Tech Talk #143 – Nov 21, 2020

Turn off your notifications

Whether it’s your phone, tablet, or computer, notifications can cause a constant stream of beeps, boops, and ringtones at all times of the day. By default, notifications are on for built-in apps and anything you download from the App Store or Google Play.

Think about it. Do you want or need your device (phone, tablet, or computer) continually letting you know that someone somewhere posted something, published a new article, or that you got a new email that’s probably just spam anyway?

I suppose if you’re waiting for something important, it’s a good idea to have your notifications on. Maybe. Or you could, you know, check in on your device once in a while.

Maybe your device keeps bothering you about every little thing because you suffer from Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO.) Try to look at each notification objectively. Are you missing out on anything with this one?

If you’re right in the middle of something and need to concentrate, or need some time to yourself, to be yourself, try putting your device in Do Not Disturb mode. You don’t need to be always-on and always connected.

With notifications turned off, your device won’t burp or squeak or quack, or whatever your sound is, every time something happens. Don’t worry though, your device will save whatever the notification was for, keeping it nice and warm and unread for a time when you choose to give it your attention.

Microsoft Edge blank opening page

In the new Microsoft Edge, which replaced the old Microsoft Edge, which replaced the ancient and battered Internet Explorer, which, wait, where was I going with this?

Oh right.

The new Microsoft Edge opens with your choice of three home page layouts; Inspirational, Informational, and Focused. The Informational setting includes a search box, some quick links, and a nearly full-page news feed. The Inspirational setting includes the search box and quick links, replaces the news feed with a large photo (usually pretty gorgeous), pushing the news feed to the bottom of the page. The Focused setting has a search bar in the middle of the page, the quick links, and still includes the news feed at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t care about seeing the tabloid-ish news, weather, and sports on the news feed, you can turn it off entirely.

Open up Edge and press CTRL+T (or Cmd+T on a Mac) to open a new tab. On your new New Tab page, click on the gear icon to open your New Tab settings. Now click on Custom. Here you can turn off the Quick Links, the Greeting, and the Background image (or use one of your pictures for the background?) Click on Content and choose Content Off to get rid of the news feed.

Why does rebooting stuff usually work?

You can fix malfunctioning modems, routers, modem/routers, streaming TV boxes and doodads, Smart TVs, smartphones, tablets, smart thermostats, and other smart home devices by rebooting them. Rebooting a device means unplugging it for ten seconds and then plugging it back in. However, there’s nothing magic about those ten seconds. Go crazy and leave your stuff unplugged for fifteen or even twenty seconds if you want. But not less than ten. Okay, I guess there’s something magic about ten seconds.

Why does it work? Almost all of your devices have tiny computers inside them running code called firmware. Firmware can cause crashes and freezes or have “bugs” in the code. Rebooting the device forces that tiny computer to restart and, hopefully, forget whatever bad thing was going on that caused you to reboot the device.

It’s only a temporary fix, though, since you can’t fix the original problem just by rebooting that little computer. Whatever caused the freeze, malfunction, hang, or crash is still there. A firmware update usually will fix the problem. Most manufacturers of most devices will let you know when there’s a firmware update for your particular device.

Phone notifications can be so mysterious

I just got a notification that my bible app needs an update.

For what exactly? Has Adam eaten another apple?

Anonymous, from the internet

Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at

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