Recent News

Upgrade or Replace Your PC?

There is a lot of confusion about upgrading computers.  I was working on an old computer in Raleigh yesterday.  I’d given the computer to an old friend and she had brought it to me a while back to get a virus off if memory serves me close to correctly.  May have actually been a power supply issue as well. Either way, I got it working again almost a year ago.  But she hadn’t picked it up. I let it sit there collecting dust in my office for months – apparently she just didn’t want it any more. Or maybe had gotten another one. It wasn’t a real “hot” machine to begin with and it was getting pretty slow.

So, like most computer geeks, I put it to good use after letting it sit there for several months. I let it run misc apps for me in the background freeing up some other resources I had tied up.  ANd it did pretty darned well – albeit slowly. Which brings me to this particular topic

Upgrading Your PC Computer Hardware

When is it smart to upgrade your machine?  It honestly depends on what you want to do.  Like the link below, if you’re running XP, it’s probably time to do something. Your choices are upgrade or buy a new machine. If you are running Windows XP, you will likely need to some heavier upgrades – and buying a new machine will likely be your best option. Windows XP machines are going to likely be too weak froma hardware point of view to run Vista and up with any kind of speed.  The requirements for Vista and newer are somewhat higher regardless of what Microsoft may say.  You need more computer to make those Operating systems work well.

Already Have Vista or more recent?

 If you are running Vista, Windows 7 or Windows 8 and you maybe only have a 2-4 GB of RAM, then a simple (and inexpensive) memory upgrade might be exactly the thing you need.  If you are running a 64bit version of operating system, then your computer will recognize at least 8 GB of RAM. For the Pro, Enterprise or Ultimate Win 7, your system can recognize up to 192GB – FAR more than most users could ever possibly want. Regardless if you don’t already have 8 GB, it is a sweet spot for most users.  If you tend to run a lot of apps and have a Home Premium version – the most common – you can upgrade to 16 GB and get some nice performance.

What if you need more?

When you start getting into replacing motherboards, processors and CPUs, it starts to get expensive. And if you’re going to replace all that, you very likely will want to replace that old hard drive. To get a good solid upgrade in place, you will be looking at a MINIMUM of 300-400 dollars – absolute minimum. If you are to do it right and you want some hardware that can do the job for most anything… you will probably end up spending 600 or more.  If you’re a gamer – it can go up immensely from there.  And that’s just for the hardware.

Operating System Upgrade 

Now in addition to the hardware, you likely are going to have the cost of an operating system license. Windows is far and away the most popular operating system.  You’ll pay a minimum of $100 for an operating system to install if you’re going with Windows. You might find a starter version for $90 but spend the extra 10 and get at least a Home Premium version.

DIY or Pay Someone Else?

 If you happen to be a computer geek, upgrading is often a good option since you can do the work yourself. If you’re a general user and are going to have to pay a company or pc tech to do it, then you need to look at the costs involved – and THAT is where the “depends” comes in.

To do a Rebuild

You’re looking at at least a couple of hours for a Raleigh pc computer technician to put your machine together. Popping in a CPU, thermal pasting it, putting on a cooling fan, hooking up the cables to the motherboard – all that good stuff.  That is going to add at least $150 or more – JUST for the hardware. Then there will likely be another hour to install the OS.  You’re likely going to be looking at $250+ depending on your market to get a computer built for you just in labor.  

How Do I get my Data?

Now you want your data moved from the old computer? Probably a little more time. Most techs, at least our are, usually reasonable about this kind of stuff.  For a bigger job like this, your tech may cut you some slack and not charge you for every little minute. When we do this kind of work – depending on the amount of data and situation, it can take anywhere from a half hour to a couple hours. Under certain circumstances, it can take even longer depending on what needs to be done to transfer the data.

Let’s Tally

For an upgrade to a decent machine – upgrading the motheboard, the cpu, memory and hard drive – basically keeping your optical drives, case, power supply – a minimum of $300 and up. Strong hardware, say 600.

Operating system – about $100. Pro/Ultimate version OS – $160

Labor – easily $150 – max around 4 hours generally – $300-400

Pricing: Minimum – $550 / Max – $1200

Compare – New computer

We’ve seen them as low as $300 for a new computer. Granted, that price point is not going to get you the monster gaming machine, but – if you’re a gentle user and aren’t doing games, video editing or anything real intensive, it should work well. If you’re looking for something a bit more, then you can get a machine in the 500-600 range that will take care of a LOT of people. For those with heavier needs, obviously, you can spend a whole lot, but a good solid machine sporting a top-notch i7 proc can certainly be had for as low as 700.  Then add on some setup/transfer time – maybe a couple hours – say $150-200.

Compare your prices.  Which works out for you?  Still not sure? Contact a reputable local computer repair company and find out more!

Encrypting Ransomware. Joy.

NOT entertaining. Ransomware. There are a pretty noticeable variety of customers that call nowadays about ransomware virus attacks on their computers. Knock on wood, only one of our technicians has truly run across this specific virus in actuality. All others have been the more normal FBI virus variety of malware which can be resolved pretty fast.

Encrypting Technology

Resolving or repairing the cryptolocker virus? Not so much. Not only is it not a fast solution – there ISN’T one. The long of the cryptolocker virus is that what it actually does is use encrypting technology to encode the software files on your hard drive. The only way one can access these files is to decrypt them with a special “key”. While a lot of people see this and legitimately USE this form of technology to shield those files on their own hard drives, when a program, such as this one, does it for your files… The huge thing is that the files are only able to be be encrypted with a key (string of characters – a LONG sequence of characters) and thus to UNencrypt those files, you need to have the same key. Since you weren’t the one you also can’t do the UNencrypting since you’ve no clue what the key actually is. Just the hackers do – and it is going to cost you to gamble on paying them to see IF they’re going to really decrypt those files.
As an aside, since we get way a lot of customers that have a real issues just keeping up with their e-mail password, using disk or file encryption technology has to be SERIOUSLY contemplated and thought through before actually doing it even in conditions that are legitimate. Email passwords can be reset. Encryption keys like this can’t be reset. If you encrypt your disc and then don’t have any hint what the key is – there is NO “reset” on that. Your files are eternally locked. In the end, which is the real goal.
It looks like those files are really regularly decrypted by the ransomware folks and turn your computer back. At least often enough to make it a worthwhile risk to pay the blackmailers. Think about it, if paying the ransom had a 0% chance of getting your files back – people just wouldn’t do it period. Some of you may pay and get absolutely nothing, but is access back to your files worth a few hundred dollar gamble?  Don’t know.  If you have your hard drive loaded with all the documents, pictures and more that comprise your whole life – as a lot of people do – is a payment of a few hundred worth it?  Only you know in your case. If it’s just a cheesy laptop that you didn’t have much on to begin with – maybe not. Either way, you pay your money and take your chances.

There is no “fix”

This is simply not something a computer repair business can mend. Your choices are restricted. IF you have not been negligent with copies, it is possible to quite maybe restore or recover the files prior to being encrypto-locked. Think about it like this – your file is essentially set inside a brick that takes a special tool to crack. How will you get through that brick? It’s frustrating as you can SEE the file, but just can’t get to it. That special tool is going to cost you – and may or may NOT operate correctly. It’s not like you can phone your attorney and sue an anonymous international hacker for this kind of thing. You pay your 300-500 dollar ransom and just hope that it turns out right. And THEN make sure you’ve got appropriate backups going on. Expensive lesson yes, but… If there are no backups floating around anywhere?  You’re entirely hosed.

Prevention

Using good common sense is the best defense that you’ve got. That and a good antivirus software and knowing your computer. There will USUALLY be opportunities to put the kibosh on this or any virus before they get into your computer. They’ll occasionally conceal themselves in emails enticing you to just open a zip file that claims to have advice about a program that can’t be delivered to you. Hey hold it. DID you actually order anything?? And would FedEx or UPS really HAVE all those misspellings in their email? Great common sense is CONSTANTLY a must-have when it comes to your computer. Some you may be unable to see so easily – like web site drive by infection. Viruses can be embedded in web site code to drop a virus and hence infect your computer. With a good AV in place , hopefully these will be captured before they get a toehold in your hard drive. If your computer starts slapping up windows, or just generally behaving crazily – disconnect from your network pronto before anything else can be downloaded BY the virus into your computer. Call a computer repair company. DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT jump into stopping and restarting the computer over and over again thinking this might help – it will NOT.  It will only likely GIVE the virus an opportunity to get further and further into your computer.

Here’s the article for more info…

Hackers ramp up computer attacks that demand ‘ransom’ – USA TODAY

http://news.google.com Wed, 14 May 2014 20:38:43 GMT

Hackers ramp up computer attacks that demand ‘ransom’USA TODAYHackers operating on the Internet’s “Dark Web” are spreading a new, more sophisticated generation of the malicious software known as “ransomware,” anonymously shaking down anyone with an u …

Read more …

Ransomware – Ramifications and Solutions

Ransomware - Not going to be a good day for you OR your computer

Ransomware – Not going to be a good day for you OR your computer

NOT fun.  Ransomware.  There are a pretty noticeable number of customers that call these days about ransomware virus attacks on their computers. Knock on wood, only one of our techs has actually run across this particular virus in the real world.  All others have been the more normal FBI virus variety of malware which can be resolved pretty quickly.

Encrypting Technology

The cryptolocker virus one? Not so much.  The long of the cryptolocker virus is that what it really does is use encrypting technology to encode the software files on your hard drive. The only way one can actually access these files is to decrypt them with a particular “key”. While a lot of people see this and legitimately USE this kind of technology to protect those files on their own hard drives, when a program, like this one, does it TO your files… The big problem is that the files can only be encrypted with a key (string of characters – a LONG string of characters) and thus to UNencrypt those files, you have to have the same key.  Since you weren’t the one that DID the encrypting, you also can’t do the UNencrypting since you have no clue what the key actually is. Only the hackers do – and it’s going to cost you to gamble on paying them to see IF they will actually decrypt those files.

As an aside, since we get way too many customers that can’t seem to keep up with their email password, using disk or file encryption technology needs to be SERIOUSLY contemplated before actually doing it even in legitimate circumstances.  Email passwords can be reset. Encryption keys like this can NOT be reset. If you encrypt your disk and then have no clue what the key is – there is NO “reset” on that. Your files are forever locked. After all, that is the actual purpose.

It seems that the ransomware people actually often decrypt those files and turn your computer back to you. Think about it, if paying the ransom had a 0% chance of getting your files back. that would be bad for business for them even if it IS a bad business to begin with.

There is no “solution”

This is not something a computer repair company can fix. Period.  Your options are limited. IF you have been diligent with backups, you can very possibly restore or recover the files prior to being encryptolocked.  Think about it like this – your file, when encrypted like this, is basically put inside a mystery metal shell.  It’s still there to be sure, but how do you get through that shell? Unless you get hold of the secret tool to get through that metal shell, you can’t truly get to that file.  And the mystery metal tool is going to cost you – and may or may NOT work properly. It’s not like you can call your lawyer and sue an anonymous international hacker for this kind of thing.  You pay your 300-500 dollar ransom and hope for the best.  And THEN make sure that you have proper backups going on.  Expensive lesson yes, but… If you don’t have backups somewhere?  You’re completely hosed.

Prevention

Using good common sense is the biggest defense. That and a good antivirus software and knowing your computer.  There will be opportunities to head off these viruses before they get into your computer. They will sometimes conceal themselves in emails enticing you to just open up a zip file that claims to have information about a package that can’t be delivered to you. Hey hold it.  DID you actually order anything??  And would UPS or FedEx actually HAVE all those misspellings in their email?  Good common sense is ALWAYS a must-have when it comes to your computer. Some you may not be able to spot so quickly – like website drive by infection.  Viruses can be embedded in website code to drop a virus into your browser and thus infect your computer.  With a good AV in place, hopefully these will be caught before they get a toehold in your computer. If your computer starts slapping up windows, or generally acting crazy – disconnect from the network pronto before any other damage can be done. Call a computer repair company. DO NOT try to shutdown and restart the computer multiple times thinking this may help – it won’t and will likely GIVE the virus an opportunity to get further and further into your computer.

Here’s the article for more info…

Hackers ramp up computer attacks that demand ‘ransom’ – USA TODAY

http://news.google.com Wed, 14 May 2014 20:38:43 GMT

Hackers ramp up computer attacks that demand ‘ransom’USA TODAYHackers operating on the Internet’s “Dark Web” are spreading a new, more sophisticated generation of the malicious software known as “ransomware,” anonymously shaking down anyone with an u …

Read more …

DMCA, Music and You

Can it be patented? Is it copyrighted? Is it even YOURS to USE?

The ongoing fight over digital rights and the DMCA rears up again. Honestly, this is a rather unique time in which we live. Never before in human history could so much be transmitted to so many, across the globe, nearly instantaneously. Back to the DMCA rulings that did quite a number on many “sharing” sites (including this one in a former life), the world of digital and online sharing and innovation is a very fluid and shifting place. Find out more about the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA).

VHS and then CDs - Copyrights

VHS and then CDs – Copyrights

All of this has only been in action as digital formats and processes have come to the masses. We don’t suspect that there was a huge market for someone to typeset and produce black market books when that was the prevailing technology. Even if one DID print up a huge supply of books, the lingering problem would be what to DO with all those books – and how to profit from it. If there’s no financial reward, there’s really very little incentive. Distribution channels. THAT would have always been the biggest impediment to making it truly financially lucrative.

However, with the advent of digital processes and the ability to replicate digital content and share it quickly and nearly effortlessly, problems HAVE ensued. You can trace the digital beginnings of this back to the introductions of video tape recording – think VHS and video tapes starting back in the late 70’s. When the average Joe could get a copy of the latest movie and sit there with a bank of VCRs and duplicate a movie (“Alien” – remember THAT one???) and sell those tapes off cheap from his trunk? While that isn’t mass production, when there were enough people doing it, it did take a bite out of the pie. While there are cries of “Foul!” on those copyright infringements, our own personal take is that it did end up creating a whole new market for movie distribution – one that the movie industry may not have followed willingly or in a timely fashion. Not everyone wants to go to a movie theater to see the latest picture. But when the movie can come to you? This was a pretty neat concept. Movies continue to be one of the central battlegrounds of copyright infringement.

Fast forward a few years, and the picture became even murkier. The next step was the BBS distribution model. One could find a local BBS – bulletin board service for those too young to remember or know – and gain access to their stashed files. These would often include software as well as other media. Still, it was a local distribution channel and speeds were in the 9600 to 14.4K range. STILL pretty sluggish based on today’s standards. But it WAS doable. One had to find these local repositories, gain access and then wait what would amount to days to get large amounts of data down. Anyone remember “download managers”? No, not the ones like we see today that are there primarily to slap a new toolbar on your browser or feed you advertising, but the ones that could pull multiple streams of data to increase the overall download speed – and resume your data pull after your ISP decided you had been connected long enough and terminated your connection. With a standard “save as” type of download, your computer would want to start at the beginning all over again if the data transmission was broken. This could lead to a whole LOT of frustration after watching something download for an extended period – only to have a disconnect negate the whole thing. Again, bearing in mind some of these downloads could literally take DAYS, one could expect their data flow to be interrupted dozens or more times. Download managers were an absolute necessity.

Once the internet as we know it today came into being and directly into people’s homes, there was now a quick and easy distribution channel that was worldwide. Almost anyone could rip the newest song from a CD and post it – and have it available for download from the other side of the globe – all in about 20 minutes. Back in the days of kick*ss 9.6 (we actually DO remember using a 300 baud modem – we’re showing our age now…), downloads like this could have taken days, nonetheless, the technology was there. Now it isn’t just Joe sitting there producing 200 copies of a tape, CD or DVD and selling them, it’s someone making a rip of a piece of data and posting it somewhere – for immediate global acccess. With cable modem speeds available throughout the world, one can now download a whole movie in minutes.

Girl Listening to Music

We WANT this girl to be able to listen to HER music!

As it is, there will always be a black market out there for all types of media – be it software, information, videos, or music. We personally don’t think that will ever be eliminated. There will ALWAYS be the fringe element. Broke people do what they have to do. Some people just like the feeling of getting one over on “the man.” But we believe that the majority of people, given the opportunity to acquire digital media at a reasonable price, without a whole lot of muss and fuss, are more than HAPPY to go down that path. One only has to look at the unrivaled success of iTunes to see that in action. Streaming services from Redbox and Netflix are great solutions that serve a need, are cost effective for consumers, and are easy to use.

One thing that we DO like is that there ARE legitimate places now that one can acquire and enjoy digital media on a paid and authorized basis. See above. When there are big ol’ elephants in the room, think MPAA and the RIAA in particular, that seem to be intent on keeping things as they are and as they “have always been”, there will be a whole lot of head butting. Only by embracing changes that come as a result of new technology and coming up with common sense innovations and monetization streams, will organizations like this truly serve the public interests – and those of the people that they serve. By trying to impose more and more Draconian DMCA type rules and legislation, we personally feel that those organizations look more short-sighted and truly just lack the foresight needed to be viable players going forward. If ideas such as those put forth in the past by the DMCA were followed in OTHER areas – “We’re sorry, that refrigerator you bought a couple years ago – and now that you’re moving – well, you can only use that fridge in the old house. You’ll need to buy a new one.”

Technology only advances, it doesn’t take a step back – short of that zombie apocalpyse we’re expecting any day now… If a business plan doesn’t take into account existing and developing conditions, it’s bound to fail. When any company or organization tries to force something on the public that doesn’t meet their needs, it will fail.

Here’s a blit from American Songwriter on current DMCA practices and directions.  Seriously we DO want songwriters and performers to get proper monetization from their efforts.  If Toby Keith hadn’t made a decent amount of money, could he ever have released “Red Solo Cup” – currently one of OUR favorites!

The Future Of The DMCA (And How It Affects Your Copyrights) – American Songwriter

http://news.google.com Wed, 30 Apr 2014 19:18:17 GMT

American SongwriterThe Future Of The DMCA (And How It Affects Your Copyrights)American SongwriterYou may have recently heard about a big to-do in Washington concerning the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act). Recent hearings evaluating the DMCA’s …

Read more …

 

BTW, since this is our first post since acquiring the site on the topics that got this domain into hot water several years ago, you’re NOT going to find actual torrents here. You will not find L33t downloads or any of that. There is no actual torrent downloading software here – though we’re sure a quick search will help you find some. We love the torrent format and may post links to some of the torrent software apps as we move along, but the content of this site is perhaps NOT what you expected when you came here – so don’t waste your time (or our cpu time) poking around looking for it.

Rank Me LOCAL – Search Engine Tips for Local Rankings

Get some quick Local SEO tips!

Get some quick Local SEO tips!

Local SEO is becoming the in-thing nowadays, especially considering the fact that marketing based on location is quickly bringing up the rear. Let’s face it, there’s are a lot MORE companies around you that want your business than there are nationally.  Every little service type business, local restaurants, etc – the number of truly LOCAL businesses is huge for each and every city – including our own Raleigh area.   But just like the “bigger boys” in Raleigh – small businesses make up the bulk of the US work force and that’s where local rankings are focused.  The follow article will present three efficient local SEO ideas that will help increase the rank of your business in the search engines for any keywords you choose.  Here’s a quick link to where you can get a gander at your overall site strength – MajesticSEO.  You can sign up for a freebie over there and at least get an idea of how “important” your website is before you get started.

It’s important that you get on Google and get your offline business profile made so it’ll be in their database. Registering with the three major search engines is easy, and be aware that they’ll call or text you so they can confirm your business address.  We actually spoke to the Google rep a few days ago.  We had modified our business address on a site and they called to confirm.  It was actually HELPFUL as I was able to actually ask the guy some questions.  Since Google itself never calls and makes it completely impossible to deal with verbally, this was actually a good thing.  One of my own concerns was having two addresses listed and how this would be perceived in Google.  If you don’t already have your NAP style microformat code in place – that is a good place to start after you’re done with the above.  This is simple but powerful as well as necessary for doing local SEO in Raleigh, and we don’t think a tremendous number of businesses know about doing this. This is the kind of thing that helps you, and that’s the way a lot of online promotions are – a series of small steps that add up.

If you want to rank for a certain area, you must make sure to optimize your content and gear it towards the area. This will help you gain the attention of the search engines and of the users in the area. Therefore, if your goal is to rank for a certain area, you need to create content that is important to the people there and that is relevant to the area. You will have to create content that is related to them in multiple ways. Thinking a little outside the box can prove helpful in this case because your main purpose is to connect with your readers at a local level, which can only be achieved when your content discusses their interests. We like doing things like specifically mentioning local events, specific locations, schools and more.

We do a LOT of search engine optimization work in the Raleigh NC area and surrounding small towns.  There is a pretty decent amount of competition, so when you can actually chatter about stuff like in our case, like the Redhat Amphitheater or Walnut Creek Pavilion and local concerts or something that TRULY identifies you as a local person – that’s good.  There are a lot of Raleigh SEO companies that just use generic content – and sometimes, you do what you have to do.  We’ve seen work from some local companies that really comes across as “non-native” English speaking writers and it’s not so good.   A misspelling here or there is not a killer – horrible grammatical structure and poor sentence construction are hallmarks of cheap off-shore labor.  Again, sometimes you do what you have to do, BUT… it doesn’t inspire near as much confidence as a good local piece written by someone that IS knowledgeable and local.

Last but not the least; one of the of the key reasons why people fail with local SEO is because they don’t take care of little things that may boost their chances of success. You shouldn’t make that mistake, especially if you want to see long term success. Get out and help the people where you live in some meaningful way, and that will make people aware of who you are.  This isn’t necessarily “true” seo in the normal sense of the word, but good old fashioned marketing.  One of my old customers liked sponsoring one of the local little league teams.  A whole field full of youngsters running around throughout the spring with your name plastered on their chest.  It DOES get attention. Something like that can be the quickest and easiest way to get your business noticed in a local area.

What would work for you the best way in terms of exposure where you live? This is how it works, you have a bunch of little components that are a part of the big puzzle you’re building. The more traffic to your business website, the better you look in the eyes of the search engines. When it comes to local SEO, it’s not hard to do; but make sure you learn more about this because it will help you build your business. Local SEO works extremely well for the right offline businesses, and if you feel it’s for your business – then get cracking on it and make it happen.

Tools for Your Computer

Computer Tools for Your Computer

Tools for your computer – this one CAN be tempting…

Having owned a computer company – and being the main technician for many of those years – it’s a never-surprising thing to see a lot of the problems that consumers normally call about. People seem able to live with a whole LOT of problems on their computers before they actually call a computer repair company. “So how long HAS your computer been taking you to home page and taking you to a Russian search engine?” “A couple months…” Seriously? I get antsy whenever my computer makes a new noise or something pops up where I’m not expecting it. Of course, that probably DOES have a lot to do with my background in tech.

PCs are pretty self-sufficient. Most of the time they don’t need extra accessories, and these days Windows 8.1 automatically takes care of many regular maintenance chores for you. Nevertheless, taking proper care of a PC means pulling out some physical equipment every now and again.

My brother-in-law called on Thursday night and that’s usually not good. He’s one of those that knows just enough to be dangerous – to use a good local phrase here from the Raleigh NC area – “Bless his heart…” He often tries to go in and “fix” things himself. There’s a joke sign that I’ve seen many times. “Repairs: $10 – Fixing YOUR repairs: $100″ or something along those lines. There are a number of variations on it, but the point is the same. When we get a computer that someone has tried to fix, there are that many more unknowns to deal with. I have to respect people trying to find their own solutions, but… Believe it or not, not EVERY computer repair solution you find online is correct, logical, or even sane.

MOST of the time we have calls from users that have a virus on their computer and it’s running slow. My brother-in-law is and was no different. That’s usually what moves him to call. Sadly, he only does this after trying several things and several beers to go with it. LOL. Yeah, I learned early in my days of computing that you NEVER approach your computer when you’re under the influence of anything besides coffee – and even then – not TOO many cups of it. Just being fidgety and all that can lead to making poor choices when it comes to straightening out your computer.

I had my technician, Troy, go down there Friday afternoon to see if he could knock it out. I didn’t get any emergency calls, so I am going to guess it was knocked out. I admittedly don’t have the patience that I used to when it comes to resolving these things so I am glad that I no longer do much in the field. I’ve even contemplated having my tech straighten out MY computers – however, I’m also usually needing these things early in the am usually. Thankfully, because I do spot issues for the most part pretty quickly, they don’t have much time to get deep into my computer systems.

I saw this article and wanted to check out what THEY thought was important as far as tools to fix a computer. I have to agree with them on 2 out of three. If you have compressed air, a screwdriver – and I would say a pair of good needlenose pliers, you are ready for most anything. They suggest a microfiber cloth as the third piece of the holy computer trimumvirate. I have yet to use a microfiber cloth on my computer in…. mmm… 20 plus years of computing. They also sort of give the Windows 8.1 OS a nod – you won’t hear that from me – Windows 7 all the way for the time being.   If you’re ready to come up from Windows XP to Windows 7, check out this page at Microsoft.

Anyway, they do have some nice info in there – check ‘em out over at PC World…

Three essential ‘hardware’ tools every PC user needs – PCWorld (blog)

http://news.google.com Fri, 11 Apr 2014 14:00:18 GMT

Three essential ‘hardware’ tools every PC user needsPCWorld (blog)PCs are pretty self-sufficient. Most of the time they don’t need extra accessories, and these days Windows 8.1 automatically takes care of many regular maintenance chores for you. Neve …

Read more …

Still the Big Winner – Windows 7

Windows 7 - Yeah, We're Fanboys

Windows 7 – Yeah, We’re Fanboys

Honestly, you’d think the folks at Microsoft would sit up and take notice. We have NO idea who actually sits in their focus groups – and you KNOW they must have focus groups when they test out new software. The people continue to speak. Windows 7 is the current cream of the crop with a bit over 48% of the market. With the general stability, usability and overall likeable personality of Windows 7, we just don’t see it going anywhere anytime soon. I suspect in another ten or so years, we’ll be writing about all the users that still want to hold on to their copies of Windows 7!

The Losers – Windows 8 & 8.1, Windows Vista

Despite all their advertising, despite all the hype – Windows 8 usage is up to about 11% across the board. w00t. Let’s compare that to Vista rocking in at a whopping 2.99%. We aren’t going to dig to see the highest Vista ever made it, but it was never well accepted. And we see it as a failure on the part of those focus groups. No idea if they have Microsoft people standing outside of those meetings handing out free copies of the OS in question, free cars, steak dinners for life or what when they are conducting those studies, but the people that actually USE the software are the ones that ultimately determine the usefulness of the software. And the users have spoken. Vista was a dog. And Windows 8 is shaping up to the another chip off that block. Seriously, who ever decided that yes this Windows 8 was a great interface – unless they were all given the OS to test on a touchscreen laptop or tablet?

The Second Most Popular OS in the World – Windows XP

Okay, so support has ended – well almost – see our article on MS releasing a vulnerability patch for the XP version of Internet Explore – but it remains the second most popular operating system. And it WAS and still IS a very solid operating system. Now granted they did have issues with a service pack back in the day – no operating system is ever completely all that and a bag of chips off the bat. Over the years though, XP was able to maintain a whole lot of stability. No muss, no fuss, just did the job without too much issue. Not ridiculously intrusive like the ill-fated Vista. Not designed for another device and foisted on the desktop public like Windows 8. We honestly hate to see it go.

Read the article…

Windows 7 Outgains Windows 8 and 8.1 Again, Windows XP Above

http://thenextweb.com

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 12:13:03 GMT

March was the fifth full month of availability for Microsoft’s latest operating system version: Windows 8.1 continues to steadily grow while Windows 8 managed to stay flat, allowing the duo together to finally crack 11 percent …

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Microsoft Releases First Post-XP Patch for IE Vulnerability

Internet Explorer Logo - Vulnerability

Internet Explorer Vulnerability – Huh, where have we heard THAT before???

We knew it, we knew it, we knew it. It was only a matter of time, though even WE didn’t think it would be such a SHORT matter of time. We do have to applaud Microsoft on the one hand for taking care of what actually is a pretty significant security hole across multiple versions of Internet Explorer. You’ll never hear US pushing ANYONE to use IE though – it’s last on our list of browsers to use – though we are forced to use it to check website design projects on a regular basis.

Microsoft, after officially retiring Windows XP back in April, has decided in its infinite wisdom to issue a patch for the Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability that affected all versions of IE across Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8. While this might seem like the right thing to do, it’s actually a huge mistake that undercuts Microsoft’s efforts to get the hundreds of millions of Windows XP holdouts to upgrade. After all, if Microsoft fixed this bug in Windows XP, who’s to say it won’t do it again? IT admins, faced with the harsh reality of finally having to upgrade to a modern operating system, will sleep well tonight knowing that Microsoft is a push over and will continue to support XP while it has a significant number of users. The status quo is preserved.

So, will this be a continuing thing? We are thinking not, but Microsoft has opened a can of worms by providing this fix to users of the now “not QUITE ready for retirement” Windows XP. XP is actually not a bad OS at all and is very solid for a lot of users still. Sort of like the difference between a “smartphone” and a simple cell phone – there are a lot of people that really only want and need the functionality that they have in their cellphone. We, of course, love many of the cool features in some of the new OSes. (Editor’s note: When we say “new OSes”, we actually only REALLY mean Windows 7. Vista and 8 – not so much.) We also know a lot of people are more than happy, now that they have been using their XP machine for years (some more than a decade now), to use it as is. InNo need for fancier bells and whistles. So many users are all about web browsing, visiting Facebook and checking some webmail. We can tell you with our experience in Raleigh computer repair, that MOST customers really don’t care about all the newer features.

Perhaps Microsoft feels guilty about forcing people to upgrade to the Windows 8 platform? Maybe deep in their collective hearts they feel poorly about the half-baked offering that is Windows 8 and feels they SHOULD take care of the people that are on an OS that they LIKE? Yeah, probably not. They’re probably still on the “It’s the greatest thing since… Vista” bandwagon LOL. We pretty much steer customers to Windows 7 UNLESS they happen to be using a touch-enabled device. That’s the ONLY case in which it makes sense. Acckkk. We’ll save our Windows 8 bashing for another article.

Read more about the IE patch here

Microsoft patches IE bug in Windows XP, but it’s a huge mistake

http://www.extremetech.com Fri, 02 May 2014 14:16:11 GMT

Microsoft, after officially retiring Windows XP back in April, has decided in its infinite wisdom to issue a patch for the Internet Explorer zero-day vulnerability that affected all versions of IE across Windows XP, Vista, 7, and 8.

Read more …