Is Windows Trusted Platform Module (TPM) Update Needed?

Windows 11 is coming. Are you ready? Or does it even matter? There has been a flurry of excitement and agony around the system requirements for Windows 11. Microsoft is insisting on a fairly recent version of a security hardware component called Trusted Platform Module (TPM), which can protect against potential malware and ransomware attacks and securely store encryption keys and passwords locally. Most Windows machines made in the past two years have 2.0 capable TPM, but older machines may not.

There are ways to find out whether your computer is Windows 11 ready, but you should know that Windows 10 will be supported by Microsoft through mid-October 2025. And if Windows 7 is any indication, Microsoft might add another year to that life. So, look at the age of what you have and don’t worry—you will probably be buying a new computer, with Windows 11 on it, by the time you need to have TPM 2.0. (If you want to check whether your PC will support Windows 11, there is a readiness checker called WhyNotWin11, which is more informative than Microsoft’s PC Health Check app.)

Stuck Phone

If your iPhone is stuck and not responding to any screen touch, Apple has ways for you to force a restart. As the directions vary by the type of iPhone you have, a good resource can be found at fairview- These tips can also be used for iPads.

Transcript for Video Subtitles

If you have used subtitles for YouTube videos before, you can also download the transcript, which can be especially useful to avoid taking notes when viewing instructional videos. Open the YouTube video and click the three-dotted Menu button below the title, then choose the “Open transcript” option. Toggle off the timestamps with the triple-dot menu button in the upper right corner of the transcript window, then select and copy all the text in this new window into something like Word to save a copy. Unfortunately, the text will need to be cleaned up a bit for easier reading. But, at least you have a transcript.

To download a transcript of a YouTube video’s subtitles, click the three-dot icon near the video’s title (red arrow) and then click the three-dot icon in the window that pops up (blue arrow). Toggle off the timestamps and then copy and paste. Your YouTube window may look different than this.

Bad Network

Here is a WiFi warning for iPhones and iPads. Don’t join a network called %p%s%s%s%s%n. There is a bug in iOS that will break your WiFi connectivity. You can fix that WiFi problem by resetting your network settings in the Settings app. I am hoping this will be fixed by Apple soon. There may be other network names with weird characters that may create similar problems.

Windows 11 Features

Some of the features that will be coming in Windows 11 include the ability to run Android apps directly; estimated time for update installs; a simplified Start menu centered at the bottom of the screen; and—thank goodness—no more Internet Explorer.

Back Up, Don’t Pay Up

Paying ransomware demands does not guarantee successful data recovery, according to Sophos, a British security software and hardware company. They find that half of those who paid the ransom to get their decryption key could not decrypt one-third or more of their computers, and one out of 25 could not decrypt anything. So, it might be better to keep backups and store them off your network.

Spam Calls on Smartphones, free your music, Google Hangout changes

If you get a lot of spam calls on your smartphone but rarely makes calls yourself, you may have thought about changing your number. In theory, it’s easy: once all your important contacts have your new number, they will be able to contact you. And if you message people through social platforms, nothing needs to change: all that is over the Internet. If you do change your number, avoid giving out the new one, unless it is really necessary, to avoid getting back on the spam callers’ lists. There are two downsides to changing your number: you will have to change your number on record for all medical and financial institutions (some who may sell your phone number); and you don’t know whose old number you might be getting as your new one. You might end up with even more spam calls. As an alternative, you could sign up for a Google Voice number (if you have a Google account) and only give out that number, setting it up to forward texts or emails of voice messages.

Switching music streaming services, re-creating playlists and adding music into your library, among other tasks, can be simplified with FreeYourMusic ( A $15 app, it’s available for most operating systems, phone or computer, and works with most major streaming services. Be aware that not all services carry the same music, so some songs may not be available on a new service.

You have likely heard of facial recognition, and now you can experience some of the assumptions and training that goes into the artificial intelligence (AI) that powers these systems. Go to, which will ask you to turn on your camera, and then go through what it calculates about you.

If you use Google Hangouts, back up important conversations. The service will change to Hangouts in November. Google says most chats should migrate into Chat, but think about using their Takeout service ( for backup, just in case. If you use this service, you’ll select only Hangouts (not photos or email). Follow the prompts—the default settings are fine—and you will be able to download one or more large Zip files.

To make you jealous of zoos on the other side of the world, visit Zoos Victoria ( I now have another place on my growing bucket list.

To satisfy your curious nature, check out Found in a Library Book ( and Artvee (

Protecting While Sharing

When loaning your smartphone to someone else, you can do a few things first to limit what they can do.

On iPhones, turn on Guided Access (Settings>Accessibility, and slide on Guided Access), and use Passcode Settings to set a different code from your normal unlock code. Explore Time Limits for other options. Limit use to one app by opening it and invoking Guided Access with Siri; you can also triple-press the Home button on older iPhones or triple-push the side power button. When you get the phone back, don’t forget to turn off Guided Access, with Siri or the home button triple-press action.

On Androids, use App Pinning (some features are only available in Android 11 and up). Go into Security or Security & location>Advanced>App pinning and turn it on. To limit use to a specific app, open that app and swipe up to the middle of the screen to see a Pin icon or choice at the top of the screen. Tap that pin and that app will be the only one available until you unpin it by swiping up from the bottom of that app and holding until you get a PIN or unlock screen. For video examples, search for “android app pinning.”

Try percussive maintenance. Some devices, like TV remotes, that have loose or slightly corroded battery contacts can sometimes be “fixed” with a gentle tap. Laptops are less likely to be fixed this way.

There is a fun data visualization tool for low earth-orbiting satellites. Leolabs ( lets you explore the location, ID, type and other details of launched satellites. If you add in the debris-tracking layer, you might wonder how we can still see stars at night.

Working online too much? Try Productivity Blocker ( It may sound like a joke, but being forced away from online work sites such as LinkedIn, Slack and Dropbox gives us time to be in our own thoughts. How ironic that some of us have to schedule downtime.

Google will soon roll out to users of Google Meet or Duo a merged video messaging and meeting app with all the features of both.

Never give out one-time codes. A friend was trying to figure out if he had been scammed by passing along a one-time code from Google Voice to someone “interested” in a Facebook Marketplace item. It turned out OK; he was just helping someone get a free Google Voice number without having a cell number.

Tech Updates for July

Windows 10 always wants to market new ideas, and a
new one is called News and Interests. As part of May’s Super Tuesday update, Microsoft put in a new widget to “surface news, sports scores, and stocks based upon your interests,” and it may show up on your taskbar. To get rid of it, right-click on an empty portion of your taskbar, select News and Interests, and then click Turn off.

Unsubscribe Junk

Junk mail is the bane of email, and legitimate senders (if there is such a thing) include an unsubscribe link at the bottom of their emails. This feature is often leveraged by scammers to “verify” that you actually read to the bottom of their email and thus might read more junk emails. And a newer type of email is making the rounds; one that looks like those email subscription confirmations that we have been getting used to but instead come from places we might not recognize. So, what to do? Emails that come from well-known companies “should” be safe to unsubscribe from, but skip the others.

Amazon’s Shared WiFi

Is it worth participating in Amazon’s Echo internet sharing? Amazon has enabled low-power, small, public WiFi networks on their Echo devices—almost any Echo sold in the past five years. The first reaction most people have is, “Abso- lutely not! How do I turn it off?” I’ll get to that, but first, here are the details.

Sidewalk might use up to 500 MB of data each month and 80 Kbps of band- width at any given moment. It is also a network for certain low-powered internet features over Bluetooth, like being able to use a Ring device that isn’t close enough to your WiFi network; instead, it could use your neighbor’s Sidewalk-enabled Amazon device. If you don’t want to allow this feature, open up your Alexa mobile phone app, go into Settings, then Account Settings, then Amazon Sidewalk (if you don’t see this choice, you might need to update your Alexa app) and turn off either or both Community Finding and Amazon Sidewalk.

Venmo Privacy

Venmo is an easy way to get or send money to friends and family, but it defaults to sharing all your transactions with the world. There are two settings you should change, if you want to keep your transac- tions private. Open the Venmo app and click into the three-line menu icon in the upper right. Tap Settings (you might have to scroll down) then Privacy, where you can change your default privacy setting to Private. This only affects transactions going forward. To protect your previous activity, tap on Past Transactions and tap Change all to Private. While you’re at it, take a look at the section labeled Friends List, where you can limit how you show up to other Venmo users.

Edge Coupons

If you like Microsoft Edge but wonder why it keeps offering coupons, you might want to turn off its shopping notifications. Start by clicking on the triple dot icon in the upper right of the Edge window, then click on Settings, then click Privacy, search, and services in the left-hand column, and then scroll to the bottom of the right-hand page for the Services section, where you can turn off the shopping feature. You might want to review your other privacy settings while you’re there.

Don’t Forget to Remember

Feeling trapped by those Apple iPhone/ iPad free trial apps that you forget to cancel when your free trial period ended? You can find the subscriptions by going into the App Store; tap on your “face” icon in the upper right corner and you should see the Subscriptions choice to tap. Wait for it to load and fill in all your subscriptions, and then use the Cancel button accordingly.

Norton Crypto

Norton Lifelock, through its early adopter program, is testing a feature to allow their subscribers to mine Etherium cryptocur- rency while the computer is idle (if you have an NVIDIA 1050 graphics card with 3+ GB of RAM). If that means nothing to you, don’t worry; Norton is testing how to let people make cryptocurrency without having their antivirus software complain about malicious software running in the background. Not surprisingly, Norton takes a sizable 15% administrative cut of what you have mined when you pay or cash out.

No More Passwords?

Apple, Google, and Microsoft are working to end passwords. Before you cheer too loudly, review what they are trying to do. This does not mean that there will not be a need for some type of authentication. Have you ever tried to login to a website and had to get a one-time code sent to a trusted device, like your smartphone, that you have to type in to finish the process? This new process, called FIDO (Fast IDentity Online), for replacing passwords will be similar. The companies are working out some of the easy-to-guess complications, such as making allowances for those who don’t have smartphones or who have lost theirs. You will still need to remember a master password that will grant access to FIDO, but you won’t have to remember passwords for any site using this authentication. So long as you control a trusted password and/or smartphone, it will be more difficult for others to access your accounts.

If you find it too easy to find your own personally identifiable information (PII) through a Google search, the company now lets you request such information be removed. This won’t remove it from the entire web, but it makes PII harder to find. Go to to find out more.

Khan Academy, in partnership with Arizona State University Prep Academy, will open an online high school this fall. It looks like out-of-state students will pay tuition. Information at and look through the ASU Prep enrollment at

I recommend the Ninite tool (, which will easily install and update many applications in Windows. Check off the apps you want and then download your custom installer. If you run it again some weeks later, it will update all your apps. There is something analogous for your Mac. Visit and click to select. You will have to learn a little bit about Terminal in order to copy and paste a long text link to actually perform the installations. It is good to learn something new!

I wish I could read Dutch, but luckily, this Dutch nature conservancy’s list of live bird webcams needs no translation (

Anyone still running Office 2013: Microsoft will stop providing security patches for that suite of apps in April 2023. It will still work, but if you are concerned about security, you should upgrade.

Tips for Backups

The only backup you will ever regret is the one you didn’t make. Though World Backup Day was the last day of March, you shouldn’t think about it only once a year. The point of a backup of your electronic data—a DVD, thumb drive, or a syncing service like iCloud, Dropbox or Backblaze—is that you want to be able to recover data when bad things happen. That can be theft of a device, failure of a hard drive, or malicious encryption of data through accidentally clicked-through phishing emails, among other things.

There are a variety of approaches to data backup, but all should start with figuring out what needs to be copied. You may not need to back up everything, but start with what makes you money or would cost money to recreate. Add what you may have to keep for legal reasons, and deter- mine the value of it all. Then decide what percentage to spend on keeping it backed up or duplicated. Next, consider how you would want to implement something like the 3-2-1 approach: three copies of data (including the original), with two types of backups — one offsite and offline. That last one is really important in order to avoid ransomware attacks. Finally—and this is rarely practiced—you should practice how to restore those backups.

One item I like to add when discussing backups is that you should ensure you have a printed list printed of your logins and passwords for all sites. Or, at least, for your email, smartphone account and any login that does not use your email address for password reset. If you use a password manager, include that master password in this printed-out password backup.

It is shocking when you get a text from yourself, coming from your own phone number. It is fake, as your phone number can be spoofed. What to do? Apart from not clicking through any link “you” sent to you, report it to the FCC ( Reporting it as spam to your own carrier may not do much; they should have already been able to catch those spam texts (and some do).

There may be times you really want to unplug while on vacation, but there are very few places that actually don’t have internet access. Before you go on vacation, tell people that internet won’t be available.

For fun, play around with text to musical tones at For instance, read the preceding sentence at