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Screen cleaner product

MagiKleenI often get asked what product to use for cleaning computer screens, phones tablets etc. Here is the product I recommend along with the information from their web site. This stuff is great I last purchased from Harvey Norman.

(Note: use common sense when spraying liquid onto electrical goods)

http://www.magikleen.com.au/magikleenlcdplasma.html

MagiKLEEN Optical, LCD & Plasma Flat Screen Cleaner

The Best Screen Cleaner on the Market

This product is the Rolls Royce of screen cleaners; we can now claim to be the NO 1, LCD/ Plasma & Flat Screen cleaner in Australia. We sell to most major Retail, Commercial, Government & selected computer stores including Air Services Australia which control the majority of Air Traffic control Towers throughout Australia, they now use our LCD Cleaner to clean their screens after passing stringent quality control guidelines.


Our product is environmentally friendly, completely harmless, non toxic & non-flammable.
It is completely safe on all screens including modern coated screens.
Leaves a streak free finish.
The shelf life of the product is 5 plus years.
Cleans CD & DVD discs & optical surfaces without damaging the surface (cameras, videos, GPS units, glasses etc).
Australian made ingredients.
We have taken out an Australian Patent on the product.
    
MagiKLEEN Optical, LCD & Plasma Cleaner emits with each pump a 125 micron spray (0.125 ml) our unique formula requires only the smallest amount to clean even the most dirtiest screen, unlike cheaper products or imitations that are just soapy water. We sell this product in a kit form. The kit comprises of our patented formula & specially matched cloth. We can then guarantee our product will not scratch the surface it is cleaning.

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Email newsletters starter

email newsletter NetRegistry have a good, simple article on their web site about email newsletters:

"Quick, easy and offering a good ROI, email newsletters are a great way to get in touch with customers. Follow some top design tips to make sure your newsletter hits the right inboxes, tempts readers and gets the clicks you're looking for...."

Go here to read the whole thing, if you need help or details let me know.

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Idle state antivirus scan (NOD32)

NOD32-Antivirus-Box-Shot

NOD32 antivirus version 7 can be set to do a virus scan when the PC is idle (and not on battery power), the previous versions were typically set to scan at a specific time such as 2am on Sunday night (or "on next start-up").

Inevitably "on next start-up" is when you need to use the PC, that's why your starting it up right? So this is why you may get the impression that its frustratingly slow "every time you come to use it" this is because its starting up, doing an antivirus update, windows update, app updates and also an antivirus scan all at the same time. No matter how powerful your PC that's a lot of hard drive activity all at once.

 

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Heartbleed vulnerability

heartbleed3Here is a roundup of the easiest to understand information about the heartbleed vulnerability, read these and you should have a pretty fair idea of the lay of the land.

I have told many of you before but best practice recommendation is NOT TO DUPLICATE PASSWORDS each service should have a unique, strong password that won't fall over domino fashion if there is a breach like this one, and the Adobe one a year or so ago and the Sony PlayStation one before that. How do you manage all these passwords?, well see below the info on lastpass.com. Its free on the PC and minimal cost if you want the multiplatform apps. This is important, consider yourself warned.

Here are the details on heartbleed:

From: http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/382247,heartbleed-memory-bug-leaks-encrypted-data.aspx
Researchers have warned of a serious security bug in OpenSSL that allows encrypted data to be stolen. OpenSSL is an open-source library of SSL/TLS encryption - the transport layer security protocols by which email, IM, and some VPNs are kept secure online.
A bug dubbed "Heartbleed" lets anyone read the memory of systems using vulnerable versions of OpenSSL software, researchers from Codenomicon have revealed. "This compromises the secret keys used to identify service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content," the researchers wrote on a website dedicated to the security bug. "This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users."...

Office 365? Microsoft say this about Windows based products:

Information on Office 365 and Heartbleed: Microsoft Account, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Yammer, Skype, along with most Microsoft Services, are not impacted by the OpenSSL "Heartbleed" vulnerability. [The] Windows' implementation of SSL/TLS is also not impacted. A few Services continue to be reviewed and updated with further protections.

From: http://www.theage.com.au/it-pro/security-it/heartbleed-security-bug-what-can-you-do-20140411-zqtff.html
...that chunk of data might include usernames and passwords, reusable browser cookies, or even the site administrator's credentials. While the exploit only allows for small chunks of data to be dumped each time it is run, there is nothing to prevent attackers from replaying the attack over and over, all the while recording fresh data flowing through vulnerable servers. Indeed, I have seen firsthand data showing that some attackers have done just that; for example, compiling huge lists of credentials stolen from users logging in at various sites that remained vulnerable to this bug.

For this reason, I believe it is a good idea for internet users to consider changing passwords at least at sites they visited since this bug became public (Monday morning). But it's important that readers first make an effort to determine that the site in question is not vulnerable to this bug before changing their passwords.

From: http://www.pcauthority.com.au/News/382523,heartbleed-dont-change-all-your-passwords.aspx
Security experts warn that changing all your internet passwords now could do more harm than good
Security experts are warning users to ignore advice to change all of their internet passwords in the wake of the Heartbleed compromise.

Lastpass password manager:

From: http://www.zdnet.com/worried-about-heartbleed-lastpass-security-check-has-you-covered-7000028367/
LastPass has updated its built-in Security Check so that you can now easily see which sites require you to update your passwords to be safe from possible Heartbleed attacks [and which to wait until they have sorted out their own SSL security first]....

Example screenshot:

LastPassHeartBleed

Lastpass: https://lastpass.com/

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Outlook 2013 "pop-out" replys

Outlook2013

When you reply to a message in Outlook 2010 or earlier, Outlook creates a new message in a free-floating window. When you hit Reply (or Reply to All) in Outlook 2013, your reply appears "inline," above the original message in the viewing pane on the right this works well on a touch screen tablet but on a normal desktop PC not so much.

Many of the message options available in Outlook 2010 aren't available in Outlook 2013, and it's easy to lose track of your reply when switching to other apps, unless you click Pop Out at the top. Pop Out makes Outlook revert to the 2010 behavior.

Solution: In Outlook 2013 Click File, Options, Mail. In the Replies and Forwards section, check the box marked "Open replies and forwards in a new window."

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Word 2013 reading view

Word 2013 reading view (or in most cases "prevent you from reading" view) isn't my favorite 2013 feature, turn it off using these steps:

In Word with a document open: click File, Options, and on the left make sure General is showing. Near the bottom, uncheck the box that says "Open e-mail attachments and other uneditable files in Reading View." Restart Word.

Word2013

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"Server based mail"

Why do you recommend "server mail" what's the benefit?:

Microsoft Exchange (also included in the Office 365 subscription product) is a "Server based mail product" all the mail is maintained and stored on the server.

When using server based mail you start up Outlook, it makes connection to the servers and then synchronizes mail, calendar events, contacts and tasks both ways up and down (from and to your PC):

  1. Changes (new email, moved mail, created folders mark as read etc.) that you may have made in Outlook when you were offline (such as on a laptop or if the server was down) will be sent back up to the server
  2. Changes (new email, moved mail, created folders mark as read etc.) that we made on another computer or via web mail or a smartphone will be synchronized from the server down to your Outlook.

Additionally, Exchange server provides the same premium experience on mobile devices and tables such as Windows Phone and tablets, Android, and IOS.

The huge advantage to this is that all your computers/devices are kept in sync and changes made in one place (such as read and delete actions) will be mirrored to all your devices/access methods.

Isn't this the same as the free IMAP service I can get from my ISP?

If you have experienced IMAP you will have some understanding of how this works but IMAP is extremely limited by comparison. There are a number of other features such as shared folders calendar collaboration, remote wipe for your phone (for lost phones) available in exchange but that's enough information for now.

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How to Guide - How to connect to Exchange/Office 365

See here:

How to Guide - How to connect to Exchange/Office 365

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Microsoft Onenote software now free

Microsoft Onenote software is now free and with auto-sync to your (free 7GB) Microsoft onedrive/skydrive/livedrive online storage. Its a great product for school, uni, work or home notes. You can share between your team or family so that you can all "be on the same page".

Get the apps too so you can auto-sync with your Windows phone and Windows 8 tablet (supports other lesser products also).

http://www.onenote.com/

(or if you want to pay $89 then you can do that also)

OnenoteFree

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MS Office (Outlook) 2013 issues

MS Office (Outlook) 2013 issues:

OK I have spent more than 10 hours of my evenings over the past few weeks trying to resolve issues with MS Office Outlook 2013 running under Windows 8 this was for the home and business version but I believe it's the same for all the new "click-to-run" versions. (Volume licence MSI install versions for business don't have this issue at all and I have been using Office 2013 since it was released without seeing this issue)

Basically the issue relates to accessing and modifying Outlook profiles (accessible via the "mail..." icon in the control panel). This is required in an instance where you have 2 x different mail accounts that you want to handle separately. Technically this issue manifests its self as rundll32.exe error.

I have replicated this issue 100% of the time under multiple (at least 5) different windows 8.1 PC's in different environments including clean installs. I have tested this using multiple different install disks (3) from multiple different suppliers. I have applied all the available patches and fixes suggested by both Microsoft and the IT community have failed 100% of the time.

I have gone round and round and round and round in forums and Microsoft support and I believe that this is a bug in the product that is unfixable by IT support such as myself. Now, this presents a bit of a problem as there is no Office (Outlook) 2010 available any longer.

What to do?

  • Firstly be aware of the issue understand that this will be a pain point and as such will require extra support time to address and is not fully resolvable at all for now, proper planning is required.
  • Secondly there is one and one only work around that I have established and that involves an Office 2013 MSI install disk (serial number not required).

What have I not tested:

  • OEM, Office 365 version or key-card based click to run downloadable versions, the products that I have tested are only H&B retail, however my understanding is that this applies to all click to run versions.
  • Office 2013 on windows 7 not specifically tested but I have observed this working, not sure what delivery methods these were installed by.
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Joomla

As some of you know I recommend Joomla as the basis for your web site. Its a great (and free) product that is used by many huge organizations for their web sites, people such as the United Nations and loads more.

What does Joomla! mean? The name Joomla is a phonetic spelling for the Swahili word "Jumla," which means "all together" or "as a whole".

JoomlaLogo

 

 

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digitalwelcomemat
Thanks Belinda Ill have to find a prize for you for being the first to comment!
Sunday, 23 March 2014 14:56
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Network/infrastructure monitoring

I have had a couple of people asked me lately about network/infrastructure monitoring. So I thought I would share with you a product which I use to monitor a couple of sites including my own internal infrastructure.

Without going into too much detail (and in order to get to the pretty pictures as quickly as possible) the concept behind network monitoring is to add certain sensors to constantly check for issues with servers, printers, routers, wireless access points etc. Conditions and levels are set for warning or full alerts depending on the device or service in question and notifications are sent to relevant staff if these conditions are triggered.

Without monitoring there is often no indication that things are going bad and the first thing that I hear is when all the users are locked out of the server. With monitoring I can see trends or emerging issues and restart a server or otherwise take some other action after hours or at a convenient time and thereby avoid a crisis. This type of product is not a magic bullet but it's a good tool to have and its saved me a couple of times.

Image 1 (below) is a listing of all the monitored objects on the network, note the memory warning on one of the servers:

PRTG1

Image 2 (below) shows the detail for that memory issue, note the yellow "warning' level and the red "alert" level on the graph.

 

PRTG2

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New desktop PC specs

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.

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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):
http://www.itwire.com/your-it-news/mobility/63220-telstra-offers-new-phones-after-a-year-–-but-you-pay-for-it

PhoneUpgrade

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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.

snipme


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...

http://www.techvibes.com/blog/multitasking-hurtings-your-productivity-2014-01-31

Multitasking

 

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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:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2014/01/21/5-reasons-to-get-over-the-hype-and-start-loving-windows-8-1/

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What is Windows XP end of support

WinxpEnding

"...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"

What is Windows XP end of support?
From http://windows.microsoft.com/en-AU/windows/end-support-help

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:
Here http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Windows-XP-support-will-end-this-year-are-you-prepared

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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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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