Keeping your software up-to-date the easy way

Get rid of annoying “update available” notification and pop-ups by having your computer take care of application updates automatically.


Don’t you love those pop-ups you get in the corner of your desktop telling you there’s an update for a program installed on your computer? Or how about when you open a program and it tells you there’s an update? You just want to use your software, so if you’re like me, you’ve probably clicked “ignore” or closed the update to just get to what you were doing. But there is a better way! Nobody wants to take the time to keep all of their software up-to-date. In this brief blog post, I take a look at how you can make this happen “auto-magically,” at least for many common programs.

Installing Chocolatey package manager

The first thing we will need to do is install the Chocolatey package manager. This is going to let us have access to one central source for the programs and their updates.

To install Chocolatey, open Windows PowerShell by going to the Start Menu and typing “powershell” (quotes ommitted). Right-click the top result, and click “Run as Administrator.” This will require you to have administrative rights. If you do not have administrative rights, this process will not be possible.

In the Windows PowerShell window that appears, paste the following command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force; [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol -bor 3072; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString(''))

Once that command has completed, close Windows PowerShell and launch it again with administrative rights like we just did.

Installing packages

Now we need to install the packages that we want to keep up-to-date. To find out if a program you have has a package available, use the below example in PowerShell:

choco search programname

where programname is the name of the program you want. Some examples might be:

  • adobereader
  • adobe-connect
  • googlechrome
  • microsoft-edge
  • discord
  • putty
  • icue
  • bitwarden
  • lastpass
  • obs-studio
  • conemu
  • forticlientvpn
  • openvpn
  • java
  • jre
  • logitech-options
  • reflect-free
  • and many, many more.

To actually install any or a combination of these, use the following command:

cinst programname -Y

where programname is the package name. You can list multiple package names in succession to install multiple programs at once:

cinst programname1 programname2 programname3 -Y

Chocolatey will download the packages and install them.

Writing the update script

With the packages installed, now we need to create a super simple script that will update those packages.

Open Notepad by going to the Start Menu and typing “notepad” (quotations omitted) and running the top result.

In the blank document that opens, type the following:

choco upgrade all -Y

If you continually run into errors with certain packages updating and don’t mind the insecurity of it, you can also use:

choco upgrade all -Y --ignore-checksums

though I don’t recommend it.

Now save this by going to File > Save As… In the Save As window, change the drop-down menu for the file type. It will be defaulted to .txt and we want to change it to All Files. Type a name for the file ending with .ps1. Example:


Save it to a location where it won’t be touched and will always be available. I have mine saved to a folder I created at C:\ScheduledTasks but you can put yours wherever you want.

Scheduling automatic updates

Finally, now that we have installed packages and created a script to update them, we will want to schedule the update process to be completely automatic. Because being hands-off is the whole point!

Open the Task Scheduler by clicking the Start Menu and typing “task scheduler” then running the top result.

In the resulting Task Scheduler window, open the Action menu, then click Create Task.

Give your scheduled task a name and a description, then select “Run whether user is logged in or not” and check “Run with highest privileges.” Finally, Configure for: Windows 10.

Move to the Triggers tab.

Add a new trigger to begin the task on a schedule. Input your desired start date, reoccurence period, and ensure “Enabled” is checked, then click OK.

Move to the Actions tab.

Make the action “Start a program” and in the Program/script field, paste the path to PowerShell:


In the Add arguments field, add the following:

-file scriptpath

where scriptpath is the path to where you saved your script earlier. My example looked like this:

-file C:\ScheduledTasks\chocolatey-updates.ps1

When done, click OK on all remaining Task Scheduler windows and the task will be scheduled. Now, as long as your computer is on, you leave the task scheduled, and the script is available where you saved it, your computer should automatically update your specified programs without you having to do anything at all.

I have been keeping my computers up to date like this for several years (set to automatically update everything weekly) and it saves me tons of time, and I rarely get notifications about new versions or annoying popups anymore.

Bringing it all together

In this process, we installed Chocolately package manager, figured out what programs we wanted to keep up to date that were available through Chocolatey, installed those programs, wrote the update script/command, and scheduled PowerShell to run that command at a regular interval.

How did this go for you? Got any other neat tips and tricks for keeping your system running in great shape? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Password managers and why you should be using one

Let me ask you some questions:

  • Do you have that one account that you only have to log into once in a blue moon, and you pretty much always have to reset the password?
  • Do any of your accounts use the same password?
  • Do you have any of your passwords written down somewhere or typed out in a Word document or Excel spreadsheet or some other similar list?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, then using a password manager may benefit you.

What is a password manager?

A password manager is an program that digitally and securely stores your login information for various accounts. Using just a single “master password,” you can access the login information for any and all of your stored accounts witout having to know every account’s information.

Why use a password manager?


The most important benefit of a password manager is security. If you have your passwords written down somewhere, then it is more likely someone may accidentally (or intentionally) find out how to access your accounts; additionally, if they’re written down, they can be lost or destroyed. If you have more than one account using the same password, if that password is discovered or stolen, the theif could gain access to many of your accounts. Using a password manager allows you to securely store your passwords, have convenient access to them, and also lets you generate more complex and secure passwords without the need to memorize them.


Security is important. But the extra-nice thing about a password maanger is the simplicity. Instead of having to remember of the logon information for many accounts, you can simply remember a single “master password.” Some password managers even support web browser add-ons/extensions that will auto-fill your login information into a webpage after you enter your master password.

My recommended solution

Bitwarden is a fantastic and free option for a password manager. I have been using Bitwarden for several years and love it. The solution is open-source, free, and supported on the many platforms and browsers listed below.

Operating systems: Windows | macOS | Linux | Android | iOS

Browsers: Edge | Chrome | Opera | Firefox | Tor | Vivaldi | Brave | Safari

Additionally, Bitwarden features web-based access via the web portal and also has powerful command-line tools (CLI) to create and execute scripts against your Bitwarden Vault.

Web portal access to your Bitwarden Vault

With Bitwarden, securing your online accounts is as simple as creating a free account, setting your master password, and entering the information you’d like to store. If you’re like me and had all your login info in an Excel spreadsheet, then you’re in luck, because Bitwarden supports the import of .CSV files to making your setup process breeze by quickly.

Other neat stuff Bitwarden supports includes: locally hosting it on your own server instead of cloud hosted, it supports multi-factor authentication and is compatible with the Yubico YubiKey (a review on that to come), a password generator, configuration for auto-fill on websites, and the ability to store more than passwords securely–including secure notes, credit card information, and identity information. And so much more.

Available on every major platform and cloud-accessible, Bitwarden is a fast, convenient, and free solution to enhance your online security and make your life easier.

Other Options

Bitwarden is fantastic, but it won’t be for everyone. That’s why competition exists! Here are some additional options for you to check out:

Bringing it all together

Regardless of which solution you choose, a password manager is crucial to increasing your online security–unless you can just memorize every single password you have. Combining a password manager with some form of multi-factor authentication provides a high degree of security while also making life more convenient by requiring you to only remembe a single master password. If you haven’t tried a password manager, don’t delay! Try one today.

Have you used a password manager before? If so, what was it and what were your thoughts? Have you had other issues or complaints about memorizing passwords? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Calling Home for the Holidays

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many families will not be able to gather in person as they normally would whether due to financial situation, health concerns, travel restrictions, etc. It is important to take time to connect with family and friends, even if you do it from afar. Here are some options available to help you and your loved ones connect digitally via audio/video this holiday season
while distant.

Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays

‘Cause no matter how far away you roam

If you want to be a happy in a million ways

For the holidays, you can’t beat home, sweet home

There really is no place like home for the holidays. Unfortunately, home sweet home might not be a physical, in-person reality this season. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc for many families medically, financially, and otherwise, many are opting to postpone or avoid family gatherings due to concers with the health of relatives, or due to quarantine. But family is the most important thing, and being able to be with one another especially during the holiday season is important, so in this brief blog post, let’s take a look at some of the options available for remotely and virtually gathering your family together this holiday season.

If you can’t be face-to-face in person, still being able to see each other is the next best thing! Here are some options for video calling services that are free.

Jitsi Meet

Jitsi Meet is a free online video meeting solution that offers video calling and screen sharing. Not only is it free, but you don’t even have to make an account or download any software to use it! Just create a meeting name, start your call, and have others join. Jitsi Meet offers HD audio and video, unlimited free access for up to 50 participants at a time, end-to-end encryption, multi-screen sharing, remote control, and other neat integrations as well. Not only is it available in your web browser on your computer, but Jitsi Meet also has Android and iOS apps as well. I personally use Jitsi a lot, and highly recommend it.

Download for Android | Download for iOS

Google Duo

Google Duo is another free online video calling solution. Duo is available in a web browser on your computer, and also has apps for Android and iOS as well. If you don’t already have a Google account, you’ll need to make a free account which only takes a few minutes. It features one-on-one calling, group calling, and end-to-end encryption as well as a variety of fun features. Duo also integrates with Google smart products and is built-in to many Android devices already. I’ve used Duo on several occasions, and do not have any major complaints.

Download for Android | Download for iOS

Facebook’s Messenger

Facebook’s Messenger platform recently launched a new feature called “Messenger Rooms,” a video calling solution different than their existing group video call functionality. While you can still create a group message in the Messenger app and begin a video call, now you can create a video call “room” with a shareable link. Friends and family can join your call via the link–even if they don’t have a facebook account. With a wide variety of other fun and functional features, Messenger is definitely a viable option for gathering your loved ones virtually. Messenger is available on Android, iOS, and Windows 10 from the Microsoft Store.

Download for Android | Download for iOS | Download for Windows 10

Apple’s FaceTime

FaceTime is perhaps one of the most well-known video calling applications in existence and is a functional solution for up to 32 participants, though everyone has to have an iPhone, iPad, or Mac computer. If your family isn’t entirely in the Apple ecosystem, this might not necessarily be the solution for you. Despite that, friendly features such as Animoji, stickers, and integration with iMessage–all without a subscription–make this another great option for some people.

Download for iOS

For the technologically agnostic…

And don’t forget: there’s absolutely nothing wrong with simply picking up the telephone to have a phone conversation with loved ones, or even writing a letter. Because home isn’t necessarily a house, a dining room table, or living room with a Christmas tree. Home is where your heart is, and connecting with your friends and family from afar whether by video, phone, or in writing, can help you be home for the holidays.

What is the holiday season looking like for your and your loved ones this year? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. Wishing you each the merriest of holiday seasons and a safe and happy new year.

Review: Samsung Galaxy Tab S6

Released in August of 2019, the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 becomes the new Samsung standard for tablets, in place of the Tab 4 and Tab 5Se. I  picked up the Tab S6 on an open-box deal from Best Buy (no deal or sponsorship). I have previously owned an iPad Mini years back, as well as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, though I no longer have either. The itch for a tablet was strong, and this time around, Samsung won the vote. But why? Let’s take a look at some of the selling points.

Price | The Tab S6, without the open-box deal I got, currently retails for roughly 650.00 USD for the base model. However, if you keep an eye out, you can snag an open-box deal on one for about 200.00 USD less! And at that price point, this tablet really packs a punch. Why?

Specifications | Because 650.00 USD (or 450.00 USD in my case) gets you a 10.5 inch screen, 128 GB of solid state storage, 6 GB of RAM, and a snappy octa-core processor. The base price even includes the tablet’s pen like with the Microsoft Surface, which other tablet manufacturers either don’t have (looking at you, Kindle) or require you to purchase separately (Apple).

UX | Obviously the user experience is a big deal, since I’m going to be the user experiencing the tablet. I was looking for a true tablet experience for while I am away from my custom desktop computer. I’m big on customization and versatility. I have a Samsung Galaxy Note 10+ running Android and enjoy it very much. The Google Play store has a huge variety of apps available, including the Microsoft Office suite, WordPress, as well as apps for social media, photography, games and other entertainment, as well as utilities that can be useful for an on-the-go IT professional such as myself. Additionally, while I like the Samsung flavor of the graphical user interface, Android allows me to overlay my own preferred launchers should I so desire–and without having to root or jailbreak my device to do so. I am currently using the Microsoft Launcher.

So thus far I’ve mentioned a few things that I really like about the device. But what cons are worth mentioning?

Downfalls | Let’s start with the pen. It is made of a plastic, which feels a bit light and cheap–though I suppose I didn’t expect too much for an included accessory. It pales in comparison to the pen that comes with the Microsoft Surface, and is also not as good as the Apple Pencil.

Despite being too light for my taste, and a bit cheap-feeling, my biggest gripe comes to storage of the pen. There is a shallow groove on the rear of the device beneath the camera lens. This groove has two magnetic points that hold the pen in place–uh, sometimes. The pen falls off the groove or gets knocked out of place easily, and the groove is difficult to find without looking at the rear of the device. I’ve lost my pen quite a few times in the last two weeks. To further my compaint, snapping the pen to the rear of the device means that the device can no longer rest flat on a surface such as a table, desk, and also restricts the use of some wall mounts. It also happens to be right where I prefer to hold the device while on the go, which is a bit inconvenient. None of these things will necessarily be a downfall for you, but they were for me. After extensive use, I’ve found that it is actually quite difficult to attached the pen to it’s groove without looking directly at it, and that the pen falls off quite easily, which has become annoying.

Further, the pen has less functionality than I would like. The S Gestures that you can do to interact with the OS are convenient and nice. Unfortunately, that is where the interaction runs out. The pen can be used as a replacement for your finger in other apps, but the button will continue to function in relation to the OS, not the app, thus prohibiting a large amount of usefulness. One thing I want to be able to do is hold the pen, lean back, and flick it up and down to scroll up and down a webpage or other app, but alas, this functionality seems to be missing.

Really, the pen was the only complaint I had with the purchase–and though I have things I wish Samsung had done better, the pen is still functional and is not uncomfortable to hold for short amounts of time. The pen might be a dealbreaker for you, or you might never touch it? So what am I doing with the device?

In the weeks that I’ve had the Galaxy Tab 6S, I have used it to import photos from my Canon DSLR (no additional software required), edit RAW image files in Google’s Snapseed photo editing application–which is shockingly good for being free, browse Reddit, the internet, access banking information, VPN into my home network, VPN into my work network, remote access and administer both workstations and servers, and listened to plenty of music and watched videos on YouTube.

I have had zero issues accomplishing what I need to. In fact, just earlier this evening my wife and I were at dinner and I had the tablet with me. I got a call from work with an emergency. I wouldn’t have lugged a laptop with me, but I happened to habe the tablet. Within a minute or so, I was VPN’ed into our company’s network, accessed a server, and did what I needed to do to assist an employee.

Similarly, the other night I had the opportunity to pick up my camera and create some images of my wife. I didn’t want to wait to import the photos on my desktop and process them there, so I plugged my camera into my tablet, imported the photos, and processed them, in Snapseed. Within 10 minutes I had a couple of fantastic images to share.

I’ve found that overall the tablet has conformed to my needs and flexed to every situation I’ve found myself in thus far. It has been a good buy. Would I buy it again? Most likely! Given that I like to use the pen and the pen is quite subpar, I likely would not pay full price for one, but I would willingly pay open-box or used pricing again. If you’re looking for a powerful daily driver of a tablet, then this might just be the ticket for you!

Do you have a Galaxy Tab S6? Let me know how you like it in the comments below! Cheers.

~ Griff


I had to come back to update this post after having used the Samsung Galaxy Tab S6 for a longer period of time, as well as having traveled with it.

In the original post, I spent a fair amount of time griping about the terrible pen magnet/storage on the rear of the device. I’m sorry to say, but I am going to spend a moment griping about it again. Over the last several months, I have been constantly frustrated with the pen not attaching without careful placement, the pen falling off the magnet, and my inevitable loss of the pen since it fell off the magnet somewhere. Sure, you can get a case that secures the pen–but this should not be necessary. By design, the pen should be easy to keep track of, use, and stow. This has become a major downside to the device, for me at least. But onto more positive things.

One of my primary questions was whether I could use the tablet as a replacement for my laptop when traveling. The short answer is: absolutely! I spent the week of my recent vacation reading books, browsing the web, writing for this blog, editing a couple of casual photos, playing games, doing email, and a couple of other tasks, including troubleshooting some stuff with my parents’ home network. I had brought my laptop–just in case–and found that I didn’t pull it out even once. The Tab S6 was all I needed! Now, a qualification is necessary here. I did bring my Logitech MX Master 3 bluetooth mouse and my Keychron K6 bluetooth mechanical keyboard for when I was writing my blog posts, but otherwise, the tablet by itself was just fine.

So, my verdict after such extended use and travel with the Tab S6, is that I highly recommend it, but do note that some kind of case or other solution to keep track of the pen will be absolutely necessary.