What version of Windows 10 do you have?

Microsoft has said that Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows. To the causal computer user, that is seen as a good thing. However, for tech lovers, this opens up a entirely new can of worms. Microsoft will be putting out major updates to Windows 10 approximately twice per year. The first major update was back in November of 2015. The second major update came out last month (August 2nd, to be exact).

Sometimes the updates will change things enough to make it clear that the updated version of Windows 10 is different. That was the case with last month's major update. 

For example, prior to the update, the Start Menu would only show you all of your apps/programs if you clicked "All apps". Also, the "Power", "Settings", and "File Explorer" icons were all clearly labeled as such as shown in the image below:

The new Start Menu in the August release of Windows 10 now shows all of your apps/programs by default and the "All apps" icon is gone. Furthermore, the icons for "Power", "Settings", and "File Explorer" are no longer labeled as seen in the image below:

Just like with the Windows 10  universal apps, the Start Menu has a Hamburger Menu. Regardless of where you see it, Windows 10, Android, etc, clicking it typically brings up app settings and / or options. The Hamburger Menu is circled in the image below:

Clicking the Hamburger Menu expands the Start Menu and labels the icons as seen in the image below:

Now for the point of this blog post. To see which version of Windows 10 your computer is running, click on the Start Button and then click on the "Settings" icon. The "Settings" icon is circled in red:

Clicking on the "Settings" icon brings up the "Windows Settings" window. Click on the "System" icon. The "System' icon is circled in red:

The "Settings" screen defaults to showing the "Display" section first. Go down to the bottom of the list and click "About". The "About" section has the information we are looking for. The image below has two red boxes. The top box has the Version number and the bottom box has the Build number. 

Microsoft has a support page that lists the Build and Version numbers. You can find that page here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/12387/windows-10-update-history. Halfway down the page, you will find the Build and Version numbers. Simply match the Version number on your "About" page with the Version number on the website. Then match the Build numbers. 

If your version of Windows 10 is not current you have two options. Option A would be to wait until the latest version is available via Windows Updates. Option B would be to scroll up to the blue "Get the Anniversary Update now" box (on that same Microsoft support page) and click it. That will download a small updater program from Microsoft. Run the program and it will download & install the update. If you choose to go this route, you should disable your anti-virus program (unless you are using Windows Defender) until the upgrade it complete. When the upgrade has completed and your PC has rebooted, you will be greeted by this Window: 

All that is left to do is to re-enable your anti-virus program if you disabled it before the upgrade. I'd also recommend going to the Microsoft Store and checking for updates. Any questions? Leave a comment below.

Public WiFi and safety

You're a road warrior. Or maybe you're a broke college student. Perhaps you just like to hang out at Starbucks for hours on end. Regardless of whether or not this describes you, you have probably used public or free WiFi at some point. I'm not judging you..it's free...and it's easy...and it works. But if there's one thing you take away from this post, please let it be this: NEVER enter a website or mobile app password while you are connected to public WiFi. Banking & shopping on public WiFi is literally that last thing I would recommend doing on a public WiFi network.

Here's why:

Many websites and even mobile apps, transmit your data unencrypted. Or it's encrypted, but it's not implemented properly. When this unencrypted data is transmitted, things like usernames, passwords, pins, and the websites you're visiting are in plain text. This data traffic can be "sniffed" and usernames, passwords, etc., can be pulled out. Now this may sound complicated, but it's actually a trivial affair with the right tools and a Google search or two.

Now as dire as that all sounds, it's actually not a major problem if you mitigate the risks. How do you mitigate the risks?

The answer goes by 3 initials - VPN.

VPN or Virtual Private Network used to be one of those things that was reserved for corporate environments or advanced users, mainly due to the difficulty in setting everything up. The age of the mobile app has changed that and now easy to use VPN programs are readily available and just an app store search away. VPN's encrypt your data traffic. A bad guy sniffing WiFi traffic would see that data is being transmitted, but he or she wouldn't be able to see what that traffic contained.

Currently, my two favorite VPN  programs are proXPN and TunnelBear. Both offer free and paid options and both work on PC's, Mac's, Chromebooks, Smart Phones, and Tablets. There really isn't any reason to use public WiFi and not do it safely.

Start using a VPN and the next time you're in Starbucks and you notice the shady guy with the beady eyes peering over the screen of his laptop, you don't have to worry if he's sniffing YOUR data. 

 

I never use public WiFi without this

I never use public WiFi without this