Rios Computer Associates

Choosing a Credit Card

Regardless of which computer you get, most extended warranties aren't worth the money. But how you pay for the computer matters a lot.

Amex, Discover, and many Gold or Platinum Visa and Mastercards will double
your warranty up to a year. Some have "all risks" coverage for a period of time as well. I usually recommend Amexthey have a card that gives you about 1% cash back on all your purchases, doubles your warranty, covers you against all risks for up to 5 months, and will even guarantee a right of return for up to 3 months!

The "all risks" coverage means that if you run over your laptop with your car, or drop it overboard into a lake, or a bear tears it apart looking for food, you're coveredeven if you no longer have the product!

The right of return means that if you buy something, then don't want it for any reason and the merchant refuses to take it back, Amex will take the product and refund your money.

For the consumer, Amex is has by far the best customer service of any of the
credit card companies. When I took Amex as a merchant, they were always the
biggest pain, because they assumed that the customer was always right, the
merchant always wrong.

I once had a client cancel a $5,000 payment from Amex, who simply took it out of my bank account with no warning. It turned out that the purchasing agent (a mid-sized company) had simply "forgotten" that they bought several computers from usbut it took me hours of research and documentation to prove it. So as a merchant, I hated taking Amexbut as a consumer, I wouldn't use anything else!

 

8 Steps to a Healthy Computer

Computer hygiene is important, but the paid-for protection programs are often worse than the ones you can get for free.  We have solved a lot of our clients' computer problems by removing Norton/Symantec programs.

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Macs & Viruses

Have you been told that buying a Mac will avoid problems with viruses? That can be a good temporary solution—until a lot of folks start buying Macs.

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Choosing Secure Passwords

A word about passwords: lots of people tell you to create screwy-looking passwords with uPPer and LowER case and all kinds of strange symbols in them. It turns out that this is bad advice...

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Chain Letters

Almost all messages that you get telling you to 'Forward this to all your friends' are hoaxes. Here are some ways to determine whether you should pass it on or hit 'Delete'.

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Choosing a Laptop

The best approach that I have found in deciding what sort of computer to purchase is to identify the things that are most likely to matter to someone and narrow the search from there.

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Avoiding Malware Sites

The bad guys seem to have an unlimited number of ways to trick people and avoid detection. Do you know how to protect yourself from malicious websites?

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Web Hosting & Authoring

There are lots of places that will host you for just a few bucks a month. The critical question is not cost, but reliability and support.

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Choosing a Credit Card

Regardless of which computer you get, most extended warranties aren't worth the money. But how you pay for the computer matters a lot...

Click here to read more.

Affordable Office Suites

Microsoft has dominated the office software market with Microsoft Office, but their software package can be expensive for personal use. Did you know that there are cheaper or free alternatives?

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Videocams & Farsightedness

Comfortable reading is all but impossible when you're farsighted, and computerized magnifers are expensive. Luckily, there is a way to get a cheap makeshift magnifier that works better than the real thing!

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Working with PDF Files

Going backwards from PDF to text is usually somewhat messy, but not impossible. Here are some methods to convert your PDF documents into more accesible formats...

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InfoSelect

The most important program I have, except maybe email, is my Personal Information Manager: InfoSelect.

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Reinstalling Microsoft Office

If your computer on which you have Microsoft Office installed dies, you don't need to buy a new copy; the license for Microsoft Office is transferable. You just need the original CD and the Product Key to install it just as you did originally.

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IMAP: Pros and Cons

IMAP is one of two commonly-used email protocols. I've heard lots of wonderful things about IMAP, but in real life, I have found it has its own share of drawbacks...

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Recovering Data From Failed Hard Drives

In more than 90% of cases of hard drive failure the data is retrievable, but the method used depends on the type of failure. A hard drive can 'die' for several reasons...

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Rios Computer Associates • 930 N Arlington Mill Drive • Arlington • VA • 22205 • 703-536-9190 • service@rios.org