The Wired Office Blog


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 which is a Tick, 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.


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 standard for 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


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 as LG 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.


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.


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.



Keeping your own photos safe from hackers.




Some of the private photos stolen by hackers in recent days appear to have come from icloud accounts. Kirsten Dunst was reported as saying “thank you icloud” when several of her photos were released on public forums and websites. icloud might also hang its head in shame for, at the least, not enforcing really good passwords, and this is probably the method used by the so called hackers. It’s called brute force but could also be called guesswork and hard slog because what they might have done was hack a low level database to get the password that many people use as a universal password, then move over to icloud login screen and give it a try.

They also might have found out the name of Kirsten Dunst’s dog or cat and tested that as a password, or spent days on variations such as nameofdog123, name of dogabcd. They may also have run a dictionary attack (the real brute force hack tool). The icloud server may have allowed multiple attempts to guess a password. If this is the case we would assume this will be fixed now that real celebrities are affected. It is generally known in the hacker world that resides in the layers of the dark web that getting someone’s email address is 70% there. The rest is, as indicated above, guesswork and patience.

icloud, like Microsoft’s Onedrive, is a great way to keep photos and documents safe from loss due to failed hardware or theft, but the vulnerable attack vector is weak passwords. I use a password generator to create complicated passwords like this 2AzMiRPa, then I record it, and change the password regularly. I also do not use the same password for multiple websites that are important and need to be secure.

It would be interesting to know what Kirsten Dunst’s password was. DunstABC?



How to tell if your computer is infected with malware and why you can’t trust your antivirus.

As far back as January 2013 the New York Times ran a story about Chinese hackers who successfully installed 45 malicious-ware items on the NYT’s network with Symantec’s antivirus detecting just one of them. It’s a common story. Recently we seen a computer with Trend Micro Titanium edition installed that had around 90 malware items and Trend did not detect a single one of them. You can read more about this in my other posts about computer security and why your annual investment in antivirus and firewalls will be giving you a false sense of safety.

In 2013 Symantec (Norton) would not comment on the Chinese hacking story, but in this article they fessed up and said antivirus is not enough to face today’s threats. In our experience in the trenches no antivirus is up to the task, regardless of who wins what award for best AV of the year in computer magazines. The no virus found message after a 2 hour scan is certainly one of the problems in creating a false sense of security.

Modern malware has also shown the ability to interact with antivirus and take control of these programs. So far the security industry response has been to keep their customers spending and installing antivirus. It’s about as lame as the response to hackers at ATM’s – use your left hand to hide your PIN,  and while we are at it let’s  introduce tap & go cards.

Until things change (and don’t expect that anytime soon) you are going to need to be aware of the warning signs of a compromised system. Trojans, viruses, malware and spyware are programs that can infect systems with no user interaction on vulnerable, exploited systems. Sometimes you will see pop ups or fake antivirus, other malware is less obvious. What is a vulnerable system? Typically small business and home/home office computers that only have an AV installed, with no other levels of security hardening.

Typical warning indicators or group of indicators of malware infection:

1. You have a downloaded a free antivirus program and it instantly found a lot of viruses and opens the scan window every time you start your computer. The search term “free antivirus” and other search terms like speed up my computer or registry cleaner program are common infection methods.

2. Your existing antivirus program has alerted you to a scan with a result, but failed to delete or quarantine the found items, or your AV has shut down.

3. Your computer is running slower than normal, crashes programs or restarts randomly.

4. Your browsers start page has changed, and, or your searches redirect you to pages you didn’t search for.

5. The internet has slowed down and generally the computer is running much slower.

**You still need to have an antivirus installed for the viruses it catches, and for banking compliance on websites.

There are a number of levels to hardening your computer beyond an antivirus program. If you are in Perth WA contact us for optimised security, screening for bugs, and current best practice hardening.

Want to know which is the best AV at this time? The free Microsoft Security Essentials is our preference but stopped working on XP as of April 8 this year. If you have trouble with Windows 7 backup and MSE you may need to uninstall and install an alternative.



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



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.


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 future of screen technology may be closer than you think

Remember in the film Avatar the computer screens were transparent. This is an example of capacitive screen technology first described in 1965 by E A Johnson. Other films followed that showed transparent, capacitive, touch technology.

Over at research (Research in Motion) in Sweden their researchers have produced a video with predictions for this type of technology as early as 2014. Fascinating stuff. Sorry about the ads.



The hidden danger of browser cookies

Every time you visit a website such as Yahoo, Google, Microsoft or your favourite shopping site a cookie is left behind in your browser. This in itself is a harmless text file that merely stores information about your visit, your login and use of the site. Most websites force the use of cookies so it is not feasible to turn off cookies in browser settings. Deleting your browser cache when you close your browser removes some simple cookies but not persistant cookies.

So what’s the danger of a text file with no ability to run a program (executable)? A cookie can contain information useful to an attacker to enable the computer to be re-infected when the original virus infection is removed. Being an insecure text file cookies can easily be harvested by malicious programs. When a virus or backdoor trojan infects a computer it will install a malicious cookie, in part to facilitate re-infection in the future, particularly if the user visits one of the websites where the original infection came from.

Virus analysts have also identified exploits in common browsers where information can be harvested from cookies to gather login information to various websites the customer is using.

Currently, the best antivirus program that scans for and removes malicious text files such as cookies is Bitdefender. You can download a copy here.



Send a self destructing message

Sending someone an email with sensitive information such as your credit card number, passwords, or other information can leave that message hanging around in email folders, instant messaging programs or texts for a period of time until it’s deleted, and even then can be recoverable.

Enter the burn after reading solution from Oneshar. This is the stuff of a James bond movie. The initial data you send in the message is encrypted, once read the message self destructs, and if your intended reader does not read the message it will self destruct after the time allocated by you. By default this is 3 days.

I can see a lot of uses for this. It’s free and you can get it here.