Pokémon GO – 10 Tips for Beginners


Pokémon GO
75 million players can’t be wrong, can they?

We’ve been playing Pokémon GO for about two weeks now. Most of what we have learned has been by trial and error. In order to save you some time and frustration, here are ten tips for your Pokémon GO expeditions:

1, You have to leave your mobile device on during your hunting trips. That means no screensaver, no black screen, nothing but Pokémon GO  on the display.

2, To save your battery, turn your display brightness down to about 1/4 or less. Make sure you also turn off the music and sounds. Leave the vibration on, though. That’s how you’ll know when there is a Pokémon close to you.

3. If you can’t rotate the map or you can’t tap on a Pokémon or a Pokémon Stop, your connection to the Pokémon GO servers is weak or gone completely. You can try waiting but that hasn’t worked for us. Instead, bring up your app list, swipe right to close Pokémon GO and then restart it. If that doesn’t work, restart your phone then restart Pokémon GO. If that doesn’t work, read #4.

4. Depending on where you live as well as the time you go hunting, Pokémon GO’s servers can be very busy. How will you know? Check the spinning Poké ball on the top left of your screen. If it’s spinning and stopping continuously, it might be better to head home and wait until the server’s aren’t so busy. Remember, there are at least 75 million other people using this app. That’s enough to overload any Internet server out there.

5. We’ve found that it’s much easier to catch Pokémon in the morning. If you can manage to get up and out before everyone else does, you’ll stand a better chance of maintaining a decent connection to the Pokémon GO servers which translates into more Pokémon to catch.

One of the many Pokémon you can catch.

6. Somehow, we’re not sure how, we ended up with nine eggs. We also have two incubators, one with unlimited uses and another which can only be used three times. If you incubate an egg, your phone has to be on continuously while walking (read #1 again) in order to accumulate the distance needed to hatch the egg. When that happens, you night just be get a new Pokémon, We hatched an Abra this morning after walking 5K, Surprise! A brand new Pokémon for our collection.

7. You collect berries as you go around spinning the Poké Stop icons. Those berries are very useful, specially if you’re short of Poké balls. When a Pokémon appears, click the symbol on the lower right corner of your screen, choose the berry and toss it, much as you would toss a ball. For a short time, the Pokémon that you’re trying to catch is frozen. This makes it much easier to catch.

8. The Poké Stops turn purple after you’ve used them but they turn blue again quite quickly. We hunt in an area where there are seven Stops within a very short distance of each other. If you’re short of Poké Balls, walk in a circle, collecting ammunition from the Stops again and again.

9. Don’t be afraid to head off in new directions. We discovered two Poké Stops this morning in the same plaza, not that far off our normal route. If you’re in a new city, it would be fun to use Pokémon GO to discover local attractions. Just be careful and make sure you know the kind of area you’re entering.

10. Finally, if the game freezes while you’re in the middle of catching a Pokémon, try this: leave the app, put your device into Airplane Mode then go back to the app. When Pokémon GO tells you that you have no Internet connection, turn the Airplane Mode off. Supposedly, the Pokémon you were trying to catch will be in your list of captures. We can’t guarantee this but it’s worth a try.

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!


Pokémon Go – Initial Reactions

When an game app sets a record for most downloads in its first week, we had to pay attention to it. Here are our initial reactions after playing  Pokémon Go for two days.

  • It’s fun! Much like geo-caching, Pokémon Go uses your mobile device’s GPS to lead you to various targets in your current geographical location.
  • It doesn’t matter where you are, even if you’re traveling there are characters to catch and interesting places to discover.
  • It’s good exercise! Sure it’s only been a couple of days but we’ve spent a fair bit of time outside wandering around hunting for Pokémon in the wild. You have to stop now and then but that gives you time to reconnoiter and maybe catch your breath.
  • Once you’re out walking, the impetus to keep going is always there. Why? Well, you’re not only looking for Pokémon , you’re also searching for PokéStops. These stops will allow you to power up your game, meet other players, train and duel. We’re not 100% comfortable with the game yet so we’ll describe these PokéStops in greater detail once we know what we’re doing.

At this point, we can’t see any negatives in the game other than it’s sometimes hard to hit the wild Pokémon with the balls but that’s not a function of the game, it’s a skill that we’ll learn as time goes by.

Niantic, the game’s creator, is currently developing a wearable piece of hardware that uses Bluetooth, allowing the wearer to interact with the game without constantly checking their main mobile device. We expect this bit of fun to be a big seller. The game is free, of course, but you can purchase Poké balls and other items. So far we haven’t found the need for anything other than what comes with the app.

Stay tuned, there will be more from us on this record-breaking phenomena.Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!

Pokémon Go
Get used to this name, you’ll see it everywhere!


WeChat Recover Account Problems

Most of our comments these days have to do with WeChat, almost all pertaining to lost access to accounts. It would seem that hundreds of people are being locked out of their accounts on a daily basis. We’ve begun to think about whether this is really what’s happening or not. Maybe there’s another answer.

Back in the early days of Hotmail, there were many websites that described how to hack someone’s password, mainly because Hotmail was linked to MSN Messenger at that time. Since then, Microsoft has moved on to Skype as a messenger service, leaving Hotmail to its Outlook department. Now when someone suspects their partner of cheating on them, we’re pretty sure they’ll be using WeChat or another social networking app, not Hotmail and Messenger.

That thought led us to believe that many of the comments we get are from jilted lovers who are trying to hack into their current or ex-partner’s account. What else would explain the high number of locked accounts?

We’ve written many posts about WeChat and how to protect your accounts, your privacy and your identity. Maybe it’s time to move on, don’t you think? If you can’t manage to think your way through the process of securing  your account, there’s not much we can do. We’re not WeChat, we just try to help people out.

What we’re trying to say is that it’s not complicated. WeChat works, it’s free and it serves a purpose. If you’re locked out of your account, there is no magic key that will get you back in. If you haven’t covered yourself adequately, it’s not WeChat’s fault. They’re in the business of protecting your account. They’re not in the business of letting you into someone else’s account. For that, we appreciate WeChat’s security setup. From what we can see, it’s foolproof.

WeChat thing
Keep your account safe, use the tools that WeChat gives you.

Finally, if you’ve been locked out of your account, search through our posts to see if you can find a solution. If you can’t find a post that deals with your particular situation, look through the comments to find an answer. From now on, we’re simply going to link to this post when someone asks for help in recovering their account. We hope you understand.

Thanks for reading.

Speed Up Your Laptop

You may remember that we recently picked up a new laptop for the office. We posted the specs on our Facebook page, check us out there if you haven’t already.

The new laptop is pretty good but we found it a bit slow, mainly because it uses Windows 10 as an O/S. With 6 Gigs of Ram, we felt it should have been faster. Here’s what we did to speed it up, step by step:

  1. First job was to make sure we created the Recovery disks. Since our laptop has an optical drive for reading and writing DVDs and CDs, that was a snap. Once you have the Recovery Disks, it’s easy to switch to another hard drive.

2. Next, we ditched our 500 Gig standard hard drive and replaced it with a 250 Gig SSD (solid state drive)

SSD Drive
An SSD has no moving parts. Less prone to damage and much faster than the standard HD.

An SSD has no moving parts, in case you didn’t know. What does that mean? It means that access, both read and write, is much faster than on a normal magnetic drive. Cost is going down by the minute on these so if you can manage it, adding an SSD is pretty cheap, well worth the money when compared to the speed increase it will give you.

This is what RAM looks like before it goes into your laptop.

3. Then we decided to add more RAM. RAM, random access memory, is what lets your computer think when it’s turned on. The more RAM, the more it can think about at one time. If you like to have a dozen browser tabs open at one time, RAM is what you need…lots of it. We upped ours to 16 Gigs, the most our new laptop could handle, for less than $100.00. Adding RAM yourself is much less expensive than buying it with the computer.

Most laptops come with very small and cheap batteries, usually 4 cell. Adding a 6 or 8 cell battery afterward is a cheap way to increase your usage time.

4. Now that we had a faster laptop, and the speed difference was incredible, we used it for longer periods of time. That meant that our little 4 cell laptop battery wasn’t quite up to snuff for hours of use. For less than $50.00, we doubled our usage time. Now we can surf and write for about six hours. Again, adding an 8 cell battery from the manufacturer is very expensive. The computer itself might seem like a good deal but when you get hit with the extras, you’d be shocked at how high the price can climb.

TIP: Look for your laptop’s model number (it’s on the bottom), then type that into the search window on the site where you buy your parts.

Adding RAM and the SSD might be too tough for you but we’re sure you’ve got a techie friend who could help. Upgrading the battery is a snap. Make sure your laptop is off not in hibernation, take out the old battery and insert the new one. Plug your laptop in and wait until the the new battery is fully charged. That’s it!

Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!


Google Chromecast – What’s new in version 2?

We gave you some of our first impressions of the new Chromecast in our last post. If you already own the older version of Google’s streaming device, you might be wondering what changes there are in version 2. Here are some:

Photo of Chromecast
Chromecast Versions 1 and 2


WiFi Protocols: Without getting too technical, the new Chromecast uses significantly faster WiFi protocols than the original. The new device has three antennas inside which automatically switch to your router’s output signal. What does this mean for you? Faster streaming which translates into higher resolution and a lot less buffering. For techie-types, here are the specs directly from Google: “dual band 2.4 and 5GHz support, and support for 802.11ac”.

Less Storage: Less buffering requires smaller storage space, right? The original Chromecast came with 2 gigabytes of flash storage, a fairly substantial amount for a device of this size. Chromecast 2 gives you only 256 megabytes, simply because of the faster WiFi protocols. Less buffering = less storage required.

Tip: What is buffering? : Your buffer is like a gas tank on a car. Chromecast loads as much of the content that you are currently watching as it can then feeds that content out to your HDTV. Both the buffer and your car’s gas tank have a higher capacity than what is currently being used. With the new WiFi bits and pieces, there should be no delay evident, even though the buffer is smaller than in version 1.

Improved Chromecast App: Google has made changes to the Chromecast app  that is already installed in the device. Besides offering more sources for content, the new version pre-loads whatever app you are using on your remote (see previous post for details on what constitutes a remote) , preparing itself to play whatever you choose. Google calls this ‘Fast Play’.

Another feature in the new app that we haven’t tried yet suggests that, quote: “You can mirror any tab from your Chrome browser to your TV, giving you access to even more content from the web”. This should be a lot of fun, if it works. We think it means that Chromecast will play any video content that can be played in any Google Chrome tab without requiring a specific app for the source. Let’s say you’re watching a sports replay or a video on Facebook. If we’re reading Google correctly, you should be able to cast that content up to your HDTV. That alone is worth getting the new version of Chromecast, in our opinion.


Games: Finally, Google is promising some gaming apps, think Angry Birds, that will mirror whatever is on the device you’re using as a remote. We’re not sure how this will work because you’ll be using your fingers to control the game but you’ll be watching it on the big screen. Is this ‘touch gaming’, controlling the slingshot while not looking at what your hand is doing? We’ll see what this is like before we comment further.

There are other differences that are listed here: What’s new with Chromecast and the Chromecast app? (Link to Google Support).

If you’ve had experiences with either version of Chromecast that you’d like to share, comment here. Comments and questions are welcome but  Likes on our Facebook page get immediate attention.  Here’s the link: Computers Made Simple on Facebook .Thanks for reading!



a little bit of hi-tech, a little bit of common sense and a lot of fun