I see DEAD data…and other scary things!


In the Spirit of Halloween, I came up with some photos from our portfolio of cabling work from past years where we were brought in to fix or clean up a mess. Trust me, some of these are SCARY not only to the clients who owned them but to us while we untangled the mess in most cases blind to what can of crazy we were opening up.

First up the one we liked to call “The drape of death”. This particular job has more than 200 connections and none of the labeling was correct. On top of that, the slightly touch to one single cable could potentially disconnect dozens more. We had to do the whole job in 48 hours with a crew of 4.

Cable Drape

Next up, “The Rainbow Connection”. Normally different colours are used to identify categories of equipment. In this case, they just used whatever patch cables they had regardless of length or type. With over 100 devices connected, it took 8 hours to sort through it all.

Rainbow

This next one is called “The precarious perch”. Most of the equipment was not secured and was balanced and teetered on the shelves with the cables themselves used to restrain things from falling. Most of it had fallen previously on employees of the company.

Cabling Mess

“Hiding in the closet” was another one where nothing was secured and only balanced on a shelf in a closet that was accessible by everybody including cleaning staff getting the vacuum cleaner(see red handle).

Scary Closet

The last one I call “The cursed cement pumpkin” because it sort of resembles a pumpkin face. After specifically dealing with an electrician to install conduit and access boxes for cabling, we came to the jobsite to find our cables literally buried in cement damaging them beyond repair. I didn’t know there was a mob hit contracted out on our poor cables.

scary box

It is amazing to us to find almost an unlimited selection of crazy cabling situations for clients who never thought poor cabling could be related to poor network and internet performance. Now that’s scary!

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Yup..Must Have!


From time to time, we come across new gadgets and technologies that awake the geek in us. For some it is always about having the latest and greatest, for others its about the uniqueness of a particular item, but in generally the common theme is…MUST HAVE!

Our first item, is one I have purchased myself and have relied on frequenty. It is an external USB battery pack for charging your phone, laptop or tablet. I have the slightly older version which provides 13500mAh of power; enough to charge my smartphone 8-10 times without charging the battery itself.

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At Amazon.com right now for $52, it is a steal!

New-Trent-PowerPak-Shockproof USB Battery

Our next favorite item is a wireless mini keyboard that can be used on any computing device but works particularly well for people who have computers or TV smart boxes for thier media. Its small, easy to use and replaces any wired or bulky traditional keyboard and mouse combo.

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mini-wireless-qwerty-keyborad-with-mouse-touchpad-built-in-laser-pointer

And last but not least, my personal favorite, a usb rechargeable flashlight:

eb77_usb_charging_mini_flashlight

http://www.thinkgeek.com/product/eb77/

It retails for $8 USD, what a deal!

Talk to one of our consultants if you have any questions or would like more details on any of the information presented here.

If you liked this article check out What is SSD and why should I consider it?

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Apple and iCloud security and the lack of it


A big shout out to Ars Technica for doing the work to research this after last week’s iCloud breach and continuing it after the breathless Apple hype for their new(ish) devices.

If you have an iPhone, iPad or even one of the newer iPod’s you need to read this and consider the methods recommended for securing your device. It is FAR too easy to an even casually determined attacker to breach the iCloud right now. Apple is working on this, and their new iOS will be better, but that doesn’t save people on other devices.

http://arstechnica.com/features/2014/09/ipwned-mining-iphones-icloud-for-personal-data-is-terrifying-simple/

It isn’t hard to secure your data, though it might add some extra layers to how you get to it, but in the end its worth it. Don’t think “oh no one would ever attack me!” You have more worth for your data then you can imagine. Take the steps now to beef up your security.

And then…consider switching to a more secure platform. Seriously.

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Microsoft Jumps to Fix AppStore Fakes


Well it only took four years. As much as we like the MS Surface at FMCN, the Windows Store has been a major problem since its inception. We posted a story a few weeks back about the problem with scam apps. Well it appears the OS giant is finally realizing that they need to fix this if they want to ever even come close to competing, or being in the same breath, with Google and Apple.

http://winsupersite.com/mobile-devices/microsoft-belatedly-moves-fix-windows-app-store

I’d still be careful for a while yet on this one.

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The difference between good and bad cabling – Part 2


Our second video about the difference in quality cabling.

I talk about the difference between cat 5e and cat 6 cable as well as the difference in brand and copper. There is a reason why people can charge $50 for a run versus $150 and you pay for what you get.

As always, visit www.fixmycomputernow.com for any questions.

If you liked this video, check out The difference between good cabling and bad cabling – Part 1

or

Why you should NOT let your electrician run your data cabling!

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“Why shouldn’t I buy a Mac?” – an opinion from the trenches


A few weeks ago, I had a client greet me without a hello, just this question. I stared blankly at her for a moment. The client laughed and explained that she wanted a new laptop, and her boyfriend wanted her to buy a Mac. As her tech, she wanted me to tell her all the reasons why she shouldn’t.

Now full disclosure: it is well know that I am not a fan (that would be Jason here at Fixmycomputernow.com) of Apple, for a host of reasons. Some of them aren’t even all that logical or defensible. When it comes to my clients though, I do try to set that aside and give them the best “computing from the trenches” advice I can. So when a client asked me that question…I explained why she shouldn’t buy a Mac.

I talked hardware. I talked power. I talked price. I talked upgrades.

Four simple things that I think Apple gets wrong on every front.

Think my bias gets in the way of judging this? Take a read of this review of the latest low-end iMac via ArsTechnica. If you want to accuse them of having a bias, you really need to do more reading of tech sites:

http://arstechnica.com/apple/2014/07/1099-imac-review-lose-50-of-your-performance-to-save-18-of-the-money/

This sums up everything wrong with what Apple puts out in its hardware. It’s overpriced, underpowered, nearly impossible to do the most basic of upgrades, while using the same basic hardware as its competitors.

Yes, an iMac uses the same Intel chips, motherboard designs and memory of a Windows system. The system in the above review is a basic i3, low-end chipset, nothing special in the hardware other than it being the “all-in-one” style that iMac’s tend to be. If we were to take a price-comparable Dell all-in-one PC, you’d find the Dell has a larger screen, a more powerful processor and actual upgrade options to it.

This is probably my biggest issue with Apple: upgrades. The Mac can’t have its most basic features upgraded over time. At all. On any PC, the first thing any tech will recommend as an upgrade as it ages is to add more memory. This alone can extend the life of a computer that may have been purchased on a deal with less than optimal memory, but it’s a useful upgrade under any circumstance.

On the reviewed iMac? Forget it.

I honestly can’t think of any good, consumer useful reason to do this. The only advantage there is to this is to Apple itself. It forces shorter lifespans of their own devices, forces you to replace entire units when small components break, and forces you to buy into their obsolescence plans for their products.

If you think about it, this actually runs through their entire product line, not just the iMac. On their famous mobile products, the iPad and iPhone, there are a host of features not available at all, that any competitor offers. Want to change the battery on your own? Nope. Want to add more storage with a cheap SD memory card? Nope. Want to attach a USB device for just about any reason? Nope.

Now look, I know that Apple fans will think I am simply trolling here, but let’s be fair. I am not, for one minute debating Apple’s various operating systems. Those are a matter of personal preference and I acknowledge that in certain circumstances Apple does have the best OS. If you truly love the OS, then you will most likely look past all of the above and not give a lick about any of those issues.  If someone makes that request of me though, I am going to be honest in my opinion and warn them that other techies will differ.

“Why shouldn’t I buy a Mac?”

It isn’t complex. You pay more for the name on the front, while getting less actual functionality inside.

This is a comment that is sure to piss off a lot of readers. To those I ask a question related above. Why can’t I expand the storage on an iPad or iPhone when every other smartphone and tablet of any other maker can do it. Why would any computer maker solder easily upgraded components into the computer (and I fault companies like Lenovo for making models of their own all-in-ones that can’t be upgraded either). Why do you pay more for anything Apple just because of the logo on it (same goes for anything with Sony on it mind you)?

Answer me that. Until then, I’ll keep giving my 15 years of computing in the trenches reasons for not buying a Mac.

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Microsoft Windows Store Is Polluted With Scamware And Microsoft Doesn’t Seem To Care – HotHardware


No surprise here. Microsoft was the last to enter the app store type market and their criteria for allowing items on the store is obviously flawed and rarely monitored.

Microsoft Windows Store Is Polluted With Scamware And Microsoft Doesn’t Seem To Care – HotHardware.

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Mac tricks you may not know about : theCHIVE


Who says we don’t like helping our Mac clients out?

Mac tricks you may not know about : theCHIVE.

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PSA: Backup Early, Backup Often | Geeks are Sexy Technology News


A compelling video from a little girl who discovered “delete”.

PSA: Backup Early, Backup Often | Geeks are Sexy Technology News.

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Malware increasingly targeting virtual machines, study says


More and more servers and remote clients are moving to virtual machines and the threats of malware and exploits are adapting to that change. Here is an interesting article from Intronis (our backup provider) about some of the details and stats on the subject.

Malware increasingly targeting virtual machines, study says.

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