Be Internet Awesome!

Google has launched a fun way for kids to understand how to be safe on the internet, but that doesn’t mean no grown ups allowed. There is a lot you can learn about internet safety with these games. If you’ve ever not understood how certain things work or you are always paranoid about your actions online then it’s worth a look.


Be Internet Smart

This section of the game teaches you what things are safe to share and with who. Things like sharing your location or certain pictures you would want to make sure only friends or family can see. Some people post information or status updates that are available to the public and people not on your friends list. It is also a good reminder to not share private information like your phone number or address with people you don’t know.


Be Internet Alert

Scammers are all over the internet and it can be hard sometimes to know if something is a scam. And even if you know that something is a scam, what steps are you supposed to take to stay safe? There are some things taught here that many adults may not know, so this section is definitely worth a look.


Be Internet Strong

Things like passwords, card information, or even sensitive photos need to be protected. This section helps you keep your private stuff private. Creating a strong password is extremely important!


Be Internet Kind

Children have difficulty with cyber-bullying. You may already know to be kind and cordial online, but it is helpful to remember to talk to people online as if you were face to face.


Be Internet Brave

It is important to know what you don’t know. If you don’t understand something it is better to ask someone who would know the answer, like your I.T. administrator! ☺

If you are interested in this game you can click the link below.

What does it mean when Microsoft discontinues a product?

As an I.T. administrator any time a product is announced to be discontinued a slew of emails come in asking me “what do we do!?” It may seem like you’re being bullied into upgrading but that’s not at all the case. Any company has to cycle out old products to focus on new products. That’s all they’re doing. They support products as long as possible but there comes a time when they must refocus their efforts on bigger and better things. On the other hand when they start popping up notices every time you turn on your computer, that’s a bit more invasive.

It was sad to see the once great Windows XP operating system lose support back on April 8th, 2014, but even 3 years later I still see it frequently in use. Is that a concern? Well, yes and no. It really depends on how it’s used. I wouldn’t suggest using your Windows XP system to surf the web any longer. Fewer browsers are supporting updates, anti-virus solutions are slowly moving away from supporting XP and as a result it’s slowly becoming obsolete and more of a security risk in business environments. However, some smaller companies that depend on software that’s tried and true on their XP systems sometimes experience large costs associated with being forced to upgrade. With proper precautions these systems can still be safely utilized. For starters up to date anti-virus is a must. Content filtering is also a good idea just to prevent idle hands from visiting dangerous places on the internet. Whether it’s an operating system or software, just because it’s being discontinued doesn’t mean you have to upgrade immediately. They’re not going to automatically uninstall it from your system, they’re just not going to offer any further updates nor offer answers to any questions you may have about that particular software. Take the upcoming End of Life for Microsoft Office 2007 on October 10th, 2017 for example, the last major update was back on October 25th, 2011. Likely every possible question you could have about Office 2007 is already answered somewhere online. So, although Microsoft is saying they’re discontinuing the product in a few months, it has not needed much support for several years now.

Once discontinued a product will eventually become obsolete. That’s the point at which upgrading does make sense. As I said earlier, XP’s browser options are diminishing which makes surfing the internet difficult. Forget about Internet Explorer 8, you’d have to use FireFox to view most websites these days on a Windows XP system. But, eventually no browsers will offer a good web experience on XP, making upgrading to a newer OS a necessary decision. To sum it all up, don’t concern yourself too much about End of Life notices. Don’t brush them off completely, but you have plenty of time to figure out an upgrade plan.

Secure Your Passwords

How important is it to have a strong password? Passwords keep your information, money, and identity safe. Here are some ways to keep yourself safe.


The best way to keep yourself safe is to have a password that can’t be cracked easily. The password should have uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. This prevents hackers from using dictionary attacks.

If your password is too simple (123456, password, etc.) it will be cracked in no time. To see how long it will take hackers to guess your password try this Password Cracking Estimator.

Multiple Passwords

Having just one or two passwords makes you vulnerable to getting all of the websites you use hacked as well. Once they correctly guess your password on let’s say eBay, they will try it on PayPal, Amazon, Walmart, or anywhere else you could have a sensitive information saved.

It is best to have at least four different passwords and to try and change them regularly.

Do Not Save Your Passwords

It is not smart to keep a list of your passwords anywhere. Even if you just write them down on a sticky note or in a notebook, someone could still get their hands on it. The best method is to just to keep them in your head but if you really need to write it down keep it somewhere safe and not just out in the open (On your monitor or under your keyboard).

Changing your passwords, having multiple passwords, and keeping them complex and secret is the best way to keep your information safe.

Shared Short Codes Are Going Bye Bye!

What is a “Shared Short Code” you ask? If you have a cell phone, you have seen a Shared Short Code at some point. Look at the hundreds of text messages you’ve got, go ahead, I’ll wait… Somewhere in there (unless you delete all of your texts and keep it cleaner than 99% of people) you very likely have an automated text message from a phone number with only 5 or 6 digits, for example 95577 is our Shared Short Code, err was our Shared Short Code. Normal U.S. phone numbers are 11 digits, Country Code (1), Area Code (3), Prefix (3), and Line Number (4).

Parts of a Phone Number

Yet there are those 5 or 6 digit Short Codes that are usually from large companies sending you service or appointment reminders, or coupons for a burrito, etc.. Those Short Codes can be expensive, so many smaller companies would get together and share one Short Code.

A Shared Short Code allowed hundreds if not thousands of companies to use the same Short Code by texting a unique keyword, something like “PIZZA” to 97575, which would indicate what company you’re messaging. For example Users texting PIZZA would be placed into the pizzerias contacts/subscribers list, texting CAR would place them into the dealerships, texting HOUSE would place them into the realtors, you get the point. However, even though this method allowed many companies to have access to inexpensive texting programs by a single shared code, each company had to have their own separate opt in list of subscribers. So, that meant just because you texted PIZZA to 97575, that only allows that pizzeria to solicit to you, not the dealership and not that realtor. Well, thanks to some abusers doing massive illegal marketing campaigns, sending texts to people that never opted in, cell phone carriers have decided to put a stop to Shared Short Codes.

Trumpia, a major Short Code provider, recently stated in an email sent June 26th, 2019:
“Even before this announcement, shared short codes were at risk of a single user misusing them, leading to carriers shutting down the entire code. This would negatively impact hundreds of users because of the action of one.”

What’s does all of this mean?!?!?

Well, those huge conglomerates that could afford to have a dedicated Short Code won’t be affected at all, they can keep on using their fancy 5 digit texting number. But, for us guys that don’t want to dish out $1,000 a month for that fancy 5 digit number, we’ll be forced to use toll-free like numbers for these programs. Shared Short Codes will no longer be allowed by cell phone carriers, but they understand legitimate business depend on these programs, so they are issuing groups of 800 numbers to be distributed to each individual business. This will allow Texting providers the ability to lock down offenders without affecting everyone else.

Do you have a Shared Short Code and need assistance transitioning? Total PC has been programming custom texting applications, APIs, and more for over a decade. Shoot us a message and we’ll get to work.

Apple and Infections

If you own a Mac security should still be a concern for you. The amount of infections for Apple products have increased recently and it is very easy to keep yourself safe.

Larger Target

There is a common misconception that Apple products can’t get infections. The reality is that the people who design viruses and malware design it for Windows because it is the most common operating system. They can spread their program to more people if they use the operating system most people are using.

But Apple users are at almost 100 million users and growing. The creators of these infections are now finding worth in designing programs for Apple systems.

Lack of Protection

What makes Apple users so appealing is that most people do not protect themselves. They are easier to infect nowadays than Windows. It is very simple to protect yourself with programs like AVG and Malwarebytes that offer Mac versions.

If you want more information on how to keep yourself safe read our post on How To Avoid Infections.

Fun Apps For Productivity

We all want to get more done in the day. How can we do that and still have good time doing it? We’ve looked at some apps to help you be more productive.


What are you spending most of your time on? This app will change your lock screen to ask you what you’ve been doing since you locked your phone. You can set how often it shows up, but 15 minutes is the default. The lock screen will consist of a few tiles that you can customize to whatever you do most. It will ask “What have you been doing for ‘X’ minutes?” and all you do is select what you have been doing, like watching T.V., eating, sleeping, or working.

After awhile you can see what you have been spending most of your time on with percentages in a circle graph. You can also look at the total time you have spent on everything. Spent too much time relaxing? This can help you stay mindful of how you use your time.


If you feel that you get distracted by your phone when you’re trying to work, then this app is for you. You set how long you want to stay off your phone, plant a seed, and it will grow if you do not leave the app during this time. If you leave the app before time is up the plant dies.

If you complete a plant it gets added to your forest. The goal is to stay focused so that your forest can be as big as possible.


This app makes your life a video game. You set missions for yourself, like make the bed, and you set the difficulty and match it to a skill. If you complete the mission you get experience points towards your level and skills.

If maybe you want to write a novel you can set a mission to write a chapter everyday and link that mission to your writing skill. Every time you complete that mission you get you see yourself improve with stats similar to video games.

Working and improving yourself doesn’t have to be boring. Try these apps out and let us know what you think.

Lies You Tell Your Technician

I.T. technicians have heard every excuse in the book. Most people don’t want to get lectured about why their computer isn’t working. The technicians just want to get the problem resolved and these small lies just prolong your system getting fixed. Here are some lies you should avoid:

“I already restarted it!”

Software gets little hiccups from time to time and restarting will load everything the way it is meant to, and 9 times out of 10 restarting will fix your issue. If you would rather not speak to the technician and just get the issue resolved, restarting is the way to go. If you don’t restart then tell the tech you have, they can see that you haven’t and the trust is gone between you and your technician. Your time and their time has been wasted for them to just restart your computer. If the issue still remains then it is worth reaching out to your technician.

“I don’t know how that virus got there!”

Viruses and malware are easy to get. You may click on the wrong button, go to a misspelled URL, or download a fishy attachment from an email. It happens to the best of us, including technicians. If you tell your tech that you don’t know how it happened, you are leaving out valuable information that could get the issue resolved much faster.

“I didn’t change anything!”

You wanted your computer faster or thought you could fix an issue yourself. You delete some files, edit some settings, disable some services. Now your computer is not working at all. Your technician sees that things are changed and asks what happened. You play dumb and now the technician has to take hours to hunt down everything you did. If you are honest with what you did, the tech can quickly resolve the changes and will be grateful that their time does not get wasted.
Don’t worry about being scolded or lectured. We may explain what you did wrong to help prevent it from happening again, but we are never upset about a problem if we can fix it quick and easy.

Cleaning Your Computer: Inside and Out

Ready for some spring cleaning? Cleaning your computer is a good way of making sure everything runs smoothly. You want to make sure you don’t damage your computer when you do this. Here are some tips to help you tidy up your system.


Canned Air

Dust, dirt, and crumbs are inevitable. All you need is a can of air (You can find this at your local office store).

You’ll want to spray the air on all fans and vents on your laptop or desktop to get rid of any dust that could be blocking the airways that are essential for cooling your system.

Your keyboard can also get crumbs and dirt stuck under the keys. Using canned air helps keep your keys safe from breaking.


Germs spread all over your computer. Using a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab can help sanitize your system. Make sure the swab is not dripping wet and that you do not use it on any internal components because it can cause damage to your computer.

Use your damp cotton swab on your mouse, keyboard, and any other plastic part of your system to help keep it clean.

Screen Cleaner

Your screen or monitor may have some random spots on it. Screens can be very delicate and require certain solutions for cleaning them. If you use something else to clean it, you could get a streaky finish or worse permanently damage your screen.

LCD screen cleaners can be found at your local office store as well, and they usually come with a cloth that is safe for your screen and won’t scratch it.


Uninstall Programs

After a while programs that you don’t need or use anymore pile up. You may also have programs that you don’t remember installing. This can seriously slow down your system. Going to your list of programs and uninstalling the programs you don’t use anymore can really improve your system’s performance.

Run Scans

Scans get rid of all of the junk that keeps your computer slow. Doing regular scans can help keep your system fast AND safe.

We recommend using:

AVG Anti-Virus
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
AdwCleaner Anti-Adware

Organize Files

You may feel overwhelmed by this step, but creating folders and organizing where your files should go can help you stay productive. Deleting files that you don’t need anymore can help your system run smoother. Make sure to only be moving, editing, and deleting files like documents, pictures, and music.


How to Avoid Infections

Do you keep getting infections on your computer and you are unsure why? Sticking to sites and emails that you trust is the best way to stay safe. It is best to go with your gut when coming across something you are unsure of.


If you receive an email from someone you don’t recognize, it is best to just delete it. If you are unsure, there is no harm in opening it to check. The main thing is to avoid following links and downloading attachments. Make sure you totally trust an email before clicking on anything. If you decide to download an attachment you can right click the file and have your antivirus scan it to double check.

URL’s and Links

When you type a URL into your browser or when you follow a link make sure it is spelled correctly. Viruses are often placed on these misspelled sites to spread them as fast as possible. Just make sure you double check spelling and that it is a website you know and trust.


Installing programs make it so viruses can quickly take over your system. You allowed it to be installed and gave it the rights necessary to infect whatever it can. Avoid programs from untrusted sites, also avoid free programs that seem too good to be true. The worst offenders are actually programs stating that they are an antivirus or clean up program.

Programs to Keep You Safe

We recommend using:

AVG Anti-Virus
Malwarebytes Anti-Malware
AdwCleaner Anti-Adware

Computer Skills for the Workplace

Want to impress your employer but you aren’t that computer savvy? There are a few things that can make a big difference on your work performance.


A fast typing speed is really appreciated by employers. Practice makes perfect if you aren’t that great at typing. is a good place to test or improve your skills.

Email and Internet

Knowing how to navigate browsers and your email is very important to be able to do your work effectively. It is good to take the time to test out things and see what buttons do what, to help you get a good feel of your browser and email client.

Microsoft Office

Workplaces usually use Microsoft Word or Excel for information, and as long as you can use these programs everything can run smoothly. Most people need to take classes to be skilled in Microsoft Office programs, but as long as you can understand the basics of how each program works you can get better over time.