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Google Apps and MS Office

Boy was I excited to see this.  I’m a big fan of Google Apps, it is cheap at $50 a user per year, and you get a pretty advanced feature set with that.  I’m also a fan of Microsoft Office and Outlook.  They can be made to work seamlessly, and when it is working well, I have complete confidence in my ability to access and manage my email, contacts, and calendar from anywhere.

Well, with Microsoft Office 2013 we lost this ability for a while and frankly I thought this particular Microsoft Google relationship had soured. Microsoft released all of their Office 2013 editions (Except for Pro Plus) as ‘Click to run’.  This basically means you are streaming the application and you don’t have the full blown application installed.  Don’t get me wrong, it works wonderfully as an Office application, it’s just that it was incompatible with Google Apps Sync…until today.

The new Google Apps Sync is available here  https://tools.google.com/dlpage/gappssync

Now if they would only release a Google Apps Sync for Office Mac

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It Wasn’t Really Free

If you missed the July 29th deadline for a a free upgrade to Windows 10, no biggie, it wasn’t really free and now costs about $100 to upgrade.

What’s not free? Windows 10 is infused with all sorts of hooks into Microsoft’s superb ecosystem of services, which are a strong focus under CEO’s Nadella’s watch.

  • Cortana ramps up Bing’s market share with every search you make.
  • OneDrive backs up everything to the cloud, and of course you can buy more storage space if you need it.
  • The Video, Groove Music, and Xbox apps encourage entertainment purchases through Microsoft.
  • The new Edge browser and the very operating system itself track you to serve up targeted ads.
  • The free Office apps encourage paid Office 365 subscriptions to unlock full functionality.
  • Underneath it all, the Windows Store is the repository for all of Microsoft’s vaunted universal apps (and plenty of other things to buy).
  • Even Solitaire wants a monthly subscription to ditch ads.

This version of Windows is very different at its core than Windows 7 and its predecessors and the hidden costs (cash cows for Microsoft) are are the reason that installing the operating system on a billion systems by 2017 is huge deal for Microsoft.

On average, roughly 500 people a day say they love Windows 10, and 100 people say they hate it.

!dingo

While the new features are popular and well liked, detractors point out that Microsoft has openly stated that pervasive data collection will now be present in every Windows version starting from Windows 10 and as a host of research on the Internet shows, this data collection cannot be disabled using official means. If you decide to disable total tracking (including keyboard scanning and voice recording) you’ll have to disable over a hundred different Internet addresses, …and then do it again after Windows 10 updates.

Users can no longer control Windows updates. This was done to improve the user experience by keeping the system up to date and perhaps malware free, but the built-in Microsoft Essentials protection in Windows (according to various AV comparisons)  misses over 20% of in the wild malware.

Windows 10 is the final version of Windows and will not have any service packs, because Windows 10 has become a service. it will be updated over time to bring new features and remove the old ones. The Windows 10 you might have updated to in July 2015 will be a different OS than the Windows 10, with all of its updates, that you have today, or a year from now.

Thankfully, Windows does still care about compatibility (vs. many other tech companies who break compatibility all of the time) and that is a huge benefit.

 

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Safe Browsing Habits

Here are some simple browsing techniques that if you follow can significantly reduce the chance of your computer becoming infected.

  • Use an anti-virus software
  • Update anti-virus and anti-malware programs. New viruses are produced daily and this is why we constantly have to update the virus definitions and stay ahead of the bad guys.
  • Always update Windows. These updates contain security updates that will help in your fight against viruses. If you do not perform regular Windows updates you are leaving your computer in a vulnerable state.
  • Be cautious when viewing popups. Some popups contain viruses which can be triggered at the press of a button.
  • When surfing the internet avoid websites that contain illegal software downloads, sexual references, free screensavers, etc. If you go near these sites you are immediately asking for trouble.
  • Never respond to Spam e-mails.
  • Never open e-mail attachments from people you don’t know. Even if you know the sender there is still a possibility that the e-mail will carry a virus. It’s possible that your e-mail account can be hijacked and used to send spam to your contacts. If you are ever in doubt, e-mail the sender to make sure they sent it to you.
  • Before clicking on links in your e-mail, hover your mouse over the link and a window will appear. Make sure the link in the window matches the link you are about to click. You could potentially be redirected a malicious website.
  • Avoid using your e-mail address for random registrations. It is highly advisable to create a throwaway e-mail for programs/sites that require registration.
  • Avoid using peer-to-peer (P2P) network programs. Bittorrent, Limewire, Bearshare etc are programs through which viruses can spread easily. Always make sure that you know what you are downloading.
  • Viruses sometimes mask themselves as anti-virus applications such as fake “Windows Security” and simulate an online scan that fraudulently claims to find many non-existent malware on the victims system. If a window such as the example below appears, don’t click anywhere on it (even the cancel button!), doing so may trigger the installation of the actual virus.
    fake-virusThe Harsh Reality:Security software is a first line of defense against a very real threat of computer compromise and data theft.  Your computer can be infected even with the use of security software, so the best protection is safe browsing habits.  Be cautious.  If it seems too good to be true, that is because it is.  An infected computer can cost hundreds of dollars to repair, so restrict your browsing to reputable sites, and if you aren’t sure, don’t do it.

 

MS Office Install Gotcha

This is true for Microsoft Office, and most likely a lot of other applications as well.  When installing new versions of an application we need to keep in mind associated plugins/add-ons.  Those plugins/add-ons often correspond with specific editions of office, not only the edition such as 2007 and 2010, but also the ‘bitness’ as well.  So if you are upgrading from Office 2007 Pro 32-bit to Office 2010 Pro 64-bit, there is a pretty good chance your add-ins won’t work, so just plan for that and be prepared.

Lightning strikes in Northern NM

The earth experiences over 3.5 trillion lightning strikes per year, some of those end up being close to home.  During times of high lightning activity BlueLink IT invariably sees computer equipment that has been damaged. This can be avoided.

If you see lightning and then hear the thunder within 5 seconds, that storm is around 1 mile away and you should take precautions to protect yourself and your electronics as well.

Shut down and unplug power as well as your network.  Most internet service technologies rely on some form of external connection whether it is a 2 wire telephone line, or a satellite dish, and those provide an excellent path for electricity to follow. They tend to get fried fairly frequently, and often the devices attached to them, as well.

Use colored tape or labels on your connections and train yourself to quickly disconnect and then reconnect your internet service, this along with removing power connections will increase the life of your equipment.