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 132012
 

An e-mail received by one of our employees who does not even have a Facebook account:

From: Facebook Microsoft
Date: August 13, 2012 11:50:30 MDT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: [Possible Spam] Congratulations!!

Lucky Winner,

Thank you for Using Microsoft and Facebook, Your Email has won you a $20,000 from Microsoft and $20,000 from Facebook, Kindly sends us your:

1. Full name,
2. Residential address and
3. Telephone numbers
4. The time you will be in your house for the delivery man to get your $20,000 money delivered to you at home.

Send the information listed above to this email: Facebookgiveoutpromo@imail.com before the end of today’s working hours for the insurance and Accountancy Company to stamp and overnight the winning check of $20,000 to you.

We await your quick and positive responds,
Congratulations!!!

From: Microsoft & Facebook monthly promotion
Copyright 2012.

Too funny!  We can’t figure out what they are trying to copyright – their appallingly poor English?  The hilarious e-mail addresses? The Accountancy Company? There is something to laugh about in just about every line of this e-mail.

 Posted by at 9:04 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.

Jun 192012
 

We had heard about it, but it actually happened to us: a phone call from a “Microsoft technical specialist” telling us they had received a report from our computer in the last 30 days and there was a problem.

After a hearty laugh and an “Are you kidding me?” we hung up.

Unfortunately, many people don’t.  It’s a scam to get your credit card information and/or damage your computer.  Remember:  

Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer

Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center details some of the most recent scams using both e-mail and the telephone being committed under the Microsoft name.

6/26/2012.  Another call today, telling me those reports kept coming in to the “International Server” and my computer would be shut down in two weeks if I didn’t take action.  I haven’t laughed this hard in a long time.

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.

Mar 112012
 

Sometimes all you have to do is open an e-mail and malware is deployed.  Many times clicking a link in a spam message will cause malware to be downloaded to your computer.

You can stay ahead of the curve by checking the message header before you open an e-mail.

Message headers is information that travels with an e-mail and is chock full of information about where an e-mail came from. It doesn’t take long to zero in on the key information.  The Reply To field (if you clicked reply) is often a dead giveaway.  Looking at the routing information is another.

Previous versions of Outlook had a really handy tool to help you look at the message headers by selecting a message, right-clicking, and selecting Options from the contextual dropdown menu.  In Outlook 2010, Message Options are still there, you just have to create a shortcut manually.

Here’s how:

  1. Go to the File Menu
  2. Select Options.  This brings up the Outlook Options dialog box.
  3. Click on the Quick Access Toolbar (that’s where we will put the Message Options icon)
  4. In the Choose Commands From dropdown, select Commands Not in the Ribbon
  5. Scroll down to Message Options and select it
  6. Press the Add button.  Message Options will now appear in the Customize Quick Access Toolbar side.
  7. Click OK.

You will see the new Message Options icon in your Quick Access toolbar that appears at the top of Outlook.

Now you can select a message (but don’t open it!) and then click the Message Options icon to see the message headers.

Analysis of a span header will give you an idea of how to interpret the information.  If you are in the United States and see a domain name with a country extension like .cz (Czech Republic) or .ru (Russia), and the company does not have an office there, chances are very high that this is a nasty malware waiting to happen. 

If you have an Exchange Server-based network, ask us about installing a spam firewall.

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