Blog and Information Technology Articles and News

(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

Backing up your computer is one of the most important tasks in today’s technology era.  We keep everything from family pictures to super sensitive information (correspondence, passwords, financial and legal documents, etc.) on our computers that if lost could be devastating.  It is important to recognize that at any point a hard drive can be damaged, or for that matter, just quit without warning.  Also consider malware attacks,  especially ransomware, where data can be stolen, locked or destroyed  Just as data is important for your life, it is crucial and time sensitive when it comes to your business.  Loss of client information and records, financial transactions and documentation, planning resources can cripple your progress.. So let’s take just a few minutes to look at some important factors when working out what you need to backup, why you need to backup and a path to start a plan to backup your information. 

BIG HUGE ‘GINORMOUS’ RISK FACTORS: Newer ‘Hard Drives’ – SSD / M.2

Most of today’s laptop computers have a different technology than the old spinning drives.  Once, we had hard drives with platters that if something happened, you could possibly send the drive out and gain back some data if not all.  However, many of today’s computers and laptops don’t rely on hard drives with platters.  Instead, they are a series of chips that have a high storage capability such as 512GB to 2 TB.  These types of drives are not as easily recovered if severely damaged.   These drives also do not have the longevity of hardware that the older drive technology has.

Read more: HELP! My Hard Drive Ate My WORK FILES!
(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

There is a glut of articles on social media out there today. Some talk about the evils and some the gifts of being on social media. Others have listed Social Media as a taboo subject and quickly exit the room when it’s discussed.  When we talk about social media, most folks see this as an interaction between people.  The comments that go back and forth are often passionate pleas, educational discussions or even just bitter arguments.  I’ll leave the psychology of social media posting to experts in that field.  However, from a data perspective, social media is the largest collector of private data in the world and in history.  From the ads you click-on to the posts you read, each element of your personal data helps to build an immense data structure that stores each and every nuance of what you do and then either sells it to individuals, studies it in labs, exports it to buyers or gives access to slice and dice for political or corporate use.

Many of us have anti-virus software on our computers to keep away malicious software that can steal information, damage our computers, inundate us with horrible ads or even ransom the computer.  Let’s face it, computers in and of themselves are so complicated today that most people do not know what information is inside let alone where it all goes.  To actually know if your computer has malware inside it we need programs to run constantly to test it and even then, tools have been developed and released into the public that allow virtually any knowledgeable computer individual to infiltrate a system fairly quickly (see CIA tools release 2016).

Read more: Social Media: The Dark Side of Your Personal Data
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

After the pandemic, most workplaces are going to have a whole new series of tasks that have to be tracked and managed.  From cleaning off surfaces to social distancing to who is in the office on what day, each of these transitional tasks will need some sort of monitoring and tracking to see what performance indicators work best for your companies and non-profits.  Often these tracking applications need to be made quickly and be easy to modify as shifting requirements are met or new requirements appear.

Microsoft Access is the perfect platform to create quick tracking applications for small offices.  From cleaning supplies to scheduling, Access can become a very effective tool for this type of application allowing for flexibility in reporting, data management and evaluation.

However, spending time creating these applications can bog you down wasting valuable time even if you have the expertise. If you require Access expertise, professional development may be well worth the cost in time savings and efficiency. Here are a few helpful easy tips to  get your application up and running as fast as possible whether you are doing the work yourself, or to prepare for consultation with a programmer:.

Read more: Reworking your Office Software after the Pandemic
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

 

Clean Bandwidth is critical to a successful web video conference:  

Over time,  streaming video has improved dramatically. Compression algorithms have enabled the video signal feeds to become more compact as time has progressed.  However, video still takes up a huge amount of bandwidth to be able to run.  The ability to use the maximum bandwidth possible will greatly enhance both your audience’s and your video experience  The higher bandwidth you maintain for your video conferencing, the clearer video and audio will come through for your audience. Here are some ways to readily reduce drain on your available bandwidth  

Closing Web Browser Applications:

Chrome, IE or Edge,  Firefox and Safari use a tremendous amount of bandwidth behind the scenes that can slow down a web conference.  Close as many browser windows (& tabs) that you can.  Often these browser windows may seem like a minor issue when it comes to streaming.  Behind the scenes however they can absorb a tremendous amount of bandwidth

Read more: Tips to Maximize Video Conference Quality for You and Others
(Reading time: 2 - 4 minutes)

 

Getting ready to start your computer equipment at work after the long hiatus can be a challenge for anyone. Here are a 8 tips that can help you avoid damaging your equipment and having a very successful restart with your technology.

 

Plan Additional Time: It's going to take time to restart your office. Time to dust, clean and work through the technology start-ups that are going to happen. The first tip is to plan plenty of time to get your technology up and running. There will be hardware failures, dead batteries, slow networks, dead equipment and a multitude of glitches that are going to happen in the first few days. Planning time around working through the equipment issues will save you frustration and make the tasks easier to complete.

Vacuum and dust:  If you have to dust your desk off, do it before you turn on your computer so the dust doesn’t go into the insides of your computer. Vacuum off your keyboard - after 3 months of sitting in the office, more than likely there will be quite a bit of dust on - and in - it.  

Check for Critters who may have made new homes in your electronics:  It’s always good to remember that after an extended absence, other ‘residents’ may have decided to make a townhouse out of your hardware.  Mice will often go inside printers, copiers to get paper for their nests.  Prior to running your equipment- inspect it to insure no unwanted guests have made a home or shredded some things for a nest. (No kidding!)

Read more: 8 Tips to Get Your Workplace PC Back Online After Quarantine
(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)

You have managed to survive the pandemic so far and you FINALLY have been given the okay to return to work!!!! WOOT! So now it's time to prep on how you are going to SAFELY get your computer files back into your work system.

Employees and contractors who have been on their home systems will need to transfer files back to the work systems upon returning to the office.  Home systems may not have as robust virus and malware checking, so here are some recommended safe practices:

Big “Do Not” -

  • Don’t grab your USB keydrive, copy your files and throw it straight into your work computer! Many of us don’t have adequate virus protection on our home systems.  
    • Be sure to run your home anti-virus on ANY files you are going to transfer.
    • Remember to update the anti-virus program on your work computer FIRST,  BEFORE downloading any files! 

The Updates are coming

Plan on spending a good amount of time waiting for your computer to update prior to using it when you first get into work. (If you have an IT department, they may be able to turn on your system and get the updates accomplished prior to your arrival.)  

Read more: How not to Cyber-Poison Your Office when you Return to Work
(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

As a custom computer software developer and partner in a computer software development firm, the recent reports from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the current cyber-war are quite a concern for those of us doing business on the internet.  If you have a website or have any dealings over the internet that is important to your work, your family or your friends, this article is for you.

As a computer programmer, internet service provider and seasoned computer professional, I monitor the news fairly frequently for the latest threats against our nation’s computer systems. What is alarming is since January of this year, multiple articles have appeared detailing sophisticated attacks against our basic information technology infrastructures, and the counter-attacks by this country, in a war that the general public seem to be completely unaware of.

The recent stories of Iran being behind major cyber-attacks on US Banks, the White House, and the Pentagon, not to mention the 30,000 destroyed computers in the oil industries in the Middle East, are at the least disturbing and alarming to me.

Read more: Cyber Warfare - The Coming Computer Software Storm
(Reading time: 2 - 3 minutes)

America at War- Part 1: Most people think that to be in a war we need to have soldiers on the ground, firing at an enemy across some line where we trade missiles, bombs, rockets, mortars and gun fire in the hopes of forcing the other side to either surrender or die in the attempt.  That is not the way this war works.  We don’t have any footage of a missile going into a bunker, or a truck being blown up on a bridge.  We don’t have reporters embedded with units traveling with them as bullets ring past their positions.  That doesn’t mean that we aren’t in a war.  It just means most people are completely unaware of the battlefield and how it personally affects their everyday lives.

Last week, Dan Coats the Director of Intelligence said the red flashing lights are blinking concerning the Cyberwar that we are in with Russia.  He stated that the warnings were equivalent to a 9/11 warning that we received.  Let that sink in for a moment.  WE ARE AT A WARNING LEVEL WITHIN THE US GOVT. INTELLIGENCE SERVICES SIMILAR TO WHEN WE WERE ATTACK ON 9/11.  Unfortunately, this isn’t radical thinking, nor is it apocalyptic warnings.  This is the reality that we live in today- we are in a Cyberwar and most people are oblivious that it’s happening or what to do about it.

Read more: Cyberwar - America at War- Part 1 - The State Sponsors
(Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes)

Yesterday’s repeal of the FCC landmark Internet privacy protections law has opened a chasm that will now expose the privacy of every person on the web.  As the article in the Washington Post stated today –[The removal of the law] “freed Internet service providers such as Verizon, AT&T and Comcast of protections approved just last year that had sought to limit what companies could do with information such as customer browsing habits, app usage history, location data and Social Security numbers. The rules also had required providers to strengthen safeguards for customer data against hackers and thieves.”  

Why this is so important for each individual:

Imagine you are surfing the web trying to determine what medical illness you have.  As we know, thousands of people search Dr. Google each and every day to determine private medical matters.  Although Google tracks this information routinely, now your neighborhood ISP will have the power to record that search and begin accumulating potentially embarrassing information on you.   Let us say the condition is something you don’t want too many people knowing about.  A hostile individual or company then buys the information from the ISP “for marketing purposes” and then promptly tries to blackmail you, or exposes all the information all on the Internet.

Read more: Privacy for Sale - 3 Ways to Protect your Internet Privacy
(Reading time: 1 - 2 minutes)

As the holiday season has ramped up, so has the online hacking/phishing of accounts that are connected to your bank accounts, credit cards and debit cards.  Reports of the latest phishing for Amazon and Paypal are just two of the ongoing attempts that are used to steal money from your account.  Here are a few tips on how to avoid these phishing scams that you get in an email or text message.

In this day of information overload, consumers often quickly scan an article and make a quick decision.  Phishing scams target those users that don't take special care or slow down to read the actual email.  The more advanced the email, the more text in the email, the more likely the internet user will simply not read what is in it increases the chance that the user will click on the phishing link.

Read more: Stop Christmas Season Account Thieves- Keep your money safe!

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