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Send Text Messages via Email for Free

Have you ever needed to send someone a text message but needed to do so from your email? Did you even know that you could? While it may not be news to everyone, I’m sure there a lot of people out there that did not know this was even possible.

There are a couple of reasons you would probably want to send someone a text message via your email.

  1. It saves money. Well, that is if you don’t have unlimited text on your phone service plan.
  2. People find it’s easier to type on their computer keyboard than on the mini keyboard on their phone.

Whatever your reason is, this article will help you understand how to send a text message from your email to a cell phone for free.

Before we get started, there are some things that you need to understand, like SMS vs MMS and GSM vs CDMA. First, we will take a look at SMS vs MMS then we will brush quickly through GSM vs CDMA.

SMS vs MMS

So what’s the difference between SMS and MMS? Basically, it boils down to text message length. There’s more to it than that, but for most users, this is the short version.

SMS

SMS is an initialism for Short Message Service, also known as “text message”. SMS allows you send a text only message of up to 160 characters. Anything longer than that will be broken into multiple messages. Most mobile phones support SMS text messages and it’s a great option if you only want to send short text messages to someone with a basic text plan.

MMS

MMS is an initialism for Multimedia Messaging Service. This option is used to send longer messages, pictures, video, audio files, etc. Most new cell phones have multimedia capabilities. However, some of the older cell phones may not support MMS. If this is the case, you can revert back to SMS and send the media in an email.

Set back: With either option, SMS, or MMS, you must know your recipients phone carrier to do this. You can’t use yours.

GSM vs CDMA

It’s pretty well known that there are basically two primary types of phone technologies. GSM and CDMA. As it is now, AT&T uses GSM and Verizon uses CDMA. You can check with your phone provider to see which one your cell phone has. More importantly, you need to know which one your intended recipient has. In the chart below, I have listed the different codes for each when necessary.

Sending a Text Message From your Email

When you need, or want to send a text message via your email account, you can do so easily, if you have the correct address to send the message to. Sending a text from your email is just like sending an email to another email address. Instead of putting an email address in the “To” address line, simply put the recipients phone number followed by the @ sign and the appropriate code extension for their service provider. You can also use the “CC” and “BCC” fields as well in the same manor.

Below is a list of popular carriers in the United States with their SMS and MMS specifications. You may notice that not all carriers support MMS, only SMS.

When using this list, replace the word “number” with the 10 digit phone number you wish to send your message to.

  • AT&T:
    • (SMS) number@txt.att.net
    • (MMS) number@mms.att.net
  • Boost Mobile:
    • (SMS) number@sms.myboostmobile.com
    • (MMS) number@myboostmobile.com
  • C-Spire:
    • (SMS) number@cspire1.com
  • Consumer Cellular:
    • (SMS) number@mailmymobile.net
  • Cricket:
    • (SMS) number@sms.cricketwireless.net
    • (MMS) number@mms.cricketwireless.net
  • Google Fi (Project Fi):
    • (SMS & MMS) number@msg.fi.google.com
  • Metro PCS:
    • (SMS & MMS) number@mymetropcs.com
  • Mint Mobile:
    • (SMS) number@mailmymobile.net
  • Page Plus:
    • (SMS) number@vtext.com
    • (MMS) number@mypixmessages.com
  • Red Pocket:
    • Red Pocket uses AT&T or T-Mobile (for GSM SIMs) &
    • Verizon for CDMA. See info. for those carriers.
  • Republic Wireless:
    • (SMS) number@text.republicwireless.com
  • Simple Mobile:
    • (SMS) number@smtext.com
  • Sprint:
    • (SMS) number@messaging.sprintpcs.com
    • (MMS) number@pm.sprint.com
  • T-Mobile:
    • (SMS & MMS) number@tmomail.net
  • Ting:
    • (SMS on CDMA) number@message.ting.com
    • (SMS on GSM) number@tmomail.net
  • Tracfone:
    • (MMS) number@mmst5.tracfone.com
  • U.S. Cellular:
    • (SMS) number@email.uscc.net
    • (MMS) number@mms.uscc.net
  • Verizon:
    • (SMS) number@vtext.com
    • (MMS) number@vzwpix.com
  • Virgin Mobile:
    • (SMS) number@vmobl.com
    • (MMS) number@vmpix.com
  • Visible:
    • (SMS) number@vtext.com
    • (MMS) number@vzwpix.com
  • Xfinity Mobile:
    • (SMS) number@vtext.com
    • (MMS) number@mypixmessages.com

You can book mark this page to use as a quick reference chart when you need to send a text message via your email.

I admit, it’s not an all inclusive article regarding SMS vs MMS and GSM vs CDMA. But it was meant as a quick reference only and I wanted this article to be short and to the point on the subject.

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed this article and found it useful.

Featured

Street Value of Your Email Account

In todays world, it is difficult, but not impossible, to find individuals who reframe from banking online, shopping online or storing sensitive data on their PCs. In a sense, they believe they are safe from online predators and that is where they would be wrong. Even people who do bank and shop online have trouble understanding why anyone would want to hack their computer or phone. Many people don’t fully understand how much they have invested in their email accounts alone, not to mention any of their social media accounts.

Here, I will try to explain the estimated street value of your email account as well as all people, personal data and other resources that are associated with and at risk of being compromised when your email account is hacked.

As with any app or online service that you sign up with, they almost always ask for your email address. In most cases, the person or company that is in control of that email address can reset the password of the email and any associated services or accounts tied to it, simply by requesting a password reset email.

The hand that holds the data, rules the world”. © Aubrey Love 2019.

Figure 1.1 – Image courtesy of Brian Krebs @https://krebsonsecurity.com

As you can see from the chart in figure 1.1, there is a great deal more associated with an email account than most people realize.

So, how much are these associated or linked accounts worth? Here’s a dollar breakdown of some prices per account as found on the “dark web”.

iTunes – $8

FedEx – $6

Groupon – $5

GoDaddy – $4

AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless, and T-Mobile – $4

Facebook and Twitter – $2.50 each

PayPal – Price varies depending on amount in the PayPal account.

Company email accounts such as Dell, Overstock, Walmart, BestBuy, Target, and others like them go for about $1 – $3. Of course, all these prices vary day-by-day much like the stock market does.

Just because your email account is not tied to an online merchant, which is a rare thing today, it is most likely connected to other accounts such as social media.

When you purchase software online where the program is downloaded via a link sent to your email, they most often send the CD key for that software to your email also. If you set up an online account or download an app that asks for your email address, hackers could have access to all those accounts as well. Linking a backup account to retrieve lost or forgotten email or account passwords to your current email account makes your backup account accessible as well.

If your email account is associated with online or cloud file storage such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft SkyDrive, etc. those files are also compromised since the key to unlocking them almost always lies in your email somewhere.

In the past, most companies offered little security to protect your accounts beyond that of a username and password. As times change, multi-level or multi-factor authentication has made its way into the cyberworld offering a higher level of security for the user. If any of your accounts offer this option, you would be wise to implement it as soon as possible as well as with all future accounts you set up online.

Breaking it down, most people do not realize the value in a simple email account, but as you can see, there is so much more to that little Yahoo email account than you may have been aware of.

Our Head’s in the Cloud

lock

Wake up people, it’s time to get our heads and our data out of the Cloud. It’s not safe, it has never been safe, and it will never be safe. It’s time to take back control of our personal information. We have a ton of damage control to do and the companies that are asking for our data, are very bad as “gate keepers”.

Ask yourself, how much easier is it really, to take your phone out, find the purchase app, activate it, and wave your phone over a scanner to make a purchase? This as opposed to just pulling some cash from your wallet. And what has that “so-called” convenience cost us? Our personal information! Our security! Our privacy!

If you think for one minute that your data is safe, you have your head in a cloud and need to come back down to reality. You stand a better chance of wining the Lottery 10 times consecutively than you do of having your personal information secured in a Cloud server. Let’s face it, with the thousands of data breaches every year from multiple companies and even the U.S. Government, our private information is no longer private. It’s in the hands of others whom we do not even know.

If a stranger walked up to you today and asked for your name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, the name of your favorite pet, your mothers maiden name, the street you grew up on, your social security number, and your credit card number; would you provide them all the info? You emphatically say no, but you do this every time you create a new account online and make purchases online. Worst of all, it’s not even a person asking you for this info, it’s a computer. A form on a website, and you convince yourself it’s safe. But it’s not!

Billions of bits of personal data is stolen every year and it’s only getting worse. Just looking back over the last ten years of data breaches, we have gone from millions of people’s info compromised per year, to billions per year.

3.5 billion people have had their personal data stolen just in 2019 and 2020 alone. That’s about half the population of the world.

Here’s a short list of some of the major breaches over the last few years along with the amount and type of info stollen, in no particular order.

Yahoo – 2013-2014 and again in 2016

Effected: 3 billion users

Items Stolen: email addresses, date of birth, telephone numbers, passwords, security questions and answers.

Equifax – 2017

Effected: 147.9 million users

Items Stolen: Social Security Numbers, date of birth, home address and in some cases, drivers’ license numbers.

eBay – 2014

Effected: 145 million users

Items Stolen: names, addresses, dates of birth, and encrypted passwords.

Adobe – 2013

Effected: 153 million users

Items Stolen: customer names, IDs, passwords as well as debit and credit card information.

Marriott – 2020

Effected: 5.2 million guests

Items Stolen: email addresses, home addresses, phone numbers, company names, gender, date of birth, and linked airline loyalty programs and numbers.

This list doesn’t even scratch the surface of the amount of breaches every year. So, the next time you try to purchase something online or with your phone and the company asks you for this type of information, you should ask them, how are you going to safe-guard my information? The truth is, they are not going to because they can’t. Not while they are storing your information on a sever in a cloud they built, or one that they are leasing from Google, Microsoft or someone else.

Wake up people, it’s time to take back our privacy and stop trusting companies that have a notorious track record of very poor record keeping. Putting it in perspective, if you had an employee that was releasing your information and that of their co-workers to world, would you keep that employee or fire them? I say it’s time to fire these companies that demand so much of our personal information with no concern about its safety.

Just my little rant.

Thank you for reading and comment if you like.

How to remove formulas in excel but keep the values

NewArticle1

(Update: 2022-10-03

I have been getting a lot of hits on this particular article. So, I thought I would update it by adding some additional images and a bit more clarity to the subject. I hope you enjoy this article and can benefit from it. Continue reading the main article below and my other articles listed on the left side of this page. And leave a comment if you don’t mind. Thanks.)

 

If you have used Microsoft Excel, or even Open Office Calc (the free alternative to Microsoft Excel) you have most likely used or even created formulas to return a desired value. An example would be;
Column A contains a latitude, Column B contains a longitude and Column C has a formula that concatenates the two together. Here is a sample of that formula in column C:
=CONCATENATE(A2,”, “,B2)

In the formula above, notice the three commas and space between the two quotation marks following the middle comma. Anything you put between the quotes will be shown in Column C, but the quotation marks will not appear. See the sample below.

In this sample, we will put the word “Hello” within the quotes.

Capture1

And here are the results of that same cell in the Excel sheet.

Capture2

 

Now, getting back to our real-world example. 

Given the latitude of 34.6528144 and the longitude of -98.4146529 in columns A and B respectively, you get the following result displayed in column C.Capture3

As you can see, the results contain the comma and space (between the two numbers) that was specified in the formula between the quotation marks.

 

Okay, I know this article is supposed to be about how to remove the formulas from a calculated cell (or cells) while retaining the resulting data. Instead, all I have discussed so far is how to create a formula in a cell. True, but to remove a stain, you must first understand what the stain is and how it got there. The same theory holds true in a substantial number of aspects of life.

With that said, let’s remove those pesky formulas now that we are done with them. There are many ways you can accomplish this, and I have seen countless chapters in Excel books and dozens of web sites that have you find a specific tool on the toolbar and navigate through a dozen or more options to get your desired results. However, the simplest way is to just select the cell or cells that contain the formulas and press “Ctrl” + “C” to copy them. Next, with the cells selected, press “Ctrl” + “V” to paste the resulting values in the same cells.

Before you just hit the “Enter” key or move on to other things in your life, notice the little “clipboard” looking icon that popped up. It should look something like this: ExcelCopyPaste (I know the image is small, but that’s the way it is in Excel, so bare with me.)

Click on it and scroll down the menu to the “Paste Values” section of the list and choose the “Values (V)” option.

Capture4

Hint, as you mouse over the options (represented by small icons), a tool tip will appear telling you what that function is called. Once you click the “Values (V)” icon, all formulas will be erased and replaced with only the results that it calculated. See the results in the two images below.

Image 1, Before

Capture5

Image 2, After

Capture6

Mystery solved! It really is a lot simpler than a lot of web pages make it out to be. As you can tell, I am a firm believer in the K. I. S. S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) method of thought.

 

Thank you for viewing my blog.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

Tech Tips You Should Know

writer-cover

Back in the saddle. Well, it’s been a while since my last article and some of my followers have been asking for more tech pointers, tips and tricks. After nearly a two-year break from writing, I have decided to get back in the game and have since opened two additional blogs. So, along with this weekly tech blog, I am also hosting a “C#” and a “SQL Server” blog site.
Here are the links for the two new sites:
C# – https://pailwriteroncsharp.wordpress.com/
SQL – https://sqlfundamentals.wordpress.com/

They may seem a little rough at the moment, but bear with me and I will get them straightened out and looking good.
The two new sites are much like this one, no particular order for the articles, just a random set of pages to help the average user understand how to accomplish things “here in the real world” as opposed to just practicing from a book.
With that said, let’s jump write into todays article with 7 new tech tips for the modern-day computer user.

1.) Re-open a recently closed tab:
Have you ever had the misfortune of accidently closing a tab in your browser only to realize that’s not the one you wanted to close? Fear not, there are a couple of ways to re-open that tab.
a. The easy way:
Click on your browser to open a new tab, now press the “ctrl”, “shift” and “T” keys on your keyboard and magically it re-appears.
b. The hard way:
In the browser tool bar click on “history” (you may have to look for this since it’s in various locations on different browsers). Now scroll through until you find the page you want to re-open.

2.) New tabs for me!
With the growing number of web developers and the massive quantity of websites, most of them have multiple links per page linking to dozens of different (but related) web pages. As the quantity grows, a majority of web developers are putting in a function / feature that opens a new tab when you click on a link. It’s advantages for them to do so, because it keeps their page open in your browser while you temporarily look around on other pages. However, not all links on a web page open in a new tab.
Fear not, there is a simple fix for this also. Simply mouse over the link and click the “middle” mouse button instead of the left mouse button and the link will open in a new tab.

3.) Paste plain text:
One of the problems I’m often asked about is, how to copy/paste text without any special format, font or color background associated with the text. Often people will copy/paste some text from a web page for example; and the formatting of that text gets copied as well.
Well, there’s a couple of ways of doing this:
Probably the easiest of the two is to use “ctrl” + “c” to copy the text, and instead of using the basic “ctrl” + “v” to paste it in a word document, email, etc. use “ctrl” + “alt” + “v”. This will paste the desired text without any special formatting, coloring, etc.
The other option would be to simply do your standard “ctrl” + “c” to copy the text, and “ctrl” + “v” to paste it in a word document or email. Next, highlight that text and find the “remove formatting” button in the tool bar and click on it. It should look like the upper-case letter “A” with a pink eraser over it.

4.) Delete an entire word with one stroke:
Instead of deleting a word one letter at a time with the “backspace” button, you can place your cursor at the end of the word and press “ctrl” + “backspace”.

You can also highlight an entire row by moving your cursor to the end of a sentence and pressing “shift” + “home” on your keyboard.

5.) Display the system (computer) information window:
Traditionally, we have used the manual method of navigating to this rarely seen window by clicking on the “Start” menu, then selecting “Control Panel” then clicking on “System”. Now, we can simply press the “Windows” key and press the “Pause/Break” button on the keyboard.

6.) Going Incognito:
While there are times you may not need hidden browsing, there are also times that you really should use “incognito” browsing. For example, when your browsing or shopping on a public WIFI (hot spot), or using a shared computer.
You can open an incognito browser tab via the menu in most browsers, but why go through the hassle of navigating through those exhaustive menus.
In Firefox, Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge, simply press “ctrl” + “Shift” + “p”. In Google Chrome and Opera, press “ctrl” + “shift” + “N”.

7.) Read Installers: (No seriously, read them):
Ever wonder how you wound up with so many programs installed on your computer that you don’t recall downloading and installing? It’s become standard practice for a lot of companies to sell space on a program to install a totally different program provided by a different vendor. It’s what I call “piggy backing” and I hate it. I have had instances where I wanted to install a program and during the installation it would default check a box to install an additional third-party program.
Too often, we just click through an install process accepting the default settings, and for the most part, this is the best method. But, be careful when you click the “Next” button, and read the details of what it is going to do each step of the way.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

Tech Support Error Codes

 

Human Error and Computer Error.

We have all heard the term “user error.” It’s the official-ish way of saying that your computer, phone or other device that appears to be having problems isn’t the source of the problem…you are.

In other words, user error is tech-speak for a mistake, and we all make them. Unfortunately, your pompous techie friend, IT help desk agent, or tech support rep will, on occasion, use his or her knowledge of your lack-of-knowledge to poke fun at your user errors.

You may not know the difference in an EEOC, HAL, or ID-10T issue, but the techie you ask for help from does… and knows you don’t. One of those is a real problem, and the other two are not-so-nice ways of making fun of you without you knowing!

Here’s a list of euphemisms for what the pretentious techie you’re talking to really wants to say: you’re an idiot. Consider yourself lucky or tech-savvy if you haven’t heard any of these.

ID-10T: The “IDIOT” Error

Pronounced as eye-dee-ten-tee, this is an “old favorite” among the tech savvy. It rolls off the tongue and sounds as legitimate as any other computer jargon you might hear.

The ID-10T joke has almost reached a point of common usage.

PEBKAC: Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair

This one is usually spoken as a word, pronounced as peb-kak.

Sometimes you’ll see this one as PEBCAK (swapping chair and keyboard). Other times you’ll see computer or monitor swapped for keyboard, making for all sorts of variations on this one, like PEBCAC or PEBMAC.

PICNIC: Problem In Chair Not In Computer

This one is easy to remember and has recently replaced PEBKAC.

EEOC: Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities

This one sounds so technical that it almost doesn’t feel mean.

The implication here is pretty clear: you’re not smart enough to use whatever you’re having trouble with.

RTFM: Read The Freaking Manual

This one seems to me like more an anger-filled reaction than a statement about your intelligence, but I have seen this used in support forums more than once.

This particular techno-insult has a variation on the ‘F’ part that I won’t spell out for you.

Code 18: The Problem is 18 inches Away From the Screen

Another “proximity” joke here, although I personally find 18 inches a bit close to sit to my screen.

The metric version of this joke is Code 40 or Error 40, so don’t let your centimeter-using friends slip one by you.

Please know, however, that there actually is a Code 18 error that you could see yourself – it’s a Device Manager error code. No, it’s not Bill Gates giving you a hard time – it means that you need to reinstall the device drivers for whatever hardware you see it on in Device Manager.

Layer 8: That’s You

The Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) model is a way of looking at how computer systems communicate. The “deepest” layer is Layer 1, the physical layer, and ends at Layer 7, the application layer – the one you and I interact with.

If you bring the OSI model a bit further out, you get Layer 8 (you), Layer 9 (your organization), and Layer 10 (your government).

This is certainly one of the more geeky ways to insult anyone without an IT degree. Now that you have a little more knowledge of these “error codes” you will be more prepared the next time you are on the phone with tech support.

More User Error Jokes

You can find a list of user error joke codes in the image “IT joke codes.” They are for your reference so you can respond appropriately when you hear one, but let’s be honest… they’re sometimes fun to dish out, too.

Yes, I did skip the offensive jokes for obvious reasons.

While no one deserves to have any of the above “jokes” hurled at them, there are a number of things you can do to make that interaction with tech support, or even your smarty-pants friend, a bit more successful. Reading these weekly tech tips is just one of them. You may also want to take a class at your local college or tech center.

1K Buffer Implies a low capacity for learning (1K is tiny)
C2K Chair 2 Keyboard issue
CBE Carbon Based Error
Code 18 The problem is 18″ away from the screen
EBCAC Error Between Computer And Chair
EBK Error Behind Keyboard
EEOC Equipment Exceeds Operator Capabilities
ESO Equipment Smarter than Operator
HKI Error Human Keyboard Interface Error
I/O Error Ignorant Operator Error (from legit Input/Output Error)
ID-10T Error The “IDIOT” Error
Layer 8 You are Layer 8 in the OSI model
OHE Operator Headspace Error
PEBKAC Problem Exists Between Keyboard and Chair
PICNIC Problem In Chair Not In Computer
RCSO Reboot Computer, Slap Operator
RTFM Read the Freaking Manual
TSTO Too Stupid To Operate
UPI User Perception Issue

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

Off-the-wall tech tips

bask-tech-tips

In past issues we have discussed tips, tricks and shortcuts that are pretty commonplace and somewhat easy for the novice computer users. This week we are going for some off-the-wall things you may not know you could do and how they can save you time and money.

Increase performance / save money

If you want to get more battery life from your laptop or want to modify performance to save energy costs, then you might want to look at one of Windows 7’s hidden (built-in) tools. The program ‘powercfg’ is designed to do just that.

  • First, let’s create a folder for our report to be saved in. Double-click on My Computer then double click on drive C and choose New Folder from the menu at the top. Name the folder whatever you choose such as ‘Report’.
  • Open a command prompt as administrator. To do this, click on the Start menu button, type ‘cmd’ in the search box. When the ‘cmd’ icon appears, right-click it and choose ‘Run as administrator.’
  • When the command prompt appears (a black box with some white text) type in the following exactly how you see it here without the quotes. “powercfg -energy -output \Report\Energy_Report.html” Remember, this is case sensitive. Press the ‘Enter’ key when done. You can change the name of the report and the folder to whatever you choose.
  • Windows 7 will take about a minute to examine the behavior of your computer while it analyzes and creates the report. Once it’s done, type “exit” to exit out of the command prompt. Now, simply double click the html report to open it and follow the recommendations to improve your computer’s performance.

Hide your computer search history

Searching through your computer using Explorer (double-clicking on My Computer) saves a history of what you have searched for in the past. This is a time saver if you look for the same type of documents frequently. However, if you share your computer with others, you may not want them to see what you search for. Here is how to turn off the ‘recent search feature.’

  • Click on the Start button and in the search box, type “gpedit” (without the quotes) and press ‘Enter.’
  • Double-click on User Configuration à Administrative Templates à Windows Components à Windows Explorer.
  • In the dialog box that appears, double-click “Turn off display of recent entries in the Windows Explorer search box” and click to select “Enabled” on the screen that appears.
  • Click “Apply” then click “Okay” and your search history is now turned off.

Customize the Shut Down Button

The default action of the Start Menu’s Shut Down button, as we all know, is to turn off your computer. What if you rarely shut down your computer but often switch users or just simply log off?

You can change the Shut Down’s default action to ‘Switch User’ or ‘Log Off’ or several other options provided by default in Windows 7.

  • To change your default, right-click the Start button and select Properties.
  • On the Start Menu tab, click the “Power button action” drop-down menu and select which action you want to be the default. Then click OK, and OK again.

Summary

As a general rule, it is not a good idea to leave a computer or monitor running for long periods of time between uses. Turning off your computer and monitor at night and for the weekend will save a bundle in electricity over a year’s time.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

De-clutter your computer world

Cluttered computer station
Organized chaos

I am not asking you to throw away all your computers and other electronic devices, but isn’t it time to start syncing things into time-saving steps? Below are a few tips, tricks and shortcuts to help bring most of your digital devices to a more productive level.

Re-assign some of those unused function keys.

You see them every time you sit down to work with your computer, but how often do you actually use them. In a recent article, we discussed what they did and let’s face it, how many of those functions do you remember? It’s time to start using them for things you actually do. Here’s how;

  • Go to Netflix, Facebook, Twitter or wherever you frequently go then highlight and copy the address in the address bar of your browser.
  • Close or minimize your browser then ‘right click’ on the desktop and choose New à shortcut and paste the link in the box provided – then click Next.
  • Now, right-click on the newly created icon and choose ‘properties’ from the drop down menu.
  • On the dialog box that appears, select the “Web Document” tab and click in the “Shortcut Key” box then press the function key you would like to use for this application, such as the F7 key.
  • Now, to go to Twitter, simply press the F7 key on your keyboard.

Continue assigning various shortcuts to function keys. Remember to avoid using the F1 and F5 keys if possible. F1 is reserved for ‘help’ while F5 is reserved for refreshing your screen.

If you want to get rid of or hide all these newly created icons, simply create a folder on your desktop or somewhere else and move them to that folder.

Cross-posting on social media

Gone is the time when you had to post your comments, threads, resumes, blogs and everything else on social media sites one at a time. We are in an ever-growing social media world creating and maintaining our digital profiles whether it be for personal or business reasons.

Through a collection of different  apps to choose from, you can cross-post on multiple sites at the same time. TweetDeck, Buffer, HootSuite and IFTTT are some of the more popular examples of social media management applications that can do this for you. A simple Google search will list a larger selection of these apps and instructions on how to use them effectively.

Managing email, spam and newsletters

Even I have to admit to sometimes being overwhelmed with unwanted clutter in my email. Of all my accounts, only one has no clutter save for the daily email newsletters from http://www.codeacademy.com, which I want.

As I mentioned in a previous article, the best way to avoid all these spam emails and newsletters is to set up a ‘dummy’ email account. When you are visiting a site that asks for your email address, simply type in the dummy account, not your primary.

However, if it’s too late for that step, then try some online tools to help eliminate some of the daily clutter. Unroll.me is a great tool to help you unsubscribe from multiple newsletters with a single click . It also offers an option to combine your subscription into a daily digest email so you just receive one email per day instead of dozens. Currently, Unroll.me works with Outlook, Hotmail, MSN, Windows Live, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud.

Managing time for emails is an issue within itself. Reading and replying to each one can be a daunting task if you simply go down the list in chronological order.  Start by spending some time to see the time of day your email is busiest. Do you get more emails between 2-3 p.m. as opposed to 4-5 p.m.?  Try to schedule just two times a day on email rather than every 10 minutes. Pick the two times per day your email is most active and set aside 30 minutes or so at those two times.

Read through all your new emails and respond to the simple ones first, then tackle the ones that may require more research or a lengthy response. You can also create a folder in your email program and call it ‘pending’, to address the more difficult emails. This will unclutter your inbox while giving these emails a priority so they can be addressed later, in the meantime, your email is more organized and your work day will be more effective.

Summary

There are as many solutions as there are problems when it comes to our digital life, making use of ‘free’ or ‘pay-for’ tools is a great way to start.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

What to ask repair centers when your PC crashes

Computer repair center cautions.

Who do you trust with your beloved computer and all the data residing on it? It’s a question most of us take for granted as we drop off our computer at the local repair shop. Photo’s, legal documents and passwords are just a few of the things that we store on our computer thinking it is safely tucked away. Once the computer leaves your possession and is placed in a shop, how do you know all is safe?

Below is a list of important questions along with the expected answers you should receive when shopping for a repair center. If you are not comfortable with the answers your getting from a local computer repair shop or individual, you should consider other places.

How much do you charge per hour or service?

Most respectable computer repair centers will charge either by the hour or by task, depending on the issue. The hourly rate should range between $50 – $75 ‘depending on where you live.’ Too high of a price may mean that you are being overcharged and too low may mean that the repairman may not know what he is doing or he may be planning on billing for an excessive amount of hours.

Some services will be billed by “bench hours,” meaning, how many hours the computer is actually on the work bench whether attended or unattended. Expect to pay for unattended hours when your computer is using electricity and bench space while a program is being installed or updated.

Other services will be billed by  “product,” meaning, they charge a flat fee for installing a new video card or power supply.

How many billable hours will this take to repair?

The last thing you want to do is pay $60 hour for nine hours of labor, totaling $540 to repair a computer that can be replaced for three or four hundred dollars. This is where cost vs. reward comes into play. Is it worth it to fix the computer or just purchase a new one?

You should expect to hear from the repairman, “I can’t be totally sure, but these types of repairs in the past have cost an average of (x) dollars to repair. We can certainly call you if we see the cost is going to exceed the value of the computer.”

Don’t be alarmed if the technician can’t give you an exact amount over the phone, some computer problems may seem similar but are very different in reality.

Do you have a minimum charge?

Not all computer problems require nine hours on the work bench. If your issue takes only 15 minutes to repair, you may be slapped with a minimum bench time.

You should expect to hear “yes, we have a one billable hour minimum.” On part replacements, it is also common to have a flat rate for installing new hardware.

Will there be any additional charges?

While some companies stifle you with hidden fees, this simple question should clear the air. No one wants to get a quote only to find out the actual cost is much higher.

What you should expect to hear; “No. If it looks like it is going to cost more than we quoted, you will receive a phone call notifying you of the added expense and an explanation as to why.” At this point you may choose to go forward with the extra repairs or simply pick up your computer as-is.

Do you guarantee your work?

Guarantee’s and warrantees are a given in today’s society, but are they worth anything? Ask the repairman the conditions of the guarantee, if they fix the problem and it returns, what will they offer? If their response is “uhm or I’m not sure,” then try another repairman. No one wants to pay for repairs and have the same issue again two weeks later. This does not apply to all issues, for example; viruses. You may have your computer completely cleaned of all viruses and three days later be infected again.

You should expect to hear; “Yes, for most repairs we guarantee our labor and/or parts for 30 to 90 days.” Most hardware comes with a one year warranty from the manufacturer in conjunction with the local shops warranty. When replacing or upgrading parts, make sure you get new, not used if you want a warranty.

Anytime you have hardware or software programs installed on your computer, make sure you get the box, CD and literature for the product when you pick up your computer. Usually software will have a CD Key that you may need to register the product later.

Will you save my files?

Your computer is an assembly of parts that in most cases can be easily replaced. The digital items such as photo’s of your dog, video’s of your child’s first steps, legal documents and spreadsheets with your usernames and passwords are what’s really important to most of us.

The answer you should expect is; “yes, if they are retrievable.”

This also happens to fall under one of those items that are listed as a flat rate in most cases. Expect to have to pay $x per gigabyte of data retrieved. Most places will charge a flat rate of about $85 for the first gigabyte and $20 for each additional gigabyte. If your primary goal is to retrieve data from a dead hard drive, expect to send the drive to a professional lab. Generally, local computer stores do not have the ability to do this level of work. Professionals can most often retrieve data even if the drive has been formatted two or three times.

Summary:

When shopping for a computer repair center, do not hesitate to ask questions. Ask about certifications, knowledge level of the technicians and years of service. This is your computer and your sensitive data. Most often, your best option is to take it to a shop as opposed to a local guru’s house. On the reverse of that, some techies that work from home after their day job, are real brainiac’s and some are want-to-be’s, so beware.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com

Windows vs Mac vs Linux

LinuxWindowsMac

Move over Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X, Linux is gaining ground with speed and stability. In past articles, we have primarily dealt with the two mainstream operating systems (OS), but there is another that is dominating the world – Linux.

What is Linux

Linux is, in simplest terms, an operating system just as are Mac OS X and Microsoft Windows. It’s the software on a computer that enables the computer operator to interact between applications (software) and hardware. Many people are inclined to think that Windows is the standard while Mac OS X and Linux are rogue operating systems. Quite the contrary. Windows is a DOS (Disk Operating System) based OS while Mac and Linux are based on the very first OS – Unix.

Actually, there are number of OS’s that you may install on your home computer. A quick list of the other more popular ones are; Solaris Sun by Oracle, Free BSD, Chrome, Android, Os2 / Os2 Warp, React OS, AtheOS, SkyOS, and Free DOS. Only Mac and Windows use TV ads to promote their product, yet Linux is gaining a lot of market-share considering it has only word-of-mouth advertising.

As an operating system, Linux is developed collaboratively, meaning that its development and ongoing support is not the responsibility of one company, but rather all of them collectively. Companies participating in the Linux community share research and development costs with their partners and competitors. This would be the equivalent of Microsoft and Apple sharing technology, resources, and cost. We all know that doesn’t happen and probably never will.

Linux OS is comprised of two parts, the Kernel (code that makes up the core OS) and the GUI, (Graphical User Input.) There are only a handful of Kernels, but the GUI that makes the distribution (a combination of Kernel and GUI) are plentiful. The most popular are Mint, Ubuntu, Red Hat, Suse and Debian.

Where is Linux

Linux has grown remarkably since its first release in 1991, powering everything from the New York Stock Exchange to mobile phones to supercomputers and consumer devices such as smart refrigerators and washing machines. Linux began as a server OS and has become useful in desktop and laptop systems, gaining popularity with leaps and bounds.

Windows and OS X are predominantly found on personal computers, but Linux’s adaptability to work well on “wristwatches to supercomputers” gives the OS an edge over the other two. Quite simply put, most of the web pages that you visit each day are hosted by Linux servers, not Windows or Mac. Linux can also be installed at the factory when you purchase a new personal computer / laptop online from places such as Dell Computers.

Surprisingly, even Windows 10 contains binaries identical to the binaries running on an Ubuntu platform. (Binaries are the core function code found imbedded in the OS.)

Cost

Since Linux is an open operating system built by the masses, it costs nothing to the end user. That’s right, FREE. Unlike the bloated priced Microsoft Windows or Mac computers, Linux is free to download and install on as many computers as you like and there is no registration or activation required. Just to set things straight, I like Mac computers. After all they are Unix based like Linux, but the cost of purchasing a Mac is just too much for me. While the Linux distributions may be free, the biggest cost associated with Linux is the learning curve. The time a company devotes to training its employees on a new OS is often more than they are willing to pay at this time.

Final thoughts

The advantage of Linux over Windows is Linux is more stable and virtually virus free. It’s also much faster at starting up, running applications and shutting down. With Linux, there is no “blue screen of death” as associated with Windows. The list of major advantages could go on for pages, but you get the gist of it.

In my professional opinion, anyone wanting to migrate over to Linux should start with either Mint or Ubuntu. These seem to be the most Windows-like and user friendly of the more than 100 distributions I have worked with. If you would like more information, please email me at pailwriter@outlook.com.

Also visit my new “About me” blog at https://www.aubreywlove.com