In Choosing a New Tech Device, Sometimes “Good Enough” Is Your Best Choice

New Tech Device

In Choosing a New Tech Device,

Sometimes “Good Enough” Is Your Best Choice

 

In a 1965 journal article, Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel made the prediction – later made famous as “Moore’s Law” – that the technology of the semiconductor chip industry would steadily advance at such a pace that the number of transistors that could be fitted into an integrated circuit would roughly double every two years. Remarkably, this blistering pace of technological advancement has continued unabated throughout these past decades. Not only has the power of computer devices increased by orders of magnitude, but the cost of such devices has steadily dropped. We now have computers available to suburban teenagers with powers and speed that would have been inconceivable even to national governments a decade ago.

 

So when you go into a computer retail shop nowadays, you will find a range of choices of computers and other devices that can at times seem overwhelming and bewildering. The marketing campaigns behind major product lines also make a tremendous impact on the psychology of the computer buying public. All too often, the appeal of getting “the best” or the “top of the line” computer causes consumers to make what might be considered unwise decisions.

 

Tasks & Inventory

There are two key questions to consider when buying a new computer or other device. First, you must consider what tasks you need the new equipment to perform. Some people are primarily business users whose overwhelming computer use involves producing Word documents and spreadsheets. Some computer users are gamers who would enjoy a fast Internet connection, a powerful and fast graphics card and sound quality that makes every explosion and death clatter from defeated enemies sound as realistic as possible. Then there are the graphic designers, computer-generated animation artists and other professionals who task the graphics and processing power of their computer to the maximum.

 

Tech Budget Planning

The second question to consider – which is more important these days than ever – is what other devices you already have in your “stable” of tech devices. Tech companies increasingly often produce devices that can “do it all.” However, just because a device can do twenty different tasks doesn’t mean that you should use it that way. The basic insight of this article is that you should consider your tech purchases in the context of an overall tech budget for all the devices you plan to own and use in your household. Most people are interested in watching video, listening to music, playing video games, surfing the Internet, producing Word and spreadsheet documents and printing things on paper. Naturally, there is a wide range of devices that can do some or all of these various tasks. Inevitably the “jack of all trades” is also the “master of none.”

 

Rather than spend top-dollar to buy “the best, fastest and most awesome” of any certain type of device, you might consider the more modest approach of buying the adequate device of that type – not the fastest, latest or greatest – and using the savings to purchase other devices more specifically suited for some other need.

 

By intelligently establishing a tech budget and then carefully planning your tech purchases against that budget, you can fortify yourself to resist the occasionally unwise temptation to spend more and buy more computer than you need. We love to help people plan out their home tech systems and we also fix things when they break! If you need computer repair in Wake Forest or in Raleigh, please come see us.

 

iPhone Versus Android

iphone-vs-android

 

iPhone Versus Android- Choosing The Right Smart Phone

These days, there is so much choice in the market for just about any product that it can sometimes seem bewildering. Especially when you are considering the purchase of a product that will cost a great deal of money and can play such a central role in your life – like your smartphone – you want to consider the choice carefully. Many people are intrigued by the choices offered both by Apple and by all of its many competitors offering systems running the Android system. This article offers a very brief, topline discussion of a few factors to think about.

 

Freedom, Man!

Probably the biggest advantage of the Android system is that it can free you up from the strictures of the “Apple ecosystem.” It really does seem that in recent years, the Apple corporate culture has become increasingly “command-oriented.” For their own corporate purposes, Apple does recently seem all too willing to force users of the iPhone to do things their way – like placing applications on the device that simply cannot be deleted. Freedom junkies get riled up by this sort of thing and want to “declare their independence.” Those types are often attracted to the Android devices.

 

While the software issues just mentioned might be an issue of Apple corporate policy, there are other freedom issues that aren’t really Apple’s fault – and those are issues around hardware choice. Apple’s iOS and the iPhone are proprietary software and hardware. If you go that route, you must use the hardware offerings from Apple.

 

Android, on the other hand, is based on an open source operating system that is not proprietary. This means anybody can offer a smartphone based on the Android OS. So in the very wide range of selections available in the Android world, you might be attracted to the bottom end of the price range – a cheap Chinese “throwaway” or you might be attracted to a top-of-the-line Samsung Galaxy S7. The open source nature of the Android world also gives you a huge range of choice in apps. In the Android world, there is no “mom” stopping the kids from buying and downloading “bad” apps onto their smartphones – you can decide which apps are “bad” or “good” for you.

 

 

Safety, Man!

On the other hand, the diffuse nature of the software development and the general openness of the Android world means that Android devices are significantly less secure than iPhones. This can be a bigger deal than you might think. Behind the scenes, various apps are querying data from each other and perhaps even sharing that data across the Internet in ways and with people you may not even know about.

 

Which of your apps has access to your Contacts list and which can share all of that data online?  Do you know and can you control it? What about your passwords? What about the history of your physical location? These are serious issues to think about. Now, this does not mean that all Android phones are negligent about security. In fact, Silent Circle’s Black Phone, which is based on the Android OS, markets itself as an extremely secure phone offering ultimate protection of your data and encryption of your messages.

 

Like most of the big choices in your life, there isn’t a clear “right” answer in the choice between the iPhone and the Android. If you want to hash out more of the issues, please come see us. Please don’t forget that if you are having a problem with any of your existing devices, we are local specialists in computer repair for the Raleigh and Wake Forest communities.

 

Mobile Credit Card Processing – Is It for Me?

 

mobile_credit_card_processing

 

Mobile Credit Card Processing – Is It for Me?

One really exciting development enabled by the Internet is the re-birth of small businesses featuring unique, hand-crafted items. Websites like Etsy allow furniture makers, jewelers, clothing designers and others to cheaply reach a global market of enthusiastic customers. And now that there is a viable business driven by the online marketplace in these types of hand-crafted items, there is a new popularity of such wares at local festivals and craft markets. Interestingly, the online space is changing retail at bricks and mortar locations. If you are a small business person – especially if you sell goods at festivals and other temporary locations where you don’t have a permanent business establishment, you may be interested in mobile credit card acceptance. The new technologies are cheap, secure and easy to use. Let’s take a quick look at some of the new technologies and sift through the possibilities.

 

Only Connect!

The first issue to think about – the issue that drives the other aspects of mobile credit card acceptance – is the method that the physical card uses to connect with the credit card acceptance system. The method that most people are familiar with is as old as credit cards themselves – a magnetic strip on the back of the card is swiped through a reader and thereby transfers the information about the credit card account to the computer. A much more modern technology is one in which the credit card has a micro-chip embedded in its surface. Instead of swiping the card, the payor inserts the card into the card reader (“dips” the card) and the chip on the front of the card makes physical contact with the electronics inside the reader. The third and newest method starting to appear in retail establishments is one based on “near field communication” (NFC). An NFC-based credit card acceptance system does not require physical contact like the others. It operates using radio waves and bring the two devices within about 4 inches of one another is usually sufficient for the data transfer to occur.

 

Apple Pay, Google Wallet

Now that you understand the methods of connection, we can talk about the newest payment systems that are coming out from tech leaders Apple and Google. Both of these systems are based on NFC technology and are extremely mobile. If your smartphone is equipped with NFC technology, then you don’t need any additional hardware at all to pay with either Apple Pay or Google Wallet. For the vast majority of people, the decision between using Apple Pay or Google Wallet will be as simple as which kind of smartphone you already have. Those who favor the iPhone will naturally use Apple Pay, while those using any Android-based phone can use Google Wallet.

 

Accepting Payment From Your Smartphone

Accepting payment via credit cards is slightly more complicated than making payments from your smartphone but it’s still pretty straightforward. The standard way most businesses start to accept credit cards is by first establishing a merchant account with a bank and then signing up with a credit card processing company. You can sign up to accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover and, once you’ve done that, activating the option to use Apple Pay and Google Wallet is easy. It is important to remember that you will have to pay a transaction fee for the convenience of being able to use credit cards in your small business. An even simpler way to get started is through using Paypal – which does not require a separate merchant account – but you may find that the fees are a bit higher. Finally, you will need to get your smartphone ready to accept credit cards by loading the correct software on the phone and then by getting hardware either for swipe cards, “dip and pay” cards with a chip and for Apple Pay and Google Wallet (NFC tech). Obviously, the more versatile your hardware, the broader range of customers you can serve.

 

Some of these procedures may seem technical and confusing, but they really aren’t. If you are a solo or small business person, come in and see us and we can help explain everything you need to know.

How Cloud Computing Evens The Playing Field

Cloud Computing, Cloud

The cloud gives small businesses a new mobility and flexibility, especially with the growing use of portable devices.

 

 

How Cloud Computing Evens The Playing Field

What is the Cloud?

Cloud computing is essentially receiving automation services (business computing software, data backup, server configuration, etc.) over the Internet. Small or medium-sized businesses who opt for cloud-based computer services can compete on more of an even keel with the “big boys” because of what the cloud has and does not have: (1) it gives access to a higher level of expertise, and (2) it avoids much of the costs associated with local equipment and software maintenance.

What are the advantages of the Cloud?

Advantages for small businesses

The cloud has come into vogue with the SBA (Small Business Authority). The SBA is “firmly convinced that cloud computing is not just a phrase or marketing device but is the future for small to medium-sized businesses IT systems. As much as it saves money and creates efficiency for large business, the benefits for small businesses are and will be much greater.”

Server reliability

Cloud computing makes local servers more dependable and less vulnerable to disaster. Your local physical server is exposed and lots of bad things can happen – natural disaster, data loss through error or malicious hacking, etc. Going to the cloud can improve your survivability and chances for quick recovery.

 

Enhanced mobility

Cloud connectivity is gaining popularity on mobile devices. The growing use of tablets and smartphones and portable devices like handheld printers gives the small business a new mobility and flexibility. Small business can accept payments through wonderful gizmos like credit card swipers where the goods are delivered.

IT cost savings: a significant “playing field leveler”…

A few years ago the Microsoft Corporation did a survey on customer attitudes and acceptance of cloud computing.  In a classic example of “Try it. You’ll like it!” survey responders who used cloud services reported the following benefits:

  • a savings of 26 percent in their IT budgets.
  • a reduction in security management time of 18 hours per week.
  • a decrease in security financial expenditures by five to six times over a three-year period.

Security, agility and competitiveness

Finally, cloud users responding to the Microsoft survey reported that “Improved security, agility and competitiveness and better scalability” were significant selling points for getting outside cloud services. Scalability means that the services can grow with the company without the increased costs of software, equipment and IT staff. As company business and income grows, the money previously dedicated to IT can be spent on things that are the primary generators of income.

Specialized SaaS products and leaner servers

So small business can enter the competitive fray of competition with more robust and cost-effective cloud computing services. The small business can take advantage of specialized online business software, SaaS, or software as a service, and backup services without having to undergo the learning curve and coping with upgrades and server maintenance issues. The IT staff can also concentrate on keeping the local equipment and servers leaner and much more efficient.

Extended hardware life

The Cloud extends the life of your equipment–computers, servers, routers–through the first cousin of SaaS: IaaS, or infrastructure as a service. Gone are the back-room hodgepodge of blinking lights, spaghetti-wired and energy hogging servers requiring constant TLC and upgrading. In the leapfrog contest between software and hardware, the software frequently outpaces local efforts to keep pace. With IaaS on the Cloud, that burden is shifted to the service provider.

In the meantime, you need reliable equipment service and repair

Windows 10 is here and has its own SaaS office platform offers a nice array of business support applications. To take advantage of all that, your equipment needs to be up, working and online 24/7. Downtime is not an option, and when it occurs it is costly. Want to learn more about our Raleigh computer repair service and options? Contact us.

Holiday Buying Guide: Smart Phones and Gadgets

Holiday Buying Guide: Smart Phones and Gadgets

Smart Phones and Gadgets

One of the hottest technology gadgets, the Samsung Gear VR powered by Occulus, creates a virtual reality at your fingertips.

 

 

While Black Friday is officially in the books, the holiday buying season has just started. One of the hottest big-ticket items for the 2015 holiday season are smart phones and smart phone accessories. If you happen to have a technology fiend in your life, you can score big points by pinning down the perfect tech gift, but these gadgets are a personal thing, and are rather expensive. We’ve gathered a few tips that will help you sniff out the perfect gadget gift for the one you love.

Know their Operating System Preferences

Cell phones, particularly smart phones, are a highly personal item. Everyone has their own preference, and fence-jumping isn’t a particular common thing. That is to say, users who like the iPhone will have a hard time jumping ship for an Android device and vice versa. If your loved one is already a cell phone aficionado, then you’ll want to pick up a new device that utilizes the same operating system they are already using.

Each operating system has strengths and weaknesses of its own, but both Android and iOS offer solid builds with few bugs. Both operating systems have solid app stores, brand-specific features, and solid workability. The difference between the two comes down to preference, honestly. Microsoft’s Windows Phone operating system is picking up steam as a potential front-runner, but the OS is a little weird for most users. If your loved one has their eyes set on a Window’s device go with that option, but if they’ve never mentioned their love of the quirky interface, it is best to steer clear.

Keep Their Lifestyle in Mind

iPhone or Android, it doesn’t really matter if you haven’t consider the lifestyle of the user. Each phone, regardless of its operating system, has features that appeal to some markets, but are unattractive to others. For example, LG offers a curved phone that some people adore, but others find highly uncomfortable when slid into the pocket of jeans or trousers. The iPhone 6S is a great device, but its lack of waterproofing means it can die a painful death when placed into the hands of a very active user.

Active users will likely have the best experience with one of the Android phone’s from Samsung’s active line. These devices repel water, dirt and debris in a myriad of different ways. A case adds further protection for the phone. The active line offers workhorse phones for those who want a smart phone but need something a bit sturdier.

On the other hand, business types will likely fall in love with the productivity apps that are available for the iPhone 6S and iPhone 6S+. The large size of the 6S+ is best suited for those who plan on using their phone a great deal for productivity purposes. The additional safeguards and apps available through the iOS makes the iPhone the best option for the business-minded user.

What about Accessories?

If you have a tech-lover in your life, odds are great that they already have a handset they love. If this is the case, you are better off adding a cool accessory to their arsenal than trying to replace a beloved handset. Cases, smart watches and charging devices are all solid gift options.

The Apple Watch is one of the hottest gifts of this holiday season, and with good reason. The watch allows users to connect their phone to a simple wrist-watch for additional convenience. It is a solid option for those who are constantly on the go, but also want to stay connected. Android-based phones also have watch options. The Samsung line of smart watches are popular with android-phone users.

Cases and charging ports are another great option for tech fiends who already have the handset of their dreams. Consider adding a wireless charging mat to your loved one’s stocking this year. You can add an Otterbox case to the stocking of an overly active smart phone user to help them further protect their investment.

 

Do you have any questions or concerns about tech-related topics? Feel free to contact us.

 

4 Simple Tips for Small Business Wireless Security

4 Simple Tips for Small Business Wireless Security

4 Simple Tips for Small Business Wireless Security

It is an unfortunate fact that many businesses do not take wireless security, or digital security in general, as serious as they should. It is a credible threat to any business and can have lasting effects on your company should an invasion take place. Luckily, there are some very basic steps that any small business can take to improve their wireless security and ensure that no unwanted breaches take place.

1. Make Use of the Security Options

There are a number of security options available with any router that can be enabled to improve the security of your wireless network. The first and most important security option is choosing the right security protocol. All new routers allow you to use WEP, WPA or WPA2 security protocols, each with their own set of benefits. Additionally, these protocols have “Personal” and “Enterprise” options available on most routers, with the Enterprise protocols offering higher levels of security, suitable for businesses.

2. Enable WPA-Personal Security

For businesses that have Wi-Fi networks that are only secured with WEP or have no wireless security in place, the best first step is to enable WPA-Personal security. When you enable WPA-Personal, you will be prompted to create a passphrase for the router and additional access points. This can be done by typing in your IP address to access the router and going to the “Security” settings page.

3. Separate Wi-Fi for Non-Employees and Guests

Although it seems like common knowledge, many businesses do not have a separate Wi-Fi enabled for guests. You should never allow an unfamiliar person to access your private Wi-Fi network. Instead, providing a guest wi-fi network with additonal security measures in place will help to keep your network safe.

4. Train Employees on Best Practices

One of the most common ways for an unwanted party to enter your network without permission is with the help of an employee who doesn’t fully understand how harmful this access can be. Make sure your employees are trained to never hand out the Wi-Fi password to unknown parties and know the best practices for keeping your network safe.

If you would like to learn more about how your business could benefit form increased network security, please contact us today to receive your initial consultation.365 × 242

Upgrading to Windows 10- Beware of Your Office Installs!

Upgrading to WIndows 10

 

 

Thinking about upgrading to Windows 10 soon?

As Many of you are getting messages to download Windows 10 for “free” lately we want you to know the possible perils that may occur. Overall we feel Windows 10 is a great operating system with many new features but our customers deserve to be informed.

Considerations before upgrading to Windows 10

Hardware Compatibility-

The first major concern when  Upgrading your operating system would be your computer’s hardware and software compatibility. Your computer has an existing hardware and software signature that is compatible with its current OS and changing that can cause certain programs you use to not work or certain hardware you have to not function correctly or not at all. We recommend checking with your current hardware manufacturers for updated drivers that are compatible with Windows 10. The major hardware you would be concerned with would be scanners, printers, digital cameras, etc. If they are not compatible it may force you to have to upgrade your hardware and will add an associated cost with this “free” upgrade.

Software Compatibility-

The second concern with your Windows 10 upgrade would be your software compatibility. Many software titles you are currently running on your Windows 7/8 machines are not yet compatible with Windows 10. We suggest that you reach out to your software manufacturers to confirm the status of compatibility. Many times they will provide sofware updates free of charge when new operating systems are released. It really depends on the sofware manufacturer whether you will need to purchase a new version of the software.

Office 2013 Compatibility-

We have recently noticed a major software incompatibility with Office 2013 Pro and upgrading to Windows 10. Upon upgrading a machine that has a pre-existing install of Office 2013 can render that software deactivated. It may require the user to have to re-purchase a new license for Office to re-install. We are proud to be there for you in Raleigh, Wake Forest, Cary and Durham for all of your Computer Service needs. If you need help please feel free to contact us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Information technology support tips for small business

Small businesses rely on information technology to improve productivity, share information and reduce the time it takes to communicate. Despite how important information technology is to their success many small businesses don’t tend to manage it well.  For the most part this has to do with the depth of expertise and investment of time that […]

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