New computer recommendation links

Updated 2/17/21:

Since you’ll likely be spending the next 5-10 years or more with your next computer, please take a few minutes now to make an informed decision about what to look for in a new computer and accessories – and get the best deal. 

All computers recommendations below match our recommended Windows 10 computer specifications of Intel Core i3/AMD Ryzen 5 processor or better, 8 GB RAM or more, and a 128 – 256GB Solid State Drive (SSD) or larger. For a Mac computer consider getting an Apple M1 chip rather than Intel processor. Please read New Computer Buying Guide for more detailed information.

If you come across a good deal elsewhere, remember to look for specifications that are a minimum of what’s listed above. We’ve had the best reliability with HP and Dell brands. Keep in mind that cheaper laptops and all-in-ones typically only have a vertical screen resolution of 768, whereas higher quality and clearer screens are 1080 or higher.

Desktop PCs:

Best Buy – Dell, HP – SSD PC Desktops

Costco – Dell, HP Desktops – make sure hard drive is SSD or HDD+SSD

HP Store – Desktop computer towers with SSD

Dell – Desktop computers & All-in-One PCs with SSD

Laptop/Notebook PCs – regular price differences are due to variances in screen size, processor (speed), screen resolution and 2-in-1 convertibility:

Costco – Dell, HP – SSD PC Laptops

Best Buy – Dell, HP SSD PC Laptops

Computer / Internet News

FTC Identity Theft website guides victims through the recovery process

If you’ve been a victim of identity theft, the Federal Trade Commission’s IdentityTheft.gov is the federal government’s one-stop resource for identity theft victims. The site provides streamlined checklists and sample letters to guide you through the recovery process.

If you haven’t been a victim, read these tips to help keep your identity from being stolen or compromised in the first place: Prevent Identity Theft.

Massive government and business computer hack will likely effect home users too – What you need to do

A massive government and business computer hack was discovered early this month (December 2020), but the long term effects likely won’t be known for months or years as more knowledge is obtained about what companies were affected and what data may have been (or will be) breached.

Early details of the hack are explained in these comprehensive articles from CNN and CNET. The hack was spread to thousands of computer systems, altogether likely containing the private data of a majority of US citizens. That data may be compromised and leaked to miscreants if the data on those computer systems was not securely stored or encrypted. Hackers may be holding onto such data for months or years to come.

So what should the home computer user do?

  • Change your passwords ASAP: Data breaches usually contain email addresses and sometimes passwords. If you use the same password for different websites, you are more vulnerable to having your other accounts hacked. Click here to create a secure memorable password system.
  • Make sure all of your devices are up to date: By default Windows and MacOS computers update automatically. But other internet connected software and hardware usually require manual updates – such as iOS, iPadOS, Android, internet routers, video doorbells and cameras, streaming media players, etc. If you need help making sure all of your internet connected devices have the latest security patches, please contact us.
  • Be suspicious of every email, phone call, SMS or browser pop-up: Initially do not trust any unsolicited email, phone call, SMS or pop-up in your web browser – particularly if it’s asking you to do something. Treat everything as “guilty until proven innocent”. See how to recognize scams and phishing attempts for more information.

How to create a secure memorable password system

Originally posted January 2010. Updated September 2020:

To help prevent unauthorized access to personal information, many websites require a password that consists of six or more characters, numbers and letters, and uppercase and lowercase letters. Creating a password that meets the requirements and being something you can remember doesn’t have to be a challenge.

I have created a password system that you can use or modify to create memorable passwords. The most important part of the system is that a different password is created for each website.

If you currently use the same password for different websites, if the password or website gets compromised, hackers could access your data on all other websites that you use. That would be bad.

The system divides a password into 3 memorable parts that create a secure 10-character password when put together:

[Read more…]

Watch the world from home

To help pass the time while sheltering or quarantining at home, check out these websites to view live video of webcams featuring scenery and nature.

  • EarthCam – A website and also available as an app on various devices
  • EarthCamTV – Random webcams around the globe displayed on a schedule
  • earthTV – Also available as a live streaming YouTube channel
  • Explore.org livecams – Watch nature and animals
  • WindowSwap – See random views from Windows throughout the world
  • Reno area live webcams – A comprehensive list of location and traffic cameras
  • 511 Home – Local road and traffic cameras viewable on a map

How to send a message from your phone correctly

This may happen to you: A few times each month I get an email delivered to my junk/spam folder from an address such as 7755551212@txt.att.net. If I happen to recognize the 10-digit phone number before the “@” symbol I can recognize who it’s from, and respond accordingly. But often times it goes unnoticed or unopened.

When sending messages from a smartphone you typically have 2 options – a “Messages” app and an “Email” app.

The Messages app is meant for sending short messages – usually 160 characters or less – to the recipient’s phone number. The message can be accompanied by one or more photos. If you incorrectly send a message to an email address, it goes through your wireless carrier’s SMS-to-email gateway which converts the message and appears to the recipient as an email coming from “your-mobile-number”@”your-carriers-gateway” – as described in the beginning paragraph of this article. Messages typically cannot be read on a computer – they are meant for mobile-to-mobile communications.

The Email app is meant for sending an email to the recipient’s email address. Emails can contain lots of text, photos, short videos or other attachments, and can be recognized by the recipient in their as originating from your display name and/or email address.

The next time you originate a message or email from your mobile device, make sure you are addressing the recipient in the correct app and correct format – using their 10-digit phone number or email address appropriately.

Can you spot a scam? Take the quiz.

How well can you spot a scam? Take the following quizzes to help protect yourself the next time you get an email, text message, website pop-up or phone call.

The 3 golden rules to thwart scammers

Can you spot when you’re being phished?

We can help with many computer issues without coming out to your home

A majority of our customers already take advantage of our remote support service

Remote Support allows us to see your computer screen and operate your keyboard and mouse via your internet connection. This can be helpful if you need a quick-fix to a problem, or other service that doesn’t require an in-home visit. Or perhaps you’d like service outside of our normal in-home daytime business hours. With Remote Support we offer a lower 1/2 hour minimum rate of $49, whereas there’s a one-hour $99 minimum charge to come out to your home. Payment can be made via credit card on our secure webpage at the completion of the service.

Remote Support is available for most services, including (but not limited to):

  • Troubleshoot web browser redirects and fake scare warning screens
  • Help with recovery of forgotten passwords and hacked accounts
  • Virus/malware/adware/pop-up scan/removal
  • PC slowdown issues
  • Software problems
  • Microsoft Office help
  • Data backup and recovery
  • Preventative/proactive maintenance
  • Email setup/customization
  • Training/tutoring

Remote support is not available if you don’t have a connection to the internet. Please contact us if you have questions.

To get started, while talking with your technician on the phone we will have you go to our web page at CTreno.com/help then download and run a small “Remote Support” program. The program will present you with an ID and temporary passcode to tell us, which will allow us temporarily access to your computer only for the duration of the call.

Give the gift of computer help or service

Are you looking for the perfect gift for someone who needs computer help or service? Consider giving the gift of computer help or service with the purchase of a Computer Techs eGift Card. eGift Cards can be used towards payment of remote support or on-site services. Click the link picture below for more details, or to purchase now.