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The holiday tech support field guide

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Yes, you're going home for Thanksgiving and yes, you're going to end up needing to help the family with technology. But you shouldn't patronize and definitely don't roll your eyes. This isn't about your family being dumb, this is about your family not being quite as obsessed with tech as you are. And that's okay. Hell, it means they're probably more well-adjusted.Plus, maybe you're not the tech expert everybody thinks you are. That's okay too. We're here to help you help each other. When it comes to fixing things up over the holidays, simpler is better. Do the easy stuff and don't commit yourself to rebuilding an operating system from scratch. There are more important things you want to spend your time on, like actual real human interaction with the people who love you.So take these tips and do with them what you will, then get along to the turkey and board games.

  • Nick Statt

    Nov 25, 2015

    Nick Statt

    Holiday tech support: routers, printers, security cameras, and more

    Everything is connected these days. Not only are our households filling up with an ever-increasing amount of screens, but the rest of our physical world is becoming wired as well. The coffee maker, the vacuum cleaner, and the refrigerator — it's all hi-tech nowadays. And the thermostat, washing machine, and television? All of those are now "smart" devices, brimming with Bluetooth and running software seemingly designed to piss your parents off when things don't work just right.

    The end result is a whole new suite of problems to address when you come home for the holidays. The old ones still exist — a router is just as obnoxious as it’s always been, while the printer remains the bane of everyone’s existence. The good news is that you don't need to work in IT or have a degree in computer science to seem like a wizard over Thanksgiving break. Here are some tips for how best to spend your time off tinkering with the family’s tech, with a few solutions to common issues that will help your family get the most out of their current devices.

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  • Tom Warren

    Nov 25, 2015

    Tom Warren

    Holiday tech support: 7 tips for Windows computers

    It's that time again: Thanksgiving. For the past 12 months you've been telling your parents to just "restart it" and the family PC has been running fine, kind of. You just want to enjoy your oven-roasted turkey on Thursday, but your parents are ready to embrace your technical skills. This year, it's time to fix all the little problems on the family PC and make sure it's easy to resolve others in the future. Here's a crash course on the type of questions you're going to get on Thursday.

    This one is a classic one, and most people will complain about slow PCs. The best place to start is to make sure the system drive isn't full. If there's not a lot of free space then it's time to perform some clean ups. Windows has a built-in disk clean-up tool, and it's a good place to start. It probably won't clear all of the space issues, so it's worth checking out the downloads folder or any of the documents, videos, and music libraries to see if there are any unnecessary files taking up a lot of space.

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  • Ben Popper

    Nov 25, 2015

    Ben Popper

    Holiday tech support: 7 tips for the iPhone

    You finally convinced your parents it was time to leave their beloved flip phone behind and upgrade to a more modern device. They went with the iPhone, a dependable choice we’ve recommended as the best smartphone you can buy for several years in a row. They love the new phone but of course there are some minor problems you’ll need to help troubleshoot. We’re here to help ensure that your holiday tech support sessions go quickly and smoothly, leaving you more time to fill up on stuffing and enjoy the big game.

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  • Dieter Bohn

    Nov 25, 2015

    Dieter Bohn

    Holiday tech support: 5 tips for Android phones

    Android phones don't usually need that much care and maintenance — assuming that your loved ones don't do anything crazy with them. But, well, that's probably a bad assumption. More so than iOS, Android phones make it easy to do lots of weird and cool things to the core of the OS. But "weird and cool" is the door to "stupid and dangerous," so when you head home this Thanksgiving, you might have a little work ahead of you.

    So look, your dad may come to you and say, "my phone is slow, what is wrong with it?" and exhort you to fix it. Take the phone, play around, and see if he's right. Perhaps he is, and perhaps that's okay. But the best answer may be to simply shrug and say, "Yup, that's just how it is" and not have to worry about digging through all the settings and apps that could be doing it.

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  • Jacob Kastrenakes

    Nov 25, 2015

    Jacob Kastrenakes

    Holiday tech support: 4 tips for the Mac

    It doesn't matter if a computer is brand new or several years past its prime, it seems like some relative you bump into over the holidays will always have encountered a problem with it. Macs are pretty easy to take care of, but you still have to deal with all of the common issues that hit any computer over time: slow downs, lost files, broken apps. Here's what you can do to get a troublesome Mac in good shape again without missing too much family time.

    The Mac App Store makes it really easy to keep apps up to date, but it's also really easy to keep clicking "ignore" when it prompts you to investigate and potentially install new updates. One of the simplest things you can do to make sure a Mac is functioning well is making sure its software is up to date. To do so, open up the App Store, click the update tab on the top right, and see what updates are available.

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  • Nov 25, 2015

    Lauren Goode and Dieter Bohn

    Your cheat sheet for talking about tech this Thanksgiving

    Holiday dinner table talk can be rough. When you’re not slicing up a strange hybrid turkey or serving up dishes of root vegetables, it’s easy to feel as though you’re both moderating a political debate and taking on the role of family IT support.

    When the conversation veers into politics, has you covered. But if you are the de facto tech expert in your family and updating the software on everyone’s iPhone isn’t enough, there’s a good chance you’ll be called upon to explain some of the tech news that's happened recently.

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  • Nov 18, 2015

    Verge Staff

    The Verge 2015 Holiday Gift Guide

    The holidays are fast approaching, and with them the annual bacchanal of consumerism that is December. Fortunately, The Verge Holiday Gift Guide 2015 has you covered with gifts for men, gifts for mom, gifts for dad, gifts for women, gifts for boyfriends, gifts for cats, and gifts for any other over-simplified demographic you happen to be Googling. Do you need the best Christmas gift ideas? Hannukah gift ideas? The best tech gifts of 2015? The best drones for dad? Cheap gifts? Just plain cool gifts? We’re here for you with the very best gadgets, games, books, movies, and TV of the year. Follow our lead and don't get caught gifting a lemon.

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