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Thanks for dropping by!

Just a quick post to expand on what we mean by “Piedmont 2.0” and what it means for you.

After 10 years, we’re shifting our mission (from web developer & hands-on IT support) to that of a consultant, teacher, writer. In the coming weeks, you’ll notice an increased focus on our online storefront (Loudoun Valley Online), as well as a new emphasis on Tech Tips intended to help you navigate the world of “technology.”  From PC’s to web browsers, from virus protection to securing your wi-fi, from fighting spam to new electronic gadgets — and any tech issue you have a question about.

(No, we’re not abandoning current customers; watch your inboxes for specifics on your existing Piedmont services.)

In the meantime, you’re invited to sign up for updates by email (form below or at right). Rest assured your name and email will never be shared without permission, and we expect no more than one per week.

What do you want to know more about?  Hashtags? Search Engine Optimization (SEO)? Social Media? Accepting payments online? Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)? Just let us know!

For $5/month per user, you can’t beat the value. Email, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, cloud storage, and much more.  Including free 24/7 support.  And, if you have your own domain (url), it’s easy to use it for your email address, without disrupting your existing website. No more annoying advertisements. Built-in industrial strength spam and virus protections. Join the millions of individuals and businesses who have already made the switch – and kiss your office email & application support headaches…goodbye! Click the graphic below to learn more, or to sign up today.

Sometimes, the “ease of use” inherent with Google’s products can be confusing.  Particularly when it comes to logging into your Chrome (browser) and the Google search engine (assuming you have a gmail account).

It’s well worth the 2 minutes it takes to understand the difference between the Chrome browser (which now has the lion’s share of the browser market) and the Google search engine.  Using both in tandem can produce big productivity gains; but not understanding how these two services interact can also generate concern, agitation, and frustration — not to mention calls for “HELP!” from the nearest IT person.

Rather than re-invent the wheel, here’s a short, easy-to-follow youtube clip that explains the differences and shows you how to navigate both products:

Are you involved with commercial real estate, business development, or marketing, in or around the 1Loudoun project?  If so, you can own this premium domain name by clicking the graphic below which will take you to the auction site where it’s currently available.

1Loudoun is for sale

Using a Mac? Read & Heed!

Last week, Apple issued an update for IOS (9.3.5).  See the related article for how to check and make sure your iPhone, iPad have it)  Now, the gurus* at Sophos are alerting everyone to the same “megaexploit” vulnerability in Apple’s OS X operating system – the operating system behind your Mac.

OS X update

A brief description of what the vulnerability can lead to if not patched.

Click the snippet above or click here to jump over to the full article.


* By using,”gurus” we are by no means being sarcastic.  The folks at Sophos are one of our primary go-to sites when faced with security issues. 

Windows 10 Anniversary Upgrade

A picture (slide show) is worth a thousand words.  Here’s a synopsis of several well-regarded tech outlets regarding the latest “anniversary” upgrade for Windows 10. Including how to postpone and manage the update installation schedule.

(Click on any slide to link to the original article)

[huge_it_slider id=”2″]

 

 

 

Windows 10 Upgrade Deadline July 29

Let’s start with a quick caveat (e.g. CYA) from the “about this blog” page.  “… we cannot assume liability for any actions you take as the result of reading this blog.” There’s a reason for this: time is money.  And, even though most cases we know of have gone without a hitch, there have also been a few that didn’t.  And recovering the data and PC configurations took them (or their contractor*) several hours.

This graphic links to another good article from CNET about Windows10

This graphic links to another good article from CNET about Windows10

Our view on the looming deadline for a free upgrade to WIndows 10 is this: If you haven’t yet, and your system is meeting your needs, why bother? Consider the time/effort required, and then weigh them against the potential benefits. Sure, it’ll save you $120, but why? Here’s another perspective from our friends at CNET:

If you do decide to upgrade, we recommend backing up both your data (desktop, downloads, music, pics, documents, etc) as well as making a complete disk image (incase you need/want to revert back afterwards). Then, set aside at least a couple of hours when your pc won’t be used, to allow for the download, and another hour or so for the actual installation.

VISTA USERS:  Read this article from the NY Times.  We certainly agree with their approach and suggestions!


*Footnote: From the “about this blog” page: Since 2010, Piedmont has been focused exclusively on internet-based services such as websites, email, and social media.  However, we still get questions about pc’s, viruses, wi-fi, and various tech gadgets. PC Support and Tech Tips posts are intended to offer guidance and provide the benefits of our own experiences.  If you need assistance locating a PC repair outlet, please send an email to service@piedmonttechnology.net.

Duplicate Content

It’s really not hard to spot duplicate content.  And, it’s even easier to check it out with the latest browsers. Just highlight a couple sentences (you can highlight the whole thing, but Google only considers so many characters), right click, and let Google do the rest.

So what’s the big deal about duplicate content?  Does it hurt my search engine rankings?  How can I minimize it’s impact?  We’re going to answer all these questions in this post.  But first, let’s walk through a quick example. A recent blog post on a realtor’s website caught our attention:

duplicate content example

So we highlighted and copied the first couple of sentences…

2

 

 

 

 

 

…and did a quick Google search of everything we just highlighted & copied:

3

 

 

 

 

Voila!  We have 355,000 other websites that contain the same verbiage:4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, how can this hurt?  Assuming you’re like these 355,000 websites and don’t include proper attribution with a link to the owner (and all the ones we checked don’t), then this won’t necessarily hurt your search rankings (read, penalty), but it will subject your page to being excluded from the search results.  That’s because the search engine (e.g. Google) doesn’t know who authored the content. And without a clear authoritative source, the search engines will tend to simply ignore it.

Next, what does it tell your readers? Answers will vary by person, but overall, we think there’s more potential downside than there is benefit.  Especially if your supposedly original article gets noticed by a reader who saw the same thing on another website, or talked with a friend who read the same thing elsewhere. Perhaps on a competitor’s website. You run the risk of being tagged as disingenuous at best, and of plagiarism at worst.  Take it a step further and try one of the social media sharing buttons – on the social site, the resulting post usually begins, “By (website owners name)…”  This makes it look like the blog post was authored by you.

Why take a chance?  Sure, there are industry blog subscriptions for everything from real estate to car repairs, from acupuncture to landscaping. If you’re determined to use them to fill an otherwise sparse webpage, at least adhere to best practices (see Google’s own recommendations) and give credit where credit’s due. Better yet, put the time, thought, and effort into truly original content and you may be surprised at your visitors’ reactions!

 

 

 

How to find Internet Explorer after Windows10 upgrade

We had two frantic calls for help in a single day from clients who couldn’t find their Internet Explorer browser after upgrading to Windows10.  “My bookmarks are gone!”  “I don’t like this ‘Edge’ browser!”  And so on…save IE to taskbar

Relax – despite Microsoft’s attempts to get you to use it’s new “Edge” browser, your trusty old IE is still there.  In this post, we’ll show you how to access it, and create a shortcut in your task bar (that small horizontal bar across the bottom of your Windows screen) so it’s only 1 click away.  Not only is IE there, your bookmarks and other settings will be there as well.

Start by simply typing (without quotes) “Internet Explorer” into the search box at the bottom, left (small rectangle that’s usually pre-populated with “Search the web and Windows”).  At or near the top of the results, you’ll see the familiar logo and the words “Desktop App.”  Simply right-click on that logo and select “Pin to Taskbar.”  You’ll then see it, along with other shortcuts, along the bottom of your screen:

ietaskbar

 

 

Android update
piedmont technology blog

Pencil Sketch Photo (example of new photo templates in latest Android update)

I finally caved and accepted the persistent reminders to upgrade my (android) phone.  And just noticed that it includes some new photo editing templates. After snapping a photo and opening your pictures folder, tap it once to open an editing toolbar.  You can experiment with different settings and templates and save them to the studio folder while retaining the original photo. Kinda cool..

 

 

 

 

 

Faux Pas #1 – Ignoring voicemail messages.

If someone who is trying to reach you leaves a voicemail, it’s better to listen to it before having this conversation:

“Did you get my message?  I left you a voicemail.”
“No, I just saw a missed call from you..”

After all, they took the time to listen to the ringing, your greeting, and then to leave a message; and, frequently, it wasn’t one that even required a call-back.  How do you feel when this happens to you?

Faux Pas #2 – Jumping from one platform to another.

Unless you and the other person agree beforehand, it’s much better to complete a conversation where you started it.  Replying to a Facebook message via email, replying to a Tweet via a post in a Google+ group, replying to…well, you get the idea.  We all use (abuse) caller ID and we can see who sent messages on social media, do we have to also use a hodge podge of platforms to avoid actually talking with one another realtime?

Faux Pas #3 – Not sweeping the front porch.

By this, I mean keeping your voicemail greeting short, sweet, and current.  And please, please don’t let your mailbox (email and voicemail) fill up.  What kind of message does that send about you?

 

A matter of perspective

A man flying in a hot air balloon suddenly realizes he’s lost. He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further baloonand shouts to get directions, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?” The man below says: “Yes. You’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.” “You must work in Information Technology,” says the balloonist. “I do” replies the man. “How did you know?” “Well,” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but It’s of no use to anyone.” The man below replies, “You must work in management.” “I do,” replies the balloonist, “But how’d you know?” “Well”, says the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”

Merging cells in Excel without loosing data
It’s easy to highlight a couple of adjacent cells and click on the mergexcl icon to make the two become one.  Using this method, you’ll end up with only the data from one cell.  But, what if you want the CONTENTS of both cells to be merged? (example – a column of last names and a column of first names merged into a single column that shows “last name, first name”)  Here’s how:
  1. Select the cell in which you want to combine the contents of other cells.
  2. To start the formula, type =(
  3. Select the first cell that contains the text that you want to combine, type &” “&(with a space between the quotation marks), andthenselect the next cellthat contains the text that you want to combine.
    To combine the contents of more than two cells, continue selecting cells, making sure to type &” “& between selections. If you don’t want to add a space between combined text, type & instead of &” “&. To insert a comma, type &”, “& (with a comma followed by a space between the quotation marks).
  4. To finalize the formula, type )
  5. To see the results of the formula, press ENTER.

Once you have the first cell combination looking right, you can copy it down the length of the column and, voila! — you’re done.  Don’t forget – if you want to take the resulting column and paste it into another spreadsheet or another column – select what you want –> right click + “copy” –> select the destination –> right click + PASTE SPECIAL and then select “values.”  This will copy/paste the results of your formula instead of copying the formula itself (which would likely generate errors).

It’s easy to highlight a couple of adjacent cells and click on the merge icon to make the two become one.  Using this method, you’ll end up with only the data from one cell.  What if you want the CONTENTS of both cells to also be merged? (example – a column of last names and a column of first names merged into a single column that shows “last name, first name”)  Here’s how:
  1. Select the cell in which you want to combine the contents of other cells.
  2. To start the formula, type =(
  3. Select the first cell that contains the text that you want to combine, type &” “&(with a space between the quotation marks), andthenselect the next cellthat contains the text that you want to combine.
    To combine the contents of more than two cells, continue selecting cells, making sure to type &” “& between selections. If you don’t want to add a space between combined text, type & instead of &” “&. To insert a comma, type &”, “& (with a comma followed by a space between the quotation marks).
  4. To finalize the formula, type )
  5. To see the results of the formula, press ENTER.
Once you have the first cell combination looking right, you can copy it down the length of the column and, voila! — you’re done.  Don’t forget – if you want to take the resulting column and paste it into another spreadsheet or another column – select what you want –> right click + “copy” –> select the destination –> right click + PASTE SPECIAL and then select “values.”  This will copy/paste the results of your formula instead of copying the formula itself (which would likely generate errors).

A compendium of thoughts, reflections, and suggestions regarding life online.

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