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Meriden schools consider adding IT position to deal with increased demand

Dec 15, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Computer Networking  //  No Comments

MERIDEN —  11/28/14, according to the Record Journal the city of Meriden school system may be adding another technology support staff member to ensure that 3,000 new computers and mobile devices remain up and running.

The school system has recently added, or will add by the end of the school year, 1,500 tablets at the two high schools, 80 computers to the Roger Sherman School media center, 500 mobile devices at John Barry School, and 840 Chromebooks. The nearly 3,000 devices are in addition to thousands already in the 15 school buildings in the city.

Assistant Superintendent Michael S. Grove said the four technicians already working for the system split up those 15 buildings when responding to requests for help through a web-based help desk system the city uses.

“We try to respond to issues within a week of getting the request,” Grove said, “but with the large volume of requests coming in lately, we’re not able to get there quickly enough. Things are building up two or three weeks out, and even just adding one extra person to help means 20 percent more support for us.”

The new tech position would pay $35,000 a year and is designed to “meet the increased technical needs of staff and students in the district,” according to information distributed at a recent Board of Education Finance Committee meeting. Finance Committee Chairman John Lineen said that the committee supported the additional position.

“With the additional tablets, computers, and devices, we need these support services, too,” he said.

The new hire would be responsible for “the daily technical support of desktop computers as well as mobile device software and hardware,” according to the job description.

That support would include “meeting the hardware and software requirements of staff and students, ensuring network connectivity, application access, and providing end-user support.”

Grove said that the problem facing the school system isn’t a higher percentage of problems per device, but a higher number of devices, all with the potential to require support staff at some point.

Most of the issues are ultimately a simple fix, or a matter of walking the user through a specific problem, Grove said.

He added that while most devices are under factory warranty for hardware issues, “you still need someone to call the company and coordinate pickup, dropoff, all of that with them.

“When we had one or two computers in each classroom, our support model worked,” Grove said, “but with so many more we need to change things a little bit.”

The position will go before the full Board of Education at its next meeting on Dec. 2. If approved, the new hire would start work Jan 5th, 2015

Windows 10 promises to bring back the beloved start menu

Dec 7, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Microsoft Windows  //  No Comments

Of course Connecticut knows by now that Microsoft will indeed be skipping Windows 9 and jumping to Windows 10 as the name for its next operating system.

Company executives did not spell out the logic behind the numerical leap from the current version, Windows 8, except to say that the new version won’t just be an incremental improvement. Perhaps they wanted to distant themselves from 8 and reflect their intent to make big changes. “Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows,” a company executive said in a statement Tuesday, which seems like about as close to a confirmation of that theory as we’re going to get.

Among other changes, the new version promises to mostly eliminate the tiles that users so hated in Windows 8. Instead it will bring back the retroactively beloved Start menu from Windows 7, which remains the world’s most popular desktop operating system despite being five years old. Windows 10 will also be designed to adapt to all different categories of devices, from PC’s and laptops to tablets and phones, with different interfaces tailored to each one.

Here is a snapshot of the newest desktop start menu in Windows 10

 

Windows 10 Start menu

iMac,Macbook,Macbook Pro

Nov 22, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, MAC  //  No Comments

For a Computer Repair Services shop in Wallingford,CT and Meriden,CT we have seen a lot of Mac’s Recently

As things go in our computer repair shop we offer many different types of computer repair services. We fix cracked laptop screens,replace hard drives,system boards,remove malware and viruses,complete rebuilds,upgrades and a whole lot more on-site networking services. While we mainly see PC based computer systems we had numerous MAC systems come in throughout these last few weeks. Three of the older macbook’s needed rebuilds, we upgraded one of these to an SSD, one macbook needed a main board, the macbook pro was running terribly slow and needed a rebuild and finally we went on-site in Wallingford,CT and installed and configured a brand new iMac, 21.5 inch i5, 8GB RAM.

Mac products run well, but they too are subject to slow down and component failure.

Understanding Your Network

Nov 20, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Computer Networking  //  No Comments

Understanding Your Network Environment

Let’s start by finding out more about the networking devices you use to connect to the Internet. Here are some key facts that you should know:

What is the make, model, and version of the modem or router provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP)? If you live in Wallingford,CT you would have Comcast or the now Frontier, but if you live in Meriden, CT you would likely have COX. They are different companies and their networking devices are also different.

Knowing the make, model, and version of your modem or router will not only help you understand the device’s features and limitations, but will also help you properly secure it. Check the outside of the device or read the manual to find this information.

What are the IP address and login credentials for your modem or router?

Most modems and routers will have the default login information and IP address printed on the body. The modem or modem-router combination that your ISP provides is what we typically call the gateway device. A gateway is networking device which handles communication from your network to the outside world. Settings on this device will dictate how the rest of your network behaves.

How is your network connected to the Internet?

A basic understanding of which devices connect to what can be very helpful. A simple map structure of your network can come in handy when locating and troubleshooting a network problem. Consider examining the gateway device, computer and wiring. Draw a simple map to help identify the network topology.

Finally, remember to note the various types of devices on your network.

A modem is not exactly the same as a combination modem-router, and each will handle your network traffic in a unique way.

There are many online resources that can help you understand your network devices. Here is a link to wikpedia Its worth spenning a few minutes reading this very accurate materiel. I can remember this information being taught almost verbatim in college.

Tips to Secure Your Network Environment

Now that you have a better understanding of your home network, here are a few simple steps you can take to minimize unauthorized access.

Change the login credentials on your gateway device and router.

Most modems and routers have default login credentials that make initial configuration easy. After the initial setup, change the username (if possible) and password to prevent unauthorized access to your modem or router. There are many online resources that provide a list of default login credentials for modems and routers, which can be used to easily compromise your network.

Keep your operating system and router updated.

Most vulnerabilities are exploited due to outdated software and/or firmware. Running the latest operating system and router firmware helps protect your network against intrusion.

Have a network use policy for your home.

It is easy to overlook this point, but it is critical to have a set of protocols that everyone should follow. For example, one of our rules at home is don’t click on suspicious links.

Create separate guest networks for visitors.

Typically, if you have a Wi-Fi network and users connect to the same access point, those users are a part of and have access to your network. Isolating guest users helps prevent access to your local network resources. Many home routers have this feature, but it has to be enabled. Consult your router’s manual on how to configure a separate guest network.

Disable your router’s remote login feature.

Many routers allow you to remotely log in to your home machine and network, but this makes your network vulnerable to attacks. Disabling the remote login feature will prevent others who are not directly connected to your router from accessing it.

Stay up-to-date on technology news about your network devices.

Keeping up with the latest news about online threats that target devices on your network, sometimes can help you take necessary actions to either prevent your system from being compromised or find solutions for an already affected system. There are many websites, blogs, and forums dedicated to each of the devices you use to get online. If you prefer short updates, you can sign up for news updates or follow like-minded individuals or groups on their social media sites. Lastly, be aware of changes in your network environment. If you notice that your connection speed has slowed down significantly, or if your machine is running slower than usual, these are signs that something is amiss and needs to be checked.

By no means is this a definitive guide on home networking. However, having a grasp of how your network is set up and applying basic security measures will not only help you troubleshoot your home network problems, but they will also minimize malicious attackers from gaining access to your network.

How to Extend The life of Your Computers

Nov 12, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Laptop Repair Shop  //  No Comments

Get the most out of your computers and laptops

Computers aren’t free, or even inexpensive and getting the maximum lifespan from your computer is a great way to avoid an unnecessary expense. Like most other devices there are many simple things you can do to help increase the useful lifespan of your computer systems.

1. Don’t turn your computer on and off unnecessarily. Some people feel the need to power down several times each day. You don’t have to go weeks without turning off your computer, but frequent heating and cooling cycles can shorten component life. The key here is balance. Don’t restart too much and don’t leave on too long either.

2. Blow out the fan vents regularly. A lot of air moves through those vents, and dust tends to build up over time. Keep the internal components cool is imperative to extending the life of your computer. Ideally, the dust shouldn’t be blown back into the computer. Taking it apart is the best method. If you’re not comfortable doing this, seek out a qualified computer repair store.

3. Use laptops on a hard service. Using your computer on a firm surface will keep the air vents unobstructed. Using a laptop on your lap or on a pillow would be a poor choice. Your body generates heat and is soft. A pillow is soft and the laptop will sink in and normal cooling airflow is cut off. A firm table, out of the sun, is the best choice whenever possible.

4. Use a surge protector. Many CPU problems can be possibly avoided with the use of an inexpensive surge protector. Unplugging during a storm or power outage is the best practice, but if that’s not possible, a surge protector can help.

5. Get a regular computer system tune up. Taking your computer into a qualified computer repair shop is a great way to increase the longevity of your computer. They have the specialized software tools and experience to find potential problems quickly and easily. You probably take your car in for a tune-up on a regular basis. Your computer would be well-served by the same.

6. Avoid eating and drinking while using your computer. Getting food or water down into your system can create all kinds of potential problems. Water and electronics never mix well. At the very least, blow out your keyboard with a can of compressed air regularly.

7. Use in a cool environment. Computer components hate heat. If possible, use your computer in a cool place. A 95-degree summer day isn’t the time to be using your laptop outdoors.

8. Use a good anti-malware program and keep it updated. Malware can cause all types of problems. With a quality anti-malware program, you’ll be able to keep a lot of potential issues at bay. Staying updated is important. There are thousands of malware programs released each day.

With a few simple actions, you can be assured of getting the maximum amount of utility from it before needing a replacement.

Internet Searches Gone Bad

Oct 28, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Internet Security  //  No Comments

Throughout the past 17 year years I have had the opportunity to troubleshoot thousands and thousands and thousands of computer problems. I have conquered computer network troubleshooting, virus cleaning, secure wireless networking, called credit card companies and stopped the auto charge on consumer credit cards for anti-virus and an array of other tasks. Recently I have seen a lot of online scams thriving. One of the things that bothers me the most is folks being scammed, and right in their own home.

Listen Closely: If an end-user wants to call Dell to troubleshoot issues on their computer they might go online and do a search for “Dell support phone number” and this is exactly where the problem starts. There are multiple utilities available to the scammers that enable them to see just how many searches were performed for certain keyword like “dell support” The scammers already know how many users type in Dell support on a monthly basis and they have managed to get their company names to the top of your internet search through paid advertisement. As an ordinary computer user you think that you have identified the 1-800 number for Dell but actually its an advertisement from a malicious company, many times they are overseas organizations. So then you go ahead and call the supposed Dell support number and bam,you get the these yokels. They will walk you through several different steps of troubleshooting and lead you to believe that you are in good hands and then at that moment they ask to remotely connect to your computer. Once they connect you sit back and watch them do their thing. Low and behold they find a problem and want to charge hundreds and hundreds of dollars to fix it for you, a problem that likely doesn’t exist or has been greatly exaggerated.

In one instance last week a client of mine right here in Wallingford, CT had a problem with their magic jack telephone system so they searched online and got the 1-800 number for magic jack support, or so they thought. The short of it is that they almost paid a kings ransom but they called me on their cell phone while they remained on the phone with “magic jack support”. I was in the area and had a few minutes so I paid them a quick visit. The so called magic jack support team had told the user that someone from a foreign country had hacked into their computer and that they could fix the problem for a few hundred dollars. The scammers were logged in and pulled up a command prompt, the black screen with white text. They ran a netstat command that shows the devices connected to your network, of course theirs was the one from a foreign country! The other thing that these low lifes did was type in the words ” zues virus detected… others are connected to this machines…) They were trying to scare these users into thinking all sorts of bad things. The fact in this case was that there was absolutely nothing wrong with their machine, they had a problem with their PHONES which is why they tried to call magic jack. They pulled the wrong number from their internet search and this is where it lead them.

The important points here are obvious. You need to pay very close attention to the output of your internet searches. Look at the website and make sure that you pull the phone number from the intended website. For instance if you wanted to call Dell then you should navigate to dell.com. From there you can drill down until you find the support options on their webpage. You can then be certain that you have the correct phone number. Be careful and if you have concerns call your local computer repair shop. Most if not all shops will be happy to advise you for free. Its not a big deal to take a 60 second phone call to help out one of our members of the community from the overseas scam shops looking to rip into your pockets.

2014: Best Anti-virus and Internet Security Software of the Year

Oct 27, 2014   //   by nick   //   Internet Security  //  No Comments

*2014: PCmag rated and voted Symantec Norton Internet Security as best in class*

It is essential to arm your computer with an aggressive and intelligent anti-virus software to protect and clean virus and malware threats to your computer and laptop in real time. Installing a good internet security software suite will not only protect you against that catastrophic malware/virus crash but will also keep your computer systems running well by stopping the spyware and ongoing automated cleaning of tracking devices. Very plainly put we fix computers and laptops seven days a week here at Mr Computer and do plenty of virus and malware removal. We very rarely see a computer come into the shop with Symantec on it that is suffering from viruses and trojans, we just don’t see them.

Norton by Symantec is one of the most used antivirus software suites and this popularity is not in vain. It is easy to install and update. It gives reports, daily scanning and excellent protection against malware.One of its best features is that rapidly disinfects computers that have already been attacked by a virus. We highly recommend Symantec products and we support them 100% with our extensive experience installing and configuring the software.
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Windows 9 in closer than you think

Sep 6, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Windows 9, coming to a store near you very soon.

Microsoft is said to be ready to launch Windows 9 at the end of October, with a preview download available soon. Code named Threshold, the new operating system is expected to finally address the start button issue in Windows 8 and 8.1. It’s akin to Windows 7 after Vista. At least, that’s the hope.

Windows 8 Start Button

Aug 23, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog, Laptop Repair Shop  //  No Comments

As everyone knows Microsoft has made several significant changes to the Windows 8 operating system. The most noticeable change to the end user is the new metro application environment. The start button never went away but it was redesigned and the traditional start menu was changed to the new “metro” start menu.

Personally I thought the traditional windows start menu was great and think this metro concept may be either a marketing strategy or just a plain ole mistake. Giving users and added ability to launch a new “optional” metro application would have been the better way to do it in my opinion.

This being said there is a great little utility out there that Mr Computer has known about and has been using in the field for quite sometime and it’s called Classic Shell. This utility gives users the ability to install and configure several really nice enhancements to the windows system but it is best known for putting the start button and classic start menu back in Windows 8.1. Classic Shell is a quick and easy download and the best part is that it’s free. If you’re looking for the classic start button in Windows 8 then you will love Classic Shell.

Computer rebuild in Meriden, CT

Aug 20, 2014   //   by nick   //   Blog  //  No Comments

Mr Computer recently provided computer service for a wonderful family onsite at their home in Meriden, CT. They own a Dell laptop running Windows Vista Home Premium Edition. There were a multitude of problems with their laptop ranging from numerous files infected with malware and viruses to the registry being flawed with errors. After a quick and simple diagnosis the recommended solution was to do a complete rebuild of the computer hard drive reload the operating system. There were several programs that were loaded on the laptop that needed to be re-installed and the data to be restored such as Quicken and Microsoft Office. We performed the following standard tasks for this client:

1) Back up all personal files to external hard drive at which time all viruses were cleaned or quarantined
2) Reload Windows Vista and run all updates and security patches from Microsoft website
3) Installed Norton Symantec Internet Security
4) Re-installed programs
5) Restored database for Quicken and all pictures and documents
6) Optimized the laptop for quick boot and made several Tweaks within the operating system for faster performance
7) Reloaded print drivers and connected network printer
8) Reconnect laptop to wireless router
9) Have client test the new configuration and assist as needed
10) Review current internet speed and educate on the differences in bandwidth and how they relate to overall laptop performance.

This punch list may seem like a lot of work, and it is. When you hire Mr Computer for an onsite house call you can expect this punch list to be followed exactly the same way when we are in your home. The great part about this is that our Flat Rates cover all necessary service for the computer for just $99. Our belief is that we would rather charge less and be busy as compared to being higher priced with less volume. Call us old school but that’s just the way it is here at Mr Computer.

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