March Tech Tip of the Month

Brought to you by Alandale Training a great resource online for tips and on-site computer training courses in Vancouver, BC. Visit their site at www.alandaletraining.com.

Recurring Outlook appointments with an irregular pattern
Sometimes in Outlook you may have a recurring appointment where the recurrences don’t follow a pattern.  You want to schedule several occurrences of the same appointment on a random set of dates.

Outlook doesn’t let you choose random occurrences for an appointment, so what do you do?  Create the first appointment and then use Drag and Drop to copy it to the dates you want.

Say the first occurrence of the appointment was on September 12th and the second was on September 24th.  Create the appointment on September 12th then use Drag and Drop to copy it to the 24th.

Create the appointment in the usual way then Save and Close.  Press and hold the Ctrl key while you drag the appointment to the 24th on the Date Navigator (the mini calendar that typically shows up on the left of the window when you are using the calendar).  Release the mouse then release the Ctrl key.  Repeat as needed to create additional copies of the appointment.

Note that there will be no connection between these appointments so if you wanted to change something you would need to change it in all the appointments.

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March Tech Deal of the Month

Intel SSD

Each month we will supply you with a product that we believe is a great deal and may suit your business or personal needs. This is an opportunity for you to save time and energy shopping around for what’s best at the best price, because we have done it for you!

Intel Solid-State Drive 335 Series

Price: $ 226.00

*Tax and Shipping not included

If you are interested please contact the sales team at https://www.itsconsultinginc.ca/contact/

 

No More Tech Support for Windows XP

Win xp dead

As of the 8th of April, 2014, Microsoft will no longer offer technical support for Windows XP. After 12 years of support Microsoft, along with their hardware and software partners, will invest their resources to more recent technologies. What this means for users of Windows XP is that you will no longer receive automatic updates which is to help protect your PC. Microsoft Security Essential will also no longer be available to download on Windows XP as of this date. If you have previously downloaded it, you will continue to receive anti malware signature updates for a limited time, but that does not mean that your computer will be protected as you will no longer be receiving security updates.

If you want to ensure your PC stays protected and you continue to receive updates and support from Microsoft you will have to either upgrade your current PC to Windows 8.1 or get a new PC. Not all computers will be able to run Windows 8.1 so it is best to download and run Windows Upgrade Assistant to see if your PC meets the system requirements. If your system does not meet the requirements, it might be best to start looking for new PC.

If you do get a new PC, you would be able to move all your Windows XP stuff using Laplink. Laplink is a free data migration solution with a step-by-step process on how to move all your profiles, files, and settings to your new PC.

To get more information and the links to do the above please click here.

True or False- Truths of Solid-State Drives

SSD

You may already have come to appreciate the awesome capabilities of the ninja-like solid-state drive if you’ve handled a laptop with an SSD in it. Here we will look at three of the most common myths and truths people say about the silent SSD, first let us get to know the 2 different types of SSD.

Currently there are the Single-level (SLC) and Multi-level devices (MLC), with more to come in the future. Single-level devices store 1 bit of information in each memory cell. In multi-level devices, 2 bits of information are stored in each memory cells. With new advancements we will be seeing devices (TLC) which hold 3, 4, or even more per memory cell. With this progress we are able to increase capacities and therefore lowering cost on a per-GB basis. Some SSDs have capacities of up to 1.6TB, and with the advancements we will see higher capacities to come. Now, let’s look at some myths/truths that people say.

 

1-      “SSDs are fast”

TRUE- The typical laptop hard disk will provide about 80 IOs per sec (IOPS) with a 7,200 RPM drive.  A typical consumer class SSD for a laptop will provide thousands of IOPS on top of a massive reduction in latency by 10 times or more.  The fastest HDD is 15,000 RPM and can produce about 180 IOPS per drive. Conservatively an SLC device in a mixed workload will produce in the area of 5,000 to 10,000 IOPS per drive.

2-      “SSDs are expensive”

Kind of True- While it’s true SSDs may cost more than their HDD counterparts, consider the following: One SLC SSD can do the work of 27 or more 15,000-RPM HDDs — but they’re not 15 times the cost. Another cost related benefit for SSDs over HDDs s power. SSDs use a fraction of the power the HDDs use, about 2% on a per-GB basis- so less power and cooling.

3-      “SSDs are unreliable”

FALSE- This is a common topic for debate between SSD vs HDD. SSDs are just as good and dependable as HDDs. Yes they do ‘wear out’, but with some consumer devices, such as memory cards for cameras or thumb drives. But, once you start talking about more robust technology the engineering behind it accounts for this and ensures that the drives wears evenly and has an increased life span, this is accomplished by having  each write goes to a different cell instead of writing to the same cell multiple times in a row. When cells on a device are dead, or begin to die, manufactures have started putting ‘spare’ memory on the drive; similar to spare tracks on a spinning HDD.

Some things you should consider if you are thinking about buying an SSD are that their reliable, you will dramatically improve on the overall performance and response time of your applications, you will get great performance when and where you need it, and the fact that SSDs are dropping in price whilst growing in capacities.

If you are looking for better performance than the addition of an SSD to your storage infrastructure should be something to look into!

 

Security in Social Media, continued – Facebook

Continuing on from our start last month with a general overview of social media and privacy/security this month we look to Facebook, the granddaddy of the social media world and discuss and provide options for how to protect your and your loved ones information.

For a complex guide on Facebook security check this out
http://www.sophos.com/en-us/security-news-trends/best-practices/facebook/status-updates-posted-items.aspx

Facebook however constantly changes the rules and structure of their product, so what was is no longer, as such check often for changes to the security of your social media data, so regularly revisit and check the applications that are tied into your Facebook profile via your computer or your mobile devices and in specific the way Facebook is utilizing the data you post.

Here are some simple things to understand right now and some top tips to keep your information safer.

sociallock1. Understand Your Past
We tend to think of losing privacy as a single, embarrassing moment. A private message made public. A photo accidentally shared.  But in truth, privacy melts slowly over time, like snow in February.  I mean this: Sure, it matters little that Facebook knows you logged in from this Starbucks or that hotel on any particular day.  It matters a lot that Facebook knows you log in from the same Starbucks at 1:15 every afternoon, except on some Fridays when you are probably sneaking out of work early.  Think an employment background company won’t want to know that someday, and sell it to a potential employer? It’s not the data; it’s the Big Data, which hurts your privacy.
So it’s always revealing to see everything that Facebook knows about you in one fell swoop, and keep that in mind whenever you use the tool.

Top Tip: You can see most of what Facebook knows via a single click. Glance up at your cover photo or pick the settings button on the right and click on “Activity Log.”  Here, you’ll see everything you’ve ever liked, all photos you’ve been tagged in, etc.  Take a minute to scroll through this collection of data about you.  If you have a lot more than a minute, you can click through each item, one by one, and change the audience for these things — make some only viewable by friends, for example, or hide them from all other Facebook users.  There is a capability to delete or unlike some items, too, but don’t get too excited. Un-liking a “like” doesn’t mean Facebook removes you from its databases.

2. Don’t Accidentally Disclose Your Location
As Facebook users migrate to mobile devices, it’s becoming critical that you understand the differences among using Facebook on each platform. Facebook users generally don’t like disclosing their location to others; that became obvious when Facebook pushed its “check in here” feature hard, and users pushed back. So Facebook has now opted for more passive location disclosing technologies. Desktop users often see a city name next to the box where they type in updates or private messages. The city name is a pretty good context clue that you are about to tell people where you are, and you can click to avoid the disclosure.
On mobile phones, however, the clue is much more subtle, and it’s EASY to accidentally reveal location data.  On many devices, Facebook places a tiny arrow next to text you are about to enter (designed to evoke a compass) that is either gray or blue. If it’s blue, you are revealing your location. Facebook even offers the recipient of messages a handy map showing where you are.  Yuck.
There are plenty of reports from users who think they’ve disabled location data in other places discover they are enabling location on messages, suggesting this little arrow is easy to accidentally click, or its default setting is too information sharing friendly.
Top Tip: Pull up a Facebook message dialog box on a mobile phone and if you see a location arrow, make sure it is grey.  It should stay grey going forward, unless you accidentally brush it, so make sure you notice it each time you use the service.
BONUS Tip: iPhones allow users to disable location services at the app level using the phone’s settings menu. Just go to settings/privacy/location services and make sure Facebook isn’t selected.

3. Don’t Accidentally Tell Advertisers What You’re Doing
Consumers don’t like telling corporations where they are or what they are doing, but it happens constantly. Remember, if you aren’t paying for the product, you are the product, and nowhere is that saying more true than on Facebook’s “free” service. To make money, the company needs to sell you to other companies.

Top Tip: Facebook has a pretty simple advertising tab that you should click on and declare your preferences.  This link should get you there. Or, from the desktop app, you get there by clicking on settings and ads, then selecting “edit” next to each item. The notices are wordy, but your best choice is simple. Just pick “No one” from the available drop down menus.  The immediate impact? Your name or likeness won’t appear in Facebook ads shown to your friends.

Car / Auto Gadgets

Car Gadgets

Some people really like to get gadgets for their cars, and sometimes you may just need some help looking for a gift for a car-lover. Below are some generic, helpful, and novelty ideas to gift you some inspiration.

 

BMW app for iPhone

BMW app for iPhone

I’m sure if you already have a newer generation BMW you already have this app. With this app you can connect to your daily apps such as Facebook, web radio, navigation and more to come in the future.

 

 

 

 

Swift hitch potable back-up camera

Swift hitch potable back-up camera

For those of you with boats or trailers, or anything you need to hitch up to your truck, trying to line it up by yourself is hard. This great portable, wireless full color back-up system could make those trips so much easier!

 

 

 

 

Car MD

Car MD

For the average consumer, you don’t want to take your car to the mechanic every time you hear something, but you like the peace of mind that your car is running smoothly. This great device gives you the information to monitor your vehicle’s health, and diagnose dashboard warning lights.

 

 

 

goLINK iPod cable

goLINK iPod cable

Download the free app to your iPhone, and buy this cable and you have a similar product as the Car MD (above). You can check trouble codes, monitor various parameters and diagnose problems in your vehicle.

 

 

 

 

Ram drink cup mount

Ram drink cup mount

Until recently, I was not aware that all vehicles weren’t equipped with a cup holder. I was so happy when I came across this. Easy to set up and have your beverage easily accessible, whether you are in your car, motorbike, or an ATV, this holder is durable and secure.

Camping Tech For Summer Adventures

Camping Tech

Some campers like to go for the outdoor- one with nature type trip; while others want to be close to nature, without having to give up their daily habits. But some people like the added help and convenience you can get when using gadgets on your outdoor adventures. Below are some nifty tools that can help you with clean water, navigating, sleeping, and keeping your gadgets fully charge when out in the wild.

 

BioLite Campstove with Portable Grill

BioLite Campstove with Portable GrillThis is great portable stove is so convenient and efficient. It works as a fire to keep you warm (using wood), you can cook your food over the flame, and charges your gadgets! If you want to go that extra step, you can also purchase the portable grill.

 

 

 

Victorinox Expedition Kit

Victorinox Expedition Kit 41 functions rolled into one handy-hand held knife. From corkscrew and scissors to digital clock and thermometer. This Swiss army knife should come in handy for trips long and short.

 

 

 

 

MPOWERD Luci

MPOWERD LuciThis waterproof, high-quality micro solar lantern is a great addition to your camping gear. This tiny light source can collapse to just one inch thin; these little guys are great to have around, for either camping or a blackout.

 

 

 

 

Eton Scorpion

Eton Scorpionaudio line input, AM/FM radio, flashlight, USB cell phone charger. With a built-in hand crank to power it up, this compact and portable radio/flashlight is extremely useful while outdoors.

 

 

 

 

Braven BRV-1

Braven BRV-1 Amazing compact, waterproof bluetooth speakers which are ideal for outdoor enthusiasts who love their music. Perfect if you are camping by a waterfall; or having an impulse party in the wild.

 

 

 

 

CamelBak All Clear Bottle

CamelBak All Clear BottleWater is always a necessity while being outdoors. This UV purification system is perfect to ensure you stay healthy and hydrated when on those backcountry roads or up in the mountains.

 

 

 

 

Tpod Standby Solar Charger

Tpod Standby Solar ChargerThis device is one of the many things to come from Kickstarter. Charge any USB device anytime with this sleek compact battery pack.

 

 

 

 

Selk’bag sleeping bag suit

Selk’bag sleeping bag suitHate that feeling of having to get out of your sleeping bag? Well now you can walk around with it! This suit is great for most seasons’ outdoors and extra cozy for those winter nights indoors.

ITS March Updates

march1

The last month of winter! Of course winter has it’s great points, slopes, warm cocoa, but it is time for longer days and more time outdoors and more sun! In this months blog posts we are going to give you some ideas to look for when shopping for your camping gear this year. Even though most people go camping for the great outdoors and be away from electronics, there are things that can help you along. Also, we take a look at some gadgets for cars, along with our monthly tips and info on technology. Happy Reading!