Don't Panic - Google Calendar is Down

A Teachable Moment. . .

Google Calendar is having an issue today. If you open your calendar in a web browser, you may see a page like this:

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We're all accustomed to these services working perfectly all the time, so many people assume it's their own fault when this happens.  But you may not know that you can find out for sure very easily!

Here's how to check if the problem is with Google:

Search the web for "google status" and the first thing you should find is G Suite Status Dashboard. Click on that, and you'll see a page like this:

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Notice the orange dot next to Google Calendar? That shows a service disruption. And you can also see that Gmail had an issue yesterday.

They're usually back up in a matter of hours at worst--you are NOT the only one concerned! And meantime, you can often still access your calendar data on a phone or tablet.

Adieu, Old Tools

Skills You Should Have

My favorite among the ESSENTIAL computers skills everyone should have is the ability to select multiple items at once. Super useful when you need to delete, move, copy, organize a bunch of files, email, photos, whatever, and really easy once you know how. 

Tutorials are now up on our YouTube channel:  for Macfor Windows

Windows People:
DO.
YOUR.
UPDATES.

Microsoft’s latest update for Windows 10 seems to be working (for once), and (finally!) restores the ability to pause updates, which always seem to happen at the worst possible time.  

If you’re running ANY OLDER VERSION of Windows (7, 8, XP, Server), there’s a serious new threat out there; details here, but consider upgrading sooner than January, when Windows 7 support ends.

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Out with iTunes, in with iPadOS

Monday was Apple’s big annual developer conference, where they announced:

  • The death of iTunes, whose functions are being split among 3 different apps (Music, TV, and Podcasts); but don't worry, you won't lose your music and so on.

  • new Mac Pro for professionals (aka “the $6000 cheese grater”),

  • An easier and more secure way to sign into apps;

  • “Dark mode” for iPhones and iPads, easier on the eyes and may use less power;

  • And that iPad software will begin diverging from iPhone software, to take advantage of the extra capabilities of the iPad and make it more computer-like. 

Most of this won’t take effect until September, so don’t panic about the changes (yet). A notable exception is Back to my Mac, which will be retired effective July 1. If you need remote access and iCloud doesn’t do it for you, we’d suggest TeamViewer instead.

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Remember Tokens?

It’s been 23 years since the Metrocard was introduced, and now the MTA is rolling out click-pay, which will use your phone or contactless credit card for subway rides. Limited locations on the 4/5/6 line now, but coming to your ride soon.

Pros:

  • Fast and easy, after the initial setup

  • No more mystery metrocard balance

Cons:

  • Privacy

  • Security (no confirm-to-pay)

  • No multi-ride or Transitchek discounts (yet)

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Hot Complain is
Our New Favorite Kind

Just for fun, here's an excerpt from a manufacturer's email we just received:

4. Hot complain: When all the function use in the same time,
the hub will be a little hot, please kindly know,
under 125.6℉ is safety, this won’t hurt any devices or hub.


. .  . . Good to know.

No, You're NOT an Idiot

Smart, capable people call us when technology problems make them feel like idiots. Here are some situations we’ve been seeing a lot lately—perhaps they’ll sound familiar.

  • Mac users, unaware of the recent issues with Mac keyboards, convinced they are terrible typists. (They’re not: and Apple will fix your keyboard for free if it’s on this list, but be sure to back up first).

  • Verizon Wireless customers unable to get Verizon’s robocall screening app to work—because apparently you have to call them to activate the free version. (Ugh).

  • MANY people who’ve fallen victim to online scams and phishing attacks. They’re not idiots; the scammers are clever, creative, and HIGHLY motivated. These scams reap millions of dollars, especially from older people (the data suggest that we may become more gullible as we age).

It really infuriates us when good people get scammed, so here are

Five Tips to Keep You out of Trouble Online

1.    Learn ONE SIMPLE TRICK to close pop-ups

Say a scary web page pops up saying YOUR COMPUTER IS INFECTED, CALL MICROSOFT [or Apple] IMMEDIATELY AT THIS NUMBER. It may even speak or play music loudly.

And there’s no “close” button. You can’t get out of the page. So in desperation you end up calling the number on the screen.

SOLUTION:  you can often close a popup window using easy W (for Window) key combinations:

  • on a Mac: hold the CMD key and tap W (Cmd + W)

  • on a PC: hold the CTRL key and tap W (Ctrl + W)

2. Treat AMAZING FREE OFFERS as if a stranger is asking for your wallet

The most common breaches now are Trojan Horse-like situations where we innocently let something we shouldn’t into our computers. Some “helpful” apps steal your personal information, install malware, or change your browser settings. Plus, what they offer can usually be done better another way. So if you see an offer for a FREE! HELPFUL! TOOL! that will, for example:

  • Save you money!!!

  • Give you maps and directions!!!

  • Stop pop up ads!!!!

  • Convert your documents to PDF’s!!!!

DO NOT INSTALL IT no matter how tempting it sounds unless you are ABSOLUTELY SURE it’s safe and necessary. (Clients, feel free to shoot us an email and ask).  

(If you think you might already have done this, here’s how to remove them: Chrome, Firefox, Safari).

3.     Use Bookmarks to stay on the sunny side

A common way people get into trouble is by visiting deceptive web pages. You can avoid this by creating bookmarks to websites you visit frequently (especially financial sites).

Here’s how (in Chrome).

4.     Don’t Call Unknown Numbers

The FCC is warning of a new one-ring phone call scam.

5. Back Away from the Bad Guys, Slooowly and Carefully

If you DO get caught---you called the number and allowed a stranger into your computer:

1.     Be polite. It’s important not to anger a scammer who is already connected to your computer, because they can do a LOT of damage.

2.     Don’t pay them anything, ever.*

3.     Those scary-looking “events” they may show you on your computer are normal, NOT a sign of major problems. Don’t panic.

4.     Hanging up the phone doesn’t get them out of your computer. If you can’t figure out how to disconnect them, continue to chat pleasantly and TURN OFF THE COMPUTER; if all else fails, hold the power button down until the computer is completely off.

5.     When you turn the computer back on, stay offline while you remove any software (apps) they installed.

6.     Scan for malware (Malwarebytes is a great tool with a free trial).

7.     Assume they have captured your passwords; change the important ones (email, backup software, financial) immediately, and turn on second factor authentication, always.

8.     Print this out and keep it near your computer (or your mom’s).

*The one exception: if you are the victim of a ransomware attack and you have no backup; in that case you have no choice. But there’s no excuse for not having backup!!!