Archive for the 'Technology News' Category

 

Solving wifi problems in your home

You can spend a lot of time and waste a lot of money trying to solve your wifi problems in your home. These wifi issues are fairly common to large or two storey houses, but I have seen some homes having wifi issues that are not two storey but just a little larger than normal or with awkward shapes.

Here are a few fairly recent examples of wifi woes. I am going to have to ramble on a bit in this post because if i am politely succinct and brief Google will consider it “thin content” and as a result determine the post to be of no value to the reader. I have to reach a certain number of words thereabouts or risk being ignored by the search bot from Google. That’s why people are reading rambling blog posts, which take forever to get to the point, on their smart phones. I’ll do my best to make this interesting to make up for it lack of brevity.

Case example #1.

A customer called from a northern coastal suburb to inquire about a wireless problem which was proving to be a mystery. The home owner had called the iinet home technician service who were unable to resolve the wifi problems of connectivity to other areas of the house. The tech did charge the full service charge in spite of not being able to resolve it.  The customer than called a local computer fixit guy. He was also unable to resolve the issue and charged the full call out fee. Frustrated and unable to work out of the home office towards the front of the house and certain other rooms including the master bedroom where the wifi just didn’t reach, he called another local computer fixit guy who also seemed bewildered. Computer guys have a word for things they can’t fix. It’s called “strange”. Hmm, this is strange. This particular wifi issue was becoming something straight out of the Twilight Zone. The customer called a third computer fixit fellow who spent an hour testing out a new modem without success.

So, I was actually the fourth computer guy he called. When I arrived at the house the first thing I noticed was the router was positioned in the living area, directly opposite the kitchen area. The router running at 2.4ghz was facing off with a 2.4ghz microwave. This was not the only issue affecting connectivity. There were three main issues, but the microwave face-off was at the top of the list. At the first the dismayed customer was a little incredulous and people often are when you spot the problem after two minutes. I’m not bragging because really, this is a very obvious problem which should have been spotted previously.

The other problems involved configuration, or re-configuration relating to congestion. Utilizing my trusty android signal analyzer I could see strong signal strength in every room of the house now. It did also involve re-positioning the router to the optimum indicated position. wifi problems resolved under 1 hour.

Case example #2.

A new customer enquiry about wifi problems. Customer had a larger home, two storeys with an office in a far reaching nook of the top storey. Customer had been to jb-hifi who suggested a new Netgear modem router and a couple of Netgear access points. The modem connection was currently upstairs, one access was to be positioned downstairs, and another access point setup in the games room at the far end of the downstairs area.

The key thing to understand here is that wifi issues can be complex and require a level of skill, solutions (product) knowledge, and experience. Sales people in stores like this usually have limited IT knowledge – that’s why they are in sales. They also often have a preferred item or items to recommend based on projected sales targets and so forth. So, you should be careful about how seriously you take this advice. After taking a whole of house site survey I decided this house could utilize advancements in beam forming technology. This technology will seek and target a live connection rather than simply spread the signal far and wide.

This particular home had another issue looming in this equation – the number of users all sharing the bandwidth at the same time. There were playstations, kids and adults using ipads, a gaming computer, business computer, home computer. The home used a high speed satellite internet anything up to 10 X the speed of usual adsl. But this had nothing to do with wifi of course.

I asked the customer if they were willing to return the unopened products to jb’s and buy another product I specified. Then we could carry out testing with the new setup. There is always a risk that the suggested product does work as expected. We do our best in these scenarios. In the world of invisible wireless signals there are occasionally mysteries causing dead zones. But the live zone analytics often solve these issues. I am yet to send a customer back for a refund on my first suggestion.

In this case I was able to eliminate the two access points. Though my suggested router was in the higher end of the scale it worked beautifully and continues to do so. Access points have a reputation for drop outs, and are generally old school solutions. They are also a pain for average users to keep resetting or re-positioning.

 

Case example #3.

Customer call out for a wifi signal which kept dropping out. The back story is that the home owner (home office) had called their ISP (Telstra) many times over several months without being able to get the issue resolved. The ISP had reset the modem numerous times. They also sent a new modem. The problem persisted. When i called i was immediately drawn to the modem sitting directly on top of the landline phone box with a wireless phone handset. The customer at first scoffed that anything could be so simple. Occam’s Razor applied here as it often does in this business. I spoke with the customer recently on another issue and was told they never had a problem since moving the modem from the cordless handset.

Call me today to resolve your whole of home wifi issues. Don’t buy a modem before I can assess the situation. This service job requires two visits, each of one hour duration. The first to assess the home, take an initial site survey electronically. The second visit to install and configure the new modem, re-take the site survey and make adjustments. That’s a two hour service call to save you a world of trouble.

 

 
 
 

TV will not show some photos – solved.

 

I downloaded a bunch of photos from various holiday destinations and put them all on a USB stick. But when I plugged them into my Panasonic TV some played ok in the slideshow and others came up blank with a “cannot read file” message.

I am not a big photo user generally so I went online to various forums to see who had discovered what the problem was. I was surprised by the number of people facing this issue. Frustration was being vented and some were threatening to return their new TV’s to the store to get another brand that could play jpeg images. Even though some forums had a SOLVED stamp at the top of the forum there were no answers anywhere.

Some disgruntled users wrote to their various TV manufacturers and posted the replies on the forums. Sony, Panasonic, and LG to name a few generally suggested that if a photo had been edited in Photoshop CS or Photoshop Elements it had added data to EXIFF data and would not play on a TV. This seemed to be most common answer. But I removed all traces of EXIFF data from my sample jpegs and they still wouldn’t play. I tried editing and saving from Microsoft Paint and other editing tools to test the Photoshop theories. They still wouldn’t play.

I know a lot of people in forums attempt to provide answers off the cuff but I am surprised at those big TV firms technical departments offering answers without testing their ideas first. It’s lazy and not very good customers service.

I knew there was no chance of finding the answer to this online so I set about solving it myself. I knew most likely the Occams Razor theory would apply here. It’s probably going to be a simple answer because a jpeg is fairly simple technology that has been around a long time. Many respondents to the forum questions suggested it is the JPEG “progressive” technology together with “poorly designed TV media technology” which was at the core of the problem. Talk about over-thinking! It didn’t help that many seeking help claimed that photos beyond a certain year were the ones affected and some were insistent about this.

Eventually, I discovered the problem to be resolution. All my problematic photos were saved via the “save as to web and devices” in Photoshop CS5, but I did not consider the resolution. The Web and Devices output did not change the screen resolution to 72dpi. Once that setting was edited under the “image” menu in Photoshop the photos were viewable on my Panasonic TV. Bring the photo back in and edit the DPI and save it via Web & Devices.

 

 
 
 

The Say Yes Scam – is it really a scam?

 

There are numerous websites of the so-called news variety who parrot the advice given by some police departments and the Better Business Bureau in America about popular scams, without giving this anymore thought or conducting any kind of analysis or research. In fact, the BBB warning against the current scam causing and delusional thinking into good folks around the world. The Say Yes Scam came out of a BBB satellite office in Florida and not the BBB as a national entity. We better say this is a scam just in case it is.

The idea is the scammer calls you on a fake number and asks a question designed to elicit a yes or no response, such as “am I speaking to joe smith”. If you are running a business where your name is well known in the area you might instinctively say yes.

The BBB or others spreading warnings about this scam do not appear to have analysed the status of this scam alert. As Snopes.com reported recently there does not appear to be any evidence of victims. The fear mongers want you to blindly accept that the word YES can magically amount to stealing money from you. As snopes rightly pointed out, how can YES be used in any kind of context to buy something in your name. Anyone can say the word YES.

I got one of these calls recently. The voiced asked if it was me they were speaking to. I said yes. The voice sounded artificial, digitized in some way, but why should that trouble me? I don’t care if it came from the moon. But I will keep you updated on this blog about any attempt to gouge money from my bank account. Stay in touch.

The say yes scenario reminded me of a few movies following in the footsteps of The Ring. Watch this video and you will die with ten days, answer the phone and you die within 24 hours. So I am seriously wondering if the Say Yes Scam should be known as the Say Yes Prank.

 
 
 

The WMDC (Windows Mobile) issue in Windows 10 – explained 2018

trimble and wmdc issues

I wrote the following post on the Microsoft support channel after seeing so many trying futile workarounds and fixes that are not addressing the real issue for the retired WMDC and connectivity issues in Windows 10. Re posted here.

[OP]

The problem is best addressed by understanding the general life cycle of devices and the retirement of WMDC many years ago.

You will need windows 7 to run most of the legacy devices reliant on wmdc.

Some of these devices *may* run on windows 7 on Hyper-V, but the gotcha here is that if the device is not recognized by wmdc to start with there can be no device pass-through. Resetting the device to open wmdc in compatibility mode, then resetting the wmdc service protocol to run on a local system account with desktop interaction may give temporary access but this by no means a workable solution. Only a device seen as a disk drive can be manipulated as a pass-through device for hyper-v.

So for wmdc users with specification applications, such as data analysis software, install win7 on a standalone PC/laptop. This will be a workaround for some devices which rely on wmdc for the interim until the device vendors create a new model for windows 10 connectivity.

Some devices, such as Trimble data analysis devices, may have wifi connectivity. Have you tried this to bypass wmdc? Let us know how you got on.

Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP)

 
 
 

First with flat rate price for computer support in Australia

 

Wired Office is an ad-hoc service on call 7 days a week for break/fix support, general support, and online remote access support for the home, home office and professional computer users. We don’t have contracts, just a reliable service whenever you need it, anywhere in Australia.

We have set up flat rate pricing so users of the service can know in advance how much it’s going to cost. That is not a per hourly rate as you usually find, it is the flat rate. The only catch, if you can call it that, is the rate applies to a single support incident. So, for example, your email program is no longer receiving emails. As a customer recently found, iinet support techs were unable to help resolve this issue after spending a few hours logged in to his machine. We diagnosed and fixed this issue within the 30 minute time frame applying to our $49 flat rate offer.

Not sure if your issue applies to this offer? Just give us a call and we’ll be happy to help.

For local customers in Perth’s northern suburbs bring your computer or laptop in to Duncraig for the flat rate offer.

 
 
 

Celebrating 20 Years in I.T. with Savings on Support!

I’ve been around since the early days of computing. Remember the early IBM 386 machines we started with DOS codes? Or the small square Mac computers with a whopping 4MB of storage space? And those hard drives from Hitachi that cost $3500 for 10MB space? I bought a printer for $4500 that now costs no more than a few hundred dollars.

I started off in network engineering. Then on to Microsoft University leading to my MCP (Microsoft Certified Professional) badges. I’ve worked on corporate servers and small business SBS networks in the 1998 – 2000 – 2003 operating systems. Good IT support begins and ends with education and ongoing training, nothing’s changed, I still spend the equivalent of 2 days a week on MS online training and refreshers. When I started wiredoffice in 2005 I became a break/fix adhoc service mostly for small business, prosumers, home office and consumers. Many of my early customers are still around and regular users of the service.

I am not always a fan of Microsoft and I’ve had plenty of criticism over the years and shared the same exasperation and frustration as you, like the missing start menu in Windows 8 as an example. I heard complaints about every new Windows OS. They all hated the change from Windows 95 to 98,  windows 2000 to XP, XP to windows 7,  and so on. Funny enough, every new iteration of Windows turned from hatred en masse to a legion of die hard fans. The so hated XP is now spoken about like a legend from the days of yore. Windows 10 has had a few glitches, but mostly the criticism has been about that dreaded word – change. In my opinion Windows 10 is practically flawless, fast, and stable. I have empathy for those struggling with it, but usually find 10 minutes education smooths things out. It’s amazing the difference it makes to know the two commands, start + i, and start + X, can make to ease the I can’t find the settings complaint. (start is the little Microsoft logo on the keyboard in between ctrl and alt keys).

To celebrate this milestone, for September 2017,  I am offering a 20% discount – 1% for every year I’ve worked in this business. This applies to call outs and workshop work. Remember that remote login has a base charge of $49 for 30mins. To best utilize online support call or email the issue so when we log in we will most likely have the fix at hand. Our support standard has always been same day or overnight service. Our business model is such that we have never had a computer in-workshop for longer than 24 hours.  Service is available 7 days most days of the year. We fix everything!

Cheers – Dave Burchall

 
 
 

How to clean dust from your computer – and how not to clean dust from your computer or laptop

dust build up can dramatically affect performance and lifespan

 

Let’s face it, dust is very destructive for electronic components and circuit boards. It has bacteria, human skin cells, even meteorite particles according to one wikipedia article. On circuit board dust also carries or creates static electricity. If you have doubt about the destructive power of dust in relation to computers and laptops consider that for over 20 years I have been attending to computers onsite which freeze, or especially randomly restart. On many occasions all these computers needed was a de-dust to resolve the issues. Over time static discharge can seriously reduce the lifespan of a computer, let alone affect performance and stability.

Noisy fans and PSU’s should never be ignored on laptops either and is a sure sign of dust accumulation. The big 3 no-no’s and most commonly used methods for cleaning dust are the house or car vac which is especially damaging, a garage air compressor which carries moisture and creates static by the sheer force of air, and so called canned air, which is refrigerant based and incorrectly called canned air.

With every computer service, maintenance, or security checkup (you should have your computer serviced once a year at least) we will de-dust your laptop or PC with ESD-safe equipment. Some limitations may apply, including access restrictions.

ESD safe dust cleaning

 

Please inquire to see if your laptop can be accessed for ESD-safe dust clean when having your next service.

For industrial dust build up, a de-dust should be a serious maintenance issue to avoid buying a new machine often because of dust.

 

 

 
 
 

The cordless office dream in 2015 – Intel Skylake

skylake590Intel chipset releases and upgrades are referred to as Intel Tick-Tock. To keep pace or ahead of competitors Intel seeks to release upgrades or new technology approximately every year. Last year the Tick was the 4th generation Haswell (code name) nanotechnology (14nm). Last year we built all our custom built towers using the Haswell chipsets and CPU’s. Early 2015 we are going to see the new Broadwell chipsets whichis aTick, the Tock will come with the new generation Skylake which will have design and substantial performance improvements. Other IT writers have technical blogs which discuss the architecture and technology of Skylake, but this blog writer focuses on what the technology means to you.

So, on to the dream of the cordless office.

cables-mess590

Some aspects of cordless technology have been around for quite a while, wifi networking, wireless printers, wireless mouse. The advance in cordless technology comes from the work of Rezence, the wireless transfer technology based on the principles of magnetic resonance (Intel is a key industry partner).

The future standardfor wireless charging and power is called “Rezence”. We are going to see laptops placed on a charge pad where they will be charged with no other user effort. Computers will have wireless mouse, wireless keyboard, wireless monitor, wireless printer. Current technology works in the 2.4GHz or (less common) 5GHz range, Rezence and WiGig work in different frequencies.

For those who use desktop computers or extended displays for laptops the HDMI or digital cable will be replaced by WiGig (WiGig won the Popular Science Best of What’s New Award in 2014) and we can expect wireless display connectivity by late 2015 to early 2016 according to some industry sources. Various wifi charging pads are in the shops now and have been for some time but there has not been enough interest to deploy this technology on a mass scale because it is first generation. Rezence is next generation technology.

 

 
 
 

The best of free media servers

plex590

Media servers are software programs that allow you to stream your movies, home videos, photos and music to devices on your network from your choice of storage such as a NAS box or an old PC. If you have a modern DLNA certified TV you can select media server from the menu and start watching movies over the WiFi channel or Ethernet.

One of the best free media servers around hands-down is the Plex Media Server. You can view movies for example not as lists, but as images complete with extensive metadata collected from an online database including synopsis, cast and crew, even trailers. If you are streaming to a DLNA TV brands such asLG and Samsung have the Plex plugin, others like high end Panasonic TV’s have a link to media servers where you will see a list with thumbnails too small to be useful.

Upload your camera photos and home videos from cameras and smart phones and watch via live streaming on your TV. There is also a Plex app for ipad and iphone but this is not free.

One of the really clever features under the bonnet of the Plex server is its ability to transcode video on the fly. You will not be bombarded with incomprehensible messages about codecs or file not supported. If a file is unable to play because of codec incompatibility Plex will transcode in the background.

plex-app590

The hardware you will need.

Hardware specific to network attached storage and media storage is a subject big enough for its own post. You can in theory use a laptop as a media store or an old computer with decent specs, but you will need lots of storage space for a collection of movies, music, photos. You’ll be surprised how quickly you can fill up a hard drive.

SSD drives are still in the expensive range so if we are talking about electrical/mechanical hard drives choose your drive carefully. The new HGST technology or NAS /Storage specific drives are best. You can buy 3TB up to 6TB capacity drives.

Hard drives containing movies need maintenance so don’t wait until you are on the verge of losing your precious data, use our local or remote support service to carry out annual checks on the integrity of your data file systems.

 

 

 
 
 

The amazing Pono Media Player is Free.

pono-wide3

For all you music lovers out there with classy laptop or PC speakers from the likes of Bose, or the Bowers & Wilkins computer speakers you are going to love the free media player from Pono Music. Neil Young is the CEO and driving force behind this special digital to analogue or DAC system, born out of frustration with crappy, souless digital music. There is a hardware player as well going for about $399 which is claimed by its promos to be the closest thing to a live performance. The project was funded through Kickstarter.

You can download the free media play for Windows here.