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Google Drive Released Today

Google Drive

Today, Google officially released Google Drive.  Google drive is a file-sync/online backup solution from Google.  It’s completely free and includes 5 GB of storage right out of the box.  Additional storage can be purchased, if needed.

Thus far, Google Drive installed and synced very quickly.  Google Drive functions much like Dropbox, in that only a specific folder on your computer will be synced by Google Drive.  This means, you have to put your important files or files you want to have access to from multiple computers, within one specific folder.  While this keeps Google Drive simple and straight-forward, we like the ability of programs such as SugarSync and Mozy, which let you select specific folders on your computer to include in your backup + file-sync.

Google Drive does however add Google Docs synchronization + offline functionality.  This means you can work on documents and spread sheets while you’re offline (e.g. while traveling) and your documents will sync with Google Docs as soon as your Internet connection is restored.

Google Drive would also be a great solution for consignment store owners who wish to have a redundant + off-site backup.  Just point your consignment software’s backup setting to your Google Drive folder – e.g. C:\Users\Dean\Documents\Google Drive – and your daily backups will be safely and securely backed-up to your Google account.

Bad Apple

Over half a million infected Macs.  A week later and the only sign of removal tools were coming from independent developers.  At least Apple finally spoke up and admitted they have a malware problem.  That was only 3 days before a second threat (SabPab) was announced and as of today, there are still over 140,000 Macs out there infected with Flashback.

“But I thought Macs can’t get viruses?”

Technically speaking, the Flashback infection hitting Mac users is actually a Trojan.  This infection takes advantage of a security hole in third party software (Java).  If you’re reading this on your Mac, please make sure you’ve installed the latest security updates from Apple.

Macs can in fact get viruses, it’s just that there hasn’t been much need to do so.  It all comes down to the biggest bang for their buck and 10 years ago, everyone was still running Windows 98, browsing the web with Internet Explorer, running no antivirus software.  That crowd of users has since migrated on over to Macs and now everyone and their grandmother has a Mac.  It seems everyone has a Facebook page too.  So you have a huge segment of users who never learned the basics about staying safe on the web, all using systems that “can’t get infected,” all using a common web page that anyone can post virtually anything to.  Hey, sounds like a crowd perfectly suited to point new infections at!

The approach to security I’ve seen many Mac users take is, well, no approach.  The common theme I see amongst many Mac users, is they were former Windows users.  They got tired of all the blue screens, viruses, and pop-ups.  They moved on to their new system that “can’t get viruses.”  What they didn’t know, was their problems would only follow them, no matter which system they used.

So now that you’re using a Mac and have a virus/Trojan/malware, what’s the plan?  Ditch your Mac and move to another platform?  Time to switch to Ubuntu?  See how silly of an idea it was to think that by simply buying a Mac, you wouldn’t have issues?  It’s almost as if the things we’ve been talking about for years @ anti-virus and best practices @ web safety, were right on target all along.  😉

Sitting back and waiting simply isn’t the best approach to security.  Security should be a mesh or layered approach.  We recommend the following for every day PC users, whether it be for home or business use:

[checklist]

  • A current, updated/patched operating system
  • Effective, yet user-/resource-friendly antivirus
  • Anti-malware protection
  • A safer internet browser, such as Firefox or Chrome
  • An ad-blocker for your internet browser (for added security, we recommend NoScript in addition to ad-blocking)
  • Common sense
  • Keep your computer(s) behind a hardware firewall

[/checklist]

There simply isn’t a silver-bullet when it comes to security.  Much like with cars, safety improves every year.  New features are added to keep drivers safe.  It’s not just one piece of the car that helps keep its passengers safe.  It’s everything from safety belts to air bags; new tires and anti-lock brakes to crumple zones.  No matter which safety features a vehicle has though, none of them trump a safe, alert driver.  Strap on all the safety belts you want, it’s not going to do much to help you if you intentionally drive your car off a cliff (please, don’t do that).

So Mac users, it’s time to make sure you’re running a proper antivirus program.  We recommend ESET CyberSecurity for Mac.  And try not to get too mad at me for talking down about your shiny Mac.  This isn’t about ad hominem attacks.  There’s a reality here that many have been ignoring and avoiding for years.  While it’s upsetting to realize you were wrong all those years, all we can do is learn from our mistakes and move forward.

It’s Just Another Manic…Wednesday?

Good ol’ Patch Tuesday for Windows Updates.  You need them, your computers have to have them.  Every once in a while though month I have clients that report seeing the dreaded Preparing to configure Windows blank stare…

Preparing to Configure Windows
Click to Enlarge

I’ve had half a dozen clients run into this issue this morning already.  :/  The majority of the time a hard power-off/power back on again will kick Windows in its butt.  Other times, it’s not so easy.  This is when booting into Safe Mode is required and I’m going to stop right there.  The steps involved in righting the system from this wronged Windows Update, aren’t something anyone should just go dabbling with.  Data loss and system down-time are just two problems that can arise if you don’t know what you’re doing.

I just wanted to illuminate this issue to our clients out there and bring it to everyone’s attention.  Typically, the second Tuesday of each month is when Microsoft releases updates for Windows.  This usually calls for a reboot of your system, which is when the dreaded Preparing… loop begins.  So be prepared on Wednesday morning and don’t panic if you see this on your screen.  If you come in on the Wednesday after Patch Tuesday and see this message, we recommend the following:

[checklist]

  • Press and hold the power button on your computer tower until your computer powers-off
  • Let the computer sit for at least 5 seconds
  • Power-on the computer

[/checklist]

If after doing this, your system doesn’t boot up as normal, contact The Computer Peeps.  The main thing is, don’t panic!  🙂

Thus far, we have yet to see a system that could not resume normal use after a Patch Tuesday hang-up.  This issue has been going on for years too.  Nonetheless, this is a good time to make sure you have a viable backup solution in place.  The Computer Peeps can configure all levels of backups for your system, from basic file-level backups of your consignment software’s database, to daily system snap-shots that let you recover with the click of a button.

New Client Setup w/ 3 Dedicated Tag Printers

We’re finishing up a two-computer network setup for a new client, Kismet in Downingtown, PA.  They’re utilizing a total of 3 dedicated tag printers for their store.  One for each style of tag/label they’ll be using.

If you print enough of any particular style of tag or label in your consignment store, then you can reduce the amount of issues you run into when it comes time to swap out your rolls of tags.  Having more than one printer isn’t for everyone and they do take up space, but if your consignment store sells enough jewelry + clothing + housewares, then a dedicated printer for each style is a huge time saver.

Kismet’s utilizing our refurbished Zebra LP2844 printers which have been professionally refurbished.  They include a new power supply + a new USB cable as well.  Any printer purchased from The Computer Peeps includes free installation as well.

Adobe Adds Auto-Update for Flash Player

It looks like Adobe has introduced a new auto-update feature in the latest version (11.2) of Flash.

Click to Enlarge

Outdated versions of 3rd party applications such as Flash, Acrobat Reader, Java, etc. create security holes which can be exploited.  In recent months, a Java exploit has led to over half a million infected Macs.

The new auto-update feature for Flash Player is an overdue, but much welcomed addition.  This is one of the little pop-up/nags many just close out of and rightfully so.  It’s nice to see the software finally reinforce this itself, instead of relying on the end-user to install new updates.

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