Lenovo launches new Gaming Gear

Lenovo is taking gaming seriously with its announcement of more than a half dozen new pieces of hardware at CES 2020.

Check out this great article by Finder.com to learn more.

Don’t hesitate to call Local Computer Help to help you build a new gaming computer or upgrade your current rig to play the latest games.

First up is the Lenovo Legion Y740S. For a 15.6-inch laptop targeted towards gamers, Lenovo has made several bizarre choices. For no clear reason, the operating system of choice is Windows 10 Pro and, even more surprisingly, the Y740S doesn’t come with high-end graphics baked in.

The laptop comes equipped with 9th generation Intel processors, can be configured to pack either 16 or 32GBs of DDR4 memory and gives you the choice of having either a 4K or FHD display.

Lenovo BoostStation

Lenovo also dropped its Legion BoostStation, an external graphics enclosure and companion to the Y740S for on-the-go gamers. The eGPU will start at US$249.99, with the price increasing if you opt to go for the box bundled with an Nvidia GeForce RTX2060 or AMD Radeon RX 5700 XT. Unfortunately, there’s no indication of Australian pricing or availability yet for either.

Alongside its laptop launch, the brand announced a range of new gaming monitors.

Lenovo Legion Y25-25

Adopting the Lenovo Legion branding, the Y25-25 Gaming Monitor is a 24.5-inch Full HD IPS display with a “near-edgeless” look. The panel has a brightness of up to 400 nits and features a relatively high 240Hz refresh rate. The monitor’s stand allows you to tilt, lift, pivot and swivel the display, letting you adjust the panel so it’s just right for you. The monitor should hit shelves around the middle of this year.

To attract the crowd of gamers who appreciate a curved monitor, Lenovo announced two new displays with a curvature of 1500R – one of the most aggressive curvatures available on the market today.

The first of the two is the 31.5-inch G32qc Gaming Monitor. The 2560×1440 (QHD) panel has a 4ms response time and a 144Hz refresh rate, which should be fast enough for most gamers. The G27c Gaming Monitor is second on the list, featuring a 27-inch panel and AMD Radeon FreeSync technology to reduce screen tearing. Like its larger sibling, the G27c has a response time of 4ms, but it has a slightly higher refresh rate, reaching up to 165Hz.

Lenovo’s curved monitors are expected to become available in March 2020. No Australian pricing or timeline has been announced yet.

Lenovo also showed off its new wireless RGB gaming peripherals: a mouse with up to 200 hours of battery life and a membrane keyboard.

How to Fix a Laptop Key that has Fallen Off

Local Computer Help helps customer with this sort of issue every week. Some times we can reattach the key, in a similar fashion as described in this nice little article by Computer Hope, or in many instances we will need to replace your laptop keyboard for you. This process requires the laptop to be disassembled to be completed.

Note: This page is a general reference guide and may not apply to your laptop, as your laptop may have a different keyboard key design.

Fixing a loose keycap

Laptop keycap, key pad, and key retainer

Unlike a desktop key, each key on a laptop keyboard may have three components: the keycap, key pad, and the key retainer, as shown in the picture.

If the keycap is loose but still attached to the laptop, it can often be fixed by pressing down on the keycap. If the keycap re-attaches, you should hear a snap while pressing the key down. If this does not fix the issue, we suggest removing the key so it can be re-attached. The re-attachment process is detailed below.

Fixing a broken keycap

Note

If a key, keycap, key pad, or retainer is physically broken or missing, it must be replaced.

If you’re having difficulty putting a key back onto the laptop, follow the steps below. If you’re trying to fix the spacebar, skip to the spacebar steps.

  1. Start by first inserting the key retainer into the laptop. If you have a key pad, we suggest inserting it after the retainer is set in place to make things easier. Once the retainer is inserted, it should lie flat and be able to flex (shown in the image below).
Laptop keyboard key retainer

Tip

If you’re not sure what direction the laptop key retainer goes, check the orientation of the metal hooks on the base of the keyboard. These metal hooks help determine the orientation of the key retainer laid into them, as the retainer should align with the hooks.

  1. Insert the key pad into the retainer.
  2. Once the above two steps are completed, position the key cap over the retainer in the proper orientation and press down lightly. The key should snap onto the retainer. If the key does not look right, try pressing down on all corners of the key to make sure all clips are snapped into place. Once snapped in, test the key and see if it works again.

Spacebar key steps

Unlike the other keys on the keyboard, the spacebar requires additional steps to get it back on properly. The image below shows the spacebar removed from a laptop. Before the spacebar keycap can be placed back onto the laptop, there is a bar (shown below) that must be removed by inserting your flathead screwdriver beneath it and gently pulling upward.

Laptop spacebar key

Once this bar is removed, place the new spacebar on the laptop. Be mindful that it is properly oriented over the retainers, and push down to snap it back into place.

Key still doesn’t work after fixing or replacing

If the key still doesn’t work after putting it back on or replacing the keycap, key pad, or key retainer, the circuit board for the keyboard may not be working. In the case of a problem with the circuit board, you need to replace the entire keyboard, including the circuit board, to fix the problem.

To replace the entire keyboard, contact the laptop manufacturer to see if you can purchase one directly from them. If the manufacturer will not sell a replacement keyboard to you, take your laptop to a computer repair shop.

YouTube was originally a dating site and more fun facts!

In fact, many of us sign up to get notified directly when a new video appears that might interest us, showing just how much YouTube has become a part of our digital lives.

But beyond knowing it’s popular, free, and international, not too many people know just how influential YouTube is, nor do they know how it came to be the behemoth it is today.

Below you will find some facts and figures about YouTube that will help demonstrate how much of an impact this social video site has had on our culture and society, and it will make you think a little bit more about the massive community that exists behind the website we all know and love so much.

1. YouTube Was Originally Designed to Be a Dating Site

For most of us, YouTube just appeared on the internet one day, and we simply started using it. But that YouTube launched the way it did actually represents a pretty big shift in the original purpose of the site.

Most people don’t know the original concept for the site was for it to be a dating platform.

The idea was that people would send in videos of themselves, describing who they were, their interests, likes, dislikes, etc., and then viewers who shared those interests could respond with a video of their own.

However, shortly after launching this idea, co-founders Jawed Karim, Steve Chen, and Chad Hurley found out that people didn’t really want to upload videos of themselves for a dating website. It was too personal, and, perhaps, just a little too creepy for most singles’ tastes. The slogan they invented, “Tune in, Hook up,” probably didn’t help things much either.

To get people into the idea, Karim, Chen, and Hurley went to Craigslist to try and find people to post videos (a move even they know was questionable), and they even offered women $20 if they loaded up a video. But practically no one participated, calling into question the viability of the website these three had begun building.

Knowing they were onto something but realizing dating wasn’t the answer, the three co-founders decided to switch the focus of the site so that anyone could upload a video to the internet. In removing these restrictions, people became more interested.

The first video, “Me at the Zoo,” which was posted by Karim, went up in 2005, and from there, the site quickly took off and became the internet institution it is today.

Here are 13 more fun facts about YouTube you may not know about from a great website called Broadband Search.

Want to learn more about using YouTube? Local Computer Help can provide you training and support.

Top 5 technology related items invented in Australia

In celebration to the just passed Australia Day we did some Googling and discovered 5 technology related items that were actually invented in Australia!

Google Maps

Google Maps was created by a pair of Denmark-born but Sydney-based developers.

Brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen co-founded a startup mapping company in early 2003 called Where 2 Technologies. A year later, they sold that company to Google, which would later turn it into Google Maps.

The brothers were awarded for making major gains in the information and communications technology field, according to The Sydney Morning Herald. Their work positioned Australia “as a global leader in online services,” according to the paper.

The Ultrasound

Calling it the CAL echoscope, researchers David Robinson and George Kossoff built the first ultrasound scanner in 1961.

The pair worked at the Ultrasonic Research Group of the Commonwealth Acoustic Laboratories, and in May 1962, Robinson and Kossoff recorded Australia’s first ultrasound image. The discovery “helped establish the reputation of the Sydney group at the forefront of research in ultrasound,” according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

While similar technology was used in other machines around the world, Robinson and Kossoff’s device and its successors produced images of equal or better quality.

Wi-Fi

In the 1990s, a research team of Australian inventors created a technology for the high-speed wireless delivery of data between devices over a network. Today this technology is more commonly known as the basis for “Wi-Fi.”

The team made up of John O’Sullivan, Terence Percival, Graham Daniels, Diethelm Ostry and John Deane developed the technology that made the wireless LAN just as fast as its cable contemporaries.

The Pacemaker

In 1926, Dr. Mark C. Lidwill invented the earliest model of the pacemaker while working at the Royal Prince Alfred Hospital in Sydney, Australia.

The early versions of the technology were complicated and difficult to use, but the invention was streamlined overtime and is commonly used in medical practice today.

Lidwell’s invention isn’t the only major medical device and research to come from the country. Australian inventors also created the cochlear implant – or bionic ear, and the Gardasil and Cervarix vaccinations that protect against certain types of cancer-causing HPV.

Black Box Flight Recorder

Australian scientist David Warren is best known for inventing the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder, also known as “the black box.”

Warren invented the world’s first black box flight recorder in 1953 while working at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory. Warren and his team spent years developing the technology, which has been installed in commercial aircraft as a result of mandatory aviation guidelines.

The technology has been credited with recording critical information to make flights safer, and it has proven integral to investigations into aviation accidents.

When it comes to air travel, Australian inventors have also been credited with creating the inflatable aircraft escape slide.

How to replace a broken laptop screen

We came across this nifty little article from PC World about repairing your broken laptop screen. If your laptop’s LCD screen is cracked, black, or otherwise broken, it doesn’t mean your notebook’s a paperweight!

Before you replace your laptop screen

Before doing anything, give your laptop a full look-over and inspection to ensure the screen really needs replacement. If the graphics card on the motherboard is dead, for instance, you may be wasting your time and effort on replacing a perfectly good screen. Additionally, if the laptop has been recently dropped or otherwise possibly physically harmed, you’ll want to double-check for other damage as well.

To ensure the graphics card is functioning, you can plug a desktop monitor or TV into the laptop, as most have a standard blue VGA monitor and/or a HDMI output. If the picture looks good on an external display, your graphics card is likely good and the screen is at fault. If you don’t get any picture, keep in mind some laptops require you to press certain function keys on the laptop to activate external display output. If you do that and video still doesn’t display, your graphics card and/or motherboard is likely broken, rather than your screen.

If the laptop outputs to another display successfully, use the computer for a while to ensure the keyboard and other laptop components appear to be functioning normally. 

Before you replace your laptop’s LCD, here are the caveats to the general steps that follow. This is not meant to be a guide for ultrabooks, two-in-ones, tablets, Macbooks, or other, more specialized notebooks, however. It’s more for average, run-of-the-mill laptops. But even then the general steps I discuss do not work for all such laptops. Some will require a different process and/or more work to replace the screen, such as accessing the motherboard by opening the main case of the laptop.

Finding a replacement laptop screen

Because of that crucial caveat, before buying a new LCD, it may be a good idea to try to remove the damaged screen first, to ensure you can perform the replacement. If, after following the first few steps the process looks different for your laptop, I recommend scouring Google and YouTube or finding a repair professional for further help on your exact laptop brand and model.

Finding a replacement LCD is typically easy—and you don’t have to pay the crazy prices the manufacturer usually wants. Just search eBay, Amazon, or Google with your laptop model number and the words LCD screen. You’ll find most regular screens can be had for as low as $80 to $150. If you aren’t finding anything, try other identification numbers from the laptop label or documentation. Some vendors have one or two different sets of identification numbers that could serve as your model number.

When shopping for the LCD, most sellers will alert you to compare the specs and placement of the video cable on the back of their screen to your current screen. This is another reason to crack open the laptop bezel before ordering a replacement. However from my own experience, if the seller says the screen is compatible with your exact laptop model, it usually works.

How to fix your broken laptop screen

Before starting, ensure you have the proper tools. Here’s what works for most laptops:

  • Table or other flat working area: You’ll need a spot to sit (or stand, if that’s your thing) with a flat area to work on your laptop. This gives you a reason to clean off that messy dining-room table or desk.
  • Small-head magnetic philips screwdriver: Not small like a mini screwdriver from an eyeglass repair kit, but I’d say between that size and a mid-sized screwdriver would work. If you don’t have a magnetic-head screwdriver, try to find a magnet big enough to magnetize the driver head. This helps the screws stick to the head, making it much easier to remove and replace the screws without cursing as they fall all over the place.
  • Safety pin or needle: This is for removing the cover stickers that are hiding the screws on your laptop’s surrounding cover, called the bezel.
  • Plastic putty knife or other thin object: This is optional, to aid in prying apart the screen bezel from the case. Personally, my finger nails usually do the trick. If you do use another object, ensure it’s thin enough but not so sharp that it will leave scrapes or other evidence of prying.
  • Small bowl or other container: This is for stashing the small screws—and keeping them safe from curious cats and children.

These general steps work for most laptops:

  1. Ensure the laptop is unplugged from the AC adapter. Remove the laptop battery as well.
  2. Find the round cover stickers that are hiding the screws on the screen bezel, the case surrounding the screen. These stickers are usually on the bottom of the bezel, near the screen hinges, when you have the screen opened. You should find one on each side of the screen.
  3. Use a sharp, pointy object—like an opened safety pin or needle—to help remove the cover stickers without damaging them. Stick it between the edge of the cover and bezel, and then pry the sticker away. Once removed, place the covers in a safe spot, with the sticky side up to help ensure there’s enough stickiness when you place them back on.
  4. Use your screwdriver to remove the now-exposed screws. Remember: righty-tighty, lefty-loosey. Some screws are easy to remove; others, not so much. But moving the screen into just the right position usually exposes the screws enough for removal.
  5. Carefully start prying the screen bezel away from the back side of the screen case. Work a fingernail or other thin, prying object into the crack around the outside of the screen. The bezel is usually secured to the back case with plastic snaps, so give it some force while prying—but not too brutish. You’ll hear the unsnapping of the fasteners when prying.
  6. Once you’ve unsnapped the screen bezel, it may or may not be easy to remove. If not, it’s likely stuck around the screen hinges. Moving the screen position up or down, with some gentle force if necessary, should free it fully.
  7. Once the bezel is fully removed, you’ll find the LCD secured to a metal trim frame on the left and right sides. Remove the two screws (one on each side, on the top) holding the trim frame pieces to the back screen case. Now, you should be able to lift the LCD (with the trim frame pieces attached) slightly away from the back screen case.
  8. On each of the trim frames’ sides, remove any screws that are securing it to the LCD. Most laptops have three screws on each side; however, the smaller laptop I photographed here doesn’t have these screws—the LCD is actually secured to the trim frame pieces by tape on each side.
  9. Now you should be able to set the LCD face-down onto the keyboard. Be careful not to put excessive force on the video cable attached to the back of the LCD.
  10. Disconnect the video cable from the back of the LCD. Though the laptop I photographed here has the connector on the very bottom, most laptops have the connector near the center. If so, keep in mind that the portion of the cable running down the screen is usually stuck on the back of the screen with some mild adhesive. Just gently pull the cables away from the screen. You usually must remove tape that’s securing the video connector to the back of the screen as well. When you get to the point of actually pulling the video cable out of the screen connector, it should unplug with little force.
  11. Once you’ve fully removed the broken LCD, simply place the new one face-down like you did the old one. Reattach the video cable to the connector and place the cables and any tape just like they were for the old one.
  12. Set the new screen up in the side trim frame pieces, then re-secure it like the old one was: usually three screws in each side of the trim frame pieces, and then a screw on top of each to secure it to the back screen case.
  13. When you get to the point of putting the bezel back on, just line it up and push/squeeze the bezel back into the snaps of the rear screen case. Before replacing the bezel screws, ensure the bezel is fully snapped in place and no crack exists around the edges of the screen case. Lastly, use that safely pin or needle to reattach the sticky screw covers.

If all went well, you now should have a shiny new working laptop screen. Put the battery back in and test it out!

Alternatively you can call Local Computer Help on 1300 883 831 and our friendly expert technicians can help fix your damaged laptop screen (and any other laptop issues) for you!

Have you tried these best PC games of 2019?

Looking for something to do during the school holidays – if you’re lucky enough to still be on holidays. Check out some of these great games from yesteryear for you to get gaming on with this great read from Den of Geek on some of the best PC games of 2019!

Need help building a gaming computer? Give us a call on 1300 883 831 and we can build you a rig that suits your style and budget.

Due to a relative lack of high-profile releases, many of the best PC games of 2019 came from indie developers and other surprising sources. As a result, the games on this list are truly unique. From detective games that are secretly elaborate psych tests to a puzzle game that plays by its own rules, the best PC titles of the year offered an experiences we didn’t expect but absolutely loved.

As an added bonus, you can run most of this year’s best games on even the humblest of gaming PCs. One of them was even first released 15 years ago…

Here are 10 of the best PC games of 2019 in alphabetical order:

Best PC Games 2019 - Baba is You

Baba Is You

March 13 | Hempuli Oy

Most great puzzle games are defined by a series of rules that help govern the experience. In Baba Is You, though, the rules are anything but defined. Actually, you’re able to change them by simply interacting with a few key blocks in each level that not only change the layout of the level but can alter how you win the game.

It sounds strange, and it is. However, the ability to manipulate what can and can’t be done in each level makes Baba Is You is one of the cleverest, most inventive, and downright challenging puzzle games in recent memory. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Best PC Games 2019 - Disco Elysium

Disco Elysium

October 15 | ZA/UM

One part isometric RPG in the style of Baldur’s Gate and one part gritty detective adventure, Disco Elysium combines genres and ideas that we never knew we wanted to see on the same plate. Yet, we can’t help but go back for more. 

Disco Elysium‘s “urban fantasy” setting is a compelling enough reason to give this game a look, but the real draw here is Disco Elysium‘s deep RPG mechanics. Not only are the game’s playable characters fully-customizable, but Disco Elysium asks you to determine what kind of cop you’re going to be in this rough world. It may be easy to position yourself as a righteous lawman, but the moral line in this dark universe may be too tough to see. For the intelligent ways it evolves the idea of discovering who you are in a video game through your actions and decisions, Disco Elysium deserves to be experienced. 

Best PC Games 2019 - Hades

Hades

December 2018 Early Access | Supergiant Games

Supergiant Games, the studio behind  Transistor and Bastion, has always done things a little differently, and Hades is no exception. After all, it’s not every day that you play as the prince of the underworld as he tries to escape to Mt. Olympus with help from the gods.

Based largely on feedback its developers received from their other projects, Hades is a brilliant isometric action title that combines the best of role-playing and dungeon crawling. This addictive roguelike will have you carefully considering how you upgrade your character as you work towards the seemingly impossible. It highlights why Supergiant Games is one of the best in the industry when it comes to simple, refined, and ultimately clever PC gaming experiences. 

Best PC Games 2019 - Islanders

Islanders

April 4 |  GrizzlyGames

We all need a break from high octane AAA games once in a while, and Islanders may prove to be one of the best breaks from the same old same old released in 2019. Combining elements of SimCity, Tetris, and other city builders, Islanders gives you a small collection of buildings and has you build the best settlement possible.

Be warned that this an almost cruelly addictive game. Islanders masters the art of “easy to learn, tough to master” like few other city builders ever have. Its puzzle-like mechanics ensure nobody feels overwhelmed while its surprisingly deep late game will thrill genre enthusiasts. It’s the kind of game you lose hours to while the more technologically demanding games on your powerful gaming PC go untouched. 

Best PC Games 2019 - Risk Of Rain 2

Risk of Rain 2

March 28 | Hopoo Games

The original Risk of Rain is one of the best roguelike games ever made. Defined by its simple looks and accessible action gameplay, developer Hopoo Games took a tremendous…err…risk in converting the game to 3D, but Risk of Rain 2 manages to brilliantly re-imagine the incredible original.

Risk of Rain 2 features everything that made the original so notable, including unique characters, skills, and weapons, while addinga third dimension that greatly enhances the fundamental appeal of the original experience. It’s quite simply one of the best multiplayer games of the year and a tragically underrated expansion of the roguelike genre and its many compelling trappings. 

Best PC Games 2019 - Slay the Spire

Slay the Spire

January 23 | Mega Crit Games

This is a bit of a cheat considering that Slay the Spire has been in early access for quite some time, but the game’s official release was in January. As a roguelike deck builder, Slay the Spire is a unique experience. Even if it had more competition, though, we’d have a tough time imagining a game that can equal its brilliant strategy gameplay.

Slay the Spire has you maneuver through a series of branching levels as you try to build the best deck of cards possible and defeat all who stand in your way. This insanely addictive game is simply one of the best games on Steam and the type of game you can recommend to anyone who has a few (dozen) hours to burn.

Best PC Games 2019 - Sunless Skies

Sunless Skies

January 31 | Failbetter Games

It’s a bit too easy to describe Sunless Skies as a Gothic horror sci-fi version of The Oregon Trail on a massive scale, but that description does a fairly good job of capturing just what makes this game so compelling. Sunless Skies takes what made Sunless Sea such a fascinating take on the role-playing/strategy genre and amplifies nearly all of it.

This is a game of discovery in which you must make some difficult choices and rely on the aid of some potentially unsavory characters in order to have a chance of surviving the horrors that lurk in the skies. Whether you see the best of what the game has to offer depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice.  

Teamfight Tactics

June 2019 | Riot Games

2019 saw the rise of the auto-battler genre, with a few different competing for the top crown. While Hearthstone and DOTA‘s takes on the auto-battler concept are certainly worth your time, it’s the League of Legends-themed Teamfight Tactics that ends up being the best overall example of the genre.

Like other auto-battler games, Teamfight Tactics benefits from a simple, yet deep, core gameplay design that sees you draft units and strategically arrange them on a board in order to see if they can beat an opposing army. However, Teamfight Tactics separates itself with a brilliant item system, clever units, and constant updates from Riot Games that have kept the title’s meta fresh as new tactics constantly emerge. 

They Are Billions

June 18 | Numantian Games

Available via Steam’s Early Access program since 2018, They Are Billions finally received its official release this year. Along with the full release comes a new story campaign, new technology, and more. However, the draw of They Are Billions remains the same as it ever was.

With its horde mode-like gameplay and expansive base-building options, They Are Billions is one of the most exciting and addictive real-time strategy titles of the last decade. It forces you to think on your feet while also planning ahead in order to survive some of the most daunting, zombie-filled strategy scenarios imaginable. More often than not, the thrill doesn’t come from “winning” (which many will find to be a nearly impossible prospect) but in finding a way to hold out just a little longer. 

World of Warcraft Classic

August 27 | Blizzard

World of Warcraft is hardly a new game, and that’s especially true of this Classic edition, restores the game to its original vanilla state and 2004 glory. World of Warcraft Classic was certainly one of the most anticipated games of 2019 and arguably of the last few years. As it turns out, the hype was worth it. 

Whether you simply long to relive your memories of first playing World of Warcraft or you want to see what the game was like before 15 years’ worth of expansions and updates, WoW Classic shows why World of Warcraft is considered to be one of the best games ever made. More than a nostalgia trip, WoW Classic is an epic adventure that rewards its most dedicated players with a grand-scale RPG that leaves even the largest modern titles feeling thin. 

Watch out for Microsoft tech support scammers

Unfortunately Local Computer Help often receives calls from clients that have encountered this specific scam and in some instances fallen for it. Here’s a great little article from Tech Advisor to help keep you safe.

If you receive a phone call from a security ‘expert’ at Microsoft offering to fix your PC – it’s a scam. Here’s how to avoid the Microsoft phone scam, and what to do if you fear you have fallen victim to it.

Despite having gone on for years – since 2009 in fact – the “I’m from Microsoft and you’ve got a problem with your PC” scam phone calls haven’t gone away. Here’s everything you need to know about protecting yourself should you receive one.

Does Microsoft tech support call you?

No. Microsoft will never make an unsolicited phone call.

But the scammers hope you don’t know this. They call you, and ask for you by name. They say they are a computer security expert from Microsoft (or another legitimate tech company or a Microsoft ‘partner’). The caller is plausible and polite, but officious. They say that your PC or laptop has been infected with malware, and that they can help you solve the problem.

What happens next depends on the particular version of scam with which you have been targeted.

Some crooks will ask you to give them remote access to your PC or laptop, and then use that access to get hold of your personal data. Others get you to download a tool which they say is the “fix” for your problem, but is actually malware.

The other version is a more straightforward scam: they simply ask for money in return for a lifetime of ‘protection’ from the malware they pretend is on your machine.

Here’s the important bit: no legitimate IT security company – certainly not Microsoft – is ever going to call you in this way. For one thing, they can’t even tell that your PC is infected. They’ve got your name from the phone book, or any one of the thousands of marketing lists on which your details probably reside. They know nothing about your home computing set up – they’re just chancers.

Basically, somebody is sitting in a room calling number after number hoping to find a victim. It’s not personal, but it is ultimately dangerous to your financial and technological health.

What should I do if Microsoft phones me?

  1. Put the phone down. Get rid of the caller and move on with your life. It is not a legitimate call.
  2. During your conversation, don’t provide any personal information. This is a good rule for any unsolicited call. And certainly never hand over your credit card or bank details. Just don’t do it.
  3. If you’ve got this far, we can only reiterate point number 1: get off the phone. But whatever you do don’t follow instructions to visit websites, download software or change a setting on your PC.
  4. If possible get the caller’s details. You should certainly report any instance of this scam to Action Fraud.
  5. Finally, change any passwords and usernames that could plausibly have been compromised, and run a scan with up-to-date security software. Then ensure that your firewall and antivirus are up to date and protecting your PC.

Oh, and there is a number 6: tell everyone about it. This scam preys on people’s insecurity about lack of tech knowledge. It is very easy to be a victim, and the best defence is sharing knowledge. It is much easier to put the phone down if you are forewarned.

What should I do if I fell for the Microsoft phone scam?

First of all don’t beat yourself up. This could happen to anyone (and does, regularly). You need to change all the personal data that you can change. As much as you might like to you can’t change your date of birth, and changing your name and address seems extreme. But you can change all your passwords and usernames, starting with your main email account and any bank- and credit card logins. Also, contact your bank to ask them to be on the lookout for anything dodgy.

Feel free to give Local Computer Help a call on 1300 883 831 for a confidential discussion if you believe you have fallen for a scam. We can provide you some valuable advise and support if required.

7 Biggest Technology Trends In 2020

We are amidst the 4th Industrial Revolution, and technology is evolving faster than ever. Companies and individuals that don’t keep up with some of the major tech trends run the risk of being left behind. Understanding the key trends will allow people and businesses to prepare and grasp the opportunities. As a business and technology futurist, it is my job to look ahead and identify the most important trends. In this article, I share with you the seven most imminent trends everyone should get ready for in 2020.

AI-as-a-service

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the most transformative tech evolutions of our times. As I highlighted in my book ‘Artificial Intelligence in Practice’, most companies have started to explore how they can use AI to improve the customer experience and to streamline their business operations. This will continue in 2020, and while people will increasingly become used to working alongside AIs, designing and deploying our own AI-based systems will remain an expensive proposition for most businesses.

For this reason, much of the AI applications will continue to be done through providers of as-a-service platforms, which allow us to simply feed in our own data and pay for the algorithms or compute resources as we use them.

Currently, these platforms, provided by the likes of Amazon, Google, and Microsoft, tend to be somewhat broad in scope, with (often expensive) custom-engineering required to apply them to the specific tasks an organization may require. During 2020, we will see wider adoption and a growing pool of providers that are likely to start offering more tailored applications and services for specific or specialized tasks. This will mean no company will have any excuses left not to use AI.

5G data networks

The 5th generation of mobile internet connectivity is going to give us super-fast download and upload speeds as well as more stable connections. While 5G mobile data networks became available for the first time in 2019, they were mostly still expensive and limited to functioning in confined areas or major cities. 2020 is likely to be the year when 5G really starts to fly, with more affordable data plans as well as greatly improved coverage, meaning that everyone can join in the fun.

Super-fast data networks will not only give us the ability to stream movies and music at higher quality when we’re on the move. The greatly increased speeds mean that mobile networks will become more usable even than the wired networks running into our homes and businesses. Companies must consider the business implications of having super-fast and stable internet access anywhere. The increased bandwidth will enable machines, robots, and autonomous vehicles to collect and transfer more data than ever, leading to advances in the area of the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart machinery.

Autonomous Driving

While we still aren’t at the stage where we can expect to routinely travel in, or even see, autonomous vehicles in 2020, they will undoubtedly continue to generate a significant amount of excitement.

Tesla chief Elon Musk has said he expects his company to create a truly “complete” autonomous vehicle by this year, and the number of vehicles capable of operating with a lesser degree of autonomy – such as automated braking and lane-changing – will become an increasingly common sight. In addition to this, other in-car systems not directly connected to driving, such as security and entertainment functions – will become increasingly automated and reliant on data capture and analytics. Google’s sister-company Waymo has just completed a trial of autonomous taxis in California, where it transported more than 6200 people in the first month.

It won’t just be cars, of course – trucking and shipping are becoming more autonomous, and breakthroughs in this space are likely to continue to hit the headlines throughout 2020.

With the maturing of autonomous driving technology, we will also increasingly hear about the measures that will be taken by regulators, legislators, and authorities. Changes to laws, existing infrastructure, and social attitudes are all likely to be required before autonomous driving becomes a practical reality for most of us. During 2020, it’s likely we will start to see the debate around autonomous driving spread outside of the tech world, as more and more people come round to the idea that the question is not “if,” but “when,” it will become a reality.

Personalized and predictive medicine

Technology is currently transforming healthcare at an unprecedented rate. Our ability to capture data from wearable devices such as smartwatches will give us the ability to increasingly predict and treat health issues in people even before they experience any symptoms. 

When it comes to treatment, we will see much more personalized approaches. This is also referred to as precision medicine which allows doctors to more precisely prescribe medicines and apply treatments, thanks to a data-driven understanding of how effective they are likely to be for a specific patient.

Although not a new idea, thanks to recent breakthroughs in technology, especially in the fields of genomics and AI, it is giving us a greater understanding of how different people’s bodies are better or worse equipped to fight off specific diseases, as well as how they are likely to react to different types of medication or treatment.

Throughout 2020 we will see new applications of predictive healthcare and the introduction of more personalized and effective treatments to ensure better outcomes for individual patients.

Computer Vision

In computer terms, “vision” involves systems that are able to identify items, places, objects or people from visual images – those collected by a camera or sensor. It’s this technology that allows your smartphone camera to recognize which part of the image it’s capturing is a face, and powers technology such as Google Image Search.

As we move through 2020, we’re going to see computer vision equipped tools and technology rolled out for an ever-increasing number of uses. It’s fundamental to the way autonomous cars will “see” and navigate their way around danger. Production lines will employ computer vision cameras to watch for defective products or equipment failures, and security cameras will be able to alert us to anything out of the ordinary, without requiring 24/7 monitoring.

Computer vision is also enabling face recognition, which we will hear a lot about in 2020. We have already seen how useful the technology is in controlling access to our smartphones in the case of Apple’s FaceID and how Dubai airport uses it to provide a smoother customer journey. However, as the use cases will grow in 2020, we will also have more debates about limiting the use of this technology because of its potential to erode privacy and enable ‘Big Brother’-like state control.

Extended Reality

Extended Reality (XR) is a catch-all term that covers several new and emerging technologies being used to create more immersive digital experiences. More specifically, it refers to virtual, augmented, and mixed reality. Virtual reality (VR) provides a fully digitally immersive experience where you enter a computer-generated world using headsets that blend out the real world. Augmented reality (AR) overlays digital objects onto the real world via smartphone screens or displays (think Snapchat filters). Mixed reality (MR) is an extension of AR, that means users can interact with digital objects placed in the real world (think playing a holographic piano that you have placed into your room via an AR headset).

These technologies have been around for a few years now but have largely been confined to the world of entertainment – with Oculus Rift and Vive headsets providing the current state-of-the-art in videogames, and smartphone features such as camera filters and Pokemon Go-style games providing the most visible examples of AR.

From 2020 expect all of that to change, as businesses get to grips with the wealth of exciting possibilities offered by both current forms of XR. Virtual and augmented reality will become increasingly prevalent for training and simulation, as well as offering new ways to interact with customers.

Blockchain Technology

Blockchain is a technology trend that I have covered extensively this year, and yet you’re still likely to get blank looks if you mention it in non-tech-savvy company. 2020 could finally be the year when that changes, though. Blockchain is essentially a digital ledger used to record transactions but secured due to its encrypted and decentralized nature. During 2019 some commentators began to argue that the technology was over-hyped and perhaps not as useful as first thought. However, continued investment by the likes of FedEx, IBM, Walmart and Mastercard during 2019 is likely to start to show real-world results, and if they manage to prove its case, could quickly lead to an increase in adoption by smaller players.

And if things are going to plan, 2020 will also see the launch of Facebook’s own blockchain-based crypto currently Libra, which is going to create quite a stir.

Check out the full article by Bernard Marr at Forbes by clicking here.

What is Computer RAM? Do you need more of it?

What is RAM and How it works?

RAM stands for random-access memory, but what does that mean? Your computer RAM is essentially short term memory where data is stored as the processor needs it.

This isn’t to be confused with long-term data that’s stored on your hard drive, which stays there even when your computer is turned off. Anytime you play a game from your computer’s hard drive or stream a movie from the Internet, all of the data that your computer’s processor needs to play the game or watch the movie is stored in RAM.

This is so that your processor can get to it quickly. Once you’re done playing your game or watching your movie and you close it down, the processor doesn’t need that data anymore, so it replaces it with the next task you give it. RAM can slow down your computer if there isn’t enough of it for the processor to perform the tasks you ask it to. If your processor wants to load more data than your computer RAM can handle, it has to keep going back to the hard drive or the Internet to obtain the information again. This is just like someone trying to pick up more tennis balls than they can carry; in the end, they spend more time picking up tennis balls than playing the game!

How Your Computer Processor (CPU) Works

The processor makes up a computer’s ability to think, much like the conscious parts of your brain. The faster you can answer math problems, read, and understand the words in a book, get the meaning of a joke, or accurately tell your body what to do while playing a sport, the more powerful your brain is.

Computer processors are the same way. The more powerful they are, the faster they can perform tasks with the data (games, movies, applications, etc.) that’s available on your hard drive and online. Your computer’s processor works with RAM to function as a team. RAM is like your short-term memory. If you were to bump your head and lose your short-term memory (your RAM), you wouldn’t be able to remember anything that happened more than a few seconds ago. However, you’d still be able to think perfectly well. But think about it—without any memory, you (and your processor) would have severe difficulties.

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See the full article here!

What is file fragmentation? and How you can speed up your computer by defragmenting them.

Fragmentation occurs on a hard drive when data is not written closely enough physically on the drive. Imagine a solved jigsaw puzzle and a solved puzzle. When the puzzle is solved you can tell what the image is at a glance. If the puzzle isn’t solved its going to take longer to figure out what it is.

Defragmentation is the process of putting all those pieces together. This allows your hard drive to work faster as it isn’t searching for each piece of a file.

Why Does Fragmentation Happen?

Fragments happen because the file system reserved too much space for the file when it was first created, and therefore left open areas around it.

Fragmentation also happens when you delete a file. When a file is deleted the physical space on the drive is freed up and used for other files/data.

This method of storing data is completely normal and likely won’t ever change. The alternative would be for the file system to constantly reshuffle all existing data on the drive each and every time a file is changed, which would bring the data writing process to a crawl, slowing down everything else with it.

So, while it’s frustrating that fragmentation exists, which slows the computer down a little bit, you might think about it as a “necessary evil” in a sense – this small problem instead of a much larger one.

Don’t Defrag Solid State Drives

Defragging your hard drives can improve its overall speed.

No, you really should not defrag a solid-state hard drive (SSD). For the most part, defragging an SSD is a wholesale waste of time. Not only that, defragging an SDD will shorten the overall lifespan of the drive.

A solid-state drive is a hard drive that has no moving parts.

As you may have already guessed, if a drive doesn’t have moving parts, and so nothing to take up time as it moves around gathering all of a file’s fragments together, then all the fragments of a file can essentially be accessed at the same time.

How to Defrag Your Hard Drives

Windows 10 – Guide by Melanie Pinola

Mac – Guide by Igor Degtiarenko

See the full article here!