Practical Help Library

  • Digital Egg Timer #311: Keep my facebook friends separate!

    Digital Egg Timer #311: Keep my facebook friends separate!

    This Digital Egg Timer is a quick shot of Practical Help for Your Digital life. Pam Willenz shows you how to keep your facebook friends separate. Printable tip sheets are linked below for our members. This is the Digital Minute that’s embedded in our show, ‘Hidden’ Facebook Tips – PHYDL #2. In this series, Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get the most out of the consumer technology you already own. […]

  • Fixing a problem with iCloud and your Apple ID/account

    Fixing a problem with iCloud and your Apple ID/account

    Signing into and out of iTunes on your iPad or iPhone is pretty straightforward. Just tap Settings, then iTunes & App Store, and either sign in to your account, or tap on the signed in account to see the Sign Out button. But with iCloud it works differently. Read on for more exact instructions. Once you link an iOS device to your Apple ID in iCloud, you’ve established a relationship between the two. In order to change to a different Apple ID, you actually […]

  • How to solve a problem when your iPhone or iPad won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network

    How to solve a problem when your iPhone or iPad won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network

    Sooner or later, you’ll run into this problem, and shutting down, restarting, or resetting your iOS device won’t fix it. Here’s the most likely problem, and a practical solution to the times when your iPad or iPhone won’t connect to a Wi-Fi network. Situation: Your iOS device remembers the Wi-Fi networks that you have connected to in the past, and anytime you are in that neighborhood, uses the saved settings to re-connect you automatically. Problem: The Wi-fi network is determined by the ‘name’ also known […]

  • Digital Egg Timer #229: Facebook, don’t hide my messages!

    Digital Egg Timer #229: Facebook, don’t hide my messages!

    This Digital Egg Timer is a quick shot of Practical Help for Your Digital life. Steve Gardner shows you how to see hidden messages in facebook that you may have missed. Don’t waste time taking notes, printable tip sheets are linked below for your convenience! This is the Digital Minute that’s embedded in our show, ‘Hidden’ Facebook Tips – PHYDL #2. In this series, Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get […]

  • The best protection program for your Microsoft Windows computer

    The best protection program for your Microsoft Windows computer

    After extensive testing and reviewing the results of other respected testers in the industry, we have a winner of the best value for internet/computer security suites. Once a year we test a batch of suites and compare various factors, such as effectiveness, trouble-free use and cost. To do our own testing, we have a really nasty PC we keep around. We install each tested suite on this computer and then proceed to do everything we can to infect that computer – visiting […]

  • PHYDL #002: ‘Hidden’ Facebooking Tips

    PHYDL #002: ‘Hidden’ Facebooking Tips

    Practical Help for Your Digital Life exposes hidden tips in Facebook to let you use social networking smarter and easier. Pam Willenz shows you simple ways to get Facebook working smarter/harder for you, and possibly save you some embarrassment! A handy printable tip sheet is linked below for our members. In this series, Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get the most out of the consumer technology you already own. Geek-free […]

  • Windows 8 Redux: I’m deferring using it in production mode

    Windows 8 Redux: I’m deferring using it in production mode

    Ok, I gave it my best shot. I don’t think Microsoft Windows 8 is ready for me to use either as a primary computer or in a ‘production mode’. In many ways it is better than Windows 7, but it still carries many of the same problems of stability and reliability that I have with Windows 7, plus I see new, Windows 8-only bugs. Most recently, a disk usage problem cropped up where Windows would use 100% of disk usage […]

  • Using Google Services on Other Devices besides Android smartphones and tablets

    Using Google Services on Other Devices besides Android smartphones and tablets

    Rounding out this week’s focus on Google, if you are a Google fan but also use an Apple iPad or iPhone, you have a number of great apps direct from Google that you can use to extend your reach within the Google ecosphere. Google isn’t doing much for the Blackberry crowd or Windows tablet and smartphone users, although they will let you set up gmail’s email and contacts along with your Google calendar. And for Blackberry Enterprise Services users, you can’t even do that […]

  • Digital Minute #388: iPhone Dialing with Siri

    Digital Minute #388: iPhone Dialing with Siri

    This Digital Minute is a quick shot of Practical Help for Your Digital life. Chris Gardner shows you how to use Siri to make phone calls on your iPhone faster and with less work on your part. This is the Digital Minute that’s embedded in our show, iPhone Tips – Using Siri – PHYDL #1. In this series, Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get the most out of the consumer […]

  • Is my Computer Infected? DNSChanger Woes

    Is my Computer Infected? DNSChanger Woes

    A member asks… Hi Chris, I read about this computer virus called DNSChanger that can take over your PC’s web browser. Apparently, the FBI is really worried about it, and I read in some news stories that it is really bad. So my question is, I’ve got protection for my computer (AVG), should I be worried? Thanks! James and Tillie Quick answer to your question – you need not worry, even though AVG likely didn’t protect you from this. EDIT: Please […]

  • How Much we Hate Passwords, but are Stuck till Something Better Comes Along

    How Much we Hate Passwords, but are Stuck till Something Better Comes Along

    It’s not news that everybody hates having to deal with passwords, and all the different and sometimes conflicting rules on how to use them. We here at Practical Help are no different – they’re darn inconvenient! Most of the people who ask us for help don’t even remember their own email passord – they’ve gotten their computer to remember it for them which is great until they have to get to their email another way. And as much as we hate them, we recognize […]

  • Are we raising a generation of cyber crooks?

    Are we raising a generation of cyber crooks?

    In March 2013, two groups of U.S. high school age kids with prodigious cyber skills visited the Washington, D.C. area. On March 2nd, George Mason University hosted the annual Virginia Governor’s Cup CyberChallenge with 40 of the state’s brightest and smartest ‘geeks’. On March 15th, 156 high school cyber experts from across the country were treated like rock stars at the Gaylord hotel in National Harbor competing at CyberPatriot V – the National High School Cyber Defense Competition. In both of these events, the […]

  • Keeping Adobe Flash Updated on your Mac

    Keeping Adobe Flash Updated on your Mac

    Mac users need to be aware that auto-updating for your OS X system is not a perfect science. Often, updates are issued by 3rd party app providers, and even if they have a setting to apply updates automatically, they often don’t do that. So you need to be vigilant in keeping your Mac up-to-date. Especially with ‘helper’ programs like Adobe Flash. Adobe’s Flash player has been a long-time easy target for hackers, and having an out-of-date Flash player installed on your Mac can […]

  • PHYDL #001: iPhone Tips – Using Siri

    PHYDL #001: iPhone Tips – Using Siri

    In this show, we bring you tips on getting Siri to make using your smartphone less work. From a faster way to make a phone call to sending text messages easier to making quick and easy appointments and reminders, Chris Gardner shows you simple ways to get the most out of your iPhone and get it working smarter/harder for you. And don’t bother to take notes, members can view, download and print our exclusive tip sheet – see the link below. […]

  • iPad, the Missing Manual – a Primer for new iPad Owners

    iPad, the Missing Manual – a Primer for new iPad Owners

    So you got a shiny new iPad, either as a present or you bought it yourself. You open the box and lo, there’s not much of an instruction manual! You might be able to discover how to use it by trial and error, or have visited an Apple store and talked to the Genius bar folks, but have some lingering questions about some pretty basic how-to-do-stuff. Here’s where we come in. Members can click the link after the jump to […]

  • Watch out for “Ransomware” apps – Updated

    Watch out for “Ransomware” apps – Updated

    This danger appears to be spreading quickly since September 2013. Latest info in: they’ve extorted over $5M US from people since the ransomware craze started last fall. A member asks… I saw a pop-up that appeared on my computer warning me that I needed to buy their app to make sure my computer is safe. What should I do? You may have fallen victim to one or more apps we call ‘ransomware’. Ransomware is a type of malware who’s primary […]

  • Telemarketers are going to call my Cell Phone!

    Telemarketers are going to call my Cell Phone!

    A member asks… Hi Chris, I received this email and am not sure if it’s for real. Can you tell me whether I should do something about it or not? Thanks! Subject: cell phone numbers go public this month… REMEMBER: Cell Phone Numbers Go Public this month. REMINDER….. all cell phone numbers are being released to telemarketing companies and you will start to receive sales calls. …. YOU WILL BE CHARGED FOR THESE CALLS To prevent this, call the following number […]

  • How can I do virtual tours when my computer says I need plug ins. Is this safe?

    How can I do virtual tours when my computer says I need plug ins. Is this safe?

    A member asks… I tried to do a virtual tour on a site and the computer said i needed plug-ins. Is that safe? Thanks for your answer. Ms. Penny If you’re in the market to buy a house, you may opt to do a ‘virtual tour’ before actually going to the house. Real estate agents and brokers do this all the time. But how do you know when plug-ins are safe to do virtual tours? Click on this virtual tour to see […]

  • How to use System Restore on a Windows PC

    How to use System Restore on a Windows PC

    A member asks… I am recovering my system from serious problem, and was able to deactivate some bad malware using your advice on Malwarebytes (thanks!), but my system is still kinda flaky. You advise using System Restore – how do I do that? Ok, at this point, your computer is operational, but desktop icons may be missing, and other stuff may look wierd as a result of a malware infection. Let’s get your computer back to the way you like […]

  • My Computer crashed! Tons of warnings about problems! What do I do?

    My Computer crashed! Tons of warnings about problems! What do I do?

    A member asks… Help Chris! All of the sudden, I’m getting tons of warnings that my computer is malfunctioning! Some refer to hard drive errors, some to memory errors, and lots of warnings I just don’t understand. They just started today, has my hard drive crashed and my data is toasted? One of our worst nightmares when dealing with our technology is the dreaded “OMG, I shouldn’t have clicked on that!” Consumers beware of: System Check – a program that many […]

  • Digital Minute #001: Keep Your Computer Up-to-Date

    Digital Minute #001: Keep Your Computer Up-to-Date

    In this Digital Minute®, Your Tech Coach gives you a quick shot of Practical Help and covers the basics for keeping your computer (Mac and PC) up-to-date to help prevent computer problems from turning your computer into an expensive paperweight. This Digital Minute® is part of our video series, Practical Help for Your Digital Life® (PHYDL). In this series, Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get the most out of the […]

  • PHYDL Promo

    PHYDL Promo

    This is the promotional video for our iTV series, “Practical Help for Your Digital Life”. Your Tech Coach gives you practical and helpful tips, hints and advice on how to get the most out of the consumer technology you already own. Geek-free help for everyone on the most common problems we all have using our computers, tablets, smartphones, smart appliances, digital devices, online services, social networking and more. Let Your Tech Coach help you get your technology working for you, […]

  • Results of our Annual Security Suite Face-off: 2012

    Results of our Annual Security Suite Face-off: 2012

    Every year about this time, we do a comparison of selected internet security suites, and review the results of other trusted testers. See our testing mode below the fold. We don’t test everything that’s out there, but we do test top-contenders, both free stuff and what’s sold by for-profit companies. For the 3rd year in a row, Norton Internet Security Suite has won overall. The current version is 2012, and that’s what you should buy. If you already have Norton […]

  • Help! I can’t get the cycle I want on my LG Washer!

    Help! I can’t get the cycle I want on my LG Washer!

    A member asks… Hi Chris, I don’t know if you do this, but I have an LG TrueSteam washing machine. Real hi-tech! So I have a rinse and spin setting. But, I can’t choose cold water only, the button won’t let me choose cold/cold. Can you help me? Yes, if it’s consumer technology, we can help! Looking at your particular washing machine, you’ve picked the rinse and spin cycle from the big wheel. To the right is your Wash/Rinse button, […]

  • Global Warming – head in sand?

    Global Warming – head in sand?

    We seem to be having a serious dialogue about global warming with one disconcerting ingredient – folks who deny that human activity is driving it (or that it even exists). They appear to have their heads in the sand. Opinion seems to be winning against fact in this and so many other areas. Every time I read the news, I see reporting that follows the format of reporting the results of a poll to give credence to a notion. If […]

  • Can’t Log into my WordPress Site!

    Can’t Log into my WordPress Site!

    A member asks… Hi Chris, trying to edit my WordPress site, I can’t login to it. Cookies seem to be blocked on my PC, even though the setting shows that cookies are enabled. I’m using Google Chrome. Could my security software (your recommended NIS 2012) be blocking them? Is there is a simple way to fix this? Thanks! Google Chrome has a few quirks about it that can sometimes trip you up. One of those quirks are how it deals […]

  • A new and faster way to do Fast Fourier Transforms – who cares?

    A new and faster way to do Fast Fourier Transforms – who cares?

    Eventually, everyone. FFT is an algorithm for calculation that is used in lots of what you see online. It’s used to compress the video and audio streams on the internet, as well as to your TV. One of the problems with ‘broadband’ is that the more we get, the more we need. Now that so many people have a high-speed, always-on connection to the internet, we are now watching more high-bandwidth types of content, like Youtube video, listening to high-fidelity […]

  • Complicated Electronics in our lives

    Complicated Electronics in our lives

    So my wife is totally put off by the complexity of technology in our daily lives. She serves as a great sounding board for how I should configure things – if it takes more than 30 seconds to explain, or involves more than three steps, it’s too complicated. This is not to say my wife is dumb – far from it! She’s one of the smartest people I know. But her attention is rightfully towards the things she considers important […]

  • Consumer Electronics are Everywhere and in Everything

    Consumer Electronics are Everywhere and in Everything

    So at this point, we see advanced electronics embedded in just about everything. The obvious places are our computers, smartphones, digital cameras and video cameras, etc. Less obvious are things like our washing machines, refrigerators and other major appliances, our sprinkler systems, alarm systems, and even the cold water bottle holder! Some of them are smarter than others. I just (last Sunday) went around the house resetting clocks. There were: clock radios by the bedside oven clocks water bottle dispenser […]

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