Monthly Archives : February 2012

The Ten Cities With The Highest Online Risks Of Cybercrime In 2012

Symantec, the makers of Norton Antivirus and other products, teamed up with Sperling’s BestPlaces, an independent research firm, to uncover the ten US cities with the highest risk of cybercrime.

This was determined by looking at a number of contributing factors, including per-capita prevalence of PCs and smartphones, social networking, ecommerce and the accessing of potentially unsecured WiFi hotspots.

Note that, according to the published report, the cities with the greatest risk factor are not necessarily those with the highest infection rates – this points to the fact that many consumers are practicing safety precautions.

The list is, as follows:
#1 – Washington, D.C.
#2 – Seattle
#3 – San Francisco
#4 – Atlanta
#5 – Boston
#6 – Denver
#7 – Minneapolis
#8 – Sacramento, Calif.
#9 – Raleigh, N.C.
#10 – Austin, Texas

This is the second such collaborative effort between Norton and Sperling’s BestPlaces.
http://www.symantec.com/about/news/release/article.jsp?prid=20120215_01

Review of the Lenovo ThinkCentre M71z

Are you looking for a top rated, middle of the road desktop for your offices? The Lenovo ThinkCentre M71z may be just what you need. With a touch screen 20 inch widescreen monitor at $917 direct, this PC is perfect for your mainline workers — the ones that manage projects, file and search data, or deal with your clients on a day-to-day basis. While less flashy then some other all-in-one PC’s such as the HP Compaq 8200 Elite or the Apple iMac 21.5 inch, it is definitely the biggest bang for your buck.

The desktop will blend seamlessly into your offices and while you should still supply a keyboard and mouse because of the vertical screen, the touch monitor is great for zooming in and out of photos, rotate online interfaces, and use swipe commands on the internet. The screen however isn’t the best for resolution. While still sufficient for clerical and mainline office workers, it’s not going to be ideal for digital artists who use their fingers as digital paintbrushes.

With two USB 2.0 ports, a media card reader, and audio jacks are on the left side; a tray-loading DVD drive on the right side; and a power button, drive light, and +/- on screen controls (brightness, etc.) on the front. The system’s forward-firing speakers are below the screen on the front panel as well. In the back, there are four more USB 2.0 ports, a standard 3-pin power jack, Ethernet, serial port (for older peripherals like bar code scanners), a Display Port-out port, a Kensington lock port, and a handle. The handle and power jack make things easier for your IT workers: the handle makes the system easy to transport, and the standard power port means that you don’t have to keep track of external power supplies (aka power bricks): you can just use the standard power cables used by tower desktops. If you have a 802.11 b/g/n wireless network, the M71z will connect to it easily. It would’ve been nice to see a Display Port-in or HDMI-in port, so you can reuse the M71z’s monitor with a future laptop or desktop when the M71z’s internal finally become too slow, but the DisplayPort-out is still useful. The DisplayPort-out port lets you use the system in a dual-monitor setup.

Performance wise the ThinkCentre M71z is very good as well—the ThinkCentre M71z’s 2,134 points on PCMark 7 beats the EC winning HP TouchSmart 320-1030 ($699.99 list), which got a lower 1,825 point score. The recently reviewed HP Compaq 8200 Elite and not so recently reviewed iMac 21.5-inch (Thunderbolt) are both quite a bit faster than these systems, but then again both the HP and iMac are significantly over $1,000.

The combination of price, capabilities, and corporate credibility earn the Thinkcentre M71z our Editors’ Choice award for all-in-one business desktops. Its features, performance, and price are excellent. This is the system we’d buy if we were outfitting an office with clerical level desktop PCs.

Windows Live Mesh and Skydrive

A couple of components that are mostly overlooked by many users of Windows Live Essentials (Live Messenger) are the Mesh and Skydrive apps that come standard when when you install Windows Live Essentials: Other Programs. We all use the messenger component to chat with friends and co-workers, I’d like to discuss Mesh and the Skydrive.

Mesh allows you to sync all your documents, files, and photos across your different computers. Skydrive gives you 5gb of free online storage where you can access your files and make changes and have them sync’d across all your devices, including your smartphones and tablets.

All transfers are encrypted using the Transport Layer Security (TLS) or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols.

Mesh also allows you to connect to your home computer from your work computer. You simply have to setup the access points from your machines.

You can also sync program settings such as Internet Favorites, this allows all settings to be the same on all computers utilizing Mesh.

Toshiba Portege Ultrabook

For my birthday my husband surprised me with a Toshiba Portege Z835-P370 Ultrabook with an i5-2467M processor, 6GB DDR3 memory, and 128GB Solid State Drive. I know most women like jewelry, gold, diamonds, whatever, not me. I’m a techy at heart and my husband is fully aware of that. Did I need another computer? Who doesn’t? This pc is just 2.5lbs, it has slim profile, and a listed 8 hour battery life (I haven’t seen this yet, max I’ve seen is a little over 4 hours but then I have everything turned up). Oh, it also has a backlit keyboard which I love! This is not my first solid state computer, I have Mac Airbook, I must say the solid state drive makes everything boot up much faster. I have setup this Ultrabook basically identical to my Toshiba Satellite and there is a huge difference in the speed of application loading. Whats really different about this Ultrabook that it has standard features a lot of others don’t such as 3 USB ports, an ethernet port, a VGA port as well as an HDMI port. I’ve been using it the laptop for a bout a week now and so far they only complaint I have is the keyboard size, for those of you with big figures it might take a bit to get used. I was also spoiled by my Satellite laptop as it had a 10-key which I used religiously. That being said, I’m very happy with this light easy to carry and work on laptop.

Intel Getting Aggressive with SmartPhones

Intel has announced its first, long-awaited smartphone in collaboration with Lenovo and Motorola. The Lenovo’s K800 phone will launch in China in the second quarter of 2012, while Motorola will wait till the regulatory approval comes in summer.  With this move, Intel challenges the smartphone dominance of British company ARM, whose chips power many of the world’s most popular phones.  The smartphones feature improved battery life, while also keeping standard features such as a camera of up to 16MP and rapid web browsing and graphics capabilities. Devices accept existing software.  The smartphone was presented in China during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and an announcement in the Las Vegas (CES) Show voiced the agreements and strategic plan of Intel in this arena.  The next generation chip is called Atom for these smartphones.  Under these agreements  Lenovo and Motorola will release smartphones that are based off of the Atom Chip, code names Medfield.  They are claiming with the new chip-set these phones leveraging these chips will allow for up to 8 hours of work time which is pretty impressive.  A lower power signature is pretty impressive and a common request from users.

IBM Watson at Cancer Center

IBM’s Watson supercomputer may be best known for single-handedly beating “Jeopardy!” game show champs but IBM has taken it one step further which is proving to be a huge benefit for the healthcare community.

IBM has partnered with WellPoint which will assist in building applications that can be specialized for each doctor and organization. Imagine the applications of this for healthcare in every specialization — quite impressive!

It is now being leveraged to help doctors at Cedars-Sinai’s Cancer Clinic in Los Angeles stay up-to-date on medical breakthroughs and treatments.Watson helps doctors by providing many different cancer treatment options in a matter of seconds by pulling data from current clinical records and treatments, historical records, and past cancer cases.

USB 3.0 To Come SmartPhones, Tablets This Year

According to many, USB standardized organizations have made many claims that USB 3.0 will come to smartphones and tablets this year.  This is important to our industry and will make things a lot better.  These units will have microUSB ports located on them that will allow this manner of connection which will fit all different size devices.  The ports will allow faster data transfer between mobile devices and hosts such as PC’s, some of which will already have USB 3.0 ports located in them.  Data transfer rates will be roughly between 800 to 1000 Mbps (MG per second).  The current port connection is USB 2.0 and the upgrade to 3.0 will greatly improve speed.  A data transfer with USB 2.0 that takes 15 minutes will be greatly reduces to 1 minute with USB 3.0, quite a difference.  As a result tablets and smartphones will recharge much faster via USB 3.0.

Hyper-V: Shrinking a VHD

If you are using Hyper-V virtual machine, with thin provisioned (or dynamic) virtual disks, you may find yourself needing to compact those virtual disk files (.VHD) to reclaim free space.

Typically you would compact a virtual hard disk in situations such as the following:

  • After you install the guest operating system (which uses many temporary files)
  • After you delete large amounts of data
  • When you are preparing the virtual hard disk for archiving, for deployment to another computer or CD-ROM, or for distribution

To ensure that you get the smallest possible file size when you compact the virtual hard disk, you need to do some file system maintenance before you compact the disk. In the guest operating system of the virtual machine that is using the disk you want to compact, do the following:

  • Remove any temporary folders or unwanted folders or files.
  • Empty the Recycle Bin.
  • Defragment the disk.

Note that when running a defrag, you will actually grow the .VHD file prior to compacting, so make sure the host server has enough free space to accommodate it.

Shut down the VM, then go to the settings and go to the disk settings and click edit. This will bring up the disk edit wizard and the keep the first selected option, Compact.

Depending on the size of the .VHD file, and the available “white space” within the file, compacting may take a significant amount of time. So be sure to plan your downtime accordingly.

You may receive the error message “The system failed to compact disk.vhd. Error Code: The requested operation could not be completed due to a file system limitation” when attempting to compact the .VHD file.
First, check to see that there are no VSS backups on the VHD by running a “vssadmin list shadows” command in an elevated command prompt.

Second, delete any VSS backups that are present by running “vssadmin delete shadows /all“. If this fails to delete the VSS backups, you may need to resort to the “DiskShadow” utility in WS2K8 and WS2K8R2. (There’s some more information on DiskShadow here (free registration required) and also here.)

Personal Cloud: WD My Book Live

Backup, backup, backup. Most of us rely on our computing technology for our work, home, and play to keep our data easily accessible. We’ve all experienced it, we’re working and all of a sudden our computer crashes, the hard drive goes bad, or the files we need becomes corrupted and guess what? There’s no backup! What do to now besides cry? We at BVA believe keeping a backup, whether daily or weekly is very important because you never know when something will go wrong. There are all kinds of backup solutions out there for businesses, from tape, disk, or even in the cloud. But not only do businesses need to keep backing up their files, but we as individuals with our personal data should keep backups. I backup my hard drive daily so that I always have the ability to back and grab a file, maybe I changed something and realized I need the original, or the disk I had a file on goes bad and I need to grab a different copy. I just found this new hard drive from Western Digital called My Book Live – WD 2go. This is Western Digital personal cloud storage device that gives you your own cloud hard drive so you can access your data where ever you are. Usually when we talk about cloud storage we generally refer to a service you purchase from some company and they store your data somewhere at their datacenter. With this new Western Digital device you can have your own personal 3TB of storage. The device rest on your personal network and you can access it anywhere. The WD 2go has fee-free remote access to your My Book Live to your computer. Another cool feature are the apps you can install on your smartphone or tablet that will give you access to your files stored on your My Book Live as well. So wherever you go, your files are just a click away.

Mulitple Displays

Recently I wrote a blog on the use of travel monitors so even when you’re out of the office you can have multiple displays. Now while in the office I use three monitors, one is my laptop screen, and two external monitors. Now you may ask, “how do you have two external monitors attached?” as laptops only have one VGA port available. The answer is simple, I use a USB video adapter for my third screen. I’ve tested a number of these from makers such as Iogear, StarTech, Kensington, and HP. The problem with a lot of these USB video adapters is the resolution isn’t always the greatest because of the hertz rates they use there can be frequency issues so you’re seeing the screen flicker or streaming lines also you may experience slowness when moving items on the screen. This hardware uses the DisplayLink software to simplify how multi-monitors talk to each other.

I have been using the HP external video adapter (Part: NL571AA) for the last year and a half and I have to say it works great! The resolution is amazing; I experience no slowness, and no flickering. Priced between $49 and $79 the unit is a must have if you’re in need of multiple screens and are a laptop user or even a desktop user and don’t want to hassle with installing a video card into your machine. At home I have to of the adapters installed so that I can use 4 screens on my desktop!