WHAT HAPPENS WHEN AN APPLICATION RETIRES

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that MS Paint, one of the applications that has been bundled inside Windows since version 1.0, was no longer going to be a part of the Operating System.  After a day of outpouring from people all over the internet, however, they changed their minds and have decided to just make it an application that needs to be downloaded from the Windows Store.

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/07/24/ms-paint-stay/#lOzbGKDfs5WiSTSq.97

This brings to light the question:  "What do we do when the applications we rely on stop working?"

In many businesses across the world, there is a magical old computer that is running a very particular application that should never be touched, looked at, or breathed around.  This computer might be running an application that is over 10 years old and is the backbone of the business, but whose company simply isn't around anymore, or requires a substantial cost investment in order to upgrade to the newest versions.

Sometimes there is no choice but to try to keep that old machine running, but there can be other options.

1.  Virtualization
    If the application you need to use is too old to be able to run on a modern Operating System, sometimes you just have to make a "virtual" copy of the computer in order to be able to keep it running.  This method allows applications to run, but you still have to rely on an Operating System that can be non-supported and full of security risks.

2.  (Bite the Bullet and) Upgrade
    Sometimes if the company that makes the software you've been using has an upgrade, you just need to do it!  There are usually a variety of reasons why application vendors update their software.  Adding new features, increasing security, fixing problems.  If it is a vendor you have used and appreciate, upgrading can give you a stable base that will keep you running for a long time to come!

3.  Look for alternatives.
    Nobody likes replacing an application that has been a major part of their day/work, but sometimes that's exactly what we have to do.  If an application stops being supported, you can be left in a leaky boat without a bucket to bail yourself out with.  In these cases, finding an alternative can be the only way to provide you with the platform you need to keep running without issues.

Whatever your particular situation is, it is important to think about what the lifetime of the applications and hardware you use are.  If you've got a machine that you can't afford to lose, then you can't afford to not have a plan!  If you need advice on how to make sure the worst case scenario doesn't happen, give your friendly neighborhood iTologists a call today!

Cory Carson
OKLAHOMANS, IT'S TIME.....

This week we are scheduled to see our first (few!) days with temperatures over 100 degrees!

We all know this makes us hot and grumpy, but have you considered how it makes your computers feel?

The computers and servers that hold our data and keep us productive are very sensitive to temperature, just like we are!  Unfortunately, a snow cone and a fan aren't enough to keep our equipment happy.

Google keeps their data centers at no higher than 80 degrees Fahrenheit.  As all of us Okies know, when the mercury rises, keeping the inside temperature this low can be a struggle!  So what can we do to keep our equipment safe?

1.  Make sure your computers can breathe.
    Your computers have been designed to allow air to pass in and out of them, but we have to make sure we don't let the vents and fans get covered, keeping them from working well.  A computer surrounded by boxes and papers will get too hot and can overheat!

2.  Know your server's biggest fan
    If your server is in a room without a lot of airflow, having a box fan can make a big difference!  Try to determine how much cool air can circulate around your computers, and make sure they get to enjoy some time in the breeze!

3.  Extra AC!
    Sometimes the only way to keep things chilly is to get more air conditioning.  There are multiple portable units that you can move around as your needs increase during the summer, or maybe you should consider moving your equipment to another room.

Less recommended - Pool day

As the temperatures rise, don't forget that your friendly neighborhood iTologists are here to help!  If you would like to know ways to make sure your equipment has a long, happy life, please give us a call today.  We're all in this crazy summer together!

Cory Carson
HOW TO ASK FOR HELP

If you're an iTology partner, asking for computer help is always easy!

You have always-available access to the iTology icon in your system tray, where you can submit tickets at any time!

(the three pictures below)

You can also email us at any time at support@itologyok.com or call us at (405) 253-3833
Whichever method you use, your friendly neighborhood iTologists will be standing by to assist you quickly.  We look forward to hearing from you soon!
 

Cory Carson
THE CLOUD

It sounds impressive, doesn’t it?  This big magical vapor that holds all of our data together and lets us access it from anywhere we happen to be.  The problem?

There is no cloud

There is only someone else’s computer

When you think of it this way, it can be either more or less impressive, depending on what service you are using for the day.  Having your email in the cloud can be convenient, because all of the settings and storage are covered in your monthly fee, with no need for extensive (and expensive) maintenance on a server hosted at your business.

Files get a little more complicated though.  If your files are in the cloud, how much control do you really have over them?  If Dropbox gets hacked, do all of your companies proprietary documents become public?  And how do they manage backups?  How do you know that you’ll be able to get to your documents even if something bad happens?

At iTology, we want to make sure that everyone is utilizing “The Cloud” in the way that makes the most sense for your business.  If you’d like to know if there are new opportunities for your business to become more secure or more streamlined, call us today for a personalized assessment!

Cory Carson
KEEP OR TRASH THAT OLD EQUIPMENT?

We're all friends here, so let's be honest with each other...when is the last time you cleaned out your "old computer" closet/corner/garage?

Between all of the dingy beige equipment and cables that you keep in a big box "beacause I'm going to need those someday!"  Even though the computer equipment is from the 90's and the cables don't even plug into anything you own.

Let's be truthful with ourselves, that stuff doesn't belong in the space you pay to keep up with...

So, how do we sort between what to throw away and what needs to be recycled?  This is actually a complicated question!

Between needing to strip old drives out to destroy data, and needing to know where you can recycle silicon and where you need to dispose of other components there are tons of considerations to take into mind before you throw your old treasures into the bin.

If you need to clean out your electronics closet, call one of our friendly iTologists today!  We can help you regain some space and maybe even a little bit of inner peace

Cory Carson
WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOUR IT SUPPORT WENT TO SCHOOL?

This week some of your friendly iTologists are reporting in from a technology conference in Orlando, Florida.  During this conference we are meeting up with other tech companies and vendors from all over the world to share ideas and figure out what new things are coming up that will make a difference to you and your business!

When providing IT support, it is vital that you never stop trying to learn and improve your systems.  How many of us have seen our critical IT support handled by someone who only ever fixes a few problems and never strives to keep up with the world?

At iTology we believe that providing new world-class solutions is one of our sacred duties, keeping your business firmly at the intersection of secure and cutting edge!

If you would like to schedule a time for one of our friendly iTologists to come and teach your network some new tricks, give us a call today!

Cory Carson
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOOD CABLING

Is your network cabling a nightmare?

As long as it works, it’s ok…right?   Not really!

What happens in six months when a computer stops connecting to the network and nobody can figure out why?  In this closet, tracking down the problem can take valuable hours out of your day, as well as costing you for an onsite support call.

Now look at a properly cabled network closet

In this closet you just look at the port the computer is plugged in and immediately know what is going on with the network connection, turning your support nightmare into a quick interruption that doesn’t require someone coming to your office to check.

If looking at your network gives you an uneasy feeling, call iTology!  We will come out and help get your network working as smoothly as your business!

Cory Carson
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE RIGHT NETWORKING GEAR

When is the last time you thought about your router?

Most of us happily take the "free" modem/router that we are given when they install our internet service, throw in a couple of cheap parts in order to get our services running, then forget all about them until something bad happens.  But are you getting the most out of your investment with the equipment they assign you?

In our homes, the answer might be yes!  Sometimes that combination modem, router and wireless access point can be all we need to get by with 2-3 people.  But in a business, needs can be much different.  Even on the same internet package, having the correct equipment can cause a dramatic reduction in the headaches caused by sharing a connection with your co-workers.

"Every day at 11:45-12:45, our internet comes to a screeching halt, and nobody can get their work done!"

It isn't a coincidence that that's right when Tim in accounting goes on his lunch break and catches up on his Netflix queue.  With proper business-level equipment, rules can be set where Tim can still get his Orange is the New Black binge in without causing a headache on those trying to get invoices out. 

The same can be said about our wireless access points.  With more and more people carrying multiple wi-fi enabled devices, it's amazing how quickly our cheap equipment bogs down to the point that we would rather use our mobile data.

At iTology we believe in setting your network up the right way the first time.  With enterprise-grade equipment at an affordable price point, you can know that your network can handle all of the data you need it to, while being monitored to ensure that you don't lose work time due to a preventable problem.

If you would like to know if your network is set up to handle your needs, please give one of our friendly iTologists a call!

Cory Carson
Is a smart watch right for you?

We all remember the original smart watches “back in the day”, a big black square on your wrist with a small LED screen. Since then a lot has changed. There are so many wearable watches available that to name them here would be impossible. A recent review done in April 2017 by BestReview.com (http://bestreviews.com/best-smart-watches) included reviews of a whopping 64 options! 

You’ll want to consider the different types of smartwatches and which type is best for you. Next you’ll want to carefully consider all the options and specifics of each model available. Be sure to check reviews and note reliability.

Finally, you want to do the necessary learning to make sure your new purchase is utilized to the max! After all, if you only need the time…you don’t need a smart watch. If you want more than that, do the necessary research upfront and get a device that serves your needs best. 

Cory Carson
WannaCry and the Importance of Computer Updates

On May 12, 2017, a massive ransomware cyberattack called WannaCry was released, effecting hundreds of thousands of computers across the world.  Based on an exploit known as EternalBlue, the goal was to encrypt all files on a computer and then demand a $200-300 BitCoin payment to retrieve your data.  (As of May 22, 2017, however, there have been no reports of someone paying to get their data unlocked successfully)

What is interesting about WannaCry is that two months earlier, Microsoft released a patch that fixed the vulnerability that this attack used.  (https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/security/ms17-010.aspx)

This causes us to ask the question: “How big of an impact will having properly maintained computers have on your business?”

We all know how frustrating it is to come in and see the “restart your computer to finish installing Windows Updates” button on our screen, trying to tear us away from our busy days for seemingly no reason (but are extremely important reminders that the things we do on our computers are vulnerable and need to have a careful eye watching over them.)

At iTology, we fully test and implement security patches within days of them being released to keep your systems as secure as possible.  We are proud to be able to say that none of our managed systems were affected by WannaCry!  Even though the attacks may change, iTology is always staying on top of what’s going on in the technology world to make sure that you are able to run your business with no problems!

Cory Carson
Why you shouldn’t buy your next computer from Walmart.

When considering your next computer purchase, the factors you will probably consider fall under three main categories, price (including value for your money against the quality of the computer), features (options), and support (when choosing your computer and after the sale).

Walmart and other discount retailers may have extremely attractive prices, however the adage “you get what you pay for comes to mind.” Walmart’s selection of name-brand computers (and electronics in general) is often VERY limited. By their focus on value-oriented products storewide, you will be missing out on computing “horsepower” and other options you may need and/or want. Will your computer run the software you need for your business? Will it be high enough quality to stand up to the daily rigors of use? There are too many regrets to name here that will come back to haunt you later if you choose a machine that isn’t robust enough to handle the job, not to mention of such poor quality it won’t last. Choosing the right computer up front will save you money in unnecessary replacement cost and your hidden cost of decreased productivity, including downtime. The bottom line to your bottom line, is you must consider price and quality up front and make the wise choice for long term.

Regarding support before and after your computer purchase, Walmart isn’t setup to assist you there either. Walmart staff will be virtually zero help in explaining the features and what components you will need for your specific business. There just isn’t the expectation that employees will be knowledgeable about the options and features. They will be unable to explain the variances between the limited options. Part of iTology services to our clients is understanding your business. We discuss the features that you have needed and wanted in the past and ultimately understand your future needs and wants so that you can get the greatest value from your computer purchase. We know where to purchase the most affordable and quality machines. You shouldn’t overpay or have a computer that has more than you need for your business either. Helping you make these informed decisions is just another example of the full-service experience we offer you and your business when you do business with iTology.

Cory Carson
Should I fix or replace my computer?

Everyone has seen the display model computers at the big box retail stores, promising next generation features for a price that won't break the bank.  But is it worth it to shell out the money to buy a new computer when the computer you had when you graduated college would work just fine if you fixed it up a bit?  Sometimes we must let our beloved electronics retire instead of forcing them to keep holding on for just one more year!  Today we'll explore a few questions we should ask ourselves when it comes time to upgrade or replace our computers.

1.  How old is the computer?

    Even though your computer might be "running just fine" for now, computers have a "best used by" date.  Typically, you can expect computers you buy from the local department store to last around two years, while computers that are more business class have between a three and five-year lifespan.  This doesn't mean that they will for sure break on these schedules, but at the rapid place technology moves you will need to consider replacing things at these times to make sure you're getting the most for your investment!

2.  What kind of problems are you having with your current computer?

    "I have a routine!  I hit the power button on my computer, then go out and get a cup of coffee, take a shower, and work on my theory for cold fusion.  By the time that's done, my computer should more or less be up."  Have you noticed your computer taking more and more time to get to a usable state?  Often just having an experienced eye look at your system can help get it running much better!  If not, cheap upgrades like extra memory or a solid-state disk can make a huge difference on a system that isn't extremely old.  For less than the investment of a brand-new computer, your 3-year-old desktop might be able to outperform one of those sleek new models you see on the showroom!

3.  What do you use your computer for?

    Those $150 laptops you see advertised all over the place can look enticing, but are they worth buying?  In some cases, yes!  However, if you are wanting to be able to do more than just basic web browsing and document editing, these machines can lure you into a trap of frustration.  For instance, if you want to be able to stream HD video to your TV or play games, these low powered devices will only give you a headache.  In these circumstances, bigger can be better!  While it might not be as small and shiny as the new display laptop, the trusty 15-inch behemoth you keep on your desk might just need to have an electronic spa weekend to get refreshed and ready for the new season!

At the end of the day, there are several variables that will let you know if you should upgrade your computer or let it take a well-deserved rest.  If you have questions about what you should do, please contact one of your friendly neighborhood iTologists, and we will work with you to come up with the best way to use your money in our ever-changing technology landscape!

 

Cory Carson
Storm Season VS. Your Data

As a fellow Okie, you no doubt know how varied and unpredictable our weather can be. It isn’t a good idea to procrastinate and avoid planning for storm season. Just as we know that tuning into the local weather can be a matter of life and death, an emergency plan for your business data can protect your business in much the same way.

It’s important to ask yourself if your company’s critical data is backed up in the event of power loss or damage to your business location.  Having three copies of your valuable data is our recommended best practice: two copies on-site, and at least one somewhere else. In the event your backed-up data is needed; we can get it on a repair disk and deliver it to you quickly!

Even if the worst doesn’t happen, implementing these relatively easy measures can give you peace of mind and make minor weather events less of a headache to you, your employees, and your customers:

  • Invest in a quality surge protector, easy and affordable.
  • Install battery backups, for thunder (and lightning!) storms.
  • Lift servers off the floor.  Inexpensive and easily installed, server racks prevent damage by flooding.
  • Test your backups and Disaster Recovery Plan at least quarterly.

If you would like the peace of mind that comes with knowing your backup and disaster recovery plans will keep your business running, call our friendly iTologists today!  We will be happy to check your environment and offer a second opinion on how to make sure you don’t lose your hard-earned money when Oklahoma weather strikes!

Cory Carson
Why Guest WiFi is a Bad Idea

WiFi is everywhere you go, it seems.  No matter if you’re grabbing a cup of coffee or checking into a hotel for the night, it’s hard to go anywhere where we can’t find easy access to the internet by looking for a WiFi network without a lock on the icon!  But despite the fact they’re easy, an unsecured WiFi network is bad for both you as a customer, as well as your business!  At iTology, we highly recommend using your (albeit expensive) mobile data over an unsecured WiFi network every time!  Today we will briefly cover a few scenarios.  You as a WiFi user, and your business as a WiFi provider.

 

Open WiFi and You

 

In our above example, you’re in line at the local coffee house that you go to every day.  Several months ago you were trying to watch a YouTube video and connected to the available WiFi and haven’t thought about it since.  Today, however, while you wait for your morning dose of caffeine, you decide to buy tickets to a movie that opens tonight!  As you stand in line, you pull out your Credit Card and punch in your card number and excitedly wait for your day to be over.  In the parking lot, however, something very different is happening.  While you were paying for your tickets, someone within range of the unsecured WiFi network was sitting there smiling at his laptop for a very different reason.  Since your device wasn’t using an encrypted connection, he now has your credit card number, and tonight he is planning on eating well!  While this scenario may seem unlikely at the coffee shop where the barista knows your order as soon as you walk in the door, it’s very much possible for this to happen.  And that one time you connected to the network at your favorite fast food chain while you waited for your order?  Now you’re using that network without thinking about it every time you pass by any of their locations!  Making sure all of the networks you connect to are secure means that your data is ONLY your data.

 

Open WiFi and Your Business

 

There’s little that is more frustrating through the course of a day than not having access to the Internet.  When your clients are in your office, you want their experience to be the best that it can be, so you tell your internet provider to add an open WiFi guest network so your clients can have access to what they need while they’re in your office.  But what may be more surprising is that when they have open access to your network, all of the information that you share with your team every day becomes available to anyone within WiFi range!  Those confidential employee files or the plans for your next big product are stored right on your company equipment, and now anyone that walks in has an opportunity to get in and leaf through your digital file cabinets!  Creating even a simple password and controlling who has access to your network means that the only eyes that are looking at your company data are ones you’ve allowed to be there!

 

If you need help making sure your business WiFi is working for you and not everyone, please give one of our iTologists a call today!

Cory Carson
Why ALL Computers Should Have a Battery Backup

Picture this scenario (Or relive the horror!)  It’s 11:54pm and you’re sweating bullets as you prepare the report that your boss asked you to have ready by the start of the day on Monday.  As you put the finishing touches on your document, you hear a loud crack and hurridly try to save the document you’ve been working on for four hours.  Unfortunately, you were too late.  The eight page document you spent hours getting just right is now gone, along with your chances of having a good night of sleep!

 

This is just one of the benefits of having a battery backup for your computer.  In the event of a power outage, you can take comfort in knowing that your computer is both protected from power surges (paying $80 for a new battery backup is a lot better than paying $500 for a new computer!) and from losing your hard work at a moments notice.  Next time the power is knocked out during storm season, you can calmly save your document and shut your computer down normally without the stress!  And if you’re not at home, you can program your computer to automatically do a safe shutdown when your power goes out, putting your mind (and your important email) at ease!

 

If you have any questions about battery backups and if your equipment needs one, please feel free to give one of our iTologists a call!  We’d love to help!

 

Cory Carson
Securing Mobile Devices:

As we live more of our lives through our smart devices, many of us don’t consider the implication of securing the information that we carry around on our small computing devices.  Bank account access, credit card numbers and pictures of our families are all information that someone can try to take while we’re not being vigilant.  But if you approach your mobile device with the same level of care as you do your home or work computer, there’s little need to be afraid for the safety of your information.  The few steps below are a good starting point to securing your digital life

 

1.        Phone Updates – Let’s face it, we’ve all mashed the “update later” button on our devices so many times that it’s practically a reflex.  But when we forget to come back later and apply these updates, we are only hurting ourselves!  Whether you’re running an iPhone or a Windows tablet, making sure you keep your device up to date is one of the simplest ways that you can be up-to-date with the most recent security and feature updates that you need to stay safe

2.       Not all apps are created equal – You’re standing in line at the DMV, waiting for the person ahead of you to fish out that last pocket full of change and considering learning Latin while you wait.  So you open your App Store and see “Latinmate - Learn Latin While You Wait!”  So you excitedly download the app and enter your password.  After downloading, it asks you for access to your contacts and phone storage.  Ready to begin impressing your friends you hastily hit “Allow” on the prompts for Contact, Storage, and Camera access.  As you get into the actual app you realize it’s nothing more than a few pictures and a Google translate box.  “Oh well” you think, and shuffle off to the corner.  Unfortunately, Latinmate has already gotten what it wants and will continue to sit there gathering information on you as you go about your day.  Spending a few minutes to think about why an app might need access to your info can save you some frustration later!

3.       Securing your device – Luckily, a lot of phones are starting to use fingerprints to allow you to safely and securely get into your device.  But many are still using four digit pin numbers or simple passwords.  Is your PIN “1234”?  That same easy to remember code means that the next time you leave your phone at a restaurant, someone could easily gain access to all of your information

4.       Find my device – “It’s late, do you know where your device is?”  No matter if you’re on Android or iOS, there’s a nifty feature that will let you remotely locate your device on a map, and factory reset it if needed.  If you’re not sure if your device is secured this way, you can click here (http://www.apple.com/icloud/find-my-iphone.html) for more information if you use an Apple device, or here (https://myaccount.google.com/intro/find-your-phone) if you are using Android.  Now is the time to make sure these features are on and working, not when you’re in a panic because you can’t find your phone or tablet!

 

These four steps will help set you on the path of making sure your device is secured.  While not comprehensive, if you can remember to stay security focused with your device, it will prevent you a lot of worry in the future!  If you have any additional questions, one of our friendly iTologists will be glad to discuss your mobile device security strategy with you!  Give us a call!

Cory Carson
Different Needs

We understand that as a business owner, you want your overhead costs to take you further. That's why we minimize technology costs through detailed planning. Call us today at 405-253-3833 to get started.

Cory Carson