What Are Freemium Apps?

Freemium – the combination of free and premium. This paradox is a common business model for several mobile applications. In today’s post, we discuss what it means, how it works, and why companies use this model.

Not A New Concept

The freemium model is where the base app or program is free, but advanced features are hidden behind a paywall. Some services are subscription-based, and others require a one-time payment. This model is popular among companies that create digital products. Microsoft Office or Adobe allowed users a 30 day trial of the program before requiring a purchase. With the rise of smartphones, the model exploded with application developers.

Everywhere You Look

One way to convince application users to purchase an app or a subscription is to monetize it with ads. It’s a win-win for the developer. However, if ads annoy you (like most people), you will have to pay for them to go away. Think of Spotify or Pandora as an example. Other examples include productivity apps and cloud storage apps.

Applications connect you’re your App Store or Play Store account, making purchasing within the app a breeze. The ease of tapping a button to purchase additional content has been a highlight on the news when parents discover their children ran up crazy credit card bills on in-game purchases. In addition, companies use microtransactions, giving users the ability to access custom or exclusive content.

Looking Ahead

The freemium model is here to stay for the near future. Firstly, this model is an extremely effective and sometimes sneaky way to generate money. It also allows the developers to reach a broader customer pool and decreases the chances of piracy of their software. Lastly, a benefit for the user is it will enable you to try software or app before making the plunge in purchasing it.

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Backup Options

Backups are essential. We cannot stress this enough. As we use our devices to run our lives more and more, protecting the data on them is more important than ever. We deal with customers all the time who lost all their data because they don’t have backups. In today’s post, we cover the different ways to back up your device.

Where To Start?

Before we get into how to backup your data, we need to start with what you should back up. The first thing to back up is your personal data. While you can backup your operating system or programs, these could be reinstalled in the event something went wrong. However, your personal data is irreplaceable. To that end, consider your documents, photos, videos, things you’ve created (photoshop, etc.), and anything else you wouldn’t want to lose in the event something happened to the computer.

As mentioned earlier, backing up your operating system and programs is also an option. This method will save you time and a headache in the event of a complete system failure. Full system backups are also good if you alter the system files or registry, and something goes wrong.

Backup Options

There are several different options to backup your data. Some may work better for your situation than others, so evaluate your options before selecting which method to use.

External Drives

External drives and, in some cases, flash drives are a quick way to back your data up to a secondary device. Both Windows and Mac operating systems have back up utilities. Windows 10 uses File History, and Mac uses Time Machine. Both have settings where if you leave the drive plugged into the computer, backups will happen automatically. Pro: Easy, fast, cheap way to back up your data. Con: If your house is damaged or robbed, chances are the backup, and the computer will be lost.

Internet Backups

Choosing an online service to handle your backups is a great way to have a copy of your data that is safe, regardless of what happens at your computer. Popular backup services include Backblaze or Carbonite. These programs install on your device and backup your data in the background. Pros: Offsite data backups protect you against any natural disaster or robbery. Cons: These services usually cost money, restoration of data can take a long time and can slow your computer if a big backup is taking place.

Cloud Storage Options

This technically is not a backup in the sense of the options mentioned earlier. However, these will serve the purpose of a majority of users who just want to have copies of their data. These include DropboxGoogle DriveMicrosoft OneDrive, and others. They sync your data across any device that has your account installed. These backups will happen automatically, as long as the account is configured correctly. Pros: Backups are easy to complete and maintain, protect data regardless of what happens to your device, accessible anywhere with an Internet connection. Cons: These services have free trials but cost money for large amounts of data, not an ideal method depending on the file type.

Multiple Backups!

Ideally, you should have a combination of the methods mentioned. Local backups (external) and offsite backups (cloud) are important. Local backups are faster and act as the first line of defense in the event of data loss. In addition, you don’t need an Internet connection to access your information. The main downside to local backups is they are going to be near your computer. If your home gets flooded or burned down, your computer and external drives will be destroyed. Offsite Backups are advantageous because they are protected from anything that happens locally. You don’t need to worry about external drives failing or a natural disaster.

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FaceTime Shortcuts

Do you use FaceTime to keep up with family and friends who own Apple products? If so, FaceTime has several built-in keyboard shortcuts that make navigating FaceTime’s interface a breeze. These shortcuts will work on all macOS versions, but always make sure your device is up to date.

FaceTime’s Interface

  • Expand/ minimize window to fullscreen: Cmd + Ctrl + F
  • Switch from landscape/ portrait view: Cmd + R
  • Minimize Facetime: Cmd + H
  • Minimize everything except FaceTime: Cmd + Option + H
  • Minimize FaceTime Window: Cmd + M
  • Close FaceTime: Cmd + W
  • Turn off FaceTime: Cmd + K
  • Quit FaceTime: Cmd + Q

Note: Apple does not permit these shortcuts to be customized or disabled.

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Bing Wallpaper

Windows 10 displays incredible landscape photos from all over at the sign-in screen. These images are pulled directly from Microsoft’s Bing browser. Microsoft released a tool that will automatically select these images as your desktop wallpaper.

Bing’s Daily Photo App

To get started, download the official Bing Wallpaper application. Once downloaded, install it and let the program run. To finish the installation, you will be prompted to Set Bing as my homepage and Set Bing as my default search provider.  After it installs, it automatically selects an image and sets it as the desktop background.

The application runs in the background and starts whenever your computer starts. It downloads and sets a new wallpaper every day. If you don’t like a particular wallpaper, you can change it. Look for the icon in your taskbar. Click on it, and toggle the wallpapers through the popup window.

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Facebook’s New Ad Tool

Facebook released a new tool showing users how ads arrive in front of you. With this ad tool comes the ability to opt-out of the digital tracking. The feature is called Off-Facebook Activity and provides the data that Facebooks collects while you are on its site. Interestingly enough, this tool is only accessible through its mobile app. In order to use it, you will need a mobile device with the Facebook Mobile app installed.

No More Ads

Open up the Facebook app and hit the three lines in the top right. Scroll down to the Settings menu. Once in the settings, scroll down to the Your Facebook Information section. Within it, you will find Off Facebook Activity. The next page describes how the new settings work. Essentially, businesses or organizations provide information to Facebook. For example, John bought a drill from Home Depot. This information is attached to your account, and target ads become more targeted.

There are three options for handling this process. The first is to simply manage the Off Facebook activity, meaning you can control which companies can and can’t share information with Facebook. Secondly, you have the option to erase your history or view other possibilities like download details about your browsing on Facebook.

In order to stop all sharing with Facebook, select the More Options. Select Manage Future Activity and turn the toggle for sharing off. It can take up to 48 hours for the changes to take effect. The caveat, Facebook will still receive the information, but it will not be attached to your account.

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What To Do With Phishing Emails

So your scrolling through your inbox, and you see that you received a phishing email. First, don’t panic; bad actors send millions of these a day. The good news is that as long as you do not click on anything in the email, your computer will not be infected. Here is what you should do next.

Again, Don’t Panic

Most email clients like Apple Mail, Gmail, and Outlook catch a majority of spam emails containing malicious attachments or code. Even if one sneaks through to your inbox, it doesn’t mean your computer is infected. Even if you open the email by mistake, your computer is still safe. Email clients will not allow any code to run when an email is opened.

With that said, remember phishing emails are a legitimate security risk. The purpose of them is to get you to lower your defense so the bad guys can access your information. Do NOT click on any link or attachment in the email if you suspect that the email is a phishing attempt.

In addition, never reply to the sender. Scammers will send these emails to as many addresses as they can, and when you reply, you become a bigger target for more spam emails. Once the scammer knows you viewed their email, they will send you more emails.

Verify The Sender

When the email comes from someone you know or a company you associate with, check with them to see if it’s legitimate. If you’re concerned about the message, create a new email, text or call the person and confirm that they sent the email.

If the email comes from a company or bank, go to their website to contact them. Do NOT search the company online and call the first number that pops up. Always call the number on the company’s website to avoid other potential scams.

Report The Email

Below is a list of places you can report phishing emails.

  • Your email provider: Most email providers will have a process to report spam emails. This process varies depending on the email provider.
  • Your company: If the email comes to your work email address, follow your company’s policy in handling it. Some companies have certain IT security procedures to deal with spam emails.
  • A government body: In the US, the Department of Homeland Security handles these emails. A branch of the department, Cyber Security and Infrastructure Security Agency, requests that the email is forwarded to [email protected].
  • The organization from which the email came: Most companies and agencies will have dedicated forms or processes for reporting phishing emails. This is usually found on their website or run a quick search for [organization name] report phishing.

Mark The Email As Spam

Marking the email as spam will prevent any more emails from the sender from reaching your inbox. In addition, you can add the sender to a spam list on any client.

Delete The Email

Lastly, delete the email. This will remove the email from your inbox. As long as you didn’t click on the link, you will not need to run a virus scan or delete your browser history. However, it is vital to run scans regularly to maintain a healthy computer. Once the email is reported and deleted, relax, and continue your web surfing.

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Outlook’s Sweep Tool

Microsoft Outlook built a handy tool in its online interface that makes keeping your inbox tidy a breeze. Find out more about the Sweep tool below.

What is Sweep?

The Sweep tool is an alternative way to set rules for what happens to emails from specific senders. The Sweep function runs once every 24 hours and allows you to create rules for any folder in your email account, not just your inbox. To use this tool, open up Outlook Online and sign in to your email account.

How to use Sweep

Firstly, open up an email from your inbox or another folder. Once opened, look for the Sweep button in the message toolbar. There will be a broom icon next to it.

This tool is a moving tool. Once you select the Sweep button, a new window will appear. This will allow you to choose what you want to do with the messages from the sender. In addition, you can change where the messages go by clicking on the drop-down next to Move to.

Sweep Options

The first and section options are very powerful in a sense they can move large numbers of messages at any given time. If you start a new categorization system, this is a quick way to jump-start the sorting process. The first option will move any emails from the sender to your desired folder. The second option does this but also moves future emails from that sender to the folder.

The third option enables you only to keep the most recent emails from a given contact. This is a great option for event reminders or companies that email all the time. However, it is limited when it comes to a person’s contact because they could email you multiple times about different topics.  The last option allows emails to be in your inbox for a few days, then will move the emails after ten days.

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PC Build Series: PSU

Building a new PC is an exciting experience. The custom PC market has exploded in recent years, allowing gamers to make their computers their own. However, the ability to customize and pick every component can be pretty overwhelming. In this series of articles, we will walk you through different things to consider when building a gaming computer. Today’s post covers things to consider when selecting a power supply unit (PSU).

The Power Source

Arguably one of the most critical components of your PC, all of the cool hardware you purchase won’t matter without the proper power supply. Each component uses a certain amount of power, and if your PSU isn’t powerful enough, your PC will not work to its full potential. With an insufficient PSU, in the middle situation, the PC will become unstable and shut down. In more challenging situations, the various components of your PC can get damaged due to this instability.

Wattage

Every PSU will have a wattage that it puts out. A good rule of thumb is to overshoot your wattage usage by about 25% to give you some wiggle room. So if your expected output is 400 watts, a 500W or 550W, this will also give you some room for new components in the future. There are plenty of calculators online to determine your estimated output, but the best option is PC Part Picker. Not only will it help plan out all of the components and make sure they are compatible, but it will also tally estimated wattage.

PSU Ratings

When comparing PSUs, you’ll see that they come with an 80 Plus rating, naming different metals like Bronze, Silver, Gold, Platinum, and Titanium. These ratings indicate the efficiency and reliability ratings. 80 Plus means the PSU is 80% efficient or higher at loads of 20%, 50%, and 100% at 115 and 230 volts. The efficiency requirement changes depending on the capacity and voltage. The rating helps indicate the efficiency of the PSU.

Other Considerations

PSUs come with different features. For example, you can get a nonmodular, semi-modular, or fully modular PSU. Nonmodular PSUs come with a certain number of set connections compared to a fully modular PSU allows you to add the connections you need and take away the ones you don’t. The benefit to a fully modular PSU is a cleaner PC with easier cable management.

We also recommend not going generic with the PSU. Stick with companies like Corsair, EVGA, Cooler Master, and others when purchasing a power supply. Cheap, knock-off PSUs can be disastrous for your computer if they don’t work as advertised.

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PC Build Series: RAM

Building a new PC is an exciting experience. The custom PC market has exploded in recent years, allowing gamers to make their computers their own. However, the ability to customize and pick every component can be pretty overwhelming. In this series of articles, we will walk you through different things to consider when building a gaming computer. In today’s post, we cover things to consider when selecting RAM.

What is RAM?

Random Access Memory or RAM is usually one of the first features highlighted when purchasing a new computer. Mostly, RAM comes in the form of sticks. Desktop RAM sticks can come with heat spreaders or LEDs. Laptops come with more basic RAM sticks due to the need to conserve space.

What Does RAM Do?

RAM acts as short-term memory for your computer. When you open a document, it requires accessing the data contained in that file. That document is then transferred to your RAM during your working on it. Once you click save, the file is then moved back to your hard drive for long-term storage. RAM doesn’t just stop at spreadsheets and documents; it also stores programs or OS files to keep everything running smoothly.

DDR

The most common form of RAM currently is DDR. This is the fourth iteration of Double Data Rate Synchronous Dynamic Random Access Memory. That’s just a fancy way of saying that data can be transferred twice per clock cycle compared to once. This means you can quickly transfer data to and from the RAM.

RAM Speed & Capacity

RAM comes in various speeds such as 2,400, 3,000, or 3,200MHz. It comes in sizes ranging from 4GB to 16GB per stick. While you can mix and match RAM, we recommend getting the same type of RAM for your computer. If you get RAM kits of different voltages, it could lead to technical issues down the road.

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PC Build Series: GPU

Building a new PC is an exciting experience. The custom PC market has exploded in recent years, allowing gamers to make their computers their own. However, the ability to customize and pick every component can be pretty overwhelming. In this series of articles, we will walk you through different things to consider when building a gaming computer. In today’s post, we cover things to consider when selecting a graphic processing unit (GPU).

What Does The GPU Do?

If you’re using your computer for the basics, the GPU is responsible for creating the onscreen images on your monitor. The CPU can handle most of these tasks for the basics, but you will need a lot more power if you are gaming. (Note: Not all CPUs have integrated graphics.) In order to get it, you will need a graphics card.

Video games are complex mathematical calculations, happening all at once to create the images on the screen. The GPU gets all the instructions for creating the onscreen images and then executes them. It starts creating the 3D graphic by creating a polygon (more specifically triangles, almost everything in video games are massive collections of triangles).

These basic shapes, in addition to lines and points, are known as primitives. They are then built up to create recognizable objects. The more polygons included, the more detailed the object will be. The GPU also has instructions on where these objects should be in a scene via a set of coordinates. This gets more complicated in dynamic environments. For example, a street will look different if you are standing on it vs. standing on a building looking down on it.

The GPU is designed to do all of the calculations at a light-speed pace, which is why gamers often need a separate GPU than what is integrated into the CPU. While you could rely on the CPU, it doesn’t have enough resources to handle all the tasks required, resulting in a poor experience.

Picking Your GPU

There are several models and types of GPUs on marketing. Determining which one you need can be challenging if you are new to gaming. Start with finding out your monitor resolution and picking the appropriate card to match that (1080P, 1440P, 4K, etc.). Additionally, all games will post the minimum hardware requirements in order to play the game successfully. Make sure your GPU is capable of displaying your favorite games.

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