Windows 11, personalize a device, account passwords
Bob's Tech Talk
November 1, 2021 | View PDF
Q. What is the latest information on the Windows 11 upgrade?
A. Since I wrote about it last month, the picture is much clearer. Windows 11 will be available on October 5. Moreover, thanks to Microsoft’s refreshed PC Health Check app, you should be better equipped to determine if your PC supports the upgrade.
Unlike the confusion surrounding the early version of the tool, the version pre-released a few weeks ago will report reliably if your PC can handle Windows 11. Best of all, if your PC cannot run Windows 11, it will provide guidance for exactly why and provide links for more support.
The PC Health Check app can be found with a Google search, but use care to make sure you have the latest version.
Q. I enjoy customizing my devices to make them feel more personal to me. Do you have a favorite customization that I might try?
A. I love the power of photographs. They can be used to make any device feel more like your own.
There are three places on each device where personalized images have a big impact. The lock screen, the home screen, and the browser window. These places go by different names on different devices. Smartphones generally refer to them as wallpaper, while personal computers call them screensavers and desktop images.
A Google search can help you find the proper settings for your device. The next step is to choose the right image.
Your photo library is a great place to start. Those images probably represent the most important people and places in your life. Your device’s system settings should link your photos to the desktop, Lock Screen, etc.
Or you may want to try a serene landscape or an exotic location. If that is your goal, search the free images on unsplash.com. Perhaps you prefer imagery with inspirational quotes. In that case, visit quotefancy.com.
Most web browsers can display background images in a new window, but I love a small program called Momentum. It installs a live dashboard that contains a beautiful photo, an inspiring quote, and for a fee will link to your to-do list and local weather.
Considering the time we spend with our personal computing devices, personalization is a luxury we cannot afford to overlook.
Q. Some apps on my phone prompt me to create an account, using either Facebook, Google, or Apple. Does it matter which one should I use?
A. I think you are asking about third-party identification systems. Many apps subcontract the job of confirming your identity to another company. Most commonly they use Facebook, Google or Apple, although there are others as well.
Authentication works when you provide some bit of information that only you know, most commonly a password. In many situations, the app developer would prefer not to maintain that information so they set up a connection with another service. When they prompt you for your account name and password for a service like Gmail or Facebook, those entities confirm if you provided the correct information.
The advantages are less work for the app developer, less work for you, since you have one less password to remember, and overall increased security for everyone.
However, the disadvantages are such that I have never used Facebook and Google accounts to authenticate with any third party service. I do not want to add to the vast storehouse of information that Facebook and Google already know about me. Label me crazy paranoid, but I would prefer that someone was not tracking every time I placed an order for fast food.
This brings me to “Sign in with Apple,” which is the perfect antidote to the user tracking. If it is available to you, use it. Apple does not collect any information about your login behavior on other sites. And when configured properly, you can hide your real email address behind a disposable email address. If you no longer wish to receive email from a vendor who has your disposable email address, you can delete the address and prevent any future contact.
“Sign in with Apple” is the best improvement in online user-privacy in the last decade.
Wander the Web
Here are my picks for worthwhile browsing this month:
Media Reviews for Kids
Common Sense Media is an essential resource for parents and grandparents to help them evaluate age-sensitive content in various forms of entertainment.
Covid-19 Vaccine Information
This CDC page has links to the details about the COVID-19 vaccine booster program.
Imaginary Movie Directory
Both a novel concept and a fun detour: A site that catalogs the fictional shows that appear inside other fictional movies and tv shows.
Bob has been writing about technology for over three decades. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.