Cate's final column

Wrapping things up. Preparing for a new beginning.

We did it!

Thanks to everyone who sponsored me (or anyone!) in the Ride Don’t Hide event June 24.

It was a great day for a bike ride, and over 400 riders participated in the event. The Kelowna ride raised $85,000. Together we contributed almost $1,000 to that. I am so grateful to each of you for your support. Thank you!

I retired from the computer business…

 I retired from the business of fixing computers, printers, and local networks on Friday. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you. I’m proud of the work I’ve done, and I will miss visiting you!

…But I’m still going to write this column and newsletter.

I’m going to continue writing about computers, and I’m going to expand the scope of that writing to include more about tablets, phones, and other technology-related topics. It’s really hard to shut me up, as you might have noticed.

The column will run monthly, rather than weekly, on Castanet, and if you already subscribe to my (free! Always free!) newsletter, you’ll receive information there about where and when you can read the new column.

If you don’t subscribe, watch Castanet for news about when the column will run. It’s up to the columnist wrangler at Castanet to find a spot.


Practise safe computing!

Do not randomly click on things that sound like a good idea. That is always a bad idea. And do not fall for the fake technician scam. Yep, it’s still here and it’s worse than ever: http://computercarekelowna.com/fake-tech-support/

Use VirusTotal to check your downloads before you download! Use your excellent antivirus/antimalware product to check your downloads after you download.

Thank you all again. I’ll see you soon!

Cate Eales retired June 29  from running Computer Care Kelowna a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. She welcomes your comments and suggestions for future column topics, good fishing spots, epic bike rides, and songs to learn on the ukulele.

Send email to [email protected].


A quiet word

Microsoft Word has a habit of letting you know just how hard it’s working for you all the time.

You can customize the heck out of that behaviour.

Turn off the start screen in Office 2016

There’s a lot to like about Office 2016, but that doggone start screen can be annoying. When I open a Word document, 99 per cent of the time I just want to get to work. I don’t need to see every conceivable template.

You can disable all that and go straight to your Word document or Excel spreadsheet, just like we did in previous versions of Office. It’s easy, and it works in Office 2013, too.

  • Start by opening a Word document, either an existing one or a new one; it doesn’t matter.
  • Click on File | Options
  • Click on the General tab if you’re not there already
  • Near the bottom of that tab, clear the check mark next to Show the Start screen when this application starts
  • Click on OK

That’s it!

Now, repeat the process for Excel and PowerPoint if you want to get right into those programs, too. Next time you open one of them, you’ll go right to your document, spreadsheet, or presentation.

If ever you need the templates again, click on File |New and you’ll be right back there at the start screen.

Change your Office Background and Theme

While you’re at it, you can change the appearance of your Office programs. Let’s start with Word.

  • Open any Word document, or open a new, blank one
  • Click on File | Options
  • Under Personalize your copy of Microsoft Office click on the dropdown arrows next to Office Background and Office Theme to select the background and theme you like.
  • Click on OK

These settings will apply to every Office program on your computer. That is, if you do this in Word, the settings will carry over to Excel, PowerPoint, and whatever Office programs you’re using on that computer.

If you subscribe to Office 365, you can make those settings apply to every Office program on every computer connected with your Office account.

Save your stuff to your computer by default, not to OneDrive

Sometimes I save my documents and spreadsheets and presentations to OneDrive, Microsoft’s secure cloud storage. But most of the time I don’t.

And I’ve noticed that on quite a few of the new computers I’ve set up for customers, the first choice for Save location is OneDrive.

Sure, you can override that choice every time you want to save something, but it would be much easier to change the setting so your computer is the default choice.

Here’s how:

  • Click on File | Options | Save | Save Documents
  • Place a check mark in the box for Save to Computer by default
  • Click on OK

Check these settings in Excel and PowerPoint as well!

Bypass Protected View

Do you find it annoying that every Word document you get from the cloud or as an email attachment opens in Protected View?

You have to click three times to edit the doggone thing.

Well, first of all, that feature is there for your protection, so you won’t be tricked into opening an infected Word document. But if you want to live dangerously, you can turn off this feature.

  • Open a Word document
  • Click on File | Options | Trust Center
  • Click on Trust Center Settings | Protected View
  • Under Protected View remove the check marks where you don’t want Word to protect you
  • Click on OK

Be extra careful, now, with documents you download and open as attachments!

Ride Don’t Hide

It’s just about a week now till The Payton & Dillon Budd Memorial Ride (Ride Don’t Hide Kelowna) for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

You can still sponsor my ride as I join hundreds of people in Canada raising funds for mental health programs and services in our community. The money raised helps people of all ages access the support and programs they need to live their best lives.

Please sponsor my ride by clicking here to make your secure, online donation: https://goo.gl/WnnSd3. Any amount is appreciated!

Cate Eales will retire June 29, 2018 from running Computer Care Kelowna a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers.

She welcomes your comments and suggestions for future column topics, good fishing spots, epic bike rides, and songs to learn on the ukulele.

Send email to [email protected].

Write it down

Have you changed your password for something lately? Did you have trouble? You can absolutely cut down on the pain and suffering if you make a note of these tips.

When you change your password for something somewhere, you must change it everywhere.

A world where you can unlock your car by pressing a button, but where you need a password to fire up your computer is annoying.

I often help people who changed their email password on their computer and then could not get email on their phones or tablets.

Here’s the thing: You’re not changing the password on your computer.

You’re using your computer to change the password that’s kept in a secure area on your provider’s server.

You use that same user name/email address and password to access your email from every device.

Once you change it online, change the settings for your email apps on your phones and tablets, and if you’re using an email program on your computer, change it there.

If you don’t do that, you’re not going to get your email there.

This is true for any password you use to sign in to anything online.

Do you have an Apple ID? Did you reset your password from your iPad? If you did, you need to change that password on your iPhone, too.

And on iTunes on your computer.

And please update the records you keep of your password information.

None of us can keep all this in our heads. Write down your user name and password. Write down what it’s for!

I don’t have to count sheep at night. Instead I replay in my head the image of people picking up scraps of paper and post-it notes, and people paging through notebooks filled with passwords…and no mention of what those passwords are for, or of the user name that accompanies them.

Try this:


WHAT IS IT?                USER NAME/EMAIL              PASSWORD                 NOTES

Shaw email                  [email protected]             $0rryN0tS0rry              changed May 2011

Microsoft ID                [email protected]     Te$ting123           Sign in to computer; Sign in to Office365
AppleID                       [email protected]                1bAdAAPL           iTunes, iPad, iPhone           

You get the idea.

To recover your passwords, your account information must be up-to-date

You can reset your forgotten passwords in online services. Why write down your passwords if you can just reset them?

  • Can’t remember your AppleID password?
  • Your Gmail/Google password?
  • Your Microsoft password?

You can always click on that link that says reset password.

And maybe that will work. Microsoft of Google or Apple will send you another link to click on or a code to type in and you can recover your account and change your password, right?

Right. That will work if:

  • You provided another email address, or
  • You provided a phone number, and
  • You have access to it.

If you provided a telephone number that’s not current, or you used to be with Shaw and now you’re with Telus and you don’t have access to your old email, you’re out of luck.

Keep your account information current! Keep a record of your login/password information! And don’t forget to update every device that uses a password that you change.

We’re almost there

Just two more weeks until The Payton & Dillon Budd Memorial Ride for the Canadian Mental Health Association. I’m so grateful to all of you who’ve sponsored me in the Ride Don’t Hide event.

There is still time! Please click on this link to make your secure on-line donation and support the CMHA: https://goo.gl/WnnSd3.

Any amount you can spare is much appreciated. Thank you!


FBI and your router

We’re updating…

I’m buried under a stack of emails from companies updating their privacy policies. I’d tell you more, but I have to stop what I’m doing and reboot my router before my bike ride.

Why am I getting so many Privacy Policy Emails all of a sudden?

It’s all about the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that went into effect in Europe on May 25. 

This new digital privacy law will make it easier for people to understand what personal data companies are collecting and how they’re using that data.

If you’d like to read more about this, take a look at these posts from Vox and Cnet.

Two things to take away from this:

  • If you’re outside the EU, none of this applies to your data
  • Most people don’t read privacy policies

Have you ever read a Privacy Policy or Terms of Service document?

Why does the FBI want me to reboot my router? Is this a scam?

Our story so far: Russian malware, called VPNFilter, infected roughly half a million routers worldwide. The FBI seized the servers that were distributing the malware.

Rebooting the router will remove some of the malware. It will leave part of it, and that’s the part that tries to contact the server to reinstall the stuff that reboot flushed out.

Because the FBI now controls the servers, they can determine which routers are infected and contact the appropriate ISPs who should notify their users. There is currently no way for the end user to know if their router in infected.

You should reboot your router.

In general, it’s a simple as unplugging the power cord, counting to 30, plugging it in again and waiting a moment for everything to reconnect.

If you are doing this in a business environment, you need to contact your IT person before you just start rebooting things!

It would be safer for you, but contribute less to the greater good, to reset your router, taking it back to its factory settings, and then change the Administrator password and do a firmware upgrade. (Yes, I know that’s time-consuming and a hassle.)

If you don’t know how to do any of that (or even what I’m saying!) at least reboot it.

If you don’t know what to unplug, consult your router’s manual. (You probably won’t find it in your house, so look for a copy on the manufacturer’s website.)

If your router is provided by Shaw, Telus, or another ISP, consult them.

A more technical explanation is here. That article includes links to the FBI and US Department of Justice notices.

Why do I ride?

It’s just three weeks until Ride Don’t Hide. Here in Kelowna, the Payton and Dillon Budd Memorial Ride raises funds for mental-health programs and services, including suicide prevention, in our community.

I believe mental illness is an illness, not a character flaw. And I believe everyone should have access to the help we all need, without guilt or shame.

I’m happy to be involved in the ride, and so grateful to all of you who’ve contributed. We’ve raised $750 so far. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get to $1,000?

If you’d like to help, please sponsor me. Click here to make your secure online donation: https://goo.gl/WnnSd3. Thank you so much!

Cate Eales will retire June 29 from running Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile service helping home users and businesses get along with their computers. She welcomes your comments and suggestions for future column topics, good fishing spots, epic bike rides, and songs to learn on the ukulele.

Send email to [email protected].

More Getting Along With Your Computer articles

About the Author

The Technology Shaman, Cate Eales, has been helping people make online computing safe, accessible, and fun for over 30 years.

Cate lives in Kelowna with her husband, Eric. She owns and operates Computer Care Kelowna, a mobile computer business providing on-site service for home and small business customers.

Cate is here to help you and your home or business computer get along.

E-mail Cate at [email protected] with comments, suggestions, or questions.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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