Archive for November, 2011

3G vs Wifi

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis November 30th, 2011

Ok, so there’s a LOT of confusion out there about 3G vs Wifi.  (I’ll ignore 4G for now, since not all cities have it yet, but it’s just a step up from 3G).  You can buy tablets right now, including the i-pad, that have either of these.  ALMOST ALL OF THEM have Wifi.  But if you want 3G, you pay extra.  First you’ll pay more for the device, but THEN you ALSO MUST have a cellular provider, like AT&T or Verizon, connect the device.  It’s just like setting up a new cell phone, and costs about the same.  It allows you to use the device wherever 3G is available, even moving down the road.  The speeds are just mediocre; that’s why everyone wants 4G instead.  But Wifi is already much faster (up to 300 Mbps).  The problem with Wifi is that it is localized.  It depends on having a wireless router.  So you can have it at your house, for example, and the library, and the airport, etc. as long as you are within at least 300 feet of the router.   But each time you move, you must reconnect to a new network.  If it’s secured, you also need the PASSWORD for that network.  Lately it seems like there are less and less free Wifi Hotspots available.  I was really ticked off the last time I stayed at a nice hotel and they wanted to charge me extra for Wifi.  :-(  Anyway, I hope this clears up some of the misconceptions. 

Sleuthing

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis November 29th, 2011

One of the things I love about my job is solving puzzles.  Sometimes they’re obvious (to me) but other times the problem is a real head-scratcher.  I just had a tough job where a law office had two routers, one for an internal network, and another as a public access point.  After I finally got a new router set up, neither one would do WiFi!  After pondering awhile, I figured out that it was Radio Interference.  See, WiFi works on a 2.4 Ghz radio frequency.  If you have two of them side-by-side, the waves will collide with each other and mess things up.  The solution?  I used channel 1 on the first router and channel 11 on the second and TA-DA!  No interference.  Sometimes the Physics degree really comes in handy.  😉  If you’re having trouble with a WiFi signal, check to be sure there are no other sources.  Wireless (land-line) phones are also 2.4 GHz, and can cause your WiFi to drop.

Cyber Monday

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis November 28th, 2011

Black Friday.  What a nightmare.  Seriously, you couldn’t PAY ME enough to go shopping the day after Thanksgiving.  After what I saw on the news, and the people I asked who DID brave the shopping madness, it’s just not worth it.  Most people didn’t get the deals that were promised.  The only way you got those were to camp out and be the first in line.  See, it’s a bait and switch game for retailers.  They just want you in their store.  So they stock a few items for a great deal, but those disappear quickly.  Then you’re stuck buying what’s left.  On the other hand, I LOVE online shopping.  I can compare prices in minutes, and have the stuff on my doorstep within a few days.  Right now I’m eyeballing the Sony SGPT112 Tablet.  I’ve been watching these devices for a long time, hoping that one will rival the i-pad 2.  This is the one, I think.  I’m going to bite the bullet and try it.  Looks like the wife will be getting a new tablet for Christmas!  (SHHHHH…).  The tablet is on sale at Target for $500, but it’s the 16 Gb version.  For this price they are throwing in about $100(?) worth of accessories.  But I like the Amazon deal better.  I can get the 32 Gb version for $514, with no accessories.  I’ll buy those later.  You can’t add more internal memory, so I want the most possible.  Meanwhile this swanky little unit ships with Android Honeycomb.  Since we’re both used to the Android OS, it will make it a cinch to drive.  I’ll keep you posted on how this turns out.

Another Email Warning

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 24th, 2011

There’s yet ANOTHER virus-infected email passing around out there.  This one looks like it’s from the US Postal Service and wants you to click a link to check delivery status.  DON’T CLICK it will infect your PC.   This type of hoax will probably be prevalent during the holiday season as online shopping picks up.  Be EXTRA CAREFUL about email that seems to be from the major package carriers.  USPS, UPS, Fed-Ex, etc have all, at one point or another, had this type of spoof tarnishing their names.  If you REALLY need to track a package, go directly to the site and plug in the tracking number.  Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Office Backup

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 23rd, 2011

I’ve discussed lots of ways to protect your data, but there’s one I missed.  If you have a lot of Word, Excel, or Office documents, there’s a slick feature in Office that you can use.  I’ve already told you about the Outlook add-on that will back up your email file, but this is about the OTHER parts of Office.  If you look at the options for Word, Excel, etc. in the SAVE section there is an option to save AutoRecover info every X minutes.  You can decide how often it does this.    The same section allows you to make local copies if you are using a network storage location.  These options can help a lot if you lose your latest draft for some reason.  Here’s a complete rundown on retrieval options for Office 2007 on the Microsoft site.

WIN 7 Versioning

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 21st, 2011

Remember what I said about changed files?  How, for example, an Outlook file stays in place, so emails you delete are simply GONE?  That’s true, but the new Windows 7 has a way to help.  If you have a scenario like this, perhaps even a draft of a document that you changed for the worse, there’s a new thing called RESTORE PREVIOUS VERSION that’s only available in Windows 7.  It was designed for this type of problem, so that you can go back in time to retrieve files that might have otherwise been irreversibly damaged or changed.  These are ONLY CREATED WTIH RESTORE POINTS or windows backups.   You can restore previous versions under Control Panel, System Protection.

Thanksgiving

Uncategorized | Posted by Dennis November 18th, 2011

As we approach one of our nation’s great holidays, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on the things we have, and what others don’t.  There’s a great PowerPoint floating around out there called LighteninginaJar.ppt that is pretty thought-provoking.  It made me wonder, and look up some statistics.  (see picture).  We are SO fortunate in North America that 4 out of 5 people use the internet.  If you compare that to the whole planet, only 1 of 3 people have this luxury. See detailed stats here.   In the last 10 years I can only remember ONE time that I went without it for more than a week.  It was Tulsa’s Ice Storm of 2007, and I can remember feeling lost.  I was so hungry for information I would hover by the radio waiting for a news broadcast.  We have LOTS to be thankful for folks.  Enjoy your holidays!

Deleted Email

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 17th, 2011

Email is a whole different story when it comes to deleting.  First of all, it depends on HOW you do your email.  If you use WEBMAIL, you are looking at items that exist in THE CLOUD.  So somewhere out there, on a server, all your mail is stored.  Whether it’s Yahoo, Hotmail, or Gmail, someone else has control of your stuff.  Some of them have a way for you to save a local copy of email as EML, PDF or other formats.  This is a good thing to do if it’s important because  if you delete it from the cloud, and then remove it from the Deleted Items folder, you will probably NEVER get it back.  They don’t offer any kind of back up or retrieval services on the freebies.  MAYBE on a premium account, but these are expensive.  On the other hand, if you use a local email routine like Outlook or Windows Live Mail, your backup can help.  But you should be aware that Outlook and some others store all your stuff in one great big file (for Outlook it’s called a PST file).  So if something gets deleted from inside this file (and removed from Deleted Items), it’s difficult or impossible to restore.  Unlike a file deletion, there’s no bits left that show it existed AND the PST file still exists, without the content you lost.  This is why it’s CRITICAL to back up your PST file if you use Outlook.  Note that Microsoft has an add-on that will automatically back up your PST when you exit.  You can get it here.  NOTE:  Another Ball Dropped by E-how.  They claim you can find your deleted Outlook mail by looking in the Recycle bin!  This is just plain WRONG, and silly.  Shame on you guys!

Deleted files

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 16th, 2011

Sometimes we make mistakes.  It’s pretty easy to accidentally delete a file.  Of course, windows can help right away if you check your Recycle Bin (or Deleted Items in email).  But what if those are gone, too?  This is one really good reason to BACK UP.  But if you don’t have a backup, what then?  TURN OFF YOUR PC and CALL a PROFESSIONAL.  We have tools that allow us to find and restore deleted files, but the longer you run Windows, the less likely we’d be able to get it back.  See, when a file is deleted, just the first part of it is lopped off.  The rest remains intact until it’s written over.  The longer you run Windows, the more likely that space will get written over.  Note that there are forensics tools that the FBI and other labs use that can retrieve many layers of the magnetic writes.  It’s a lengthy and sophisticated (thus Expensive) process though.  If you WANT to totally remove sensitive files, then use a software SCRUBBER.  It erases, completely, and many times so that this type of retrieval is much more difficult if not impossible.

Email alert

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis November 15th, 2011

VIRUS WARNING:  There’s an email circulating out there that will send you to an infected site.  SUBJECT – ACH Transaction Canceled.  FROM – The Electronic Payments Association.  DO NOT click the link!  The site is infected and will take over your PC.  This one almost got me because I had just made an electronic payment.  Luckily my antivirus (ESET NOD32) blocked access to the web page.