Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Sky Is Falling

Microsoft’s SkyDrive won’t be around much longer – at least not by that name. Microsoft has decided to ditch the SkyDrive name after a court dispute has been settled deciding that the use of the SkyDrive name was infringing on a trademark owned by British Sky Broadcasting Groups Sky.

Rather than continue battling in the courts, Microsoft has decided to re-brand SkyDrive, its cloud-based storage service, to OneDrive.

When asked why OneDrive, Microsoft put a positive spin on the name change with the following statement: “We know that increasingly people will have many devices in their lives and really want only one place to store their most important stuff – One place for all their photos and videos – One place for all of their important documents – One place that is seamlessly connected across all the devices they use. OneDrive for everything in your life”!

If you already had a SkyDrive or SkyDrive Pro account, nothing is going to change, you’ll just see a new name when you sign in. If you setup a new account, Microsoft will give you 7GB of free storage space when you sign up and add another 3GB free if you opt to use the service’s camera backup feature. If you need more storage space you can add on an extra 50GB for $25 a year, 100GB for $50 a year, and 200GB for $100 a year.

There’s nothing exciting about OneDrive to make it stand out in the crowded arena of online storage providers like DropBox, Google Drive or Box. If you want to make a comparison before jumping on the bandwagon, take a look at this article and review on CNET – which online storage service is right for you?

Microsoft Cloud – OneDrive:
https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/

OneDrive Pricing Plans:
https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/plans/

Its Time To Say Goodbye To LogMeIn Free


After ten years, LogMeIn’s free remote access product is going away. Current users will be notified via email and in-product messages about the need to upgrade. While messaging has already started, users will be given 7 days to make a purchase decision about LogMeIn Pro.

Even though LogMeIn Free is gone, don’t panic: You can still find alternative and FREE remote-access tools. Whether you need to access a document, collaborate with a colleague, or support several PCs, try one of these free tools to get back into the game.

TeamViewer
Our tech team has been using TeamViewer as our secondary remote access tool for years, and it has always been reliable. Simply download the program from the website, and then install it (or run it without installation, if you like) on both of the PCs you want to connect. During installation, you can also set the program to allow for unattended control. TeamViewer installs as both a server and a client, so you can use it to take control or to allow control.

TeamViewer 9’s cooler features include the ability to open multiple remote sessions in tabs (as in a browser), cut and paste between computers via the clipboard, and drag and drop files from your desktop to the remote desktop. It’s a mature, stable, practical tool for anyone’s remote-control needs. Note that you will get the occasional message about upgrading to the pay version if you use TeamViewer regularly to connect to a lot of different PCs.

VNC
VNC, or Virtual Network Computing, isn’t itself a product, but an open-source remote-control and display technology that’s implemented by Tight VNC (free), Ultra VNC (free) and RealVNC (free and pay), among other parties. VNC isn’t hard to use, but it’s not as simple as Join.me and TeamViewer, which don’t require user knowledge of IP addresses. To use VNC, install it on both the PCs you want to connect and then set them to listening. To control another PC, simply open the VNC viewer (client), enter the PC’s IP address, and have at it.

Join.me
Join.me is another remote access tool my team uses on a regular basis. Join.me is a web-based meeting service (free and pay) from LogMeIn that also provides remote control. It’s convenient for impromptu support in that all you need on the controlling PC is a Web browser. The user with the computer that will host the meeting (and offer control) simply surfs to the Join.me site, selects Start Meeting, and downloads a file.

After running the file, the meeting originator passes the provided nine-digit passcode to the user or users on the other end, who in turn enter the passcode in the Join Meeting field on the Join.me homepage. The meeting originator’s desktop will appear in the browser. Once remote control is granted, you can chat, send files, and more. Join.me isn’t suited for unattended remote control, which makes it only a partial replacement for LogMeIn.

WebEx Free
Most users think of WebEx as a tool for multiuser boardroom meetings, but it’s also perfectly suitable for small-scale, live (not unattended) remote control and support. WebEx works a little differently from Join.me in that installing software is required at both ends, but that’s a relatively painless process.

Once users have joined the meeting, initially they can only view the originator’s desktop, but the originator can make another person the presenter, pass control over the mouse and keyboard, and share files, chat, and utilize webcams for face-to-face interaction. There’s a bit of a learning curve if you stray from the main features (available from the usual drop-down panel at the top of the display), but overall WebEx is quite easy to use. 

Most importantly – Don’t get spoofed
Because of the popularity of remote-control and remote-meeting services, the Web is ripe with spoofed websites (those that look very much like the correct one, but aren’t) that will attempt to lure you in if you don’t type the URL correctly. Downloading software from these sites can be dangerous to your computer’s health, as well as to your wallet. This is something we talk about all the time.

The correct website addresses for the services I’ve mentioned above are:

TeamViewer — http://www.teamviewer.com/en/index.aspx
RealVNC — http://www.realvnc.com/
Join.me — https://join.me/
WebEx Free — http://www.webex.com/

The ability to access and control a PC remotely is a must for workers and IT administrators alike. If you really love one of these free alternatives, consider throwing a few bucks to the developer. Who knows: Your contribution could help to keep the FREE program going for everyone.

Internet Privacy

Internet Privacy – is there such a thing? One of the questions we hear often is “why do I keep getting bombarded with ads for things I’ve just searched for in Google”? The primary reason is that Google indexes, stores and remembers your search criteria every time you use their search engine.

Now – in some cases this might be to your advantage but…. do you really want Google or BING remembering everything you do on the internet?

Here’s what normally happens:
When you search Google and click on a link, the search term you used is usually sent to that site, along with your browser and computer information which can often be used to uniquely identify YOU! Now that’s pretty creepy, but who cares about some random site> Those sites usually have or host 3
rd party ads and those 3rd parties build profiles about you using your information and that’s why all those ads follow you everywhere you go.

Ok – so that’s a little alarming but who cares about some 3rd party ads??? Keep in mind that your profile(s) can be sold to other online advertisers (yes – Google does this regularly) and your information could potentially end up in places or with companies whom you have no control over.  But that’s not all… your innocent searches are saved and these “saved” searches can be legally requested or a bad Google employee could go snooping or Google could get hacked (all of these things have already happened).

So what can you do???
DuckDuckGo.com might be the answer. DuckDuckGo is an open source search engine that allows you to browse the internet anonymously and find things pretty much instantly making your searches efficient, powerful and relevant.

DuckDuckGo brings back similar results as many other search engines on the market; however, it offers a few features that are worth a second look for the savvy Web searcher. For example:

  • DuckDuckGo’s results pages are not paginated, making it easy to scroll down and find what you’re looking for quickly.
  • Favicons (the small images that show up in address bar, unique to each site) are displayed next to search results for instant recognition of your favorite sites.
  • Instant answers, called “zero-click info”, show up delineated by a red outline at the top of your results, depending on what your search query is.

DuckDuckGo search shortcuts:
DuckDuckGo gives searchers the ability to search within any site, using either the dropdown menu next to the main search box, or the “bang” search shortcut (an exclamation point used in tandem with the name of the Web site). There are hundreds of DuckDuckGo bang shortcuts, covering a multitude of sites varying in topics from research to entertainment.

In addition to advanced site search, DuckDuckGo offers what they call goodies, an intriguing array of all kinds of search shortcuts, anything from special keyboard shortcuts to specialized cheat sheets.

Give it a try:
https://duckduckgo.com/

You can also easily add this search engine plug-in to your browser so you can automatically protect yourself when you browse. It works with pretty much everything – Internet Explorer, FireFox , Google Chrome, iPhones, iPads and Android devices

Cha Cha Cha Changes

The Computer industry has to change to grow so this news is all relative to that process.

Dell’s expected layoff is expected to begin this week, and over 15,000 people may lose their jobs worldwide.

Insiders say that the PC giant’s restructuring operation has resulted in cuts in every department, “some of these have already been downsized and are now being told to cut 15% more heads.”

The restructuring efforts of the now privately-owned PC maker are down to a falling PC market, slumping profit margins and a slow start in the mobile realm where Apple, Samsung and Google now dominate. As part of the company revamp, founder Michael Dell is trying to focus on enterprise-related services including cloud and mobile systems — but this means that staff in sectors unrelated to the new business focus are at risk.

One of the sources predicting the cuts — which are expected to hit at least 15,000 people – states this will be “a bloodbath” when it arrives. The severance package is said to include two months’ pay plus an extra week for each year in Dell’s employ, a bonus at 75 percent, health insurance for 18 months in the U.S. and some outplacement services available, at least stateside.

Dell’s current chief financial officer, Brian Gladden, will soon be leaving Dell in order to “pursue career interests outside of Dell,” and will be replaced by the Texas-based firm’s chief accounting officer, Thomas Sweet.

Last week, Dell announced a partnership with Cumulus Networks to deliver Linux-based, bare-metal networking devices to businesses, to develop their “vision of the new data center networking model is an open ecosystem where customers can choose among various industry-standard networking gear, network applications and network operating systems to meet their business needs.”

Also last week – Lenovo purchased IBM’s Server business for $2.3 billion and the Motorola Mobility Smartphone Unit for $2.9 billion.

10 years ago Lenovo bought IBM’s money-losing ThinkPad business for $1.75 billion with Lenovo becoming the industry leader in personal computers in 2012. The IBM Server buy will heighten the competition for Michael Dell bringing Lenovo’s server market share from 2% to 14%. Perhaps this helps explain the massive layoffs slated for Dell employees later on this week.

Moving forward – it will most certainly be the tablet and smartphone manufacturers that will drive technology and the computing industry of our future. Where the dust will settle by weeks end is anyone’s guess. Hold on to your hats and enjoy the ride as we, the consumers, are dragged, kicking and screaming into the next big technology adventure.

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