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used with permission from HP Technology at Work


These days, a notebook without an internet connection is like a bicycle without pedals. You can still use it, but you won’t get very far. That’s why it’s all the more frustrating when you lose your wireless internet connection and your IT department or helpful officemate aren’t there to provide a quick fix.

A savvy user, however, doesn’t have to be at the mercy of other people’s schedules. With a few simple troubleshooting tips—and a basic understanding of how your wireless network is set up—you can easily take care of many common issues yourself and quickly return to peak productivity. Here’s how [1].

Looking for trouble

Fixing your wireless internet connection is in large part a process of elimination. You need to check each link in the chain that takes you online and determine which link is—or is not—causing the issue. For most environments, you’ll find the problem in one of these four areas:



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used with permission by HP Technology at Work

Windows-Server-2012-LogoDo you feel like you spend as much time evaluating new technologies as you do performing your job responsibilities? An over-exaggeration for sure, but carefully choosing network and computing technology obviously helps to determine whether your business operates as efficiently, productively or competitively as possible. That said, what’s the deal with Microsoft® Windows Server 2012?

Introduced last September in Datacenter, Standard, Essentials and Foundation editions—the latter two specifically targeted at small businesses with a maximum of 15 and 25 users, respectively—Windows Server’s sixth release has received mostly favorable reviews for its installation options, user interface, task manager, IP address management and active directory. It’s also received high marks for its inclusion of Microsoft’s newest Hyper-V, resilient file system (ReFS) and Internet Information Services (IIS) 8.0, as well as its overall scalability.

Naysayers lament the elimination of the popular Windows Small Business Server, Windows Home Server and Microsoft Exchange from the new lineup.  Read more...

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desktop computer with lcd monitor, keyboard, speaker and mouse,Sure, it’s enticing. You’ll save money right now if you run out to your local big box store or hop online and purchase that computer or that combo firewall/wireless router that’s on sale. But is that money saved really worthwhile for your business in the long run?

They say that a penny saved is a penny earned, but when it comes to your businesses technology, that penny saved may cost you a lot more later on down the road.

The main reason is that the majority of equipment sold at the big box stores are for home users and aren’t made for the higher demands of a small business. Think about it—is that combo firewall/wireless router really going to stop a professional hacker from accessing your critical business or customer data, or provide the security to protect your network? It’s not.

Let’s start by taking a look at the most widespread piece of technology throughout any business in the country—the computerRead more...

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APC is recalling 15 million computer surge strips due to fire hazard. These were very popular and there is a very good chance you own one! If you have one that looks like this, turn it over and check the model number and year of manufacture from this table and submit your recall request today. They are supposed to be removed from service immediately.

apc surgearrest recall






Update 12/6/2013:  Being the curious types we are, we decided to dissect one that was removed from service in our office.  Here are some pictures of what we found:  the board and a resistor got hot in a couple of places…

APC-board-fire-hazard1APC board fire hazard2

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Windows_Server_2K3_Standard_ED_CoverBxI’d like some of our clients to give serious consideration to retiring some aging hardware and software that is still out there: Server 2003 and Windows XP.

Microsoft is ending support for XP on April 8, 2014.  I still see hundreds of XP systems out there on client systems we help support – now is the time to put them out to pasture with a new Windows 7 or 8 based system.  We’ll even help you donate the carcass of your old computer to Free Geek (after wiping the drives of course).

Server 2003 is getting really long in the tooth as well (it’s ten years old now), and I also still see plenty of Server 2003 systems on my management dashboard. You may say, I’ve got this really great backup system you sold me, so if it crashes, you’ll come fix it for me – right? Our techs have actually heard this from customers.  Read more...

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money_colorNow is the time to have that chat with your CPA to see if spending any of your hard-earned profit this year may help lower your tax 2013 liability.  In our case, we “saved” about 1/3 the cost on our taxes by spending some of it this year.

The IRS ratchets up the percentage you must pay in a tiered fashion, starting at 15% for $50k to 39% or more for over $100k in profit. Of course, you need to add state, county, and city taxes on top of that.

If you need to do some upgrades before the end of the year, let us know sooner rather than later so we can get the work scheduled before the holidays!

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I own two tablet devices.  I have had an iPad for years, and a couple of weeks ago I was given a Windows 8 tablet (a Lenovo Thinkpad 2).  I purchased the keyboard dock for the ThinkPad, which also came with a nice optical pointing device that is very similar to the old IBM notebook trackpoint device.

The big difference is that the Windows-based tablet can run Office and Outlook, which are my main applications.  Unfortunately for Microsoft, that’s where the difference ends.

Perhaps a little explanation of Windows 8 is in order: There are two interfaces available – the traditional “desktop” (Windows 7 style) interface, and a new Windows 8 touchscreen interface (previously known as “Metro”).

The touch-style app selection on the Windows tablet is inadequate.  While you can load and run many of the desktop applications you are used to on your windows tablet, there are several apps that I use regularly on my iPad that are simply not available for the Windows tablet.  Read more...

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win8_trimA little over a month ago, my notebook crashed with a corrupted hard drive after an improper shutdown.  I decided to take the plunge and go to Windows 8 instead of re-installing Windows 7 and all of my programs, because I had a good backup of all my data files, but alas – no drive image.

At the same time, I decided to upgrade to an SSD, which increased performance substantially, and breathed some life into my relatively old laptop that is long past its expected usable lifespan of 3 years.

The trick to make Windows 8 behave like Windows 7 is to install the free “Classic Start menu” add-on, which causes Windows 8 to boot into desktop mode and gives me a start menu just like I’m used to.

I had a few issues with AutoCAD and graphics drivers for my ancient video card, which I was able to obtain drivers for.  I had an issue installing AutoDesk Inventor, which I was able to fix by logging on as a local system administrator (rather than a domain admin with cached credentials).  Read more...

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old-serverDuring the economic downturn, many of our clients deferred server upgrades for longer than is wise or recommended.  Now that the worst of the recession seems over, many companies are replacing aged file servers.  In addition to the usual Windows Server replacement options, we have a new option for you to consider: a Cloud-connected server appliance.

SpireTech’s cloud appliances from Ctera are less expensive than a comparable Windows Server replacement, and offer additional features, such as the ability to work from home or on the road without using a VPN, and easy file collaboration with outside partners and consultants. However, there are some things the appliances don’t do.

As you can see in the table below, there are still many good reasons to own a Windows Server. Many clients need to run specific applications directly on the Windows Server, or need Active Directory functionality for security and control of large amounts of users.  Read more...

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pebbleYour smartphone just got passé. It started with Pebble, a smartwatch, that recently started shipping the fruits of a very successful kickstarter campaign. They were able to raise over 100 times their $100,000 goal last year. Now, Apple, Google, LG, and Samsung all seem to want to cash in on the next hot trend. Apple expects to roll out their own version, the iWatch, in 2018 and Google filed a patent for their version of the smartwatch in October of 2012.

That the competition seems to be playing catch-up, and that Pebble works with both iOS and Android, it’s difficult to tell how successful the rest will be.

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