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  • As a child, I was a huge fan of the SimCity franchise.   I played every single SimCity with the exception of SimCity Societies.  It holds a special place in my heart, it always will.  When I was a child I wanted to be many things, one of those things I wanted to be when I […]...

    March 8, 2013
  • As a computer repair shop we get asked, “Should I upgrade to Windows 8?”.  It seems most people know little to nothing about the operating system.  So far, I’ve told people to wait or avoid Windows 8 all together for a few reasons: The first reason is because it’s still buggy.  Most IT professionals will […]...

    March 1, 2013
  • This is our front counter at The Computer Shop.  Do you guys like our unique decoration?  It’s a work in progress.  Next step is to fill in the gaps by cutting pieces of motherboards, then finally add LEDs.  Once completed it will look completely awesome!  Not to mention I’ve never seen a computer shop with […]...

    February 28, 2013
  • Almost every day I backup at least one customer’s data.  For most people they have precious pictures, documents, data files that can’t be replaced.  Furthermore most people do not know how or do not care to back up their important data.  It seems many people are ignorant of the fact that their hard drive doesn’t […]...

    February 22, 2013
  • While I’m personally not a console gamer, rather a PC gamer, I’m still excited about the Playstation 4 announcement.  The reason why is because as a whole, the gaming industry for the most part has been held back graphically thanks to aging last generation console hardware.  The next generation of consoles will finally introduce direct […]...

    February 21, 2013
  • As a computer repair shop we see thousands of virus related issues every year and it’s been increasing every year.  As I wrote earlier, the most popular form of attack is through a Java exploit.  Not only do you want to keep your Java up to date, your Adobe and Microsoft products up to date, […]...

    February 20, 2013
  • Too lazy to get out of bed to check your Facebook and your Email?  You could be harming your computer, especially if the laptop is already running hot.  What happens is your blanket/comforter blocks the cooling system in the laptop.  Heat over time can harm your computer.  Eventually it can lead to loss of video.  […]...

    February 19, 2013
  • Good news, I hope these guys go away for a long time! By Rick Burgess Authorities have detained 11 individuals thought to be responsible for the proliferation of a nasty “police ransomware” virus which demanded users pay €100 ($135 USD) to re-gain access to their infected PCs. Amongst the 11 caught — a crew of Ukrainians, Georgians and […]...

    February 16, 2013
  • Do you ever get annoyed by Java updates and choose to close or ignore the notice?  I know many people do.  But keeping your Java client up to date will protect you against many threats online.  Ignoring these updates will leave you open to a wide range of attacks.  Hackers know many people ignore the […]...

    February 15, 2013
  • Is your computer restarting, freezing, computer running slow despite your best efforts to optimize the performance?  You may have a blown capacitor/s on your motherboard.  A capacitor provides electricity to various parts in your computer.  If you have a non functioning capacitor/s your system can experience all sorts of problems.  Checking capacitors is easy on […]...

    February 15, 2013

Electonic Art’s Always On Digital Rights Management Cheats Customers

As a child, I was a huge fan of the SimCity franchise.   I played every single SimCity with the exception of SimCity Societies.  It holds a special place in my heart, it always will.  When I was a child I wanted to be many things, one of those things I wanted to be when I grew up was to be an architect.  For a potential architect, I loved designing cities, laying out the roads, setting zones, it was truly awesome.

So when I heard that Maxis was to release a new SimCity, I was naturally very excited.  From what I’ve gathered, when the game function, it’s a great game.  But currently the new SimCity is plagued with all sorts of issues.  The biggest issue being EA’s draconian DRM that is frustrating the hell out of paying customers that just want to play the game they paid for.  With server issues, bugs, lost saves, features not working, etc, it’s a very aggravating experience for users.

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While EA claims that the DRM they use for SimCity isn’t so much about piracy prevention, rather the online requirement is there to enhance the user experience.  We know better.  We have seen this behavior from them before.

It seems that these methods have backfired and it’s only affecting paying customers.  On top of that, I believe paying customers will download a crack once available so they don’t have to deal with EA’s DRM so they can play the game the way they want to play it.

Is Electronic Arts so greedy, so desperate to stop piracy of their games that they are willing to ruin the gaming experience for their customers?  It seems so.

Gamespot just posted their review of the new Simcity and they were also very critical of the DRM and other issues with the game.

It really makes me sad to see such a potentially wonderful game ruined yet again because big corporations are not putting their customers first.

Should You Upgrade To Windows 8?

As a computer repair shop we get asked, “Should I upgrade to Windows 8?”.  It seems most people know little to nothing about the operating system.  So far, I’ve told people to wait or avoid Windows 8 all together for a few reasons:

The first reason is because it’s still buggy.  Most IT professionals will avoid installing a new operating system at least the first year of release or until Microsoft has released its first service pack.  This is because all sorts of issues can arise.  Such as blue screens, driver and software compatibility.

The second reason is the new user interface.  Most people do not like change.  With the lack of a start button and the new “Metro interface”, it leaves most users very confused.

The third reason, it’s more difficult to repair, this is mainly for professionals but it still affects users when they get a virus or have operating system issues.  Just today I had a customer come in and I had a great deal of trouble booting into safemode or as Microsoft likes to call it “Safeboot” mode.  It seems the shift+ F8 function wasn’t working.  Only way I could boot into safeboot was from MSCONFIG.  I was battling a new survey virus that locked up a customer’s computer.  It also disabled many windows functions.  Luckly I was able to quickly load MSCONFIG before the virus loaded into memory and I was able to enable safeboot mode.  But I know this will give us headaches in the future, limiting our repair options.

Fourth reason, it’s not mouse and keyboard friendly.  Unless your computer has a touch interface the user interface isn’t very fluid.

Fifth reason, Direct X 11.1 doesn’t add much value to gaming.   As a PC gamer, there are very few games actually utilize direct X 11.1.  Even then, the graphical difference isn’t really noticeable currently.

Windows 95Microsoft-helpwinmewinxpwinvistawin7win8

It seems Microsoft has ability to create a great operating system only after it works out the kinks from the previous one.  We saw this behavior first with WIndows 95.  Then they released Windows 98, which was much better. Soon after they released Windows Millennium Edition which was a horrible mess.  Then in 2001, they released a gem, Windows XP. Then again it cycled and they released the headache known as Windows Vista.  And finally in 2009, they released Windows 7, which  in my opinion is the best option for Windows right now.  In summary, Windows seems to follow this  pattern of good-to-bad and Windows 8 is definitely bad.

Hopefully with the next release, Microsoft will hit a home run with what is known as Windows Blue.

Our Front Desk, Unique Decor

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This is our front counter at The Computer Shop.  Do you guys like our unique decoration?  It’s a work in progress.  Next step is to fill in the gaps by cutting pieces of motherboards, then finally add LEDs.  Once completed it will look completely awesome!  Not to mention I’ve never seen a computer shop with this type of decoration.  =)

Don’t Loose It All, Back Up Your Data!

Almost every day I backup at least one customer’s data.  For most people they have precious pictures, documents, data files that can’t be replaced.  Furthermore most people do not know how or do not care to back up their important data.  It seems many people are ignorant of the fact that their hard drive doesn’t last forever, that accidents happen, computers are lost or stolen.

For an individual it can be heart breaking when you lose your precious memories, your important Docs. For businesses and organizations data loss could mean the difference between staying open or going out of business.

I’ve had to give many the sobering news that their hard drive has experienced a mechanical failure and we are going to have to do an expensive recovery in order to get the data back.  Or in some cases that it’s impossible to get the data back.  All of which could of been prevented by simply using a back up solution.

Popular methods of back are:

  • External Storage Device such as an external hard drive  or a flash drive.
  • Cloud back up such as Carbonite which backups your data over the cloud.
  • For businesses cloud backup or a NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a popular method which manages backups over a local network.

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 (I recently set up a client with a Western Digital Sentinel DX4000.  It’s a NAS Box/Clould Hybride. I was very pleased with this product as well as our client.)

If you do not have a backup or have regular backups you run the risk of a data loss.  If you need help with personal backups or need a backup solution for your business you can give me a call (818-222-7554) or email me.

Playstation 4 Hardware Specs

While I’m personally not a console gamer, rather a PC gamer, I’m still excited about the Playstation 4 announcement.  The reason why is because as a whole, the gaming industry for the most part has been held back graphically thanks to aging last generation console hardware.  The next generation of consoles will finally introduce direct X 11 graphics to console gamers.  What does this mean for PC gamers and console gamers alike?   It will finally bring gaming experiences that are only enjoyed in a select few titles on the PC which require a mid range to high end PC to enjoy to the masses.

I’m excited to see, while somewhat vague in description, hardware specs of the upcoming PS4.  It seems that many of the rumors on the net were pretty accurate.

PS4 Hardware Specs:

“A press release reveals the machine will include an 8-core 64-bit x86 “Jaguar” CPU developed by AMD and a Radeon GPU with the capability of terrorizing televisions with 1.84 TFLOPS of gaming goodness.

PlayStation 4 includes a Blu-ray drive that spins game discs a brisk 6X and 8X for DVDs. Additional specs in the release note the, already revealed, 8GB of unified GDDR5 RAM along with 802.11n WiFi capability, USB 3.0 ports, Bluetooth 2.1 and ports for optical audio, HDMI and even legacy analog AV hook-ups. Though the console will have internal storage, Sony did not detail its size.

Sony’s plan is to launch its new PlayStation 4 console this holiday season. No specific date.”

Source: http://www.joystiq.com/2013/02/20/sony-further-details-playstation-4-hardware-specs/

Doesn’t My Antivirus Protect Me Fully?

As a computer repair shop we see thousands of virus related issues every year and it’s been increasing every year.  As I wrote earlier, the most popular form of attack is through a Java exploit.  Not only do you want to keep your Java up to date, your Adobe and Microsoft products up to date, you need Antivirus protection, especially if you do not know what you are doing.

While products like Norton 360 attempt to protect you fully, there is no such thing as full protection.  At best an Antivirus product will protect you from anywhere to 75-85% percent of threats.  This is why sites like virustotal.com will give mixed results.  AVG may pick up a threat and Malwarebytes finds nothing, there are inconsistencies between Antivirus engines.

In my opinion if you want to go with a free Antivirus protection Avast Free Antivirus is one of the best if not the best free Antivirus protection.

If you want to go with a paid solution Bit Defender is also a great solution.

Remember to be careful and use some common sense.

Laptop Heat Issues

Too lazy to get out of bed to check your Facebook and your Email?  You could be harming your computer, especially if the laptop is already running hot.  What happens is your blanket/comforter blocks the cooling system in the laptop.  Heat over time can harm your computer.  Eventually it can lead to loss of video.  If you insist on using your laptop in bed it would be a good idea to use a cooling pad.

If your laptop is running excessively hot, if your computer is restarting, if your computer is shutting off on its own you may have a heat issue with your laptop.  Check out services page for heat treatment for laptops.

Heat issues are caused by a build of dust a debris inside the cooling system in the laptop.  Your laptop is air cooled so if the cooling system is clogged, you are going to have issues with your laptop.

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I recommend getting your laptop serviced once a year for heat.  Check out our services page for pricing.

Ransomware Criminals Caught

Good news, I hope these guys go away for a long time!

By 

Authorities have detained 11 individuals thought to be responsible for the proliferation of a nasty “police ransomware” virus which demanded users pay €100 ($135 USD) to re-gain access to their infected PCs. Amongst the 11 caught — a crew of Ukrainians, Georgians and Russians — the malware syndicate’s founder was also apprehended.


Image taken from: malwaretips.com

The obtrusive malware would hijack computers by disabling users’ ability to interact with programs and files. Additionally, the ransomware would threaten users, stating they were under investigation by their respective country’s law enforcement agency for accessing child pornography and other illegal materials online. The virus offered victims a way out of the mess though, by way of purchasing pre-paid money cards to pay a fine for breaking the law.

According to officials, the unscrupulous outfit generated at least $1.3 million annually — proof that cybercrimedoes pay, providing you get away with it. The revenue came as quickly as the malware spread, with roughly 3 percent of affected users actually paying the 100 euro ransom in hopes of freeing their hostaged computers. The virus spread to about 30 countries throughout most of Europe.

The malware syndicate had been headquartered in the Mediterranean resort cities of Benalmadena and Torremolinos. While Spanish authorities apprehended the majority of the group, their founder was waylaid by officials while visiting the United Arab Emirates.

Europol, a European Union law enforcement agency, stated the operation was the, “largest and most complex cybercrime network dedicated to spreading police ransomware.

Source:  http://www.techspot.com/news/51654-major-ransomware-operation-dismantled-by-authorities.html

Update Your Java Client!

Do you ever get annoyed by Java updates and choose to close or ignore the notice?  I know many people do.  But keeping your Java client up to date will protect you against many threats online.  Ignoring these updates will leave you open to a wide range of attacks.  Hackers know many people ignore the updates in fact many people get infected by known threats that have been patched.

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Percentage of infections

Simple rules for staying protected: update your Java, Adobe products, and apply all updates for your operating systems.  Yes even Apple products are vulrable usually through Java, Adobe products and Microsoft products.  If you are on Windows, it’s important to have Antivirus protection and keep it up to date.

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So the next time you see those annoying notices to update your Java, Adobe products, and Antivirus, take a minute and update.  It will save from a lot of heart ache later.

Blown Capacitors Cause System Issues

Is your computer restarting, freezing, computer running slow despite your best efforts to optimize the performance?  You may have a blown capacitor/s on your motherboard.  A capacitor provides electricity to various parts in your computer.  If you have a non functioning capacitor/s your system can experience all sorts of problems.  Checking capacitors is easy on a desktop computer.  A normal capacitor will be flat on top, but blown capacitors will be puffed up.

Vp6_blown_capacitor

We replace capacitors at The Computer Shop as well as a wide range of hardware services.  Check out our services page for a full list.