New computer recommendation links

Updated 5/12/21:

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.

Click on the links below to view recommended computers meeting the recommended specifications noted above at the respective retailer’s website. Some models may be available in-store.

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

Apple Mac (M1 chip)

New iMac 24″ 2021

MacBook Air Late 2020

Computer / Internet News

Spend a few minutes to check out these scams so that you don’t become a victim

Scammers are becoming increasingly clever. Every month we hear from clients who have been scammed by letting someone take control of their computer and coerce them into paying for support for non-existent computer or account-related problems. With a little bit of knowledge of how these scams work, you won’t become a victim yourself.

Scams typically start with a website pop-up, email, phone call or text message from a well-known company such as Amazon, Windows/Microsoft, Apple, or Netflix. You are notified about a large purchase that has been or will be charged to your account – or there’s a problem with your account or device/computer. You’re told to call, click a link or talk to a fraud/account representative to confirm the purchase or account information. No matter how legitimate it sounds – It’s a scam! Read on about some of the most common scams we’ve encountered recently:

  • “Someone just charged an item to your Amazon account. I’m calling to confirm the purchase or refund your money.”
  • “This is the FBI and we’ve detected pornographic images on your computer. You must pay a fine right away!”
  • “This is your friend Bob. Can you please buy a gift card for me so I can give to my niece – I’ll pay you back.”
  • “Grandma, this is your grandson – I’m in trouble and you need to bail me out. Please don’t tell mom!”
  • “Your credit card number has expired. I’m calling to get your new number or your service will be cancelled right away!”
  • “I’ve hacked into your email account – I can prove it because your password is xxxxxx. I’ve got embarrassing pictures of you that I captured with your webcam. If you don’t pay up, I’ll release the the pictures to all of your contacts.”
  • “Your computer protection has expired. If you don’t call right away we’re charging $399 to your account to renew the protection.”

WHAT YOU SHOULD DO: Ignore the pop-up, email, call or SMS. If you answer an unexpected phone call, don’t answer or engage with the scammer – hang up. Most likely there is no problem at all. Unfortunately you can’t trust unknown or unsolicited callers to be who they say they are, nor can you trust the name or number on Caller ID – scammers frequently used forged numbers. Never, ever allow someone you don’t know coerce you into letting them view your computer screen or allow remote access. You wouldn’t allow someone knocking on your door to come in – the same should be true for an unsolicited phone call or message.

If in doubt, log into your account normally (not via a link in an email or telephone number provided in a recording) to check for any unrecognized activity. Or you can call the company using the phone number listed on their official website, or printed on a card you have from the company.

If you’ve already gone too far and realize that you’ve engaged in a conversation with a scammer – below are some examples of how you can quickly get out of the situation.

  • “My attorney/caregiver handles all of my affairs. Contact him/her.”
  • “Send me an official correspondence in the mail – you should already have my mailing address.”

Often times scammers tell you that you must act fast – so that you don’t have time to think about it, contact a trusted tech-savvy friend, family member or computer technician. Stick to your better judgement, remain in control of the conversation – or just hang up.

If you’ve already been scammed, contact us for a thorough computer security check so that we can determine when it’s safe to use your computer.

Learn more:

Listen to these recordings of scam calls so that you can recognize them and not fall victim

Please listen to our recordings of scam calls and messages that you’ll likely receive at some point in time, so that you can become familiar with the scams and not fall victim to them. Click the orange Play button below, or listen to all uploaded Scam calls on clyp.it.

Internet crimes up over 69% in 2020: Phishing scams more than double and people over 60 the most common victims

The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center has released its annual report. The 2020 Internet Crime Report includes information from 791,790 complaints of suspected internet crime—an increase of more than 300,000 complaints from 2019—and reported losses exceeding $4.2 billion.

Topping the list of types of reported internet crimes was phishing, which more than doubled last year. People over 60 were the most common victims according to the report. Nevada had the 8th most complaints of the states and territories included in the report – yet it is the 32nd most populous.

The phishing category also includes vishing, smishing and pharming – all techniques via email, voicemail, text messaging or via fraudulent websites that attempt to trick victims into divulging personal information such as passwords or credit card numbers.

People over 60 were the most common victim – likely due to the age group growing up in a more trusting society and their less understanding of technology.

Perhaps most surprising is that Nevadans reported the most complaints per thousand people than any other state.

In summary, now is the time to become educated on how to spot internet crimes so that you or someone you know doesn’t become the next victim.

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.