I get asked about a recommendation for a new PC a lot (obviously). These days its a lot easier than it used to be so here you go in one sentence, for a standard business PC:
Intel i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 (normally) (always pro), Office 2013 home and business (always retail version), NOD32 antivirus (never security suite), Acronis drive image home 2014 (this is your insurance), Small UPS (APC brand), 22" - 24" screen. Seriously consider a warranty upgrade to onsite.
Brand/suppler... well you will have to call me for that and it is significant.
One of the great things about having a mobile phone on a contract is that you get a shiny new phone for free*every time you renew your contract. The problem is that on a standard 24 month contract with Telstra that only happens (obviously) every 24 months and in 2 years your phone is so out of date it feels like you're making a call with a baked-bean can and a piece of string compared to what's currently available.
Shortly, Telstra will be offering an option to upgrade half way through the contract to a new phone, it does cost extra for the privilege and looks like you have to return the old phone "undamaged and in good working order". (I'm not too sure what that means, as always check the fine print)
See the link below for more details and check it out before you purchase your next phone under contract (preferably a Windows phone):
I have discussed Windows phone with a number of people recently here is some more information:
"Stay closer to the people and things you care about: Start screen
The Windows Phone Start screen makes sure you're always caught up and plugged in – to your best friend's texts, the time of your next meeting, the latest Groupon deals and whatever else you decide to pin there."
It’s not so much about any particular brand its more about the operating system (Microsoft Windows Phone 8), however a great brand would be Nokia. I love wireless charging!!.
You do need to think it through a bit before you make the change. If for example you are using Android now changing to Windows phone you need to check if you have special apps that you need and see if they are available on the WP marketplace sure, not as many as Android but 145,000 will give you plenty of options, plus the phone has so much built in smart functionality that it really does make some of the other offerings out there look dated.
What is Windows XP end of support?
Microsoft has provided support for Windows XP for the past 12 years. But now the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.
As a result, after April 8, 2014, technical assistance for Windows XP will no longer be available, including automatic updates that help protect your PC...
...If you continue to use Windows XP after support ends, your computer will still work but it might [WILL] become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Also, as more software and hardware manufacturers continue to optimize for more recent versions of Windows, you can expect to encounter greater numbers of apps and devices that do not work with Windows XP.
Computer weekly says the following:
Techies understand XP well, but then those writing malicious code understand it well too. With an ageing security architecture and a lack of full support, Windows XP will be a major platform for hackers to attack...
...For organizations, it should be the wake-up call to move to a more modern operating system that will be less open to such attacks.
So the take away message for organizations (and personal users) still running windows XP PC's is to upgrade now or fail to do so at your peril.
This will be a challenge world wide as XP is still installed on around 30% of the worlds PC's, testament to how good an operating system XP panned out to be. Because this is such a large number some security consultants are predicting that the hackers are probably sitting on an number of exploits and will wait until the product goes end of support before they release them. We are likely to see an increase in "drive-by attacks" where just by visiting a web site means you are infected let along downloading and running a file.
Having said all that I have been strongly recommending people move to windows 8 (or at least 7) for some time due to the significantly more secure nature of these products by design. As the sophistication of hacking technologies increased over time so has the sophistication of Windows to withstand these attacks.
If you have some legacy software or hardware that absolutely must run on XP and you have no choice but to continue, some things to consider:
So what about windows server 2003 (which is the server version of windows XP)? Support for this product ends on 14/07/15 but you should really be looking at this NOW and scheduling a replacement date for any systems running 2003 this includes small business server 2003.
An article by Dr. Susan Weinschenk in Psychology Today suggests that people who frequently switch tasks could see their productivity reduced by up to 40%. She goes on to list several reasons for limiting how often you switch between tasks during your work...
Running Windows with ‘standard' rather than ‘admin' rights removes over 90 percent of the risk" according to a recent study. See here for the full detail or below is an excerpt (yes I know I have been going on about this for years):
Running Windows users with ‘standard' rather than ‘administrator' rights would have removed over 90 percent of the risk posed by critical vulnerabilities reported in Microsoft products last year, an analysis by privilege management firm Avecto has found.
The firm first looked at 333 vulnerabilities reported by Microsoft in 2013 across all products in its monthly Security bulletins, finding that 60 percent would have been mitigated by removing admin rights. Studying only the 147 rated as the most serious, the mitigation level reached an astonishing 92 percent.
Check to see if you are an administrator on your PC by right clicking on "My Computer" or "Computer" or "This PC" (depending on your Windows version) and chose manage. If you are able to access the Windows computer management console (with or without a warning popup) then you ARE an administrator and you might want to consider changing that (will require thoughtful setup). If you are prompted for a username and password then you aren't an administrator and are a lot safer from malicious software.
However even as a standard user all the usual safe practices apply.
5 Reasons To Get Over The Hype And Start Loving Windows 8.1 - Forbes:
There is a newish, low cost Windows phone out, the Nokia Lumia 520 for $179 (no contract, not locked)
It has a great Sat-navigation included for free plus you get your email on your phone and all the other things you would expect. The only limitation with windows phone is the "smaller" apps like Westfield shopping guide or blue mountains tourist info at aren't typically available for windows phone but hopefully this will come in the future, and all the everyday staples are well provided for with the exception of Google services.
For $179 outright purchase price that's pretty cheap for a 4" screen size smartphone device with:
Things have come a long way in recent years once upon a time you had to buy all these devices separately, that's a lot of functionality for a pretty small price.
This is a great phone if you don't want to spend too much (for a personal prepaid phone account for example) and great for teenage kids as well (these are very tough and relatively inexpensive).
If you want a high end device, windows phone comes in higher price tags as well for such features as wireless charging, up to 6" display, and massive 41mp digital camera.
I don't claim to be any expert on these legal matters but it looks like the Australian privacy laws are about to get a whole lot more complex and onerous to manage.
There have been a number of Windows 8.1 Tablets and PCs unveiled in the last few days all the way from 8” to 20” (yes a 20 inch tablet). All of these will have the newer internal chip technology that’s faster and more battery efficient along with the much revamped windows 8.1
More details will emerge between now and October 18 which is the windows 8.1 launch date.
Oh yeah "the cloud" is such a great idea... thanks' for keeping my information safe [again].
"Adobe suffers major cyber attack, the company has revealed that an intrusion led to an untold number of Adobe IDs and passwords falling into the hands of hackers. But it gets far worse. Adobe says "certain information" on 2.9 million customers may have also been compromised. Among that data set are customer names, encrypted credit / debit card numbers, and expiration dates."
CryptoLocker From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
CryptoLocker is malware that surfaced in late 2013. A form of ransomware targeting Microsoft Windows-based computers, the trojan encrypts files stored on local hard drives and mounted network drives using public-key cryptography, and then displays a message saying that the files will be decrypted if a fee is paid through an anonymous payment service by a specified deadline, beyond which decryption is no longer possible.
Contents Operation CryptoLocker typically propagates as an attachment to a seemingly innocuous e-mail (usually taking the appearance of a legitimate company e-mail), or from a botnet. The attached ZIP file contains an executable file with filename and icon disguised as a PDF file, taking advantage of Windows' default behaviour of hiding the extension from file names to disguise the real .EXE extension. Some instances may actually contain the Zeus trojan instead, which in turn installs CryptoLocker.
Read more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CryptoLocker
I suggest you upgrade to windows 8.1 and get your start *button* back, secondly learn to use windows 8 how it was designed, ask me for a 2 minute demo for your light bulb moment. But, if after that you still want to get your old start *menu* back then have a look at this product.
It's $5 per PC so it won't break the bank.
The Windows® 8 start menu returns with Start8®! Download the world's most popular Windows 8 start menu.
The recent Adobe hacker-fest has again brought up the subject of passwords so here is my recommendation...
There are a full set of password rules and suggestions that are already widely recognised as being crucial for online security, see here for a great article: http://www.thegeekstuff.com/2008/06/the-ultimate-guide-for-creating-strong-passwords that pretty much says it all.
However, particularly relevant for now, you need to ensure that your passwords are always different from each other, if your Adobe password has been compromised you don’t want that same password to have been used for your banking.
Take some time to think about the quality and diversity of your online passwords would all your online accounts fall domino fashion if one was breached?
If you're having difficulty in tracking all those passwords consider a password manager, there are a number of different product options. I use https://lastpass.com/ which is available in a free version or paid if you want the smartphone apps as well ($12 per year).
If you find that your Wi-Fi network is not quite reaching all areas in your home or business? Have a look at this product its a Wi-Fi extender, it takes the signal received from your existing Wi-Fi hotspot and relays and amplifies it so that you can get more coverage. (model number F9K1106au)
When Microsoft announced that it was going to become a "device and services" company a while back they didn't have any devices and their services certainly weren't well known or well supported.
Now with Office 365, Azure, the Microsoft surface (surface 2 hopefully being released on October 18) they really have reinvented themselves.
Windows PC's still represent 90 something percent of all PC's. To put this in perspective, Windows 8, which was released less than a year ago accounts for more "PC's" world wide than all the Apple "PC's" on the planet put together (yes that's JUST windows 8).
As if that wasn't enough Microsoft have announced today they have done some shopping and bought Nokia (Subject to all the legal stuff) for 7.2 billion US$. With windows phone climbing in market share each month and the Nokia Lumia 1020 flagship camera/phone kicking everything else on the market. (photos from the phone about to appear in national geographic) it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Do you need to consume a lot of web based textual material, if you like it to be read for you (like an audio book) then have a look at the free (or paid) service from http://www.soundgecko.com.
Sign up for a free account, email the link for the web page and they will send you back the link to the audio in 10 minutes or so. This is available in a number of different formats:
There are a few limitations on the free version as follows:
In the full version you can also do things like send PDF’s and have them converted/read.
One final thing to consider is that it’s a computer generate voice and it does very well based on my experience but it’s a bit hard to listen to for long periods (over say 20 mins at a time) and there is also some content which doesn’t lead itself to being computer-read such as content with a lot of numbers, non-english words or perhaps industry/profession specific words. For example I don’t know how well it would handle Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis which is, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "a lung disease caused by the inhalation of very fine silica dust, causing inflammation in the lungs."
Moving your Windows programs round the screen using the Windows key and the arrow keys:
Pressing the Windows key and Left or Right arrow keys will dock the active window to the left or right-hand side of the screen. Pressing the Windows key and the Up arrow will maximize a window and pressing the Windows key and the Down arrow will "restore" and then minimize the window.
If you have multiple monitors use the Windows key + Shift + the Left or Right arrow keys to move the window to another monitor.
Telstra has recently reduced all their pricing for both home and business internet. If your with Telstra you should check what you're paying and see if you can pay less (and possibly get more data while you're at it).
50GB business ADSL is now $60 see the details at the link below:
For home services (Note that I don’t necessarily recommend bigpond home internet as there are some significant limitations you may want to be aware of with this service) it looks like they have reduced the prices as well. In addition they have introduced some high volume plans while I wasn't looking.
(Domestic only plans)
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Digitalwelcomemat provides IT consultancy and services for business customers on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.