Nicole Linko

SCAM ALERT – what to look for to keep yourself and your identity safe.

by Nicole Linko on May 21, 2020 Comments Off on SCAM ALERT – what to look for to keep yourself and your identity safe.

With the COVID-19 situation, there are increasing efforts by fraudsters to try to take advantage of your fear and collect personal information that can be used for identity and financial theft. The hot ticket right now – contact tracing. The FTC is seeing an increase in scam efforts surrounding this issue & is warning the public to stay alert and do not share your information.

How does it work?

Here’s how it works: Scammers will send you a text message with a generic boilerplate spiel about how you were exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19. The message will include a link where you can supposedly learn more or sign up for testing.

How to spot a scam tracer?

A legitimate contact tracer will never ask for personal identifying information or ask you to click a link to another site. The only thing you might see is asking if you are ok to receive more text messages.

Below are red flags of a scam tracer (these red flags apply to most scams):

  1. Poor English: Many scam operations are based outside the U.S. Even if they have an American area code, it’s possible to spoof it easily. Watch out for unusual spelling and grammar, especially when it claims to come from a government source.
  2. A link: Real contact tracing texts are notifications of an upcoming call. They will not include links for you to sign up or provide information. Ignore any texts that include a link.
  3. Requests for personal data: The only information you’ll be asked during a legitimate contact tracing session is who you’ve been in contact with, and potentially their phone numbers. Even then, this kind of information would be asked during the call, not upfront in a text. Ignore any texts that request personal information about you or others.
  4. Alarmist language: Some of these texts will use frightening or sensationalized language to get you to act urgently. If you get scared enough to click the link they include, you’re already in trouble. Real contact tracers will work with you professionally and refrain from alarming you.
  5. Requests for money: Anything asking you to submit a payment of some kind can be disregarded. Contact tracing programs shouldn’t cost you anything to be a part of. Any requests for payments in the form of Bitcoin or gift cards are also major red flags.

Good news

As new technologies are becoming available, we soon will be able to use contact tracing to help curb the spread of the virus. Don’t let these scam artists scare you — you now have the information to protect yourself.

If you do receive something and you are unsure, take a screenshot and send it to me, I would be happy to look at it.

In this time of shelter in place & 24/7 news cycles, the world can seem very scary. If we work together, share valuable tips, engage with the world with love, we can help to keep each other safe.

Need assistance, I provide computer and website services as well as training. Please check out my website for other helpful blogs and my offerings at

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Nicole LinkoSCAM ALERT – what to look for to keep yourself and your identity safe.

OneDrive vs Google Drive

by Nicole Linko on April 22, 2020 Comments Off on OneDrive vs Google Drive

The major players in the PC cloud storage arena are Microsoft and Google, hands down. A few other cloud storage companies are out there, such as DropBox, Box, and provide a cloud storage feature but are more geared towards file sharing & are not in the same space as the big two. Let’s not forget our Apple users, you’ve got iCloud, period. Easy decision there.

Cloud storage, what is it? Do I need it?

If you store your documents on your local computer, there are many disadvantages to contend with – the two major problems are: having to run periodic backups to ensure you do not lose your data if you have a hardware failure or natural disaster & the inability to access that data from any other device (for example, when you travel away from home). The solution, store data in a cloud – an external server that has automatic backups & is accessible from anywhere and from any device, 24×7. Genius.

Convinced that cloud might be in your best interest? Yes, I’d agree with that too. Do you have a @gmail account or an @hotmail, @msn, @microsoft account – well you already have cloud storage, you just didn’t realize it yet.

Google and Microsoft both provide a suite of products associated with their email. Once you create a free email account with either of these giants, you have access to email as well as a slew of other apps including cloud storage – Google’s is called Google Drive and Microsoft’s is called OneDrive.

Which is better?

I am not going to get into that conversation but I will provide some helpful information to help you choose for yourself. If you are comfortable with the Google apps such as Google sheets, Google docs, I’d say you would be wise to keep all of your docs under that umbrella. If you love Word, Excel and PPT, then I’d say you were in the OneDrive camp. Here is a diagram to help you compare the two.

In closing…

Both of these cloud solutions are fabulous, you just need to choose the one you are most comfortable with. If you’d like help with the choice or how to move your docs to a cloud solution, please contact me at [email protected] – I’d be happy to assist.

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Nicole LinkoOneDrive vs Google Drive

Why is my Internet so ?*? slow?

by Nicole Linko on April 22, 2020 Comments Off on Why is my Internet so ?*? slow?

Everyone is home, kids and teens are doing online schooling during the day and then watching endless hours of online videos or playing games in the evening, all the while, parents are on endless video conference calls for work – the result, some days the internet seems like it is moving slower than molasses. So, how can we fix it??

#1 – Reboot — yes, it’s cliche’ but sometimes, it is just what is needed. Every device you work on (including your Internet equipment) needs a reset. My suggestion, reboot your computers once every few days, reboot your phone once a week — you will be impressed with the results. As far as your Internet equipment, if you have 1 box – 1 modem from your provider, yes you can reboot it & should have no issues getting it back up. If you have multiple boxes, modems, routers, extenders, tread lightly or call a trusted friend/advisor to help you walk through how to take it down & what order to turn things back on.

#2 – Internet Upgrade — if you have had your Internet equipment for over 2 years, it is a good idea to give your provider a call to ensure your hardware is working properly & to see what your options are for a faster connection to the internet. Think of the connection to the internet as a pipeline, if you have 7 devices that are all trying to go through a small pipe, you are going to have lag time and drop offs, enlarge the pipe, things will run smoother.

#3 – Networking in the home — so, you have your modem/router in a closet and you can get internet just fine in a few rooms but the office computer seems to be losing connection & you have no idea why. Most likely, there is interference from other devices or from your home itself (steel beams, etc.) that are causing dead zones. If you have it in your budget, there is a new kind of network called a Mesh network you should check out – here is an article on Mesh networks from CNET –

#4 – Hardwired connection is KING – so wireless is fabulous & easy (no wires) but the signal strength is about 1/2 of what a hard wired connection can give you. So, I for one, have a 50ft ethernet cable running to a PS4 in my home, so my teens gaming does not interfere with my daily work. If you have an option to use a cable to connect some of your devices into the modem/router – it is a very inexpensive (50ft ethernet cable was $23) way to take some of the traffic off of your wifi network.

I hope some of these tips were helpful. There are many more ways to troubleshoot and enhance your internet connection at your home. If you would like additional resources, please contact me at [email protected]

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Nicole LinkoWhy is my Internet so ?*? slow?

COVID-19 is not the only virus you should be worried about.

by Nicole Linko on April 18, 2020 Comments Off on COVID-19 is not the only virus you should be worried about.

COVID-19 isn’t the only virus to fear.  Terror strikes in the heart of computer owners for fear of their computer getting a virus and their systems become corrupted.

Now that we are working from home and local resources such as the Geek Squad are not readily available, it’s a good idea to take steps to ensure your computers stay healthy and virus/malware free.

Whether you are on a Mac or PC system, the first line of defense is installing an anti-virus program. There many to choose from with differing price levels. I’d recommend a product that has both virus and malware protection combined and which offers a free version to try it out. My favorite is Malwarebytes, priced reasonably and provides good coverage for Macs and PCs. Other good alternatives are AVAST, AVIRA, BitDefender, and McAfee.

TIP #1: the only difference between a free version of software and the paid version is usually the scheduling & real-time scanning. A free version will require you, the user, to begin a scan. The paid version will run in the background and scan continuously.

TIP #2: if your computer has a pop-up that says you have a virus (like the image above), NEVER call this number. This is a scam where they want to remotely connect to your computer, find 100’s of viruses on it, and ask you to pay them to remove it. Many times if you see this pop-up, simply turn off your computer & when you turn it back on, it will have vanished.

If you find yourself in need of advice, please give me a call at 512-825-7767 or email me at [email protected] I am here to assist.

I hope you stay safe and healthy during this crisis.

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Nicole LinkoCOVID-19 is not the only virus you should be worried about.

Stuck at Home? Meet for Happy Hour!!!

by Nicole Linko on March 30, 2020 Comments Off on Stuck at Home? Meet for Happy Hour!!!

The Very Beginner’s Guide for Using Zoom to Stay Connected – Part 1

Wait, what? We can’t leave the house! How can we stay in touch?

I recommend Zoom.

Here’s why – it’s the easiest way to connect with more than one person at the same time. Have you tried to use FaceTime with more than one person? It’s a nightmare…

What do I need?

A computer, phone or tablet & a connection to the Internet

I got invited to a Zoom call. What do I do?

It’s simple, if you received an email or text with a Zoom link, simply click the link. If you have not used Zoom before, you will see this window pop up:

If you press ‘click here‘, Zoom will launch the meeting and allow you to connect to the meeting using your browser – Chrome, Safari, Microsoft Edge, Firefox, etc. You do not need to download the app for the Zoom meeting to work.

Or you could choose to ‘download and run Zoom‘. This link will begin a download of the Zoom application. Once it is downloaded, it will begin the install process. Once it is installed, it will connect you to the meeting. Zoom is a small application and will not take much space on your computer.

PLEASE NOTE – the Zoom meeting invitation also includes a telephone number so if you cannot join with the video portion of the meeting, you certainly can call into the meeting to participate.

I’m connected, now what??

Once you are connected to the meeting, you will see a screen similar to the one below.

There is a toolbar at the bottom of the screen that allows you to change the settings for audio, video, participants, share a screen, chat, and record. If you are not the host (leader) of the meeting, not all of these buttons will be listed or clickable.

You will want to click on the ^ next to the Mute to turn the audio on or off, the same is true for the video. I find these features useful when you have a dog barking in the background that you might not want everyone on the call to hear!!! LOL

How do I see everyone on the call??

At the top of the screen, you will see the participants lined up like the image below.

If you want to change this to a gallery view, click on the Gallery View button in the top right hand corner of your screen.

Whomever is talking is who will be showing up in the large center area of the screen. If someone is leading the meeting, they may ask that the participants mute themselves so they will remain the focus of the meeting.

How do I leave a meeting?

Once the meeting is over, the meeting host will stop the meeting and you will be disconnected, you simply close that tab in your browser or close the Zoom app.

If you need to leave the meeting before it is over, if you go to the bottom of your screen (where the toolbar is), there will be a Leave Meeting red button on the bottom right hand side, this will disconnect you from the meeting.

What if I want to host a meeting? How do I get an account? Is it free?

Visit & click on Sign Up for Free

On the free account, you can host a meeting for less than 3 people an unlimited amount of time. If you want to connect with more than 3 people, you are limited to a 40min call.

My suggestion – if you’re only going to meet a few people for 30 min, use the free one. If you want to meet with more people or have longer meetings, get the monthly subscription. See below for pricing options.

So, I got My Account! How do I set up a meeting?

There are two ways to setup a meeting. #1 – if you downloaded the Zoom app, you can open that & use the next few steps to schedule your meeting. #2 – you can schedule a meeting via your browser, that is my preferred way to do it & those steps are listed as well.

Method 1 – Schedule with your Zoom app, open Zoom and this is the first screen you will see.

You’ll want to click on the Meetings tab, and you will see this screen.

To schedule a meeting click on the + sign near the top of the screen, you will then get a screen that will allow you to set the topic, time, etc. (see example below) – when finished click Schedule. PLEASE NOTE: It is recommended that you put a password on your meetings to ensure no one else is able to join it.

Method 2 – Schedule your meeting via a browser – go to & click on the Schedule a Meeting link at the top of the page. You will see this page.

You can fill in the details of the meeting, the name, the description, the duration, etc. Be mindful of other people’s timezones when you schedule. There is a section to turn on video for yourself and your participants – make sure you click On for each of those options – that’s kind of the point, right?? On the audio choice, click on Both — this will allow someone to join with the audio microphone on their computer or if they are on a phone, they can connect that way. We want everyone to hear and be heard!!!

Once you have your options selected, click on Save. Then you will see this.

This is a confirmation of your meeting and most importantly, the link you need to send your participants – Join URL. Stay on this page for the next step.

How do I invite people to join??

Click on the Copy the Invitation icon. You will see the following pop up.

Click the Copy Meeting Invitation button at the bottom of this pop up. This copies the whole invitation so you can paste it into an email.

Now go to your mail program, start a new email, & paste the information you just copied into the body of that email. Go to the TO portion of your email & add your participants emails there & then Send it off.

Now… meet!

Are you ready for more Zoom tips?? Stay tuned.

In Part 2, we’ll cover some of the fun advanced features like Chat, Changing the Participant View, and Backgrounds…

Need Help?

I’m here to help! I can help you set up Zoom for sure BUT I can also help you with many of your IT needs such as:

  • setting up a new computer
  • figuring out where to store your data
  • email challenges
  • building/updating a website

You get the point, whatever you need, I’m here…

Give me a call for personalized service.

For more information on all of the services I can assist with, please go to

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Nicole LinkoStuck at Home? Meet for Happy Hour!!!