Embrace the Tablet Revolution with These 4 iPad Tips

The iPad is an incredible piece of hardware that combines the computing power of a desktop with the (almost) mobility of a smartphone. Once you get the hang of it, it’s hard not to love the device’s simplicity and versatility.

Then again, we’re not born with iPads in our hands. The device’s basic interface and lesser quirks take some getting used to, particularly for users more comfortable with desktops, laptops or mainframes (just kidding). If you’re looking to embrace the iPad revolution without tearing your hair out in the process, follow these four simple iPad tips.

  1. Know the Difference Between “Suspend” and Reboot

Rebooting your iPad is the single most effective way to solve minor user experience problems, such as lags or freezes in open programs. Unfortunately, it’s easy to confuse the reboot function with “suspend” mode. To reboot, hold down the sleep/wake button until you’re shown the shutdown menu, then follow the instructions. Once the screen is completely black, wait a few moments and hold down sleep/wake until the Apple logo appears.

  1. Use Autocorrect If You’re in a Rush

Most old-school computing devices lack an autocorrect feature — a significant inconvenience for rushed typists, particularly when they’re used to thumbing out short notes and messages on their smartphones. Happily, the iPad does have autocorrect. Score!

  1. AirPlay Lets You Stream on Demand

If you’re within WiFi range of an Apple TV device, the AirPlay feature (denoted by a rectangle-triangle icon) lets you stream media from your iPad direct to your TV. Small screen, meet big screen!

  1. There’s a Find My iPad, Too

If you’re an iPhone user, you probably know about the “Find My iPhone” app. Maybe you’ve used it after misplacing your device a time or two. (No judgments here.)

Fewer people know that there’s also a “Find My iPad” feature. While it’s slightly more difficult to lose your iPad, you never know when you’ll leave it in a gym back, at the office or in your car and forget about it until the next time you need it. “Find My iPad” ensures that you don’t have to worry about a permanently lost device. And if the feature suggests that you’ve been the victim of theft, it can help the authorities track the thief’s movements.

Never Stop Learning

On the one hand, it’s hard to believe the iPad has been around since 2010. Despite the fact that it’s ubiquitous in the workplace and nearly so in the home, Apple’s sleek tablet still seems futuristic to folks used to laptops and desktops.

On the other hand, it’s hard to believe the iPad has only been around for a few years. During its short public life, the device has revolutionized personal computing — creating a host of new applications and opportunities for creative users.

One thing is clear: Until something better comes along, the iPad is here to stay — in continually updating form, of course. If you love the current version of the iPad, you’re likely to embrace subsequent models. Make sure you’re staying on top of things as new features and functions emerge.

What’s your favorite part of iPad ownership?

Keep Grandma Safe in the Cloud with These 4 Easy Strategies

The elderly face a host of special perils that don’t affect younger adults, including age-related illnesses and injuries, discrimination in the workplace, and social isolation. It seems like the list gets longer each year.

Cyber Threats Disproportionately Affect the Elderly

Cyber-perils represent a growing threat for America’s senior citizens. As technology advances, crooks are only too happy to use it to prey on older folks, many of whom lack the technological sophistication and fluency that comes naturally to “digital natives” — people born after the advent of personal computing and 24/7 connectivity. People over age 65 are more likely to be victimized than members of younger generations.

Fortunately, older adults aren’t helpless in the face of digital threats. Education and preventive action can dramatically reduce the incidence of online fraud, theft and other forms of abuse. If you’re looking to protect yourself or a loved one from the digital dangers facing America’s aging population, these four precautions can help.

  1. Beware of Bogus Email Communications

Seniors are particularly vulnerable to email “phishing” scams. Phishing emails appear to originate from a trusted sender, like a bank or government office, and typically ask the recipient to confirm a password or piece of vital information by responding to the email or clicking a link. Most institutions and agencies explicitly avoid sending such communications — so if you or a loved one receives one, simply delete it.

  1. Avoid Hybrid Telemarketing / Online Financial Scams

When crooks get a hold of seniors’ phone numbers, they can mount multi-front attacks. An email purporting to be from a grandchild or cousin in prison, the hospital, or some other compromised situation might be followed up by a phone call requesting a hefty sum for bail, medical bills, or other expenses. Such requests are often accompanied by warnings not to try to contact the person by regular means (i.e., their cell phone) due to the embarrassing or dangerous nature of the situation. No matter what’s said, though, it’s likely to be a lie.

  1. Purchase Antivirus and Anti-Spyware Software

One of the most effective ways to avoid online fraud, abuse and financial loss is to purchase and keep current antivirus and anti-spyware software. For a reasonable fee, such programs provide 24/7 protection and automatically update to adjust to new threats. While antivirus protection doesn’t guarantee against a sophisticated hack or novel infection, the alternative — a completely defenseless computer — is far worse.

  1. Change Passwords Frequently

Password protection is particularly important for seniors who use online banking and brokerage platforms, as well as those who store sensitive documents in the cloud. Bad actors who successfully relieve senior citizens of their passwords — whether through email phishing scams, covert hacking or direct contact — can wreak havoc on their finances and destroy their credit.

To reduce the risk of victimization, seniors should keep a different password for every portal and change them all each month. Random passwords that can’t be tied to a well-known fact or figure (such as kids’ or pets’ names) are generally more effective, too.

Online Threats Abound

These aren’t the only online threats faced by the elderly, of course. New perils are constantly coming to light, even as the “good guys” find and punish those responsible for perpetrating older scams. If you’re enjoying your golden years or have a loved one who’d like to do the same, remember this: The moment you stop paying attention to your online safety is the moment your safety is truly in jeopardy.

George Otte’s 10 Tips for Faster, Safer Tech This Year

When it comes to cleaning your computer of wasteful, performance-sapping programs and files, any time of year is a good time for a little spring cleaning.

As founder and president of Geeks on Site, a diversified onsite and remote tech support and computer repair service, George Otte, Miami computer expert, handles technological “spring cleaning” in every month of the year. Since getting into the computer repair business back in the early 2000s, Otte has learned that, given enough time, virtually everything that can go wrong with computer hardware and software eventually does.

Fortunately, Otte also knows how to get a computer back in fine form — and reduce the likelihood that similar problems will occur in the future. If you’re looking to give your computer or digital accessories a much-needed boost, follow George Otte’s top tech repair tips.

  1. Check Your Antivirus Subscription

An up-to-date antivirus subscription, which should include protection against other forms of malware as well, is your first line of defense against malicious threats that could sap your computing speeds and cause a host of other undesirable side effects.

George Otte recommends setting up your antivirus subscription to renew automatically on a monthly or annual basis. If you don’t already have a subscription, make sure you select one that offers protection against a wide variety of threats and automatically updates to account for new threats as they arise.

  1. Run Defragmentation

Defragmentation is a technical process that you can initiate from within your computer’s operating system. In layman’s terms, the goal is to consolidate the file structures and pathways on your computer’s hard disk to reduce the overall amount of work your computer needs to perform when executing routine tasks. Since full defragmentation can take hours and shouldn’t be interrupted, Otte recommends running your “defrag” overnight.

  1. Trim Unnecessary Startup Items

One of the best things about getting a new computer is the stunning speed with which it powers up from “off” or “sleep” mode for the first few weeks or months.

Unfortunately, that new computer speed doesn’t always last. According to Otte, aging computers fall victim to “slow startup syndrome” when their users allow programs to default-open during startup, wake, and operating system reboot cycles. To boost speed, only set programs to default-open at startup when absolutely necessary.

  1. Throw Out the Trash

When was the last time you emptied your operating system’s trash bin — or even deleted a file? Do yourself a favor and empty your trash / recycle bin during your next “spring cleaning.” It’s not like you’ll actually miss any of those files!

  1. Invest in Data and System Backup

As computer age, they become more vulnerable to data loss and system failure. If you don’t take steps to backup your important files and system functions, a crash could make it difficult or impossible to recover lost files — with potentially catastrophic personal and professional consequences. According to George Otte, physical (i.e. an external hard drive) and cloud (through a subscription service like Dropbox) backup are critical to protecting the integrity of your data.

  1. Add Working Memory

If quick fixes don’t seem to improve your computer’s run speed or performance, a lack of RAM could be the culprit. Talk to a computer repair expert to determine how much extra RAM your computer needs, then have a professional add it to your hard drive. You’ll be good to go in no time!

  1. Use Ad-Blocking and Spyware-Detection Programs

Ad-blocking and spyware-detection programs complement antivirus software to provide multi-layered protection and reduce the risk that your computer will fall victim to preventable performance drags. They can keep your personal information safe, too. George Otte recommends maintaining current ad-blocking and spyware-detection subscriptions with auto-update capabilities, if possible.

  1. Run Pending Updates

Many of George Otte’s clients have dozens or even hundreds of pending system updates that they’ve put off running. But automatically updating files is actually a great way to reduce system redundancy and free up much-needed disk space. Run updates overnight, when they’re least likely to interfere with your normal computing activities — and make sure to completely restart afterward.

  1. Manually Erase Files and Programs You Haven’t Used in a While

Emptying your trash bin isn’t the only way to relieve your computer of unnecessary or redundant files. During your spring-cleaning session, go through your program folders and clean out any files — or whole programs — that you no longer use. At the same time, group files that you still do use into logical folders for easy access — and easier deletion, when the time comes.

  1. Clear Your Cookies and Browsing History

According to Otte, making sure your Internet browsing cache is clear isn’t really about covering your online tracks. Clearing your cookies, browsing history and other stored browsing data is a great way to ensure that your browser isn’t hampered by unnecessary data.

Although the size of each piece of browsing information is inconsequential, heavy browsing over months or years can produce formidable caches that act as a drag on your browsing speeds. In fact, in the absence of an issue with your local network, a burdensome history is the single likeliest culprit for your subpar browsing speeds. If you don’t believe it, just watch how long it takes for your computer to erase all the files you’ve built up over the years.

Make a Day of It

George Otte is the first to admit that there aren’t always enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we’d like. That’s why he recommends setting aside a day every few months — the exact frequency depends on how much you use your devices and what they’re used for — for your very own high-tech “spring cleaning.” Put on some music, grab a cup of tea, and use this day to return your desktop, laptop and mobile devices to the peak of their potential.

When your friends and family members complain about their computers’ frustrating performance issues or grouse that they have to buy a new computer every 18 months, you’ll thank yourself for setting your devices up for success.



Image Attribution: ITU Pictures – Creative Commons license