Computer Fixx blog is written by Glenn Caton, the owner and operator of Computer Fixx in Wilmington NC. He writes about computer tips, malware, computer questions and answers and general IT topics. If you have a specific question about something related to computers, feel free to email Glenn. He doesn’t answer questions by email but he does answer as many questions through the blog as he has time for.
I finally took the time to get rid of Time Warner cable and I couldn’t be happier. I’ve been a Time Warner cable and Internet customer for many long, expensive years. I’ve always thought their prices for cable TV were exorbitant, but I didn’t want to take the time to look for something different. But after having to call them once a year for the past five years to complain about the ever higher rates on my cable bill, I finally got fed up and turned in my cable box.
I knew I wasn’t interested in satellite TV. I’ve known a lot of people who don’t like the way their screens pixelate and freeze when it’s cloudy and rainy outside.
Up until recently, I wasn’t aware that you can get free digital TV channels just by putting up an antenna. I kept thinking these antenna’s were like the old fashioned ones people used to put on their roof before cable TV came out and how snowy TV reception sometimes was in those days.
I did a bit of research and finally decided to purchase a Clear Stream antenna from Best Buy. It cost $149.00. I also had to purchase a booster. The one I bought cost $69.00. The purpose of the booster is to increase the strength of the signal coming to the antenna. Mine was made by Motorola but there are several brands to choose from. I also had to buy coaxial cable. You have to have enough cable to run from the antenna through the wall and to the back of each TV on which you want to get the free channels.
As I live in a condo, I couldn’t put my antenna on the roof but I found out it works just as well in the attic of a home or condo. So I put the antenna together using the instructions provided in the box and then I mounted it in the attic to the rafters.
I went to tvfool.com and put in my zip code and this shows you all of the channels available in your area and the direction to point the antenna so you can receive these channels. I used an app on my phone as a compass to know which way to point the antenna.
The hard part of the installation was trying to fish coaxial cable from the attic inside the wall and through the wall to the back of the TV in each room. I wanted TV in three rooms so this process was quite lengthy. But worth it!
When the installation was complete, I turned on the TV, set the input to antenna, and then scanned for channels. If the antenna is pointed correctly, the channels will automatically be added.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that I get clear, digital reception on 15 channels, and best of all the major networks are in high definition. The channels you receive vary depending on where you live, but following is a list of the channels in my area.
3.1 – WWAY (ABC)
3.2 – WWAY (CBS)
3.3 – WWAY-CW
6.1 – WECT DT
6.2 – BOUNCE
6.3 – ESCAPE
24.1 – WILT LD
24.2 – WILT-ME
26.1 – WSFX-DT
26.2 – THIS TV
26.3 – GRIT
39.1 – UNC TV
39.2 – ROOTLE
39.3 – UNC EX
39.4 – NCCHL
If you aren’t a DIY person, you can Google OTA (over the air) antenna installers in your area and pay an expert to do it.
If you have a smart TV or a Roku box you can also add Netflix, Amazon, Sling, Hulu, Play Station Vue, and many other apps and stream an almost unlimited number of TV stations and movies. You pay for these apps but the channels that come in through your antenna are absolutely free!
I still pay $39.00 per month for Internet access, and I also have a Roku box through which I steam movies that I pay to rent, but my cable bill is a fraction of what it was before.
Happy Birthday Computer Fixx!
We’re celebrating our ninth year in business providing computer services in Wilmington, NC. Since our business opened on January 1, 2008, we’ve serviced thousands of computers, and we’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of the many customers, clients, and friends we’ve had the privilege to get to know and help over the years. Thanks for helping to make Computer Fixx a success!
Our customers are the reason we’re still in business, and that’s why we’re committed to providing the best customer service possible. We truly love what we do and find it very gratifying to help others.
Glenn & Susan Caton
November 30th 2016 is Computer Security Day. As so many people are victimized by online criminals these days, make sure you do the following to minimize the chance of having your identity, data, or money, stolen.
- 1. Make sure you have Windows updates enabled.
2. Install an antivirus and keep it up-to-date.
3. Backup your data often.
4. Use strong passwords that will be difficult to hack.
5. Remove unused programs from your PC to keep malware from getting into your computer through them.
6. Stay out of bad neighborhoods on the Internet.
7. Make sure Windows firewall is turned on.
8. Secure your home network to ensure strangers aren’t using it.
9. Don’t download anything from the Internet unless you completely trust the website.
10. Never call phone numbers that pop-up on your PC screen telling you to call because you have a virus.
11. Never allow anyone to remote into your computer that called you and told you that you have malware on your PC.
There is also a good post on this subject: 10 Ways to Secure Your Digital Life
It’s hard to believe it has already been a year, but Windows 10 launched globally on July 29 2015. During this first year Microsoft has allowed everyone to get a free upgrade to Windows 10. However, the Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends on July 29, 2016! So if you haven’t upgraded yet, you better hurry.
Many of my customers, who upgraded in the first few months of the release, complained about various glitches and bugs that kept them from appreciating their Windows 10 upgrade. There were sound issues, blue-ray movies wouldn’t play, and certain software wasn’t compatible, just to name a few problems.
A lot of people wisely waited until Windows 10 had been out for a few months before upgrading to give Microsoft a chance to work out glitches and bugs.
Even now, before upgrading make sure that any software you have installed is compatible with Windows 10. Other than that, it should be smooth sailing.
If you wait until after the dead line to update, it will cost you about $119.00.
This pop-up is one recent example of thousands of variations of scareware that permeate the Internet. In this case, a customer clicked on a link to what he thought was information on the death of Prince. As soon as he clicked on it, the screenshot shown to the left popped up telling him his computer was infected and that he needed to call the provided 800 number so a “Microsoft technician” could “fix” his computer. Fortunately, he didn’t call the bogus number.
These pop-up pages vary and appear to be authentic as they sometimes include things like the name of your Internet Service Provider, IP address, official looking seals, loud sounds, etc… There is always a toll free number for the victim to call. In the example I provided, they listed their phone number ten times. If you make the mistake of calling these criminals, they try to persuade you to let them take control of your PC remotely. Once you do, they can install a backdoor into your computer so they can log into your PC anytime they want. They have access to all of your files, and often in addition to the hundreds of dollars they try to get you to pay them for “fixing” your computer, they try to steal your identity or passwords to your email and banking information.
Some of the time, you can get rid of the pop-up by holding down the control, Alt, and delete keys simultaneously. Then click on “task manager” and end all tasks showing up there. Also clear your cookies and browsing history.
Question: I moved my desktop icons to different positions on the desktop so I can find them easier, but when I restart my computer they are back the way they were originally. How can I make them stay where I want them?
Answer: Right click on an empty spot on the desktop. Then click on “view.” Remove the check mark from “auto arrange icons.” Now arrange your icons the way you want them. When you restart your computer, your icons will stay the way you arranged them.
Also, if you notice a desktop icon goes missing, and the icon wasn’t deleted or moved from the desktop by you, then right click on an empty spot on the desktop. Then click on “refresh.” This will usually make the icon show up again. If this doesn’t work, right click on the desktop and select “view.” Put a checkmark in the “auto arrange icons,” then uncheck the “auto arrange icons” and move your icons back where you want them to be. The missing icon should now show up on the desktop.
Sometimes desktop icons seem to vanish because your desktop is too crowed and the icons overlap so you can’t see them all. Clean up your desktop by deleting short cut icons that you aren’t using, so that your icons don’t overlap.
You can also create a folder on the desktop and name it “unused icons.” Then drag and drop the icons you don’t use very often into this folder. This will free up space on your desktop and still give you easy access to the seldom used icons.
I’ve had two of my customers in the last couple of weeks tell me that someone attempted to con them out of money by pretending to be from Duke Energy. This scam has been going on for a year or two now, but it appears to be worsening. The Duke Energy website reports that this type of swindle more than doubled in 2015.
One of my customers said she was called and told she hadn’t paid her electric bill and that someone from Duke Energy was on the way over to her business to turn off the electricity unless she allowed them to charge her credit card for $450.00 over the phone. Luckily, she knew that her electric bill was automatically deducted each month from her bank account, so she decided to go in person to Duke Energy and make sure there hadn’t been a mistake and to report the incident.
My other customer was also called by someone claiming to be from Duke Energy, but he just hung up on them and found the phone number for Duke Energy online and called them.
The Duke Energy website says that customers in five states have been targeted by these criminals and that customers have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars to these con people.
Find out more at: Duke Energy Scam Information
It’s surprising how many computer glitches and problems right themselves if you simply restart/reboot your computer. It’s the first step you should take if your PC freezes up or starts malfunctioning in some way.
When you restart your computer it resets everything, so glitches in programs or applications you were using will be fixed.
To restart your computer, press the start button in the bottom left corner of your monitor and then click on restart. If that’s not possible, press the power button in and hold it for several seconds until you hear the machine turn off.
It should be the first thing you try before doing any other troubleshooting. Many people resist restarting because it takes a few minutes for the computer to get back up and running, but it can save you a lot of time if you try that first.
Restarting works for all kinds of electronic devices including routers, all phones, tablets, and software. Make it a rule to reset it, close and reopen it, reboot it, or restart it before trying other things to solve your problem.
It’s surprising how often customers don’t have their important computer files backed up. I’ve seen countless people lose all of their important documents, pictures, and music for good because they never bothered to make a back up.
Hard drives fail a lot more often than people realize, and though there are online companies that you can send a failed hard drive to so they can retrieve your data, it’s extremely expensive and they can’t always get all of the data back even then.
There are a couple of ways to back up your computer files. A simple way is to purchase an external hard drive and transfer copies of your data onto it. These drives are huge and hold 1TB, 2TB, 3TB and even more. Then every so often, you add your new files to the drive. The only downside to this method is that you have to try to remember to add your new files manually every so often.
The other way to back up your computer data is to sign up with one of the online data back up companies. Carbonite is one such company but there are several of them. For a few dollars a month, these companies will back up and store all of your data on their servers. The advantage of using the online method is that you don’t have to remember to back up new data. These companies automatically save your files a few times a week. It runs in the background and you don’t have to do anything.
That way if disaster strikes and your hard drive crashes, you can log into your account and find copies of all your files safely stored there and you can then transfer them to a new computer or back onto your old PC after you get your hard drive replaced.
Some people use an external hard drive and Carbonite. Redundant backups add an extra layer of protection. Data backup is crucial. Don’t put it off. It’s a cheap insurance policy against disaster.
Ever since Windows 10 was first released, a little blue box pops up on the bottom right side of your screen and asks you to upgrade. There’s no way to turn off the pop-up notification. This is Microsoft being pushy and trying to force as many people as possible to upgrade.
However, Windows 10 has caused plenty of bugs and glitches for many people who chose to get the upgrade. For example, certain special software that people use isn’t compatible with Windows 10, blu-rays won’t play on Windows 10 unless you buy a third party piece of software, numerous people have reported sound problems, and track pad problems. Some people who chose to get the free upgrade have found their computer gets stuck in a permanent loop.
Before you decide to upgrade to Windows 10, especially if you use your PC to run a business, it’s best to make sure that software you can’t do without, is compatible with Windows 10.
Microsoft has announced a major upgrade to Windows 10 that will be released in November which will supposedly fix a lot of glitches and bugs that people have been complaining about. If you don’t already have Windows 10, it might be wiser to wait until after this update to ensure you have a smoother transition.
Once most of the glitches are worked out, Windows 10 will be a great operating system, but a lot of my customers who upgraded early have had problems and wish they had waited before upgrading. If your PC is working fine, and you really don’t have the time or patience to solve upgrade problems, I’d wait for a while longer yet.