Thursday, February 10, 2011

Way To Get Great Technical Support

Follow the mentioned Tips to fix your problems faster :-

No one likes talking to tech support. Use our tips to help get your problem fixed - and maybe receive a little something extra, as well.

Like us, you probably find your PC, internet connection and mobile phone invaluable. They may save you tremendous amounts of time, but it's easy to forget that when you're spending hours on the line with tech support.
Here's how you can streamline the tech support process and make sure you get the fixes you need.

Computer Crashes

The scenario
Your PC is having issues. Maybe it's randomly crashing or devouring your data. Maybe it just won't start up.

Depending on your level of expertise, calling tech support could be either a really good way to fix a problem you would have never solved yourself, or a really good way to waste your afternoon.

Research and test
If you can, start by figuring out for yourself exactly what isn't working.

The more details you can put together about what part of your computer isn't working, the better - especially if you have a smartphone or an extra computer handy that you can use to plug those details into Google.

Chances are, any problem you have with a piece of technology is one that someone else has had as well, and if you're lucky, they've posted extensively about it on a forum or company's support site. Also, don't forget to keep your stress level low while you're troubleshooting.

You should also perform a few basic tests yourself: reboot into Safe Mode (press F8 while your PC starts up) and see if the problems persist, and try booting from a recovery disc and run Windows' included diagnostic tools to check the state of your hard drives, RAM and system install.

Also, make sure that all connected devices are firmly seated in their ports; if you've been fiddling with the insides of your PC you'll want to make sure a RAM chip or video card hasn't come unseated.

Ideally, you'll be able to figure out which component of your PC is acting up; this would make the call process much easier because the phone tech won't be able to refer you to another company because it's a problem with that third party's product, not with theirs.

Generally speaking, if you weren't able to fix the problem with Windows' built-in diagnostic tools, the first-level techs aren't going to be able to fix it by asking you to reboot or reinstall Windows, and you're probably calling tech support because your problem is so bad that you need someone to authorize a warranty replacement part.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Does the Netbook Have a Life?

The continued growth in cloud adoption may radically change netbook adoption rates.
"As more organizations explore a virtualized desktop and cloud-based productivity options, the netbook could be an interesting conduit to a world featuring 'Everything as a Service' -- providing traditional I/O to enable productivity tasks, but at a lower-cost, more portable profile,"
explained Deloitte analyst William Briggs.

Trends have always come and gone, but when it comes to all-things-tech, the speed of change is faster than an Internet minute. It isn't that tech users are all that fickle; it's that the environment around them is constantly changing. Take the "smartphones vs. laptops war" for example. It isn't that either won; rather, the war left the battlefield.

No one bothers to rant for one side or the other any more. By the time netbooks and tablets made a debut on the mobile scene, no one thought to ask which of all these devices would be the winner-take-all king of the WiFi hill. That's because this is clearly not a strictly hardware contest anymore.
"The most important effect we have seen is that content matters more than screen size," Brian Levine, president and cofounder of Innerscope Research, told TechNewsWorld. "A simple thought experiment would be this: Which is more engaging, CSPAN on a 3D IMAX, or "Avatar" on a mobile phone? Obviously, unless you are a political junky and don't like the color blue, Avatar wins."

Considering content is king and netbooks lack both the power of laptops for content creation and the appeal of tablets for content consumption, will they now disappear into oblivion?

The Story Told in Numbers

Intel reports that all leading PC makers -- including Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenovo, LG, Samsung, MSI and Toshiba -- offer Intel-based netbooks, with more than 100 designs in market.

"Currently, there are about 40 million netbooks shipped in 2010, which is roughly three to four times more than tablets," Intel spokesperson Suzy Ramirez told TechNewsWorld. "Since its launch, Intel Atom processors for netbooks alone have shipped more than 80 million chips with 100s of millions expected in the future. In fact, netbooks are one of the fastest-ramping consumer products ever."

If one were to judge the popularity of netbooks and tablets according to media mentions alone, Intel's reported numbers would appear suspicious. But no, independent sources do confirm that netbooks are outselling tablets four to one. To be precise, just over 11 million media tablets and 43 million netbooks will ship worldwide this year, according to ABI Research.

"Apple has sold a few million iPads in its first quarter, which is great for creating a new market," said ABI Research Principal Analyst Jeff Orr, "but early adoption of media tablets is not outpacing netbooks."

Indeed, tablet costs are a bit pricey for the average recession-battered consumer. "The iPad average selling price above US$650 isn't driving mass adoption," said Orr. "Competition, especially on price, is needed." And so it is that netbook sales Increase sales with VerticalResponse. Free trial. continue to climb, albeit at a slower pace than was predicted just a year ago.

"Nonetheless, 43 million netbook shipments are good growth -- just not the meteoric pace of the past couple of years," said Orr.

The Cloud as a Netbook Ally

Most of the criticism of netbooks is centered on its shallow performance compared to a full-sized laptop. But this drawback may disappear as the cloud grows larger. That could potentially mean that laptops, rather than netbooks, may fall by the wayside.

"Netbooks remain an interesting play for productivity tasks at a lower price point," Deloitte Consulting director William Briggs told TechNewsWorld. "But full-featured laptops will continue to persist -- basically until the cloud vision is fully realized, which is a number of years away."

Enterprises have been lukewarm toward netbook adoption. Interest doesn't appear to be growing despite the escalation in cloud adoption and desktop virtualization -- two developments one would think would favor netbook use, as they leverage its lighter weight and cost while fortifying its processing and storage weaknesses.

"What we are seeing with enterprise Enterprise Payment Security 2.0 Whitepaper from CyberSource customers using netbooks at the moment is primarily as test pilots and proof of concept demos," Lawrence Imeish, principal consultant of Dimension Data's North America converged communications group, told TechNewsWorld.

Indeed, tablets are running into the same situation -- slow adoption on the enterprise front. The tablets' use-case is "almost entirely consumer-based," reports ABI, and the enterprise market for tablets as a real replacement for laptops and smartphones is "virtually nonexistent."

The continued growth in cloud adoption may radically change the adoption rates of both netbooks and tablets, although netbooks have a decided advantage in that regard.

"As more organizations explore a virtualized desktop and cloud-based productivity options, the netbook could be an interesting conduit to a world featuring 'Everything as a Service' -- providing traditional I/O (keyboard, touchpad) to enable productivity tasks, but at a lower-cost, more portable profile," explained Deloitte's Briggs.

However, the cloud is unlikely to be an advantage of netbooks over laptops.

"As traditional productivity and enterprise technology suites persist, so will the full-featured laptop," Briggs added.

Indeed, the cloud may not be a sufficient edge for netbooks, as the cloud will most likely power all devices more or less equally.

"In the coming years, I see netbook marketing being squeezed between ever more powerful tablets and smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper laptops," predicted Dimension Data's Imeish.

Netbook manufacturers, however, are not just sitting idly by to find out.
Between Tolerated and Banned

"Netbooks continue to see great momentum, and Intel expects this to continue with new hybrid and convertible designs planned for CES and throughout 2011, with examples such as the Dell Inspiron duo," noted Intel's Ramirez.

HP also recently released a line of "business" netbooks in an attempt to break through enterprise resistance in time to sync with cloud momentum. Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) is pushing its new Macbook Air, which runs a full OS rather than a glorified smartphone OS, into the fold -- even though it loses the price advantage of a traditional netbook in the process.

Enterprises meanwhile, are pushing back some on the commercialization of IT and blocking adoption on some of the newer mobile toys.

"Most organizations have created lists of blessed, tolerated and banned devices to help control the sprawl," said Deloitte's Briggs. "Netbooks today typically find themselves between 'tolerated' and 'banned' categories."

How does such a classification bode for the future of netbooks in the enterprise? Turns out, it likely has no bearing at all.

"Consumer demand will drive the level and pace of netbook adoption," said Briggs. "As tablet support has increased exponentially, based on the iPad's sales, netbooks could achieve more strategic dispositions if stakeholders demanded it."


McAfee Warns - "Malware Is on the Move"

Mobile operating systems are the new favorite target of malware, and social engineering remains the favorite old standby for launching attacks. Tried-and-true preventive care works best.
"Never give information via email, smartphone or on the Web, and verify independently before you click on any unknown text or email message, game, application or security update,"
advises UVa security expert Karen McDowell.

Cybercriminals are following innocent consumers away from email Increase sales with VerticalResponse. Free trial. and toward more popular, smartphone-style platforms, McAfee reported Tuesday.
"New mobile malware in 2010 increased by 46 percent compared with 2009," noted McAfee spokesperson Joris Evers.

Among the likeliest targets in 2010, Symbian and Android platforms were splattered by Trojans and bots with names like "SymbOS/Zitmo.A" and "Android/Geinimi."

"Consumers need to realize that mobiles, whether smartphone or tablet, are mini computers," said David Gorodyansky, CEO of AnchorFree. "This means all the vulnerabilities of a computer exist, often with a less-protected OS."

"From a hacker's point of view, the large user base created by wide scale adoption of iOS (iPhone) and Android will increasingly make these platforms a target, and I definitely expect to see some high-profile mobile attacks in the coming year,"
Cenzic CMO Mandeep Khera told TechNewsWorld.

"Smartphone access should be a concern to corporations that don't want employees accessing company secrets via unsecured mobile networks," Khera told TechNewsWorld. "For consumers, as banks and e-commerce sites deploy apps that give customers unprecedented access to their bank accounts, security Enterprise Payment Security 2.0 Whitepaper from CyberSource becomes more important than ever."

Unlike their mobile partners in crime, spam bots -- including Bredolab, Lethic, Xarvester, and parts of the Zeus botnet -- have gone dormant in droves this year,.

"Concurrently, spam accounted for 80 percent of total email traffic in Q4 2010, the lowest point since the first quarter of 2007," McAfee's Evers told TechNewsWorld.

The Bot Pack

Like a flu pandemic, botnet infections were particularly acute in Q4 2010, with Rustock, Cutwail and Bobax leading the bot pack. Social media sites, like mosquitoes, often acted as disease vectors.

"Whether we are using smartphones or computers, social engineering attacks are still the primary attack vector, and a major vector in the spread of botnet infections,"
University of Virginia information security analyst Karen McDowell, PhD, GCIH, told TechNewsWorld.

McAfee advises tablet and smartphone users to watch out for Zeus-Murofet, Conficker, and Koobface botnets specifically, and more generally, phishing URLs from the IRS, gift cards, rewards accounts, and social networking accounts.

Phishing vectors spread bot diseases when users click on phishing emails, answer phishing phone calls, or click on text messages that "appear to come from your carrier," McDowell explained, adding that tried-and-true preventive care works best. "Never give information via email, smartphone or on the Web, and verify independently before you click on any unknown text or email message, game, application or security update."

More preventive options: "Don't log onto unprotected WiFi, and use a VPN to encrypt and secure your browsing, which acts as a secure, encrypted tunnel for your communications," AnchorFree's Gorodyansky told TechNewsWorld.

Malware's Mantra

Twenty million new pieces of malware -- nearly 55,000 new malware threats every day -- plastered the cybersphere in 2010, migrating toward smartphones because "cybercriminals are keeping tabs on what's popular and what will have the biggest impact from the smallest effort," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

"Think globally, act locally" might be malware's new mantra, with threats that "now tend to match the types of users, habits and events that are specific to a region," McAfee's Evers added. Global criminal favorites include AutoRun malware such as Generic!atr; banking Trojans and downloaders such as PWS or Generic.dx; and Web-based exploits such as StartPage and Exploit-MS04-028, the McAfee report claims.

To avoid malware, treat search terms and Adobe (Nasdaq: ADBE) products with extra care, McAfee advises. Of the top 100 search results, 51 percent led to malicious sites. And throughout 2010, malware developers exploited weaknesses in Flash and PDF, a trend McAfee sees continuing.

Despite the advice, pests will persist, driven to infect by "a general lack of awareness towards the need for security," Gorodyansky explained.

"This is the same as it was for computers, when most people thought they were completely safe once they installed an antivirus program," he recalled.

"It really doesn't matter what type of device is used -- the steps to secure a Web application haven't changed," Sam Shelby, e-government coordinator for the City of Columbia, Missouri, told TechNewsWorld. "You can never trust input: always authenticate, validate and sanitize input data."


Windows 7 Error Message : How to Stop It?

First, try hibernating the PC instead of shutting down. Then start the machine up again. If the message does not appear, the problem is that there is a program (most likely from among the ones you deleted) that was set to autostart with Windows.

This also means that they were not properly uninstalled. Click Start, type 'msconfig' and hit enter. In the window that opens, go to the start up section and disable the startup of the programs you have deleted (uncheck the boxes) — Rocketdock, calendar and so on.

Apply changes, restart the computer and the error message should be gone.

Monday, February 7, 2011

'Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome' - A Tragedy

There are few things more tragic in this world than seeing a friend or family member suffer at the hands of some debilitating ailment or disease.

Such conditions rarely come up here in the Linux blogosphere, of course, but the past few weeks have been a rare exception. It was no physical ailment being discussed this time, however; rather, it was the sometimes crippling effects of "Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome."

Yes, you heard that right -- Microsoft Trained Brain Syndrome, or MTBS, has recently become widely recognized as an ailment that affects a disproportionately large number of computer users today, and its effects are nothing if not debilitating.

Lost and Confused

"The problem is that people who have lived, worked, and played in a homogeneous Microsoft computing paradigm are lost and confused when they encounter a different paradigm,"
explained a blogger named Gene who apparently coined the term a couple years back on the ERA Computers & Consulting Technical Blog.

"These people have only seen the flawed Microsoft ideology for how computing systems should work and so have a difficult time with more elegant systems based on Unix,"
Gene continued. They see the Linux system with its own paradigm and ideology and try to force it into the only paradigm they know, which is Microsoft's.

"This will always cause the user problems," Gene pointed out.

Ignore Your Previous Knowledge

Indeed, it can be heartbreaking for those of us who use Linux to watch our loved ones stumble through today's computing landscape, effectively blinded by years of paying homage to Redmond.

What can be done? Well, as with so many conditions, victims must often begin by recognizing that they have a problem.

"Do not attempt to force preconceived notions and knowledge from a totally different computing paradigm onto Linux,"
Gene advised the unfortunate ones. "Ignore your previous knowledge from your Microsoft Trained Brain and start over with Linux as if you are a child getting a first exposure to computing systems. I guarantee this will help you in the long term."

By way of an extra incentive, "many of us wait to welcome you to our universe of heterogeneous computing," Gene added.
Debilitating Symptoms

Now, it's a simple fact that many of the victims of MTBS don't know they have a problem.

The condition received new attention recently, however, when it was discussed on a write-up in First Arkansas News. From there, it spread to PCWorld and beyond, making it patently clear to Linux Girl that it was time to get some tongues a-wagging down at the Broken Windows Lounge.

"MTBS is a chronic disease developed over a decade or more of doing things M$'s way," blogger Robert Pogson began. He proceeded to identify some of its symptoms:
  • "accepting slowing down, malware, BSODs, and re-re-reboots as normal;
  • accepting products shipped with faulty software as the standard;
  • accepting that a file can only be opened by the programme that created the file;
  • accepting 'wait' and 'please wait' as normal when sitting in front of a computer capable of moving many gigabytes per second."

The path of infection, meanwhile, is "usually exposure to a monoculture of that other OS in homes, schools and offices," Pogson added.

The cure, however, "is a weekend with GNU/Linux running like a rocket on hardware discarded as slow with that other OS," he pointed out. "The cure is seeing 30 simultaneous users enjoying the experience of hardware that struggles with one user on that other OS."

A Widespread Problem

Similarly: "the core point is very true in that there are a lot of things Linux does _better_ than the competition, but it's often perceived as worse in these areas because people assume that the only way of doing things is the Microsoft or Apple way," Slashdot blogger David Masover agreed.

However, "this isn't always the case," he suggested. "It's far too easy to look at someone's legitimate complaint and say, 'this only bothers you because you're so used to Windows. You get used to it.'"

In addition, "'diagnosing' someone with a 'syndrome' -- even if it's accurate -- isn't the best way to get them to take you seriously," Masover pointed out.

In fact, MTBS doesn't affect only Microsoft users, consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack asserted.

"The saying used to be that 'no one ever got fired for buying IBM,'" Mack noted. "People have a tendency to stick with what they consider safe, and it takes something large to force a change."
'What They Want Most Is to Be Right'

Indeed, "people make an emotional investment in their decisions that leads them to defend them even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they are wrong, or at least have made a suboptimal decision," Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza opined.

For instance, "when Linux was coming up, the Windows-heads decried its free nature and defended Windows on the basis that nothing given away for free can be good," Espinoza explained. "Today they tend to fall back on FUD regarding patent licensing to defend their decisions, but in the end it is simply an attempt to maintain the apparent rationality of their world view."

The same force, in fact, "results in reelection of the incumbent in the vast majority of cases, even when voters claim to want change," he noted. "What they want most is to be Right with a capital R. In order for that to be happen, you must be wrong."

In short, "it's not about Windows, it's about selfish and self-serving decision processes," Espinoza concluded.

Linux Delusion Syndrome

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet took it even further.

"I will accept MSFT Brain syndrome if and ONLY if Linux geeks will accept they have LDS: Linux Delusion Syndrome,"
asserted hairyfeet, a self-proclaimed Windows fan. "It causes otherwise normal people to believe totally crazy things, like they can get home users to use CLI, or give up years of experience with apps they are happy with for frankly a third-rate experience."

To help their platform succeed, "LDS sufferers need to look at Apple for an example instead of their Unixy grandpa," hairyfeet added. "In iLand there is NO CLI, NO configuring, it is ALL GUI, it is ALL intuitive and simple."
'It's Only Worth What You Paid for It Syndrome'

Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by "Tom" on the site, saw it differently.

"I wouldn't say it's a Microsoft Trained Brain thing," Hudson told Linux Girl. "After all, people stuck with Microsoft in the changeover from Windows 9x to Windows xp, and they had to relearn a lot of things. And they're doing the same, to a lesser extent, with Windows 7."

Rather, the problem centers on the old "it's only worth what you paid for it" syndrome, Hudson suggested. After all, "most people, at some level, believe that money is the best indicator of quality."

What Linux needs to proliferate, then, is for someone "to create a fully GPL-compliant distro with a suggested retail price of (US)$259 for the home edition, $599 for the pro edition, $2,199 for the corporate edition, and $16,999 for the enterprise Enterprise Payment Security 2.0 Whitepaper from CyberSource edition, and then stick it on Pirate Bay," she explained. "People won't mind spending $70 on a second hard drive to 'test' their 'pirated' copy."

Not only that, but "they'll do their testing on recent machines," Hudson added -- "not some old piece of junk they have hanging around that will run so slow that they'll conclude, 'linux is the sux.'"

courtsey -technewsworld

Friday, February 4, 2011

Troubleshoot Windows, Tweak Office & Add USB Ports

Here we'll discuss some questions about troubleshooting of Windows programs, making Office 2007 and 2010 look more like earlier versions of the suite, and the proper use of USB hubs.

Use a Spare User Account to Troubleshoot Windows Problems

Recently a couple readers wrote to me with very similar problems. One was having trouble getting Internet Explorer to run; the other, Windows Explorer.

In other words, a couple of Windows' own built-in tools were broken. (Note to Microsoft: That should not happen. Come on!)

Usually, for situations like these, I recommend an end-run around the problem. Internet Explorer won't work? Install Firefox or Chrome and use that instead. Can't load Windows Explorer? Switch to any number of even better Windows Explorer replacements.

Of course, that doesn't really solve the problem. If you're hoping to fix your broken tool, you'll need to do a little troubleshooting. To start, I recommend switching to (or creating) another user account, then seeing if Explorer runs properly. If it does, you've narrowed down the problem significantly (and should consider "moving" to a new user account permanently). If not, well, back to square one.

Either way, it's a simple method of figuring out how deeply rooted into Windows the problem is. And that will help considerably as you Google-search for an actual fix (assuming there is one--sometimes these things can be resolved only by reinstalling Windows).Make the Office 2007/2010 Toolbars More Familiar

Make the Office 2007/2010 Toolbars More Familiar

One of the reader recently found himself face-to-face with Word 2007 for the first time, and quickly declared the "top task bar too complicated for my novice use." He's referring to what Microsoft calls "the Ribbon," and he wants to know if there's a way to simplify it.

No doubt about it, the Ribbon (which appears in most Office 2007 and all Office 2010 programs) can seem daunting to anyone accustomed to earlier versions of Word, Excel, and the like. If that's you, check out UBitMenu. This free plug-in brings pull-down menus back to Office 2007 and 2010, thus easing your transition. Thankfully, it keeps the Ribbon, too, so you can learn the new interface without totally abandoning the old one.

After installing UBitMenu, you'll see a new tab next to Home: the aptly named Menu. Click it and you'll find File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, and all the rest of those long-lost drop-downs. Even better, UBitMenu retains most of Office's newer features, like the more robust Save As submenu. You get the best of both worlds. The program is free for private, personal use. I can't recommend it highly enough.

Add More USB Ports to Your PC

Another reader wants to know how many USB "splitters" he can use with his desktop. The system has four USB ports in the back and two in the front; Jay says he's already using one splitter, but needs two additional USB ports.

Holy mackerel, Jay, how many devices do you have? (I'm a power user myself, and only four of my desktop's six ports are occupied.)

To answer your question, yes, it's safe to add another splitter (which, although an apt description, is traditionally known as a USB hub). In fact, a PC is theoretically capable of accommodating up to 127 USB ports. However, the reality is a bit different.

By "splitting" a USB port, you reduce the power available to the newly added ports. Whether or not that's a problem depends on the kinds of devices you plug in, but I strongly recommend using only powered USB hubs. They cost a little more, and force you to find yet another free AC outlet, but they virtually eliminate the issues that tend to arise with non-powered hubs.

I also recommend plugging each hub directly into one of your PC's built-in USB ports. In other words, don't daisy-chain them. And if you use an external hard drive, plug that into a built-in (i.e. non-hub) port as well. When it comes to your data, it's not wise to risk any kind of power fluctuation.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Welcome to Tech Help and Support

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