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The Computer Peeps’ 2012 Consignment Hardware Giveaway

Free ServiceThe Computer Peeps wanted to find a way to thank the consignment industry for all of the support this year! In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, The Computer Peeps will be giving away a piece of free consignment hardware or a free service each month for the remainder of the year.

Should you be the winner of one of these awesome prizes, remote installation and configuration will be included as well!

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  • FREE Refurbished Zebra LP2844 (Valued at $240.00) – FREE shipping within the continental USA.
  • FREE Unitech MS210 Scanner (Valued at $175.00)
  • FREE PC Tune-up + FREE 1 Hour Consultation (Valued at $150.00)

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The winners will be announced on the 15th of each month:

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The rules to qualify to win are simple:

  1. You must be a current Fan of us on Facebook.
  2. Fill out the form below.

That’s it!  Click the button below and fill out the appropriate information to enter to win!

[button link=”http://thecomputerpeeps.com/consignment-giveaways-2012/” open_new_tab=”false” size=”bigger”]Enter To Win![/button]

Once you have entered, you will be automatically entered into the next month’s drawing as well! If you have any questions about this offer, please feel free to give us a buzz at 888-374-5422 and we will be happy to answer any questions you might have!

Please check back to this blog post on the 16th to find out which piece of free consignment hardware we will be giving away next month!

The Hope Chest Network Setup

We first started working with Anne @ The Hope Chest when they called in on a Saturday, experiencing issues with their consignment software.  One of the most common issues that plagues consignment software, is the computer you attempt to use for your consignment software.

With consignment software, one computer is the ‘main’ computer (or Server) and additional workstation computers (or Clients) can connect to that computer.  This makes it so you can have your consignment software on multiple computers, but all of them enter data into one database on the server PC.

So that main server computer is very important.  Equally important, is the network path the networked clients take to get to the server.  If you try to use WiFi or if your network is not fast enough (i.e. at least 100 Mbps, preferably 1 Gbps) or stable enough, then you can and will experience software lockups and even data loss.

This was the case with Anne @ The Hope Chest.  Their four existing computers were simply not cut-out to run networked database applications.  For example, some of the systems were utilizing Celeron processors, which really cannot handle even the most-basic of system tasks.  A bottleneck will occur during events such as updates, saving changes, etc.  These bottlenecks are not only frustrating, but they can cause real damage to your consignor data.

The Hope Chest utilizes ConsignPro for their consignment software and when Anne called in, their database had crashed and they were unable to use ConsignPro – on a busy Saturday, nonetheless.

Fortunately, we were able to repair her database and get them back up and running in an instant, but the issue of the antequated systems they had was still left to be dealt with.

That is why Anne @ The Hope Chest turned to The Computer Peeps.  The Hope Chest is a high-volume consignment store and they need stable, professional technology to keep their business running.

We utilize business-class Dell Optiplex systems with a standard 3-year on-site next business day hardware warranty.  The Optiplex line of systems are reliable and are extremely easy to upgrade or repair.

Due to the amount of consigned items The Hope Chest enters on a daily basis, as well as three dedicated point of sale stations, we built the 4-user ConsignPro network around an Intel i5 CPU and 8 GB of Kingston DDR Memory/RAM.

The Hope Chest's Server
The Hope Chest’s Server | Click to Enlarge

Each day when Anne closes ConsignPro, their daily backups are stored on an external USB drive attached to the server.  Backups are also automatically encrypted and copied off-site to her secure account @ CrashPlan.

The Hope Chest's Backup Drive
The Hope Chest’s Backup Drive | Click to Enlarge

[info_box style=”notice”]ConsignPro has a great feature we refer to as shadow copies.  Each time ConsignPro closes and detects an unsuccessful shutdown, a separate copy of the database file is made and saved as BACKUPDB.001, BACKUPDB.002, etc.  These should be auto-copied via script to provide even more backup redundancy.[/info_box]

The Hope Chest doesn’t have time to mess with crappy systems bought at a local big-box store, or systems poorly configured by a local tech and without support for the next 3 years.  ConsignPro, as well as ALL of the consignment software applications, require stable, predictable systems in order to run smoothly.

The Computer Peeps delivered a consistent, reliable, plug-and-play network to The Hope Chest which we are able to fully manage remotely.

The Hope Chest Remote Management
The Hope Chest Remote Management | Click to Enlarge

Doesn’t ConsignPro just look happier running on four perfectly configured systems?  Not only does it look happier, it runs better and is no longer causing grief for The Hope Chest.

The Hope Chest's ConsignPro Network
The Hope Chest’s ConsignPro Network | Click to Enlarge

Consignment store owners turn to The Computer Peeps for hardware because they know they can get the exact system they need, without paying through the nose.  If you try to build your own computer, you will spend the same amount of money AND you will have to figure out how to build a PC.  If you buy a system from your consignment software vendor, you’re going to pay nearly double for the same system from The Computer Peeps.  If you buy a Dell on your own, you’re going to have to wipe the system, reinstall Windows, locate and install drivers, upgrade the RAM, configure automated on-site + off-site backups of not only your consignment data, but your entire system; install and configure antivirus and anti-malware as to not interfere with the consignment software, running services, data files, etc.  Don’t forget the installation & configuration of your consignment hardware, as well as networking your consignment software.

Your consignment software vendor simply cannot compete with the level of detail we put into our system configurations.  From antivirus to anti-malware (with full PCI Compliance practices followed), to complete system backups + system restore, to a truly clean installation of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit.  We utilize better Memory in our systems, because data is a critical point of failure for a business who relies on said data to operate.  We provide redundant consignment software database backups, utilizing consignment software vendor-approved methods.

If you need hardware to run your consignment software, you’re going to be making an investment.  There are a few options.  Whatever you do, don’t buy an off-the-shelf system at a local big box store – you will be wasting your time and money.  If you’re an IT professional and wiping a system, fighting viruses, etc. are things you love doing and are good at, then you can build and manage your systems yourself.  This is a full-time job though and to think you can protect your systems, protect your consignor data, protect your customers’ privacy, and maintain 99% up-time, is like me saying I could run your consignment store with my eyes closed.  I just recently had to admit to myself that I simply couldn’t waste our time replacing all of the faucets in our house.  I know when to draw the line and admit that a professional can do a better job than I can and much quicker as well.

I really am all for people wanting to learn and do their own thing.  There are only so many hours in the day though and we simply can’t be all things to all people/situations.  This is how people’s information gets stolen, or how your computer gets used as part of a giant botnet used to hack other systems…

CRITICAL: Zero-Day Bug In Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 9 Zero-Day FlawDANGER, will Robinson!  According to an online article at Ars Technica, a Zero-Day flaw in Internet Explorer 9 Internet Explorer 6, 7, 8, and 9 has been discovered and is being actively exploited in the wild.

We are always recommending either Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome instead of Internet Explorer.  It is recommended that Windows users stop using Internet Explorer 9 immediately and switch to another browser (I hesitate to say ‘until further notice’).

Either Firefox or Chrome are safer, better browsers than Internet Explorer, period.  They are not “difficult” to use and it is VERY easy to switch!  In fact, both Firefox and Chrome will ask to import your favorites and settings for you, to make the transition even easier!

So now all the times I said, “you should really consider switching to Firefox or Chrome,” weren’t just me blowing hot air!  🙂

How do I use Firefox or Chrome?

Great question!  Like we said, it is VERY easy to switch.  You can download Firefox or Chrome directly from their respective websites.  The Computer Peeps prefer to utilize the free service Ninite, which makes it easy to download and install new software, safely, and without any additional “junk.”

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[button link=”http://ninite.com/firefox/” open_new_tab=”true” size=”bigger”] Click here to download Firefox[/button]

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[button link=”http://ninite.com/chrome/” open_new_tab=”true” size=”bigger”] Click here to download Chrome[/button]

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Just click Download Installer

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Ninite Firefox Installer
Ninite Firefox Installer | Click to Enlarge

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And then choose Run

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Internet Explorer 9 'Run' Prompt
Internet Explorer 9 ‘Run’ Prompt | Click to Enlarge

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The first time you run Firefox (or Chrome), you’ll be prompted to import all of your bookmarks, saved passwords, history, etc. from Internet Explorer…

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Firefox Import Settings and Data
Firefox Import Settings and Data | Click to Enlarge

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The Computer Peeps utilize both Firefox and Chrome for various purposes.  We recommend Firefox though and two key reasons we do so are:

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  • NoScript add-on
  • AdBlock add-on

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AdBlock does have a ‘beta’ version for Chrome and it works just fine.  I simply will not browse the web without NoScript though, period.  I repeat – I will not browse the web without NoScript, period.  It is very easy to use and it is the first and best option in a multi-layered approach to staying safe on the web.

Both Firefox and Chrome also offer “sync” features, so you can connect browser from multiple computers – e.g. Home Desktop, Home Laptop, Office Desktop, etc. – and your history, favorites, etc. will all be synced across each of your computers.

So in case anyone missed it…

[info_box style=”error”]Windows users should avoid Internet Explorer 9[/info_box]

If anyone has ANY questions at all, just give us a buzz @ (888) 374-5422 or send us a message via our Contact Us page!

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Update 9/19/2012: Microsoft has released an advisory regarding this exploit.  Currently, there is no patch or fix for this flaw.  Hardened security policies, updated antivirus + anti-malware and additional workarounds are all that are available.  One of the security tools available is the Enhanced Mitigation Experience ToolkitYou should not install this and we’re posting this information here, just in case any of our customers or site visitors come across online articles or have friends that suggest E.M.E.T.  This is a tool intended to be installed and configured by a system administrator and Microsoft clearly states, this can and will break applications:

EMET Warning
EMET Warning | Click to Enlarge

E.M.E.T. is an extension of DEP and provides an additional layer of security, preventing malicious code from ‘hijacking’ applications.  If you have any questions about this or would like any additional information, just ask!

Let’s Play Mac vs. PC!!!

Oooh, oooh, I know!I was just upgrading the RAM in a system we’re configuring for Dragonflies & Ladybugs and I thought it would be fun to play a little “guess which is which”.  🙂

I always hear people always talk about “Macs are better than PCs,” but what do they really mean when they say that?  Is it better hardware under the hood?  Let’s take a look!

Here are two pictures of RAM from two different systems – one a PC, one a Mac.

Can you guess which came from which?

Here’s Example #1…

RAM Example #1
RAM Example #1 | Click to Enlarge

Here’s Example #2…

RAM Example #2
RAM Example #2 | Click to Enlarge

Feel free to comment below if you know!  There are some hints here and there.  😉

If you’re about to spend nearly $2,000 on a computer from a consignment software vendor, first, ask them which kind of RAM they install.  Then, compare their systems to The Computer Peeps’ consignment hardware prices and see just how much you can save.

GoDaddy ~ “We weren’t hacked! We’re just incompetent!”

FeelsAccording to an article on TechCrunch, GoDaddy’s response is:

We have determined the service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables.

I’m not certain that’s a more comforting response than, “we got h4ck3d!”  Some people, like reddit user snappywan, are calling BS.

To quote snappywan:

From a network admin point of view, their response is bullshit. They just don’t want to admit there may or may not have been a security breach which would stir sensationalist headlines in the media, scaring their entire customer base, and result in a larger loss of customers. To be fair, this is probably the safest business practice they could have done.

See, they were reachable by IP during their DNS outage. So the routing tables were perfectly fine, and their routers were completely operational. Proof: use [1] BGPlay to view the history of route announcements on the Internet, select sep 10 from 00:00 to 23:00, for 208.109.0.0/22 (one of godaddy IP range)). As you will, there were no route withdrawals, only reannouncements.

I can’t help but think it’s weird when I see a client spend thousands of dollars for a website, but their “web developer” chose to use GoDaddy for web hosting.  It’s difficult to argue with someone who defends using GoDaddy for web hosting, DNS, email, etc.

Sure, sites go down and ALL service providers experience some form of issue at some point.  99% up-time still means there can be some down-time!  For those who have been supporting clients for years though, they know the issues brought about by using GoDaddy’s web hosting and email services – e.g. email delivery issues, blank emails, “obfuscated” emails, performance issues, etc.  Don’t get me started on trying to navigate through GoDaddy’s checkout process.

For the geeks playing along at home, let’s not forget to mention RFCs.

It’s one thing to register a domain there, but to dump all of your eggs in one basket, is not a sound approach.

Looking for Used Consignment Hardware?

Used Consignment HardwareAre you looking for a reliable place to purchase used consignment hardware? Well, you’ve come to the right place! The Computer Peeps offer a professionally refurbished Zebra LP2844 tag printer at a very affordable price! In fact, our refurbished Zebra LP2844 is one of our biggest sellers!

It’s important to make sure when you are buying used consignment hardware that you are getting a refurbished product. I’m sure you are wondering what exactly refurbished means? Here’s what happens when you purchase a Refurbished Zebra LP2844 for The Peeps:

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  • Our Refurbished Zebra LP2844 tag printers are hand-tested by The Computer Peeps before it is shipped to you!
  • Our Refurbished Zebra LP2844 tag printers come with a brand new power supply.
  • Our Refurbished Zebra LP2844 tag printers come with a brand new print head.

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The key things to know about any tag printer is that they use heat to print on special thermal tags. This means the print head goes through a lot of wear and tear over years of use.  Another key component is the power supply, just like any piece of hardware it too has a limited life time. The Computer Peeps ensure that each Refurbished Zebra LP2844 purchased is ready for many years of use at your store!

Please keep in mind, when you purchase a used or refurbished tag printer it will typically need a special driver to be installed on your system.  The driver your consignment hardware vendor recommends will not always be the right driver. When you purchase a refurbished tag printer from The Computer Peeps we will install and configure the printer for you at no additional cost!

For more information, call The Computer Peeps at 888-374-5422!

 

 

GoDaddy “Hacked”

According to a CNET, GoDaddy was attacked today, causing widespread outages for customers utilizing GoDaddy’s web hosting and email services.  Websites currently using GoDaddy’s web hosting services, are down.

A lone attacker has claimed responsibility for the outage:

GoDaddy has confirmed the outage via their Twitter page:

GoDaddy’s site is up and then down again every few minutes…

GoDaddy Down

For hosting consignment websites, we strongly recommend HostDime.  For domain registration, we recommend NameCheap.  For email, we recommend Google Apps.  We have delayed transferring our domain (thecomputerpeeps.com) over to to NameCheap long enough and only because talking to GoDaddy is a time-suck.

We have seen a variety of issues with GoDaddy’s hosting in the past, from website performance, to website availability issues; to blank email messages and emails getting marked as spam.  We just cannot recommend GoDaddy’s web hosting or email services.

As always, if anyone has any questions, let us know!

GoDaddy

 

Java Patched Thursday, Critical Flaw Already Discovered

We saw the writing on the wall and opted to fully remove Java from our Monthly Support clients’ systems.  Looks like we were right on target.  According to THN, after Oracle released an emergency patch for the Java flaw that was being exploited earlier this week, a new flaw has been discovered.

For those of you running Firefox, it’s been disabling Java in the browser for months now:

Firefox disables Java add-on
Firefox disables Java add-on

We recommend completely removing Java from your system.  Head to your Programs and Features applet (for Win7 and Win Vista users) or Add/Remove Programs (for XP users) to uninstall Java.  I easily say, “remove any version of Java that is installed,” but I have to pepper that with caution.  You can easily damage your system if you uninstall the wrong program.  So before making ANY changes to your system, always make sure you have a backup of your critical data.

If you have any questions or need any assistance, just let us know!  We can be reached via (888) 374-5422 or our Contact Us page.

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