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Archive for the ‘Computer tips’ Category

How to manage your passwords

Posted by itsfixed on October 16, 2011

How to manage your passwords  manage your passwords

One inescapable facet
of web work is the need to come up with, and remember, usernames and
passwords. The days when you could get away with picking a single
combination and using them everywhere are pretty much gone: that
strategy reduces your security to that of the weakest site you use.
It’s simply not worth risking that the person who gets hold of some Web
2.0 startup’s database can also get into your online banking…

Fortunately for those of us who don’t have superhuman memories,
there are multiple solutions available for generating, and remembering,
authentication information for all the different sites and services
that we use. Here are seven different ways to keep track of the
explosion of passwords, from simple to complex. Depending on your
situation (operating system, mobility, number of accounts) you should
be able to find something to fit your needs.

1. The simple text file. This
is the easiest solution of all: each time you come up with a new
password, put it in a text file (or spreadsheet, or outline file, or
whatever other format appeals to you). When you need the password, open
the file and look it up. This solution makes it easy to back up your
passwords, and to move them from one computer to another, even across
multiple operating systems. The big problem: it also makes it possible
for someone to steal all of your passwords at once. If you go this
route, you should use something like TrueCrypt to encrypt the file,
just in case.

2. Let the
browser remember them
.
Most modern browsers will happily remember all of your password for
you, and enter them back in when you go back to a site. Unfortunately,
this ties you to a particular browser instance unless you jump through
some hoops.

3. Use a
password store.
Applications like CiphSafe for OS X or
PassKeeper for Windows are designed as secure, client-site password
stores. They save all your passwords in an encrypted list for you, so
you don’t have to bother with encrypting your list with a separate
application. They’re easy to use, but if cross-platform compatibility
is important they’re a bad choice.

4. Use a
password manager.
These do-it-all client-side applications help
you generate passwords, store them, and fill in online forms. On
Windows, RoboForm is most often mentioned; on OS X, 1Password has a
strong following. The main issues with this sort of application is that
they are operating system specific, and it can be difficult to share
passwords across multiple computers.

5. Regenerate
as needed.
This is the strategy taken by PasswordMaker.
Available for Firefox, Windows, Mac, and more, PasswordMaker uses a
one-way algorithm to generate a unique site password based on your
master password and the URL of the site you’re visiting.

6. Use an
online password manager.
Applications like Clipperz or
my1Password (currently in closed beta) store all of your passwords
online and encrypted, accessible only by your own master password. When
you need a particular password, you just visit their site from any
browser and enter your master password to get going. This gives you
excellent portability, though the user interfaces for these services
have some tendency to be clunky.

7. Use a
proxy service.
This is the approach taken by PageOnce, which
lets you set up a single account and then use it to access a variety of
internet services. They do this by asking for, and storing, your
credentials on those services, so how useful this is depends on how
much you trust their security.

Still need help?

We hope that this article was useful. If you require more
information, or have other questions, give our friendly techs a call on
1300 600 670,
or
request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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Letters to itsfixed, Oct 8 2011

Posted by itsfixed on October 8, 2011

Some questions from our customers helpful tips

At itsfixed, we love
to help you get the most out of your technology. While that usually
means computer repairs, we also often get to educate and provide
information to help people maximise the benefits of their home
computers. In this week’s article, we answer some of the questions that
we have been recently asked…


My computer is popping up a message asking me if I would like to
install Windows patches. Should I always say yes? Will anything go
wrong? I am happy with my computer the way it is
Tim, Chatswood

Computer software is never 100% bug-free, and Microsoft frequently find
new bugs and security issues. They attempt to address these issues by
releasing a new software patch for Windows. Your computer periodically
connects to Microsoft’s servers to see if there are any new patches,
and if there are new ones, it will notify you and ask if you would like
to install those patches. This is the message that you are seeing.

Our recommendation is to install all patches from Microsoft. Microsoft
do a good job of testing their patches, and we have very rarely
encountered a customer who has had issues after installing a patch. It
is better to install the patch and keep your computer secure, than not
install the patch.

You can even configure Windows to automatically update itself without
even asking you – since you’re almost always going to say ‘Yes’ when
asked, yenable automatic patch updatesou may as well remove yourself from the equation and
let your computer do it all for you. Click the Microsoft Fix It icon on
the left to go to Microsoft’s help page.

I got given a new computer as a
present. My son installed all of my programs like Word, but he cannot
install my printer since I have lost my disks. I have called the
company but have not heard back from them. What should I do? – Melissa, Dandenong

Melissa, this problem is quite easily solved. The disks that came with
your printer contain files known as drivers.
These drivers tell Windows how to communicate with the printer. If they
aren’t installed, Windows does not recognise the printer.

The good news is that all manufacturers maintain a support website. If
you go to your manufacturer’s website, you will very quickly see a
‘Support’ section – go there, and you will see a place where you can
download files or drivers. At this stage, you are usually prompted to
enter your printer model number, after which you are shown a list of
drivers relevant to your printer. You will need to know what version of
Windows you have installed to make sure that you download the correct
version.

Once you have downloaded this, you can simply run the file, and it will
install your drivers for you.

(Ed – Don’t try doing this yourself
if you are not confident about what operating system you are running,
or get confused when you go to the manufacturer’s website. Maybe your
son can help? Else we will be more than happy to help you over the
phone. )

When I sync my iPhone to my computer,
it does not copy the photos that are on it. How do I make a copy of the
photos on my iPhone? –
Lee, Footscray

Good observation. iTunes syncs almost
everything across to your computer, except for your photos. If
you want to backup your photos, connect your iPhone to your computer,
open up Windows Explorer, and go to ‘My computer’. Your iPhone should
show up as a separate drive, and if you open up that drive, you will
find all your photos. Copy them across to your computer, and you’re
done.

Note that iTunes does backup everything on your iPhone, including your
photos – so if you ever lose your iPhone, your photos can be restored
using iTunes.

Still need help?

We hope that this article was useful. If you require more
information, or have other questions, give our friendly techs a call on
1300 600 670,
or request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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Frequently asked questions from our customers…

Posted by itsfixed on September 18, 2011

Some questions from our customers helpful tips

At itsfixed, we love
to help you get the most out of your technology. While that usually
means computer repairs, we also often get to educate and provide
information to help people maximise the benefits of their home
computers. In this week’s article, we answer some of the questions that
we have been recently asked…

Q: Do I damage my battery if I leave my laptop plugged in all day?

We get this question all the time. It is quite easy to leave your
laptop plugged in for longer than necessary. In the old days, we used
to use Nickel-Cadmium (NiCad) batteries in our laptops, and those would
suffer if they were overcharged. However, these days, we use Lithium
Ion (LiIon) batteries, and these can be left plugged safely. The
batteries have a circuit that detect when the battery is charged, and
after that point, even if you are plugged in, the battery does not try
to charge anymore, hence avoiding any overcharging problems.

So how do you know if you have NiCad or LiIon batteries? The easiest
way is to turn your computer over, and take a look at the battery.
Usually it will be indicated somewhere on the battery. If still unsure,
contact your laptop manufacturer. Generally, and laptop bought in the
last 3 years will have LiIon batteries.

Q: Do I need to completely drain my laptop battery before charging
it again?

Another common question. Once again, this depends on the type of
battery. If you have NiCad batteries, then you do indeed need to drain
the battery before charging, in order to maximise your battery life. If
you have a LiIon battery, draining it all the time will actually be
worse for the battery, so feel free to charge this whenever you want to.

Q: What’s the best way to secure my computer?

There is a lot of personal information on your computer, and it is
natural that you should worry about the wrong person getting their
grubby hands on your computer. There are several options available to
secure your computer – some are easily performed by the average user,
while others require expert support.

The simplest (and most obvious) option is to make sure that you
password-protect your computer. Every time you turn on (or wake up)
your computer, your system should prompt you for a password. Likewise,
if you are away from your computer for a while, your computer should
automatically lock itself, and require a password when you come back to
your computer.

fingerprint sensorOf course passwords work fine,
but are easily hacked. Most modern laptops include fingerprint
recognition. With a few easy steps, you can swipe your finger across
the sensor, and your computer will log you back in. It’s more secure,
and a also a lot easier than having to remember, and type in, your
password every time.

Some laptops even include face recognition, and will automatically
detect your identity when you face your computer, and log you in.

Of course, a really technical thief could still access your data, by
removing your hard disk and accessing the data directly. In order to
prevent this, you can also choose to encrypt the contents of your hard
drive. This will make it virtually impossible for somebody to get to
your data. Of course, setting up and maintaining your encrypted drive
is usually out of the scope (and interest) of the average user, so you
may need to get help to set this up.

Q: If I post information on my Facebook page, will everybody be
able to see it?

Facebook is a wonderful way for you to share information with your
friends. It has got several privacy settings to control who can see
your information. However, most users do not manage their privacy
settings, and as a result can be potentially exposed to identity fraud.

Our recommendations:

  • Be
    careful who you ‘friend’
    – since by default all your friends can
    see what you post, why not taking a bit of thought into who you
    actually allow to be your friend? Do you really want to have that
    person you met once at a party be able to see all your information? Do
    you really want random acquaintances to have access to your intimate
    details? Limit your circle of friends to people who you really trust
    and have a relationship with, and you will minimise your risks
  • Think before you posteven
    after you have culled your friends list to a meaningful size, think
    carefully about what you post. There are always possibilities that your
    account may be hacked one day, or that somebody who is your friend
    today may not be so friendly in the future. Our general rule – only
    post things that you would be perfectly happy for your
    family/work/government to see, and that way you will be safe.

Still need help?

We hope that this article was useful. If you require more information,
or have other questions, give our friendly techs a call on 1300 600 670,
or request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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Make the most of your laptop battery

Posted by itsfixed on September 3, 2011

Get the most out of your laptop batteryextend your battery life!

The great thing about
laptops is that you don’t have to be connected to anything – so you are
free to do what you want, wherever you want. That is, until your
battery dies. Having decent battery life is one of the #1 concerns of
most laptop users, and so we thought we’d discuss how to make the most
of your battery in today’s article.

So you forgot your power cord on your way to an important meeting or
the coffee shop. We’ve all been there. There’s nothing you can do to
stop your battery drain, but you can do a lot to slow its inevitable
demise.
If you’ve got a laptop with a really old battery that drains in a few
minutes after a full charge, there’s not much you can do to make that
old thing last much longer—you’ll probably want to replace the battery
before you do anything else. For everybody else, these tips can help
you keep your battery working at peak efficiency.
 

Obviously we all know that using your laptop drains the battery
– but the #1 culprint, according to Microsoft
is your LCD panel – ie: your display. Other culprits are using
flash drives and USB mice.

What’s not so obvious are the speed your CPU is running at. Most modern
computers slow down and speed up depending on what you are doing at the
time. So when your computer is just sitting there doing nothing, the
CPU is slowed right down, to conserve power, and eventually your
computer will go into Sleep mode. Conversely, if you are doing
something intensive, like watching a DVD, your CPU is sped up, which in
turn drains more power.

Understanding how your battery is drained leads to the solutions for
maximising it. Let’s review.

  1. Reduce
    your monitor brightness
    – how low can you go? The dimmer your
    display, the longer your battery is going to last. Obviously, you also
    need to see your screen, so
    pick the balance that is right for you.
  2. Don’t
    use external devices except when you have to
    -  USB and
    PC-Cards (aka PC-MCIA) use your battery to function, even when you
    aren’t using them!  Have an EVDO card or maybe a USB mouse? 
    Remove them if you can.  Even a memory card reader in your PC-MCIA
    slot uses power just by being in there.  The effect varies based
    on the type of device, but even a few minutes here and there (as you’ll
    see) add up significantly.
  3. Do one
    thing at a time
    – The more you are doing at the same time with
    your PC, the more memory and CPU usage increases.  Both of which
    directly use up battery.  Close any applications you aren’t using,
    even the small ones.  When doing some experimentation, I found it
    more efficient to run a single application at a time, then close it and
    open a new one when ready to move on.  While your hard drive uses
    the battery too, if you are doing anything ‘productive’ you are
    probably hitting the drive on a regular (even if infrequent) basis
    anyway.
  4. Keep it
    cool
    – the hotter your system, the more your battery life is
    adversely affected over the long term. So keep those vents clear, and
    try not to smother your laptop in cushions when using it.
  5. cluttered system trayShut down services you don’t need – do you really
    need to be runing Windows Live Messenger, Yahoo Messenger, Google
    Desktop Search, Quicktime and all your other utilities that are sitting
    happily in your system tray? Close as many as you can – this will both
    speed up your system, and maximise your battery life. 
  6. Hibernate,
    rather than Sleeping
    – when not using your laptop, there are a
    couple of ways you can turn it off. You can completely power it off -
    this saves the most battery life, but means that when you want to use
    your laptop again, you need to wait for your computer to boot up and
    log in to windows again, which is too long for most people. Or you can Sleep your computer – which puts it
    into a dormant state, but when you want to use your laptop later, it
    starts up almost instantly. This however, does mean that your battery
    is being consumed, albeit slowly. Hibernate
    is a useful middle ground – your battery usage is significantly
    reduced, and it still boots up in a reasonable time. 

There are other more technical options, such as tweaking your Power
Settings, however you should not try that unless you really know what
you are doing.

Still need help?

If you’ve read through this and still require some help – give us a
call. We’d be happy to help you over the phone at no cost to you. Give
our friendly techs a call on 1300 600 670,
or
request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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Should I store my data on an external hard drive?

Posted by itsfixed on August 28, 2011

Should I store my data on an external hard drive?

Should I store my data on an external hard drive?computer with external hard drive

Recently we got a
call from a distraught customer who had lost all of their data. They
had stored it on an external hard disk, and 5 months after buying the
hard disk, the disk drive stopped functioning. They ended up spending
almost $1000 with a data recovery specialist to recover their lost
data. The question our customer asked us was – should they store data
on external hard drives from now on?

Recently we have observed that laptop manufacturers are switching
from traditional hard drives to SSD hard drives. These drives are
faster, consume less power, and are smaller and lighter than regular
hard drives. Unfortunately they are also more expensive. So we see
laptops being sold with 40-120Gb SSD hard drives where previously you
could buy laptops with more than 200-300 Gb drives quite easily.

As a result, laptop manufacturers are recommending people store
extra data on an external hard disk. While this is a sensible
recommendation, there are some considerations to keep in mind.How you setup
your computer
is very important to your data security. 

Your data is now in two places

If you store some data on your laptop drive, and some on an external
drive, that means that your data is now stored in two places. This
means that you now need to make decisions about how to store your data
– what kind of data goes on your laptop? What goes on your external
drive? Or maybe your data goes on the laptop, and the kids’ goes on the
external drive?

Of course, whatever is on your laptop, you have access to 
wherever you go. That’s the benefit of a portable computer. Except, now
your data is not always with you. When you’re traveling on vacation, or
at the office, you will suddenly realise that you don’t have that
important document because it is on
the external drive
.

If you are going to go through with this two-drive approach, we
recommend that you think through the way you want to store your data.
Come to an agreement with all others who will be using this laptop, so
that you all use the data the same way. As much as possible, try and
keep all your data on the external hard disk, except for the
information that you most likely will need when you are away from your
home.

You could even aim to keep no data on your laptop and everything on
your external hard drive. When you plan to be away, copy the documents
you know you need on to your laptop, and when you come back, copy them
back to your hard drive. You will need to be disciplined about this,
otherwise over time things could get messy and you’ll end up having a
mix of documents on both drives.

Finally, you could try using cloud-based services such as Dropbox or
Box.Net. Both of these services allow you to store files on a hard
disk, and have a copy of these stored online. You can then always get
access to them as long as you have an internet connection.

For more information about online backup services, refer to our
previous article: How
to backup your data online

Backing up is more complicated

Hopefully you have got a robust backup system in place. If you don’t,
we recommend you read our article: How
to backup your computer
.

Now if you do indeed have a backup system in place, you now need to
ensure that it caters for backing up both your laptop AND your external
hard drive. Do not forget to back both up, otherwise you could be in
for a nasty surprise.

You may have no choice

So maybe you don’t want to have to deal with two hard disks, and would
prefer to do things the old-fashioned way? Well unfortunately, you may
not have much choice in this matter. Consider:

  • we are storing more and more data electronically. Even if you had
    a bigger disk on your laptop, in time it will not be sufficient, and
    you will need to find a two-disk solution.
  • you can go for non-SSD hard drives, but then you’ve got a
    heavier, slower, and more power-hungry laptop. It may be better to put
    up with a two-disk solution and have a nicer laptop.

Need help figuring this out?

If you’ve read through this and still require some help – give us a
call. We’d be happy to help you over the phone at no cost to you. Give
our friendly techs a call on 1300 600 670,
or request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs
easy! 

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How to change your desktop background

Posted by itsfixed on August 20, 2011

How to change your desktop backgroundChange your wallpaper

It’s always nice to make your computer a bit more personal. One of the great things you can do is change the background of your desktop so that you see a picture of what is dearest to you, rather than the default picture that Microsoft give you when Windows is first installed. Or maybe the picture keeps chamging to something else because your kids keep changing it, and you want to know how to change it back. Keep reading in our latest guide…

Your desktop background (sometimes called your wallpaper) can be a digital picture from your personal collection, or one that comes with Windows. You can change this so that you can see photos of your kids, or your favourite pet, or your dream car, or screen idol. With Windows 7, you can even have this background image change periodically, to add variety to your computer experience. In today’s guide, we show you how to do setup your computer both the harder (but more powerful) and the easier way.

 

The hard way…

The harder way of doing this also gives you more options to control how your image is displayed (for example, is it stretched to fit the screen, or just centered?), and also allows you to have multiple images selected so that you can have a rotating display on your desktop.
1. Open Desktop Background by clicking the Start button  Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking Appearance and Personalisation, clicking Personalisation, and then clicking Desktop Background.

2. From the Desktop Background box, you can select the picture or colour that you want for your desktop background.
choose your wallpaper

If the picture you want to use is not in the list of desktop background pictures, click the Picture location down arrow to view other categories, or click Browse to search for the picture on your computer. When you find the picture you want, double-click it. It will become your desktop background and appear in the list of desktop backgrounds.

If you select a folder, instead of an individual picture, all of the pictures in that folder will be displayed. You can tick all of the photos that you want to have for your wallpaper, and Windows will cycle through them periodically.

 

3. Under How should the picture be positioned, choose to have the picture fit the screen, tile, or be centered on the screen, and then click OK.

 

The easy way…

Unlike the above method, the easy way is a lot simpler, but gives you less control. We still prefer this method for 99% of our cases.

1. Locate the picture you want in Windows Explorer. Normally this will by in your My Pictures folder.
2. Right click on the file, and select Set as Desktop Background

Your desktop background will be changed instantly. Simple right?

Don’t quite get it?

If you’ve read through this and still require some help – give us a call. We’d be happy to help you over the phone at no cost to you. Give our friendly techs a call on 1300 600 670, or request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

We make computer repairs easy! 

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How to fix a broken keyboard

Posted by itsfixed on August 6, 2011

What to do if your keyboard doesn’t workFix your broken keyboard

You’ve turned your computer on, and you’re ready to check your email – only to discover that your keyboard does not work! Oh no! This can be incredibly frustrating, but there are a few good tips that you can use to troubleshoot your hardware. And in the worst case, a replacement keyboard does not need to set you back an arm and a leg.

While our computers are usually reliable, every now and then something can go wrong. One of the problems we often see is keyboards that are no longer responsive, or have certain keys that do not work reliably. The good news is that it’s quite simple to troubleshoot this, and if not, it’s trivial to replace your keyboard these days.

Except if you have a laptop. But more on that later.

1. Is your keyboard completely non-functional?

Here are some steps you should follow to troubleshoot:

  1. Make sure it is plugged into your computer and the wire has not become loose from the computer or the keyboard itself (some keyboards have cords which can be unplugged at either end). If it is loose, you may have to turn off the computer and re-boot it before it will start working again.
  2. If your mouse and keyboard are both the PS/2 type (ie: not USB), verify that you did not accidentally connect them to each other’s jacks on the computer. If so, turn the computer off and re-connect them properly.
  3. Look to see if the keyboard has an "AT/XT" or "A/X" switch on the side or bottom; unless your computer is over fifteen years old, the switch should be in the "AT" position. If it has a "Lock", "Pause", or "Hold" key, you might have pressed it accidentally (pressing it again should unlock the keyboard and/or computer). Some old XT-only keyboards will fit newer computers, but are incompatible with them.
  4. If you are attempting to operate a USB keyboard you may need to download or otherwise obtain an appropriate USB driver before it will respond.Check the manufacturer’s website.

2. Are one of more keys not functioning properly?

Here’s a few things you should try:

  1. If the keyboard has remained in a cold room for a long period of time, or hasn’t been used for weeks, use it for several minutes and be sure to press all the frequently-used keys repeatedly; a text editor like Notepad can be opened before doing this. It might start functioning better after this, at least to some extent.
  2. If the keys are producing incorrect letters, check to see if the keyboard has any switches which could be set to an alternative layout (such as Dvorak). Try troubleshooting it by using different keyboards with the computer to determine if the problems are caused by the software or operating system. Often the Language settings in your operating system may have been changed, so your system thinks that you have a Belgian keyboard, when you’ve got a standard US/Australian one, and hence misinterprets your keystrokes.
  3. If more than one of the same letter or number appears when you press a key once, this is called "key bounce." One way to decrease these problems is to reduce the key repeat rate and/or repeat delay, in your computer’s operating system. This can be decreased in the "Keyboard" section of "Control Panel."
  4. The keyboard may require cleaning. The best method of doing this varies for different types; some have keys which can be easily removed and re-inserted, others don’t. People speak of putting keyboards in an automatic dishwasher, but we really don’t recommend this! 

3. Still no luck? We can help!!

Computer repairs can be difficult at the best of time. If any of the above steps are too daunting, don’t worry – help is easily avaialble. Give our friendly techs a call – we would love to give you some tips over the phone, or if necessary, we can come out to your place and make sure that you are safe and secure. Call us on 1300 600 670, or request help at our website at www.itsfixed.com.au.

 

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How to manage your inbox

Posted by itsfixed on August 1, 2011

How to manage your Inbox

way too full!

Oh email… how on earth did we live before you were around? Thank goodness that we don’t have to wait for the mailman to bring you – you give us instantaneous joy. But… do you need to get so cluttered? My inbox is way too large and I feel stressed just thinking about getting through my email.

If you are an email user (and let’s face it, these days who isn’t?), then you probably resonate with the above. Maybe you can take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. A study done in 2007 [See footnote 1] of workplace email habits found that:

 

  • more than 1/3 of workers check their email every 15 minutes.
  • only 38% of workers were comfortable to respond to an email when they were ready; the rest felt they had to respond immediately.
  • many workers felt ‘invaded’ by emails interrupting them and distracting them from their current tasks.
  • on average, female workers felt more stress to respond to emails than male workers.

Your personal inbox is probably cluttered up with emails from friends, advertisements from companies, useful information that you are keeping till you get a chance to read it, invitations to social events, and other junk. Most people use their email inbox as a tool not just for communicating with people, but also for storing information. This eventually leads to clutter as your inbox gets huge, and it also gets harder to find things.

It is important to recognise that there are two types of email message you receive:

  • Reference information is information that is not required to complete an action; it is information that you keep in case you need it later. Reference information is stored in your reference system—an email reference folder, your My Documents folder, or a company intranet site, for example.
  • Action information is information you must have to complete an action. Action emails are asking you to something, be it responding to an email, sending a document, calling somebody, making an appointment in your calendar, etc.

The trick to managing your inbox is to keep it as empty as possible. In order to do that, we recommend the following process, based loosely on the philosophies of David Allen (of ‘Getting Things Done’ fame)

  1. Setup a task management system – You need a way to remember to do things. That could be as simple as a paper to-do list, or you could use the task manager that comes with most email clients. You will need to use this task management system to remember to follow up on actions and refernece items in your email system.
  2. Set aside a fixed time each day to look at your emails. During this time, do your best not to be distracted by other tasks. The goal each day is get your inbox down to zero
  3. Start at the top of your inbox, and process each email one by one. When processing each email, do one of the 4 actions below, and then move to the next. DO NOT ignore an email and move to the next one.

 

The actions to manage each email are:

  1. File all reference emails – Don’t leave your reference emails in your inbox. Instead, come up with a useful way to file your reference emails, so that you can find them later. For example, you might create multiple folders within your email system, and store the emails there. And once your filing system is setup – move your emails into the filing system as they come in. DO NOT leave them sitting there to look at later, this is the first temptation. If you are worried that you will forget to read something, make a note in your task management system to read this item later.
  2. Delete email you don’t need to keep – Delete what you don’t needIf you don’t need it, why keep it? If you can find this information elsewhere, why keep it? If this is something you’re probably never going to have time to read, get rid of it! Deleting things you don’t need moves you one step closer to that empty inbox.
  3. If a task takes less than two minutes do it immediately – If any email can be answered within two minutes, do it immediately. Defering this kind of email is just procrastination.
  4. Defer other tasks to later, and file your email – Finally, you are now left with emails that you can’t complete at this time. File them away in your system, and make notes in your task management system of all the actions that you have to complete.

We are very confident that if you adopt an approach similar to this, you will find yourself with an empty uncluttered inbox, and with that, your stress will evaporate.

computer support Melbourne Need any help managing your email? Want to setup an email management system? Need advice on email software? The friendly techs at ITSFIXED love their inboxes. Give us a call on 1300 600 670, or submit a job enquiry using the form on the left to be contacted by one of our friendly team members.
 

Computer repairs do not have to be complicated.


[1] Source: M Hair, J Ramsay and K Renaud. Ubiquitous Connectivity & Work-Related Stress, 2007. Handbook of Research on Virtual Workplaces and the New Nature of Business Practices.
 

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What is Facebook – and do I want to use it?

Posted by itsfixed on July 31, 2011

What is Facebook and do I want to use it?  Facebook logo with page

Facebook is the world’s largest social network, and is no longer just for teenagers anymore.


So you’re not on Facebook… yet. Are you receiving emails from old friends asking you to join it? Do you find that your friends are making plans using Facebook and you are not able to keep up? Are your friends asking you if you liked the photos they took at your party, only to discover that you have not seen them because they were posted on Facebook?

If any of the above rings a bell, take solace in the fact that you are not alone. Facebook is the world’s largest social network, with just over 600 million members around the world. As far as populations go, this puts it as the 3rd largest population group in the world, behind China and India. Of course, this is a virtual network, but that does not mean tthat it is not in itself a community.

The largest demographic on Facebook is adults over the age of 40. That’s right, not teenagers (they are the second largest).

So what exactly is Facebook you ask? Facebook is a web site that allows you to create an online ‘page’ about yourself. You can post information to this page, including photos, music, information about yourself, your relationship status, your birthday, and lots more. So this sounds just like any other web page – except that there are 600 million other people also posting information about themselves. And Facebook allows you to search through these users and find your friends. Once you’ve found your friends, you can watch your ‘Feed’, which will update itself every time your friends update their pages.

This means that by watching your Feed, you can stay in touch with your friends and see their latest photos. On its own, this would already be amazing, but Facebook will also allow you to:

  • plan social events – setup a new Facebook event, invite your facebook friends, and it will manage all the RSVPs for you, as well as giving all your friends a helpful page with all the details of your event
  • chat with your friends – if you have used instant messaging applications like MSN Messenger or Yahoo Messenger, Facebook provides a similar facility – you can see which of your friends are online, and talk to them immediately.
  • play games with your friends – fancy a game of Scrabble with your friends? Facebook has tons of games and other ways to interact with your friends

By and large the best feature of Facebook is the ability to find your old friends. Imagine receiving an email from an old high school friend that you have not seen for 50 years. With Facebook, you will be surprised who will find you. Of course, Facebook allows you to manage your privacy, so you can always choose not to connect to somebody if you don’t want to.

So how do I get started?

  1. Sign up! – First, go to the site: facebook.com. It’s free to anyone who wants to join. Just fill in your name, gender, birthday (the date will suffice; no need to reveal the year), and e-mail address. Facebook does not publish your e-mail address but uses it to forward you any messages people send to you on the site. Then click "Sign Up." You’ll be asked to enter a security code that appears on the page. This is called a "captcha," and it helps the site keep out spamming software. Soon, you’ll receive an e-mail confirmation that your account has been launched. (If you don’t receive it right away, you may want to check your e-mail program’s spam folder to make sure it didn’t end up in there.)
  2. Get started – Click on the link in your confirmation e-mail and you’ll be taken to Facebook’s "Getting Started" page. If any of your friends have already been looking for you on Facebook, you’ll see their names here and you can add them to your friend list, if you like.
  3. Find your friends – Facebook will now ask if you want to allow the program to scan your e-mail account to find any friends who are already registered on the site. This is a great way to find out if any of your friends, relatives, or professional contacts are on Facebook, and then, if you like, add them to your network. But none of them will be added automatically, and you don’t have to include anyone you don’t want. Rather, you’ll be asked to choose which contacts you want to add to your network. (You can skip this step if you prefer.)
  4. Network – Next you’ll have the opportunity to enter your high school, college, employers, or other affiliations, to find out whether more people you know might already be on Facebook. Again, the site gives you the option of adding each suggested person as a "friend" or ignoring them. You can always skip these steps or ignore people you don’t know or don’t want to friend. (No one will ever know that you chose not to add them to your friend list.) Once you complete these steps, you’ll be taken to your brand-new Facebook page. You’re done!
  5. Update – Congratulations, you have a Facebook page! Now it’s up to you to set up and edit your profile. Be sure to upload a photo and add any other information you’re comfortable sharing, such as what city you live in, where you work, and whether you’re married. (You can set your Facebook preferences so that as little or much of your personal information as you like is shared with people outside your network of friends.) Now you can start sharing: Just go to the box at the top of your page that asks, “What’s on your mind?” and let your friends know what you’re up to.

Need more help?

Still not sure? Give our call centre a call, we would be happy to answer any other questions you have over the phone at no charge. Or if you would like somebody to come around to show you how to use Facebook, we would love to help you.

Computer repairs do not have to be complicated.

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Backup your data online!

Posted by itsfixed on February 12, 2011

We all know that we need to backup our computers. The problem is that it’s a tedious, thankless job, and most people do not back up their data. We hate visiting our clients who have lost all their data and have no backups – it’s really difficult to help them, and hard disk forensic services can be quite expensive.

You may have read our recent article (Backup your computer) in a previous blog. While that provides really sound advice for setting up a basic backup regime, there are also newer technologies that you may find easier.

There are excellent services like Dropbox that allow you to seamlessly backup your data to an offsite location via the Internet. When you install DropBox, it nominates a particular folder on your hard drive to be your ‘My DropBox’ folder. Anything you put in that folder will automatically be synced to the Internet. Even better, if you have another computer, you can have your data synced to a folder on that computer as well!

So why would I use Dropbox?

Here are some other benefits of Dropbox:

1. You don’t have to remember to backup

Dropbox continually synchronises your hard disk with the Internet backup. You modify a file, seconds later, it’s backed up. If you have a second computer, a few seconds after that, your modified file is on your other computer. Easy!

2. You can access your data from anywhere!

Suppose you are not at home, and you really wish you had access to your documents. No problems – go to http://www.dropbox.com, login, and you can get full access to your folders. And when you go home, you’ll see that your computer will have the latest version that you modified while online.

This comes in really handy when traveling overseas, where it is next to impossible to get to your computer.

3. It works on Macs and PCs and phones

Whether you are a Mac or a PC person, Dropbox will work for you. And if you need to, you can even access your Dropbox from your internet-connected mobile phone, such as your iPhone.

4. It’s a great way to share documents

Suppose you want to share some documents with a friend. Maybe you are both working on a project together. With Dropbox, it’s as simple as right-clicking on the folder you wish to share, selecting ‘Share’, entering your friend’s email address, and voila! – your friend now has access to that same folder. You can control access to be read-only, or full access.

5. It’s free!

The best thing about Dropbox is that it’s free! The free service allows you to backup 2.5Gb of data. If you need more, they have paid plans ranging from $100-$200 a year, and will allow you to backup up to 100Gb of data.

So how do I use it?

Here’s a really excellent guide to using Dropbox.

I’m confused – help!

Not a problem. The friendly techs at itsfixed have helped many customers with their backups. Why not give them a call on 1300 600 670, or visit their website at http://www.itsfixed.com.au and ask for help!

 

Back up your data at itsfixed.com.au
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