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B.T. RANG ME TODAY, followed shortly afterwards by a call from Microsoft Support. ‘Oh boy!’ I thought. ‘I’m a popular guy, how nice of these people to call me.’

In both cases the voice was foreign and the line not very clear but they were keen to help me with the problems they had detected I was having with my PC. 

Trouble is, I don’t use a PC: my machine is an Apple iMac.

‘Hello? Is that one’s loyal subject? May one help with one’s PC problem?’

Let us get one thing straight, and remember it FOREVER: Her Majesty the Queen is more likely to ring you on your home phone to check that you’re coping all right after all the snow or floods or drought (or whatever you’ve been having) than either BT and Microsoft are. 

It is just not going to happen.

So here’s the fun bit: if you receive a phone call in which the caller asks you to switch on  your computer, simply agree, put the phone to one side and go and put the kettle on. And be grateful: the nice man or woman from abroad just gave you an excuse for an impromptu tea break, so leave them hanging on and I bet they are no longer there when you return. 

And if, by some chance, they are then HANG UP. I enjoy playing this particular game with them, especially on a slow day. 

But seriously, I’ve had several customers fall for it in the last year but it is a SCAM; don’t let them fool you, put the phone down.

It’s the same with email scams: ‘Four million dollars is waiting for you from Uncle Bert In South Africa.’  Except you don’t actually HAVE an Uncle Bert, do you? 

Or that email from Lloyds Bank saying ‘click here’. But you don’t BANK with Lloyds, so why would they email you?

Never click anything in these emails, DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! If your bank genuinely gets in touch they will most likely ask you to login to your account and read a secure message.

Basically, if it looks or sounds too good to be true it probably is, put the phone down, delete the emails or as my father would say: “If in doubt do nowt.” If you’re still not sure ring me or someone else who knows about nerd stuff.

By the way, we do sometimes get the occasional royal phone call: from my mother-in-law. Well, she got an MBE from the Queen so that counts, doesn’t it?

Anyway, my job is to pass the call to my Princess so the pair of them can discuss important things like where to meet for coffee or how much alpaca wool is needed to make a Doctor Who scarf.

Yes, we keep alpacas. . . and no, that’s NOT a scam!

And another thing. . .

I HAD ONLY BEEN AWAY, RELAXING, for a couple of days when my daughter messaged me (daughter’s and technology not recognising vacation time, of course!). She wrote:

“Help! My Mac won’t switch on. In fact nothing in my room will switch on! No power, no internet, no music. . .” In other words an end-of-the-world scenario, a catastrophic disaster in Teenagerland!

We went through the motions and quickly established that the fuse on the circuit had tripped out. Plugged the Mac in and it refused to re-engage; unplug the Mac and the whole house came alive again. Daughter could once more charge her phone and speak to friends; well, not speak, obviously. Nobody does that these days, right? But she could Snapchat and Tweet and do whatever else the young do these days. Total disaster averted.

But this meant there was an issue with the Mac. Now I don’t do hardware, iso I took it to a man who does. There it now sits, awaiting a screwdriver intervention. 

What’s strange is that the computer was plugged into a surge-protected extension lead, so its sudden death remains a bit of a mystery. Fortunately ‘the yoof’ store everything in the Cloud so when I asked my daughter about backup she just nodded and went back to staring at her phone, the only screen she temporarily now possessed

There’s no fool like a digital old fool without back-up

I’m telling you all this because while this was a nuisance it wasn’t a disaster, but for those of us over-35s, it could well have. Here’s why:

We ‘oldies’ are more likely to have our important data stored on our computers’ hard drives and less likely to have those computers plugged into a surge protector. 

If you get a surge from a storm or an electrical ‘spike’ it could ‘kill’ various components of your machine. So back up your data frequently and get a surge protector. Okay, on this occasion ours failed but I would still recommend your devices be plugged in to one.

My other recommendation is updates; keep your devices up-to-date. There have been various important updates fixing vulnerabilities in all Intel-powered devices of late and it is often tempting to not install the nagging updates, particularly on PCs, for fear they will cause issues or not install properly. 

Phooey! I strongly recommend you be guided by our misfortune AND INSTALL!

Now I have warned daughter that I’m heading off to northern New Zealand, going off grid for a few days. And I do mean OFF GRID! No phone signal and definitely no internet. 

I’ll probably do something weird like read a book!

 

If you need help with your digital doings do get in touch at <dj@nullministryofdoing.co.uk> or at +44(0)16973 61066

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