Author: Jesse Mueller (Page 1 of 6)

Finding Your Computer’s Serial Number

When calling in for tech or warranty support for your computer, you will probably be asked for the computer’s serial number. It’s usually stamped or adhesed to the computer chassis, and may be called S/N or Service Tag on certain brands of systems.

Except it’s not always easy to find that sticker. Maybe your office is too dark or your eyes can’t focus on the tiny writing or your computer tower is inaccessible, half-buried under files and equipment. Or maybe the serial number has worn away from the underside of your laptop and can’t be read. You’ll want an better way to get that number.

Apple makes it super-easy — just click the Apple menu and then click About This Mac. But on a Windows computer, it’s not so obvious. Here’s a trick that usually works:

In Windows, open a Command Prompt window. If you don’t see Command Prompt on your Start menu, you can right-click your Start button to get to it. Or you can press Windows+R and type in cmd .

At the Command Prompt, type in:

wmic bios get serialnumber

and press Enter, and your serial number should appear!

Wet Electronics & The Rice Myth

When your phone gets wet, many people immediately rush to get a bag of rice. Please don’t do this. Resting a soaked phone among dry grains of rice does very little to draw out moisture. And it can encourage starch to get up inside your device, worsening its condition.

I know this may hard to swallow. The Rice Myth has been passed along for many years now, and by well-respected tech publications, but it doesn’t hold up with pragmatic technicians. Look into the history of the myth and check out how some people have run tests with dunked phones and you may gain some new perspective.

What should you do or not do, if you’ve had a water-emergency with your phone?

  • Do NOT power on the device. Do NOT connect the phone to its power cable.
  • Turn the phone off and keep it off.
  • Remove the battery (if possible).
  • Do NOT heat the device. Do NOT put the device in the freezer.
  • Do NOT shake the device.
  • Gently wipe or blot away excess water.

OK, so what next? I see two ways forward:

  1. You can pack your cellphone in a bag with desiccant packets. Or park your device next to a dehumidifier. And wait. After some days, you can take your chances at a power-on. But if moisture remains trapped in the tight confines of the phone chassis, it may short out and die anyway. Your main tool here is Hope, and she is just as fickle as her sister, Luck.
  2. Call a company that specializes in saving wet technology. If you choose this option, waste no time in calling them, as they say that internal corrosion may set in quickly. Depending on your brand of device, your preferences and service availability, consider contacting:

Companies like those listed above really know what they’re doing with wet devices. They may use vacuum & heating techniques to wick away water, or they may displace the H²O with alcohol solutions, after disassembling the device. Your chances with one of their methods are much better than a home-remedy. And many of them offer a No-Charge-Unless-It’s-Fixed policy!

Lastly, please know that cellphones have hidden sensors that show if they’ve gotten wet. And most warranties are void once the wetness sensor has been tripped. So don’t make a warranty claim on a cellphone that went swimming. They’ll call you on it, and leave you wishing you’d been honest about it.

AT&T Notifying Some Users to Buy New Phones

Some AT&T users are receiving emails and texts this week, telling them to upgrade their phones or lose service. Some people are asking if the messages are scams (because of the grammar and spelling). And others are getting annoyed because their phones are not that old.

These messages are legitimate. And yet, they are not clear on all the details. Here’s what AT&T cellular customers need to know:

In February 2022, AT&T will kill off their 3G network. After that, older 3G-reliant phones will stop working. Phones that are 4G-compatible (and support HD voice) will continue to work.

So, you don’t really need to do anything until February 2022. Don’t rush out to buy a new phone, if your current one is working just fine.

AT&T has put together a list of phones that will work on their 4G service here: If you don’t see your make and model of phone on the list, and you think it should be (because it’s a newer phone), contact AT&T to press them on the issue. And if you don’t like what you hear, then you have plenty of time to shop around for a new cellular provider!

The Big iPhone Throttling Settlement

In 2017, Apple got in hot water for slowing down some of their iPhones. They did this for legitimate technology reasons, but because they didn’t disclose it properly, it looked really bad. Their lack of transparency made it seem like they were deliberately slowing their older phones, and many suspected it was done to drive new iPhone sales.

A class action lawsuit ensued, and it has finally come to a head. If you were affected by this iPhone issue (iPhones 6’s and 7’s with specific iOSes), you can stake your claim to your share of the settlement. Check out:

To sign up for your payment, you’ll probably use the Claim Form Online link to submit your info. Please know that you’ll either need your iPhone serial number, or you’ll have to use their special Search Tool, submitting your AppleID and other personal info. If you did not own a relevant iPhone, then you will probably not succeed in signing up for a payment!

It looks like claims must be submitted by 10/6/2020 so that they can wrap things up by December and start mailing out checks for the new year. If all goes well, you’ll get a whopping $25. Per qualifying iPhone.

Missing Child Alerts on Social Media

When a child is in danger, we all want to help. I get it. It’s part of the human condition. But when you see a Missing Child alert on Facebook, I need to warn you that you should pause and remain dubious. Do Not Share or spread that Post (yet)!

Missing Child posts may not be what they seem. And it is very difficult to know the truthful ones from the frauds. With some alerts, a child may truly be missing and in danger. In other cases, the minor may be fleeing from danger. They could be in hiding for their own protection, or sought after by a person who does not have legal custody. Or worse.

If you cannot determine the truth of such an alert, it’s best to not share, and just move on. Only pass on the information if it came from a confirmed police source or a reputable news outlet. If the alert is asking you to contact a police department with relevant info, that goes a long way to legitimizing the report.

When shopping online, most people rely on product reviews to determine whether to buy something. But some sellers seek to game the system and generate (numerous!) fake reviews on their product listings. Maybe they do this to offset negative reviews or to create false demand; regardless, it amounts to deception.

And it’s such a widespread problem that the big companies often can’t keep up! Since fake reviews are usually hard to spot, here’s a tool that can help:

Fakespot wants to give you their opinion about *all* the reviews for a given product. If an item has a lot of fake reviews or if they detect anything else suspicious going on with a product listing, Fakespot will tell you! All you need to do is copy a link to the product page and paste it into Fakespot’s website.

Fakespot currently works on website listings for: Amazon, BestBuy, Sephora, Steam, TripAdvisor, Yelp & Walmart. Others may be added in the future, too!

If you end up using this site a lot, they also offer a Chrome extension you can add and use for free, so your browser “spots fakes” automatically for you.

One last thing: It’s important to know that Fakespot is not reviewing the product itself. They only review the reviews!

Logitech Harmony Express Remotes Will Soon Stop Working

Last year, Logitech came out with these fab new universal remotes with Alexa built-in! But things didn’t go so well, and Logitech has decide to retire these remotes. Because these things are reliant on their links to the internet, apps & Amazon, they will stop working when Logitech shuts down their associated connections. If you have one of these remotes, it will be “bricked” on 9/30/2020.

These things were not cheap, so Logitech is doing the right thing: You can go to Logitech and get a Harmony Elite remote as a replacement, or you may ask for a refund of your original purchase price. The details for doing that are here:

All other Logitech remotes are unaffected by this event. Unless your remote looks like the one below, your Logitech remote control devices should keep working as normal.

Norton Power Eraser

Norton Power Eraser is another one-time scan tool for Windows computers. Similar to ADWCleaner, it will scour your PC for malware and other baddies and offer to remove them. If you are concerned that something got past your full-time antivirus, this is another good tool to run.

NPE is a little different from ADWCleaner, though. While it won’t clean up shovelware or junk items, it will more explicitly target rootkits and well-disguised infections. To do this, it will insist on rebooting your computer before its system-scan. This is so NPE can inspect everything on your computer as it loads into memory.

When the scan is finished, inspect the results. NPE sometimes targets legacy (very old) programs for removal. If there’s anything listed that you know is trustworthy, you may uncheck it and save it from removal. Everything else can go!

Is This Thing On?

Are we being surveilled by our devices? I don’t know for sure. Important people at Facebook and Amazon insist their apps are not snooping on us. They swear their apps only access your microphone with your permission, and only when you’re using the app. But I can’t say I’ve ever been 100% convinced by their responses.

And it gets a little eerie when the advertising on our devices resembles what you were just talking about with your friends. One minute you’re chatting about how you miss eating at Outback, and the next minute, your browser is filled with mail-order steak ads. Is Big Tech listening in, 24-7? Or is coincidence combining with constant marketing to create paranoia?

Whatever the answer, you should know that you can review your device’s Microphone permissions at any time. Your computer/tablet/phone will tell you which apps have access to your microphone.

For PCs, check out the steps on this page:

Apple computer users, read:

On an Android phone or tablet, try going to Settings -> Privacy -> Permission Manager -> Microphone. For iPhones and iPads, it would be Settings -> Privacy -> Microphone.

With these settings in front of you, you can revoke any app’s permission to use your microphone. And you can give it back, later, as desired. Feel free to experiment with these, if it gives you a little extra peace of mind.

Bringing Back the Games from Windows 7

When people move from Windows 7 to Windows 10, a common question is Where did my games go? The Solitaire and other games included with Windows 7 are absent when you boot up your Windows 10 PC for the first time. And that’s a big disappointment for most.

Microsoft would rather you go into the Microsoft Store and download the Microsoft Solitaire Collection. It’s free for everyone, but it’s just not the same as the old-school games. If you want the Windows 7 Games, check out this page:

Scroll down to Step 1 and you’ll find a download link for the games, just as they were on your Windows 7 PC.

If you use this, make sure to save the link or downloaded file for future use. After major updates to Windows 10, many users report that these games have gone missing. Apparently, Microsoft really doesn’t want you using them anymore, and they will remove them for you. But you are free to use the link or downloaded file anytime you want to reinstall them.

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