Archive for the 'Smarter Computing Tips' Category

 

The best and worst of hard drives in 2015 according to a large data center

I remember back in the early years we tech people used to refer to Seagate drives as the technicians choice. I’m not really sure where or how that preference for one drive over any other started because I always found all non-enterprise hard drives to have a potential to fail, and in servers I have seen my share of hard drive failures in expensive enterprise class drives.

There are some new technologies around now. Hitachi Global Storage Technologies or HGST drives (since 2012 owned by Western Digital after a buyout from Hitachi HGST). These are innovative technologies fast becoming know for their reliability. The new 6TB storage drives are filled with Helium.

So, the best and worst of them all from the Backblaze data centre who kept detailed records of all their hard drive failures.

HDD-failure-rates

 

It is important to have a good maintenance plan for hard drives to keep your drive in top performance. Call for onsite maintenance or bring your computers to us at least once a year for a good check up and maintenance.

 

 

 

 
 
 

How to roam the world with Google.

 

google

 

If you are searching for antiques on Google Australia you will generally be restricted to Australia. If you add Australia to the search “antiques” you will find results defined by key terms instead of location.

Google, Microsoft and Apple like to keep us in our place but a neat little trick in Google is to firstly type the country code:

google.co.uk

then after the country code back slash /ncr

no country redirect will let you search for antiques in the UK.

 

 
 
 

How to edit PDF in Word 2013 and about time!

It was only recently that we could start saving Word documents as PDF’s by using the save-as menu. To edit that PDF we needed to go back to the original Word document and do a new save-as. Not too hard but awkward if you do this sort of thing a lot. Now thanks to public feedback improvements to Office 2013 include being able to open and directly edit PDF documents inside Word 2013.

After editing or reformatting a PDF’s content you can save-as a docx file or as a PDF. When the PDF document is opened inside Word 2013 the structure of the file is retained including tables. The enthusiastic presenter in the video above will show you how.

 

 

 
 
 

How to resolve cannot delete email on iphone imap account or email keeps reappearing after deleted

Over at Apple iphone forums there are a lot of people with the issue of being unable to delete emails on an iphone in an imap account. When trying to delete mail a message may pop up “unable to move to deleted items” or similar. The emails may appear to be deleted but will reappear the next time you open the email client on the iphone.

The problem is related to the iphone deleting the emails locally, on the iphone and not on the server. If the server receives no instructions to delete email it will re-populate in the client.

If you go to the mail settings on the iphone you may not see imap folders other than the standard inbox, and this could be why the default settings to delete from the server are not working.

If you have this specific problem, and bearing in mind there are no standardised settings for uniform imap across all providers, try this:

go to settings >mail >account >advanced

if you see you only have deleted locally (on my iphone) available try turning off SSL and remove any prefix for the IMAP Path Prefix setting.

Not all mail providers and ISP’s have IMAP mail SSL in place at this time, and not all (smaller) ISP’s have IMAP services available.

If you are located in Perth WA and in small business, tradesperson, professional and would like a reliable way to sync mail via imap, calendar and contacts between office desktop and mobile devices such as laptop and iphone, we charge a standard 1 hour support charge to set up and configure this for you.

 

 
 
 

How to create a keyboard shortcut to your favourite program

shortcuts

 

I tend to use the Windows 7 and Windows 8 embedded snipping tool a lot for partial screen and image grabs. I tell my customers to use it to capture the error message or blue screen error diaglog so I see exactly what the error relates to.

To get the snipping tool up you can type “snip” into the search box off the start orb or start key on the keyboard (that’s the one with the flag lower left). Snipping tool will appear, from here you can click or press enter to launch the tool and take a screen grab, or right click and pin it to the taskbar.

I have been using it off the taskbar but with so many items on the taskbar I prefer to ctrl+alt+S to launch.

To do this for snipping tool, or any other program, first of all test the ctrl+alt+theKeyYouWantToUse to make sure you are not overriding another shortcut.

then:

1. search for snip to bring up the tool in search area, right click, >open file location

2. right click the exe file associated with snip and create a shortcut

3. go to the desktop to the shortcut you created and right click >properties

4. in the shortcut key field enter the key you want to use, in this case I used the letter S

Now ctrl+alt+S will open the snipping tool.

 
 
 

The new ways to send large attachments over the internet

 

Sending large files and folders via ftp, email and web programs  always needed a bit of know-how and where-to, but Adobe’s new PDF reader AdobeX makes sending large files and folders a breeze.

If you are using Microsoft’s cloud folders in Skydrive you can share a file or folder without the recipient needing to login, or choose the recipient to login for added security and logging. I tried sharing and sending a link for a MYOB set of folders and this was rejected as unsafe by Skydrive. Rather than look for permissions issues there I sent the folder of 16mb effortlessly using the AdobeX PDF program found on most computers.

In Windows 7 search for adobe, select adobeX to open the PDF reader. Go to the file menu and choose sharing. From there the process is easy and fast. If you don’t have the latest AdobeX you can get the latest version here

 
 
 

“Service Connection Error” solutions

Service connection error. There may be a technical issue with your service which is preventing you from establishing a connection.

This could be related to connecting to Google or other websites, while other websites have no problem connecting. If you press F5 the browser window will refresh, if you press ctrl + F5 the browser will refresh at the server and this may resolve the issue for a glitchy connection.

This can also relate to corrupted cache data or cookies.

In Internet Explorer 7, 8 and 9, go to the tools menu and choose internet options. On the general tab choose to delete browsing history. This will delete history, cookies and cache. Restart Internet Explorer.

If this is specific to a standalone computer or laptop (not on other PC’s on the network) your hosts file may have picked up URL lines. To have Microsoft fix your hosts file and reset it back to default visit http://support.microsoft.com/kb/972034 for Windows 7.

Still not fixed? Try resetting your DNS cache settings. An easy method is to navigate to the device management interface via control panel, locate your network adaptor, choose uninstall and restart your computer. This will reset your DNS and TCP settings.

 

 
 
 

Why surge boards don’t work on computer equipment

You don’t need to wait for a power blackout or a thunderstorm to damage your computer, power fluctuations and unseen surges through the mains power or through ADSL /Phone lines can do incremental damage or catastrophic damage to delicate computer electronics, hard drives and network cards.

One of the issues with power boards is that in a surge event they will shut off the power to the board, causing the computer to shutdown.  In technical circles this is known as “unexpected shutdown” and is a common causes of disk failure or data loss. The event is logged in the systems error reporting  and is an important area of risk management for data.

Surge boards are not cheap and the high cost can give you a false sense of security. If it costs this much it must work, right? Wrong. Surge boards that suddenly interrupt power to your computer often cause problems rather than the intended purpose of protecting sensitive computer electronics.

The solution for the office and home.

An uninterruptable power supply that offers true sine wave technology was something that only large enterprise could afford, but units have now become smaller and affordable. The most important part of good UPS technology is the line interactive capability. This straightens out the sine wave to deliver clean power, along with the ability to switch to backup battery when the power fails. If the power is not restored within a specified time you can shut down your computer gracefully.

UPS for home and small office

Protect Computer & ADSL Line to 750VA

 

There are many brands of UPS for the office or home available through technology outlets such as computer stores but few with capable and reliable Line Interactive Technology.

You can protect your PC equipment and ADSL line with a good quality UPS for around the same cost as a premium priced power board. We can install a UPS with Line Interactive Technology  (for $171 at the time of writing) during a standard service call.

Book an onsite computer service today and ask for a Upsonic Line Interactive UPS installation. It takes around 10 minutes and could save you from unnecessary power related data loss or component failure.

 
 
 

Dropbox Shell Tools give you right click menu

Dropbox

Dropbox file sharing

 

Dropbox is a great free tool for retrieving your documents and files on another PC or laptop anywhere there is a network connection.

Like the name implies, it is a drag and drop operation which can be a little time waster you don’t need. So our friends over in Germany made this free tool called Dropbox Shell Tools so you can have a right click menu to add files quickly.

Why are the best tools always the free ones? Download Shell Tools here.

 
 
 

Managing laptop temperature

[flv:http://www.wiredoffice.com.au/articles/images/managing-laptop-temp.flv 480 270]

Here in Australia summer temperatures can reach into the high 30’s and low 40’s (C) and as the ambient temperature climbs so does the temp of the hard disk. So it’s a concern when the running temp of a laptop is 50+ when the outside temp is only 25 degrees. We would expect the temp of the disk to rise to critical levels on a 35+ degree day.

Apart from the tangible heat you can feel with the palm of your hand or on your lap, many laptops have no early warning about overheating. Heat is something that must be managed otherwise:

  • your laptop could spontaneously shutdown or restart
  • your hard disk could die
  • raises the risk of data loss and file table corruption
  • you could lose access to the master file table and your data permanently

Active Hard Disk Monitor is a free tool to monitor the temp of your drives. After downloading and  installing a temp monitor icon is loaded into the system tray and a mousover will reveal the current temperature. Temp is read from the S.M.A.R.T interface on the drive and may need to be activated in the bios.

If the temp is 50+ you are in the warning area and would be advised to buy a laptop cooler. One of our preferences is the Zalman NC-2000 with very quiet dual centrifugal fans, which may reduce your temp by a critical 5 degrees and bring it into a safe working temp.