Be an instant genius!

September 30th, 2010

Be an instant genius!

It’s a proven fact that no one knows everything.  At some point you will have to learn a new task or gain new knowledge in order to accomplish your goals. 

Being able to efficiently find that grain of knowledge out of a sea of noise and information on the internet takes real skill and practice. 

Here are a few  useful research tools on the internet and when and how to use them!

 

Google.com

Of course Google is at the top of the list.  They are the 900 pound gorilla in the research arena.  Google indexes, or knows about, 80% of all the webpages on the internet.  This means that virtually anything you want to know about can be found with Google. 

Simply typing in “California Sales Tax” will return so many results that you are left with millions of hits and you are no better off than before!  There are several things you can do to refine your results to be more useful.

          Start any search of this nature with “How Do I…..” and what you want.  This will give you sites that are more step by step.

          Use search filters.  For a good list of tips and tricks goto: http://www.techradar.com/news/internet/web/101-google-tips-tricks-and-hacks-462143  Using the tips from this site will make you a Googlexpert!

          Be sure of your sources!  You can find anything on the internet….for example I have it on the internets authority that there is no God but we should all believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster http://www.venganza.org/  or that the world will end in 2012 on my birthday!

o   My favorite way is to go straight to the source,  searching for “ How do I Sales Tax for your small business in California” followed by inurl:gov  this means that any search will return ONLY .gov webpages.  And of you cant trust the government who can you trust 😉

          Have a clear idea of what you want to find.  Often people will start looking for something with only a vague notion of what they want.  They trust in the miracle of the internet to fill in their lack of planning.

 

 

How Do I…..

There are many sites in this category.  These sites give step by step directions or videos on how to do just about anything!  Simply search for what you trying to learn and you should find a plethora of useful information.  Here are a few of my favorites:

          Ehow.com

          Instructables.com This one is my absolute favorite!

          Lifehackers.com

          Youtube.com

          http://www.tricklife.com/

          http://www.videojug.com/

 

Local Results

In any search engine typing in the search your city and state usually returns more local results.  Trying to find a good handyman or plumber or anything can be difficult if you don’t.   There are also many local “portals” or sites dedicated to your own city that local businesses often use to reach their local customers.

 

 

Learning how to effectively research topics is going to b the #1 skill that employers will be looking for in any field because no one can know it all but you can always find the answer.

 

 

Business Process Management and the small business

September 20th, 2010

Most small businesses today do not actively address the management of their internal processes.  Most have evolved their processes organically over time and may not be aware of better, more efficient ways of doing things.

While the “It ain’t broke don’t fix it”  has worked in the past when resources were plentiful now that time, money and resources are scarce improving your businesses bottom line by becoming more efficient is the only way your survival is ensured throughout the current economic storm.

In this economy inches count.  If you can save those precious inches by improving the way you and your employees accomplish daily tasks wouldn’t you?

We at Hassle Free IT are experts of technology.  In addition we are committed to designing the most efficient Business Processes and bringing the appropriate  technology to that process.  We are fluent in most aspects of business development and through our extensive experience of bringing technology to solve problems we have developed a set of best practices that are applicable to most businesses.

Our goal is to make your business more efficient through the use of modern Business processes and the best technology.

Here are some links for you to use to get your business started on the BPM path.  Don’t forget Hassle Free IT can always help you design and implement a better BPM!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Business_process_management#BPM_technology

Open Source BPM Suite:

http://www.intalio.com/bpm
Intalio BPM

Reality – Couldn’t It Be Better?

August 30th, 2010

Let’s face it.  Reality is not all its cracked up to be.  But how can you make it better?  Well this isn’t a metaphysical rant on how your perception defines reality….I am a geek…this is about new technology!

Augmented Reality (AR) is, according to Wikipedia,  “a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery.”

What this really means is you can use a video device, your phone or special glasses to “overlay” information on what you see.  This can be used for medical procdures, technicians, just about anybody.  Imagine being able to look inside a computer and little tags popped up telling you what the parts were, what they did and if they were working or not?  Or imagine you are in a strange city and want to sample the local cuisine where do you go?  who do you ask?

Enter augmented reality now on a smartphone near you ( yes even iphones)  There are many apps out for the Droid based phones that let you experience AR.  From moving maps to resturant hunting.  One app in particular creates a platform to run all different kinds of layers over reality, hence the name Layar.

Layar works on the Droid and Iphone platforms and allows you to select different categories to view.  Eating and drinking being a favorite category of mine I selected that and found restaurants of the Mexican persuasion, ratings from users on how good they were and it displayed on my phone how far approximately each was!

Resturants

Layar also has categories like Healthcare, Schools, Real Estate, Games etc. Most content on Layar is user driven so you can add your own videos and overlays to it for the world to see!

One of the many AR apps worth mentioning is 3dCompass which displays a marine compass over video of where you are at and a map!  Great for guys like me who get lost frequently!

3dcompass

There are also AR games of course.  I went to the park and tested out “Maze” a Layar game.  Remember the PC game Wolfenstein 3d?  Its like that only you are playing in a big field.  See Mom this video game wont make me fat and lazy! 🙂

There are other AR applications not centered on phones.  Most of them are specializaed and a bit geeky.  One in particular is Sixth Sense .   Sixth Sense combines cameras, projector, computer and your hand gestures to allow you to makie phone calls or manipulate data using your hands.

There are many Augmented Reality apps and you can Google them to find the ones that fit your needs.  AR is definitely  a cool new tool that is changing the way people look at their world.

Spam Scams on the rise

August 12th, 2010

Over the past month more and more users have been receiving increased numbers of SPAM phising attacks.  These attacks come via email and usually have attachments.  The SPAM emails are getting past SPAM filters and hitting users mjailboxes with very legitimate sounding subjects.  This causes most users to open the attachments and inect their PC’s.

So I have found several reasons fro the increased attacks

http://isc.sans.edu/diary.html?storyid=9175

and

http://www.spamfighter.com/News-14908-Increasing-Sasfis-Botnet-Variants-continue-Delivering-Spam-Fortinet.htm

The emails look very legitimate.  In some case from online stores, banks etc look EXACTLY like emails you would normally receive from the legitimate vendors.   They are crafted in such a way as to bypass existing spam filter technology and everyone is scrambling to come up with new rules to block them.

For now your best defense is DO NOT OPEN ANY ATTACHMENTS from people you do not know and are not expecting attachments sent to you.  This is a tried and true rule that many users forget in their daily routines.

If your PC is slowing down or generally acting strange contact and IT Management professional and get it cleaned.  the sooner the better!

jason

Happy Sysadmin Day!

July 30th, 2010

Today is Systems Administration Appreciation Day!

 http://www.sysadminday.com/

Today you should thank your hard working IT professionals who take care of your most critical tools.  Take them to lunch, buy them a Ferrari or do something to show how much you appreciate their effort on your behlaf!

Most important give them a call or email and say “Thanks, everything working great!”  that will really make their day.

IT professionals are among the most overworked and underpaid segment of our society.  Many times they fix insurmountable problems with no resources in no time.  When they accomplish these feats it largely goes unnoticed by users who demand instant fixes to impossible problems.

So make your System Administrator very happy by complimenting them.  that’s all they want….just a little love!

Fake Anti Viruses! How to Recognize them.

July 13th, 2010

Fake Anti virus software is designed to look like a legitimate program trying to help you.  The way they infect you is to get you to click anywhere on their window.  Once you do this you bypass all protection you could have and give permission for that program to do whatever it wants!  This includes downloading other actual malware and infecting your computer.

  Here are some screen shots of common Fakes:

fakeav3fakeav2fakeav1

 

  One way to recognize them is if you see them scanning and thy find results ultra fast.  Normal scans take several hours in some cases and won’t show results until the end.  Also you should know what Antivirus package you have an be familiar with its messages.  If they ask for money it is a fake. 

They are also very difficult to prevent

It is possible to clean the PC after an infection but it is very difficult and in some cases you may need to reload the PC completely!

Please watch out for these as they can cause your PC to stop working entirely.

Basic Computer Security – 6 things you need to know.

July 6th, 2010

Many users are being subjected to more sophisticated attacks on their home and work computers.  Many of these attacks are designed to look like legitimate security programs or services in order to trick the user into giving permission to the attack software to do whatever it wants!

Many users believe that a firewall or anti-virus product is enough to protect them.  Sadly the number 1 failure of security is the USER!  Users who open email attachments, users who click on banner ads, users who go to malicious sites on the web, users who put strange thumb drives in their PC’s!

So if you are a user here is the education to save you lots of time, money and headaches

  1. Firewalls, Anti-virus and Anti-Mal ware are not bullet proof
    • While these components of security are essential they do not protect against user intervention.  the most recent wave of Fake Anti Virus  attacks proves this.  Security is not a 1 step fix.  It is an ongoing awareness that some people in the world are out to exploit you.
    • Make sure that your firewall, anti-virus and anti-malware are up to date.  1000’s of new malware are released every single day.
  2. Do Not Click!
    • Banner ads may or may not be trustworthy.  Save yourself the hassle do not click on them.  You probably didn’t need that Homer Simpson Chia head anyway.
    • Again with Fake Anti Viruses.  they don’t really hurt until you click on them.  this includes clicking NO or the red X.  they are very sneaky and will execute malicious code even though you do not want it.  Safe bet is once you see the Fake AV hold the power button on your PC until it turns off.
  3. Do Not Open Emails, not just attachments
    • Simply opening some emails is enough to trigger their dangerous payload.  If you do not recognize the sender or it seems fishy in anyway DO NOT OPEN IT.  You can always call that person to verify they sent the email.
  4. Trust No Website
    • You should treat all websites as if the are aout to get you.  Seems paranoid and cynical but hackers target high traffic sites specifically because they have lots of traffic.  even if they only compromise the site for a minute that can translate to 100,000 users infected.
    • If the website asks you to download something to view a file or redirects you to a different site close your browser immediately.
  5. Read.  Don’t just press OK
    • Most problems on your PC will display some kind of onscreen prompt.  Whether it is a Fake AV or a legitimate program stop and Read.  Then use your best judgment on what you should do. Messages that say “Press OK and you get a free iPad” are probably not legitimate.
    • If you are unsure call your IT professional and they can usually advise you one way or the other over the phone.
  6. Be Aware
    • Know what protection software you have and what it looks like.
    • Be discerning in opening emails websites etc
    • Practice Safe Computing by being aware of different threats and staying educated.

A good thing to do is to be sure and hire qualified a IT Management company to give you an extra layer of protection and to actively manage your security.

Be safe on the net!

Greatest mobile device ever…for the moment!

July 1st, 2010

So every single day there are a million gadgets released.  The netbook revolution and the IPad being released highlights consumer demand for easily portable, multi-function devices that can give them information access.

Enter my newest favorite portable, the Toshiba Libretto

Check out a review here:

http://www.engadget.com/2010/07/01/toshiba-libretto-w100-preview/

When it releases (early next year…hopefully) it would be a great device for practically everyone.  The one downside is their projected rice of $1100.  I feel like that is goig to come down withthe large number of competitors in the market.

I hope it has Bluetooth and CDMA/GSM access.  If so it could be used as a VOIP phone!  this means I would only have to carry 1 device with me…in a fashionable man bag 🙂

http://www.manbag.com/product.htm

So for all those looking at the IPad but dont want to be locked into the Apple / AT and T unholy alliance here are a few alternatives:

http://www.alltouchtablet.com/touch-screen-tablet/asus-eee-pc-t101-mt-video-hands-on-and-short-review-1673/

http://www.engadget.com/2010/03/10/lenovo-ideapad-s10-3t-review/

Happy Computing!

Welcome to our Blog!

July 1st, 2010

Welcome to Our Blog!

We will be posting thoughts, article and general commentary on all things technical for our clients to keep up to date!

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