poindexter discusses geek squad and what sets the new era of tech support

Why Not Geek Squad.

By | Tech Alert | 2 Comments

Poindexter is possible because of Geek Squad.

I worked with Geek Squad for two years, but left to launch Poindexter. While working for them, I made some close friends, learned some neat tricks, and was able to play with expensive tech that I couldn’t possibly afford on a meager Geek Squad salary (the Best Buy discount isn’t that great, guys). Geek Squad’s prices and how they treat clients and employees is what makes small, locally supported efforts like Poindexter necessary.

Here I discuss my experience working for Geek Squad, how Poindexter strives to be different, and how we hope to return to the bygone days of personalized tech support, like Geek Squad used to; Geek Squad is more machine now than man.

Let’s lay some ground rules first. I won’t break their air tight confidentiality agreement. Like Apple’s App Store agreement, I didn’t read it, nor did I happen to have a brawny lawyer on hand to summarize it for me. Anything I say here is either common knowledge or on the tip of the tongue, just waiting to be said. It’s just stuff we already know about Geek Squad but seem afraid to talk about.

So. Why not Geek Squad. Full stop.

“Automation and simplicity is the key to reducing staff and saving money, and what Geek Squad can’t automate, they outsource. ”


Quantity Over Quality

Geek Squad Automates Most Repairs

When Geek Squad was smaller scale, they served fewer clients in a smaller coverage area. Their service and staff were refreshingly personal, and Geek Squad built its client base organically with a bicycle, a few bucks, and an ambitious pioneer who realized that computer geeks shouldn’t smell bad or be condescending jerks. Geek Squad brought folks computer relief in a tie-dee (pun!), Beatle driving package. Strong values and a simple idea executed well. It was tech support with heart.

Today, Geek Squad is a Best Buy owned mega-corp that prioritizes profits and cost savings to satisfy finicky, money minded share holders. This pressure is forcing Geek Squad to change, and not for the better.

The big American businesses are expected to grow constantly, always turning a profit, always increasing in valueThis is tough for service based companies that don’t scale well, like Geek Squad or Poindexter. A company that scales well is one that can continuously increase profit as sales volume increases. Imagine a musician selling a hot track on iTunes. The more music they sell, the more money they earn. There’s no end to the amount they can make and it doesn’t cost more to distribute their music digitally.

In contrast, service companies need actual meat and bone people to do the essential work, and more meat and bone people to manage them. Geek Squad needs butts in those seats to doll out high-tech wizardry, day in and day out. Each of those butts needs  a paycheck, training, and to be monitored and encouraged. It’s expensive, especially if you want to hire Americans, who expect luxuries like maternity leave, health care, or a (gasp!) living wage. Sure, industrial psychologists can make those watery humans more efficient and drive productivity with better automated programs, but they can’t wholly eliminate the need for inefficient, expensive human beings. The more people you have, the more you need, until the meat mountain collapses under its own weight.

To earn that tasty profit and keep shareholders confident, Geek Squad needfully slings tech support like fast-food cheeseburgers, using the fewest, low-cost workers possible. The beating heart of Geek Squad is still comprised of capable, well paid technicians,  responsible for crafting the tools and software that store technicians use daily. They’re the human center to Geek Squad’s button pushers, and are responsible for making Geek Squad agents more efficient, without making them entirely ineffective. These high tech tools lower the bar for Geek Squad staff, letting potentially anyone “troubleshoot” problems. Click the button, set some variables, and let the robots tear at it. In a few hours, most of the work will be done, all without pesky humans there to think through anything. Naturally, automation and simplicity is the key to reducing staff and saving money,  but what Geek Squad can’t automate, they outsource. More on that shortly.

“Lured by the prospect of work, youngsters, seasonal college students, and desperate computer enthusiasts volunteer to serve Geek Squad. Sure, the job might seem more glamorous than Burger King, but the takeaway pay is the same (sometimes lower).”


They Don’t Pay Well.

The Geek Squad staff you’re likely to find working the stores come in three basic types. They might be low level techs who depend entirely on automated software,  aspiring technicians desperate to make ends meet, or disgruntled techs who confuse cultural esoterica for an actual career. For some, Geek Squad is a way station, onward to something else – like Poindexter – where you actually get to do the work the job application promised, instead of watching a computer script clumsily do it instead. For others, it’s a quagmire of poverty and self-doubt that leaves them cynical, contemptuous, and trapped.

On average, freelance computer technicians charge $50-75 dollars per hour. To make ourselves available to low income communities, Poindexter charges one time, flat fees for most services, or a low hourly rate of $20.00. As a small business, every cent Poindexter earns must be reinvested into its people. Tellingly, Geek Squad agents earn an average of $12.00, though many receive less. Like clockwork, Geek Squad employees will cite Best Buy’s discount and the company’s culture as perks, but perks don’t fill the financial vacuum. That’s simply not a livable wage, particularly if you have children, a mortgage, or student loan debt. Sure, the cutesy weirdness of Geek Squad culture can make you feel like part of the in-crowd, member of an elite technocratic cult, but company culture doesn’t pay the bills.

Lured by the prospect of work, youngsters, seasonal college students, and desperate computer enthusiasts volunteer to serve Geek Squad. At first the job will seem more glamorous than Burger King, but the takeaway pay is the same (sometimes lower). In my experience, employees who aren’t paid well grow careless, resentful, and dismissive, especially since they don’t have the dispensary income to safely quit. So staff get sullen and disengage from their work. This creates a poisonous workspace and no amount of cultural currency can counteract it.

Geek Squad staff are only rewarded for selling services, discouraging counter agents from doing actual tech support or working too hard to keep up appearances. Good tech help takes time and Geek Squad staff keep their consultations brief, leaving plenty of time for the sales pitch and just enough time to assess the client’s original problem. Poindexter, in contrast, includes a minimum of one hour for each consultation. Sure, we make less money, but we’re able to do a better job and ensure client satisfaction. Supporting people, including our own staff, is the cornerstone of every business, but Geek Squad seems to have forgotten that dogma somewhere on the path to greater wealth. Unhappy workers might mutiny and go on to found a new, better company.


“This is why Poindexter does all computer work from our lab in Hampden, Baltimore, and only trusted, local technicians are employed. People you know – people who live nearby. Our tech support and computer repairs are given to Americans who deserve the work.”


They Outsource. A lot.

If you’ve ever surrendered to the Geek Squad call center labyrinth, you were first processed by their overseas call center, then connected with a foreign technician. Customers are so familiar with this, we don’t even question it. Sending jobs overseas is an all too common way for American businesses to cut costs by relying on cheap foreign labor. Geek Squad is no exception. Whether you call their support line or reach out to a local Best Buy, Geek Squad will use overseas labor wherever possible. Of course, some computer repairs require local workers, but this is expensive and time consuming. For Geek Squad to service an ever expanding customer base, all while avoiding the high expense of hiring local technicians, they have no choice but to trust in overseas labor farms. This creates immediate control problems, especially with client’s data privacy. The more hands involved in your computer’s repair, the greater the threat of data theft. Geek Squad is regularly criticized for playing fast and loose with client data. Whenever possible, never trust your computer to a stranger.to reduce costs and increase profits, geek squad outsources most repairs to the Philippines

This is why Poindexter does all computer work from our lab in Hampden, Baltimore, and only trusted, local technicians are employed. People you know – people who live nearby – people who you’ll see at Wyman Park. Tech support and computer repair from good, local folks you can trust.

Geek Squad was designed to troubleshoot the problem of tech support itself. Unfortunately, the company’s shift in profit minded margins drove them down path of harmful compromises. Their customers are understandably frustrated, employees are unhappy, and service quality and safety has degraded severely. Supporting Geek Squad means paying into questionable business ethics, and a tacit acceptance of the profit obsessed policies that hurt consumers, service providers, and the economy overall.

Poindexter is a return to the local. A return to people oriented help. A return to the help you deserve.


be careful on the internet - dangers lurk everywhere

The Dangers of Adware and Spyware

By | Malware Alert | No Comments

Adware, also called ad injection sofware, is among the most common infection type you’ll encounter on the internet. Once installed, adware will modify your internet browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, etc) and computer’s security settings, so it can shove more advertising into websites, create advertising popups, or replace good ads on sites you trust with junk ads.

Adware is a huge money maker for rogue developers. Each infected computer earns them more ad revenue, so the goal is to spread adware to as many computers as possible. In fact, the incentive is so strong, adware developers commonly partner up with websites and computer manufacturers, like Lenovo, to include adware in their products. Consider CNET, a popular download hub and technology review site. Scattered throughout CNET are ads promoting other software products. Some of those ads are disguised as parts of the website and might appear as “Download Now” buttons, intended to confuse the visitor into clicking. Once you click, it’s too late. Adware, and it’s information gathering counterpart spyware, can download and install very rapidly, sometimes invisibly, and compromise your system without your awareness.

Spyware doesn’t promote a product, needn’t install like a normal program, and might be entirely invisible to most users. Once infected, spyware quietly sits in your computer’s memory and collects personal information about you and your family. Most spyware will monitor your web browsing habits and send that information to adware networks. Nastier spyware can harvest passwords,  contact lists, phone numbers, and credit card information.

Spyware and adware are commonly packaged together. If you have adware, you almost certainly are infected with spyware as well. Once installed, the adware will promote other products – some legitimate, some less so – every one of them irritating to users. Adware creates a cycle of infection that can be hard to break out of. Many of the ads are malicious and will harm your computer further if clicked. Some ads, for instance, might warn you of an infection or necessary update. Clicking these ads will take the user down a rabbit whole of alarmist claims and sleezy software. Poindexter recommends never downloading software that promises to fix any problem on your computer. Software which promises to optimize of update your Windows or Apple computer at best does nothing, at worst is just another source of infection.

Adware is also responsible for frequent tech support scams.  They trick the user by promoting “free security scans”, which, when completed, warn of impending dangers from viruses, outdated drivers, or other mysterious sounding computer stuff. This is followed up with a push to buy overpriced software to fix the fake problem.  You might even receive a call from a “certified tech something something”, who will try to convince you to purchase costly tech support. Their scare tactics are effective and cost American households hundreds of dollars in damage.

These problems are extremely common. In our experience, adware infections can come on gradually – an extra ad here or there – but the infection worsens and, eventually, the computer becomes entirely unusable. The computer might lose the ability to show websites or lose its internet connection all together. It might behave sluggishly or fail to start correctly. If you suspect your computer is infected with adware or spyware, call Poindexter (908-991-NERD) today for a low-cost cleaning and repair. Don’t leave your personal details in the wrong hands.

if you boot your macbook or imac and see this error, we can help

Let’s Solve Apple’s “Folder with a Question Mark” Mystery!

By | Helpful Guide | 2 Comments

We’ve heard this scenario time and again, from students, nurses, and lawyers alike: “I woke up, powered on my Macbook (or whatever), left to grab a cup of coffee, and came back to this. What even is this? I rebooted and rebooted, and nothing changed. Just this. This folder with a question mark”.

If you’re a long-time Apple Macbook user and never suffered this frustrating and confusing boot error, consider yourself lucky. Apple minimalism run amok, this error can occur shortly after you power on a Macbook or iMac computer, and says so very little about what the problem could be.

This doozy of any error generically means that your operating system, OSX – the software responsible for making your computer do all the computer things – can’t be found by the firmware. Firmware is like a mini-operating system, responsible for super basic things, like accepting electrical power, finding the hard drive, then figuring out where OSX is installed and getting that booted up. If the firmware can’t find OSX, it panics and produces this tortuously imprecise mystery screen.

Don’t panic. It’s fixable.

At its most basic, this error means the computer can’t find your operating system, OSX. This could be a few things:

  • There’s a mechanical problem with the hard drive and it needs to be replaced.
  • There’s a software problem with the hard drive and it needs to be repaired.
  • There’s a software problem with OSX and it needs to be repaired.

Is the hard drive okay?

OSX Yosemite Disc UtilityTo understand out what kind of problem we’ve got, let’s see if the computer can tell us if there’s a hard drive installed. If the computer can see that there is a hard drive, we’re in better shape. This step requires that we access the Macbook’s special recovery area.

This is the OSX recovery screen, necessary for trouble shooting the question mark mystery folder.

When you first power on the computer, but after you hear that happy chime sound, press and hold Command and the R-key. Keep holding both until you see either a world globe or the Apple logo. Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Recovery screen, with Utilities menu listed along the top most edge. Click that, then select Disk Utility.

Disk Utility will open up and show a list of available hard drives on the left side. Or, rather, we hope it does. If you don’t see your Startup disk (probably called Macintosh HD), there’s some kind of mechanical issue with your hard drive. It might have malfunctioned and needs to be replaced. Or, it slipped out of its cozy slot and needs to be reseated. It might also be a malfunctioning drive cable, which is pretty common and inexpensive to fix. Unfortunately, all of these problems require opening up the insides of your Macbook or iMac. If this sounds like too much, give Poindexter a call right away (908-991-NERD).

If you see a hard drive listed, you’re in luck. This usually means that the issue is software related. There could still be something funny going on under the hood, however, so don’t celebrate just yet. We need to repair the disk first.

Go ahead and select the disk from the left, then click on the First Aid tab towards the top. Near the bottom right, you’ll see two buttons: Verify Disk and Repair Disk. Click on Repair Disk and let your Apple computer crunch away for awhile. Depending on the severity of your problem, this can take a few hours. Sometimes, it’s done in less. And so we wait.

If Disk Utility finished successfully, restart you computer. With some luck, you’ll arrive at your login screen and everything will be normal. If it failed, well, it could still be a hardware problem or an even murkier software fault.

At this point, we recommend consulting with a pro about your Macbook or iMac, in case you need to backup your data and reinstall your operating system from scratch. It’s possible, too, that the hard drive will need to be replaced. Poindexter’s first priority is to backup your data to avoid any catastrophe.

Don’t risk your data. Call Poindexter for help.

If your device is outside of Apple’s warranty, Apple’s Genius Bar services will all be paid out of pocket, resulting in hundreds of dollars lost. Repairing out of warranty Apple products is crazy expensive, unless you bring it to Poindexter. We can fix your hard drive problem without breaking the bank. Promise.

poindexter provides ten useful tips to help you get acquainted with windows 10

10 Tips for Windows 10

By | Helpful Guide, Windows 10 | No Comments

Windows 10 has arrived and for most users it promises to be an exciting blend of familiar and modern. The Start menu makes a return – albeit with a fresh spot of paint, and we’re treated with a new action center, search menu, and oodles of other user friendly features. All for the low cost of free for licensed Windows 7 and 8.1 users. Windows 10 is an easy choice and we recommend upgrading.

Poindexter has rounded up what we think are the top-ten things to familiarize yourself with or use right now, with accompanying HD video to show the smooth animations and bright colors we love so much. Most of these are easy breezy, but we’ve included more advanced recommendations towards the end. Let’s get into it!

Change the Desktop and Lockscreen Wallpaper

No matter how nice the included wallpapers are, eventually you might get bored and want to freshen things up with a new wallpaper or lockscreen background. Or, if you’re like us, you do it right away a whole bunch of times. Thankfully, Microsoft made it easy to change both the desktop and the lock screen  wallpaper directly from the settings page.

First, we need to get to the Settings and Personalization areas. We can do this a few different ways. You can access “Settings” by clicking on the Start menu and left-clicking on the Settings button. From Settings, just select “Personalization”.

You can also jump directly to Personalization by right-clicking unused space on your Desktop then selecting “Personalize” with the left mouse button, as shown in the video.

Once in the Personalization area, you’ll see a number of options in the left-hand pane; Background, Colors, Lock Screen, etc. Select Background to change the desktop wallpaper and Lockscreen to change the logon wallpaper.

Make the Start Menu, Taskbar, and Action Center Transparent

By default, Windows 10 will use opaque color for your Start menu, Action Center, and Taskbar.  On older systems, this can help improve performance and battery life by reducing graphical strain. On systems with a a pinch more muscle, you can enable a fancier transparent mode, which looks a bit like the frosted glass effect Apple uses throughout their products. To enable transparency effects, let’s head back to the Personalization area where we changed our wallpaper. This time, instead of selecting Background, use your left mouse button to select Colors. On the right pane towards the bottom, there’s a switch labeled “Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent”. Go ahead and left click that switch to turn it on. Your Windows 10 should now be immediately ultra chic.

There are a couple of other settings here that are worth trying. We recommend allowing Windows 10 to automatically pick an accent color and to show color on Start. These settings add a nice bit of unintrusive color to your workspace.

Open the Action Center Notification Panel

In Windows 10, Microsoft included a handy new notification panel, called Action Center, to help users keep track of new emails, birthdays, reminders, and other useful tidbits. It’s a great addition and one we strongly recommend digging into.

There are a couple of ways to open Action Center. First, move your mouse towards the bottom-right of the screen until you see the clock. Just next to he clock should be a word bubble in the shape of a square. Click on that with the left mouse button and the Action Center will slide out from the right. An even easier way to open it is by simultaneously pressing the Windows Key and the letter A (Windows Key+ A).

Remove and Uninstall Apps

Windows 10 comes preloaded with a number of apps, including some you might want to eventually remove. Whether it’s an app you installed yourself or something preloaded, nixing pinned apps from your Start menu or uninstalling them completely is very simple. To remove an app from the Start menu, simply left-click the Start menu button to open it, right-click on the tile you wish to remove, and select “Unpin from Start” with the left mouse button.

To completely uninstall an app or program from Windows 10, move your mouse to the right of the screen and open the Notification panel again. From there, select All Settings, then go ahead and select System after the window opens up. On the left pane you’ll see oodles of options. As you guessed, we want Apps and Features. Select this and give Windows a little time to calculate program sizes. Once it’s done, you’ll see a list of all the apps installed on your computer. To uninstall an app, simple left-click the one you want to remove then click the Uninstall button. Windows will remove it from the computer and it will vanish from the list.

Hide the Taskview and Cortana Searchbar

On first boot, you might notice the Taskbar looking a little busier than in Windows 7 or 8.1. That’s because of two awesome features exclusive to Windows 10. To the right of the Start menu now sits Cortana’s search bar – “Ask me anything” – and the new Taskview button. If you need to free up space in the taskbar or just have no need for either of these buttons, they can both be removed by accessing the taskbar’s properties menu.

Using your mouse, move down to the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. With the right button, click on a spot of unused space to bring up the context menu. From within this menu, uncheck “Show taskview” to hide the Taskview button and click it again to restore it. Likewise, hovering over the “Cortana” submenu will bring up a couple of options. For Cortana, you can remove just the search bar, leaving only Cortana’s icon in its place, or remove both, eliminating her and the search bar completely. You can always undo these changes by just returning to the taskbar’s properties menu.

Use Taskview to Create Virtual Desktops

If your screen is too small for the number of windows you juggle, Windows 10 makes it easy to flip between virtual desktops, instead of being limited to just one. The desktop is your workspace and power users often find it useful to have multiple desktops for extra space or just to reduce clutter. Perhaps you want a desktop dedicated just to work, another for play,  Or one might be for your internet browsers, another for Word documents, and still another for three simultaneous Solitaire games. Whatever, we won’t judge. Solitaire is especially fun when it’s three people playing together.

Jumping between windows and virtual desktops is easy if you know how. Assuming you haven’t removed the Taskview button as shown above, you can just click on that with your left mouse button to bring up the Taskview space. As you can see, this organizes all of your open windows into a neat grid making them easy to access no matter how many are open. Alternatively, you can press the Windows key and Tab (Windows Key+TAB) to bring up the Taskview. OSX users will noticed how much this looks like Apple’s Mission Control, including one useful feature shown at the bottom: Virtual Desktops. You can create a new workspace by clicking the “+ New desktop” option on the right, and flip back and forth between them by returning to Taskview and selecting it from the row of shown Desktops.

Stop Internet Sharing Windows Updates

Windows 10 comes equipped with the ability to share your computer’s downloaded Windows updates to other computers on your home network or via the internet. To prevent accidentally authorized internet use, some users prefer to limit this sharing feature to only home PC’s and some just just turn it off completely. Poindexter recommends setting this to Local Network only so that your family’s computers can get updated quickly, even if Microsoft’s servers are under heavy load. For those with data caps, this can also reduce your overhead by requiring only one device download the update.

To adjust these settings, let’s head back to the “Settings” area by left clicking the Start menu and selecting Settings. In the Settings windows, left click on Update & Security. Make sure that Windows Update is selected on the left. In the Windows Update box, click on “Advanced Options” (it won’t be a button, just clickable text). From here, click “Choose how updates are delivered”. If you wish to disable the feature entirely, toggle the On switch to Off. If you wish to limit update sharing to only local PC on your home network, leave it on, but click the radio button next to “PCs on my local network”. When finished, you’re free to close the window. Your settings are saved automatically.

How to Restore Windows 10 to Scratch

If your installation of Windows 10 is getting a little long in the tooth, riddled with horrible malware, or saddled down with manufacturer’s bloated software, you can do a clean install of Windows 10 in just a few clicks.

Once again, we’re going into the Settings menu. With the left mouse button, click on the Start menu button, and left click on Settings. Now head back to Update & Security, and select Recovery on the left. The option we want is Reset This PC, so click the button labeled “Get started”.

(You can also jump right into the Recovery area using Cortana by searching “Advanced Start” and selecting the result she brings you. Welcome to the future!)

This brings up a new window with two options. You can either Keep my files, which causes Windows 10 to refresh all of its system files and remove programs, but preserve all of your personal files, or you can wipe everything out entirely and have Windows 10 reinstall itself from its recovery partition on a clean slate, files erased. The choice is yours, but be prepared for trouble by always having a backup ready in case of disaster.

Confirm Direct X 12 Activated

Windows 10 includes a nice bit of fresh technology geared towards gamers. Direct X is the software responsible for graphics in Windows and the Xbox game system and Direct X 12 is the newest version only available to Windows 10 users. Although it should be automatically available to everyone who has installed Windows 10, we’ve run into some users who report having to install it manually.

To make sure you’re computer is on the cutting edge of Direct X tech, we need to load up the Direct X configuration panel. First, using the keyboard, press the Windows key and “R” at the same time to bring up the Run window. In this window, type in “dxdiag.exe” without quotes and press Return or left click the Okay button. This will bring up the Direct X config screen. After a few moments, it should provide a quick summary of your computer, including its hardware and Direct X software version listed at the bottom.

You can also load this area by searching dxdiag.exe using Cortana.

Enable Godmode, the Hidden Control Panel

This is a fun one intended for advanced users who like a lot of control without the inconvenience of multiple windows. If done correctly, you’ll have a new icon on your desktop that opens up a powerful, new configuration panel, replete with exciting administrative tools for pretty much everything. With Godmode you can add and remove devices, adjust Cleartype, tweak File Explorer settings, Personalization options, and hundreds more. It’s a treasure trove of buttons and switches and stuff to break.

To enable Godmode, you need only create a new folder, then name it the following:


In fact, it doesn’t have to be named Godmode at all. To change the name, just replace the word “Godmode” with whatever you’d prefer, but be sure to leave that last period in place. We recommend


If done correctly, the new folder icon will be replaced by a generic Control Panel icon, and opening it will transport you to a world of options and settings. Be careful in here, there’s are a few powerful settings that if set incorrectly can disrupt performance or stability. Other settings are easy as pie, like quickly adjusting your user accounts or wallpaper.

can my computer run windows 10? probably

Can My Computer Run Windows 10?

By | Helpful Guide, Windows 10 | No Comments

Yes, probably. So long as your computer was built in the last decade.

You’ll need a little more space than previous versions of Windows, but that shouldn’t be a problem. The installation package for Windows 10 is as lean as its predecessor, Windows 8, both weighing in at around 3 GB. This is three times larger than Windows XP (about 600 MB) but on par with Windows Vista and Windows 7 (3 GB). Since the average hard drive is 600 GB, 3-4 GB is negligible. Once everything unpacks, however, you’ll need 16 GB for the 32 bit version and 20 GB total for the 64 bit OS. In our experience, this is also in keeping with previous versions of Windows, once the updates and service packs settle in. And, again, a teensy chunk of excessively massive hard drives. Those with smaller solid state drives won’t need to commit more space than they already have, so long as you aren’t dual booting another OS.

The processor requirements are only slightly more demanding than Windows Vista, which needed an 800 MHz or higher chip, versus Windows 10’s 1 GHz requirement. Considering that 1 GHz single core chips arrived fourteen years ago, it’s safe to say most consumers interested in upgrading will have no issues there. The processor is responsible for executing instructions and is basically the computer’s brain. If you skimp here and run Windows 10 at its minimum, be prepared for frustrating sluggishness, crashes, and lengthy periods of system lock. Thankfully, most computers built after 2005 are swift, multi-core processors, that can take a beating.

Direct X is software designed by Microsoft to handle multimedia and graphical tasks for Windows devices (including the Direct XBox). Windows 10 requires a graphics card supporting Direct X 9 or later. Again, no culling there, since Direct X 9 arrived way back in 2002, with most hardware vendors adding compatibility shortly thereafter. Most contemporary devices now support Direct X 11 and Windows 10 will be the first OS to introduce the bleeding-edge Direct X 12. Direct X is a free and typically automatic download from Microsoft, so you’re likely already using the most recent version that your hardware will support.

Predictably, RAM (random access memory) requirements are low, needing only 1 GB for 32 bit and 2 GB for 64 bit versions. This is equal to Windows 7 and 8, but higher than Windows Vista. RAM is the active workspace of the computer, a bit like its short term memory. If your RAM is hovering around the minimum requirement, Windows 10 will run, but the experience will be stunted and choppy. Luckily, RAM is low cost and among the easiest bits of hardware to upgrade. We recommend not running Windows 10 with anything less than 4 GB of RAM. Anything higher than 8 GB won’t result in any noticeable performance gain for most users, but going below 2 will bring the system to its knees if you want to run modern application and websites.

Lastly, there’s a minimum screen resolution requirement of 1024×600, which is most common on older netbooks and some tablets. Resolution measures the width and height of a computer’s display in pixels. The higher the number, the more pixels are packed into that space. Most flat-screen monitors display at 1024×768, 1440×900, 1280×720 (HD), or 1920×1080 (HD), so this requirement pushes out most olde timey cathode-ray tube displays. Again, if you’ve even heard of Windows 10, if you made it to this website, you probably aren’t using an unsupported monitor.

Windows XP was retired April of 2014, forcing computer users to upgrade to Windows Vista or later, in order to receive Microsoft’s security patches and feature packs. If you upgraded to a later OS, but are using the same hardware, you can probably run Windows 10. In my experience, most users either purchased a new computer or upgraded to Windows 7. In either case, Windows 10 will run just fine. Upgrade and enjoy!

poindexter installs windows 10 and describes the results

Windows 10, First Week

By | Windows 10 | No Comments

Let me be upfront: I’m very excited about Windows 10. As a desktop user, I was never attracted to Windows 8 or 8.1. Each was better suited for tablets and touch-screen enabled laptops, even after improvements were added to make 8.1 easier for mouse and keyboard users. Microsoft bet hard on the tablet and touchscreen revolution and, in so doing, cut me out of the bleeding edge. So I waited for the Windows 8 rebound, which turned out to be Windows 10 (not 9).

Thankfully, there’s a galaxy of devices and software for power users to obsess over. With my attention turned away from Windows, I focused on Android, iOS, and OSX: my highly customizable, super awesome Android handset, the HTC M8, and my less customizable, but rock solid iPad Air 2 and Macbook Pro (mid 2012 model). Each device offers its own approach to mobile and usability, and each had some feature or another that I hoped to see in Windows 10. This is especially true for OSX Yosemite.

With access to the Windows Insider program, I was fortunate enough to sample some of the new features Microsoft hoped to add to Windows 10. Many of them resembled, if not outright copied, OSX Yosemite.

  • Yosemite makes it a breeze to add various internet accounts and integrate them into common programs.
  • The top-level notification center makes staying current on notices and communications effortless.
  • Mission Control allows for easy window management.
  • Spotlight allows the user to search for pretty much anything, and includes a number of useful tricks.
  • Let’s not forget that frosted glass effect. So chic.

Windows 10 does all of this and I love it.

Let’s get into it.

Windows 10 installer screenThe Install

… went smoothly for a trial run. I missed the limited time frame available to Windows Insiders to upgrade through Windows Update. Instead, I snagged an ISO of version 10240, dropped that onto a bootable USB drive, and was on my way. For testing purposes, I’m using Windows 10 Pro, but the features available only to Pro users won’t be discussed here and can be safely ignored. Core Windows 10 is identical in both Pro and Home bundles.

The install process was effortless and took about thirty minutes to install to my Samsung 850 Pro SSD. The computer rebooted twice, and I was eventually greeted with the account login or creation process familiar to Windows 8 and 8.1 users. I ended up having to reset my unused Microsoft account password, but was able to do that form the install screen (once I cleared through two-factor authentication). With the initial setup done, I waited another ten minutes for Windows to get my apps in order and install some updates before arriving at my new login screen.

I eagerly mashed in my new PIN code and voila! The Windows 10 desktop with its fancy pants laser smoke logo wallpaper. So pretty. So new.

Windows 10 Start MenuThe Start Menu

At first glance, it’s obviously Windows, which users dissatisfied with Windows 8.1 will appreciate.  Windows 10 follows the new “flat” design aesthetic of OSX and Android/ Chrome. No skeuomorphism or 3d embellishments. Like OSX, Windows 10 uses plenty of transparency effects, some of which aren’t turned on by default, but it’s my opinion they should be turned on right away. If you want glass effects on the Start menu, taskbar, and action center, just use the search bar to lookup “make search” and the setting should pop up.

So long as tablet mode is off,  Windows 10 will use a trimmed down Start menu that looks like Windows 7 blended with Windows 8. It’s about the size of classic Start styles, but includes the useful Live Tiles from Windows 8, and easy app access of Windows 7 and earlier. Adding, removing, and moving around tiles is easier and more customizable than in Windows 8.1. Tiles no longer forcibly snap themselves to a tight grid and can be positioned more freely.

On first boot, the task bar will be a little fuller than before, with Cortana’s search bar, the new task view button, and built in apps like Skype, which load automatically at boot. Each of these elements can be toggled in the task bar’s properties to your liking.

Windows 10's CortanaCortana

Let’s talk about Cortana. When Apple released Siri for the iPhone, I used it everyday for simple tasks, like web lookups and reminders. After I jumped to Android, Google Now served me just as well for more services, and got to be eerily predictive. Digital assistants are future tech that I can’t live without.

A first for Windows, the personal digital assistant Cortana will be available by voice command or simply clicking the bottom left search bar.

Windows 10 finally – finally – brings a voice activated digital assistant to Windows. I don’t understand why it took so long. Google Now integration in Windows is ineffectually weak and Siri isn’t available outside of iOS. Since nearly all laptops come with integrated microphones and beefy batteries, it makes little sense for them to lack this presumptuously useful feature. Maybe I’m missing something. Maybe people don’t want to talk to their computer or voice control isn’t that much faster than a mouse and keyboard for most tasks. Surely some think-tank somewhere has data on desktop based digital assistants that swayed Microsoft away from them. I can only guess.

I admit, it does feel a little strange at first. Like Siri and Google Now, Cortana will encourage you to train her on your voice, reducing the chance of accidental triggers and other shenanigans. The training had me recite a few questions, unlike Google Now’s training which only has the user say “OK Google” a handful of times. Afterwards, Cortana was able to pick up my “Hey Cortana” reliably enough when using my desktop mic, but less capably then a well trained Android device responding to “Ok Google”. Switching over to a headset mic or re positioning my conference microphone will help.

So far Cortana doesn’t feel as predictive as Google Now, but that’s certainly due to her having less information about my habits and interests. Google knows  a tremendous amount about me, since I use and have granted access to so many of its services. Cortana relies on Bing and Office 365, which I don’t use at all. It is possible to have Cortana schedule to a calender of your choice, but that’s the only concession I’ve found.

For now, and likely forever, there is no way to integrate Google’s notes, email, maps, and other services. Maybe Microsoft will be more flexible with time or perhaps there’s some hard limitation in the API that limits Cortana to only Microsoft services, much like Apple’s Siri. Only time will tell if Cortana is a genuinely useful bit of future-tech or a flimsy selling point that just looks cool.


There’s a lot more to dissect in Windows 10, but I love what I’ve seen so far. Windows 10 does much of what I want, brings things I didn’t expect to the table, and has given my desktop PC a fresh coat of virtual paint. If you’re a Windows 7 or Windows 8 user, I strongly encourage you to use Microsoft’s generous free upgrade on July 29th. It’s too good to pass up.

Next time, I’ll go over the Task View feature, Microsoft’s take on OSX’s Mission Control, but with fancy virtual desktop integration. I’ll also go over some of the new featured laden apps, like the totally useful screen capping Xbox app, and the totally not Internet Explorer replacement, Edge. We might even find some time to compare and contrast these features against Windows 10 main competitor, OSX Yosemite.

poindexter proudly services hampden baltimore and surrounding areas

Hello Hampden!

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And goodbye Iowa. Goodbye to your life threatening winters, adorable bunny epidemic, and constant wind. Hello Charm City! Hello crabcakes and Berger Cookies,  Honfest and Natty Boh!

A very special hello to the Village of Hampden, home of Baltimore’s Best breakfast and cheese shops, ice cream and sandwiches. With so many excellent restaurant and boutiques, it’s easy to see what makes Hampden so special. Is it this awesome bookstore? Maybe it’s the unique selection of oddities? Yes and so much more than that. Hampden is what you get when a community bands together to really build something special, when people care and are given a chance to excel at doing something new, something different. You won’t find a Gap or a Geek Squad here. In a way, Hampden feels like a small, tight knit town, despite being smack inside of Maryland’s largest city.

Hi Hampden. It’s going to be great getting to know you. We’re excited to help in whatever way we can to make this community even stronger. We especially love the bikeways, parks, and dog friendly attitude. If you ever see us out and about, know that my dog, Eden, is friendly, but a giant wimp. She’s great at making everything super awkward and bad at making new friends. You can usually find me in Wyman Park trying to teach Eden that not all dog toys are hers and that other dogs like to play, too. Cheers!

poindexter answers your question of the day

Can You Have too Many Android Apps Installed?

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can i have too many apps installed on my android phone

If you’re using a phone or tablet powered by Google’s open source Android software, chances are you’ve probably asked yourself this question. Google’s Play Store offers users thousands upon thousands of free or low cost software and media, making it tempting to fill up even the highest capacity device with all kinds of goodies. Not to mention all of those high-res vacation photos you took. So many gigabytes, but never enough.

Whether or not you have too many apps installed comes down to how those apps are using up your device’s memory. Like any computer, Android devices need two kinds of memory to function: RAM or random access memory, for short term storage, and flash memory, for long term storage.  RAM is much faster than flash, but smaller in size and needs a constant source of electricity. Cut the power and everything in RAM vanishes. Unlike media (photos, movies, and music), apps gobble up some portion of RAM, not just the long term flash storage. This is because apps and other programs need to load some of their code into RAM to run smoothly, and with RAM being on smaller side, that puts a limit on how many apps you can run at any given time. If you try to run too much at once, apps will struggle for resources, elbowing out system processes and other programs. If resources get too limited, system sluggishness and instability can result, making the user experience a painfully frustrating one.

Some apps only run when you want them to; others run in the background, possibly without you realizing it, secretly eating up precious resources (including battery).  If you worry that you have too many apps, it probably means you suspect or have experienced some system instability or other performance issue. The first step is acknowledging the problem. The next step is to figure out whether your performance troubles are the result of a resource issue or something murkier.

First, reboot your device. Next, access Settings, then scroll down to and open App Manager. Swipe to the right until you arrive at the Running tab. If you’re running Android Lollipop (v5), you’ll see a nice summation of your running apps and the impact they have on RAM. If there is any app running that you no longer need, make note of it and uninstall it later.

Note that Android Lollipop smartly manages your RAM and will always use as much as it can for better performance and stability. Unused RAM is wasted RAM. Your RAM usage will always be 50% or higher, since Android will reserve space for future and current needs. What we want to investigate is a chronic excess of RAM use, 75% or higher, and the programs that contribute to this. Remove any programs you don’t need or can live without. Some apps are notorious for bogging down device performance and chewing up battery (I’m looking at you, Facebook…). Others are just poorly written and not well optimized.

It takes time, patience, and some trial and error to find and resolve Android performance problems, but the results can be well worth it. Even top-tier Androids can run much slower than their Apple counterparts due to unregulated, rogue programs or system processes. It takes a little more diligence from the average Android user to keep everything running smoothly. If things get too hairy and you find yourself unsure of what to do, give Poindexter a call and we’ll help you get your Android device back up to standards.

windows 10 rtm is due to be released for free upgrade july 29th

Windows 10 is Final, Coming July 29th

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Windows 10 is nearly here and Poindexter couldn’t be more excited. It’s a strange, uncanny feeling. I haven’t felt this way since Windows Vista promised to bring (allegedly) awesome desktop widgets and transparency effects to the previously cartoony simplicity of Windows XP. Vista brought significant under the hood changes, too, but… widgets! By this time, I had used Windows XP to the fullest; tweaked it for optimal performance, changed every aspect of its appearance, and mastered its keyboard shortcuts. After a few years, XP lost its novelty, and started to show its age and inadequacy. Vista promised to reinvigorate Windows’ appeal with new technologies, faster load times, and those neato widgets. After launch, however, Vista proved an ungainly beast that ran poorly on modern hardware, lacked essential support for common hardware, and didn’t offers users truly valuable improvements. Oh, and those widgets were a massive security hazard. In reaction, manufacturers hoping to boost struggling PC sales escaped to the safety of Windows XP , while other OEMs struggled onwards, bolstered by improving driver support, service packs, and the bail out of Windows 7.

And here we are, still using Windows 7, the world’s inveterate operating system. I’m no Windows 8 apologist, but I maintain that some of its tools are smart and polished. I do not think Windows 8 was innovative. Overall, It felt like an amateurish effort to tie together multiple kinds of devices, tablets and laptops, into one ungainly platform. The hybrid duplicity that resulted – two control panels, two Internet Explorers, two fundamentally different operating systems shmooshed together – is, in my experience, the main gripe among users. The new full screen Start menu is a giant visual leap over the smaller, less intrusive Start menu of Windows 95 onward. For me, full screen Start is jarring, but hardly a deal breaker. The new menu, plus Windows 8’s incredibly convenient omni-search, deserves the entire screen, but only if you take some time to customize it. Start screen gets me to where I need to go quickly and offers useful information on the fly. Although Microsoft had to abandon desktop widgets in Vista for security reasons, they make a kind-of return here, and provide the user with weather, news, and other neatly animated updates at a glance. The big changes are the best. The small compromises, however, left Windows 8 feeling unfinished, rushed, and clumsy.

There is no Windows 9. By numbering their next installment Windows 10, Microsoft is indicating a large departure from Windows 8. Smart move, and seemingly justified. In some ways, Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been, but Microsoft had to take a beating  – and a new CEO- to realize it. Windows 8 was meant to force a common experience for tablet, PC, and laptop users, making everything uniformly “the Windows experience”. But scaling a desktop environment down to tablet size and forcing a tablet interface up to desktop PC standards was an aesthetic and functional disaster. The then new Surface tablet (and the now retired Surface RT) was still finding its footing; manufacturers invested in touch screens (gimmicky), aggressively marketed all-in-one computers (costly, immobile laptops); and market share was lost to Apple, who sold technologically inferior products that offered a superior user experience. The stage is set. Manufacturers and users alike are clamoring for an operating system that is easier to sell and use.

Windows XP was retired officially April of 2014, forcing users worldwide to upgrade to Windows Vista or later. For those who upgraded to Windows 7 or 8, Windows 10 will be made available for free.  This accounts for 75% of all computer users. That’s a lot. And likewise, a lot is riding on Windows 10 and how smoothly it’s released to the masses. If Microsoft can bring us their vision for Windows 8 without any awkward compromises, Windows 10 could be the answer to a market fragmented across devices. A truly uniform experience for users and developers alike. Or it could be disastrous. Poindexter is excited.

Anticipating its July 29th release date, Microsoft announced that the latest version of Windows 10, build 10240, is complete and will be released to manufacturers soon.

Stay tuned for more updates on Windows 10 and what steps you can take to upgrade safely. If you’re interested in what Windows 10 can do for you or your business, give Poindexter a call for your always free consultation. With Poindexter’s help, Windows 10 is a risk free step in the right direction.

should i wait for windows 10? yes.

With the Holiday Season Gearing Up, Should You Wait for Windows 10?

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Christmas lights are beginning to sparkle all over Iowa and local retailers are teasing us with impressive holiday savings. No doubt Black Friday will feature incredible discounts on all sorts of personal electronics, including PC’s and tablets featuring Microsoft’s most recent version of Windows 8.1. If your goal is to save as much moola as possible, the holidays are a great time to invest in a cost-effective computer. But with Windows 10 set to release next year – and possibly as a free upgrade – is now the time to purchase a new Windows 8.1 computer?

Probably not.

My clients who are using Windows 8 and 8.1 often find that their computer is hopelessly confusing and provides little guidance on how to do basic things like closing an open window or shutting things down. Practice definitely helps, but most clients get very little reward for their effort. At best, they are able to use their computer as efficiently as they used their old one, but the new features of Windows 8 don’t really benefit them.  In my opinion, a computer’s operating system should fit like a well worn glove and Windows 8 is missing a few fingers.

Any PC you buy from major retailers like Best Buy or Wal-Mart will have Windows 8.1. If you’re in the market for a new computer, ask yourself a few simple questions to see if it’s worth the jagged pill of Windows 8.1.

Wait for Windows 10, coming next year.

For Windows 8 users, the new Start Screen is optional. This is great for tablet users who genuinely benefit from the tiled layout.

Windows 10 takes the best parts of Windows 8, but repackages them into an operating system that people can actually use. In Windows 10, the new Start Screen is optional and can be switched to a more traditional start menu. The new Start Screen was largely intended for tablet users, which desktop and non-touch screen laptop users found frustrating.

Windows 10 users can use a smaller start menu, much like older versions of Windows. Live Tiles can be added, which we think is awesome.

Thankfully, Windows 10 includes a desktop corner start menu which resembles Windows of old. It gives the user an easy way to jump to their favorite programs, without gobbling up the whole screen. It also allows the user to customize it, much like the new Start Screen, by adding in Live Tiles. Live Tiles are the animated tiles, like Mail and Weather, viewable on Windows 8 start screens. Live tiles were a great part of Windows 8 and we’re very excited to see them preserved for Windows 10.
All programs open in windows on the desktop, unlike Windows 8.1 programs which sometimes took up the whole screen when you opened them.

Windows 8 and 8.1 suffered from a weird duality. Some programs, called apps, would take up the whole screen when opened. Other programs wouldn’t. This won’t be an issue in Windows 10. All programs open in windows with the familiar maximize, minimize, and close buttons in the top right corner. It’s Windows, like you remember it, but dressed in new duds and ready for a bright new future.

Although Microsoft hasn’t confirmed it yet officially, there are compelling rumors that Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade for Windows 8 users. This would be a smart move on Microsoft’s part for a number of reasons and it has big implications for the holiday buying
season. Windows 10 will debut next year. It smartly addresses many problems people have with Windows 8. It will be great for desktops, laptops, and tablets. It will run smoothly on newer and older hardware. It might, might, be a free upgrade. This makes your holiday decision making simple.

Is now the right time for a new computer?

Upgrading from Windows XP? Yes.

This April, Microsoft officially retired Windows XP. In most cases, a new computer will be more cost effective than trying to upgrade your old Windows XP machine. Poindexter does not recommend using a Windows XP computer on the internet any longer, especially for sensitive things like online banking. If you’re switching from Windows XP, yes you should get a new computer, but be prepared for a shock. Windows 8.1 is a heck of change to do in one big step.

Upgrading from Windows Vista? No, wait.

Windows Vista was released after XP, but before Windows 7. If your computer is running this and you enjoy using it, there’s no need to upgrade to Windows 8.1. Poindexter recommends waiting for Windows 10.

Upgrading from Windows 7? No, wait.

Windows 7 came after Vista, but before Windows 8 and 8.1 and it remains the most popular operating system on Earth. Even today, many people request specially built computers that come with Windows 7 instead of Windows 8. Most desktop users agree that Windows 7 offers a superior experience as compared to Windows 8.1. At present, there’s no good reason to upgrade to Windows 8.

Buying another Windows 8.1 computer? Wait.

This is a simple choice: don’t buy another Windows 8.1 computer just yet. Windows 10 will be released next year and computer manufacturer’s will scramble to support it. No doubt retailers will offer significant incentives to upgrade. If Microsoft does offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade, your current Windows 8.1 computer will receive the upgrade. If Windows 10 isn’t free, wait until computer manufacturer’s begin to support it next year to avoid getting stuck paying the $100.00 that Microsoft usually charges to upgrade.

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