Free Windows 10 Upgrade!

Windows 10 is set to launch on July 29th.  Many of you may have already been “notified” of this by seeing a small icon in your task bar area (if you are currently on Windows 7 or 8).  The notification shows up in the lower right corner of the desktop.  See below:Windows-10-free-1940x1090Some of the questions that users have been asking are being answered by Microsoft.

1st.  Since the upgrade is downloadable and free, can it be reinstalled for free?  In other words, if an upgraded PC crashes, can a fresh install of Windows 10 be installed?

The answer is YES.  An ISO version of Windows 10 will be available to save to your PC a CD or a thumb drive.  According to Microsoft, once you have downloaded your version, it can be reinstalled to that device at any time in the future.

2nd.  Are Windows 10 upgrades standalone copies or do they require a previous version of Windows to be re-installed

This question has some history.  In the past, when you purchased an upgraded copy of Windows, it was required that a previous version of Windows be installed or at least that the user had the previous version disk if they needed to reinstall the latest version.  With Windows 10, the upgrade is a standalone version, meaning if you ever need to reinstall, no previous version is required.

The negatives, if you can call them that:
> The upgrade will be free if it is performed within one year of release.
> Enterprise versions of both Win 7 & 8 are excluded from the free upgrade.

Here are what the Upgrade Registration screens look like.

Win10-1

Simply enter your email address and you’ll be notified when the upgrade is released.

Win10-2

Win10-3If you would like to know more about Windows 10 and whether or not its right for you, give me a call and we can discuss your individual situation.

 

 

Joke Of The Day

laughA man flying in a hot air balloon suddenly realizes he’s lost.

He reduces height and spots a man down below. He lowers the balloon further and shouts to get directions, “Excuse me, can you tell me where I am?”

The man below says: “Yes. You’re in a hot air balloon, hovering 30 feet above this field.”

“You must work in Information Technology,” says the balloonist.

“I do” replies the man. “How did you know?”

“Well,” says the balloonist, “everything you have told me is technically correct, but It’s of no use to anyone.”

The man below replies, “You must work in management.”

“I do,” replies the balloonist, “But how’d you know?”

“Well”, says the man, “you don’t know where you are or where you’re going, but you expect me to be able to help. You’re in the same position you were before we met, but now it’s my fault.”

Bill Gates and God

bill gates   Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and Bill Gates all died in a plane crash and went to meet their maker.

The supreme deity turned to Al and asked, tell me what is important about yourself.

Al responded that he felt that the earth was the ultimate importance and that protecting the earth’s ecological system was most important. God looked to Al and said, ” I like the way you think, come and sit at my left hand”.

God then asked Bill Clinton what he revered most. Bill Clinton responded that he felt people and their personal choices were most important. God responded, ” I like the way you think, come and sit at my right hand”. God then turned to Bill Gates, who was staring at him indignantly.

God asked “What is your problem Bill Gates?”

 

Bill responded ” I think you are sitting in my chair”

Microsoft to Accelerate Release Pace For Windows 10 Preview

Windows-10It’s taking considerably longer than some members of the Windows Insider program expected, but Microsoft appears to be on the verge of releasing an updated Windows 10 preview build. And this time, the company says, it’s serious about picking up the pace.

For those already in the preview program, the Fast ring is about to accelerate. The new update will be delivered automatically, via Windows Update, on PCs running the Windows 10 preview and configured for the “Fast” ring.

If the new build appears in update channels tomorrow (Friday, March 13), it will arrive exactly seven weeks after build 9926, which was released January 23 following a holiday break of more than two months.

That is a much more conservative release pace than most Microsoft watchers expected. In a post announcing that January release, Aul called that gap “the longest you should expect to see with the program… We’ll get new builds out faster moving forward.”

This week’s detailed explanation of how the preview build release cycle works included a frank acknowledgment that the Windows 10 schedule hasn’t lived up to that promise so far this year. “[W]e’ve probably been too conservative about pushing builds to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders,” Aul admitted

The marquee feature in the next Windows 10 build is the long-anticipated Spartan browser, which was demoed briefly at January’s big unveiling but has yet to make its first appearance in a publicly released preview build. Spartan uses a heavily forked version of Microsoft’s Trident rendering engine, known as EdgeHTML. It’s intended to be the new default browser for Windows 10, with Internet Explorer relegated to legacy duty.

This update should also show off some changes to the Start menu and Cortana. The Start menu, which was completely rewritten in XAML for the last preview release, is due to add transparency and more personalization options. Cortana will be integrated into the Spartan browser, but details of other changes are scant at this point.

There’s no word on whether the next build will incorporate the new Mail/Calendar/People app, (which Microsoft demonstrated back in January), as well as promised changes to the Music app. The biggest change in Music is the addition of digital locker capabilities to allow access to personal music libraries via OneDrive.

The new update will be delivered automatically, via Windows Update, on PCs running the Windows 10 preview and configured for the “Fast” ring. The update will be delayed on PCs set to use the “Slow” ring.

According to Aul, Microsoft “could feasibly get multiple builds out in March rather than just one.” But that faster pace comes with bigger risks: “The reality is that faster builds to you will include more bugs, and so far we’ve erred on the side of stability.”

For anyone who decides to stay in the Fast ring, the message is clear: Get ready for a bumpier ride.

Shellshock Virus Poses Risk For Apple Computers

fajb_shellshock_02_sep2014A computer bug which could allow hackers to take control of hundreds of millions of devices all over the world has been discovered, forcing governments to take immediate steps to protect their critical infrastructure.

The security flaw, dubbed “Shellshock”, was found inside a piece of software called Bash, which is used by Apple’s Mac operating system as well as Linux systems and internet servers relied upon by governments, banks and the military.

Last night, cyber-security experts suggested that people should stop using their credit cards for online purchases until a solution to the bug, which has existed for more than 20 years, is found and distributed.

The UK’s national cyber-security response team, Cert-UK, has issued an alert to all government departments stating that the Shellshock flaw carried the “highest possible threat ratings… for both impact and exploitability”. The US National Cyber Security Division gave it a score of 10 out of 10 for severity and a complexity rating of low – meaning it is easy for hackers to exploit. Cert-UK added that it should be “assumed” that many government computers and other devices would be vulnerable to the bug, adding: “This will inevitably include organisations that are part of the critical national infrastructure.” Many industrial control systems, from power plants to traffic light systems, rely on Bash software to function. Cyber analysts said last night that authorities must act immediately to close the loophole, pointing out that within hours of it being discovered, hackers had started exploiting the flaw, posting videos of their exploits online. Although software “patches” have already been distributed to deal with the problem, they are not thought to be fully effective.

Professor Alan Woodward, a security researcher from the University of Surrey, said more than 500 million websites and hundreds of millions of devices all over the world, including wi-fi routers, may be vulnerable to the Shellshock bug. “The thing that’s concerning me most is that we don’t yet really understand how it can be exploited,” he said.

“What we’re going to see over the next few days is people working out how to exploit this, and you’ll start to see different types of attack. Is it that they can syphon off all sorts of sensitive data? Can they steal people’s passwords? We don’t know yet – the attacks are being developed as we speak.”

David Jacoby, senior security researcher at internet security firm Kaspersky Lab, said: “The vulnerability is not targeting individuals, but servers hosted on the internet. This means that if, for example, your favorite e-commerce or banking website were vulnerable, the attackers could, in theory, compromise that server and gain access to your personal information, including maybe banking information.

“It’s very difficult to say exactly what platforms might be vulnerable and might have been targeted, but I would recommend that you do not actively use your credit card or share a lot of sensitive information for the next couple of days, until security researchers have been able to find out more information about this situation.”

Shellshock was initially compared to the “Heartbleed” bug reported in April, a web encryption flaw which went unnoticed for more than two years and could have given hackers access to an unlimited array of customers’ secure data.

But Kasper Lindegaard, director of research at computer security firm Secunia, said the bug inside Bash was far more dangerous. “Heartbleed only enabled hackers to extract information. Bash enables hackers to execute commands to take over your servers and systems. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg so far,” he said.

A spokesperson for the Cabinet Office said the Government’s computer security advisers were attempting to tackle the problem.

“Cert-UK is working with partners and industry to ensure that organisations are able to patch their systems as soon as possible. Government is also working to ensure that its own systems are secure,” they said.

Hewlett-Packard To Split Company

hplogoHewlett-Packard is splitting itself into two companies, one focused on its personal computer and printing business and another on technology services such as data storage, servers and software, betting that it can drive faster sales growth with more-focused operations.

Hewlett-Packard, like other PC makers, has struggled as customers shifted toward smartphones and tablets and away from desktops and laptops. It also has been shifting its services business toward cloud computing opportunities as fewer customers opt for traditional data storage. The company has posted revenue declines in 11 of the past 12 quarters and laid off tens of thousands of people in recent years as it attempts to cut costs.

HP hopes that the two units will be worth more separately and be able to grow more quickly apart than they can together.

The planned breakup follows other big companies that have spun off business units in order to drive growth. EBay Inc. last week said it would spin off its fastest-growing segment, payment service PayPal, into a separate publicly traded company.

HP first considered breaking off its PC unit back in 2011, but decided against it. CEO Meg Whitman, who has been leading the company’s turnaround for the past three years, said Monday that HP has now shored up its business enough to support the split.

“The best tactic to continue the turnaround journey is to position HP as two great new companies,” she said in an interview with CNBC. “Before a few months ago we were not in the right position to do this.”

Whitman said the split will give the two companies “the independence, focus, financial resources, and flexibility they need to adapt quickly to market and customer dynamics.”

There are numerous reasons why HP would want to divide the businesses, including the slowdown of the PC market since the iPad debuted in April 2010, says Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Brian White. While the PC market has shown some improving trends this year, separating into two companies gives HP the option to sell off one or both businesses if an attractive offer is made, he wrote in a note to clients.

HP’s announcement may be coming now partly because the stock market has been supportive of spinoffs of late, says Jim Suva of Citi Investment Research. Also, the company’s stronger balance sheet, stable PC margins, improving services profits, better financials and completion of the more difficult parts of its restructuring efforts played a role in its decision to act now, he said.

During its most recent quarter HP reported revenue of $27.6 billion, a 1 percent annual gain. It marked HP’s first year-over-year increase in quarterly revenue since late 2011. Printers and computers contributed 51 percent of the company’s quarterly revenue, with the rest coming from technology services like consulting, software and financial programs.

The PC and printer business will use the name HP Inc. and retain the blue and white logo. The services business will be called Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Whitman will lead the Enterprise business and serve as non-executive chairman of HP Inc. Current PC and printer chief Dion Weisler will be CEO of HP Inc.

HP is expected to complete its latest round of layoffs, between 11,000 to 16,000 people, this month. Total job cuts will now stand at 55,000, up from a planned 50,000. In her interview with CNBC, Whitman left open the possibility for further layoffs as the separate businesses determine their cost structure going forward.

The split, if approved by the company’s board, is expected to close by the end of fiscal 2015. Once complete, HP stockholders will own shares of both companies.

IMAP vs POP – Which E-Mail Protocal Is Best For You

email logoIf you are using an email program to read your email, something like Outlook or Thunderbird, you may have heard of pop or imap and wondered what they mean and whether or not you should care.  They are abbreviations for “protocals”.  POP stands for “Post Office Protocal” and IMAP stands for “Internet Message Access Protocal”.

POP is a “one way” process, whereby your email program downloads the email to your local computer and phone and then is generally deleted from the server to keep storage space low.  Originally server space was limited and expensive, so POP was ideal to maintaining that.  Today, it isn’t as important or costly, so a lot of email providers have huge, if not unlimited storage for emails.

IMAP allows for bidirectional email management.  If you read an email on one computer, when you access it from another it will show as read.  It also allows you to sync all sent and saved folders so you have access to them from all connected devices.  IMAP is the perfect choice if its important to have phones, and multiple computers all synced and kept up to date in terms of your email.

Either way, call me and we can discuss the perfect email solution for you.

Quickbooks 2014 Upgrade Issue

quickbooksSo you’re upgrading from a previous version of Quickbooks to Quickbooks 2014.  If you’ve done this in the past, you know the drill.  Install the latest version, let it update and remove the older version, then open up your company file and let the new version backup and then update the file to the latest version.  Normally, this process goes through without incident.  But sometimes things don’t go as smooth as they should.

A couple things can be done to avoid frustration and worse, a corrupt company file.  First, instead of allowing the latest version of Quickbooks to uninstall the previous version, it might be better to keep both versions until you have converted all your company files.

Second, make a backup of any and all company files to be opened and updated in the latest version of Quickbooks.  Do this in the previous version, as its a much more reliable method than allowing the upgrade process to do it.

Lastly, it might be a good idea to also do a Data Verification (through the Utilities menu) before backing up and upgrading.

As always, I am here to help if things go terribly wrong!

Public WiFi Security Tips

public-wifi-security-concernsHere’s how you can protect your information when using Public Wi-Fi:

  • When using a hotspot, log in or send personal information only to websites you know are fully encrypted. To be secure, your entire visit to each site should be encrypted – from the time you log in to the site until you log out. If you think you’re logged in to an encrypted site but find yourself on an unencrypted page, log out right away.
  • Don’t stay permanently signed in to accounts. When you’ve finished using an account, log out.
  • Do not use the same password on different websites. It could give someone who gains access to one of your accounts access to many of your accounts.
  • Many web browsers alert users who try to visit fraudulent websites or download malicious programs. Pay attention to these warnings, and keep your browser and security software up-to-date.
  • Consider changing the settings on your mobile device so that it doesn’t automatically connect to nearby Wi-Fi. That way, you have more control over when and how your device uses public Wi-Fi.
  • If you regularly access online accounts through Wi-Fi hotspots, use a virtual private network (VPN). VPNs encrypt traffic between your computer and the internet, even on unsecured networks. You can get a personal VPN account from a VPN service provider. In addition, some organizations create VPNs to provide secure, remote access for their employees. What’s more, VPN options are available for mobile devices; they can encrypt information you send through mobile apps.
  • Some Wi-Fi networks use encryption: WEP and WPA are common, but they might not protect you against all hacking programs. WPA2 is the strongest.
  • Installing browser add-ons or plug-ins can help. For example, Force-TLS and HTTPS-Everywhere are free Firefox add-ons that force the browser to use encryption on popular websites that usually aren’t encrypted. They don’t protect you on all websites — look for https in the URL to know a site is secure.
  • Take steps to secure your home wireless network as well.

HeartBleed Bug – Massive Security Flaw

heartbleed1It’s been a while since there was a computer security bug we all had to worry about.

Unfortunately, it seems like we may all have been facing one for two years and not even realized it.

Yesterday, security researchers announced a security flaw in OpenSSL, a popular data encryption standard, that gives hackers who know about it the ability to extract massive amounts of data from the services that we use every day and assume are mostly secure.

This isn’t simply a bug in some app that can quickly be updated. The vulnerability is in the machines that power services that transmit secure information, such as Facebook and Gmail.

We’ve put together the following guide to the so-called Heartbleed bug for those who want to understand what all the fuss is about, and how they can protect themselves.

What is the Heartbleed bug?

Heartbleed is a flaw in OpenSSL, the open-source encryption standard used by the majority of websites that need to transmit the data that users want to keep secure. It basically gives you a secure line when you’re sending an email or chatting on IM.

Encryption works by making it so that data being sent looks like nonsense to anyone but the intended recipient.

Occasionally, one computer might want to check that there’s still a computer at the end of its secure connection, and it will send out what’s known as a heartbeat, a small packet of data that asks for a response.

Because of a programming error in the implementation of OpenSSL, the researchers found that it was possible to send a well-disguised packet of data that looked like one of these heartbeats to trick the computer at the other end into sending data stored in its memory.

The flaw was first reported to the team behind OpenSSL by Google security researcher Neel Mehta, and independently found by security firm Codenomicon. According to the researchers who discovered the flaw, the code has been in OpenSSL for about two years, and using it doesn’t leave a trace.

How bad is that?

It’s really bad. Web servers can keep a lot of information in their active memory, including usernames, passwords, and even the content that users have uploaded to a service. According to Vox.com’s Timothy Lee, even credit-card numbers could be pulled out of the data sitting in memory on the servers that power some services.

But worse than that, the flaw has made it possible for hackers to steal encryption keys — the codes used to turn gibberish-encrypted data into readable information.

With encryption keys, hackers can intercept encrypted data moving to and from a site’s servers and read it without establishing a secure connection. This means that unless the companies running vulnerable servers change their keys, even future traffic will be susceptible.

Am I affected?

Probably, though again, this isn’t simply an issue on your personal computer or your phone — it’s in the software that powers the services you use. Security firm Codenomicon reports:

You are likely to be affected either directly or indirectly. OpenSSL is the most popular open source cryptographic library and TLS (transport layer security) implementation used to encrypt traffic on the Internet. Your popular social site, your company’s site, commercial site, hobby site, sites you install software from or even sites run by your government might be using vulnerable OpenSSL.

According to a recent Netcraft web server survey that looked at nearly 959,000,000 websites, 66% of sites are powered by technology built around SSL, and that doesn’t include email services, chat services, and a wide variety of apps available on every platform.

So what can I do to protect myself?

Since the vulnerability has been in OpenSSL for about two years and using it leaves no trace, assume that your accounts may be compromised. You should change your online passwords, especially for services where privacy and security are major concerns. However, many sites likely haven’t upgraded to software without the bug, so immediately changing them still might not help.

The researchers who discovered the flaw let the developers behind OpenSSL knew several days before announcing the vulnerability, so it was fixed before word got out yesterday. Most major service providers should already be updating their sites, so the bug will be less prevalent over coming weeks.