Frequently Asked Questions
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1. About Us
Practical Help for Your Digital Life® – since 1996 – translating geek-speak into clear and concise advice, giving easy-to-understand how-to’s and instructions about consumer technology, and helping folks deal with the complexity of our high-tech digital world.
Use us to get clear answers to the most common questions about technology. Ask us about your own technology and get just the right answer to solve a problem, get your technology working better for you, and protect yourself in the digital world. For over 19 years we’ve been providing trustworthy information, detailed step-by-step advice, printable tip sheets and more!
Why trust us? We have been working successfully in the consumer tech support field for over 19 years. Most of our clients have been with us for a decade or longer – satisfied customers! We help folks just like you in 120 countries around the world and have answered thousands of questions from people in all walks of life – from the tech-savvy to folks who are new to consumer technology, from young children (and their parents!) to 90+ seniors. We secure our website against hackers with the best tools available, and all information is encrypted between your web browser and our web servers. We’ve provided our bona fides’, independent organizations where you can verify our authenticity – at the bottom of every page (clickable links to Better Business Bureau, Comodo SSL, Sitelock, Authorize.net, Paypal and the Tyson’s Regional Chamber of Commerce). Or check us out at LinkedIn – we have a company page plus over a dozen personal recommendations by real people listed in Chris Gardner’s profile. We’re even listed in Dun & Bradstreet. We work hard to preserve our positive reputation as the best place on the web to go for practical help on consumer technology.
Your Tech Coach is Chris Gardner, who has wide and deep experience with consumer technology and a deep passion for helping folks solve problems. First a communicator, and close second a technologist, Your Tech Coach doesn’t just solve problems, but helps you learn to solve the next problem without help. Our goal is an educated consumer, one who is comfortable dealing with the consumer technology that you already own, and new technology you buy. Chris brings to the table a unique blend of understanding and plain-speak – getting to the point quickly and giving exactly the right information you need without information overload!
Our tagline “Consumer Tech Support for the Rest of Us” reflects our target – you! Fortune 500 companies, businesses and well-heeled individuals have tech support they can count on, but what about the rest of us? Because dedicated tech support is so expensive, we exist to fill the gap for normal people of normal means. And don’t hesitate to ask Chris the hard questions, he relishes a challenge!
2. How to Use this Website
You have questions, we have answers! The first way is to browse our library – we have answers to the most common questions people just like you ask us, and a lot of really sticky questions and answers too! We have several ways you can find your answer – on the right-side of every page is a sidebar with these methods:
- Search for any words or phrases by typing them into the box provided. Then click the Search button.
- Pick a topic by clicking on any of the words or phrases in our “Tag Cloud”. This is a list of all the keywords that go with the articles in the Library. The larger the text size of each tag, the more articles there are for that tag. When you click on a tag, you get a customized list of all the articles for that particular keyword. We’ve assigned keywords by type of person as well as type of technology.
You can quickly get a personally customized list in these different ways so you spend less time searching! And we work hard to make the information that you see both concise and complete, plus geared for how you think and work. We’re constantly re-looking at our articles and updating information, pruning unneeded details, and slimming down to the essentials. You’ll see articles that have:
- Videos – these are usually 1-3 minutes long and show you how to solve a problem, walk you through the features of your technology, or give advice on a wide variety of topics.
- Tip Sheets – these are usually 1-2 page Adobe PDFs that you can view or print with very brief but complete, step-by-step instructions.
- Text and Pictures – all our articles have simplified explanations and step-by-step instructions, some with images and some with simple animations.
If you don’t find your answer in our library, click the Ask Your Tech Coach link on the main menu. You can type anything you want into the form. If we need more information, we’ll email you with specific diagnostic questions. The more info you give us, the better and faster we can help you. When we answer your question, you’ll see it in the Library, and we’ll email you with a link to the article.
While we do use advertising to earn revenue and stay in business, we take great care to keep our advice and information objective. And we keep advertising as innocuous as possible – no in-your-face popups everywhere. Under no circumstances will we accept any advertising or other revenue based on our assessments of consumer technology, so you can know that our advice is unbiased.
We offer two additional services:
- 1-on-1 Tech Support: You can schedule a time to work directly with Chris Gardner to help you with your consumer technology problem. While not free, this may be the best way for you to get the help you need, when you need it. Since this advice website does not charge a membership fee, we cannot guarantee that we will answer every question that’s sent in (we currently have over 29 thousand visitors in 102 different countries!), so 1-on-1 service makes sure your question is answered. We can use just about any communication method, from plain old telephone to video teleconferencing (Google Hangout, Apple Facetime, Skype, etc.), and we can even (with your permission) remotely connect to your computer for direct, hands-on help. Rates are negotiated between you and Your Tech Coach – some problems are deceptively complicated, while others seem humongous to you, but only take us a few minutes to resolve. In addition to regular tech support, we offer coaching, advice and guidance, and for clients in our area (Washington DC metro including Northern Virginia and suburban Maryland) we can provide additional services (see this page).
- Email Newsletters and Occasional Email Alerts: You can easily sign up with just an email address to get on our distribution list. It’s completely free, and you get a weekly digest of Practical Help delivered to your inbox. Occasionally, we will send out alerts on consumer technology issues we feel are important for you to know. At the bottom of every email is a simple Unsubscribe link which instantly removes you from our list. We subscribe to the tenets and fully comply with the CAN SPAM Act and will act promptly to remove your email from our lists if you unsubscribe or our messages are rejected by your email service or blocked in any way. For your security, your subscription page can only be accessed from the links in our newsletter emails. And we don’t use your email address for anything else, nor sell it to 3rd parties!
Throughout this website you’ll see words and terms that are in a different color than the text around them, and words or terms that are underlined. These are all clickable links to other pages or websites. Just click or tap on the link to open that page or site. You’ll also see words and terms with a dotted line under them. These aren’t clickable, but the dotted line tells you there’s a definition for the word or term. Just hover your mouse or tap on them and a definition will pop up to help you understand what I’m talking about. Our readers tell us that this is better than having to go to a glossary to look up definitions.
If you’d like to share any of the information on this website with your social network, please use the sharing links at the bottom of each article. You can also share our website with anyone from your status update or tweet – just type in our main website address www.PosiTek.net. And thanks in advance for sharing!
And feel free to leave a comment on any article, we’ll try to respond as quickly as possible. You can ask a follow-on question, share your own take on the subject of the article, or leave just about anything you’d like to share. Please note that we do work aggressively to stop spam and off-topic commenting. As such, we may remove any website hyperlink you’ve left (a standard tactic for the ubiquitous link farmer). We may also delete parts of your comment that aren’t relevant, and anything we find objectionable. However we won’t edit your words otherwise. We review every single comment before allowing it to show on the website, and block hundreds of spammy comments monthly – we have an automated tool that blocks objectionable comments automatically so we don’t have to look at every single one or there’d be no time to write articles! That said, this website is primarily a blog, not a discussion forum (we tried the forum website type in the past and it didn’t work). But we’re more than happy to have a conversation with you, so please use the comments or ask a question!
Lastly, this website is primarily a way for you to ask questions about consumer technology and get answers to your burning questions: how to solve a problem, how to perform a task, how to configure, etc. We don’t profess to know everything, but are really good and figuring out the answer and giving it to you in plain English!
3. Do I have to pay for access to your videos or advice?
Not anymore! All our videos and advice posts are free to watch and read by anyone visiting our website. You can also watch our videos on various channels like YouTube, Vimeo and iTunes. We switched from a membership model to advertising-supported in September 2014 in response to our readership’s desires. This has two implications for our viewers:
- You will see advertising on this site, delivered by 3rd parties. We cannot control what companies advertise through our website, that’s handled by our advertising supplier. We do not endorse any advertiser on this website, unless we have independently tested and recommend software, hardware or services, which is incidental and completely independent from advertising on our website. All ads have the word ‘Advertising‘ at the top.
- You may ask a question and not see an answer in our Library. Since you are not paying us (e.g., membership fee) for use of this website, we cannot guarantee that we will respond to your questions (unless you choose to use our 1-on-1 Tech Support service). But we will try to be as responsive as we can to your question:
As the number of questions grows beyond our ability to keep up, we cherry-pick which questions we answer – and will be looking in two directions: 1) sticky problems that everybody else throws their hands up on, and 2) popular questions that a lot of viewers and readers are interested in. The first direction fits with our persona of being the place to go for answers to hard questions, and the second to help make this site useful to as many people as possible. After all, this website is watched in every single English-speaking country in the world, and a several others as well!
If you chose our 1-on-1 Tech Support service, your question(s) will be answered as quickly as we can.
4. How does 1-on-1 Tech Support Service work? If I am not satisfied, can I get a refund?
Your Tech Coach keeps regular business hours – sorry, we are not a 24/7 ’emergency room’ operation. You can request an appointment here and we will contact you to arrange one. At the appointment time, Your Tech Coach will contact you and discuss your needs, and then tell you how much it will cost for his help. That fee is based on the scope of work to be performed. Once you pay that fee (online using Paypal, Intuit GoPayment or Stripe), Your Tech Coach will help you to resolve the issue. Should you decide to change the scope of work, you may need to pay an additional fee and/or schedule a follow-on appointment. Appointments are made during the 9am-5pm, Mon-Fri. in the Eastern US time zone.
In general, rates are based on Your Tech Coach’s going rate of $200US per hour, however some problems can be resolved with a semi-automated solution. For example, removing spyware may require a multi-hour scan of your system. Your Tech Coach can initiate that scan, but need not remain online to its completion, but leave you with you instructions on what to do when the scan completes. During Your Tech Coach’s working hours, you will have access to instant messaging or text chat for any follow-on questions (rates may or may not apply, depending on the situation and your needs).
We strive for complete customer satisfaction, but recognize that there may be expectations or external factors that are beyond our control. In general, please understand that you are paying for our work effort, just like you pay for a lawyer’s advice – losing a trial does not mean the defendant doesn’t have to pay the lawyer! That said, our refund policy is outlined in our Terms of Service. And our goal is to have very satisfied clients – referrals are our best compliment!
5. How will you protect my account and credit card information, I'm concerned about privacy and online identity theft.
For payments, we use 3rd party payment processors, so we never have access to your credit card or other personal information outside of your email address and name (plus whatever other information you choose to share with us) unless you choose to have us process payment by phone. Our payment processors are in full compliance with established PCI DSS requirements for online financial transactions. When you make a payment to us, you go to the payment processor’s website for the online transaction. For your safety and peace of mind, you should clear your web browser’s cache (usually by closing the web browser) after the transaction is complete. If we handle your payment by phone at your request, we don’t write anything down but do exactly the same thing you’d do: go to the payment processor’s website and type in the information as you dictate it to us. Once the transaction is complete, we close the web browser so there’s never any of your credit card information left on our computers.
Our website is secured with industry-standard Secure Socket Layer (SSL) to encrypt all information between your computer and our web servers. Although we don’t process your credit card on our website, we still use SSL because we believe in maximizing your security. If you sign up for our 1-on-1 Tech Support service or our newsletter, we do maintain your email address, name and any optional information you choose to share with us on our web servers, secured with the best security products and services available in the industry.And we will never share any of that information with anyone else!
The greatest risk to your privacy and identity theft is in your own hands. Everywhere online, you should protect your username and password and never share it with anyone. For websites that have a username, you should choose one that is not your email address. And you should use a password that’s not easily guessable and is not used on other websites. We recommend a good password manager program, like 1Password or LastPass.
6. What do I do if I change email addresses? I can't update that myself on your website.
If you change email addresses, simply sign up for our newsletter using the new address. If you still have access to the old address, you can click the Unsubscribe link in any email sent to that address. If you no longer have access to that account, no worries! At some point, our system will recognize that the email account is defunct and we’ll remove it automatically.
7. How do I find the answer to my question?
If you used the Ask Your Tech Coach form or sent email to Support@PosiTek.net to ask a question, your answer will be posted in the Library, once we’ve answered it (we’ll alert you by email). Since you aren’t paying us for answering questions, we cannot guarantee that we will answer it, but we try to answer as many questions as possible. If you really need an answer, please choose our 1-on-1 Tech Support service.
Please note that if we need more information from you to get you just the right answer, we’ll correspond with you via the email address you used to ask your question. And please understand that we research to find exactly the right answer to your question, so our service is not instantaneous. We thank you for your patience!
8. I posted a question on your website, and haven't seen an answer, what gives?
We try to answer as many questions as we can, however we cannot guarantee that we will answer yours. If you need an answer, please use our 1-on-1 Tech Support Service.
Answers aren’t instant, you may have given us a particularly complicated question, even if it doesn’t seem complicated to you. We research to get you just the right answer, so it may take a day or two to get you the best answer. Please be patient, thanks! Once we have answered your question, it will appear in the Library, and we will email you a link.
Or, we may have emailed you asking for additional information and you haven’t responded – please check your email (especially the junk email folder).
9. My web browser shows your website as containing unsecured parts, even though it is a secure website. What should I do?
Since our website has a mix of strictly https://… (content secured by SSL) and links to http://… (normal, unsecure content) websites along with advertising, your web browser may show PosiTek.net as being only partly secure. This is a normal behavior of modern web browsers, and nothing to worry about – at least for our website!
In particular, some versions of Microsoft Internet Explorer on some computers will continue to throw up warnings at you (using the yellow bar at the bottom of the window) – we recognize this as an annoyance, but really can’t do anything about it. Our recommendation is that for Microsoft Windows users, you choose an alternative web browser, such as Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox – neither will give you the annoying yellow box and button to click. But even for Internet Explorer, if you just wait a few seconds, that yellow box at the bottom of the window should disappear – and you’ll still be able to see everything on our website.
We cannot control how web browser security is designed, but we can and do design our web services to work with every major web browser. Everyone is working to stop spam, identity theft, etc., and sometimes user accessibility is compromised in the name of security, often by your internet service provider. Regardless, rest assured that our site is both secure and safe for you to use. You can click on any link in the website and know that it won’t take you someplace unsafe – our site is scanned continuously for malware and bad links, (see the Sitelock certification in the sidebar), and we will always keep everything on the website squeaky clean for your use.
One exception to the above is advertising on our site. These blocks are not under our control, and it’s remotely possible that clicking an ad will take you someplace unsafe. Before you click on something, check to make sure you know where it’s taking you!
We do give our members links to websites that are not secured, since not doing so would limit the Practical Help we provide. And of course, we can’t be responsible for any website we don’t control. Once you leave our website, you are on your own!
A quick note about advertising: You will see advertising on our website, with links that take you away from our website. That’s one way we pay for the cost of providing you with Practical Help. We don’t control what ads are displayed, but do clearly mark ads as such. Anything you see right after the word “Advertisements” is an ad, not anything we’ve specifically reviewed or recommended. Our ads are provided by Google AdSense, and Google is pretty good about matching ads to the content on a particular web page, and not giving you links to dodgy websites. Your Tech Coach neither recommends nor endorses anything in an advertisement.
10. How does your email subscription service work?
Very simply! Occasionally, we’ll send out Advisories from Practical Help for Your Digital Life® – not on a regular basis but whenever we find something particularly important that we think you should know about. We know you can always come here and read articles in our Library, but you may find it also convenient to get an occasional email with hot items. Plus, our newsletter subscription service is completely automated, every week you’ll get a digest of our latest postings delivered to your inbox.
We send these emails out through our own mail server, and scrub our list regularly. Plus we are on guard to prevent our mail server from being listed as a spammer. If you subscribed to our newsletter service and are not receiving emails, please send us a note to Support@PosiTek.net.
Every email you receive from us has an unsubscribe link at the bottom. We subscribe to the tenets and fully comply with the CAN SPAM Act and will act promptly to automatically remove your email from our lists if you unsubscribe or our messages are rejected by your email service or blocked in any way. For your security, your subscription page can only be accessed from the links in our newsletter emails. And we don’t use your email address for anything else, nor sell it to 3rd parties!
11. Where are all your testimonials? How can I know that you really give good advice?
We know it’s easy to put up fake testimonials on a website, and they are pretty useless because there’s no way for you to confirm that they are real. We actually prefer testimonials to be collected by a 3rd party, one we can’t control. An excellent place for you to look and see how others view our expertise in consumer technology is on LinkedIn – www.linkedin.com/in/practicalhelp/. Over the years, clients have come to depend on Chris Gardner’s ability to de-mystify the mysterious and make everything plain in consumer technology, and they’ve rewarded him by posting recommendations in various places. Over the years that’s sort of consolidated on recommendation write-ups in LinkedIn – not the simple skills & expertise feature, but actual recommendations written by actual people – his clients. There are plenty of other places all over the internet, but in this one place you’ll find a good set of thought-out recommendations written by real people, and we can’t control what another LinkedIn user writes.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn account and don’t want to sign up for that service, you won’t be able to see those recommendations. So we took the liberty of posting screenshots here.
You won’t yet see any negative reviews, because we haven’t gotten any. All of the recommendations posted on LinkedIn about Chris Gardner are positive. For over 20 years, he has personally helped thousands of people with their consumer technology, and tries very hard to avoid unsatisfied clients. But truth is, nobody can please everybody. We’re focused on the 80-90% of people who use consumer technology, need help with it, are willing to pay for quality help, and can live without completely instant gratification. And we promise to give you the best answer we can craft which answers your question without a ton of complexity. On that note, some of the simplest-sounding questions can be really complicated to answer. So we’ll work with you to figure out exactly what you need to know and how you need to know it, and get that to you as quickly as possible. ’nuff said?