August 17, 2012
I have been using my laptop for two years now and finally after all this time she started to give me signs the end was near. The wireless connection was taking over a minute to connect and browsing the internet was very slow.
I knew the pc was still good but with all of the junk I downloaded on the hard drive and test with, something was bound to slow it down. I bit the bullet, grabbed my handy laptop, opened up Dropbox, and started dropping files.
Dropbox is so nice because it shows up as a mapped drive. I created a folder and started using this drive just as if it was on my local network. I copied only the information that I needed up to Dropbox and thirty minutes later all of the stuff was online.
Dropbox is amazing and it's free. Why in the world would they give something so powerful away for free? I don't know but I am not complaining.
August 14, 2012
In light of the recent Yahoo! password breach I started thinking that this is something that only happens to people with light passwords. I am sure this will not happen to me. Well it still hasn't happened to me but it did happen to my oldest son and his Gmail account was compromised.
In the article from July 2012, it seems as if over 400k usernames and passwords were stolen. We checked on https://shouldichangemypassword.com/ and he was listed. We changed his password to something only he would remember and very soon would forget but our intentions were good.
If you use an online email host, such as Yahoo!, Hotmail, or Gmail, it may be worth it to check out this site.
July 31, 2012
When is the last time you took a minute to go unplugged? I mean completely unplugged without phone, text, email, Facebook, Twitter, cable TV, Netflix, or even Internet.
I am in the middle of a move and found myself without internet access, a television, access to a newsfeed or blog, and I was LOST. I am always connected to some type of device. I do still have my handy iPhone but I was shut off to the rest of the world.
Last night I went outside and sat down for about two hours with my family. We did not do anything but talk about our upcoming vacation and the next school year. It was really a nice thing to not be so attached. Had we not been in the middle of a move and been at home we would have been on the internet, Facebook, or just surfing channels on tv. After the two hours we of course found a way to get on Netflix and watch "Thor" but it was nice while it lasted.
Here is an interesting article about a college student's "Amish Project" to go unplugged.
Try it. You might find it liberating.
July 18, 2012
This past week we had a virus attach itself to a computer and spread through an entire network. The virus was a strain of a virus that had been previously detected and caught by an anti-virus software, however this strain did get through. We called our vendor (Trend Micro) to see if they had a fix for this strain but they did not. As it turns out this is a known pattern but the virus changed to something different, now in the 15th different change, and the anti-virus could not stop it.
The infection was so widespread that every single device we plugged in to eliminate the virus got infected. I put in a thumb drive to install anti-virus software and the virus attacked files on my thumb drive. It was most definitely the nastiest virus I have seen since the original "I love you" virus from 1999.
I was telling my son about it and he asked the most common question, "Why does someone create these?" The answer is simple; MONEY. Let's say that you created a new cleaning solution to take grease off of a kitchen stove and you thought it was the best product ever. You would need to market this new solution by creating pamphlets, banners, radio ads, television ads, and even signs on the highway. All of this only gets you to your market in the local area. Now take that same thought and ask yourself if you could reach 20,000 computers in less than a week, would you do it? It is pretty simple. Viruses and spyware are out there now to market to you. The internet is nothing more than computers talking to other computers and requesting information from different ones. Why not infect a few computers to get your ad out there? This is the rational thinking of those who are creating havoc on our networks. Sure it is illegal but some people are willing to run the risk.
The heart of this entry is to keep your systems up to date always. Keep good perimeter protection as most viruses come in across the internet. This network was just unlucky as we did have all of this done and it still got through.
Good luck and as always, safe surfing!
October 25, 2011
As IT professionals we enjoy better, greater, faster, and sometimes anything new. With the release of the Vista operating system in 2007, Microsoft changed the search engine to be integrated with Windows Explorer. I can see how a programmer sitting fifteen floors below ground level in a cubicle next to another programming genius in Redmond, Washington thought this was a good idea. However, this is not the real world. You can also search by clicking on the start menu and typing your search request in the field, but thanks to Apple and Google search, Microsoft had to make some changes.
You see, this search engine is more difficult to navigate around and harder to product results than previous versions of a standard search. Another thing that they do is keep an index, or list, of your files. This is helpful except when you want to search in a section that is not on index.
With all of this said, I have found a great tool called "Agent Ransack". This small, free utility is so much more diverse than any other search engine as it only opens when you need it and does not work from an index.
Don’t get me wrong about Microsoft advancing with operating systems. I would say that 90% of the time they get it right, but the “search” is one spot where they did not. If you get a chance checkout Ransack. You will not regret it.
June 29, 2011
We field many calls requesting help with the user's "Microsoft." These calls can often mean Microsoft Office, Microsoft Internet Explorer, or even the Operating System. So what is the difference?
The Operating System (OS) is the software that runs on the PC. The dictionary.com meaning is "the collection of software that directs a computer's operations, controlling and scheduling the execution of other programs, and managing storage, input/out, and communication resources." The OS is needed to run the other apps you use in your business. Microsoft Office and Internet Explorer run within the Operating System.
Microsoft Office is a collection of applications such as Word, Excel, Access, Publisher, Power Point, Outlook, and Info Path. This collection of applications gives you various functions from developing presentation materials, recording data and housing that data, to simply checking email and keeping up with contacts and your calendar.
Internet Explorer is the application you use to browse the internet. You can browse web pages and also access web applications via the web browser.
There are distinct differences in these Microsoft products. Being clear about the issue and which part of the Microsoft collection of applications is causing issues can be vital to a timlier fix to your problem.
March 22, 2011
Microsoft Internet Explorer has really been losing market share in the past few years with the new Google Chrome and constantly evolving Mozilla Firefox browsers. When Google released Chrome a couple of years ago the browser took off and became very popular because of the simplistic views in the browser. Microsoft was on IE7 at the time and fixed many problems with scripting and security with IE8. Now Microsoft has truly produced a rival to Chrome with IE9.
Over the weekend I downloaded and installed IE9. After reading the initial press releases I decided to wait. However, I found an obscure blog (just like this one) who told me of one good feature, better tab sizes. My biggest problem with IE8 was the size of the tabs. I am a power user with IE8 and I have many open tabs at any given time. When this happens in IE8 it reduces the size of each tab but not so much in IE9. The program still reduces the size of the tabs but it's not quite as drastic, which really helps when you have multiple tabs open at one time. Once I installed IE9 I opened 15 tabs. I tried to close them one by one and the sizing barely changed. Now this might seem silly but it is helpful when you want to close ten of the fifteen.
Some other very neat features include the interface and downloads. The interface is cleaned up to look like Google Chrome where the address bar and the search bar are combined. Microsoft has also cleaned up the address and tool bars. The annoying tool bars from various search agents have been suppressed which gives you a bigger browser window. The last thing that I was shaking my head about is pausing downloads. FINALLY after 9 versions they have decided to add a download pause. This is helpful when you have to download a 700 MB file and need to stop and resume the download. This has been integrated with Firefox for years.
After two days of use I am ready to say that Microsoft has a good product with IE9. With all the browser wars, Microsoft has developed this as a free download to keep up with the other packages. If you want to download it head out to www.microsoft.com/downloads.