These days, people spend the majority of their time on the computer inside of a web browser, whether that's Chrome, Firefox, Safari, or Edge. Here are some quick tips for you to get maximum speed so that you can take care of computing tasks and get back to enjoying the great outdoors!
The pandemic has caused issues with supply chains across the globe, and we are reminded just how complex the computer creation process is, how much human power it takes to create a computer, and the need for rare earth metals mined and refined from Mother Earth.
Both Windows and Mac manufacturers have been affected by delays, with some new computer orders taking weeks or even months to deliver. Computer repair part availability has also been affected. The new computer supply crunch is especially tough right now because of the combination of covid lockdowns and the recent Chinese New Year in February, when Chinese workers took multiple weeks off from work.
It's still possible to walk into a store like Best Buy and walk out with a new computer, but build quality should carefully considered. Many lower-cost, consumer-grade PCs have shown increased defect rates. For increased reliability, consider investing in a business-class PC that has higher quality components to stand the test of time. Examples of reliable computer lines include Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell OptiPlex, and Apple Mac.
Considering a new computer and want expert guidance? We can help you every step of the way.
It's become tougher than ever to find free high-quality antivirus apps for Mac & PC, as both Sophos and Bitdefender discontinued their free offerings at the turning of the year, and are now asking for payment to continue providing antivirus protection.
Sophos Home Antivirus in particular is an app that we have been recommending to clients due to its simplicity and effectiveness, but that protection now costs $60/yr (though it is often on sale). If you have previously installed the free version of Sophos, you can click on the shield icon in the menu bar at top of your screen (Mac) or in the lower-right corner of the taskbar (PC) to check your protection status. If you decide to say goodbye to Sophos, here are instructions on how to uninstall for both Mac and PC.
An alternative is the highly recommended Malwarebytes. Just keep in mind that while the free version gives you the ability press a button to scan for and remove malware that is already on your computer, active scanning to proactively protect your computer from viruses requires a paid license (typically $40/yr, though often on sale).
At this point, we do not have a recommendation for a free antivirus that provides active scanning capabilities on Mac. We used to recommend Avast, but their misleading sales tactics led us to withdraw the recommendation. For Windows users, the built-in Windows Defender provides a basic antivirus with active scanning capabilities.
We will continue evaluating the market so that we can provide quality advice on protecting your computer and personal information.
As I take stock of the year, even with all of the hardships surrounding covid and the challenges of keeping community strong when it is so difficult to be in physical presence with each other, I am grateful for the gifts that this year has given. This month marks 9 full years since I launched Asheville Digital Lifestyle, and I am grateful to have a stable, successful business that has allowed me to take a passion and use it to make a positive impact on so many people in Asheville and beyond.
Thank you to my clients who not only have enabled this business to thrive, but who are also the foundation for my ability to provide low- and no-cost services to those in greatest need in our community, in collaboration with the Buncombe County Council on Aging, Mountain Bizworks, and Helpmate.
There is so much need in our community right now, but also much opportunity for people to join together and give of our own resources to those whose basic needs are not being met. I have recently started collaborating with BeLoved Asheville on their innovative Street Pantry project, using repurposed newspaper boxes to provide essential resources. It was exciting to celebrate their 15th street pantry, on Charlotte Street across from City Bakery. Street pantries are now set up across Asheville and in surrounding communities at high traffic areas such as bus stops to provide basic necessities such as nonperishable ready-to-eat foods, winter necessities like hats and gloves, and basic hygiene and first aid supplies.
For this project to thrive, pantries must be filled every day by volunteers. While it's possible to volunteer directly with BeLoved to formally contribute to a street pantry, the genius of the idea is that anyone can take it upon themselves to be a "Random Filler" and spontaneously add their own gifts to a street pantry. It's a direct way to help those in greatest need. Check out this pantry supply list, and keep your eyes peeled for a street pantry near you.
Asheville Digital Lifestyle
It's a good time to update Microsoft Office, but wait a bit for Windows 11
On October 5, Microsoft officially released both Windows 11 and Microsoft Office 2021 (Home and Business versions). We’re here to break down the essentials of what to know. Windows 11 puts a new coat of paint on Windows 10, changes how the Start menu works, and provides some additional features for people who multitask and keep several windows open on the screen at once.
Windows 11 is now available for purchase on new computers, and is also available as a free upgrade for some computers that are about three years old or newer. Most people don’t need the features that Windows 11 offers, but it’s important to know that Microsoft has also announced that Windows 10 will receive security updates through October 2024. Three years sounds like a long time, but if you bought a computer with Windows 10 last year, you will need to upgrade that computer to Windows 11 at some point, or else your computer will stop receiving updates in 2024. At this point, nobody except the most curious people should be upgrading to Windows 11, since the operating system is so new and thus filled with unexpected glitches. But if your computers supports it, it’s probably a good idea to upgrade to Windows 11 within the next year. Best to give Microsoft a few months to iron out the glitches first.
Click here and scroll to the bottom for the PC Health Check (look for the blue heart symbol) to determine if your current machine will work with Windows 11.
If you’re buying a new Windows computer, and you buy one with Windows 11 pre-installed, you can rest assured that your computer will have many years of support to come, and not be limited by Windows 10’s 2024 deadline. As always, if you use older or custom apps on your Windows computer, double-check that those apps are designed to work in Windows 11 prior to upgrading to the new operating system.
Now, let’s look at Microsoft Office 2021. This is the new version of Office for both Mac and PC that is the “buy once” version of Office and will be supported until October 2026. If you have been waiting to buy a modern version of Office for your computer, now is a good time to buy as you will have five years where Microsoft will continue to provide fixes and security updates for the Office apps. Of course, if you are an Office 365 subscriber (if you pay monthly or annually for the privilege of using Microsoft Office) you already have access to the version of Office that has the same features as Office 2021, and upgrades will happen automatically.
Click here to learn more about Office 2021.
Buying a new computer? Upgrading your software? Asheville Digital Lifestyle is here to help!
Click here to book an appointment.
ADL Tech Tip: Lending Books
Did you know that you can loan your Kindle books to other Kindle users? That’s right, there’s a digital equivalent of lending your dog-eared copy to a loved one. It doesn’t work on all Kindle books, but give it a try! Click here to set it up.
And don’t forget about Libby, the app available for iPhoneand Android that can send loaned books to Kindle users, so you can take advantage of your library system even when using an electronic reader.
Help for domestic violence and cyberstalking victims
Announcing a new collaboration! We are now providing volunteer services for Helpmate, the nonprofit that helps people who may be in a domestic violence situation or who are concerned that they are being cyber-stalked. We are proud to do our part to provide answers to folks about their computers and smartphones, and help people to implement personal Cybersecurity best practices.
Eero offers Eero Secure to keep you safe from ads and malware.
A great wi-fi router not only has wide range and reliability, but can help protect you from viruses and ads.
Eero's routers offer a security service, Eero Secure, that provides ad blocking and malicious website protection. Ad blocking prevents ads from entering your computer, and blocks clicks on advertising links. Website protection automatically blocks malicious links that you may accidentally click on, and prevents redirects from hacked websites.
Experts recommend a layered approach to computer security, and Eero Secure, combined with a quality antivirus app on your Mac or PC, is a great example if you spend the majority of your web browsing time connected to your home wi-fi router. The service is offered for $30 a year with Eero wireless routers.
Want better security, range, and performance from your router? We can help!
Click here to book an appointment.
In memory of Muckaluck
Muckaluck passed away on a peaceful summer day.
Click here to see Muckaluck's memorial photo gallery.
Jensen gives a thumbs-up to in-person appointments.
After more than a year of successfully working remote-only to solve problems over the phone with the aid of TeamViewer, we are beginning to offer in-person services once again. Please note that our automatic online scheduler will continue to offer appointments for service by phone only.
At this time we ask that you wear a mask while we are in the same room together.
Please contact us by email, phone, or text message if you would like to schedule in person service. Here's the number: (828) 354-0371.
Click here to book a virtual appointment.
ADL's new pricing policy
Asheville Digital Lifestyle has a new pricing policy and pricing webpage, and we are happy to share that with you.
Click here to see our new pricing policy.
Salutations from Muckaluck
What’s the difference between a “Consumer PC” and a “Business PC?” Quite a lot, actually. These are industry insider terms that denote the quality and price of a Windows computer. While all Macs are built with high-quality internal components, with the PC market, some Windows PCs are quite high quality, while others are made with cheaper components.
How can you tell the difference? It’s usually evident in the model name of the computer. For example, with Dell, the “Inspiron” computers are less expensive, lower quality machines, while their “Latitude” cost more, but have higher quality components and are more likely to last longer and more reliably. Most computers sold at retail stores like Best Buy are Consumer machines, while Business machines are typically purchased directly from the manufacturer.
Here at Asheville Digital Lifestyle, we want to set you up for long term success. We have seen several clients have frustration after purchasing a lower quality machine that did not work well, so when making a recommendation, we always recommend a Business machine for maximum reliability and enjoyability of your technology. With our White Glove New Computer Service, we can even take care of the purchasing and setup process for you!
Worldwide computer chip shortages are causing problems in many industries. For example, factories making cars are having to shut down their assembly lines because the computer chips that are essential to the cars' operation are on back order.
This is also affecting the computer market, as all computer manufacturers are experiencing delays in production that can lead to weeks or even months of waiting before the computer you ordered is delivered to your doorstep. Yes, you can walk into your local big box store and walk out with a computer, but your choices will be greatly reduced, and you may not be able to buy exactly the computer you were looking for (higher quality “Business” computers are are on especially long back order these days).
What does this mean for you? Consider what you would do if your computer broke down and needed to be repaired or replaced. Repairs are also often delayed due to the combination of parts also being in short supply (covid has hit all supply chains) and the fact that people are relying on their technology more than ever, leading to long lines and waiting at computer repair shops.
One way to look at it is that computer chips are "the new toilet paper." Click here to read more.
For people who consider their computers essential, it’s not a bad idea to have a backup computer in waiting. If you have an older computer and are almost ready to upgrade, it may be worth it to buy a new machine before the old one breaks down, knowing that if the new computer ever needs to go into the shop, you can use your old one in a pinch. Having an extra computer available can make all the difference when disaster strikes.
Basic maintenance of your computer will also reduce the chances of a big problem happening. Would you like us to take a look at your computer situation and give you advice, customized for you? We would be happy to do it.
Click here to set up an appointment.
Verizon has just announced that they are selling AOL & Yahoo to a private equity financial firm. While these beleaguered tech brands have exchanged hands multiple times over the years, they were most recently owned by a well-known, publicly-facing company, which put a certainly amount of responsibility on Verizon to do right by the customer's of these venerable brands. Now that ownership is being taken by a private equity firm, we can expect to see a degradation of services from these companies, whether it's more problems with the classic "AOL" app that many are used to, or the email addresses tied to these accounts including "Bellsouth" and other email accounts that were integrated into Yahoo's portfolio years ago.
Our recommendation? Don't wait for these services to get worse, as that is what usually happens after this kind of acquisition. Now is a great time to switch providers to a more reliable company, whether it's Apple, Microsoft, Google, or a more privacy-centric email service like FastMail
Jensen Gelfond is the Owner Asheville Digital Lifestyle, helps people use their technology more effectively and joyfully.