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Repair versus Buying New

A question I often get asked is, “Why should I repair my computer when I could buy a new computer for $200?”. 

Computers that cost $200 are made of cheap components; that is how they cut costs. They wear out quickly and they break easily. The technology in the computer is outdated already by the time you get it. Instead of ending up slow over years, they start off slow. You can expect computers with these components to last for maybe a year.

Instead of a $200 computer, Tech Lab recommends buying one that is more expensive but made of better materials.  If you spend $600-$800 on a computer, you can expect that computer to last for five to six years before it gets overtaken by better technology. 

You also need to consider the time it takes to set up the new computer or the cost of purchasing programs for the new computer. If you move your files, passwords, bookmarks, etc. to the new computer, that takes time and materials as well, and if you did not, that may be a time loss as well.

If you do the math on this, a new $200 computer every year will equal the actual cost in three years of a $600 computer and in four years of an $800 computer.  That does not count the cost of programs or setup time.  So you will have at least a $200-$400 cost savings in going with the more expensive computer. 

If you are not sure what to look for in a new computer and would like advice, Tech Lab can help you find the right computer to meet your needs. If you need help setting up your new computer, Tech Lab can set it up just the way you want it and move your files, passwords, bookmarks, etc. to the new computer also. Contact us at 414-208-4682 or through the contact form on our website.

Using Passwords- Part 2

I forgot my password. What do I do now???  This depends on where your account is. For websites that require a password, they will have instructions if you have forgotten your password. Some websites will send you a reset link in your e-mail. Other times, you will answer security questions to prove that you are you. Some websites, if you have this set up, will send you a text to prove that you are you. We recommend setting up security questions and using two step authentication for important accounts like you bank account. I got locked out of my account because I typed my password wrong. Now what??? Depending on where your account is will determine your next step. Some places will ask you to wait a predetermined length of time before you try opening your account again. Other places will have you call a phone number.  How to know if you entered your password correctly? If it doesn’t go through right on the first try, check your password log to make sure that you have the right user name and password. Check whether the site is asking for your user name or your e-mail, and put in the correct one. Check to see if you have Caps Lock on, and turn it off if it’s not supposed to be on. Type the password somewhere else where you can see what you are typing. When you are positive the password looks like what you should type into the box, then copy the password and paste it into the password box. If you use a password manager, you can copy and paste the password directly from the manager.  Passwords can be frustrating to an individual but they help keep you and your information safe.

Keeping Yourself Safe Online Using Passwords

For most of your accounts, you will have a user name (sometimes this is just your e-mail address) and a password to log in. The theory is, by entering that combination, you prove that you are you and have the right to do whatever you are doing (e.g., shopping online, social media, etc.). 

Unless a hacker breaks into your account and pretends to be you. The easiest way for a hacker to do that is to get your password. How can a hacker do this? 

1) You give the hacker your password.

2) The hacker guesses your password. 

3) The hacker tries out various passwords until he finds one that works. 

4) The hacker installs malware or a virus on your computer that gives him your password. 

How can I keep my passwords safe? 

1) Do NOT give your password to anyone. Assume that if someone is asking for your password, especially someone that you do not know, they have bad intentions. The company where you have your account will NOT ask for your password. Only click password reset links when you have requested the reset. 

2) Use antivirus software and malware protection software (see other blog posts for more details).

3) Follow password guidelines:

a. Use uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and special characters. 

b. Your password should be between 8 and 18 characters. 

c. Change your password every 3-6 months. 

d. Don’t use personal information. 

e. Use different passwords for every site. 

These password guidelines are unusable! They are too much of a pain in the neck. 

Yes, you are correct. That is why many sites where you make passwords will make you follow password guidelines as much as they can. 

We recommend using more security for the accounts you most want to protect (e.g., your bank account, etc.). For these accounts, make sure that they have their own password and that you do not share that password. 

A password manager can help as you manage your passwords for many accounts. Your phone and browser (e.g., Chrome, Edge, etc.) can do this to an extent, but we do not recommend relying on them. A password manager can generate a password that you can use that follows password guidelines. It can store usernames and passwords. Once you have an account you can copy and paste them from the password manager so that you do not have to worry about mistyping your password. Examples are KeePass and 1Password. When you change your password, be sure to change it here too! 

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts can be very useful tools. When using keyboard shortcuts, you will need to hold down multiple buttons at a time.  The order that you will press them is indicated in the shortcut. You can hold down the first keys of a shortcut as long as you need to in order to find the final key on your keyboard.  The final key will do the shortcut. No matter how long I press Alt or Ctrl or Start, nothing will happen unless I press the final button. 

Alt+TAB: This changes the program you are using to a different program.  If you hold down Alt and press Tab once, you will switch to the program you were last using.  If you continue to hold down Alt after pressing Tab once, you can see the different programs you have open.  You can click on the program you want to go to or change the program by pressing Tab any number of times until the program you want has a box around it. 

Alt+F4/Apple+Q: This closes the program that you are currently in.  If no programs are open, then this will open the shutdown box. 

Ctrl+Page Up or Page Down: This allows you to switch tabs in your browser.  If you can type in a text box, it will not work, but in that case, just click outside of the text box. 

Ctrl+W: This closes the current tab in your browser. 

Start+up arrow: This maximizes the program so that it fills your entire screen. 

Start+down arrow: This minimizes the application.  If the application you are in fills your entire screen, this shortcut will make it the size it was before it was maximized.  If the application you are in does not fill your entire screen, this shortcut is the equivalent of pressing the _ button at the top of your program.  Even though it is open, you will no longer see the program window. 

Ctrl+S: This saves what you are doing.  This is handiest in Office programs, but it also works in most browsers if you want to save a copy of a webpage (e.g., online receipts). 

Ctrl+Print Screen: This takes a screenshot to your clipboard, which you can then paste, as an image. 

Alt: At the top of most programs, there is a bar that says File, several other things, and then Help.  If you cannot see this bar in a program that you are using, pressing Alt will make it show up if it exists in the program. 

Tab: Aside from creating indentations in Word, you can also use Tab to go to the next selection.  We use this most often in a form with many boxes to fill out. After you complete the first box, you can press Tab to go to the next box instead of clicking. 

More options are available on our previous blog post:

Habitat for Humanity

Last week Tech Lab partnered with Onix, Inlanta Mortgage, and AVI Systems to work on a Habitat for Humanity home.  This opportunity was coordinated by Jackson Bubolz of Inlanta Mortgage in Hales Corners and through the Greater Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. 

The day started at 8:00 AM.  We broke off into two groups, so unfortunately, I do not have any pictures of Kim Zahn of Brookfield East or Amy Schmidt of AVI Systems.  Amy and Kim’s group worked on laying in vinyl flooring. 

My group, which included several members of the Onix team and Jackson of Inlanta Mortgage, worked on demoing flooring, cleaning up basements, and inventorying building materials. 

In case you do not know what demoing is (I did not), it is demolition.  We literally pried up flooring until it looks like this photo.

No flooring

Once the flooring was up then there were staples sticking up that needed to get pounded down and then cleanup occurred.


Afterwards, we cleaned out basements.  Many supplies and garbage were left in the basements, so we threw out the garbage and relocated the usable supplies.  Our team did this for three basements.  In between, we had lunch provided by Onix.  Afterwards, some of the team went on a walking tour of the neighborhood and the homes that Habitat for Humanity was working on, and some of us kept on working. 

We also sorted usable building materials from garbage and unusable materials.  We inventoried the amounts of usable building materials. Below the tarp is the usable lumber.

Usable Lumber

Thank you to everyone to helped to make the day successful including Michelle from Tech Lab!

Milwaukee area employees of Onix

Spring Cleaning

Spring officially started in March and now is in full swing. The weather is getting warmer, grass is green, and trees are budding. Warmer temperatures bring out more people which may include you. A change in season may have you thinking about the projects that need to be done both inside and outside of your home. Is your computer on your list?

Has your computer been acting slow? Do you have pop-ups when you visit websites? Do you know if your information is secure when you are using sensitive data like social security numbers, credit cards, or banking information? Are your documents and photos being backed up? If they are not, do you know what would happen if your computer is damaged or stolen? Would you lose personal or business critical information? Do you have an antivirus that is up to date? If it isn’t, your computer may not be fully protected.

Maybe it has been awhile, and it is time for a tune up to your machine. Tech Lab can audit your computer’s startup and running programs, and work with you to determine what you need and what you can remove. We can also run virus and malware scans for you and help remove unwanted programs that slow your computer down.

If you are in the market for a new computer or you are looking for ways to enhance your current machine, call Tech Lab and get our opinion! Tech Lab would love to consult with you or your business to solve these or other nagging problems. We can be reached at 414-208-4682 or via email at

Malware 101

What is malware?

Malware is any kind of program running on your computer that you do not want.  This includes programs that create unwanted ads and pop-ups (adware); that can monitor your activity and steal your data (spyware); or that can lock you out of your machine (ransomware).  Malware of any kind can cause damage to your computer and the data stored on it.

What happens to me if I am infected with malware?

Malware can simply be annoying, creating unwanted pop-up windows and redirecting your web browsing to advertising sites.  However, it can also do damage to your computer. Malware can prevent your computer from receiving important security updates, or can make it impossible to use certain applications you may need at your workplace.  In the worst cases, it can even lock you out of your computer entirely, or steal important personal or business information like credit cards, social security numbers, passwords, or other information you enter into your computer.

How do I get rid of all my malware? An antivirus program is only able to scan for some malware. To ensure you can get rid of most of your malware, users should install and use Malwarebytes to scan for malware. If you use the free version, you scan and run updates yourself. If you purchase Malwarebytes premium, the program will run updates and scans automatically.

Tech Lab can help you look at the security of your computer so you know you are safe online. Call us today (414-208-4682) to run scans for you, help you purchase Malwarebytes premium, or check your security levels.

Don’t Fall for the Scam!

Scams are not always easy to spot so anyone can fall easily into one. Scams happen through phone calls, emails, text messages, and even through contact forms. The first thing every consumer needs to do is view everything through a critical lens. If you receive a phone call that is not expected and tells you that something will shut down in a time frame, this is typically a sign of a scam. Instead of acting quickly and doing what the person on the line says, don’t give them additional information. Take a step back and investigate the phone number or company name they are referring to. Often when this step is taken you will be able to see that you are being scammed. Signs of a scam in an email is using poor grammar or unusual formatting like all CAPS. Emails may include unfounded direct legal threats, ask for money orders, or recently they will threaten that your account will be closed if you don’t pay immediately. They may also ask for passwords or banking information. This information should never be given in an email. When viewing an email, look at the email address which sent the email. If it is unusual or has a misspelling that can be a red flag of a scam. If you receive an email from a friend that contains only a link, do not click on the link. The link is an indication your friend has been hacked and clicking on the link may infect you as well. Many email programs will allow you to “mouse over” the link without clicking to see if it will send you to a reputable website. It will show you the actual www address, which you will go to if you click. In order to make sure you are safe, NEVER give out personal information. When you are entering your credit card on a site, make sure the site is secure and uses a lock icon and the website starts with https. Make sure the address bar up on top shows the actual website name you expect. Some scams will use spellings that are close to the website you expect. A mis-spelling, even by a single character, is NOT the same website. In general, don’t act quickly, but rather use a methodical reaction. If you are not sure if something is a scam, consult with an expert. Tech Lab is happy to help you avoid headaches associated with being scammed. Call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682 or email us at

The Format Painter in Microsoft Office

Leo's Tech Tip - The format painter You’re working in either Microsoft Word or Excel and have deviated from the default font style. You’ve changed the heading of the document to a different font and color and would like to make another heading have the same styles. Now you’d have to change the font family and the color of each heading you want to change. That’s a few extra steps. What if there was a way to do this in a more efficient way… introducing the Format Painter

What is the format painter and where do I find it?

The format painter is the style copier tool that comes with Microsoft Office products. The tool icon is in the form of a paint brush. It is usually in the top left-hand corner under the Home tab, to the right of the Paste (clipboard) Icon and under the Cut/Copy icons. Depending on your settings, it may or may not have the ‘Format’ label next to it.

Using the format painter in Excel (with a visual example).

This example will demonstrate how to use the format painter in Excel. Watch the short tutorial below to see it in action.

  The video shows a simple form in Excel, the first label ‘First Name’ line is styled with a nice cursive font and colored in blue. Next to the label are styled cells (to create an input field) where there is a green background with a thick bottom border (for presentational purposes).

The steps in the video tutorial:

  1. Click on the cell with the styled text/cell that you want to copy.
  2. Using your mouse, move to the top right-hand corner of the Excel program.
  3. Under the home tab, there are a few icons:
    • A Clipboard Icon (Paste)
    • Scissors Icon (Cut)
    • 2 Papers on top of one another (Copy)
    • Paintbrush (Format Painter)
  4. Select the Paintbrush icon, which is the Format Painter tool, and click on it. When it is clicked, it will look pressed with a slightly darker background color. Once this is clicked, the cell that was selected before will have an active dashed border around it. This active line indicates that you are copying the style of that cell.
  5. Now, click on the element you want to paint the style on. If you want to paint the style on multiple fields, then click and drag across those elements. (See video).
  6. Repeat as needed.


The format painter is useful when you want to create different styles in your document to use with multiple elements in your document. It makes it more efficient to reuse and copy styles to text in a word document and/or excel cells. Do you use the format painter while using Microsoft Word or Excel? Let us know if you’d like to see other similar tips. Happy painting!