Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of FEBRUARY 12, 2017

WEEKLY MEETINGS
EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:30 - 10:30 AM
One on One Help 10:30-?
In the Library


SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS:

If you would like to meet in a small group to discuss special computer related subjects or form a Special Interest Group lets discuss it.

Our bulletin is also available on line by visiting tecc.apcug.org and clicking on bulletin.


Our weekly program or lesson is intended
to be of interest to all computer users.
Following the program an allotment of time will
be available for one on one help to those
who want a better understanding of something done
 during the presentation.

Upcoming Events

Wednesday FEBRUARY 15, 2017 Meeting
 9:15 AM Set up your computer
 9:30 AM Lesson
10:30 AM One on One help

Device Transparency (DT)

By Eric Moore, President, Computer Users’ Group of Greeley, CO        Random Access Newsletter        ww.cugg.org        moore.e.s@att.net

 
As computer users increasingly have multiple devices—laptops, desktop computers, tablets, smartphones—on which they keep important data, being able to seamlessly access a file from any location or device becomes a challenge. Say if you are on a business trip with your laptop and smartphone, but realize you forgot to copy a report from your desktop computer to one of your mobile devices, you may find it a challenge to get what you need. Remote control software such as LogMeIn can allow you to remotely connect to the computer to download the file you need. Dropbox provides a means of sharing files with yourself and others through a cloud-based storage. VPNs and collaboration services such as Microsoft SharePoint are other possibilities for getting access to a file you need while away from home or the office.

 "Device transparency" (DT) is a concept which could provide a seamless means of managing your files from any of your devices. Whether you need to transfer a photo from a smartphone to your laptop, play a music file residing on a Mac PowerBook on your Android device, or access a Word document from home on your tablet computer, device transparency would make this all possible. In a paper published at http://www.brynosaurus.com/pub/net/devtransp.pdf, researchers with MIT and the Max Planck Institute for Software Systems describe how such an ideal service would function. (At the time of the paper’s writing, there was no service they were aware of that provided all of these features they propose.)

 To summarize, the service would provide a means by which "metadata"—information about your files—would be shared between your devices. Such information would include the file types, names, and on which devices the files are stored. Without you needing to be consciously aware of where a particular file  is located, you would be able to download the file from the device on which it is stored and open it on any other device you are  using (provided it has sufficient storage space). The only requirement is that the device that has the file you need is "linked" into the file sharing service, is powered on, and has an active Internet connection.  

 Adobe DC to some extent has such features, although it is geared toward working with PDF documents. Services such as Dropbox are available for multiple devices and operating systems, so they can to some extent meet such needs, provided you carefully configure the software on each device to share the files you need. One downside to sharing your files through Dropbox is that they must be uploaded to the "cloud"—which is simply a server that the vendor provides for storing your files. This may be a privacy concern, depending on the contents of the files, and could be costly in terms of the amount of storage space required (especially if you have a large music or photo collection). DT would mitigate this issue, as the files would not be stored in the cloud. It would also alleviate the need of every one of your devices synchronizing copies of all your files. Instead, the sharing of metadata would enable every device to be "aware" of your complete collection of files, so you can download what you need when you need it. Although the metadata may require many megabytes of storage, it would not be nearly so great as the storage space for the files themselves—especially high-fidelity photos, movies, and music files—which could require hundreds or thousands of megabytes of storage.  

 Device transparency is an interesting concept which could revolutionize how we work without our multiple computing devices. I am interested in seeing if such a service is developed sometime in the future. Depending how well-designed (easy-to-use) it is, and what measures are taken to protect users’ privacy, I might consider using such a service for my laptop, desktop PC, and tablet computer.


Windows 10: 3 by 3

By Cary Quinn, President, P*PCompAS (Pikes Peak Application Computer Society), Colorado,        Bits of Bytes        http://ppcompas.apcug.org        cary.quinn@gmail.com

This article was written as a quick start to the Pikes Peak groups’ discussion at their July meeting on whether one should decide to upgrade to Windows 10 prior to the advancing deadline of July 29th 2016 to get the free upgrade (for users of Windows 7 Sp2 or Windows 8.1).

My goal here is to provide to the-point answers for five questions, each from pro and con sides of the Win10 upgrade debate. The information provided here is a compilation of ideas from many P*PCompAS members and outside sources, and I thank them for the input.

Pro #1: I’m ready to upgrade to Windows 10 but want to be ready for anything... what should I do?

(For the mildly nerdly paranoid) Make a backup of your system. An image backup with a program like Acronis TrueImage is recommended, but you should be able to get by even with the backup and restore tools built into Windows 7 and 8.1.

Run Belarc Advisor (and save the report to a separate drive), CCleaner or Auslogic Registry Cleaner, Malwarebytes, your current virus scanner, and consider doing a de frag of the system partition.

Make sure all the system updates NOT including the update to Windows 10 have been run on your system, with whatever driver updates you feel okay with doing, and that you have safely shut down and restarted the computer at least once before continuing. (I recommend twice if you are on the paranoid side).

NOTE: I would recommend these steps even if you are not going to upgrade to Windows 10.

These are just good maintenance tips to have and use for any Windows computer, but the goal here is to facilitate the transition and hopefully make the process smoother as a result.

Once you have done (most of) these steps, then consider yourself ready to upgrade to Windows 10 at your convenience.

Con #1: I don’t want to upgrade my system to Windows 10... what should I do?

First, review the steps for the answer above; as noted, they still apply to you.

Second, download and install GWX control panel http://ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/ or Never10 https://www.grc.com/never10.htm and run either of those tools. Then as they say, fuggedaboutit. Those tools should

keep your computer from nagging you to do the update well past the July cut off.

It appears Microsoft is getting a little more enthusiastic about promoting Windows 10 as we get closer to the end of July deadline, so use of these tools may be more necessary than previously recommended just to be able to better ignore the upgrade notifications.

Pro #2: I haven’t been getting the upgrade notification...

Check the article https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/3081048 for troubleshooting tips. Or download the media creation tool from https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/softwaredownload/windows10/to create bootable media to try and upgrade from.

Con #2: I can’t upgrade my system because it is running Windows XP or the hardware is not compatible...

If you’re okay with still running Windows XP, keep in mind that while support from Microsoft itself is “officially” gone, many older computers will probably be run for years to come off the older OSes until they finally wear down or can no longer keep pace with the needs of their users. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make the maintenance steps given above part of your regular routine for those computers, along with other protection habits as recommended by your more safety conscious friends. Or consider the answer to con question #3.

Pro #3: What else should I consider when upgrading?

Microsoft is positioning Windows 10 as the foundation for a whole new ecosystem of products and services that tie in with the Xbox, mobile systems, and the users of Microsoft accounts. It should be increasingly more useful for people who are already invested in using current MS products and services.

Con #3: What are other alternatives?

On older hardware, and as a choice on newer PC-based stems, Linux is a strong contender as an alternative OS. There is still a bit of a learning curve, but distributions like Linuxmint or Ubuntu make it fairly easy to boot from a DVD or thumb drive and play around with it.

I would point to this article: http://

lifehacker.com/5993297/ubuntu-vsmint-which-linux-distro-is-better-forbeginners

as a good starting point for those choices. Or consider the Macintosh/Apple “eco-system” if a complete switch is in your budget. One advantage of the MacBook

Pro (if you can get one) is that they can run Windows thru boot camp for those who do not wish to switch completely.

Another choice more in the mobile space are the Android or ChromeOS based devices. Most are designed to be compatible with your primary system (or even a replacement in some cases) but a little research is warranted to get the most out of integration with your existing setup.

Since I am pushing a deadline of my own in finishing this article, I will save my brain cells for later feedback to continue with this. I hope what I have written so far proves useful to you.


Find Your Tech Support Match

By Nancy DeMarte, 1st Vice President, Sarasota Technology User Group, FL      Sarasota Technology Monitor        www.thestug.org        ndemarte (at) verizon.net

We all run into occasional problems with our computers and digital devices. Finding the solution can be a nightmare, especially if the problem is unique or you are not fluent in tech terms. There is a wealth of support available, but it’s a matter of finding the right kind of help to fit your kind of problem and your learning style. Let’s take a look at some of the popular support options and the kind of people who might benefit most from them.

Good options for people who learn best by reading:

Website support: A visit to the website most closely related to your problem can often give you the answers you need, even if your device is past warranty. If your computer isn’t working properly, for example, or you need to update drivers, you can go to the website of the computer’s manufacturer and search its Support pages. If you need help understanding how to use a certain feature of your device, you can go to the manufacturer’s site and download a User Manual for your model. Or you can try the Frequently Asked Questions list (FAQ). These are questions most commonly asked about the product with answers by support professionals. Most large sites also have Discussion forums where you can post a question or search through questions on your topic and find answers.

Google it: Some people say that whenever they have a tech problem, they type it into the Google search box and often find the answer. This approach is fine if you can sum up your issue accurately and choose the right website. Be aware that not all independent blogs or tech help sites have correct information. And in these dangerous times, not all are legitimate. Choose sites familiar to you, like pcmag.com or cnet.com; they are more likely to be reputable.

Good options for people who prefer to interact with a real person:

Tech phone support: This was the standard method in the early days of personal computers. It is still a viable option if you are experienced enough to be able to explain your problem and possibly make changes to your device while on the phone. The advantage is you get to speak with a real person. Disadvantages may include a long wait time before reaching the right person and being unable to understand unfamiliar accents.

Live Chat: If you don’t like phone support, you can still get personal support by trying Live Chat, which is found on many website support pages. Live Chat doesn’t involve talking; it’s done by typing, much like a text message, but in real time. You request a chat session by clicking a link and choosing or typing your problem category. A chat window opens and a support person types you a “Hello, my name is __. What can I help you with today?” message. You type back what you know about your problem, and he or she attempts to resolve it. The big advantage is you are interacting with a real person without having to think quickly, as you might on the phone. Plus, your person will help you narrow down your issue and, if not solve it, transfer you to someone who can.

Good options for those who learn best by seeing it done:

Video Tutorials:. If you like hands-on demonstrations, a good choice is the video tutorials on tech websites (Microsoft has excellent ones) or on YouTube, where you can search for videos on practically any topic and watch it being done and explained. A lesser known, but excellent website with many instructional videos on computer topics is a North Carolina site sponsored by Goodwill. Go to www.gcflearnfree.org/technology.

Remote assistance: These days it’s not uncommon for a phone support or live chat person to offer to access your computer remotely and make changes to it to resolve your problem. If you have initiated the request for help, and the support person is employed by a reputable company, you can be quite confident that your computer will not be compromised during this process. You will be asked for permission before the person begins remote assistance. You sit in front of your computer and watch what’s going on. You may be asked to participate, such as logging into your device yourself to protect your password. Be sure you have a good backup of your data prior to using this option.

If you’ve tried everything:

Take it to the shop: If you have what appears to be a serious hacking or malware breach or mechanical problem with a device, taking it to a reputable repair shop or having a tech person come to your home may be your best solution. Yes, it will cost you something, but if you’ve tried other options and still have an unworkable device, this may be the answer.

Good help is out there. Know your style and choose a support method that matches it. 


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