Tuesday, 31 January 2017

file.docx extensions.pdf

In most cases on modern operating systems (Windows or Mac) we rarely have to spare a thought for files extensions, those three (or more) letters at the end of a file name sometimes seen when you "Save As" a document.

File extensions indicate to the operating system the type of file a document is and then "File Associations" determine the correct application to open said file. Typically when a new application is installed that can handle a certain group of file types the user gets a chance to update file associations accordingly.

Sometimes file associations can become messed up or corrupt maybe through a bad software installation, when this happens photos may appear as garbled text documents or spread sheets my appear as corrupt .jpg images, this problem can be fixed by resetting your file associations to default settings.

Here are a few typical file extensions...

.doc - Microsoft Word Document
.xls - Microsoft Excel Document
.jpg - (.jpeg) Joint Photographic Experts Group - Photo or Image File
.gif - (pronounced "Jiff") Graphics Interchange Format - Image File
.png - (pronounced "Ping") Portable Network Graphics - Image File
.pdf - Portable Document Format - Typically Read Only Document
.mp3 - An Audio Coding Format - Music or Audio File

Have you got file association issues on your PC or Mac? The Computer Wiz can help, call 01553 660941 or email help@cpwiz.co.uk

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

The Route(r) to Good WiFi

Electricity, Gas, Water, WiFi ...You'd be forgiven for perceiving WiFi as you would any other household utility, do you know anyone who hasn't got home broadband? ...probably not!

Now here's the issue... You don't have to keep turning your water, gas or electricity supplies off and on again to work properly, so why do we tolerate this with our broadband or WiFi? The answer is of course that the delivery of broadband with WiFi is much more complex for the service providers as many factors and even third parties are depended upon as well as the quality of equipment provided such as routers.

Firstly here's a really basic guide to how you get broadband via WiFi in your home:

  1. Broadband (and fibre) is provided via your phone line which depends upon your external an internal wiring being up to scratch, many broadband issues can be attributed to internal phone wiring such as badly wired extensions or where applicable the omission of line filters.
  2. Your router is plugged into the Master Phone Socket, connection via long extensions or leads, for instance to an upstairs office, can cause reliability problems. As a rule extend the network, not the phone lead.
  3. Your router (usually provided by your ISP, eg. BT) as a rule is pre-configured with the correct credentials such as username and password to authenticate your router onto the IPS's network and then onto the Internet. The tech-ie bit - Your ISP assigns your network an external IP address which identifies you on the internet.
  4. When online your router offers 2 ways to connect to the Internet, Wired - through several sockets on the back of the router or via WiFi - A wireless connection method which offers freedom to move around the house while maintaining your connection. Wherever possible I personally prefer a wired connection (say the  your computer is in a fixed location such as your desk) as you're not dependent on WiFi and therefore there's less to go potentially wrong.

More about the magic of WiFi:

  1. Wifi comes at two speeds or bandwidths on most modern routers 2.4Ghz, this is the strongest and more reliable bandwidth but delivers a slower connection to the internet, that said in most cases you'd only really notice the difference when transferring large files either locally or online. 5Ghz is much faster that 2.4Ghz but is more prone to loss of signal quality though distance of natural obstacles such as stone walls. My advice is stick to 2.4Ghz.
  2. Plug your router into the Master Socket and don't sit it on the floor, a table or sideboard is much better for good signal quality. Don't forget routers and phone extension leads are bad :(
  3. NEVER NEVER NEVER use home WiFi without protection - You should have an SSID (your WiFi name) and a Password, if your network does not you'll need to get this fixed FAST as it could be a really bad security risk.  
  4. WiFi Extenders are a great way to get your Internet connection to say an upstairs or even garden office without the hassle of having network cables professionally installed.

Common WiFi Issues:

  1. Extension leads or bad wiring - I know I keep going on about extension leads but they really are the spawn of the devil! Don't use them! If your broadband keeps going bad,  it might be the actual Internet connection or it might be a WiFi issue on the router.
  2. Have you tried turning it off and on again? I know it's an old cliché but in most cases this will do the trick, if the issue is a one-off or very occasional then there's really no need to worry, but if the fault keeps coming back further intervention may be required. If you switch your router off and back on agin too often then the ISP may put your connection into fault mode, a much slower connection speed while the connection if monitored for further issues, use this trick sparingly.
  3. It might not be your fault! The first thing you should always do the  you have a problem with your broadband is call your ISP to check there's not an issue their end, sometimes you can cause faults at your end that weren't there before! Check first!
  4. Routers don't last forever! Your router works very hard, distributing your internet connection over wired and WiFi 24/7 year after year, eventually they degrade in performance the eventually stop working all together. If your router is provided by your ISP you may need to argue and jump through some hoops to get it replace but do persevere as a new router often makes all the difference to speed and reliability.

Need help with your WiFi or Broadband call The Computer Wiz on 01553 660941

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

I Wasn't Expecting That!

What to do when it all goes wrong... Modern computers are much more reliable and easy to use than their predecessors, with more robust software design and lot's of "Get out of jail free" software you're less likely to run in to problems than ever before.

...BUT ...It can happen! Here's a few tips on how to stay out of trouble.

  1. Don't Interrupt! - If you're computer seems unresponsive when carrying out a command or installing or uninstalling a piece of software. On a PC you can observe the harddrive light (LED) to confirm your computer is busy, unfortunately on a Mac there is no such light. Wait for the task to complete and become more responsive. Be patient!
  2. When installing and it says "Don't Switch Off Your Computer" ...DON'T ...This can lead to unrecoverable damage to the operating system and in some cases even your harddrive. When updates are being installed quite often crucial system files are being re-written, if you disturb this process the file(s) may remain incomplete causing you computer to be unable to load the operating system as well as possible loss of data.
  3. Read what's on the screen - I guess I should have really made this Rule #1 as I often refer to it as this when advising my customers. Often frustrated or confused computer users become "text-blind" when faced with an unforeseen computer problem, in many cases the software provider are trying to guide you with instructions or possible solutions and the answer may well be staring you in the face.  
  4. If you get really stuck and your computer isn't responding for a long time (I don't mean just 5 mins!), observe the harddrive light, if the light is flickering almost constantly then continue to wait (it is working on something), on the other hand if the harddrive light is settling down to an occasional flicker and the computer is still unresponsive then you may want to consider a "hard shutdown" (don't take this step lightly - there is some risk!). To do a hard shutdown hold down the power button for at least 8 seconds, the computer will then power down immediately. NEVER just switch off at the mains! As there is no harddrive light on a Mac time is the best option as you won't really know if the harddrive is busy or not.
  5. Finally did you back up your stuff? If in doubt back it up now! See my post on backup.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

You Have New Mail!

Despite what you might think YOU get to choose your email provider... Most people settle for the email address provided by their ISP (Internet Service Provider) such as acustomer@btinternet.com or acustomer@talktalk.net, this is ok until the day you decide to change your ISP, you then have to email all of your contacts and let them know your new email address (a real pain!).

Let's look at how you can simplify and control your email... Firstly choose your eco-system, for example if you use a Windows PC you may want to take advantage of a free @outlook.com email address, or on the other hand if you use an Apple Mac you may want to go for a free @icloud.com email address, Gmail is great if you're using the Google eco-system. Once you've decided upon your new email address you'll probably want to check your email from your old email provider, and logging into your old email account can be a real pain, a simple alternative is "Mail Forwarding"; email gets sent to your@oldemail.com and gets automatically forwarded to your@newemail.com.

Most modern email providers such as @outlook.com, @gmail.com and @icloud.com use "Push" as opposed to "IMAP" or "POP". The main advantage of "Push" email is that email get's (yes you guessed it) Pushed to your inbox instantly (like a text message).

Do you need a business email address? email@yourbusiness.com requires you to register a domain such as yourbusiness.com which can be purchased from an ISP like 123-reg.co.uk. Some ISP's offer push or "Exchange" email as an optional extra, my advice is to take advantage of Microsofts' Office 365 with Hosted Exchange which enables Push Email, Contacts and Calendar with your own domain.

The Computer Wiz can help with taking control of your email. Talk to us!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Staying safe on public WiFi

When out and about it's tempting to blindly connect to the first 'FREE' WiFi network you come across, but wait! Is that 'FREE' network a genuine WiFi Hotspot?

A common method used by hackers to get hold of your personal data or even bank or credit card credentials is a 'Man-in-the-middle' attack. The hacker set's up a WiFi hotspot designed to look official waiting for unsuspecting members of the public to connect and unwittingly hand over all their personal data. ...and don't think you're safe on your smartphone or tablet because YOU'RE NOT! Phones and tablets CAN also be hacked!

Tips to stay safe

  1. If you must join a public WiFi hotspot use the advertised WiFi network or ask a member of staff for assistance.
  2. NEVER NEVER NEVER bank, shop online or do anything which involves confidential data when on public WiFi.
  3. When possible use a cellular 3G or 4G connection and switch WiFi off on your device.
  4. Finally always think before you click!
See my post on AntiVirus Software... Don't get ripped off!