Telstra offers new contract that allows an upgrade after a year.

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a standard 24 month contract with Telstra that only happens (obviously) every 24 months and in 2 years your phone is so out of date it feels like you're making a call with a baked-bean can and a piece of string compared to what's currently available.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):–-but-you-pay-for-it


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Running Windows with ‘std' rather than ‘admin' rights removes over 90 percent of the risk

administratorRunning 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.

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Use Snipping Tool to capture screen shots

Sometimes the easiest way to make a copy of something is to take a snapshot of your screen - this is what the free Microsoft snipping tool does. If you have windows 7 or 8 then you should have the snipping tool already.
Use it to save and share news stories, movie reviews, or images.

You can capture part or all of your PC screen, add notes, save the snip, or email it right from the Snipping Tool window anything that displays on your screen can be snipped.

Bring up or view the "source" for example a PDF, webpage or other content that you wish to "snip" on your screen and start the windows snipping tool. Within the tool click "new" then select the area that you want to snip and finally save as a jpg or png file so that you can add to your word document, email or wherever else you need it.


Sometimes the simple solution is the best! Want more details? Click here....

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Tips to Help Kick Your Habit of Multitasking(?)

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...



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5 Reasons To Get Over The windows 8 Hype

5 Reasons To Get Over The Hype And Start Loving Windows 8.1 - Forbes:

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What is Windows XP end of support


" 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"

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:

  1. Don't connect this PC to the internet if possible
  2. DON'T Browse the internet on this PC
  3. Don't receive any email on this PC
  4. Don't use this PC at all except for the specific requirement.
  5. Its still absolutely not recommended so more conversation needs to be had if your planning to do this.

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. 

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SkyDrive/OneDrive on Windows 10 (and 8/8.1)

When you install Windows 10 (even with Windows 8 or later) or setup a new Windows 8, 8.1 or 10 PC, as one final part of the setup you will see the a similar image to the one below prompting you to store your documents on OneDrive by default.

I strongly suggest that you don't use this preference. This setting synchronizes all your files up to Onedrive "cloud" storage. which creates unnecessary congestion especially on devices that are used on a cellular (mobile network) connection. Additionally depending on how many files you have you will probably get the Onedrive is full error message and "do you want to buy more space?"

If you would like to use Onedrive for online storage/backup this can be a good idea but to do that you probably want to selectively sync some folders only.




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Upgrade to windows 8.1

How to upgrade to windows 8.1 (the free upgrade to windows 8):


  1. Consider the implications, this in a major operating system upgrade and shouldn't be taken lightly for existing PC's. Installed apps, personal customizations, device driver compatibility among other things can all be protected by taking a simple imaged based backup with a product like Acronis drive image before continuing, continue without backups at your peril. For a new PC that was shipped without the 8.1 update do the update before you install too much software or customize.
  2. Go to the store and see if the update is available (see Images below for the store icon and the "update to windows 8.1" item

Store icon:



Update to windows 8.1:


  1. If the update is not available in the store then install all the available updates for windows restart as prompted and check back in the store. If it's still not there give it a day or so and check back again.
  2. Once the update is available and once you have 3 or 4 hours available when you wont need your PC to install the update form the windows store. Bear in mind that this up to a 4GB download so make sure you have the internet data available to be able to do this without incurring excess fees, plug into mains power and let it go. I suggest you do this at 6pm one evening so that it can download and then you can press install later in the evening and allow it to do the actual upgrade overnight.

One final consideration is that it may prompt you to store your data on Microsoft SkyDrive by default as part of the initialization process, unless you have a particular desire to do this make sure you click no.

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Windows 8 KB shortcuts I


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Australia’s New Privacy Laws (2014)

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.

Happy reading:

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CryptoLocker virus

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:

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Want your start menu back? - Start8 from Stardock!

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.

Their blurb:

The Windows® 8 start menu returns with Start8®! Download the world's most popular Windows 8 start menu.

  •    Add the best Windows 8 start menu to your desktop
  •    Windows 7-styled start menu enhanced for Windows 8
  •    Pin Modern applications to the Windows 8 start menu
  •    Boot directly to the Windows 8 desktop



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Passwords should be unique

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: 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 which is available in a free version or paid if you want the smartphone apps as well ($12 per year).



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Oh yeah "the cloud" is such a great idea...

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."

Read more:


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Windows tablets from 8" - 20"

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.

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Microsoft buys Nokia

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.


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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

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:

  • Streaming via the link in the email (Just click and listen)
  • RSS (subscribe to your personal “podcast”)
  • Phone app (including your Windows phone)
  • Download the MP3 file


There are a few limitations on the free version as follows:

  • 30 Articles per day maximum
  • 4,000 words
  • Random voice gender

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."

Happy listening


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Moving your Windows programs round the screen...

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.


Recent comment in this post
Should have mentioned... this is Windows 7 (or Server 2008 R2) or later only
Wednesday, 21 August 2013 14:18
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1 Comment

Domain registrar, hosting, web site, email and cloud?

I get asked the same questions over and over again by new customers looking to setup a web site and also when the inevitable bills come in for your existing setup. Why do I have 4 or 5 separate bills for internet? Is a common one.

I have created the following diagram which hopefully illustrates the purposes of all the various “services” and approximate costs. Note that not all organisations will have all services but these are some common ones.

If you want the high quality printable PDF drop me an email. I hope this helps, if not let me know and I’ll bring my big black “Texta” pen and draw all over yours next time I see you :-).

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AU vs US pricing

Finaly we get confirmation of what we knew all along...  but will we actually get lower prices?

...parliamentary report into the "price gouging" of Australian technology consumers wants the lifting of restrictions on parallel imports, a ban on geo-blocking stopping Australians wanting to buy goods offshore, and the formal monitoring of IT prices....

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