Dangers of Computer DIY

Recently we have been involved in a DIY SOS project in Peterborough (Children in Need) and this got me to thinking….

Many of these TV programs have to fix either bad work of bad builders or bad DIY projects. The same is true of the IT industry, we often have to fix DIY disasters, sometimes the reality though is we can’t! Although we spend many years training and are always learning and improving our skills, it seems that many with no understanding will just ‘Google’ their problem and apply the first ‘solution’ that comes up, whether it be pertinent or not!

Have we become so blasé with computers, we believe that skills are no longer needed? Now I am talking about skills that users should have, but perhaps ‘I haven’t got time to learn’ (how to save my data ). A typical scenario goes like this…..

Computer plays up, Google solution, first person says, sounds like malware, run your recovery disks. User duly does, then realises never backed up, PC now working fine, but all the pictures, company accounts, list of customers, contractual documents and emails are now—– (Shock, Horror, Arrgggghhhh) GONE.

Angry Person in OfficeUser now Googles ‘data recovery’, downloads first program found, installs and finds there is no data, then they bring it to us.

Yes, we have had this, the problem being that the re-install has written all over the Office and personal documents and pictures. The installation of a recovery program is just compounding the issue. If you ever believe you have lost your data NEVER NEVER NEVER go on internet, download programs or copy anything onto your computer, everything you do makes the data recovery harder and very soon, impossible. Data is stored in areas of the disk, as soon as another program or file uses the same storage area, your data is smoke alarm level, totally unusable blackened toast.Burnt toast

The moral? Ask a professional, or learn – you really have not got time to make that sort of mistake. I mean, you do not have the time to do it wrong. Another moral, never fix your PC when angry!

If you want any information on how we can help recover your data, help you with backups (on-line and local) then just just Tweet me @Ask_Ken or pick up the phone (01480 469019) and ask me!, or if the email isn’t toast, then sales at ktscomp.co.uk. Or click here contact KTS

This could save you time, money, your job, your business and your marriage (or perhaps your wife might not be upset because you have erased all pictures of your children).

 

Posted in Ask Ken, Backup and Archiving information, Security | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Ring the Changes

Should you change for the sake of change?

While visiting the Gadget Show Live last week, it occurred to me that there are so many things to choose from, so many innovations, so much ‘stuff’ that its becoming harder and harder to make the right decisions about how to get the best from your IT.

The pace of change is increasing all the time and grabbing the next new thing in order not to be left behind may not always be the best course of action. Our business is all about change and its our job to keep up to date with the latest version of everything so that we can advise you about the things you need to know and the things you can ignore.

For example, we’ve been hearing quite a few grumbles about things not working properly when people make the switch to Windows 8. From a business perspective,   my advice would always be to let any new operating system settle down and get its bugs fixed before adopting it. You don’t have to jump right in and become part of the testing process! This just wastes your valuable time.  (We can still supply Windows 7 computers for your business and help you make the switch if you need to when 8 has stabilized.)

With so many new things on offer you can’t keep up to date with everything and still spend time running your business so let me do that for you – that’s *my* business!

In 2013 we’ll be flagging up things that you can do every week to make your IT work better and help you to make more profit. You can hear me every week on my IT slot on local radio and ask questions and take part in discussions on our LinkedIn Group, or, when in doubt just Tweet me @Ask_Ken or pick up the phone (01480 469019) and ask me!

Coming up in 2013:

  • Windows 8 review
  • AVG CloudCare update
  • Keep taking the Tablets
  • Anti Malware – is it important?
  • Security how to’s
  • Looking after Lovely Laptops
  • Could dual screens save you time
  • Does size matter?
  • Answers to your IT questions – just @Ask_Ken
Posted in Ask Ken | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

AVG Feels the Need for Speed on New 2013 Anti-Malware

It’s always exciting seeing new products, in fact it’s one of the highlights of this industry. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a webinar on the new 2013 AVG range of products (6th September) and was very impressed. Amazing changes to whole range, but not yet implemented on the business range which are still on 2012.

Apart from a snazzy new set of boxes (although the AVG logo is still the same) and a new interface, very metro style, there are many changes. Taking the interface first, this is clean, obviously designed with Windows 8 and tablets in mind, it is easy to navigate and layout seems obvious. The big icons will make it easy to handle with fat fingers on touch screens. Overall, a nice improvement, although the more techy among you will not like the fact that the ‘advanced’ controls are buried, but how often do you need access to the ‘advanced’ section.

Can you believe, AVG have been in business 22 years, that’s 5 years more than KTS Computers Ltd. That shows that they listen to their customers, in fact one of the comments they have taken on board is that customers don’t want anti-malware getting in the way of working, or slowing us down. So with that in mind they produced more than just a new ‘current’ interface on an old product. which is why the interesting changes for us are under the bonnet. For those that like statistics the following are just for you!

  • Improved detection rate
  • less false positives
  • up to 36% faster scans with AVG Turbo Scan
  • Do not Track
  • Simplified firewall
  • Faster start up for PC (up to 26% quicker)
  • Faster start up time for AVG interface (up to 200%)
  • Faster launch of browsers (up to 34%)

Data by Dennis Technology Labs

The turbo scan is one of the exciting new smarter scan technologies AVG are employing, basically, instead of scanning the files in the order they appear in the directory, the scan is done in the order the files appear on the disk. (as with all products, scan times are faster if disk is defragmented).  The Do not Track feature gives you the choice of allowing a website to collect data on your browsing or not, you are in control. And the firewall is so much easier, and due to the way the changes are implemented it is less intrusive and faster, giving faster start up times for AVG and web browsers. This means a much slicker easier experience.

I think AVG offer a lot of protection for the money, and all I can do here is scratch the surface of the changes. I haven’t spoken about the mobile protection, PC Tune Up or any of the really interesting (to Nerds and Geeks!!) features. If you would like a more in depth discussion, feel free to phone or email me (sales @ ktscomp.co.uk. Or you could even contact KTS and we will happily take the stress away, install the product for you and make sure your PC is optimised whilst there.

If you have any questions or problems with malware, anti-malware, your PC, tablet or anything else IT related, we are here to help. Email or phone us on 01480 469019

You can also send us a question on Twitter @Ask_Ken and of course, we’d love to hear about YOUR malware or anti-malware issues, so leave us a comment below!

Posted in Mobile devices, Security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What do Anti Virus, Backup, Social Media and Huntingdon Racecourse have in Common?

Well what a strange question, you might be thinking. But actually they are related!

The Inspired GroupOn 12th September 2012, KTS will be hosting AVG UK who are coming down especially to inform Cambridgeshire businesses of the dangers on the internet and how to protect themselves. Ann Hawkins of The Inspired Group will be discussing social media and how this can generate leads, and Neil Hamilton-Meikle of Safebox will be discussing backing up your data. AVG Logo

This exciting mix should help businesses in Cambridgeshire generate more The Safebox Group of Companiesprofit. How? Easy; if you want more leads, come and listen to Ann. If your computer is not wheezing under the load of trojans, bots, rootkits and other malware then you will get more done in the time. And if the worst did happen, the longer you are without your computer the higher the losses. With everything backed up you have both peace of mind allowing you to concentrate on your work and you have fast recovery meaning minimum disruption.

So now you know how you can improve your profit, why on earth would I put myself through this? For those that have run an event, you know what it is like, sleepless nights, hard work getting the venue right, speakers etc. and you still have to do your normal day to day work.

The answer is simple – I hate malware. I detest having to charge people for removing the nasty little ‘programs’ from their computers and I particularly find it galling that because of these little malware problems, businesses are left unable to earn their living. We are here to help small businesses to make money doing what they are good at, not removing their computers to spend time combing them for bugs and squashing them.

I have seen a lot of computers over the last year that were not properly protected. The result? People paid us lots of money that if they had proper protection they would not have paid us. I would rather be moving businesses forward than fixing problems caused by organised crime in other countries.

So I recommend you come along to our FREE seminar, get benefits from the networking as well as the information. Sign up at http://ktsitseminar.eventbrite.co.uk/

Posted in Security | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Complying with the Cookie Law – a Guide

This is a guest post from John Taylor of www.jtresponse.co.uk a company that offers technical solutions for Website Design, Development and Hosting.

picture of choc chip cookies

Due to recent changes in privacy regulations many owners of UK websites will be in danger of receiving large fines from May this year.

This is not for eating snacks at the keyboard but for gathering and storing information about your website visitors on small parcels of code called ‘cookies’.

The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2011 (PECR) came into force in May last year and UK web sites were given 12 months to comply. The penalty for non-compliance is a  fine of up to £500,000! Time is running out to comply,  so here is a quick guide to help you get started.

What is a Cookie ?

These new rules are commonly known as the ‘Cookie Law’.  Not many people realise that when people browse the internet, the websites they visit can leave small pieces of information on the visitors computer. These are called cookies.

What are the new rules ?

The new rules say that websites must explain the cookies that they use, and must get prior consent from the user before leaving any cookies on their computer. However, there are some exceptions, including cookies that are strictly necessary for the provision of the service.

  • Cookies used for: shopping carts, login systems, security are exceptions
  • Cookies used for: tracking,  advertising,  customising the display are not exceptions

How do I comply ?

The first thing you need to do is to perform a Cookie Audit (details on how to do this re below). This should only take about 10 minutes for a small business website.

There are many services offering free tools for cookie audits but these are simply ways to get your details and sell you more services and are unnecessary. It is very easy to do your own cookie audit.

  • If you have no cookies, then you are in the clear.
  • If your cookies are only used for your shopping basket or login system, then you are also in the clear.
  • If you have any other cookies, then you need to check further.

Once you have performed your Cookie Audit, you need to file it away somewhere safe. You may later need proof that you have performed the audit and are doing your best to comply with the new rules. See the references below for an example cookie audit.

Checking for Cookies with Firefox

  1. Go to Preferences (in edit menu or tools menu depending on your OS)
  2. Select the Privacy Tab
  3. Make sure that “Accept cookies from sites” is set
  4. Click on the “Show Cookies…” Button
  5. In the Cookies window click on the “Remove All Cookies” Button
  6. Close Cookies window and the Preferences Window
  7. Browse as much of your website as possible
  8. Go back to the Preferences, Privacy Tab
  9. Click “Show Cookies…” button
  10. See if any cookies have been listed
  11. You can click on the website domains to expand the list and see the cookies
  12. You should record these cookies, and what they are used for in your cookie audit

Checking for Cookies with Chrome

  1. Click on the spanner at top right, and select Options (or Preferences on some systems)
  2.  Click on “Under the Bonnet”
  3. In the Privacy Section, click on “Content settings…” button
  4. In the Cookies section, ensure that either “Allow local data to be set” or “Allow local data to be set for the current session only” are set
  5. Click on “All cookies and site data…” button
  6. Click on “Remove All” button
  7. Close the Options tab
  8. Browse as much of your website as possible.
  9. Go back to  Options -> Under the Bonnet -> Content settings -> All cookies and site data…
  10. See if any cookies have been listed
  11. You can click on the website domains to expand the list and see the cookies
  12. You should record these cookies, and what they are used for in your cookie audit

Checking for Cookies with IE(8 & 9)

  1. Click on “Internet Options” in the “Tools” menu (addendum, if you don’t see the “tools” menu, press and relase the [Alt] key, the menu will appear, or if IE9, just click on the ‘gear’ in the upper right hand corner of your IE9 window, Ken)
  2. In the “General” tab, Click on the “Delete…” button in the “Browsing History” section
  3. Make sure “Preserve Favorites website data” is not set, and “Cookies” is set
  4. Click on “Delete” button, and close the Internet Options window
  5. Browse as much of your website as possible.
  6. Go back to Internet Options -> General Tab
  7. Click on the “Settings” button
  8. In the Temporary Internet Files window, click on “View Files” button
  9. Look for files starting with “cookie:”
  10. You can view the contents of these cookie files by dragging them to another folder (e.g. you desktop) and opening them with Wordpad
  11. You should record these cookies, and what they are used for in your cookie audit

What if my website uses Google Analytics ?

Google Analytics  and most other website statistics systems use cookies, and the use of cookies for analytical purposes falls within the rules. In order to comply with the new rules you will need to inform website users about these cookies and gain their consent before using them. This has two main issues:

  • Most people won’t bother to agree to accepting the cookies, so your statistics will be greatly reduced.
  • This will require some programming, and make google analytics much more difficult for website owners to implement.

The only realistic solution for many people will be to remove analytics from their website, putting them at a huge disadvantage to non-UK websites.  At the time of writing, I am not aware of any way around this issue, and Google have not offered any advice.

Luckily, there are ways to gather website statistics without using analytics. One of the most common ways is to use your webserver logs. Most hosting companies will provide access to the web server logs for your website, and provide statistics similar to Google analytics, but this method does have some shortcomings:

  • It can’t distinguish between people sharing the same IP address (people sharing an internet connection, or different users on the same PC.), and will lose track if your IP address changes (e.g. switching to/from WiFi on a smart phone).
  • It can sometimes mistake web bots for actual users.
  • The statistics are not as sophisticated as Google Analytics.
  • It can’t be easily linked to adwords campaigns.


References

The official ICO  guidance can be found here:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/current_topics/new_pecr_rules.aspx

Also see this helpful PDF:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/news/current_topics/~/media/documents/library/Privacy_and_electronic/Practical_application/guidance_on_the_new_cookies_regulations.ashx

The table on this page shows an example of what a cookie audit might contain:
http://www.ico.gov.uk/Global/privacy_statement.aspx

If you have any queries on the Cookie Law please contact John at john@jtresponse.co.uk , join in the discussion on LinkedIn at http://lnkd.in/8ANv2s or leave a comment or query below.

Posted in Security | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Is there an app for that?

Can a smart phone with the right apps replace a PC?

montage of appsApps can be used for so many useful things; cooking, shopping, finding a restaurant, and of course the fabulous Light Sabre! IT is just so much fun. They’ve become so much a part of our lives that any discussion about solving a problem usually includes the phrase “Is there an app for that?”

Strictly speaking the term app is short for application and usually refers to any piece of software. They’ve been around a long time – way before smart phones made them so easy to access.

As wells as running games and lots of other social and entertainment uses, they can also be used to run a business but there are things to beware of. Have you read the terms & conditions of the apps you use? Do you know if you have given permission for a third party to access and use your information?

I had an absolutely great time discussing all this with Antonia Brickell on BBC Radio. The recording of the interview is here: 

Smart Phone Apps with Antonia Brickell

The interview led to many questions, including some we didn’t have time for on the interview. For instance,  is it ‘green’ to use so many apps? The more apps there are, the more we need internet connection so the more servers we need to supply the data. This is why Facebook is planning on building a server farm in Sweden, just below the Arctic circle. Lots of computers generate lots of heat, so keep them cool by building them in a cold climate makes sense.

If you have any questions or problems about apps, synchronising your phone and PC or anything else IT related, we are here to help. Email or phone us on 01480 469019

You can also send us a question on Twitter @Ask_Ken and of course, we’d love to hear about YOUR favourite apps so leave us a comment below!

Posted in Mobile devices | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dismantling a Sony VPCM13M1E to increase the memory.

Warning, semi technical article!

The one that caught out an engineer!

We recently had a pink Sony laptop in the workshop for a memory upgrade. Blissfully unaware, one of our engineers (who shall remain nameless) undid the screws and went to remove the keyboard, but it was stuck fast. Now we have some extremely good lighting on our anti static bench, so the chance of missing a screw or two was immediately ruled out (big mistake – huge in fact!).

Now, I don’t know if it was the colour or just the fact it looks cute, but the next hour was spent looking for the way in. After trying all avenues including looking on the internet where no one seemed to have an answer (in fact many asked the same question, so we were not alone) our myopic engineer called yours truly.

I looked and prodded and poked, noticed where the problem was and said – “you need to undo ALL the screws”. Puzzled of St Ives replied – “I have”.

So how do you upgrade the memory on a Sony VPCM13M1E netbook

Lift tape here

Upon turning the laptop over, removing the battery to access the obvious location where the screws should be – nothing, black, blank zero – there seemed to be no screws. Hmmm (I tried the chin stroke here, but didn’t quite get away with it). Gently running my fingers over the area where the screws should be, I realised there was black tape hiding the screws.

Grabbing a sharp blade, I removed the tape and in few seconds had the keyboard off so the memory could be replaced. It pays to use all your senses when repairing computers! We don’t just think it through, we use smell, sight, sound and touch. (we use taste on the tea and biscuits which are requisite after every repair). Engineer was duly ribbed about age and myopia!

  • So should you want to upgrade or replace the memory in your Sony VPCM13M1E, firstly, if it is pink, put on sunglasses (which is where our engineer went wrong!).
  • Make sure you are working somewhere where you will not generate static shocks (that can kill computer memory). You should have an anti-static wrist strap, be attached to an earth point through it and be working on an anti-static mat, NOT on the carpet.
  • Make sure the laptop is shut down properly (do not hibernate or standby) then remove the battery.
  • Remove the tape hiding the two middle screws, then remove the FOUR screws holding in the keyboard.
  • Gently remove keyboard, do not tug otherwise you will damage the connections. The keyboard does not need unplugging to replace the memory
  • Replace memory
  • Re-assemble
  • Replace tape if you want to catch out the next person!

The memory revealed.

So, should you want to wind up our engineer, you now only need to come in and sing, “Thanks for the memory”.

Oh, and in the best car manual tradition, re-assembling was the reverse of dismantling, apart from the extra screws that had been taken out (snigger).

So does your computer need a memory upgrade?

It’s fairly easy to check, just right click on ‘Computer’ or ‘My Computer’ if Windows XP or earlier, select ‘Properties’ and read out how much memory you currently have. See list below to see if you definitely need an upgrade. If it matches or is more, an upgrade may be required, but you would need to discuss the details with us.

  • Windows XP needs at least 1GB of memory
  • Windows Vista needs at least 3GB
  • Windows 7 needs at least 2GB

If you are not sure how to proceed, then contact KTS Computers Ltd on 01480 469019, or drop me an email on sales@ktscomp.co.uk  

Stay safe and if in doubt – send me a question on Twitter  @Ask_Ken

Posted in Laptops | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to shop on-line – safely!

Listen to Ken’s radio interview about what to do when shopping on-line to make sure you stay safe

Staying safe online

Posted in Security | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dell and Microsoft scam calls

The latest scam phone calls would have you believe that big names in the IT world, like Dell and Microsoft are calling you because they’ve detected a problem with your computer! The operative asks for your password so that they can remotely access your computer and all of your information and to add insult to injury ask for a payment to put the fault right!

Some people have been scammed out of as much as £500. Listen to Ken’s radio interview about what to do if this happens to you.

 

Radio interview about phone scams

Posted in Security | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Internet security, practice safe surfing

Listen to Ken’s radio interview about how to practice safe surfing, including:

  • The dangers of getting locked out of facebook and email accounts
  • Creating secure passwords
  • Scam emails asking for account and password details
  • Phishing emails

Radio interview on internet security

Posted in Security | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment