Changes In Tech
by Crestien
 Chris On Tech
Oct 09, 2011 | 39573 views |  0 comments | 49 49 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Wow! A lot has happened in the world of technology since my last post. I hope you are aware of it because if you aren't, you've really missed out.

iPhone 4S

The new iPhone has launched! It wasn't an iPhone 5 as previously expected, but an iPhone 4S. This is an incremental upgrade much like when Apple launched the iPhone 3GS. Everything about the phone is better, much better, but it still looks the same as the iPhone 4. Unless you use your phone constantly to take photos and videos, I wouldn't recommend upgrading to the 4S right now. I would personally wait until next year when hopefully the iPhone 5 comes out with true 4G (LTE) built in to take advantage of much higher speeds. If however you are on an Android phone and loathe it like I am, or on the previously mentioned iPhone 3GS, this phone will make a fantastic upgrade. You can read more about the new features of the iPhone at the Apple website.

Amazon Kindle Fire

It had been rumored that Amazon would launch an "iPad Killer" this Fall and it turns out the rumor was half true. They did launch a tablet, it is most definitely not a killer. The tablet is nice enough I guess, but it would be like comparing an iMac to an eMachine. Sure they are both computers, but as with everything else in life you get what you pay for. And that is the only place the Kindle Fire beats the iPad, on price. At $199, it's going to be very tempting to buy this over the iPad which starts at $499. My suggestion, if you can't afford the iPad and you just really really want a tablet, go for it. It's not all bad. Just don't come crying when you realize everything on it has to run through some Amazon version of the apps you like.

Windows 8

There was a big Windows conference which discussed next year's version of Microsoft Windows. It's been beautified, simplified, and given one heck of a face lift. To the right you'll see the new Windows start screen. Yeah, it looks like a tablet or phone or something. You could say the Windows team has been inspired by touch. The entire OS has been optimized to work not just on PCs, but on tablets as well.

Another thing you'll notice when using it, is that everything is faster. Boot time is faster, memory usage is much better, and everything in that fancy picture you see there (called Metro UI) will boot almost instantly.

The biggest change that will, in true Microsoft fashion, bring Windows closer in line to the newest features of Apple's Mac OS X is that there will be a Windows App Store. You will now be able to purchase programs for your computer directly from the App Store online just like you would an app on your phone. Think Quicken, Quickbooks, Microsoft Word, and games at the click of a button. Read more about Windows 8 on Mashable.

One More Thing...

Steve Jobs has passed away. I've been debating on writing something about Steve Jobs on here ever since he passed. However, I didn't feel I could do it justice. So I've read a large number of writings on his death recently, and nobody said what I wanted to say as well as MG Siegler has in his Techrunch post. So I will simply refer you to his post in hopes that you enjoy it as much as I did.

I've respected Jobs as a business person and visionary for quite a long time. There's a book I recently read on him called "The Steve Jobs Way: iLeadership for a New Generation" which was fantastic. I look forward to reading his authorized biography "Steve Jobs" when it finally launches too.

Below are some videos of Jobs that I thoroughly enjoyed that I thought many of you might also. I'll leave you with these until next time.





How To Speed Up A Slow Computer
by Crestien
 Chris On Tech
Aug 23, 2011 | 6947 views |  0 comments | 51 51 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Question:

"Hey Chris! I have an old Compaq laptop and it runs really slow. How do I make it go faster??"

Answer:

While there are any number of reasons a computer can be slow, I'm going to assume a few things on this one.

  1. You don't have a virus, spyware, etc. (How To Get Rid Of Viruses)
  2. You have not recently dropped your laptop and now it's "slow"

The very first step you should take is to download CCleaner. This program used to be called Crap Cleaner in the good ole days, but I guess when their parent company bought them they decided to clean up the name. Now install it!

Experience Note: As you go through the installers on free programs read each screen with a checkbox carefully. Uncheck anything it wants to install that isn't the program itself, such as a toolbar or spyware detectors etc. Currently CCleaner doesn't appear to have anything else installing.

Once it's installed, run it. Now we begin cleaning.

  1. Uninstall Old Applications. Go to the Tools button and the Uninstall option should be checked. Go through that list and uninstall everything you know you don't use anymore.
  2. Remove Start Up Programs. Go to the StartUp option below Uninstall. Here you want to click on items you don't want to start every time your computer starts and click Disable, NOT DELETE, at the bottom of the window. Read the names under the File column. Some quick suggestions I see a lot are: Groove Monitor, iTunes anything, Adobe anything, QTTask, Windows Media Player, Acrotray, nwiz, onenotem.exe, anything Doogle other than Google Desktop if you use it, jussched.exe. You can ask about specific things on here!
  3. Run The Cleaner. Now is the time I run the cleaner, so on the left click on the Cleaner button. If you're like me, you don't want the history removed from your Google Chrome that you're now using. Click the Applications Tab and under Google Chrome uncheck everything but Internet Cache. Now click "Run Cleaner" on the bottom right. Yes it will delete files from your computer. That's the point!!
  4. Clean The Registry. Once that's done click on the registry button and click Scan For Issues at the bottom left, then when that's done, click Fix selected Issues. Yes go ahead and make a backup in your My Documents folder. Can't hurt right?

DONE! Well at least with CCleaner. Restart your computer and you should have a decently faster computer. At least once the computer is up and running you should notice you can have multiple programs going and it doesn't lag as much.

As for raw processing power speed increases, those come in two ways.

  1. Make hardware upgrades to your computer RAM, CPU, etc.
  2. Change the programs you're using.

We'll just work with number 2 here because hey, these programs are free! Here are a few suggestions I have:

  1. Remove all spyware, adware, antivirus mess you may have installed to protect your computer and install only Microsoft's Security Essentials. It's free, does as good a job as any, and doesn't bog your computer down. If you're really paranoid, you can also keep Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware on your computer, but I don't think it's necessary.
  2. Download Google Chrome and start using it instead of Internet Explorer. This will be the browser you use to access the internet. It's free and FAST! I use it all day everyday and just get mad when I'm using anything else.
  3. Clean off your cluttered desktop. Now I'm not 100% sure this makes your computer faster, but it will make rendering your desktop much faster. DO IT! Put your documents and files in My Documents where they belong. Get rid of all the application shortcuts cluttering your desktop and only leave on there what's necessary. No, you don't need that Adobe Reader icon on your desktop. Delete it.

I hope this helps!! Please remember that what you do to your computer is at your own risk and if you don't feel comfortable doing anything I've written above, the best thing you can do is take it to someone you trust. Ask around and get recommendations based on experience with a tech. You don't want one that goes perusing your personal data and can't get the job done correctly. There are a lot of "computer guys" out there that don't know what they're doing. If you'd like someone to fix your personal computer or come out to your business, I'd go visit or call some good personal friends of mine at Advanced Data Services.

Chris Williams, Web Developer, WideNet Consulting

If you have a news tip or a topic you would like to see me write on, please email me at
chris@chrisontech.com or write on my facebook page's wall.


Never Buy Gas Again? Yes Please!
by Crestien
 Chris On Tech
Aug 12, 2011 | 2900 views |  0 comments | 42 42 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

I'm not the tree hugging hippy type, but I am the type who loathes pulling up to the gas pump. I'm also the type who hates giving my money to people who are actively using it against my country or, at the very least, building up a country other than my own. That being said, we have a solution.

Electric cars have come a long way since the first run years ago. They are also actively being manufactured and brought to sale here in the US.  This is our ticket to energy independence.  One of the big issues though is the cost associated with the nation's infrastructure swap and the early adopter cost because you'd be one of the first to jump into a new technology.  Basically you're going to pay more today than you will in 10 years because they aren't that common. One thing that might possibly make you feel better about the swap is that you might not have to pay to drive around at all, except for the initial cost of the car and equipment of course.

Ford has announced that it will be offering a Solar Home option with the purchase of the new Ford Focus Electric. That's right. If you drive under 1,000 miles in a month, you would never be paying to fuel your car up again!  How exciting!  I know, I know. But it costs loads of money to get the Solar Home option. That money will eventually be recouped off of the electrical and fuel savings you gain.  Some math:

$4.00 per gallon (most analysts agree we'll easily be at $4 next year)
1,000 miles per month (to compare with the Solar Home)
21 mpg vehicle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fuel_efficiency)
1,000 / 21 * $4.00 = roughly $190 per month
$10,000 / $190 = 53 months or 4.4 years.

At that rate, you'd earn $10,000 in 4.4 years of just fuel savings and you would own it from that point forward.  This assumes of course that they don't have a way for you to upgrade your Solar Home unit in those 4 years for much higher efficiency.  Plus you'd save the time and hassle of fueling up.  Don't forget how much good you'd be doing for the environment, our nation, and the future of the electric vehicle industry and it's associated industries.  

I can't see this as being anything but a great idea.  Again, it's not for the average low to middle income family yet, but it'll get there soon enough.

Facebook's New Messaging App
by Crestien
 Chris On Tech
Aug 09, 2011 | 2970 views |  0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Facebook has finally thrown their hat into the group messaging app ring with Facebook Messenger. They really needed to do this with the recent launch of Google's Huddle. I've downloaded it on my phone and think the live updates to messages could really prove useful.

Facebook Messenger will allow you to message people directly on facebook like a normal message, through sms, or give you the option if you have the contact's phone number and they're one of your Facebook friends. This will provide faster and more direct communication with the people you actually know and care to talk with.

"One of the key elements of Messenger is its alert system. Users can choose to receive alerts for new messages, or they can turn them off. They can also delay alerts for an hour or until 8:00 a.m. the next day. The alert settings can be tailored for individual message threads or for all messages through Messenger.

Facebook admits its official mobile app will eventually have all of Messenger’s functionality, but the company believes that having an app dedicated to quick messaging on the Facebook platform is something that will benefit its millions of mobile users. And it could give other group messaging apps like GroupMe a run for their money." Read More

How to get Facebook Messenger

Messenger is available for the iPhone and Android starting today. Just search for "Facebook Messenger" in either app store, or get a link to the app texted to your phone.

 

Chris Williams, Web Developer, WideNet Consulting

If you have a news tip or a topic you would like to see me write on, please email me at
chris@chrisontech.com or write on my facebook page's wall.


Your Hackable Password
by Crestien
 Chris On Tech
Aug 08, 2011 | 3841 views |  0 comments | 40 40 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

A long time ago I picked a password I thought was great and I used it everywhere. This password is now what I call my “Throw Away” password. I have used it since 2001 and I use it whenever I sign up for a new service that I’m not worried about security on. I also have a “Common” password for trusted sites that don’t involve my personal information (YouTube, Netflix, Facebook) and a “Secure” password for very personal sites (Email Accounts, Banking, Bills). Below I’m going to tell you why you need at least two types of passwords and what the definition of secure really means is in terms of a password.

Why You Need Multiple Passwords

Hacking happens all the time. Not the hacking of you per se, but the hacking of websites with shoddy security practices. Let me give you an example of why you should reserve one password for your “Secure” sites and use a “Common” password for others. Let’s say you sign up for an account while buying a book at a random, previously unknown online retailer. This retailer has not taken it upon themselves to encrypt your password on their server and their server gets hacked. Now the hacker has your email address and your password. If you used the same password when signing up for the book site as you do for your email, they now have access to your email account. With access to your email, they can submit a “Forgot Your Password” request on many websites and get the email delivered right into their hands. With the email in hand they can change your password, and take over your various accounts.

The Solution is Very Simple

Create a new secure password for your email account, which of course you can fully trust since you’re all using Gmail now. Now that you have your new secure password, this password should only be used on sites you can really trust to keep your password encrypted and protected. Nobody is perfect, but large scale sites like Facebook, Twitter, bank sites, online bill pay sites, and any other site you really trust can usually be relied upon to keep it secure, or to alert you immediately if there’s a problem so you can change your password quickly. Then if you do have to change your password, you know the few sites you’ve trusted with this password.

Your other password I called “Common” should be the one you use on sites you don’t grant the same level of trust you give your bank and bills. Sites like Netflix and YouTube are fine to use this password on. This way if something happens to those accounts the most you’re out is some time in getting access back to your account and you avoid the full scale onslaught of your digital life.



What is a Secure Password?

I’m a big believer in a memorable, usable password. If your password is so complex you have to keep a record of it somewhere, especially if that somewhere is on a sticky note on your monitor or under your keyboard, then it’s not secure. Your password needs to be at least 8 characters, because so many services require this nowadays, and it needs to have some complexity to it.

A Method to the Madness

Having a password like “Dj#wP3M$c” is complex, but it’s just not necessary in most cases. What if instead you used a fake email address like “ilove@mydogs.com” as a password. It’s got symbols, uncommon words, and it’s really long which would make it extremely safe. For added security you could even capitalize "My" and "Dogs".

Another method is to combine two easy to remember words into one. Take the two uncommon words (according to most password dictionaries) “Method” and “Secure”. We could mesh them together into “MSeetchuorde” and have a very secure yet memorable password. I don’t really like this method, but it may work for some. A variant of this is a theory new to me where you make your password at least three words with a space between them.  So based on one smart guys research, "Fluffy Bunny Pillow" is easily one of the most secure passwords you could create simply because it has spaces in it.  Note that the spaces are key.  If a site won't allow spaces and you like this method, use something like an underscore "_" to fill the gap.

Personally, I prefer to create a new password by placing my hands on my keyboard and randomly typing something that comes out naturally and includes some numbers and at least one capital letter. An example I’ll do just for this article is “Solin234”. Try typing that a few times and you’ll find that it’s very easy on the hands, can be typed really quickly, and it even kind of sounds like a real word, which will make it easier when you try and memorize it.

Password Refreshes

Change your “Secure” password at least once a year just to be on the safe side. To be honest, I do it more like once every 2-3 years, but I also don’t take Facebook surveys and I don't get computer viruses. If you’re confident in your computer skills like me, then the regular changing may not be as necessary.

Tell me your favorite method to the password madness below in the comments!

Chris Williams, Web Developer, WideNet Consulting

If you have a news tip or a topic you would like to see me write on, please email me at
chris@chrisontech.com or write on my facebook page's wall.


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