Trails End Computer Club

Bulletin for the week of FEBRUARY 26, 2017

WEEKLY MEETINGS
EACH Wednesday 

Program or Lesson 9:00 - 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 MARCH 1, 2017 Meeting
 8:45 AM Set up your computer
 9:00 AM Lesson
10:15 AM One on One help

A Bit of This - A Byte of That

By Greg Skalka, President, Under the Hood Computer User Group, CA

www.uchug.org          president (at) uchug.org

 Though it is our “Lite” edition this month, I feel I should still put a few of my thoughts down for the benefit of our readers. I usually have a few ideas or tech concerns that probably would be of interest to our members, but can’t be developed into a full column (at least without some unreasonable padding).

 Updates seem to be a constant pain for me. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and one important security tip to protect yourself from cyber threats is to make sure your OS and applications are kept updated. With programs, browsers and operating systems all needing occasional security updates, it is often difficult to keep up. Depending on update settings in the program or OS, it is also sometimes not easy to know when new updates are available. Some software vendors make the update process easy, while for others it is a chore.

 Another problem is that I have so many devices that require updates. I currently have two laptops (Win7), four desktop PCs (two Win7, one Win10 and one remaining XP, which is not connected to my home network, so it does not get updated any more), a Chromebook, a Chromebit, an iPad Mini and two Android tablets. My wife has an iPhone, but its maintenance is her problem. Additionally, I have a number of other tech devices that need periodic software/firmware updates, including smart TVs and GPS receivers. In reality, almost any device that can connect to a computer or the Internet has the potential for an update. How does one keep up with it all?

 I also probably make life a bit harder for myself by avoiding the automatic update settings in Windows. I don't fully trust Microsoft to hold my best interests above theirs, so I subscribe to Ronald Reagan's policy of "trust but verify." I allow Microsoft to inform me of critical updates, but I choose when (and if) they are installed. I do want to keep my OS and Office programs updated, but don't want to be held up while waiting for an update to complete. If I'm in a hurry to turn off my laptop (like I'm getting ready to board an airplane) and I get the message "Updates in progress, do not shut down your computer," I'd be very unhappy. I also may not want every update Microsoft wants to force on me (like Windows 10). I try to check for Microsoft updates once a week, when I perform weekly computer maintenance on my regularly-used computers.

 I have noticed a problem with computers that don't get used often, like my wife's laptop. When there are a lot of accumulated updates to install (like more than a dozen), the process can take forever (like days). The best solution I've found so far is to select only a portion of the recommended updates (like 6-10) to install at a time; it seems to be able to choke down updates in smaller batches more easily.

 Even though Microsoft's free Win10 update period has ended, apps on my computers are still checking to see if I've upgraded (that pesky GWX, or Get Windows 10, ConfigManager), and Win10 is still listed as an update for my wife's computer. I need to stop this waste of my computer resources, and get rid of these apps and the downloaded but not installed Win10 update on my wife's PC. I recently subscribed to the "Ask Leo!" computer newsletter (askleo.com); a recent issue described how to do this. If only I could find the time.

 I have been happy with the update process for the Chrome OS. Google does not offer any options; when an update is available, it is automatically downloaded and installed the next time you boot. I have noticed the little up-arrow symbol (looks like a little house to me) in the system tray that indicates an update is ready for installation. I've never noticed any additional boot time for the update, nor seen my user experience change. I believe updates for the Chrome browser are handled in the same way.

 This type of forced update does potentially put your system at risk, as there does not appear to be a way to roll back a malfunctioning update. At least Microsoft sets a restore point.

 It is my understanding that Windows 10 also applies updates unconditionally, but I have not been running it long enough to have seen this. I have read horror stories of Win10 users having their computers reboot during critical work presentations due to this automatic update "feature." Not something I'd want to endure as a business computer user.

 I guess the only way to avoid failed updates (other than not updating) is to have multiple computing devices with different operating systems (massive redundancy). I kind of have that, but then I must accept that performing the update process will be a long one.


All About Streaming

By Pam Holland, President & Instructor, TechMoxie,   Pam (at) tech-moxie.com        www.tech-moxie.com

 Looking to detox from election news or just looking for more interesting content? Streaming is a great way to be in control of the what, where and when of what you view.

 What is ‘streaming’?

It is easiest to start with traditional TV viewing. There are two options: Cable or a digital antenna to pick up VHF or UHF channels. Streaming, on the other hand, is done via the Internet - the same service that brings you email, google, and access to websites.

 Why is it called streaming? Because it flows to our devices much like water streams through our pipes. Due to variations in the speed with which data comes over the internet, a little extra is stored (“buffered”) as we watch so that we see a steady stream of video. Otherwise what we are watching would start and stop with annoying frequency. Plus, the content is not downloaded and stored on our devices - it streams through and out.

 You can stream content simply by going to your computer. Go to PBS or YouTube on the web and click a video - this is streaming. But sitting in front of a computer isn't terribly cozy.

 Streaming from a TV - what equipment do I need?

Streaming can be done from any device that has an internet connection. Your computer, a tablet or a smartphone can easily stream video content. TVs can stream video if they are internet enabled. (“Smart TVs” are internet-ready).  Older (non-smart) TVs can easily be connected to the internet by attaching a relatively inexpensive device such as a Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, Google Chromecast or Apple TV (most available for under $50). Roku device

 Newer Smart TVs connect to the internet wirelessly over Wi-Fi, which is great if your TV isn’t near your internet router. Older Smart TVs might need to be plugged into your cable modem - much like computers needed to be wired before Wi-Fi. If you have an older Smart TV, you might want to consider purchasing a Roku-type device which will allow you to connect the TV to the internet to wirelessly.

 As Roku-type devices all connect to the internet wirelessly, you will need Wi-Fi. Newer modems include Wi-Fi capability. If you don't have a Wi-Fi modem, you can get one from your internet provider or an electronics store.

 How to get content?

There are many sources for great streaming content. Some are free, but many involve a monthly subscription such as Netflix or Amazon Prime. We think it easiest to set up these accounts using a computer. Once your TV is set up for streaming, you can access your subscriptions by turning on your TV and Roku-type device or accessing the Smart TV functions. Roku, for example, will display a menu of available subscription services. Click on the service you subscribe to (e.g., Netflix) and you will be prompted to enter your user name and password. (Happily, you do not need to enter these passwords each time you watch!)

 If you have cable TV, consider subscriptions that will supplement what you have on cable such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. For those who don’t have cable TV (or want to eliminate it), consider a subscription to SlingTV which offers packages starting at $20 that include cable news, sports channels and other cable channels such as Comedy Central. Even HBO and Showtime can now be purchased a la carte via a monthly subscription.

 One of the great advantages of these subscription services is that you can access them from any internet device. I often start watching a Netflix program on my computer and then continue later that evening from my TV. Netflix automatically saves where I left off.

 What about “cutting the cord”?

17Most of the cable companies bundle services (e.g., the Comcast's Triple Play) making your telephone and internet more expensive if you don't opt for the bundle.  Cutting the cord is best for those who are willing to eliminate their telephone (landline) service as well. Doing a careful cost comparison is necessary. But, if you pay for premium content via cable, you might do better to stream that content rather than pay for expensive cable upgrade packages. One huge advantage of streaming is that subscriptions are month-to-month and therefore can be cancelled and restarted at any time.  


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