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March 29th, 2014

How to Pick Out the Right Tablet

There’s no denying that the tablet market has blown up in a major way.

Indeed, it seems hard to cast your mind back to when many people considered the iPad a ridiculous invention that would never catch on.  Those seeking a tablet in 2014 have a whole host of different options to choose from, which is why we’re going to take a look at how to go about choosing the right one, whether it’s a tablet hybrid from Lenovo or a Nexus 7:

Picking a camp

The first major decision in choosing a tablet is which operating system you’d prefer to have.  It’s an entirely subjective thing (despite what many of the more passionate fans might say!) and it’s simply a matter of trying them out and seeing which one works best for you.

iPads will obviously use Apple’s latest operating system, with Android supplying the operational software for most other manufacturers including Acer, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Samsung.

It’s also worth noting that there are now some affordable Windows 8 tablets making their way onto the market.

Apps

Needless to say, apps remain a key reason for the success of the tablet market.

For some people, they offer the ability to watch movies or YouTube videos, for others they provide the ability to edit photos.  Others, of course, simply like to relax and read a book.

The Apple App Store is certainly very well maintained, with nearly half a million programs and games available right off the bat.

Android has certainly stepped up its game in recent years in a bid to compete.  However, the Android store also has a reputation for being less well regulated in terms of security: a lot of malware-affected apps originate there.

The visuals

Needless to say, the size of the screen also plays a key part. Tablets vary by a reasonable amount, usually between 10 and 7 inches.

Fortunately, most of the major models (iPads, Nexus Tablets and Kindle Fires) all come in different size, so you don’t have to be stuck with one brand just because you like the size.

Screen resolution is another important factor.  The more detailed the activities the tablet is being bought for, the bigger and more detailed the screen will need to be.  The Kindle Fire 8.9 currently offers the best in terms of pixels at 2,560 by 1,600.  The iPad’s retina display (at 2048×1536 pixels) is also excellent.

Wi-Fi and other connections

This is actually a major characteristic, and one that inexperienced users will often forget to take into account.

Different tablets will have different connection options, with some only able to connect to the web when there is a Wi-Fi hotspot nearby.  This means that they won’t be able to connect to the net when out and about like a smartphone does.

The ability to connect to 3G/4G is something that does add a bit to the price but for those that want to access the web when out and about, it’s not really optional.

Those that just want to use the tablet at home, however, could probably get away with just Wi-Fi.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Advice at 1:01 PM UTC

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February 2nd, 2014

Should your browser remember website passwords?

We have all fallen into this trap, even those of us who should know better

We let IE / firefox / chrome remember a website password, because you are so tired of always entering the same password, sometimes many times per day.

But this is a big problem, particularly if you get infected, or someone gets access to your PC.

By default, anyone who can access your computer (including viruses), can view and use your password to gain access to your accounts… In todays environment, it would be a disaster for most of us.

firefoxHowever, at least Firefox has a way of making the passwords much more secure: a master password.

 

Under tools -> options -> security, just tick the box “Use a master password”, and then enter a password you are sure you can remember.

After that, every time you start firefox, you will be asked for the password. No password, no remembered passwords.

This won’t guarantee that a virus or intruder won’t get your website passwords, but it does make it much more difficult.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Technical at 4:44 PM UTC

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January 21st, 2014

beware of perion.com & codefuel.com

I just got an unusual email from victor.vlad@perion.com

At first it doesn’t seem unusual, he says he’s from codefuel.com, a division of perion.com

he stared off saying:

I’m contacting you to discuss a possible partnership between CodeFuel and your company.

CodeFuel offers a free software monetization service, including:

* Search Monetization: Get paid per user with our SearchFuel solutions.
* Smart Installer: Monetize software with the InstallFuel recommendation engine.
* Advanced Analytics: Analyze data, traffic & boost revenues with our Control Center.

Yep, it all sounds vague, yet interesting enough to get a software developer interested in getting money for software.

Hovering my mouse over some of the links in the email shows that the links point to a conduit.com portal.

In this day and age, it pays to be suspicious, and since the only address I recognise is conduit.com (from my experience in helping customers with computers bogged down with junk software (ie its not virus/spyware/malware, but it gets in the way of using the computer the way it should be used), I know that conduit should be avoided at almost any cost.

So rather than click on any links, I decide to go directly to perion.com and codefuel.com

at perion.com, I see mention of software like:

and various other junk software.

So now I know for sure:

Stay away from perion.com and codefuel.com

As far as I’m concerned, based on all the negative experience I (and many of my customers) have had with incredimail alone, I know that this leopard might have changed its spots, but its still something you should stay well away from.

You have been warned!

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Hints at 12:16 AM UTC

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January 17th, 2014

Computer superstitions and false beliefs

I encounter many people who try to fix their computer problems before they call me.

Quite often they tell me what they did to “fix” the problem, and many times, their remedy verges on superstitious actions, performed out of sheer ignorance.

Examples of computer repairs made out of false beliefs:

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Technical at 7:22 PM UTC

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December 3rd, 2013

cleanup the email buildup in cpanel

Ive had this ongoing problem with emails on hosted domains that use linux cpanel.

I’ve had this issue for over 8 years, and across 3 different hosting companies, so it must be quite widespread, yet nobody seems to be interested in fixing it.

So what’s the problem?

While using a pop3 email account, the hosting server accumulates email files that get downloaded to the email client.

Even if the email client is configured to delete the emails from the server after download, the cpanel server still keeps these emails… indefinitely!

In the early days, I would routinely get warnings about my disk storage reaching maximum capacity (ie I was running out of space).

After some investigation, I found that emails were the culprit, and there was nothing in place to fix it, other than to login to the cpanel, and manually remove the large number of files.

I managed to create my own solution, using my unix knowledge:

I created a cron job, which would run daily, which would scan all the mail folders, and delete any files that were older than, say, 60 days.

So as long as I checked my mail at least once every 60 days, then my system wouldn’t delete any undelivered emails.

Since starting my own hosting company, I have found this technique very useful in preventing my own customers from having similar problems.

So exactly what do I do?

If you are familiar with cron and unix scripts, the command looks something like:

13 3 * * * find ~/mail -name "*.*.*.*.*" -type f -mtime +60 -exec rm '{}' \;

In simple terms, what this means is:

at 3:13 in the morning, every day, execute the command:

find ~/mail -name "*.*.*.*.*" -type f -mtime +60 -exec rm '{}' \;

And the command means: search the folders under the mail folder, and find a file that has 4 dots in the name (*.*.*.*.*)

the -type f makes sure it only finds files, and not folders, or other weird stuff.

the -mtime +60 means make sure the files have been modified over 60 days ago

the -exec rm ‘{}’ \; means use the rm command (ie delete) on each file found ( the ‘{}’ will substitute the file name), and the \; means this is the end of the -exec part on the command.

Try this at your own risk… this has the potential to delete your whole website, so be extra careful, and don’t just blindly copy/paste what I wrote.

I tested the command by using the ls command, instead of rm… that way I could see which files would get deleted, without deleting anything!

Besides the risk of not knowing what you’re doing, the only problem with this system, is that it doesn’t seem to work if you use IMAP eg it can happen if you use smartphones/ipads/tablets/IMAP email clients… particularly if you rely on the email programs “auto-detect” system, then you probably find that the cleanup just doesn’t work.

In this case, besides some careful customer education, the only option is to use an email redirection to something like gmail , so that you use the large gmail storage, rather than the more limited hosting storage.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Linux, Technical at 4:03 PM UTC

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November 4th, 2013

brother wt100cl waste toner cartridge cannot be re-used

I have one of these really cheap brother HL-4040CN colour printers.

It works quite well for me

One of my customers also has the same printer, and has had it about the same amount of time that I have.

However, she hardly uses her printer (I probably print out 10 times as much as she does).

So when she called me to look as her printer (she said it was refusing to print), I assumed it would be a simple problem.

But once I had a good look, I could see that it was complaining about the waste toner cartridge being full.

My first thought was: what exactly is a waste toner cartridge?

It seems that as toner powder is arranged on a page, a small quantity doesn’t stay on the page, and ends up in a waste container.

Once this container is full, it must be replaced before printing can continue.

But… why did the customer printer fill the waste toner box before mine (and months later, mine is still not full).

Anyway, I first attempted to empty the waste toner box, but after making quite a mess, the printer still refused to print.

So I get a new cartridge, and everything was back to normal.

I then had a careful look at the old waste cartridge, and after dismantling it (and removing even more waste toner powder!), I started to notice that some of the surfaces had a sticky residue.

Ah, now that might explain the early “failure”… The customer might have had a fire, or maybe burnt some oil while cooking, and some of that sticky “smoke” probably made it into the printer.

Anyway, I eventually cleaned the box quite thoroughly, and its now waiting to be used in my own printer, once my own waste toner cartridge fills up.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Technical at 4:02 PM UTC

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October 5th, 2013

windows 7 won’t remember network password

A common problem with Linux file-server networks, as well as small-scale home networks.

You try to logon to a remote network system, so that you can get access to a file/folder.

You get asked for your username & password.

You enter the details (if its another windows PC you are trying to access via file sharing (not homegroup), you enter the user / password of the remote Windows user).

You tick the box that say: “Remember my credentials”.

Everything then works well until you re-start the PC.

Then you find Windows didn’t remember your credentials, and you need to enter the username / password again!

And there is nothing obvious you can do to fix the problem.

Here is how to fix it:

On the computer that keeps forgetting:

Start -> Control Panel -> User Accounts -> Credential Manager ->If you see your login details at this point, they have probably been saved incorrectly, so click on the incorrect details, and it will expand, so that you can click “remove from vault”

cred1cred2

Now click on “Add a windows credential”

enter the remote computer / server name, the username, and the password, then OK.

Now restart the computer, and you can connect to the remote PC/server without the hassle of entering the details every time.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Technical at 4:26 PM UTC

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September 23rd, 2013

How to Add Disk Cleanup to the Context Menu

This is just a simple little tip which shows you how to add the Disk Cleanup application to the context menu, so that you may right-click on a drive and click “Disk Cleanup”.

Procedure

1. Click Start, type ‘regedit’ in the search box and press Enter.

Disk-cleanup-regedit

2. Expand the following key:

HKEY_CLASSES_ROOT\Drive\shell

3. Right click ‘shell’ and select ‘New – Key’ from the drop down list.

Disk-cleanup-new-key

4. Name the new key ‘Diskcleanup’.

disk-cleanup-new-key-name

5. Create another new key called ‘Command’ in the right hand pane of ‘diskcleanup’.

6. Double click on the (default) value in the right hand pane and enter in the following:

cleanmgr.exe /d %1

disk-cleanup-command-key-default-value

7. All done! Disk cleanup should now appear in the context menu of any of your drives.

Disk-cleanup-context-menu-success

If you are in need of IT support in Sydney, please get in touch with me.

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By JJ Fiasson
Category: Technical at 10:08 AM UTC

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September 20th, 2013

10000 sent emails in 8 years

Its amazing looking at the long-term email stats, particularly with a gmail account.

I haven’t been using gmail for 8 years, but I did transfer all my emails when I switched to gmail.

I just happened to go into my sent emails folder, and noticed the total emails in that folder was 10,752

The earliest email was dated 4/5/2005

That means 8 years and 3 months of emails (ie from about the time I started Computer Aid)

That means I have sent approx:

I never thought I wrote so many emails!

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By Luigi Martin
Category: Misc, Technical at 4:39 PM UTC

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September 6th, 2013

Hyundai Getz engine vibration when cold

For the Hyundai Getz owners out there:

Once my Getz (2006, 1.6L engine) reached about 120,000Km, I started to notice a strange engine vibration while cold.

Once the engine warmed up, the vibration stopped.

But the really strange thing was: it would sometimes take over 30 minutes before the vibration would go away!

So it probably wasn’t directly related to the engine itself, as the blue “cold engine” light usually goes off in less than 5 minutes

A quick online search resulted in many different possibilities (but no obvious cause):

So I started to think:

Anyway, I’m not a mechanic, so I took it to my local mechanic (Bailey Road Tyre and Mechanical… these guys are great!).

As part of the usual service, they checked out the problem, and noticed that the engine/gearbox mount was broken, so I gave them the go-ahead to replace it.

But when I got it back, it was no different!

I started thinking: maybe these guys are not as good as I thought… Grrr.

But since I encounter strange problems myself, I gave them the benefit of the doubt.

So I went back.

They had a quick look on a Saturday morning, but needed more time for a good look.

So I booked in the car.

When they looked at it, they said the only other possible problem was the main engine mount.

This started to sound weird, and I was really thinking about spark leads and muffler/exhaust.

Anyway, I let them change the engine mount.

When I went to pickup the car, I see the invoice mentioned a FR500 engine mount.

And I was told its an unusual mount, in that its a fluid-filled mount.

I hadn’t heard of those before. But decided: if its not any better when I start it tomorrow, I’ll take it elsewhere.

Guess what?

The next day, the engine was super-smooth, and its been that way ever since!

It feels like I have a new car!

Thanks Wayne Lloyd: you did very well, and have turned me into a long-term customer.

And its this type of customer service that should be more common with my line of work.

I often encounter curly problems, which sometimes make new customers distrustful of what I say, as I can start to sound like I’m making excuses, as I try to fix a problem.

I’m glad I decided to trust, instead of falling into the easy (and negative) emotion of distrust.

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By Luigi Martin
Category: car, Misc at 4:44 PM UTC

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August 23rd, 2013

How to allow multiple users to access an encrypted file

In a previous post we covered how to encrypt files or folders in Windows and various important details surrounding the use of EFS (Encrypting File System).

This post will cover how to grant multiple users access to one of these encrypted files or folders, as well as a quick reminder on how to turn encryption on for a given file/folder.

Procedure

1. Right click the relevant file and select ‘Properties’ from the drop down list.

EFS-add-name-file-access-properties

2. The file’s Properties dialog box opens. Select the ‘Advanced’ button.

EFS-add-name-file-encryption-file-Properties

3. In the Advanced Attributes dialog box, tick the option ‘Encrypt contents to secure data’ and click ‘OK’.

EFS-file-name-tick-box-advanced-attributes

4. You are returned to the Properties dialog box. Click ‘OK’ to continue. The file should now be in green.

5. Right click the file again and select ‘Properties’.

EFS-add-name-encrypted-file

6. In the Properties dialog box, click ‘Advanced’. Select the ‘Details’ button in the Advanced Attributes dialog box.

EFS-Advanced-Attributes-Details

7. In the User Access pane, you can view who has access to the particular file. Click the ‘Add’ button.

EFS-add-name-encrypted-file-User-Access-to-Executive-Summary-Add..

8. Select the person you want to grant access to the file. Click OK.

EFS-add-name-Denise-select-OK

9. You are returned to the User Access pane, where the person selected is now listed under ‘Users who can access this file’. Click OK 3 more times to finally close out of file properties.

EFS-User-Access-to-Executive-Summary-OK

Conclusion

Remember, if you are going to utilise encryption on your files in Windows it is important to back up your security certificate so that you can access the files in case your Windows installation becomes corrupt.

Also, if you find yourself in need of IT support and you’re located in Sydney, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

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By JJ Fiasson
Category: Technical at 3:54 PM UTC

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