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Buyer beware

Buyer beware... good one Harvey Norman..

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Lies, damned lies and "The Cloud" - Part 1: Cloud accounting…

Lies, damned lies and "The Cloud" - Part 1: Cloud accounting… 

[Warning opinion ahead, your mileage may vary] 

In 2004 I bought QuickBooks accounting, as I recall it was $350. It's still going strong for me and I don't have a reason to change. Admittedly I am a micro-business and I don't pay wages and have to worry about all that. I just had a look at Xero online accounting I watched their introductory video, looked pretty good although they do get a penalty for overuse of the word "beautiful". 

Then I had a look at the monthly fee $50 per month. Let's calculate that out $50 x 12 months x 11 years that's $6600 (plus another $6600 for the next 11 years). No thanks cloud I'm fine thanks with my less beautiful product from 2004. 

Definition of "The cloud" 1: A way of taking something that you would otherwise "purchase" and making you "subscribe" to it while costing you 20 times as much (and counting), but it is "beautiful" and you do get some nice extra features.

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Australia post malware emails

Beware the current run of Australia post malware emails, see below (this one is not really from Australia post). Remember to hover over the link in Outlook with your mouse before you click, in the screen shot below the link goes to a Russian web site: I expect is some sort of ransomware. Click on the link below to see the full post...

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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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Buying office 2013

When you are purchasing MS Office its always been the case that if you purchase the OEM version with the computer (original equipment manufacturer version) the software is locked to that computer and can't be transferred to another new computer when it gets replaced. If you spend sometimes as little as $5 more and purchase the retail version from Officeworks or your local computer store you can install that on your new PC when it comes up for replacement time.

Remember that you can only install retail version software on one PC at a time, there are lots of other purchasing options if you need something different.

Microsoft had a go at changing that licensing for office 2013 but then pretty quickly changed back to what we have traditionally had in the past see here for more details on that:

Office2013XfertoNewPC

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PC insurance policy

PC [system software] insurance policy:

  1. Basic PC documentation
  2. System backup on USB (using acronis True Image: http://www.acronis.com/en-au/personal/computer-backup/)
  3. Backup software boot (start-up) disk
  4. Attached to PC so you have it when you need it

PC Insurance Policy

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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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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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NBN compatible router?

[Note the information below is relevant to Fibre to the building only, this article is due for a rewrite]

Seeing as neither myself or a single one of my customers has access to that mythical telecommunications product the Australian NBN I haven’t bothered about this in the past. However I was specifically asked a modem/router future compatibility question a couple of days ago and I did some brief investigation and came back with this information, I have highlighted the main thrust of the info below:

Bit.com.au says this:

http://www.bit.com.au/News/346918,what-does-nbnfibre-ready-really-mean.aspxhttp://www.bit.com.au/News/346918,what-does-nbnfibre-ready-really-mean.aspx
An “NBN/fibre-ready” router means that the model [has] a Gigabit Ethernet WAN port, which allows for fibre or cable connections.

PC Authority says this:

http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/291953,the-nbn-what-router-will-you-need.aspx
In an NBN equipped household the NTU effectively takes the place of the modem that you would currently use for ADSL or cable internet. This means the death of the commonplace modem/router hardware – moving forward you'll just need a router to spread internet around the home. At a base level this means that ‘NBN ready' modem routers have the capacity to disable the ADSL modem and take an internet signal directly.

The potential issue with such devices is that the hardware is designed around low ADSL speeds and may not actually cope with the demands of the highest end 100Mbit down / 40Mbit up NBN speeds. If you aren't going with this high end plan then router performance is less of an issue, but it is best to think of an ‘NBN Ready' ADSL modem/router as a transitional technology at best.

TPG have a good diagram here:
http://www.tpg.com.au/images/NBN-Equipment-Quick-Ref.jpg

I also found this useful FAQ on the NBN:
http://www.warcom.com.au/blog/wireless-router/nbn-in-australia-and-nbn-ready-routers/

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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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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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digitalwelcomemat
Note you cant do a VSS snapshot on the drive pool with this product (for backup for example). That's a real pain and limits the pr... Read More
Monday, 12 March 2018 15:08
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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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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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