Keep it simple when buying a new computer or laptop.
It took me quite a long time to buy a mobile phone recently. There is so much choice, so many models, specifications and prices. Where I bought it from was also another decision that I needed to make as I didn’t have much loyalty to a supplier.
I also had quite a few people nagging in my ear telling that I needed to buy what they had bought or something that they had seen advertised.
Guess what I did.
Well what do we do when we can’t decide?
Normally we do nothing and that is what I did for all that time because it’s important to make sure that you do make the right decision.
I have been doing some thinking about how my customers also have the same problem when buying a computer or laptop from here at Systems and Solutions and here is what I have come up with:
1. Do you need to buy a new Computer or Laptop, you hardly use it?
2. You are not sure what to buy
3. You are not sure where to buy it from
4. You get conflicting advice
Later on, in this article I will let you know some little known legal facts when you buy direct from the Internet.
Do you need to buy a new Computer or Laptop? you hardly use it.
Most people’s needs are for email, the internet and writing documents. Sometimes that includes using spreadsheets. That hardly seems like you need a heavy duty computer or Laptop. Surely a cheap one will do.
Do not get carried away with everyone else using a computer so heavily that steam is coming out the sides as they type. Most people are using computers for email and Internet use.
The faster the machine, the better it is to use and the longer it will last you. Buying a faster machine rather than the cheapest one will save you money in the long run because it will last you that much longer.
You are not sure what to buy?
You are not sure what to buy and whilst you may have used a small independent shop like ours in the past, you wonder if things have moved on. Part of the problem are the adverts and being seduced into the latest so called bargain.
Looking at the sheer range on offer its nothing less than confusing. I’ve read an entire “Which” and come away thinking that they are completely biased as to their recommendations.
At this point having a sit-down discussion without any pressure is a good idea. You can gather some facts, ask some questions and ask for our opinion if want.
I don’t employ any staff here that are not technical experts and whilst everyone has their own specialty that works here the idea of sitting down with an industry expert is going to lead to a better understanding of your needs and whether you need to buy something or not.
You are not sure where to buy it from
You don’t have enough knowledge on the marketplace and you get confused by reading all the product information. Adverts from the big companies seduce you into thinking that you should be buying from them.
Not sure what to buy and where to buy it from are normally connected, you want to get the best deal but you don’t want to make compromises on service.
Whilst we have customers that buy from us every 4 years and trust what we say, we also have customers that want to work out if we are still the place to come and whether we still have the right packages at that moment.
Over the past 4 years we have really made some serious improvements in the delivery of our Bytesafehome anti-virus and IT support offerings. We have a lot of existing customers and we have been responding to their needs to make home IT support a lot easier for them. This is contrast to the larger stores offering extended warranties on their goods.
I know that the larger companies can’t and don’t do the kind of things that we do with support so I’m really happy to be judged on the progress that we have made with regard.
But the discussion needs to be had.
The little known legal fact
If you were to purchase a laptop or computer directly via the Internet, you do have to make sure that you are buying the right goods. By enlarge you will make a saving on the purchase price.
Because of distance selling rules you can also return any item you don’t like which sounds like you cannot lose. However, the rules also state that when you send it back you have to pay for the carriage to send it back. There are some instances that the suppliers will get it returned free of charge for you but they are going beyond the distance selling rules. It could be that you order some goods, they aren’t right for you and you are out of pocket because you have to send them back. It’s not like a guarantee you don’t have a year or so to decide, it’s a just when you first get it.
Buying from the Internet can work for some people but for many of my customers, buying from the Internet seems to be the start of their problems. For me the worst thing that happens is that you spend an huge amount of time getting the goods returned, packaging, arranging a courier and hoping that you have done everything right and that you will get you money back.
You get conflicting advice
Should I buy an Apple MAC? I’ve been told that they are really what I would need. I maybe that you haven’t come across an AppleMAC before and you respect the person that is giving you that advice.
We do sell Apple MAC’s and sometimes the price of them is justified but that really all starts with your needs. Apple have announced that they are putting up their prices by 25% across the board on all of their products in the UK. It’s going to be interesting to see if the pull of the brand will extend to even bigger price hikes. I know the Apple MAC well and sometimes use one, they are nice and stylish but they should only be compared to PC’s of a similar price bracket.
Those are are the main issues when looking at a new computer or laptop.
My suggestions for a solution are the same for everyone regardless of your needs.
It starts with phoning and checking when the best time to come into the store would be. For best results call Richard on 01993 706161. That way we can do at least a small bit of preparation for you coming and sitting down for a discussion which will save you time.
It may be a small point that you would come in and sit down but you might have noticed that the larger stores don’t actually have any seats for you to have a discussion at least not in Witney anyway. This discussion will take around 30 minutes so getting comfortable is a good start.
We have a number of easy to answer questions to ensure that we can recommend the right kind of computer or laptop for you. Personal computers are very personal from us. Once we get the answers to those questions we know that we will be able to recommend the right computer or laptop for you.
We need to get what I call the “red carpet” treatment.
When you receive your new computer or laptop, everything that is possible to setup is done for you. The idea for us is to refine the buying process for you so that when you receive your new computer, you turn it on, connect to WiFi and away you go.
If there are any issues, we can talk on the phone and with your permission view your screen. You can show us the issues and we can solve them. This is about as good as it gets. I’m hoping this would make you happy.
Just in case you still have doubts, here is a reminder as to why you got here in the first place:
1. You get what you pay for
2. There will always be another bargain
3. Larger companies cannot offer service, they offer promises
You know and I know that “you get what you pay for”. That cliché is almost always true. Cheap computers are cheap for a reason. They are cheap because use poor quality or slower components.
The larger stores employ very expensive marketing people that seduce you into buying from them. That’s why there is always a bargain that you have to decide on now or lose it.
We get lots of calls from people having issues with their Internet purely because they just can’t stand the thought of speaking to a call centre. Life is too short to waste on people that don’t really care about your situation.
Lastly, we will ensure that you get the right software including whether you need a “home” version or a “pro” version of your Windows because that decision alone might cost you £200.
It’s not your fault why you can’t fix your PC and here are the 10 reasons why!
The first reason is the most important:
- Computing wasn’t even taught when I was at school
- Your job didn’t require you to use a computer
- Technology moves so fast that no one can keep up with it
- Technology is really for young people
- You only want to do email and get on the internet
- You don’t know who to trust with all the scams around
- Trickery is everywhere
- You have a son or grandson that can sort you out when you need them
- You just want it to work
- You know lots of other things but computing doesn’t interest you.
Number 1 – Computing wasn’t even taught when I was at school
No only was computing not taught in my school but they would not allow pocket calculators into the math exam. The rationale was that we needed to know how to do mental arithmetic. Logarithms were the thing. Calculus needed to worked out by hand.
There wasn’t a sign of a computer in my school.
When they did get computers into schools they all seemed to be completely out of date so that didn’t help and most of the kids knew more that the teachers.
So you are completely correct it isn’t your fault you don’t know how a computer works.
This is just one of the reasons why you need to be considering upgrading you home IT support package to Bytesafehome Premium. This package covers everything you need from an IT supplier.
Number 2 – Your job didn’t require you to use a computer
Jobs in the 70’s and 80’s didn’t require you to use a computer so you were not going to get much experience of a computer for that fact alone. I recall that in the 80’s there was a fear that using computers would loss typing jobs. There rumors of the typing pools not being needed because word processing was going to take over. In some ways that happened but not the job losses, they just got deployed elsewhere in the organisation and the managers had to learn how to two finger type.
When computers started to come into service they cost around £3000 which must translate to about £ a million (or so it feels like). They were not on every desk, computers in companies were reserved only for specific jobs – like accounts.
Things have really changed in so far as most jobs require the use of a computer.
Number 3 – Technology moves so fast that no one can keep up with it
Very true. I will be honest if I wasn’t working in my IT Support company I would be mucking about with a computer somewhere else. I use them in the evening, when I wake up – all the time. I love them, I read books on them, I read magazines about them and I’m passionate about them. This is not like work for me so keeping up with the latest technology is just not a problem for me, it is something I enjoy.
I know that is a bit odd but I’m OK with that.
That said, the pace at which technology moves on is unbelievable. At one time computers were doubling in their speed every 18 months. New processor, new RAM speeds and sizes, Solid State disks, USB 3 even now USB C. Everything changes and it changes all the time. We quoted £2600 for a particular graphics card the other day, this graphics card has so much processing power it beggars belief.
You do not need to know all that to use a computer today. Just plug it in, use it. If you have a problem then just call us for support. I specifically designed our Bytesafehome support packages for the very reason that most people can’t keep up with technology. You don’t need to, you just need to trust that we have it covered for you. Our support packages are not free but they represent real value from people that you can trust.
Number 4 – Technology is really for young people
Yes and No. Yes, I’m in my late fifties and I’m young and no, not all young people are any good at technology apart from checking their smart phones.
If you were brought up on a diet of smart phones, tablets, laptops and desktops then maybe you would be really into them. So in a way technology is for young people but it’s really about an era. The information era is here and it’s not going to go away anytime soon.
I’ve seen most young people not admit they don’t know about technology when they don’t and I see that they are not really intimidated by technology either. I have talked to many a person that has said “I know know anything about technology” when in reality they know just the same as young people.
Number 5 – You only want to do email and get on the internet
If I only want top get some shopping once a week you don’t really want to understand how to service your car.
Starting your computer, checking your email and getting on the internet is not a complex operation for a computer. If this is all you want to do then you are not going to get a lot of experience if the whole thing goes wrong.
Do you want to know how I learned about computers? Do want to know how I can fix them so quickly and taught my staff to fix them? I found out everything when something went wrong. The difference was that I was prepared to stay up until 3 in the morning to get it fixed. Those early days set me up with the knowledge that I still use today.
We don’t think of computer engineers as crafts people but when I look at the progress of my son Martyn who works in the business, he knows how to fix computers even better than me now because he did the same. I may have given him some clues on some of the problems but mainly he had a lot of patience and stuck at leaning it.
Some of the issue that we solve are really complex but because we have done it so many times before we can do it quickly.
Number 6 – You don’t know who to trust with all the scams around
I am astounded by the amount of criminal activity around the internet. If you have read anything from me in the past you will know I have written about Cybercrime and have had some speaking engagements talking about the subject. I have personally spoken to a person that lost £27,000 of his savings through an Internet scam.
I’m going to make this really simple for you. You do have to put your trust in someone. Personally I think that as a company we have been in business for 21 years, we have a good reputation and we will look after you. You can come in and talk to us. The same people that serve in the shop or visit your business are the same people that connect up remotely. We are not strangers and we haven’t been around for 5 minutes. We respect your privacy and wont look at any personal stuff.
Whilst we are a small company we have designed some packages that means that we can deliver great value for money and keep you safe from scam. I’m getting to really dislike the scam artists. They were portrayed as lovable rogue but when they target pensioners and steal their money they are low life.
Number 7 – Trickery is everywhere
Every time I have seen the trickery of a computer scam which actually works it has been because something happen by luck.
I had a very experienced computer user that regularly got hundreds of rogue emails actually fall victim by being tricked by a UPS delivery infected email. He had these types of emails every day and they had never posed a problem to him before. Because he was waiting for a delivery and because it was something he really wanted and because the email suggested to him that it was late – he went and opened and email. This was something that he would never normally do. Just a moment off of his guard and he had been infected.
Little wonder that we get people come in with lots of problems on their home computers.
You could get protected with our Bytesafehome Premium package.
Number 8 – You have a son or grandson that can sort you out when you need them
Most of us know of people that are great at technology. They just seem to know what they are doing including fixing the TV working out how the HDMI leads go together. They even know about Apple and the iPAD. When it comes to computer they also know how to download and install programs like free anti-virus. If they are living with you or are on call all the time I don’t see a real problem if you rely on them and they have a busy life themselves then you could be a burden. All of our customers have sons and grandsons and they use us because of our professional expertise.
Number 9 – You just want it to work
Technology should just work but in fairness, it is quite complex and there is a lot to go wrong. Sadly you just wanting to work doesn’t really help when it comes to working out why your email isn’t coming in or sending.
Most of the work we do here is I’m afraid quite boring. We spend most of our time getting systems to be reliable, whilst that isn’t that exciting but it is what our customers have been telling they want from us. You can do without the excitement of virus infection or failed backups or.. you get the picture.
Number 10 – You know lots of other things but computing doesn’t interest you
This is something that we respect. We do not think of ourselves as really clever and knowing something that you don’t know. My whole company would have collapsed years ago if all my customers were computer experts. We need people that are not interested in computing and want us to fix their problems.
My dad was a diamond sorter. Every day he measured, graded and recommended where was the best place to cut the diamond was. He told me that he learned something every day about diamond sorting. I on the other hand know nothing about diamond sorting and to be honest I don’t really want to know either.
If any of the above list resonates with you then you might want to consider spending some money on a home IT support package so that you don’t have to be talked to like an idiot and you have a small personal company behind you every step of the way.
Thursday last week saw the fourth emergency security update to Adobe Flash in as many months. All updates combined are responsible for plugging what is now a total of 107 holes with last week’s update responsible for 36 of those all on it’s own and one of which it is known can be used to crash or even take complete control of an infected computer.
This is nothing new and having frequently been exploited by online criminals for the purpose of infecting the innocent users of the internet (including infection by the Locky Ransomware virus) it’s already tarnished reputation is showing no signs of improving any time soon. Therefore, it’s no surprise that this has lead to many doubting whether or not they really need Adobe Flash at all. So there in lies the question. Should we update flash now or uninstall it altogether?
Should I uninstall Flash altogether?
Ideally yes. However, as I suspect the case is with most, you’re probably using it more than you realise. For example, certain videos published to both Facebook and YouTube still utilise Flash not to mention those online flash games popular with kids and even those looking for a little mind-numbing fun during their lunch break.
If you think you can do without then there are no two ways about it, get rid now. After all having Flash installed will be doing nothing more than to increase the risk of you getting infected. Instructions on how to uninstall Flash altogether can be found here for PC and here for Mac.
If as is most likely, you do still need it or if you’re unsure then read on.
OK. So how do I update Flash?
So as I thought you do still have a need for Flash and while that’s OK it is absolutely imperative that you update it now and continue to do so on a regular basis.
If you’re fortunate enough to have your computer covered by either our ByteSafe Silver, Gold or Platinum packages then the good news is you needn’t do anything as we’ve got it covered. As of approximately one month ago we added functionality to ensure that any commonly used 3rd party application (Flash, Java, Chrome etc) suffering a zero-day vulnerability would be updated ASAP.
A zero day vulnerability is a security hole in an application that is unknown to it’s vendor. This security hole is then exploited by hackers before the vendor is even aware. Once made aware the vendor then hurries to fix it.
With our ears always firmly to the ground the moment we catch wind of a zero-day and an update has been released all systems covered by ByteSafe Silver, Gold or Platinum are patched at best the same day if not the following morning (or the next time the system is switched on).
If you’re not covered (feel free to get in touch to discuss our packages in more detail) then you’re going to need to apply these updates yourself. It’s worth noting that Google Chrome includes it’s own version of Flash player and so you’ll need to update Chrome itself to ensure your patched. Alternatively if you use a browser other than chrome click here for instructions on updating.
What does the future hold for Flash?
The writing is already on the wall and with Google having already started the ball rolling I suspect to see others do the same within the coming months. To a hacker Flash has proven to be the gift that just keeps on giving and so as we already have viable alternatives to Flash there is little excuse that we continue using it for much longer.
Do you use online services such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Myspace or Tumblr? Are you re-using passwords with more than one online account? If so, the time has come for a re-think. The password you’re re-using may be suitably complex (this is still important – a post for some other time). However, the fact that you’re using it more than once puts you at risk. Here’s why;
So why is re-using passwords a bad idea?
You have a password for each online account, whether that be Facebook, Amazon or LinkedIn in the same way that you have a key to your home, the office and even your car. So while I’m sure you’d agree that it would be completely stupid to have a single key for all three (home, work and your car) why is it OK that you re-use the same password for your Facebook account, Amazon account and LinkedIn account?
Let’s just say for example you go out for a meal in town and decide to drive there. You enjoy a lovely evening with your partner but little did you know when the waiter took your jacket he took your key and got a copy cut. Now he has easy access to not just your car but also your home and even the office. Obviously in real life this is so unlikely but imagine for a moment it could happen. A pretty frightening thought right?
But my password hasn’t been stolen. Has it?
The answer is I don’t know for sure but it’s certainly possible. Reports surfaced last month that the login names and passwords of more than 100 million LinkedIn users were being sold online. While the data being sold is thought to have originated from a breach occurring around 4 years prior it’s probable that a large proportion of those users haven’t changed their password in this time. I personally use LinkedIn and did so back in 2012. Were you too?
That’s not all though as only a week or so later details began to emerge that a similar number of user’s credentials were also being sold online but this time in relation to separate breaches of both Myspace and Tumblr. It didn’t stop there though and in fact as I sat down Friday evening to begin writing this very article I got news of Twitter this time also having suffered at the hands of hackers. While we’re still waiting for further details to surface it certainly illustrates just how much of an issue this really is right now.
Why is this happening?
It was never much of surprise that as time went on we were going to see a steady increase in the amount of internet related data breaches. After all, the more we rely on computers and the internet, the more data there is online. The more data there is online the more data there is to be stolen. The more data there is to be stolen, the more data that will be stolen and so on and so forth. What’s more there is also significantly more of a financial motive for a hacker than there ever used to be with data collected from such breaches being sold online for thousands of pounds.
Last year such breaches got a fair bit of media coverage (most notably in the case of TalkTalk back in October) and 2016 hasn’t shown any sign of this letting up. And, if you take into consideration the little the authorities are doing or able to do (lack of funding and expertise arguable excuses) then it’s up to ourselves to ensure we do all we can to keep our own information safe.
What can I do?
Well it goes without saying that the really obvious solution is to simply stop using re-using passwords for multiple accounts. I know, I know but having so many passwords is difficult to manage. I completely understand this and if we’re going to be realistic the chances are you have dozens of online accounts and remembering a different password for each is no easy task for anyone. But wait, all is not lost and you do have some options here.
Have you ever heard of two-factor authentication? Two-factor authentication put simply, is a two-step process requiring the user to provide something they know (i.e. a password) along with something they have (i.e. a unique code sent to their mobile phone) before they’re granted the access being requested. As a result, this method will almost certainly mitigate against anyone attempting to login to an account using stolen credentials because they’ll only have one piece to what is now a two-part puzzle.
Currently a large number of online services provide this facility as I type and do so free of charge. The list of those offering it includes but is not limited to Apple, Google, Dropbox, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr and with all providing instruction on how to get started there really isn’t any excuse not to enable this where possible.
Password Management Apps
When it comes to keeping ourselves safe online there is often a trade of between and security and convenience. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? Interested? If you want to go that one step further, then my advice would be to look into a password manager. While not affiliated with them in any way I am personally currently using Lastpass but have also used Keeper as well in the past. Both offer almost identical services with the former providing a free option for individual use and both offering paid solutions for teams or entire companies.
Password managers are great in that they keep a record of all your passwords, ensuring each one is strong and never re-used. This means that generally speaking the only password you need to remember is the one to the password manager itself. What’s more they also support two-factor authentication so access to the manager platform is pretty damn secure.
At the end of the day I’m realistic enough to know that most users probably won’t heed such advice and because of this I strongly expect and hope that the security guys behind such online services put in place systems to help protect users from themselves. This is all very well and good and until the time at which this becomes general practice we need to do more to look after ourselves because this problem isn’t going to go away any time soon. Cyber security is very much a moving target and so the defenses that keep us safe today won’t necessarily be half as effective come tomorrow.
Upgrade to Windows 10 to stay clear of some viruses.
A very interesting Microsoft announcement this week about the encryption virus that is infecting external drives including pen drives.
Microsoft are suggesting that you upgrade to Windows 10 to stay clear of some viruses. The main area of concern is that these devices are normally used for backup. That means if your backup is unavailable then you are in a very dangerous position. Files on these devices were already being encrypted with other viruses.
Microsoft were saying that it only affects operating systems below but not including Windows 10. I find that announcement quite disturbing. If it is true then it will only be a matter of a few short weeks that before Windows 10 machines will also be affected.
I support Microsoft’s argument that you should upgrade to Windows 10. I’m in a strange position here because i really like Windows 10 and have installed it on all of my Windows devices but I am uncomfortable about the bias being shown by Microsoft. It almost seems that they are saying that users need to upgrade to Windows 10 because you get more protection from viruses. I wonder if they are using every argument possible for user to upgrade to Windows 10.
I think people should be given more of a choice and not pressured into upgrading, they create a clear resistance by applying pressure.
Microsoft has made it very clear that Windows 7 will be supported until 2020. It is a bit early to give up the struggle against virus writers with a full 4 years to go. Windows XP the old operating system which so being supported in 2014 is still being used. Windows 7 is used just about everywhere and it is far more widely used than Windows XP ever was. If they don’t help to support that operating system fully then I just see the virus situation going from bad to extreme.
Is this announcement from Microsoft going to push me towards upgrading? Probably no, but over time these kind of announcements will just mean that sticking to Windows 7 will make it more difficult.
If you are backing up using an external disk (USB) then the disk needs to change on a regular basis and daily is ideal. With Bytesafe Local Cloud Backup the worse case scenario you may not get the benefit from the hourly backup automated routine. You may have to revert to the retention policy of the cloud synchronisation. A layered security approach including mail filtering seems much more essential.