Category Archives: Technology

Every Day Is Backup Day

There are three non-traditional holidays which I acknowledge. Sweetest Day is definitely not one of them (damn you, American Greetings).

Those three are:

1. March Fourth (a day to celebrate the marching arts)
2. May the Fourth Be With You (Star Wars Day)
3. World Backup Day (TODAY!!!)

By now, you’re realizing that I am a complete and total nerd/geek/dork. Of course, if you’ve met me even once, you knew that already, so, if you are coming to this realization now, then this is most likely the first time you’ve ever heard of me. Welcome to my website, hope you enjoy your stay.

Now, the real reason I’m writing this article is because, as stated earlier, today is World Backup Day. This day is exactly what you think it is – a day to focus on keeping your important data backed up, whether it is on your computer, your phone, your tablet, or some other device which stores information important to you. March 31 is World Backup Day because nobody wants to be an April Fool and lose their data. Being an IT professional, I preach this gospel to anybody I can whenever I can. This is why I say to you that every day is Backup Day!

Here’s how I recommend you backup your data:

3) Keep THREE copies of your data, the original copy on your computer and two backups copies.
2) Your backup copies should be stored on TWO different types of media. You should not backup your data to the same external hard drive, for example.
1) ONE of your backups should be stored outside of your home or office. Thanks to the many different online backup options like Carbonite or CrashPlan, this is easy to do.

It is commonly referred to as the 3-2-1 backup method and is the best way to guarantee you always have a copy of your data no matter what happens. Don’t be like Francis Ford Coppola, whose laptop and backup hard drive were both stolen, resulting in the loss of 15 years of work, including the script he was working on at the time of the robbery. The offsite backup copy is crucial to preventing data loss.

Personally, I back up my data to a Western Digital 1TB external hard drive and to the CrashPlan online backup service. Thanks to the free software provided by CrashPlan, my backups run continuously, ensuring that everything I have is on that hard drive and in the cloud. The cost of the drive is under $100 and is sometimes on sale for as low as $50. CrashPlan’s individual backup service for a single computer is $5/month or $60/year, well worth the cost. The simple fact is that, with all of the photos, videos, and other personal and professional documents we now keep in a digital format, the cost of losing that data is beyond a dollar amount. Start backing up your data today!

Thoughts on Apple and the FBI

Before all of the recent security and privacy hullabaloo between the FBI and Apple, Apple tried to help the FBI. Apple could have recovered the data from the San Bernardino shooter’s phone if it was connected to a known wifi network and allowed to back up to iCloud.

The problem is that the FBI told the San Bernardino police to reset the password on the user account. This prevents access to the backups.

What the FBI asked Apple to do at that point was write a custom firmware update for that phone. It had to be made by Apple and digitally signed by them, otherwise the phone wouldn’t accept it. The firmware would remove the limitation of 10 incorrect password attempts before the phone would wipe itself. They also wanted Apple to remove a limitation to how fast they could enter passwords.

Here are the problems with that request:

1) No matter how careful the FBI or Apple are, there’s no guarantee that firmware won’t get hacked and reverse engineered. Imagine every iOS device made vulnerable because somebody lost their thumb drive.

2) How much time, money, and effort would Apple have needed to develop the firmware hack? That’s not Apple’s job. They’re not a forensics company.

3) One of Apple’s major selling points is their security. By hacking their own security, they severely damage their own reputation and their sales.

4) There are other iPhones in the hands of state and federal authorities. The FBI picked this particular phone because they knew the emotional impact it would have. They wanted to set legal precedent. They failed.

I’m glad they did.

Beware These Facebook Hoaxes

Two Facebook hoaxes are making their regular rounds on people’s profiles today. Before you copy/paste either of those into your status, take a little time to read through these Snopes articles as to why both are false.

The first involves a legal disclaimer users are pasting into their status which is supposed to protect their copyright and privacy rights. The simple fact is no status update, regardless of the legal mumbo jumbo, will override the Facebook Terms of Service we all agreed to when we joined.

http://www.snopes.com/computer/facebook/privacy.asp

The second is the threat that Facebook will require a monthly subscription for users to keep their profiles private. This originally was a trick to get people to a site where they would end up installing viruses and malware.

http://www.snopes.com/computer/facebook/fbcharge.asp

Basically, anything which you see in multiple friends’ statuses should be taken with a grain of salt and a little research to make sure it’s for real.

5 Free Programs To Keep Your PC Clean And Running Smooth

I’ve lost track of how often my clients have told me their computer is “running slow” and ask me to do something about it. Fortunately, you can get your PC running faster without spending money and with just some time to set things up.

1. Antivirus: This is the most important application you will install on your computer as it is your main line of defense from malicious programs running on your PC. I recommend Avast antivirus, which you can download at http://www.avast.com/. Be sure to remove any currently installed antivirus software before installing Avast as multiple antivirus programs can conflict with one another and cause more issues than you’re trying to solve.

2. Antimalware: I won’t go into the differences between viruses and malware applications. Suffice it to say that malware is just as bad for your computer as a virus. Should you get infected, Malwarebytes is the best application to get the infection off. You can download it at http://www.malwarebytes.org/. You have to manually run the malware scanner with the free version but it’s still a very useful program.

3. Program Removal: Some programs, while neither a virus or malware infection, still need to be removed if they are programs you don’t use and/or significantly slow down your PC while running in the background. While Windows has a built in program remover, I recommend using Revo Uninstaller, which you can find at http://www.revouninstaller.com/. The benefit of Revo Uninstaller is that it will scan your PC for any leftover files and registry entries which the built-in program uninstaller missed.

4. File/Registry Cleanup: Your PC builds up files from surfing the Internet and running applications and services. Many of these files are temporary files which aren’t needed shortly after they’re created and can be removed safely. The easiest way to do this is with CCleaner from http://www.piriform.com/. CCleaner will scan your PC for any temporary Internet and system files and delete them from your computer. CCleaner will also remove any orphaned registry entries from old applications you no longer have installed on your PC. Both will speed up your PC’s performance and give you more space on your hard drive. Run CCleaner every two weeks for the best results.

5. Web Browser: A lot of people use Internet Explorer for web browsing because it comes with Windows. The problem with IE, though, is that it is not as secure as it should be as it is a part of Windows and can give outside attackers access to your computer. Internet Explorer doesn’t always follow Internet standards, causing some websites to load strangely when you go to them. The best way to fix both problems is to get an alternative web browser. My recommendation is Google’s Chrome browser (http://www.google.com/chrome/). Chrome is lightweight, fast, and secure. You can also add functionality and security to Chrome with many free applications and extensions available from Google and other third party developers.

These five programs will go a long way towards making your PC secure, speedy, and svelte.

iOS 6 Review

For Apple fans around the world, this week is about as close to an international holiday as a non-religious event can get. The fun starts this Wednesday, September 19, as the latest iteration of the iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad operating system, iOS 6, is made available for public download. As with each previous release of the OS, iOS 6 promises many new features and one interesting omission. I have had the chance to load the Gold Master of iOS 6, which is pretty much the final version of the operating system released to developers, on my iPhone 4 and have been playing with it for the past few days, so I can give you an idea of what to expect when you pull the trigger and upgrade your iDevice in the near future. Continue reading iOS 6 Review

My Own Private Idaho Cloud

Remember when networked computers in a business meant everybody worked on “dumb” green screen terminals? They were dumb in that nothing actually ran on those devices – all the work was handled on a mainframe or server which these terminals tied into. We’ve come a long way since then thanks to the personal computer revolution. The terminals people worked with gradually became fully functional PCs, replete with their own suite of software and tools. That central server became multiple servers, each handling specific tasks or services, yet allowing the PCs on the network more autonomy.

Today, the buzz is all about the cloud, which, in a sense, is a hybrid of the terminal/mainframe and the client/server models. More and more functionality has moved off of the PC and into that nebulous realm depicted on network charts as a big puffy white or gray area of unknown size. Thanks to the cloud, users have access to so many applications, services, and data as never before. Businesses are now taking advantage of cloud technology, utilizing “private clouds”. Think of it as the server farm of the 21st century where businesses make their tools and data available to their users outside of the walls of their offices.

If you’re an IT specialist, how do you keep up with these advancements and show your current and potential employers you’ve got what it takes to help guide them into that great private cloud in their sky? Fortunately, Microsoft certifications have come to the rescue. Building on the current MCITP Server Administrator certification, Microsoft is beta testing a new certification designed for administrators who want to support cloud technologies. This certification, Private Cloud Certification, is one which will definitely give IT professionals a step ahead of the rest of the crowd.

Want to know more? Just click on the links above or head to the Microsoft Learning website to find out about all of the certifications Microsoft has to offer.

How To Transfer Contacts From An Android Phone To A Yahoo Account

One of my high school classmates emailed me recently with a question regarding their contacts on their Android phone. He keeps his contacts in his Yahoo account and wanted to know if there is a way to import his phone contacts to Yahoo. Fortunately, there is an easy way to do this.

As Android is Google’s mobile operating system, one of the first steps new Android users take when setting up their phone is to set up a Google account, if they don’t already have one, then associate that account with their phone. This is very convenient as your phone automatically syncs just about every piece of information you enter on the phone, including your email, calendars, photos, AND your contacts. This is great news if you want to get your contacts into another web account like Yahoo as you don’t even need to do anything on the phone to make it happen.

Here’s what you do:

1. Go to http://mail.yahoo.com and log into your Yahoo account.
2. Click on the Contacts tab.
3. Click on the Import Contacts button.
4. Click on the Gmail button.
5. In the fields provided, enter your Google account username and password.
6. Check the box to grant Yahoo permission to access your Google contacts and click continue.
7. Select the contacts you wish to import and click the Import button.

That’s it! Your phone contacts now also appear in your Yahoo account.

Kevin’s $5 Of Fun – Fallout: New Vegas

You need to jump on this one fast as it expires in just four hours from when I’m posting it.

This week’s $5 of fun recommendation is the PC game Fallout: New Vegas. It received a Metacritic rating of 84 and is normally $20 so be sure to jump on this if you’re a fan of first person shooters and post-apocalyptic stories.

I’ll write up a review once I’ve played the game myself.

Order the game through Steam.