Posts Tagged ‘#microsoft’

Windows 8, Part II

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis January 5th, 2013

I think Windows 8 may fall by the wayside as another Microsoft “step-child” like Vista and ME.  Evidently they were so desperate to compete with i-pads that they forgot their roots (and loyal customers).  Case in point:  The new GUI, or Graphical User Interface (aka “Metro”) is really nice but falls short for those of us who need to work on a highly detailed screen.  For this we use mouse (or stylus) and keyboard.  You CAN drop back to the old style desktop, but once you get there you’ll find some very important things missing.  The corner Start Button is gone, and if you hover your mouse in that corner you only get the option to return to Metro.  If you find yourself in this quandary, you’ll need to remember some keyboard commands.  The main one is the Start key, which is usually on the bottom left of your keyboard (the one with the Windows logo… see photo).  This will get SOME of the things that you need, but not all.  One of the main things MISSING, once you find the start menu, is the All Programs list.  I’m still looking for a better fix, but in the meanwhile here’s what you have to do;  1) Go back to the Metro screen and 2) do an edge swipe.  When the sidebar menu pops out,  3) Choose search.  If you check the programs box it will show you all available programs.  UGH… REALLY?!  Microsoft, you guys couldn’t come up with anything better than this?!  Come on…   NEXT TIME:  Email, user accounts, and other Win 8  frustrations.

Java, anyone?

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis June 9th, 2012

“What IS Java?!” my customers often ask.  Besides coffee, Java is a programming language, and since 2006 has been licensed and handled by the GNU open-source project.  It’s original intent was to make a streamlined, object-oriented language that would work on any platform.  So you’ll find Java on all kinds of devices from PC’s to smartphones.  Android is a fine example of Java-based software, although Google  broke away and created their own version of the platform.  The language has a rocky history, with Microsoft initially helping Sun Microsystems (now Oracle) push the standards, then later becoming the villain in a dramatic turn about.  When Microsoft was sued by the DOJ for anti-trust practices, Java was part of the lawsuit.  The claim was that they were implementing Java with the intent of eventually destroying it.  Microsoft (MS) settled, and stopped shipping Java with Windows.  Nowadays you have to download it yourself.  Meanwhile MS started pushing .NET as a competitor language.  It’s all based on the C# language core, but the big argument is about open vs. closed source.  MS doesn’t like open-source software.  After all, that’s how they make their money.  So ANY open-source software is a threat to their livelihood.  Meanwhile Sun Microsystems/Oracle has helped foster and grow the Java platform to be one of the most popular and stable languages in the world.  For you, the end users, what’s all this mean?  Well, now you know what Java and .NET are all about.  They help bring your devices to life, with cool apps that are often web-based.  And YES you should update these two whenever prompted.  Sometimes they find security or other glitches that are fixed with updates.  BUT watch out!  The Java install often tries to add some other junk software, like the ASK toolbar for example.  Keep your eye out for a check box to disable this. 

Botnets

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

Zombie BotnetIt sounds like something out of a Sci-fi flick, but it’s real, and it’s high tech crime at its finest.  They’re called Botnets from the original IRC Bot, which was just an automated responder for chat rooms.  But people quickly took advantage of the programming tool, and figured out how to spread the software bug across multiple machines, all the while protecting and propagating each other.  PC’s would be taken over, and then do their dirty work without the owner’s knowledge.  These ZOMBIE computers would then interconnect.   The BOTNET was born.  Have you ever had the Fake Antivirus Warning that tries to get your credit card?   That’s CONFICKER, one of the largest botnets ever grown.  An estimated 1-10 million PC’s have been afflicted with this software disease.  Recently Microsoft helped take down one of the toughest botnets to date.  Read the full article here.

When to update (or NOT!)

Helpful Hints, Warnings | Posted by Dennis April 15th, 2011

People get frustrated trying to figure out when to update which software.  As a rule of thumb, we don’t buy into brand new issues of software until they’ve been out for at least 6 months.  So, for example, right now we’re warning our clients to stay away from Internet Explorer 9.  Microsoft is notorious for throwing their software out there half-baked.  BUT there are lots of cases where you SHOULD update, and that includes normal windows updates, driver updates, other standard security updates from vendors like Adobe, Java (Sun), etc.  WATCH OUT because a lot of times they bundle some crappy package with it, like McAfee Security Scan.  To avoid it, look for a checkbox along the way and UNCHECK IT.  Another good reason to buy new releases of software is for your database(s).  If you have critical business or personal info on a database (like Quickbooks, for example), you should get the new version every 2-3 years to insure that your data gets converted to the latest, greatest.  Otherwise, if you wait too long, you might not be able to upgrade.