Aug 192013
 

Download.com has always been a trusted site to find and download a plethora of software programs in any category and know that your download would be free of any malware or crapware.  Unfortunately, according to this article, that era is over.

The article describes how the new CNET downloader is full of potential traps, but even if you manage to dodge them, you will still get unwanted software installed on your computer.

Should you decide to bypass their downloader, you aren’t out of the woods. The article describes that any download that begins with “cbsidlm” is still infected.

We encourage you to read the article and look at the screenshots carefully.  While Download.com may still have some value in helping you to explore your options in a particular software category, it appears that it is no longer a safe place to download from.

 Posted by at 5:33 pm
May 152013
 

The Bcc field is your friendWhen you send or forward an e-mail to a group of people, please be courteous and use the “Bcc” field instead of the “To” or “Cc” field — unless you specifically want your recipients to know who received the e-mail.

If you are forwarding an e-mail with a list of recipients already on it, please be kind and delete the prior list of recipients.

It is so annoying to receive an e-mail that has a half page of e-mail names and addresses on it, and doubly so when you are using a mobile device with a small screen.

Reasons to use the “Bcc” field:

  1. Common courtesy.  Don’t make your recipients wade through a long list of names and e-mail addresses before they get to your actual message.
  2. Privacy.  Maybe everyone on your list doesn’t want the world to know their e-mail address.
  3. Spam protection: (of sorts).  If one of your recipients has a virus or malware, the entire address list may get automatically spammed.
  4. The (sometimes) dreaded “Reply All” person.  Protects the recipients from a “Reply All” response.

Of course there are valid business reasons as well.  Sometimes you want to include a recipient that the other person doesn’t need to know about (think paper trail).

When you forward an e-mail, you should always do some basic due diligence.  Also—this is really important—please be cognizant of the other person’s time.

Here’s some help in finding and using the Bcc field in Outlook and Outlook.com.

Lastly, just in case you are not familiar with the term, Bcc explained (for those of you too young to remember typewriters and carbon paper.)

 Posted by at 12:36 am
Nov 052012
 

We went to a new client today and were not all that surprised to find:

The backup had not backed up since June 10, 2009!  Oh, it was also programmed to backup to the same drive that the server was on (which means if the server drive went south, so would the backup—if it had been backing up.)

Not to mention problems connecting to the server.  Could it be that the workstations were trying to connect to a different IP address than the server was actually on?

Also typical: they have been through a half-dozen IT service providers over the past couple of years.

Are all IT people really the same?  We think not.

 Posted by at 1:39 pm
Aug 032012
 

We’ve all been there.  You have an established iPhone and for whatever reason, synching it with a new installation of iTunes will cause you to lose all those carefully placed icons on your iPhone.

iCloud backup and restore do not seem to have the same issues, but our multiple backup strategy suggests a backup to our computer on occasion is a Good Thing. In addition, we find moving the icons around via iTunes is a lot easier than on the device itself.

When transferring your iTunes to a new computer, or, before wiping and reinstalling your old computer, always remember to deauthorize your old iTunes account.  Go to Store ->Deauthorize this computer.

Here are the steps to avoid all that head-banging pain of rearranging your icons by hand when synching an established iPhone with a new installation of iTunes :

NOTE: in iTunes 11, you will need to View->Show Sidebar to see your iDevice listed.

  1. Sign into the iTunes Store and go to Store->Authorize this computer.
  2. Don’t synch anything just yet.  Hook up the iPhone and cancel any prompts to synch.
  3. In iTunes, right click on the device and transfer all your purchases to the new iTunes.
  4. In iTunes, right click on the device and select Backup.
  5. Now, go to the Apps tab and click the Synch all apps checkbox, BUT …
  6. As quickly as you can, cancel the synch that appears at the very top of the screen, just click the x in the status box that appears at the top of the iTunes screen as shown. Stop the synch before it finishes so you don't lose your icon placements
  7. Eject and disconnect the phone.
  8. Close iTunes.

Open iTunes and connect the phone. Let it synch.  The iPhone desktop on iTunes should appear exactly as it appears on your phone.

You may have to fool around with it a time or two, but you should be able to avoid a painful transition.

 Posted by at 1:59 pm
Jul 212012
 

Entré Computer and Communications strongly believes in giving back.  Our employees regularly participate in community activities and donate their time and technical expertise to non-profit organizations.

From June 18 to November 30, 2012, Entré is participating in an auction where 100% of the proceeds go to the Loma Linda University Medical Center to advance proton therapy research.

The best part? Due to a special endowment, the proceeds from this auction will be doubled.

Entré Computer and Communications has donated 10 hours of IT Services* time to the auction.  A $1,500 value, with bidding starting at just $500.00. The auction is hosted on the Bidding for Good auction site.

This is a great opportunity to give Entré Computer and Communications a try as your IT service provider while making a donation that can save lives and provide trteatment that preserves quality of life with proton therapy.

James M. Slater Proton Therapy and Research Center

James M. Slater Proton Therapy and Research Center

Your donation will mean that existing treatments can be improved and new treatments for other conditions can be researched.

Loma Linda Medical Center pioneered the use of proton therapy in a hospital-based setting when they treated their first patient in the fall of 1999.

In addition to the 10 hours of IT Services* being offered by Entré, there are many other exciting items to bid on, including special golf opportunities, vacation getaways, premium jewelry items, and household items.  See all the items up for bid in this special proton research auction.  (Update: the auction is over, links to this auction are no longer valid and have been removed.)

You can make a difference! Although the auction is over, you can donate to proton research here.

* IT Services only, website services excluded.

 Posted by at 6:13 pm
Jul 162012
 

The Entré blog has been updated as appropriate with new links and information on older entries.  We hope you find the blog useful.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you would like answered in the blog.

 Posted by at 4:03 pm
Jul 152012
 

You should temporarily turn off your antivirus software when you are installing new software.  Especially printer software.  If you don’t, you may end up with a corrupt installation.  Sometime it won’t tell you it’s a bad installation, it just won’t work correctly.

Be sure to turn the antivirus software back on when the installation is complete.

And ALWAYS set a password on your antivirus software, something a bit more secure than “password” or the like.  Many types of malware are counting on an easy—or no—password so that they can turn off your antivirus program to escape detection.

Apr 222012
 

Lately we’ve been hearing about more people using mirrored drives as part of their backup strategy.  If you already have it in place, don’t get rid of it; but, it is not something that we particularly recommend.  Let’s take a look.

Mirrored drives come in two flavors:

  • two drives on one controller (Figure A); or
  • two drives, each on their own controller (Figure B)two drives on one controller

As the name implies, each time you write to one disk, the identical thing is written to the other disk.  If one drive goes bad, the theory is that the other drive has your data and you have no downtime, except to replace the failed drive at your convenience.

Sounds great. In theory.  The reality is that if one drive is fried with a power surge, they both are.  If the controller goes bad, you might have two drives that still have your data, but you are still down until the controller can be replaced.  If the controller goes bad in such a way that it ruins one drive, the chances of the other drive escaping damage are pretty slim.

two drives on two controllersIf you have each drive on its own controller, you are in a better situation; again, in theory.  However, you are still in a position of having all the hardware fried with the right power surge and in the same sad position as anyone else with fried hardware.

Frankly, we recommend you spend your money in other ways.   Online (cloud) backup and an external hard drive for backup are two excellent ways to spend that money and give you a much better chance at recovery in case of failure.

Right now, Amazon offers free online storage of ALL your music (whether it was purchased at Amazon or elsewhere) if you purchase a storage plan.  The plans start at $20/year for 20GB.  Other cloud services include DropBox or SugarSync.  If you have a little more money to spend, services like Carbonite make a good choice and back up your drives automatically.  (Our professional services can help you configure your online backups beyond the “standard”, which may not be backing up all your data.)

You can buy a 32GB SanDisk Cruzer flash drive (thumb drive) for less than $20. (Price fluctuates. Great for backing up your daily work product.)

Whatever you select for your backup strategy, remember: pick at least two (preferably three.)

You can never be too thin, too rich, or have too many backups.

—————-

Note: a mirrored drive is not to be confused with a RAID array.  A drive array is an arrangement where 3-5 drives are configured such that a portion of your data is written to each drive, and is most often found on file servers.

Feb 132012
 

We all lead busy lives and a clogged e-mail inbox is an annoyance. While we have all been guilty of occasional  e-mail thoughtlessness, maybe others have good reason to roll their eyes when they receive your e-mail.  Consider these points:

  1. Respect my time. Unbelievably, I’m not sitting at my computer breathlessly waiting to receive e-mails from you.
  2. Do you really need to send the e-mail in the first place?  If you tell me about the content of the link or article during a conversation, don’t clog up my mailbox with a link to the story (unless I ask).
  3. Know your audience.  If you know my general interests, don’t send me something that is completely off-the-wall in terms of my scope of interest as you know it (just because you find it interesting.)
  4. Are you sure I haven’t seen it?  Chances are high that what you are sending has been covered in article after article on the topic.
  5. Why are you sending me this article or link? If you send an article or a link to an article, add a sentence or two stating what particular point you want me to focus on. My time is limited; tell me the angle or nugget of information I should be looking for, or I’m likely to skip reading completely.  (See #1, #2, #3 and #4 above). Note: sending from an iPhone or iPad does not exempt you from this point.
  6. Frequency. The less frequently I hear from you via e-mail, the more I sit up and take note of what you send. Because then I know you value my time and what you have to say is on point and most especially, your e-mail is something I should take my time to read.  (obviously, working on a project or work matter does not necessarily apply here. But it might.)
  7. One of the biggest complaints we hear from people is about their mailbox being clogged with jokes, quotes, and political items. Please, be the person that only sends the occasional gem, not the person who forwards every. single. item. It gets old. Real old.
  8. Check before passing it on! Remember, not everything you read or receive is true or accurate.  Check before you forward.  My favorites are:  Truth or Fiction and Urban Legends from About.com.
  9. Sending to a large group? Annoyance #238 is when the e-mail has a half-page of recipients. If you want to send to a large group of people, put the e-mail address in the BCC (Blind Carbon Copy) field, not the To: or CC: field. When the e-mail is received, the recipient sees only their name, not the list of people you sent it to.  And if you must forward an e-mail, please delete that half-page of previous recipients.
  10. When in doubt: don’t send.

You are not exempt, you are not the exception, and you don’t get a pass.  We hear from countless people about how their frequent flyers seem incapable of taking hints. It’s time. Take the hint.

 Posted by at 4:33 pm
Jan 282012
 

Organizing your hard drive is just as important as organizing your cupboards.  By default, all downloads go into your Downloads folder. That would be like stuffing all your plates, spices, and canned goods into one cupboard.

Why is organization necessary? You want to keep your software and registration information in one place to make backup and subsequent reinstallation an easy task.  When you make a software purchase, sometimes the receipt has the serial number, but it is often sent in a separate e-mail.  Did you remember to print out both e-mails? Where did you put the hard copy?  What about that free Photoshop add-in? Even if it was free, do you remember where you got it so you can download it again?

Don’t panic, there is a way you can avoid looking for all those e-mails, or receipts and serial numbers you might have printed out when you made the purchase.

Step 1.  We recommend making a top level folder with a separate folder for each purchase or program.  You might call your download programs folder MyPrograms.  So, under MyPrograms you would have many folders, and the structure might look like this:

Put all your downloaded software into separate folders

Step 2. When you download a program you will get the prompt to Run, Save, or Cancel the download. Always select Save (unless the instructions specify that you click Run):

Always save your software to disk unless otherwise instructed

When you click Save, Windows Explorer will open to the location of your last download. Redirect it to your MyPrograms folder, create a new Folder for your latest download, then click Save again:

Save to a folder with a descriptive name

Step 3. Using Notepad, copy and paste the information from your registration e-mail into a text file and save it to the same folder as the program, like so:

Keep your registration info and program together

That’s it!

Now your downloaded program and registration information is in the same folder, speeding up the reinstallation process.  Even if some programs or add-ins are free, you still want them all in one place to make reinstallation easier.

Backup your MyPrograms folder regularly.

If you are preparing to wipe your system to do a fresh install, check your MyPrograms folder for all the programs and add-ins that you have downloaded, then go to the manufacturer site and download the latest versions* before you wipe your computer. Backup that folder, restore it to your freshly installed system, and reinstallation of your programs and utilities will be a breeze.

#    #     #

*When preparing to wipe and reinstall your system, download the latest version for which you are licensed, or,  you may want to upgrade your license to get the latest version.

How do you know what version you are licensed for? Check the Help->About section of your program for the version number.  If the leading digit of the latest version is a full number higher than yours, chances are you may need to purchase an upgrade. If the leading digit is the same, but the other numbers are higher, then chances are the upgrade is free.

Example: You have version 4.876.1.0. The latest version is 5.211.1.0. The leading digit indicates you might need to buy an upgrade. If the latest version is 4.975.1.0, then the upgrade is probably free.  Some companies charge for a .5 revision, like 4.312 to 4.5. Always check with the manufacturer when in doubt.