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Updates – do you love them or loathe them?

Updates are a very controversial topic at the best of time.  Some people don’t mind updating their systems when new software is available whilst some people absolutely detest them.  Me I am somewhere in the middle.  I am of the mindset if it isn’t broke then I try not to fix it, meaning I will update software when I have to for security reasons and not much else (unless the client says they want to).

I met a potential client last week who has a Windows 7 PC in his office on Service Pack 1 with the updates turned off.  He has had the updates turned off for over a year and his system runs like a dream. No update issues or restarting the system when you are in the middle of something.  Now I did try to point out that Microsoft had issued several security updates during this time and it might be wise to install them on this particular system. “Not a chance as I have seen what happens when I update Microsoft software. Some of the other systems in this office have updates enabled and they crash too often when software is updated.  My system just works”

I can see his point.  I have lost count of the times I have had to deal with issues over the last 12 months which were caused by dodgy Microsoft updates.  It is worth noting here that this is not a specific problem to Microsoft.  Apple have had some crackers too with both iOS and OSX and even Android can be just as bad.  One minute my app works then it updates and no longer functions.

Of course the downside of not updating software is security.  If a hole is found and not patched then you leave a potential vulnerability for someone to exploit.  This message though will be lost if said update breaks something else on the way through.

We can’t expect Microsoft, Apple, Google and the like to test every potential configuration for their software as this is just impossible but it does seem that recently (and we are talking 12 months here) standards have been slipping. If anyone is listening a bit more testing please!!

So what do you think? Are updates a good thing or a pain in the ……….?

 

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

Is Android really that insecure?

I was speaking to a friend last week who is coming to the end of their mobile phone contract.  They currently use a Blackberry but wanted to upgrade to either an iPhone or Android but were unsure which way to go.  My personal choice is Android as I like the interface and “freedom” of the operating system but when I suggested this I was met with “but what about security and viruses?”.

Android has a nasty reputation for being insecure. Yes there is malware that can run on it but ask yourself this, do you actually know of anyone who has ever got malware on either an Android tablet or phone? The answer is probably no and there is a good reason for this. Google (and Apple) both do a good job of keeping malware out of their respective app stores.  Unless you decide to root your phone or download an app from a website rather than the official store chances are very slim that you will ever encounter malware in any form.

As for the device itself you can use a pin to lock the screen and certain apps (eg Dropbox) allow you to lock the app itself.  You can install antivirus if you so wish (I do as I tend to deal with documents that might be opened on a Windows PC). I run BitDefender Mobile Security on all my devices as you get the ability to track your device using GPS if you lose it and wipe if remotely if needs be.

Permissions is another issue altogether.  Google is attempting to address this in its Android M update which should hopefully curb the permissions that developers require for their apps.  If you get sleepless nights because “Big Brother” is watching you then you might be better off with an iPhone.

As with security in general the device is usually only as secure as the person who uses it.  Use a common sense approach and you should be fine with Android.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

Who will actually buy the new MacBook?

I have always had a love / hate relationship with Apple.  I can appreciate the design and the fact for the most part Apple devices “just work” but the cost of any Apple device is just so steep.  The cost of new devices is why I have kept hold of my 2009 MacBook for so long.  It works fine and I can’t justify the cost at the moment, plus there hasn’t been a replacement model in some time.

Until now. I was browsing the internet yesterday and found out that Apple is bringing out a new MacBook.  Could this finally be the device that makes me part with some hard earned? Nope I don’t think so.

The design is beautiful and the MacBook is soooooo light but if you look at the pictures you would think it is a MacBook Air which is a beautiful device in itself. The MacBook Air is also cheaper, more powerful and has more ports.  The only thing that is better about the new MacBook is the amount of RAM available and yes while 8GB is definitely better than the 4GB found on the MacBook Air running OS X on 4GB RAM is hardly a chore for the majority of us.  The major downside for me is that the processor is a dual core which is the same as the one in my 6 year old MacBook!!!

I can’t help thinking that Apple brought out this device because they could not because they should. Most of my customers who use Mac’s have either an iMac or MacBook Pro which again are fantastic devices with more than enough processing power to get things done.  When you are parting with £1049 (UK prices for base model) you would expect fantastic specs and for me the new MacBook just doesn’t cut it.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

 

 

Are we starting to come full circle?

There was a time when people purchased a local copy of software they needed and installed it on their system (usually a Windows PC).  Then came the cloud and people started to access what they needed online and hence stopped buying software to install on their system.  Now we have apps which, you have guessed it, people purchase and install on their systems and in some ways have taken us back to the “old’ days.

When the cloud came along it was hailed as a breakthrough in IT (and it really is). You no longer needed a specific operating system to access your data.  With the cloud you can access your emails, productivity software using either Google Apps or Office 365, invoicing, remote software etc. The possibilities are endless because all you need is a browser (that is why Chromebooks work so well).

Into the fray came tablets and smartphones devices, which were meant to access the cloud services on the go, and with the tablets and smartphones came apps.  Apps are essentially programs you install on a local device like we did back in the “old” days. Apps have made it so much easier to access cloud based solutions that people are slowly turning away from using a browser.

At launch Windows RT was hammered because the Windows Store didn’t contain lots of apps. What people failed to realise was that they could still access what they wanted through a browser and that is the whole point of the cloud. You don’t need a specific operating system or piece of software to access a web based service but apps are slowly changing that.  I know of people who are so entrenched in the Apple ecosystem that they couldn’t move to Android because they would lose their apps even though most apps are now cross platform.

Apps are starting to take us back to a time when your choice of operating system was significant meaning we are starting to go full circle.

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Cisco, Windows, OS X and Linux based IT Support to small businesses throughout Scotland.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

Are Macs still relevant?

I have always disliked the way that Apple do things.  There is no denying that their products are beautifully designed and do exactly what they say on the tin but the one thing that has always stopped me from parting with my hard earned is “Apples way or the highway”.  Until recently that is.

I was put in contact with a new client a couple of weeks back and guess what they use? Yeh that is right a Mac or more precisely an iMac and what a beautifully designed machine it is. One slight problem, I don’t use Macs so time for me to splurge and get one. So off to ebay I went.  After quite a while trawling through the options I finally bought a 2009 model Macbook for £275 running Mountain Lion. And so the crash course started.


Boy are Macs easy to learn.  Whereas a Windows (and Linux) system will allow you to configure it to within an inch of its life Macs have much less configuration options available to the average user and the whole experience is much better for it.  There is no way an average user can configure something incorrectly the way you can with Windows.  Apple has decided what the average user needs and dare I say it, it works.

So why aren’t more users using Macs if they are easier to use? Cost.  My MacBook would have cost approximately £900 new which for an average user is well above their budget given that a Windows system can be had for a third of that.  Of course the specifications of both systems will not be the same but an average user wont care as they “just want a laptop”. If Apple dropped the price to about £450 ish they would sell a boatload of MacBooks but that is not likely to happen as they aim for the top end of the market and not the middle or bottom.

But Apple do have a problem though and that is OS X falling market share.  As of December 2013 OS X accounted for 7.43% of all desktops.  The problem they have is that iOS seams to be eating into OS X market share as more Apple customers decide to go for the iPad rather than the MacBook.

So where does this leave the MacBook then and even the iMac?

Professionals will still stump up the cash for an iMac for their offices rather than a Windows system which can become “infested” with viruses so no real change there for Apple. The MacBook though is a very different story.  If, and it is a VERY BIG if, people start doing real work on an iPad in the same way they can on a MacBook (Office for iPad anyone) then MacBook sales will start taking a real hit and this sadly could signal the end of the MacBook.

So do you agree or disagree? Are Macs still relevant?

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients in Stirling and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

Is there a place for a third mobile operating system?


Third place.  Usually people and companies want to be first and not third but in the mobile industry third place, behind both Android and Apple, is what a lot of companies (inc both Blackberry and Microsoft) are aiming for.

At the moment ‘the big two’ have almost all of the market share between them (about 91% at present) but a lot of the carriers would like a viable third option so they are less reliant on selling Android and Apple Devices.  But what about consumers, do they really care?  I would hazard a guess and say no and I shall explain why.

Most businesses use Microsoft Office in the workplace because they are used to it and more importantly they need Outlook.  If you suggested to them they could switch to a new piece of software that did exactly the same as Office they would probably say no.  They would be so used to using Office on a daily basis that the thought of learning something else would not be very appealing.  It is the same with mobile phones.  If you have gone out and purchased an Android phone, and all the apps you require, you are not going to want to switch over to Windows Phone, Apple or Blackberry and basically start from scratch again (even if the same apps are available).  Humans are creatures of habit and once we get set in our ways it takes a lot for us to change.

This then is the biggest problem facing anyone who wants to be the ‘third mobile operating system’.  There are some good options (Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch, Windows Phone and Blackberry to name a few) but unless they capture the publics imagination, and secure the backing of the carriers, they are going to fail.

This is just my take on ‘the third OS question’ but you might have a different view and if so please let me know!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I am Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows and Linux based IT Support, laptop repairs and computer repairs to both business and personal clients throughout Stirling, Falkirk and Clackmannanshire.

For a list of what I can offer you why not visit my website www.comtech247.net where you will find a list of my services, testimonials, blog and much more!!

 

 

 

How to stop kids running up huge bills on your smartphone

I was speaking to my wife this week (yes it does happen) when she said “I found this website earlier today that explains how easy it is for kids to run up huge bills on your mobile phone by downloading apps, you might want to take a look”

So I did and what I found was shocking!! Read the full article at your leisure.


Basically a 6 year old kid spent £3200 on playing an iphone game where you purchase food for farm animals in order to feed them. Scary hey!!

It is not only iphones that have this problem though.  If you read on the article states that Blackberry keeps you logged in for 20 minutes after purchasing an app, while Google will take your money without you entering a pin when you have set up your details on Google Play.  Sounds like a childs playground to me!!

So how do you stop kids racking up huge bills.  Hopefully this advise will help:

  • Actually use passwords!!!!!

The amount of people who don’t use passwords is shocking.  If there is no password you are giving your children free roam over you device which is not a good idea.

  • Use passwords your kids can’t guess

Kids are very smart so don’t use passwords that they can guess and don’t let them watch when you enter the password.

  • Ask your mobile provider to cap your bills

You can cap your bills at any amount above your normal bill so you don’t get any nasty surprises.

  • Supervise your children

I am as guilty as the next person when it comes to this.  My 2 year old daughter uses my Playbook most days and a lot of the time she does without me watching her.

  • Restrict App purchases

Apple

Go to settings – General – Restrictions and then decide if you want your password entered every time you make a purchase or not.

Android

Set up a PIN with your Google Play account.  This is not the default on most Android phones.

Blackberry

At the moment there is no way to disable the 20 minute login after app purchases.  Come on Blackberry get this sorted!!

Windows

Windows has a great feature called ‘Kids Corner’ which allows your child their own phone area on the handset.  It comes with restricted access to your device and also certain apps/websites/services etc.  This is not set up by default.

Remember you may think you are pretty smart but believe me kids are smarter so lock down your phone!!

About the Author

P1020114

Hi I’m Chris Wakefield the owner of ComTech IT Support. I provide Windows, Mac and Linux based IT Support to small businesses in Stirling, Alloa and Falkirk.

Follow @Comtech247 on Twitter

 

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