remote-support

AVG antivirus free has announced that they will collect and sell your data*

We already know that almost nothing comes for free and if you're getting something for free in the world of IT this normally means that your being served up advertising or you are trading your personal data for the purpose of advertising, people differ in their opinion on that, I have heard it said "I love adds because that means that I don't have to pay for the service", others prefer a traditional model where they can just purchase whatever it is and get on with things without interruption. However antivirus manufacturer AVG has sent a few ripples through the tech industry by announcing that if you use their free antivirus product they will collect sell your data, however the data will not be personally identifiable. If you use AVG free for home PC's for example here are some resources to help you consider if your happy with the change. 

http://news.softpedia.com/news/avg-proudly-announces-it-will-sell-your-browsing-history-to-online-advertisers-492146.shtml 

http://now.avg.com/understanding-the-new-privacy-policy/ 

http://www.avg.com/gb-en/privacy-new

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Windows 10 disk image

Microsoft has released a Windows 10 tool to download the required files and make an install DVD disk, USB or ISO image:
http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO

If you have multiple PC's that your upgrading and you don’t want to download 3+GB of data per PC this is the way to go. Also doing this at a time that you specify may be better than risking your PC's auto updating at the most inopportune moment.

The install media also gives you the ability to erase your PC and do a fresh install (after backing up your data) just bear in mind that the mechanics of how licencing and product keys work in terms of your free entitlement is still unknown present.

My initial "don’t upgrade yet" recommendation still stands unless you are a "tech enthusiast" and either way I highly recommend you take a full "system" backup first see here for more detail.

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digitalwelcomemat to resell a selected few software products

As you know in the past digitalwelcomemat hasn't typically “sold” any hardware or software products and have preferred to keep that at arm’s length to prevent any “possible, perceived conflict of interest” I like to make recommendations free of any perception of favouring a certain product based on profitability, sales volume targets or other benefit for my business.

I hope that by now my valued customers trust my integrity and that I will always recommend the best product for the situation regardless of where it comes from, and I'm just letting you know that I will be reselling a select few software products from now onward.

The reason for this change I have noticed that with a couple of products recently the purchasing experience for customer has been sometimes frustrating and inefficient, particularly with the changeover of Eset NOD32 distributor for Australia so, as a start, I have signed up to be a NOD32 antivirus reseller and will “sell” this product to you directly if you would like to take advantage of that arrangement.

There are another couple of other products which I have become a reseller for as well, both of these are products that digitalwelcomemat has been using in-house and I have been so impressed that I would like to sell these also, more information follow shortly on those.

Please note that in the foreseeable future I will only be providing select software and possibly 3rd party online services as a reseller. Hardware or physical products will still remain on a purely consultative and recommendation basis, additionally if you prefer not to purchase from me that’s fine as well. Based on my reseller profit/volume vs administrative time I am providing this additional service only to supplement my main business income which is providing IT support services.

If you have any questions please let me know.

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Microsoft sway

Sway

If you wanting a hybrid of a PowerPoint presentation and a web site that you can make yourself have a look at Microsoft Sway (preview version) the 2 min video below pretty elegantly describes how it all works and you can have a look at sample “sways” here.

It’s a good way to supplement an existing web site with some great looking user creatable content.

SwayVideo

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Bad email reminder

See the following emails below sent on to me this morning which look legit at first glance. A good reminder to be careful what you click on,  see the link on the bottom one points off to a file stored on the sugarsync service. I don't know what this file does but I'm guessing that its not a great idea to find out unless you want the rest of the day (or week) off work.

Well spotted.

BadEmail1

BadEmail2

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The "best" way of purchasing Microsoft Office for your needs:

Unraveling the best way of purchasing Microsoft Office for your needs, here is a starting point:

Details and prices correct as of 10/03/15, based on $AU, sources:
https://products.office.com/en-AU/buy/compare-microsoft-office-products
http://products.office.com/en-au/business/compare-office-365-for-business-plans

Office 365 Home $12 month - ongoing (less if paid by the year)

5 PC's from the same "household"
Standard suite plus Outlook, publisher and access
**Non commercial use only
Extra benefits: Skype 60 minutes x 5, 1TB Onedrive storage x 5, free upgrades (while you continue to subscribe)

Office 365 Personal $9 month - ongoing (less if paid by the year)

1 PC only
Standard suite plus Outlook, publisher & access
**Non commercial use only
Extra benefits: Skype 60 minutes, 1TB Onedrive storage x 5, free upgrades (while you continue to subscribe)

Office 365 Business $12 month (minimum annual commitment - ongoing)

5 PC's *for that single licensed user*
Standard suite plus Outlook & publisher
Business use
Extra benefits: 1TB Onedrive(?) storage, free upgrades (while you continue to subscribe)

Office 365 Business Premium $13.86 month (minimum annual commitment - ongoing)

5 PC's *for that single licensed user*
Standard suite plus Outlook & publisher
Home or business use
Extra benefits: 1TB Onedrive(?) storage, Exchange based business email, free upgrades (while you continue to subscribe)

Office Home & Student 2013 $169

1 PC
Standard suite (*no Outlook*)
Non commercial use only
Extra benefits: No ongoing costs unless you chose to upgrade in the future

Office Home and business 2013 $265 (street price)

1 PC
Standard suite plus Outlook
Business use
Extra benefits: No ongoing costs unless you chose to upgrade in the future

Office Professional 2013 $599 (RRP)

1 PC
Standard suite plus Outlook publisher and access
Home or business use
Extra benefits: No ongoing costs unless you chose to upgrade in the future

 

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Microsoft Surface Tablet user guide

For anyone who has taken the plunge and purchased the [outstanding] Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Windows based replacement for your tablet and laptop (and desktop if you plug it into a docking station) here is a link to the free 100+ page user guide produced by Microsoft.

http://www.microsoft.com/surface/en-us/support/userguides?category=user-guides

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Looking for a budget laptop for the kids?

HP Stream 13 laptopLooking for a budget laptop for the kids to take to school? Check out the HP stream 13" it’s a low powered laptop in funky colours that runs on an Atom processor which give you great battery life as well as running FULL windows 8.1 so you can install any traditional desktop Windows programs or Windows store apps. That give it a lot more scope for usability than a Chromebook, or a “big-phone tablet” like a IOS or android with a tack on keyboard.

Additionally Microsoft have announced in the last couple of days that windows 10 will be a free* upgrade to windows 8.1 when released (*details to follow).

On the negative site there is no touch screen and it is a low powered device so although you can install full desktop version of Adobe Photoshop or Premiere on it you may not want to edit the next blockbuster movie on this device.

I don't normally recommend budget laptops, your standard department store $300 laptop (complete with 4 year old technology) is certainly NOT my recommendation, but this is not “that”. This is essentially a late model windows “tablet” with a permanently connected keyboard (and no touch screen).

To sweeten the deal it comes with a year’s free subscription to office 365 (MS office 2013, plus some other benefits)

Make your own investigations as to the suitability I haven’t tested it but I have seen some good reviews and from what I have seen it looks fairly robust and if the kids drop it three times in the year you will still have change from $1000 *sad face*.

 

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A Microsoft account?

[Updated 15/01/15] If you have Windows 8 (or a Windows phone) and you want to use Windows to its full capacity including getting apps from the Windows Store you’re going to need a free “Microsoft account”, basically this just equates to a hotmail.com or outlook.com email address, note that you don’t need to use this as your primary email (or use it at all beyond just getting access to the store and logging on to your PC).

Logging on to Windows in versions 8 and later now utilizes a "cloud" based logon name for example This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to tie all the accounts and services to you as the user and also gives you the ability to log on to multiple computers or devices. You can, if you chose, still use a traditional "local account" and in fact I always recommend another local administrator account so that your always covered if you can't logon via your normal account. However if for some reason you chose to set yourself up to use a "local" account initially it will pretty soon convert to a Microsoft account anyway (or at least try) as soon as you connect to various services. That can be pretty confusing so its best to start out the right way from the beginning, so setup your Microsoft account first before you even turn-on your new PC, tablet or phone.

Just a note if you logon in a business setting either via a domain or even peer to peer things are little different. In a domain you logon as the domain user and can then optionally "connect" the Microsoft account to the domain logon, peer to peer needs a bit more planning.

A Microsoft account is basically an email address and password. The good news is you probably already have one. If you use Microsoft services like hotmail.com outlook.com, Xbox, or SkyDrive/OneDrive, the email address and password you already use is your Microsoft account. You don't have to do anything else to get one. Just use that Microsoft account to sign in to your Windows 8 PC, tablet or phone, and you'll get free online storage, apps in the Windows Store, access to Xbox music* (on windows 8). You can also use your Microsoft account to synchronize your photos, documents and files to and from One drive to whatever devices you sign in from, on your phone, laptop, and tablet.

Here is the link to signup if you don't have one already:

https://signup.live.com/signup.aspx

Tips

  • Setting you the account is free however once you have the account setup and if you want to purchase apps for your shiny new PC or tablet then you will also need to add your credit card details (only required if you want apps that cost money).
  • If you do logon with a domain account you can "connect" your Microsoft account to the domain account as well.
  • I suggest you do NOT chose to save all your files to one drive by default, firstly its a bad idea and secondly Microsoft has realized its a bad idea and that concept has been depreciated in windows 10 which is in public beta as of the date this was written. See a screen shot here about where you get asked that question.

 

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Microsoft releases Visual Studio Community

Microsoft released Visual Studio Community edition for free this week. If you ever had the urge to develop software (and the time to learn) the same professional software that cost $800 last week is now available for free. You can use it personally, in a business and even to create software for resale.

http://www.visualstudio.com/en-us/products/visual-studio-community-vs

Visual Studio

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StableBit DrivePool disk software

A more technical article than normal... I have some new software StableBit DrivePool, sort of like RAID (redundant array of independent drives) sort of like JBOD (just a bunch of disks) but without the negatives. Allows you to add multiple drives to the drive pool and then access them as a single drive, D: drive for example. If you have a hard drive fail then you only loose the data on that drive the same way as if you had half a dozen independent drives in the system, but without the drive letter craziness and the inefficiently of that fragmented file space, if you have ever had a RAID system or RAID controller/motherboard fail you will know what I mean.

Also has the following features:

  • Can add drives with data on them already without losing or having to move the data
  • If a single drive gets pulled and inserted into another PC (for example if the PC has a failed motherboard) the files are just in a normal (hidden) NTFS folder.
  • Optional Balancing (optional rules)
  • Optional Protection (duplicate the data but less overall storage space)
  • Easy to add or remove additional drives

Have been testing this on my media centre and its working well I found and extra 100GB that was lost due to inefficiency.

https://stablebit.com/

StablebitDrivePool

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Infringement notice bogus email.

See the email below, this initially had the correct office of state revenue logo which made it look fairly authentic, this is actually a bogus email and clicking on this link would most probably lead to trouble.

One quick "first" check you can do is to hover your mouse over the link (assuming you are on a device that has a mouse) as you can see by the image below its pointing off to a web site quality assignment something...

 

Infringement-Notice

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digitalwelcomemat
More info (not a fix sorry just more prevention warning): https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2014/11/03/gatso-speed-camera-phish-lea... Read More
Thursday, 04 December 2014 19:37
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Microsoft has released the "Microsoft band"

Microsoft has just today released their "band" which appears to be a fitness/health band, watch and notification center for your Windows Phone (Reminders, email notifications, social media notifications, who's calling, weather etc) and it even allows you to interact with the Microsoft Cortana voice activated assistant for taking notes or getting driving directions.

Looks like it also has an app so that it works with phones for people who have a phone from "those other manufacturers" as well but you miss out on some features if you don't have a Windows phone.

I haven't looked into the details yet (like availability dates for Australia), but the following screenshots look interesting and more information is available at http://www.microsoft.com/Microsoft-Band/en-us.

Productivity functionality:

MicrosoftBand1

Fitness and health functionality:

MicrosoftBand2

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What's not a backup?

Just a hint, a backup drive with all the files on is not a backup those backup drives are more susceptible to failure than the actual internal laptop hard or desktop hard drives.

A backup needs to be a second copy of the data.

BackupDriveFailed

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Crypto locker ransomware *BE CAREFULL*

I have had an instance of Crypto locker ransomware today on a client's site, would have been catastrophic if proper backup and disaster recovery practices had not been in place.

Be careful what emails you open, and certainly don't click on any links or open any email attachment files from suspect emails or unexpected emails from organisations such as:

Australia post
Any of the big banks
DHL
Fedex
ATO
Plus others.

Because Crypto locker isn't a virus as such it won't be detected by most antivirus software. This being the case you need to use care in evaluating the legitimacy of any email. Things to look out for are poorly formatted emails, spelling mistakes etc you can also hover your mouse over any links in outlook and get a popup "tip" of where those links point to.

If in doubt call me before opening, viewing clicking or downloading.

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Make sure you chose US keyboard layout

US UK keyboardIf you are setting up a new Windows 8 PC, make sure you chose the US keyboard.

Even though we use UK spelling we us the US keyboard layout, the US keyboard has $ and the UK layout has pounds and Euros plus there are some other changes as well, its quite a pain to change this back so get it right from the onset.

 

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TV [and media centre] retune

If you live on the Central Coast, NSW. Yesterday was the day that you needed to retune your digital TV's set-top boxes and Windows media centre PC's here's is the information site: http://retune.digitalready.gov.au/ and if you have never heard of Windows media centre your missing out! This has been my main TV for 10 years now; record 4 channels at once, skip all the adds and no monthly fee....

MediaCentre2

MediaCentre1

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All my business users want to install [insert software name here]

"All my business users want to install [insert name here] software should I just let them do that."

Firstly you are probably only getting this question because the users can't actually do the install otherwise they would have already done it (most likely). Normal users should not be administrators on their business PC's so that they can't just install whoever software they want and effect the integrity of their nice clean windows install and windows profiles.

Adding to the base windows system setup adds more software to maintain and one more possibility for system compromise or data leakage. For example is a user wants to install dropbox think through the implications of this?

If sensitive business files are going up on drop box is that OK company policy wise?

  • Who are they being shared with?
  • What if that person leaves or is terminated?
  • Is it OK legislatively to store these files offshore (based on Australian privacy law).

There is also the productivity aspect as well obviously software not required for business usage isn't typically installed on a business PC.

Now I know this can get a bit sensitive staff wise especially if you have demoted people from what they were used to and it possibly sounds over the top but I need to give you an idea about "best-practice".

My opinion is that "best practice" dictates a process whereby the user puts forward the "use-case" for whatever software they would like beyond the standard setup to their manager and then if approved at that level it its run that by IT support and finally someone either installs the software (depending on the software) or just enters the administrator password for that user to allow them access for a one time install, sounds like a big deal but should only take 5 or 10 mins to approve a well-known bit of software if it's a good fit.

Alternatively if you really need to you could just give a certain user (and an accounts person is a good example of someone who needs specialised software see my other blog about MYOB) varying degrees of administrative permissions on their computer so that they can do what they need to.

However you need to consider the implications of that, for example even though the manager/director/CEO has the highest level of authority in the organisation and has the administrator passwords anyway they should still not be an administrator on their own PC for safety reasons (malicious software, virus, social engineering etc.).

I know its a lot to think about but its a "plan now or pay later" thing.

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Add shortcuts on desktop in Windows 8

In Windows 8, why can't I find the way to create application shortcuts on desktop? I only see the two options "Pin to Start" and "Pin to Taskbar", and although these two methods are convenient, sometimes I wish to create application shortcuts on desktop, too. How can I achieve this feature?

Solution

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Verify your MS account?

Microsoft appears to have recently updated its security policy's for multifactor authentication and is now forcing you to "verify" which essentially requires you to add a mobile phone number to your Microsoft account then enter the code that has been sent to you via SMS.

This has been a "feature" for added security for quite a while but just this morning I have had three outlook.com/hotmail.com/live.com email accounts that have been unable to send email until "verified". Ultimately it's good to have better security (after all you wouldn't want them to be careless an expose your personal photos and information out on the net right?). This will reduce the amount of spam out there as well but it does impose a 5 minute interruption on you.

As always keep your wits about you when handling this type of request.

Here are some notifications I have received:

OutlookVerify

 

OutlookVerify2

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Welcome:

digitalwelcomemat now has a blog!

Subscribe for the news as it happens, call me for support on 0404 493 770 or access my remote support solution here: http://help.digitalwelcomemat.com/

Digitalwelcomemat provides IT consultancy and services for business customers on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.

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