5 iPad Tricks You Should Know

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 14, 2019 3:09:35 PM

Your iPad is living a secret life. You probably know a lot of tips and tricks you’ve picked up just from using your tablet, but there are some less well-known options and features you can tap into. You just have to know where to look and which Settings to tap.

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Scanning Documents With Your iPhone

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Jan 9, 2019 3:42:10 PM

As we’ve downsized our technology onto portable smartphones, scanners have become less common in homes. That might not be an issue most of the year, but we’re coming up on tax time and you probably have a stack of documents you would like to digitize to make tax prep easier. It’s time to break out your iPhone and discover how it can be used as a document scanner.

There is more than one way to harness the power of your iPhone’s camera to scan documents. You can either use its built-in abilities or download an app. Apple introduced a nifty document scanning feature with iOS 11 in 2017, but you have to know where to find it. 

While scanning is great for gathering your receipts and other critical tax-time paperwork, you can use it year-round to help you declutter your paper piles, capture back-up copies of important documents, and for sharing files with colleagues or clients. Let’s start scanning!

Use the Notes app

Apple’s Notes app is already set up to work as a document scanner. Start a new note, or open an existing note. Touch the plus-sign icon and choose Scan Documents. If you don’t see the plus sign, make sure you’re running iOS 11 or higher and that Notes is turned on in your iCloud settings.

The scanner should be set to Auto mode. Point the camera at the document to be scanned. It will automatically seek out the corners of the documents and scan an image. In manual mode, you can adjust the focus and hit the shutter button. You will then need to adjust the corners of the document and save it.

The scanned document will now be inserted into your note. Tap on it to open it. The small square with the curved arrow lets you reorient the document. The overlapping three dots let you put the document into grayscale, black and white, or treat it as a photo. You can also crop the document further or share it through email.

The sharing button, which looks like a rectangle with an arrow pointing upward, also lets you turn the scan into a PDF, print it, copy it, or use the Markup feature. Markup lets you draw on the document, add text, or add a signature.

The Notes document scanner is simple to use and will get your documents digitized fast. If you need more capabilities than it gives you, then check out our recommendation for a powerful scanning app, CamScanner.

Use CamScanner

CamScanner is one of the highest-rated document scanning apps in Apple’s App Store. If you need more features than you can get through Notes, then this is the app to try. It’s a free download.

As with Apple’s Notes, CamScanner has an auto feature that finds the corners of your document and crops it automatically. You can quickly turn your documents into PDFs, making it easy to store and share them.

One particularly useful feature is OCR, optical character recognition, where CamScanner will recognize and extract words inside your documents. This helps with searching and editing documents. Just keep in mind that OCR isn’t perfect and doesn’t always get the words right.

CamScanner manages to pack quite a few more features into the app, including the ability to mark up a document and make template-based collages. There are also some fun extras, like a greeting-card wizard and a QR code scanner.

If you like CamScanner, you have the option to upgrade for a $4.99 per month subscription. You get more cloud storage space, no ads and the ability to export PDF files without a watermark.

Apple’s Notes app is a great starting point for basic document scanning. It’s capable and ready to go, but you can always check out CamScanner if you need to up your game. Either way, you’ll be ready to tackle your tax documents well before the filing deadline.

 

"Use Your Iphone To Scan Documents." The Kim Komando Show, 2019, https://www.komando.com/tips/527578/use-your-iphone-to-scan-documents.

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Set Up The IPhone You Got For Christmas

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 28, 2018 12:41:00 PM

All the boxes are out from under the tree, the wrapping paper is off the floor, and everyone is happily playing with their new toys. That’s another great Christmas in the bag. But of course, now that the thrill of giving and receiving has worn off, there’s the step-by-step of getting your new gadgets up and running.

The new iPhone is going to be one of the hottest gifts for the holidays. Maybe you’re new to the world of Apple or maybe it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded. Either way, let’s get your new device up and running as quickly and painlessly as possible. 

We’ve got great tips for you to get the basics out of the way. Then we’ll cover how to get up and running with your old information if you’re an iPhone vet, or how to get going if you’re new to the world of Apple.

Starting your iPhone: The Basics

Before you really dive in, it’s a good idea to plug your phone into the wall or a USB port just to make sure it’s charging. After all, who knows how long it’s been sitting in that box?

Once it’s plugged in and has a good charge, hold down the power button. You’ll see the black-and-white screen with the Apple logo, then you’ll be greeted by the Setup Assistant. This is a program that takes some basic information that your phone needs to operate before you really dive into the big stuff.

First of all, you'll set up your language, then your country or region. That helps set up your time, contacts and more.

Then, you’ll set up your Wi-Fi, configure a passcode to get into your phone, and set up Face ID or Touch ID if your phone supports it.

You’ll set up and sign in with your Apple ID, set up your iCloud account, turn on Find my iPhone (you definitely want to do this!), and get to know Siri, who may very well be your new best friend.

Finally, you'll set up Screen Time and configure updates for your iPhone.

Don’t worry about getting anything wrong or not having some information. You can always go into Settings and change that information or put it in later if need be. Apple phones are pretty hard to mess up permanently, so don’t worry about that.

Tap Get Started and you're ready to go. Pro Tip: Back up your data right away in case you run into any glitches along the way.

Setting up your new phone for iPhone vets

If you already have an iPhone, the migration can be pretty painless.

Make sure you have an iCloud or iTunes backup that’s current for your old device, then choose Restore from iCloud Backup or Restore from iTunes Backup. You’ll need to put in your Apple ID and password and wait a little bit, but all your stuff will be there when it’s done.

If your phone is new enough to run iOS 11 or 12, you can also use Quick Start. Remove your SIM card from your old device and put it in the new device. Bring the new iPhone close to the old one and you’ll be prompted to use the same Apple ID. Choose Yes, enter your password, and you can pick and choose what to move over.

Setting up your new phone for iPhone newbies

If you’re just getting started on iPhone (or want a fresh start), you’ll choose Set Up As New Phone when prompted. If you’re coming over from Android, there is a Move to iOS App on the Google Play store you can use to bring your old data over.

Everything can’t make the jump—many apps only work on iPhone or Android, not both—but that will take care of things like your messages and pictures.

Otherwise, it’ll be a matter of following the prompts and punching in information when the iPhone asks for it. Your Apple ID should be an email you use frequently since that’s the keys to the kingdom: it’s your login for iTunes but also handles things like iCloud and even helps with things like recovering your account if you get locked out or recovering your phone if you lose it.

Now have fun with your new iPhone!

 

"Set Up The Iphone You Got For Christmas." The Kim Komando Show, 2018, https://www.komando.com/tips/518498/set-up-the-iphone-you-got-for-christmas.

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5 Great Uses For Your Old Smartphone

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 26, 2018 12:48:02 PM

Don't throw away your old Android! I know, it's tempting now that you got that longed-for new device for Christmas!

But don't just toss out your old smartphones. If you're like most people, including me, you've got junk drawers full of old digital devices. Seriously, if you dig around long enough you might find a pager in there. You'll almost certainly find older Androids that are just collecting dust.

You might need it if you lose your phone, it's stolen or a friend from another country doesn't want to rack up roaming charges. Keep that phone somewhere you'll remember and just activate it when you need to by calling your cellphone provider.

For the other Androids, here are five ideas that will surprise you and will save you money. Please don't skip No. 4 - It'll make your day!

Universal Remote Control

Smartphones are great, aren't they? Just when you think you've tapped out their many uses, you discover a new one.

For instance, maybe you've started using your smartphone to open the garage door. Or perhaps you're using it to turn the lights on before you get home.

But have you used your smartphone as a TV remote control? If you haven't and you have an old Android just lying around, you can easily turn it into a universal remote control for your TV, cable box, DVR and other components.

Just download an app like AnyMote Universal Remote + WiFi Smart Home Control. Or, if that's not compatible with your old Android, search the Google Play Store for a FREE app that works with your TV.

Security Camera

Nothing is more precious than your home. It's where you keep an eye on your family and know they're safe.

But what happens when you're not there? You might be on a business trip and you still want to make sure your family and possessions are safe.

Or perhaps your kids are away at college and your spouse and you go on a long-overdue vacation. You have a choice to keep your home safe: You can ask a friend to do it, hire a house sitter, buy a home security system, or set up a FREE home security camera.

Just take your old Android and download a FREE app like IP Webcam. It will turn your old Android into a security camera so you can monitor your house from any internet-connected device.

Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing

Have you heard of BOINC? It's the University of California at Berkeley's ongoing research initiative to find cures for diseases and solutions to seemingly impossible problems, like reliably predicting earthquakes.

UC Berkeley and many other universities use thousands of computers and smartphones to perform incredibly complex computer problems. These problems use loads of computer processing power.

In fact, they use so much processing power that the university is asking for volunteers to share some of theirs. All you have to do is download the free BOINC app (or similar apps).

Then choose the research study you'd like to help with. Keep your old Android plugged in and hooked up to Wi-Fi.

Bonus: Sign up for BOINC here.

Worldwide Webcams

What's your view when you're sitting at your desk? If you're lucky it might be Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Central Park in New York City or the Pacific Ocean from downtown San Diego.

Unfortunately, you're probably staring at your cubicle wall for eight hours a day. That's just life, right?

Well, no matter where you work, you can have an incredible view. Would you rather be at the Eiffel Tower or right in the middle of the hustle and bustle of London?

Whatever you'd like your view to be, you can have it. Just prop up an old Android on your desk. Plug it in and make sure it's connected to Wi-Fi. Then, use your browser to find a live webcam from your favorite vacation destination.

Digital photo frame

It might be a little small, depending on your old phone, but why not convert it into a digital photo frame? All you need is a stand, Wi-Fi and a place to plug it in, and you've got a great way to look at your old photos.

Plus, if you use Google Photos, you can fire up a slideshow from the upper right corner of the app. It will cycle through all your photos (or a folder of selected photos you can set up) and you can relive sweet memories.

 

"5 Great Uses For Your Old Smartphone." The Kim Komando Show, 2018, https://www.komando.com/tips/421084/5-uses-for-your-old-smartphone.

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How To Keep Your iPhone Battery From Draining So Fast

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 19, 2018 3:31:28 PM

I don't know about you, but I've never had a cellphone battery that lasts as long as the manufacturer says it will. Apple says its iPhone Xr is good for up to 15 hours of internet use, its iPhone 7 can handle up to 14 hours of talk time, and the 6 will play video for up to 11 hours.

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Free Hacking Tools Are Targeting You

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 18, 2018 2:49:56 PM

We're at the tail end of yet another really bad year for your online security. You've heard about massive data breaches like the half billion people whose private information was exposed by the Marriott chain of hotels.

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How to Keep Your Home Safe This Winter

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 11, 2018 1:54:14 PM

Winter months can bring some serious challenges for homeowners. Icy driveways and walkways, and frozen pipes and power lines can cause a lot of damage. 

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10 Incredibly Useful Ways to Use a USB Drive You Didn't Know

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 5, 2018 10:53:00 AM

Catalin205 | Dreamstime.com   DREAMSTIME.COM

Are you sitting at your desk? Go ahead, reach down, and open your desk drawer. You know the one. It’s the drawer that holds a couple outdated cellphones, a tangle of paper clips, and mystery cables from long-gone devices.

You probably have a small herd of USB flash drives in there, forgotten, unused and unloved.

Check out these 10 handy, fun and downright helpful ways to use USB thumb drives.

1. Run your own Google Chrome on other computers

There are a lot of personal things you wouldn’t imagine sharing with other people, like your passwords or your toothbrush. You don’t have to share someone else’s web browser, either. Portable Apps, a site that collects apps that can run on USB drives, offers up Google Chrome Portable, a version of Chrome that lives on a flash drive.

It’s both familiar and efficient. You can take it with you to use on a shared or borrowed computer and it won’t impact any version of Chrome that’s already on the machine.

2. Scan for viruses

If you know or suspect a computer has been compromised by a virus, you can use a portable app installed on a USB drive to scan and remove the offending software.

PortableApps offers several options, including ClamWin Portable, McAfee Stinger Portable, and Spybot-Search & Destroy Portable. Install these on the drive, plug it into the computer, and run them to check and clean the machine.

3. Create a Windows recovery drive

Don’t wait until your Windows PC freaks out. Be prepared by turning a spare USB stick into a recovery drive. A recovery drive lets you run troubleshooting tools if your Windows machine is having problems, even if it won’t start up properly.

Follow Microsoft’s directions to create the drive. You may need at least a 16 GB USB drive if you choose the option to back up your system files, but this will let you reinstall Windows if necessary.

Once you have the drive finished, label it and store it where you’ll be able to access it easily if your computer starts acting up.

4. Play games

A USB drive can hold a ton of games. Carry it around, plug it into a convenient computer, and have fun. You can find a huge list of flash-drive games through Portable Apps. Whether you’re into chess, solitaire, retro games, sudoku, or racing, you’ll find something to play. This can also be a great way to keep kids occupied.

Have a suite of games ready on a USB drive and you can hand them a laptop and the drive and let them entertain themselves when you’re traveling.

5. Go incognito

The Tails operating system has an intriguing tagline: “Privacy for anyone anywhere.” You can run Tails from a USB drive on a computer and it will keep your activity private and anonymous by acting as an independent OS.

You will actually need two USB drives for the initial Tails setup and it can seem a little involved, but the Tails site will walk you through the process.

Tails is one way to protect your privacy when using public computers or a computer you don’t trust.

It can also be a way to hide your tracks if you’re shopping for birthday or holiday gifts on a computer you share with your family.

6. Hand out USB business cards

This tip isn’t so much about re-purposing an old USB drive; it’s about standing out from the networking crowd with custom-made USB business cards. A quick online search will point out several manufacturers.

A USB business card holds more than just your contact information. It can also include a resume, portfolio, press kit, or other files.

7. Boost your Windows experience

Microsoft has long offered a little-known Windows feature called ReadyBoost. It’s meant to speed up certain processes on computers that use standard hard drives. While it may offer a benefit to some computers running Windows 10, people with older machines and those using earlier Windows operating systems are the most likely to see a speed improvement.

It does not work for computers with solid-state drives like those often found in higher-end laptops.

ReadyBoost turns an external flash drive into a hard disk cache.

Microsoft gives instructions for setting up a ReadyBoost drive for Windows 7, but this also works on more recent versions of the operating system. It's worth a try if your computer feels poky.

8. Make a Dead Drop

A “dead drop” is spy-speak for a method of passing secret information. Berlin artist Aram Bartholl started a trend of USB flash drive “Dead Drops” that has since spread around the world.

People who participate leave USB drives in public, perhaps cemented into a wall or tied to a tree. Dead Drop users are encouraged to share their favorite files, whether it’s photography, a poem, or some other creation.

You can find out how to participate on Bartholl’s Dead Drops site. Just keep in mind that attaching your computer to an unknown USB drive comes with a lot of potential security risks, so you might want to use a secondary computer just for your Dead Drops activities.

9. Use it as the key to your computer

You can turn a USB drive into a key that unlocks your Windows computer by using Predator software. Download and install Predator on your PC and a flash drive. Once it’s set up, the computer will only work when the USB drive is plugged in.

Pull it out and the display goes dark and the keyboard and mouse are disabled. Plug it back in to get back to work.

Predator can be used on multiple computers, so the same flash drive can unlock more than one machine.

You can also have several flash drives as keys for the same computer, so everyone in your family (or only certain members) can unlock a particular PC. Predator starts at $10 for the home edition.

10. Carry important files while traveling

You’re finally going on that overseas vacation of your dreams. Travel advisers always caution you to take backups of important documents, including your passport, ID, emergency contacts, itinerary, and ticket confirmations.

You can print out physical copies of all of these, but you can also store them on a small USB drive and attach it to a key ring, carry it in your purse or wallet, or store it in a secure spot in your carry-on luggage.

 

"10 Incredibly Useful Ways To Use A USB Drive You Didn't Know." The Kim Komando Show, 2018, https://www.komando.com/tips/438907/10-incredibly-useful-ways-to-use-a-usb-drive-you-didnt-know.

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How to Solve 5 Common Computer Problems

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Dec 3, 2018 10:46:56 AM

© KASPARS GRINVALDS | DREAMSTIME.COM

It happens to everyone at some point. You're doing something on your computer, whether it's an important project, some aimless browsing, or trying to beat your high score on Solitaire, and without warning, something goes wrong. Your computer shuts down, or the screen flickers or freezes.

Sometimes it's just a glitch that goes away quickly. But sometimes you wiggle the mouse, click the buttons a few times, tap some keys on your keyboard and get nothing. Your 21st-century piece of technology is useless. So, what do you do next?

Most of us are comfortable using computers as long as everything is going smoothly. But, when something goes wrong, we don't know where to begin.

That's why we've put together five common computer issues that you can usually solve yourself. You just need to know how to troubleshoot the problem. Take a look at these tips so that you're ready the next time your computer acts out.

1. Unexpected reboots

If your computer has ever unexpectedly rebooted and turned blue or shut down without warning, you know how nerve-wracking that can be. Or, has your computer ever shut down as it's opening up, or suggested you work in "safe mode?"

Those "safe mode" messages often pop up after you accidentally turn off your computer without shutting it down. But when that happens for seemingly no reason, you may have an expensive problem on your hands.

However, you can troubleshoot this issue with a program called WhoCrashed. It scans through your computer to identify the problem, and it may suggest a solution.

If you're staring at a blue screen, you may be thinking, "There's a problem with my computer." But, according to WhoCrashed, the problem probably doesn't have anything to do with your hardware.

It may be related to your device drivers. Or it may be a problem with pieces of coding called kernel modules.

WhoCrashed will analyze your computer to find what's causing it to crash. It's easy to use and it does a thorough analysis of your computer. Note: WhoCrashed states that "the software is not guaranteed to identify the culprit in every scenario."

If it helps you, great. If not, you should make sure your device drivers are up to date. If that doesn't help, you may need to contact a professional computer repair person.

2. Basic software troubleshooting

An occasional or consistent computer freeze could be the result of a program acting up. Use the keyboard shortcut CTRL + SHIFT + ESC to open Windows' Task Manager and then select the "Performance" tab. In Windows 8.1 and 10, you might need to click the "More details" link 

Start using your computer as normal, but keep an eye on the CPU, memory and disk categories. If the computer freezes, and one of these is really high, then that could be your answer. Make a note of which area was really high then restart the computer and open Task Manager again.

This time, however, choose the "Processes" tab. Sort the list by CPU, memory or disk, whichever was really high last time the computer froze, and see what process pops up to the top of the list as the computer freezes. This should tell you what software is acting up so you can uninstall or update it. 

You might also have hidden software, such as a virus, causing problems. Be sure to run a scan with your security software to uncover something that shouldn't be there.

In cases where your computer freezes during startup in normal mode, but boots OK in Safe Mode, the problem could be a program that's loading during the boot sequence. Use a program like Autoruns to selectively disable the programs that begin at startup and see which one is causing the problem.

If your computer is freezing during startup no matter what, and it's at the same point, then the problem could be corruption in Windows or a hardware problem. A quick way to tell is to grab a Live CD for another operating system, such as Linux Mint or Tails, and boot with that.

If the other operating system boots OK, then you're probably looking at a problem with Windows and might need to reinstall. For those using Windows 10 (and 8), it has a Refresh/Reset feature that's supposed to return Windows to a factory state. It's under Settings >> Update and recovery >> Recovery. If Windows is having trouble starting, it should pop up a Recovery option during boot that includes this, or you might have to use a disc.

If the non-Windows operating system has trouble too, then it's time to look at your hardware.

3. Basic hardware troubleshooting

A computer that freezes both in normal mode and Safe Mode or with another operating system, can often indicate a problem with your computer's hardware. It could be your hard drive, an overheating CPU, bad memory or a failing power supply. In some cases, it might also be your motherboard, although that's a rare occurrence.

Usually, with a hardware problem, the freezing will start out sporadically, but increase in frequency as time goes on. Or it will trigger when the computer is working hard, but not when you're doing more basic things. Fortunately, you can run some checks and see if that's the case.

Use a program like CrystalDiskInfo to check your hard drive's S.M.A.R.T. data for signs of impending failure. A program like SpeedFan can tell you if your computer processor is overheating, or if the voltages are fluctuating, which might be a problematic power supply.

If you want to go more in-depth, you can grab a diagnostic CD like FalconFour's Ultimate Boot CD. It has plenty of other tools for checking out your computer, including MemTest for putting a strain on your computer's RAM to see if it's working OK.

If your computer is newer, it might still be under warranty, in which case you'll want to contact the manufacturer or seller.

For an older computer, you need to decide if it's less expensive to repair or replace it. 

4. Pop-up ads and odd messages

Running into a pop-up ad while you're surfing used to be a serious annoyance, but modern browsers include pop-up protection to keep these annoyances away on most sites. If you're still seeing regular pop-ups on more than one site, it could just be a badly-configured browser.

However, if pop-ups are coming at you when your browser isn't even open, it's likely you have a virus. This is especially true if the pop-ups advertise some magic cure-all to your "virus woes."

If you are bombarded with pop-up ads, first run a scan with anti-spyware software to double-check. I like SpyBot Search & Destroy because it digs deep into your settings to find any problems spyware has left behind.

Most viruses have one goal in mind once they infect your computer: to spread the virus as far as possible. An easy way to do that is to send messages to as many of your friends as possible in hopes they'll get infected, too.

These messages can show up anywhere. The virus might try to send out spam through your email account. It could take control of your Facebook or Twitter and send out spam, too. In almost all cases, it will include a link or attachment to the virus somewhere in the post.

Keep an eye on your email's "sent" folder and on your social network posts. If you notice emails and posts that you don't remember sending or posting, it's likely that you have a virus. Here is what you need to know to take your account back.

5. Getting things going again

OK, this might sound obvious, but one of the easiest things you can do to get your computer working better is to restart it.

How many times have you spent hours trying to figure out what was causing a computer problem, only to have the IT guy fix it by rebooting? No, your IT guy does not have the "magic touch." What's really happening is that sometimes computer problems are temporary. When you restart your computer, it clears its memory and reruns program startups.

Something important to note here is that sometimes the problem you're having won't allow you to restart your computer properly. For example, if your computer freezes, you won't be able to restart without pressing the Power button down and holding it until your computer shuts off.

This is sometimes referred to as a "Hard Reboot," and although it's not ideal, it is essentially the same thing as restarting.

Another thing you can do that's really easy is clearing out your browser's cache. This won't fix every problem, but it does help by giving you a blank canvas to work with.

The process is very easy. Every browser has a different method, but here's how you can do it in Chrome. Go into your browsing history, then click the button at the top that says,"Clear browsing data."

Of course, if these simple fixes don't help, then you might have a bigger problem to worry about. It could also be caused because your computer needs a cleanup. 

 

"How To Solve 5 Common Computer Problems." The Kim Komando Show, 2018, https://www.komando.com/tips/357730/5-common-computer-problems-solved-2.

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How To Skillfully Manage A Small Business Crisis

Posted by Gulf South Technology Solutions on Nov 26, 2018 12:47:34 PM

Crises are an inevitable part of life, so of course they're an inevitable part of business. Sometimes an order will ship late, threatening a relationship with a client. 

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