We have had some recent questions about Microsoft Outlook Exchange servers. This is what we told one client:
Dear Mr so-and-so,
We have had some recent questions about Microsoft Outlook Exchange servers. This is what we told one client:
Dear Mr so-and-so,
Your data is important. While we work magic in many ways, recovering data from failed hard drives is difficult, at best, and often impossible. The only way to protect your data & minimize downtime is to ensure you have a good backup solution in place. We’ve discussed this before, but it’s so important we want to discuss it again.
We have found the best way to backup data is to use an external hard drive, preferably a network hard drive. Network drives are inexpensive, easy to configure, reliable & fast. We recommend them in all cases – Macs, PCs, even Servers.
While most network drives are identical, we recommend those made by Buffalo. They offer many excellent features & are very compatible. They come in a variety of sizes (250gb, 320gb, 500gb, 750gb, 1tb, 2tb, 4tb) to accommodate for all different kinds of storage needs. They also provide an excellent means to share files among multiple users in a household or small business. These devices can also be configured to backup to each other – for maximum data protection.
On the Mac side of things, we highly recommend using Leopard’s (10.5) Time Machine. It’s an excellent program (thanks, Apple!) that makes automatic backups on a regular basis. It can even be used over a wireless connection. Though many of you are probably still running 10.4 or 10.3, have you considered upgrading?
On the PC side of things, we highly recommend using a backup program called Cobian. It’s freely downloadable from snapfiles.com. It offers great flexibility – allowing you to choose what you want backed up, and when.
We’ve had a lot of complaints from clients who have received attachments from users with Microsoft Office 2007 and have been unable to open them. It turns out that Microsoft changed the default file format in Office 2007 & that format is not compatible with any other version of Microsoft Office (both on a PC and a Mac). This is typically Microsoft – introduce something new that offers no advantages whatsoever & provide zero backwards compatibility within their own software families. Nice work, Microsoft!
Microsoft also learns from their mistakes (though they never admit it) & has released converters for both PCs and Macs to allow these new file formats (based on eXtensible Markup Language – suffix docx) to be opened properly. They’re available here:
A client just asked us about the Pioneer PDP4280 Plasma TV – 42″. We recently installed a Pioneer PDP5010FD – 50″, the quality of which was absolutely phenomenal, so we weren’t reluctant to encourage them to go for it. But then we looked at the specs for the PDP4280 & were a bit surprised. This was our response:
A public school teacher was arrested this morning at John F.Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule and a calculator. [Read more…]
There are a couple of choices in high-speed internet service providers in the Northern Berkshire. There are a few differences in the services that are offered by Time Warner Cable and Verizon:
Verizon DSL offers two services – a basic, 768 kbps service that is perfectly suited to loading websites, retrieving email, and downloading small files such as antivirus software updates. This service will perform these jobs at such a speed that there is no advantage to having the higher speed connection. The one limitation of the 768 kbps service is transferring large files via email or web browser, or watching streaming media, such as audio or video.
Verizon’s other service, their 3000 kbps service, is more comparable to Time Warner Cable’s service, which typically runs at between 2000 and 5000 kbps. These two services are virtually identical, streaming media, transferring files, etc. at lightning fast speeds. Their prices are not. Verizon’s service tends to cost approximately $15 to $30 less than Time Warner Cable service.
We hope this assists our clients in deciding which High-Speed Internet Service Provider is best for you and your needs. Please contact us if you have any questions or would like a Brainspiral technician to install one of these services for you.
For those of you running Windows XP Service Pack 2, you have likely come across this problem at least once. You download a picture, document, or program you need, and before you can do anything, up pops a window, warning you of the (so-called) dangers of opening the file. “Warning,” the window advises, “This file is from an unknown publisher. Opening this file may damage your computer.” As helpful as this proposes to be, it is annoying for those downloading pictures of their vacation or their co-worker’s business document. For those continually annoyed by this, we offer this fix.
To remove these pop-up notifications, go to “Start”, right click on “My Computer”, click “Properties”, go to the “Advanced” tab, and select “Environmental Variables”. In User Variables, click “new”, and add the following: SEE_MASK_NOZONECHECKS, and give it the value 1. This will disable the pop-up security checks.
PROBLEM: A Lady Tries to turn on her computer, but it doesn’t come on and…she calls the “Support Desk”:
SUPPORT: ” Hello, technical support how can I help you?”
With literally million upon millions of websites offering numerous services, entertainment, opinions, news, products, and downloads, determining which of these sites are good or malicious for our computers is largely a guessing game. That is, it was. McAfee provides a free product called Site Advisor that adds a small bar to the bottom of your browser that gives a green, yellow, or red indicator (think traffic lights) for the safety of the site you are currently visiting. Like all software, it isn’t perfect, and the few sites it isn’t aware of, it will give a gray indicator. The add-on to your browser is available at the Site Advisor website.
This picture is amazing. One of our clients sent it to us. It’s hard to believe how far off their technology projects were in 1954. Consider now that a common digital stopwatch is more powerful than the ‘computer’ featured in the image. Wow!
allow IE 5/6 to display pngs with full alpha transparency. IE 7 supposedly
supports pngs without any help.
Despite security and copyright problems that have plagued them throughout their existence, file sharing programs continue to be popular. The first Napster, Kazaa, & Limewire are the better known programs for file sharing, and they entice many consumers with their ability to get you the file, whether it be a video, audio, document, or picture file, for free. The good news ends there. Many of these free, or lite, programs, pay for themselves through collaboration with known spyware producers who pay the file sharing program makers to bundle their software with spyware and other nasties. To make things worse, there is no way of knowing what programs and files are being put onto your computer while these programs are being used. So in exchange for free audio, video, and text files, you get in exchange more spyware, worms, trojans, and viruses than you would have encountered through regular web surfing. [Read more…]
LCD displays have dramatically improved how we use and locate our computers. Any of those who have transitioned from the massive, bulky CRT monitors to the sleek, crisp imaged LCD displays appreciate the flexibility in location, better resolution, and decreased energy consumption. However, these LCD displays, which can be found in desktop monitors and laptops, require different care than their massive CRT cousins. We offer these tips to avoid costly repairs and replacements. [Read more…]
We know your music is important to you. We know the iPod has changed the way we listen and transport music. We know how annoying it is when your computer has crashed and your iTunes library is caput.
We also know how to restore the contents of your iPod back to your computer. It’s not easy & takes some time, but it’s absolutely possible. So if you need some recovery, let us know. Get us your iPod for a day (you can even mail it it us!), and we’ll take care of the rest.
Security issues have bugged Windows XP users since its creation. Hackers, viruses, spyware, trojans, worms, and the countless other nasties can cause untold damage to your Windows XP PC, anything from slowing your performance to deleting your data files to corrupting your operating system. Thankfully there are some simple (and free!) solutions.
Windows XP requires an update to be installed to deal with the new dates of Daylight Savings Time. Most likely your computer has already downloaded and installed this update; however in the unlikely chance that your PC hasn’t, we are providing the link to the Microsoft Download site for this update. It is important that you be running Windows XP Service Pack 2 (XPSP2) in order to install this update.
The site is:
Microsoft Windows Update
Mac OS X
There is a similar update available for OS X.
Any computer configured to use a time server (NTP) will automatically adjust its clock based on the remote server time. No software update is necessary in this case.
Please check this out for answers to many questions concerning the shift in Daylight Savings Time and your computer.
We’ve noticed some unusual things with Internet Explorer 7. We feel that the world would be a far superior place if Microsoft had simply discarded IE and supported Mozilla – Firefox being a standards-compliant browser that web developers can actually make use of as a presentation medium. [Read more…]
Batteries are running our lives these days. No one wants to be tethered by wire – SATV, GSM/CDMA, WIFI, MP3 – all make our lives easier & more mobile. Powering our devices is tricky, and no one wants to be left on a train ride to NYC with a dead iPod. Replacement batteries aren’t cheap. A typical laptop battery could easily cost over $100. This information about caring for your batteries may help preserve their life, and allow you to get the most performance out of them. [Read more…]
For all of us who feel only the deepest love and affection for
the way computers have enhanced our lives, read on.
At a recent computer expo (COMDEX), Bill Gates reportedly
compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated:
“If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry
has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the
In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press
This post is a bit obscure, but since I found very little information about this topic on the web, I wanted to share it for all.
Thickbox and Lightbox are great packages. Very powerful. Very elegant. Excellently scripted. Unfortunately, however, they don’t play nice together. Though Thickbox does in many respects supercede Lightbox, we needed both for a project. Turns out they’re incompatible with each other – or rather the libraries they depend on, Prototype and JQuery are incompatible – sort of. [Read more…]
True: Spam – or unsolicited email – is a serious problem.
Not True: Recent reports show that within the next eighteen months, most people will spend at least four hours of their day dealing with email, with almost 75% of that time wasted whilst wading through spam.
True or not, Spam isn’t fun. And unfortunately there isn’t much you can do about it. [Read more…]
Microsoft has finally released their newest concoction – Windows Vista. They’ve been developing it for the past six years. We haven’t had a chance to test it yet, but we will soon enough. All new PCs will be shipping with it as of now (January 30, 2007). Our current recommendation is to ignore it – stick with Windows XP, unless you’re completely upgrading your system. We’re concerned there may be software incompatibilities between Vista and other Windows-compatible software, not to mention the fact that the interface and usability will be altogether foreign to a non-techie. Here’s an excellent article from the NY Times written by computer guru David Pogue:
And another rather scathing article regarding Bill Gates and Vista:
Still yet another article pointing to problems with Vista: the version you pay for may not be what you get, despite assurances from Microsoft;
In today’s digital world, computers can fill up fast with an assortment of pictures, MP3s, and videos whose files consume large portions of a hard drive. Unfortunately, other files and programs can fill up available storage space with unnecessary files. A few programs in Windows can take care of this problem and optimize your computer’s storage space. [Read more…]
I was hoping to get my PC to you for a clean-up and also to help us deal with memory shortage. We got a new digital camera recently and the photos are considerably larger than our former camera’s photos. I went to check the memory the other day and we we were down to 3% left! [Read more…]