HERE THERE BE TYGERS AND ALL MANNER OF STRANGE BEASTS

One of our frequent correspondents had a near miss. That’s a near miss from disaster when he got a phone call telling him his PayPal account had been compromised and he owed $340. The caller said they could fix the problem for $299 but they needed to take control of his computer. They said they needed his bank account number too, so he gave it to them. There was a lot of background chatter on the caller’s end of the line. The red flags went up, the rockets exploded and the bells started ringing. He turned off his computer, told the caller he just had a power outage, hung up and moved everything from his checking account to his savings […]

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BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?

A reader innocently called a tech support phone number he saw on the Brother Printers website. It turned out to be a scam. Unlike “click bait,” which leads you to fake news stories or other web sites, this one goes after your wallet. When our reader called the supposed tech support number, he was told they needed to take control of his Macbook Pro to fix a major problem. They said he had a lot of “stuck” and “sleeping” files (whatever those are), and added he needed to pay $299 a year for a firewall. Fortunately, he said “no.” He added: “They told me there was no way that I would get the printer to work without their firewall!”  But […]

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PLENTY OF TIME TO PANIC

The HP desktop computer we bought on Amazon less than two months ago wouldn’t start. For a few hours, we panicked. The solution? Unplug the machine. Hold the power button until the little light on the back of the computer goes off. (That’s if it’s a desktop computer, the type sometimes called a tower.) This frees the computer from hibernation mode. Viola, as we say in fractured French! It’s fixed! For several hours before that, we thought we had a dead computer. HP’s troubleshooting site told us to hold down the power button, but we didn’t do it long enough the first time. (HP said nothing about making sure the light had gone off before we released the power button.) […]

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GET CLICKING BEFORE THE DEAL IS GONE

Okay, just writing about getting a new computer was enough for us. Joy went online and bought a new HP with an Intel i7 processor and 12 gigabytes of RAM. The old all-in-one has been cleared — we mean completely cleared — for drop-off at Goodwill. Perhaps someone will want to try putting in a Linux operating system. The PC came from Amazon, in an “HP Envy Bundle,” a $650 deal which included a refurbished “HP 750-137cb” computer, a gorgeous 27-inch monitor, two Bang & Olufsen speakers with great sound quality, a wireless keyboard and mouse. The speed is incredible, the monitor is huge and as sharp as an expensive TV. And it has a two-terabyte hard drive. Joy copied […]

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HERE’S LOOKING AT EVERYBODY

  If you use Facebook, but worry about it sharing your personal information with strangers, we have a fix. It’s Facebook’s “Privacy Checkup.” From your computer, go to Facebook.com and click the tiny picture of a padlock next to the tiny picture of a globe in the upper right. Follow the steps to increase your privacy. — You might not want anyone to see how often you play “Candy Crush,” or any other application, for example. In that case, change the “public” setting to “only me.” — Remove any apps you’re not using. — Change the information on your profile page and remove the year of your birth if it’s listed. (It’s easier to do identity theft if the bad […]

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OFFICE POLITICS

Topics in this column: Office politics, Losing the Internet, TED Talks, an app for Healthy Eating, Giving away a Kindle Fire, and the new Mac operating system.

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HOLIDAY TECH SUPPORT FOR RELATIVES

If you’re with relatives this holiday season, you may be tempted to upgrade their Windows 7 machines to Windows 10. After all, it’s free for now. Our advice: Don’t do it, or be prepared to roll it back to Windows 7. You have 30 days after installation to go back.

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NOW CALLING FROM FLORIDA

The glass on our cell phone cracked. (Should have left the case on.) Even worse, we turned in the phone to a local repair shop and when we got it back two days later, we think it had been hacked.

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FAKE TECH SUPPORT

A reader told us she got a call from a guy saying that her Windows computer was about to crash. She took it seriously because he claimed to be from Microsoft. This is a scam and not a rare one.

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CELL PHONE BATTERY WOES

The battery in the Samsung Galaxy S3 smartphone is supposed to last for 18 hours on standby, 10 hours if you’re talking, 8 hours if you’re playing a video. We’ve been lucky if ours lasted half that. A free app called “Greenify,” along with some basic adjustments, has made a big difference. Greenify for Android phones hibernates any apps you don’t need to have running. Our phone stays on for at least 18 hours now, with light use. Some apps, such as the Amazon Kindle app, take a little longer to load with Greenify running in the background, but that’s better than a phone that dies when you don’t expect it. Before Greenify, we tried several other battery life extenders: […]

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