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New phone anyone?

 Is it just me or did we just cross over into insane. Meet the new Samsung galaxy 10 phone, makes your next new PC look cheap.

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URGENT ALERT: If you receive an email that links to this web page do not enter your details

URGENT ALERT: If you receive an email that links to this screen do not enter your details. A customer has reported that they have received an email containing a link which brings them to a fairly convincing but bogus Microsoft office 365 logon. Once they did that their email account was compromised and used to send spam.

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Don't get scammed, hover before you click...

Don't get scammed, hover before you click...

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MS Office 2019 released

Microsoft Office 2019 has been released and will be [may be] the default version that is installed if you do a new install from the Office 365 portal. Yesterday I had my first PC which automatically received the forced update from the 2016 version of office 365 to the 2019 version.For subscription based MS Office the startup splash screen has, for some time, just indicated that its "office 365" and not 2016 version or otherwise. This is the case with office 2019 as well, its "software as a service" and you just get the latest versions fixes, updates and new versions (regardless if you want them or not). So you may not initially notice much of a difference.


For Office 2013 standalone (perpetual license) applications you won't get upgraded at all, if you were to want to upgraded you would need purchase the next Office 2019 standalone package or more sensibly now subscribe to office 365. The reasoning for that recommendation is below.

Now that the new version is out, that pushes Office 2016 to the "old version" and 2013 to "the really old and nearly forgotten version". Microsoft has a habit of only supporting the current version and the one before only so I am expecting that at some point office (Outlook) 2013 will stop working with office 365 mail.

No action is required just now but any new installs, significant changes or investment in time needs to bare all of this in mind, its fairly complex once you start talking about MS office in a business environment.

Microsoft has said here: https://products.office.com/en-au/office-system-requirements

Office 365 is designed to work with the latest browsers and versions of Office. If you use older browsers and versions of Office that are not in mainstream support: Microsoft won't deliberately prevent you from connecting to the service, but the quality of your Office 365 experience may diminish over time.
Microsoft won't provide code fixes to resolve non-security related problems.
See the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy site for Office mainstream support dates."

Office 2013 *is* out of mainstream support.

However, as I have already blogged about here. In 2020, Microsoft has specifically said it will block non subscription based Microsoft Office products from accessing Office 365 mail.
I do notice that on this page https://products.office.com/en-au/office-system-requirements they appear to be saying that they will in fact allow office 2016 and 2016 perpetual (Non- subscription) to access office 365 mail. I don't know if that's a softening of their stance or not.

"Effective October 13th, 2020, Office 365 services (e.g. Exchange Online, SharePoint Online) will only support Office client connectivity from subscription clients (e.g. Office 365 ProPlus), or the following Office perpetual clients: Office 2019 and Office 2016. See the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy site for Office mainstream support dates."

However regardless of the above statement being carried through or the policy being changed (again) I think it's time to move to subscription based. Say goodbye to 7-10 years of MS Office for $169 per PC, it will now cost you around AU$10 a month* (or AU$840 for 7 years) per user. On the flip side you do get 5 MS office installed FOR THE LICENSED USER (not purchase one user and install it for 4 of your other staff), so you can have full function MS office on your PC, laptop, phone, tablet and other PC.

One thing to bear in mind is that Office 2019 will only install on Windows 10, if you have any Windows 8.1 or 7 PC's the new 2019 version will not install, we had the same pinch point situation with Office 2010 and office 365 mail.

So that may mean a new MS office update, triggers a new MS Windows install, which may trigger a new PC as well depending on how sensible it is to invest time in an old windows 7 or 8 PC hardware. Roaming Windows profiles won't roam between Windows 7/8 either so that triggers a need to recreate and reconfigure roaming profiles for all staff if you upgrade windows version.

Roaming Windows profiles between different versions of MS office:
If you have roaming user profiles in your office to allow users to seamlessly move between PC's bear in mind that office (specifically Outlook) won't properly roam between different PCs that have different versions of MS outlook.

Microsoft access 2019 run time is now available free for those of you who have custom access databases I haven't invested any time in testing it yet but this open the gateway to being able to use the latest version of MS office *and* the access runtime.

This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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Roaming user profiles known issue

There is a Roaming user profiles known issue that Microsoft describes as follows: 

On a computer that's running Windows 10 Version 1803, you experience logon or logoff delays when you use roaming user profiles. You also receive the following error message: Your roaming profile was not completely synchronized. See the event log for details or contact administrator".

https://support.microsoft.com/en-au/help/4340390/roaming-profile-was-not-completely-synchronized-error-and-logon-logoff

If think you are experiencing this issue please let me know.

This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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UPS?

 Today would be a good day to consider if all your servers and PC's are protected by an uninterruptible power supply (UPS), more detail here:

https://www.digitalwelcomemat.com/index.php/home/entry/every-pc-deserves-a-ups

No UPS = unmitigated serious risk of catastrophic hardware failure and data loss in the event of a power surge or sag.

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MS Surface *Pro* with 4G

The Microsoft Surface Pro is now available with built in 4G as an option. Just grab an extra shared sim card and no more need to worry about shared Wi-Fi or hotspot when you're in and out of the office. This has been available on the low powered Atom based Surface [Standard] previously but this is new for the Surface Pro which is a full powered PC just like a laptop. (12.3" screen)

Although Surface starts AU$1,199.00 inc GST, sadly it's only the at AU$2,199.00 model that has 4G for now. (Special pricing for eligible students, parents and teachers is available on all models).

https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/surface/devices/surface-pro/overview


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Microsoft office 2019

Microsoft office 2019 which will be released later this year, as the traditional one-off purchase model or via office 365, will require Windows 10. 

It won't install on Windows 7 or 8. 

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Internet vs Local IP address

Normally I try to keep my posts here not too technical but I am getting this question a fair bit so here goes:

IP addresses on a local network vs "my" IP address on the internet simplified into one "easy to understand" diagram.

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"Microsoft is readying multi-session support for Windows 10"

 Tech journalists have been reporting in the last few days that:

"Microsoft is readying multi-session support for Windows 10 [for remote desktop/remote access]
Microsoft looks poised to add a new Multi Session option to Windows 10, likely this fall, which will allow IT to provide multiple users with remote access to desktops/apps without relying on Windows Server [for that role]…"

http://www.zdnet.com/article/microsoft-is-readying-multi-session-support-for-windows-10/

More information as it comes to hand later in the year, at the end of the day its really all about the total licensing cost so we will have to see if there is any real change for business.

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Migrate to the NBN then... snip

Take away message: Find out when your traditional phone services are being cut off due to the NBN and take some action well before then.

NBN Co which is (from my understanding) the new owner of the Australian cabling network that once was owned by Telstra have been saying as follows since the rollout of NBN has begun:

"Homes and business have 18 months to migrate to the NBN once it is available to them, after which traditional copper and cable services in the area are severed — cutting off fixed-line phone and internet access."
https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/device-compatibility/services-that-will-be-switched-off.html

You can check your address here (https://www.nbnco.com.au/connect-home.html) and you may see advice similar to as follows:
"The disconnection process for the old phone and internet network in this area is scheduled to begin on July 2018"

You can also find additional information about timing via the Telstra wholesale website which has some downloadable spreadsheets searchable by suburb.
https://www.telstrawholesale.com.au/nbn/nbn-rollout-schedule.html

For some information on what will be turned off the following web sites list services that will be cut of or need to be considered:
https://www.acma.gov.au/Citizen/Phones/Landlines/The-NBN-and-you/phone-and-internet-disconnection-schedule
https://www.finder.com.au/nbn-copper-cut-off

What will be turned off?

  • Home/business PSTN landline phone services
  • All ADSL, ADSL2 and ADSL2+ Internet services from all providers
  • Telstra BigPond cable Internet services
  • Optus cable Internet and cable phone services


"As well as phone and Internet, it's important to consider other services running off the old copper-based network that will be affected after the switch-off date. These include:"

  • Medical alarms, auto diallers or emergency call buttons
  • Security alarms
  • EFTPOS or health-claim terminals
  • Monitored fire alarms
  • Lift emergency phones
  • Fax and teletypewriter devices


Of most concern for most businesses is the phone lines and existing phone system. Note that you almost universally do NOT need to purchase a new phone system or sign a new contract with Telstra to maintain your lines regardless of what Telstra the sales people may tell you. In fact with the Telstra demotion from network owner and maintainer to "Just another player in the marketplace" I would suggest that Telstra may not be the best provider for phone line services going forward (mobile services excluded from that statement).

Once the NBN has rolled out and your phone lines have been converted, phone calls will be made over the internet. In reality you should not notice any difference you can typically use the same phones or phone system that you have now.

For your existing phone system (PABX) you will need to look at getting a SIP gateway device, which is similar to a set-top box when we moved from analogue to digital TV. Once you have this in place, the new phone lines connected, and the number(s) transferred over. Your old phone system should be able to make and receive calls just as you always have but using SIP or Voice Over IP (VoIP) as the underlying technology.

If you do need or want a new phone system for whatever reason a more sensible approach to replacing a system where the concept hasn't really changed much since the 1970's, is a virtual PABX. There are a number of significant benefits to this and it will probably work out a *lot* less expensive upfront and ongoing.

I will be contacting all of my customer individually to discuss this further.



This blog post has been provided for the benefit of digitalwelcomemat IT customers.
Treat this information as informative only and do not take actions or make decisions on the basis of the information contained here. All IT decisions and actions should be made after consultation with your chosen IT professional taking into account all the of the relevant factors.

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Data leak monitoring

I have been asked many times about data leak monitoring and protection for organisations. The most common enquiry is concerned with employees taking organisational data when they leave. Up until now I haven't had a solution that I have been able to recommend that would be feasible for small business from a cost and complexity perspective.


There is a new product available that looks promising. It is able to monitor and/or protect data leakage via email, USB backup drive, cloud uploads and also monitors other undesirable activity's using the organisations computers that can be indicative of an emerging problem.

If this is something that you are concerned about please let me know and we can discuss further.

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Laptop purchase price vs satisfaction index

Laptop purchase price vs satisfaction index; Although this *is* an accurate indication of my experience in terms of feedback received, this information is meant to be taken as tongue-in-cheek. Make your own investigations and consider your own unique needs and preferences and don't rely on this information for your purchasing decisions.
 

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Office 365 support scam (suspected)

If you receive an unexpected support request or offer for help from "Microsoft" its probably a scam. Here is one of the more sophisticated ones, so much so that I cant tell without detailed digging if it is or isn't a scam (well I have a pretty good idea). This content was contained in an attached PDF.

If in doubt don't click, so I have taken my own advice.

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Windows 10 Fall creators update available now

The Windows 10 Fall creators update is available now if you don't want to wait for the staged automated install .

For a single PC just go to the following web site and click "update now". If you have multiple PCs you can also create an install disk either on USB or ready to burn to DVD.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

This will need to be done from an administrative account and I suggest you plan to let it run overnight. As always make sure you have good backups if you store data on the PC that's getting updated.

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711 million unique email address and passwords released on the internet

Be on the lookout for anything unexpected in your inbox after 711 million unique email address "Many containing passwords" have been made freely available on the internet in the last few days. This is being reported as the largest documented data dump to date. This data can be used in a variety of ways.


Worth mentioning a couple of important security practices:

  • DON'T REUSE PASSWORDS for different services, otherwise if www.sarahsmuffins.com.au gets hacked because Sarah doesn't know much about security then the bad guys will get access to all your accounts on the entire internet. Consider a password manager like LastPass or RoboForm.
  • Don't just click on links in emails, at least hover first to see where the link goes, if its an email from Telstra and the link is to www.getyourvirushere.com then don't click. If you are unsure just don't click it at all. Phone or email the sender from a new clean email seeking more details.


Details are here:
https://www.troyhunt.com/inside-the-massive-711-million-record-onliner-spambot-dump/

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"Telstra" phishing email

 "Telstra" phishing email. don't click. ALWAYS "hover" before you click...

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NBN 100/40

 When you log on to work remotely and your connection speed is 34 times faster than it was yesterday you know its going to be  a good day...

Good quality 100/40 speed FTTN NBN is a wonderful thing even if you are a long way out of a metro area. (Exetel in this case)

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Router reset?

Just like the IT crowd (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2F1rFmyQmY) sometimes the solution *is* turning it off and on again and that applies to the modem router as well.

We sometimes use various phrases to say shutdown and restart, phrases like; Reset, restart, power cycle or reboot. What is meant by all of these is restart or, shutdown wait a few seconds and then start-up again.

What we DON'T mean is reset the device to factory defaults either via a hardware button or via the web interface.
By the way even if Telstra tells you to do a factory reset don't do it then either unless the helpful level 1 Telstra tech support person is planning to drive to your home or office to re-set it up for you.

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Metered connections on Windows 10 post Creators update install

Metered connections on Windows 10 post Creators update install:

For Windows 10 Users on tablets and laptops that connect via phone hotspot or other "low download quota" services you need to be aware that there has been a change in the way that Microsoft handle windows updates over "metered connections"

This page tells us that: 

"A metered connection is an Internet connection that has a data limit associated with it. Cellular data connections are set as metered by default. Wi-Fi and Ethernet network connections can be set to metered but aren't by default. Some apps might work differently on a metered connection to help reduce your data usage. Also, some updates for Windows won't be installed automatically." 

As you can see by the description and by the screen shot below, some updates will still be downloaded even over a metered connection. This is a change from previous versions of Windows and may cause you consume more data than expected especially if you use multiple PCs connected to your "low download quota" service. 

You need to be aware of this and ensure that you have enough download quota to cope with the demand.

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

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