing software usually cause this. Whenever you have a lot of corrupt or unused registry entries your computer will become bogged down because it is still attempting to run these commands, which takes up a lot of your processing speed. If you need to fix a registry error on your computer, you will need to get a registry repair software program. This program scans your entire computer looking for any errors and unused registry files. It will then delete these things so as to be able to clean up your registry. Once this is done, your computer will begin running faster.

If there’s anything on this list that you need help with, let us know. We’d be happy to help.

Blink if you can read this

2010 September 11
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by J Storlie

Back away from the computer slowly. When your eyes are burning and your vision is blurry and you know you’ve been working too hard, you’re suffering from eyestrain. Eyestrain is something that a lot of people who spend long hours working on their computer find themselves suffering from.

Reduce Eye Strain

Eye Drops

By using an over the counter eye drop you will be able to stop your eyes from burning, feeling itchy and dry. It only takes a few drops in each eye throughout the day in order to keep your eyes well lubricated.

The Blinking Cure

The reason your eyes dry out is because you’re blinking less often, focusing on the screen. If you’re one of the many people who don’t like using eye drops, you may want to know that there is natural remedy for dry eyes. Just blink more often. Experts say that whenever you are using a computer, or focusing on something for a long time, you blink five times less than normal. Every time you blink, your eyeballs get a fresh coat of eyestrain-preventing lubrication. It’s the very lack of that moisture that makes eyestrain hurt.

Remodel Your Office

It may be time to consider remodeling your office. If you decide to do this, there are some things that you should keep in mind. First of all, if you’re facing a sunny window, you should move your desk to reduce the amount of glare your eyes have to deal with. Secondly, look for an ergonomically friendly keyboard that will help you to have better posture. Third and finally, make sure that your monitor is at the right level for your eyes. This may mean that you will need to move it back a few inches to help your eyes focus better and easier.

Flourescent lighting flickers at a very high rate and can cause eyestrain faster than other kinds of lighting. Consider changing the light bulbs in your office to something more comfortable, like a full-spectrum bulb.

Talk To Your Eye Doctor

Make sure that you see your eye doctor at least every two years for a check up. While there, you should talk to him about his suggestions for eyestrain. You may even find that your eyestrain is due to the need for eyeglasses. Be sure to report any headaches, double vision, trouble refocusing from the computer to other things, images that stay imprinted for a while, increased sensitivity to light and any sign of “auras” or glowing trails of light around white objects.

Rest Your Eyes

One of the easiest things that you can do is rest and relax your eyes. Give them opportunities to focus on other things throughout the day. The ideal situation would be to take a 15 second break every 15 minutes or a 5-minute break every hour. Simply allow your eyes to focus on something further away from you than your computer.

Zoom In

Headache from Eye Strain

Headache from Eye Strain

Depending upon your operating system, you can zoom in on everything on your screen. Hold down the control key and press the plus sigh (Ctrl+) to zoom. To come back out again, use the minus key in the same way (Ctrl-)

Eyestrain usually isn’t a big deal. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Eyestrain doesn’t have serious or long-term consequences, but it can be disruptive and unpleasant. It can make you tired and reduce your ability to concentrate. In some cases, it may take days for all eyestrain symptoms to go away after you’ve taken steps to change your activities or environment or treated any underlying cause.”

Is it OK to leave the computer on all day long?

2010 September 4
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by J Storlie
Its OK to leave the computer on overnight

Its OK to leave the computer on overnight

Sure, we love it when they catch on fire and you come in crying. No, I’m just kidding. A lot of us leave our computers on all the time. It’s really not that big of a deal, most of the time.

In fact, we wonder why no one asks whether or not it’s OK to turn it off for long periods of time. Leaving your computer off for a long time can allow dust to get into your tower and settle into the various components within. Then, when you go to turn it on, it can spark or ignite and maybe even smoke up the house.

But when you leave your machine on, it keeps the fan running. That keeps a lot of dust from getting into the tower. This does not mean no dust will get in, just less. If you suspect you have dust in your tower, check out “How to Clean Inside your Computer.”

By turning your computer on and off, you could be causing excessive wear and tear on the various components, that are designed to run, not to be turned on and off. Just like a car, the process of turning your machine on uses significantly more power, and may end up costing you more than leaving the machine on all hours.

There are some times when you need to leave your computer on overnight or while you are at work due to uploads or downloads that are excessively large and will take many hours to transfer. Or you may prefer to do maintenance such as virus scans and software updates overnight when you are not using your machine, as they can slow response time down. This is perfectly fine and will not hurt your computer in the slightest.

Even if you do leave your computer on all the time, you will need to do the occasional reboot which is fine, since the computer needs to do maintenance as well as clear out the memory. But this is not something that needs to be done on a daily basis, it can be done every few days or on a weekly basis if that works better for you. If you do find your computer is not running at its best, go ahead and reboot it to give it a chance to clean out its memory.

One thing to consider doing if you leave your computer on all the time is to turn off the monitor, or put it into power saving mode. This way you will save power. Laptops generally have built-in features for saving power, especially when you’re running on batteries.

If you still can’t decide, you may want to leave it on from morning to night, but turn it off overnight while you are sleeping, unless you’re transferring files, running system maintenance or regularly scheduled virus scans.

How to Know if a Shopping Site is Secure

2010 August 28
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by J Storlie

If you haven’t jumped into online shopping yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.  Sure, you can’t try things on, but the mall isn’t going anywhere. If you’re the type who doesn’t enjoy braving the malls, or you know you won’t have much time to prepare for the holidays, then maybe it’s time to try shopping online. Here are a few tips for ensuring that the site you visit is secure.

One of the simplest things that you can do is check the address of the website you are on.  If it starts with an “http” then it is not a secure site.  If it starts with an “https”, then it is secure.  You can remember this easily, because the “s” stands for “secure.”  This type of security means that your data is encrypted and then sent through a secure server.  You may not see the https until you get to an order page, but it should be there.

Internet Security with https

Internet Security with https


Secure Shopping Online- things to look for

Secure Shopping Online- things to look for



Another thing to check for is a lock icon somewhere in the window of the browser.  They are not always located in the same place, but you should be able to find a lock icon, and it should look locked.  If the icon looks like an open lock, the site is not secure.   Here are a couple of examples of a secure, locked site (above).

An important note is that you can click on these locks and get information about the security of the website.  If you do not know where to find them on your browser, then make sure to go into the help files and explore some of your browser’s built-in security features.

You may also notice different icons when you are on websites.  If you see icons from Verisign, GeoTrust or SSL.com you know that the site you are on is a safe site.  They meet the security standards of the company issuing the certificate, and as a result, the vendor gives them a seal to put on their website.  Any website that meets these guidelines will display these, as it is an important feature for them to gain your trust.  Be aware that these seals can be easy to duplicate. When in doubt, click on it and you should be brought to a page on the Security Certificate site that verifies the company’s reputation

Example of Verisign Graphic

Example of Verisign Graphic


GeoTrust graphic

GeoTrust graphic

Sample SSL Certificate

Sample SSL Certificate

If you are still not sure about the website, but cannot get the item any other way, you will want to make sure that you use a credit card that’s insured, to make your purchases.  It is advisable to have one card just for Internet shopping, as it will make it easier to catch a fraudulent charge.

Tons of Free Software

2010 August 21
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by J Storlie

How much money can you save with free software alternatives?

How much money can you save with free software alternatives?

Have you ever purchased software, only to discover that a year later they’re releasing a new version? If you want to keep up with the times, you need to buy it all over again, right?
Wrong.

Here’s a secret (OK, it’s not really a secret) You can use open source software, which is free and it works just as well as the expensive version.
With open source software, you can replace the following expensive programs
  • Microsoft Windows $200
  • Microsoft Word $140
  • Microsoft Excel $140
  • Microsoft PowerPoint $140
  • Microsoft Outlook $140
  • Microsoft Access $140
  • Adobe PhotoShop Elements $70
  • Quickbooks $125
  • Peachtree $130

(prices are from Amazon.com)

Free Software Alternatives

Open Office can replace Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Access.  It also has the ability to do desktop publishing.  I haven’t come across anything that I couldn’t do using Open Office, and you can’t beat the price.

As a bonus-Open Office can save files in a .doc or .xls format, so that you can share them with your sucker friends who paid full price for Microsoft’s version. You can also use the Open Office software to open Microsoft files that people send you. So you really are not always limited by using these freebies.
While Open Office does not have an email option to compare to Microsoft outlook, you can download Mozilla’s Thunderbird which is also free to use.  Chances are you will not even notice the difference and the fact that it is not a Microsoft program.  A lot of people don’t even use a desktop mail program, so it wouldn’t be a big deal.
Apache Server is another popular software program that can replace other HTTP web server systems.  It is designed to work on Unix type systems, as well as Windows, NetWare and several other platforms.
For those that do not want to pay for Microsoft Windows, you can get Linux which is an operating system for your computer.  All the code is available for you to use as well as to modify and redistribute as you feel necessary.
If you do a lot of photo editing, and are coveting Adobe Photoshop but your wallet cannot handle it, you may want to look into Paint.net.  This is another free program that should do many of the same things as Photoshop, but will not cost you anything. Gimp is another open source photo editing software that works similar to Photoshop (even down to downloadable brushes) but doesn’t cost a thing.
With so many people posting videos to YouTube these days, you may need something that will do sound or video editing for you.  Instead of buying some expensive program, try downloading Audacity for sound editing, and using Windows Movie Maker for your video editing needs.
If you want an accounting program for business or personal use, before you run out and spend hundreds of dollars buying Peachtree or QuickBooks, check out TurboCash. It’s totally free and even integrates with OSCart and ZenCart, if you’re using it to track sales for your online webstore.
Remember- no software is perfect.  It’s important to be aware of your needs for integration, functionality and compatibility. The beauty of free software is that if you don’t like it, you didn’t waste any money on it.  The drawbacks… well, that’s for you to decide.  Research the products before you download, to be sure the publisher is reputable and that other users are happy with it.

Free Software Resources:

Open Office
GIMP
TurboCash
Mozilla Thunderbird

Wikipedia has links to several free open code software programs.

So- which free software alternatives are your favorite? Which ones do you love, which ones do you hate? Which one are you surprised that we left out?