Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Congratulations to Nik Lewis for earning his CCNA Certificate!!

One of out techs just passed the CCNA. What is the CCNA? you ask. I'll tell ya.

The CCNA is by definition:

The CCNA certificate validates the ability to install, configure, operate, and troubleshoot medium-size routed and switched networks, including implementation and verification of connections to remote sites in a WAN.

Basically this means you're a pro at your knowledge of installing, troubleshooting, and operating an enterprise on a branched network. So when you have several workstations in an office that are all networked together that is a LAN, or a Local Area Network. When you have an office in one place and a workstations in another location that need access to that network, that is a WAN, or a Wide Area Network. This involves setting up security, network types, routing and switching, IP addressing, establishing point to point connections, etc.

We continue to challenge ourselves to bring you the most knowledgeable and certified staff that we can. The more we know the better we can help you with your IT needs quickly and efficiently.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Home gadgets review from the consumer reports to me to you!

What do computers and blenders have in common? Well technology of course. It's all science and invention and a lot of these gadgets have computers in them.

Kenmore Elite 7206 Grab-N-Go

It has a door in a door. In other words you can snack items and beverages in the little door so you're not standing with large doors open looking for a juice box. Convenience and energy saving!

LG WM8000H(V) Front Loading Washing Machine

Not only is it large capacity, but loads in the front, can take a beating, and is energy efficient.

Vitamix 5200 Blender

This is the top rated blender beating out 50 other blenders for the top spot. At a whopping $450 price tag you may be wondering, whhaaaaat?! If you're making smolthies every morning and perhaps have a newborn and want to make your own baby food then this thing is for you. It has power and is easy to clean. But if you're like me and only use your blender once or twice a year for Pina Coladas, then it's a bit over the top.

Wolf R484DG

It's a $10,000 kitchen range with two ovens, four burners, and a dual 22 by 18 griddle. I'm a cook, this is awesome, but totally out of my price range. But I tell you what, if I had that kind of money laying around, this would definitely be on my wish list!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Cheap Smart Phones to be the Norm by 2017

You know the longer something is on the market the cheaper it gets? As new models or better technology are available, the existing tech becomes more accessible.

Currently the iPhone 5 and the Samsung III are the two most popular phones with consumers right now. The 16GB iPhone 5 will set you back around $1000, but are sometimes available for around $200...with a two year mobile phone and data service agreement that is. What a lot of people don't know, is that there are ALWAYS cheaper smart phone options for you.

I worked for a major phone retailer for about a year. I was there when the iPhone 4 was almost out and the Galaxy S II, or the HTC Sensation were the hottest things you could carry in your pocket. However, we had Android phones that were priced, full retail, around $200. Often these more affordable were free with contract.

What was the biggest difference between the $700 dollar phone and the $200 phone? A big one was screen resolution and size. The larger, pricier phones had larger, clearer screens. The Galaxy phone series were known for coming pre-loaded with HD movies like Avatar and Inception. Their cameras were also quite fancy, sometimes exceeding 8mpx. The cheaper versions didn't come with a block buster movie, but they had decent cameras. Most had around 3-5mpx.

The most popular feature of a smart phone is of course the "smart" part. In other words it's data. The smaller phones had the same android market as the big boys. They also had GPS, multiple screens, you name it. The phone was just as smart, just maybe not so flashy.

When I left, we had a smart phone with the same screen size and the giant Sensation, and a 5mpx camera, but made with lighter and cheaper plastics. The processor was not a dual core, but neither was the big Galaxy. That smaller phone went for around $175. It was free with contract. Not only was it VERY similar to the bigger, shinier phones, but you had four colors to choose from.
So now lets look to the future when this tech is old and the new is coming. That $175 dollar phone will be the one they lend out to get people by while there new phones are getting shipped in. The $800 dollar phones will be $175, and the latest and greatest model available will probably do your dishes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lenovo to release Professional Powerhouse

Lenovo, one of our favorite brands for both laptops and desktops, is releasing a new touch-optimized, Windows 8, business class notebook. Lenovo is taking advantage of Windows 8 design of focusing on touch surfaces. The Operating systems was born for this.

The notebook will come with either an i5 or i7 processor, that's quick, and slim 14 inch, 3lb design. The system also went forward with opting for a solid state drive, the next step in hard drive technology. The i5 model will have 4gb of ram and the i7 will double that to 8gb.

Preorders start at $1,499 and will begin to ship out December 21st. This is no joke, beefy, durable, professional machine. Call for more details or to order!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Considering the Cloud to store YOUR data?

Amazon, among the millions of other things they do for you, is now offering a service called Redshift. Redshift is basically a cloud based warehouse. Cloud based storage is a low cost option to building internal infrastructure that needs to be maintained.

Most companies would agree that affordable is a big bonus. Cloud storage, however, leaves some people leery about security. How safe is your businesses sensitive information from security breeches to corruption? Also one aspect that needs to be considered is the amount of bandwidth that will be used for the actual transferring of data. You could quickly use up your monthly quota if you have one in place by your internet service provider.

Redshift claims it can store and manage data at around $1000 per terabyte per year. Compare that with a lot of on site services that will cost $25,000 or more. This sort of data storage and analyses is generally used by large businesses. Thanks to the cloud, now small businesses have an option they can afford.

Monday, December 10, 2012

911 text service coming in 2014

This is really good idea and probably one that you're surprised hasn't been implemented YET!

In a lot of emergency situations victims can't talk or are afraid to. A large percentage of people in need of help have texted friends for support instead of calling 911. It's fast, it's easy, and emergency dispatch is 20 years behind the curve on this one.

The first step is to set up an automated response message explaining that their message was NOT received. until the infrastructure is in place, it is imperative that people know they can't reach responders this way.

Technology has been an ongoing challenge for the emergency systems that we have relied on. Landlines were easy to pinpoint location. Each line was installed at a particular address and they didn't move. With cell phones it got a lot trickier. This lead to pin pointing possible areas by determining what tower the signal came from. This is was not as easy as it sounds however, as it opens doors for law enforcement to trace peoples locations. There is a fine line between protecting our privacy and protecting our lives.

With a 911 text service this could be easily over come. If a person texts 911 it could be assumed they WANT their location traced. I surely would.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Death of the disc drive

burning a disc is soon to be a thing of the past. CD's, DVD's....personally I don't don't even own any, (albeit my Bollywood Collection. They are too obscure still in the states to find downloads).

Not only does the device in your machine that reads the discs take up valuable space, but most of the information we get from them is available in streaming or downloadable content. This even includes software. 

The new iMac was released this week sans an optical drive. It's the first computer to be released without one, but will definitely not be the last.

Information is stored in sleeker and faster fashions these days. How many people do you know that carry around thumb drives? I have two in my purse right now. I think one has some digital art work on for impromptu portfolio viewing, and the other has a few episodes of Adventure Time. These drives are getting smaller and smaller but the storage space is getting bigger and bigger. You can fit several gigabytes in the size of your pinky. You can't fit that much on a disc. Not to mention that discs are just so fragile that they are a pain to travel with.

This has been prevalent, almost painfully, in the music industry. I can't remember the last time I bought a CD. By car doesn't even have a CD player, but it does have an auxiliary jack. In fact, I think my PC is the only thing in my house that can play music CD's. Maybe my Xbox can? I don't even know.

Don't panic yet. If you end up with a PC that has no optical drive and still have all your information via burned disc you can purchase an external optical drive that simply plugs into a USB cable. 

You may, however, want to consider backing up your data onto an external drive. We can help you out with this. A Terabyte drive is only around $100 and that is enough space for 10,737,418 pictures. Or you can fit roughly 5000 movies! The point is, it's a TON of space. The drives take up less than a square foot. Think about how much space all those discs and discs racks take up? Too much we say.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The computers in your car

The first self propelled mechanic vehicle was created in 1769 by Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot in France. It was far from a car, in fact, it was a steam powered tri-cycle. This was 167 years before the first programmable computer came around in 1936.

Today's cars could have as many 50 micro processors in them. This may complicate the do it yourself system, but they do make it easier to service your car professionally. Some of the tasks of these processors are:

Sophisticated engine controls to meet emissions and fuel economy needs.

Advanced diagnostics.

Safety features.

And my favorite part, convenience. 

Controlling the engine is the most processor intensive job in your vehicle. It keeps track of coolant levels, temperature, exhaust....and calculating the results to determine the best spark timing, or how open the fuel injection should go. 

Another area where creating computerized communication standards is called the "Instrument Cluster". This cluster gathers and displays data from various parts of the vehicle. There's a LOT more to it then that, but it has to do with car makers being able to tell the cluster makers the car specifications which makes panel design easier. Well that's part of it. 

Car computers handle "Multiplexing". This means sending power to the appropriate switch. Think of all the switches just on your door; windows, mirrors, locks, etc. The multiplexing keeps the wiring from getting out of control. 

These are just a couple tasks that computers do in your vehicle, and these are the ones you don't see. Think of your speedometer, GPS, radio....they're everywhere.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Don't want to get sick? Don't lick a toilet seat.

Our last lesson didn't stick so we're going to reiterate with some gruesome analogies.

One thing we deal with in our office ALL. THE. TIME. is viruses. And not just viruses, repeated viruses from the SAME PEOPLE.

Almost 100% of the time our customer is verklemped as to how in the world did they get a virus when they have antivirus. And not only antivirus, but anti-virus that we, your IT company, provided to them.

Ok, here's the deal party people. It's flu season. So what do you do? You go and you get a flu shot. You eat all of your veggies and buy yourself some oranges. You get plenty of sleep and even make it to the gym. Are you going to be impervious to influenza? NOOOOO you are not. You go lick that toilet seat and no amount of multi-vitamins are going to save your intestine.

In other words: having an antivirus installed in you system is a good road block but it does not mean that you will 100% be immune to viruses. This is especially true if you are engaging in risky behavior.

Now don't be offended. Seemingly innocent acts can wreak havoc on your machine. We're not trying to say you're doing anything you shouldn't be doing, but we are saying be aware that you are not invincible.

Here are some ways that you can pick up a virus:

1. You get a pop up that says your computer is infected and you have to click the pop up for the fix. This pop up may even have the name of your anit-virus on it!

2. When you're installing new software and it prompts you to install secondary software. This is VERY common. Just say no to additional software!

3. Not running your operating systems updates. An out of date OS is more vulnerable to infection.

4. Being a pirate, and we don't mean the scurvy kind. Downloading software, music, movies, TV shows, name it....and it is VERY risky.

5. Opening an infected email. THIS IS THE NUMBER ONE REASON WE GET INFECTED MACHINES IN THE OFFICE. You can have a spam blocker on your email and still get malicious emails. If it looks unfamiliar it probably isn't a good idea to click on that link. Like we showed you in a previous newsletter, hover your mouse, WITHOUT CLICKING, over any links and read the address that pops up. Look suspicious? It probably is. We can not stress this enough. Just because you have Outlook, with spam filter, and anti-virus does not mean that EVERY email in your inbox is safe. You still need to use your common sense. A customer recently called in with ANOTHER virus on two of their office machines. They clicked on the same email. The email was from UPS and claimed they tried to deliver a package and couldn't. It prompted them to click the link for delivery information. UPS doesn't email links like this. They will generally leave you a paper receipt with a tracking number. Just because you recognize the company doesn't mean it's real. Be VERY careful if it looks at all out of the ordinary. For instance: This paragraph is a link. Hover over it and read the address. It may show you the address in a pop up window or at the bottom of the window. It should say, and that's legitimate! But if it said something like: its bad.

5(continued). Email attachments. Most email providers are set to download attachments automatically. You may want to block this and set up attachments to download upon approval. Some of our customers go a little too far in this department and block ALL attachments. This is not a good idea as any forms, invoices, bills, etc, will be sent to you this way and will now be sent directly to your spam or rejected all together. I get a lot of returned email when a customer asks for quote to be sent to them just for me to get a failure notice. I then have to ask them if they have attachments blocked which almost always leads to a service call from a technician to get them UN BLOCKED and that costs money.

6. Games. Free gaming sites can be loaded with bad ju-ju.

There are different types of infections as well, not just viruses.

Viruses: a virus is a small piece of software that piggy backs on real programs. Example: a virus might attach itself to a program or a spreadsheet. Each time the program or spread sheet runs the virus has a chance to reproduce.

E-mail: An e-mail virus travels as an attachment to email messages, and usually replicates itself by automatically emailing itself to dozens of people in the victims address book. Some viruses don't even require you to click, but rather will infect you by simply viewing the message.

Trojan Horse: this is a program. The program claims to do one thing, like a game, but instead damages your system when you run it. 

Worms: A worm is a small piece of software that uses computer networks, like your office, and security holes to replicate itself. A copy of a worm scans networks for another machine that has a specific security hole. It then copies itself to the new machine within that security hole and starts the process over.

So just keep in mind that it happens to everyone and no one is 100% protected. Computing just doesn't work that way. Just keep diligent and be picky about what you click on and where you go!