Author: David Shelley

Google Drive – All your files, ready where you are

Google drive allows you to store any file you want, and starts off giving you 15gb of free storage.  You can access your files on your computer, smartphone or tablet.  You can easily share files and collaborate with others.  Your files are encrypted using SSL, the same protocols used on Gmail and other Google services.  Unlike some other cloud storage, you can upload files that are as large as 1TB.  You can purchase more space and get up to 1TB for $9.99 per month.  What’s also cool is that it has a very powerful searching tool that you can enter a text for an item and it can search for the name or the image.  You can also use GoogleApps that include Docs, Sheets and Slides, as well as QuickOffice and Google Forms. One more interesting tidbit… you can Scan Documents!

eVe-The Fastest Solar Powered Vehicle

A group of students with the University of New South Wales have built an electric car that currently holds the record for the fastest solar powered vehicle.  In 2011, they built a car that was able to reach 55mph.  Now with the new vehicle, named eVe, the group is hoping to break the record for the highest average speed over a 310 mile distance.  The current record is 45mph.

eVe, the new electric test car, is powered by Li-ion batteries, solar panels, and electric motors that produce an amazing 97% efficiency.  The car is capable of reaching a max speed of 87mph.  If driving at highway speeds, the car uses about as much electricity as a kitchen toaster.  It’s also got an impressive range of 500 miles if it uses the battery pack along with help from the solar panels.  The body is made of carbon fiber, which is extremely light – a mere 661lbs.  The front wheels are made of carbon fiber and the rear wheels are aluminum.

The group of students is hoping that some of their ideas on efficiency will eventually make it to production vehicles sometime in the future.

Google Fiber-Coming To Charlotte, NC

City officials have created a plan to bring Google Fiber to the city of Charlotte.  The cables are in place over thousands of miles, but now the city just requires the approval of Google Fiber to proceed.  The original plan was completed and submitted on May 1st.  Since then, teams from Google Fiber have been out to the city of Charlotte on a regular basis.  One group from Google met with city planners in June to negotiate permits and the approval process.  Others have been doing surveys of where trenches might need to be dug and counting utility poles.

The current plan that the city has developed is to have the fiber cables strung through the city and meet up at each of the 28 junction “huts”.  These huts would be able to theoretically provide service to about 20,000 homes, assuming they’re all wired for fiber optics already.  $2,000 for each site would be paid by Google, and the internet service provided to customers is expected to be 1 gigabit per second.  For comparison, current broadband providers are offering speeds of about 10 to 20 megabits per second.

Although it’s a large undertaking, Google seems up to the task.  They’re also currently evaluating 33 other cities around the nation: Portland, San Jose, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, San Antonio, Nashville, Atlanta, and Raleigh-Durham.

Microsoft Windows Server 2003-The End Is Near

Microsoft has issued caution to server administrators around the globe.  Windows Server 2003 is fast approaching its end of life for support from Microsoft.  Although the server Operating System will continue to function as it has, Microsoft will no longer be issuing new security patches when issues are discovered.

“If new issues do happen to be found, the only way to receive additional updates will be through a custom support agreement,” said Brad Anderson of Microsoft in an announcement.

Microsoft published a YouTube video that informs server administrators that all physical and virtual instances of Windows Server 2003 will be vulnerable to any and all new security threats.

Aside from the security concerns, businesses will be forced to upgrade their server platforms due to compliance issues.  Regular security audits are a common device that keeps organizations up to date with the latest security and best practices for operating server hardware and software.

Since it first was released 11 years ago, Windows Server 2003 has since been superceded by Windows Server 2008 and, more recently, Server 2012.  Regardless, Server 2003 continues to have a strong presence in the IT infrastructure.  Organizations that continue to operate Server 2003 will being to fail security audits.

System Admin Day

Just wanted to remind all of our readers that this Friday (07/25/2014) will be SAD (System Admin Day).  It is recommended that you bring in sweet foods and ultra-high caffeinated drinks to remember your IT people.  Since Hallmark has not elected to make cards for SAD, sending an e-card is a great alternative!  Just search the internet for SAD e-Cards and pick your favorite!  Of course, if you really want to show your Systems Administrator that you appreciate all their hard work, just remind him or her that you finally remember the password you picked and are not locked out of your system today!

Bluetooth Enabled Stylus

My search for a stylus for my iPad is finally over!  I have owned at least a dozen different models of stylus over the years, and have not been thrilled with any of them.  Usually, they would tap on the screen without trouble, but dragging things across the screen was a total fail!  Now I am using a Bluetooth enabled “Pencil” by 53 and I couldn’t be happier!  There are currently 2 models available ranging in price from $59.95 – $74.95 plus you get full access to their app…appropriately called “Paper.”  This stylus is great for the creative types who want to draw or paint on their iPad or for the techie who just wants to have the best option currently available! 

Three Benefits of Switching to Box

The Box is a web based application that allows you to manage and share your files from anywhere. It uses a secure cloud storage to help you maintain your business. You will save money and grow your business with the help of this product. Research has shown that The Box will save you more money annually then having an on-premise file storage. There are no hidden costs such as maintenance, upgrades, contractors, integration and support, like you see with on-premise storage. According to The Box newsletter “The ESG study found these efficiencies equate to a 50x increase in annual user productivity.” With all that money saved image the possibilities of expanding your company. See why 240,000 business rely on the Box application to run and manage their companies by clicking this link, you can even get a free trial.

Amazon Zocalo-The New Cheaper Version of Dropbox

Amazon recently announced that they will be competing against companies like Box, Dropbox, SendSpace and Microsofts OneDrive with its newest web service, ZocaloPricing for Zocalo will be nominal at $5 per month, per user, with 200GB of data storage.  Compared to Dropbox at $9.99 per month for 50 GB and up to $49.99 per month with SendSpace, Amazon is blowing away its competition.  With the demand for desktop-as-a-service applications starting to grow, I predict Zocalo’s subscriptions will explode…just as soon as they release it to the public.

Passwords-The More Intricate The Better

When it comes to your technology resources, you’re security conscious and understand the need for a password.  Even though you want your password to be secure, it can be hard to keep track of all the password requirements these days.  One of the simplest things you can do to help ensure password security is to make sure that you’re using at least eight characters.

Different systems may or may not allow you to use symbols (like *, %, #, etc), but most modern security will allow you to enter eight (or more) characters.  By doing so, you greatly reduce the chances that password cracking programs (aka, “brute force” attacks) will be able to “guess” your password.

Each additional character exponentially increases the complexity that must be overcome for a brute force attack to succeed.  There is a technical explanation for why this is, but understanding it is beyond the interest and/or comprehension of most users.  Since we all have enough to try to remember when it comes to computers, I’ll spare any further explanation on that in this article.

For those who are interested in understanding the ‘mechanics’ behind the concept, Wikipedia has some good information about it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Password_strength).  For the rest of us, just make sure your password has eight or more characters and leave the in-depth understanding to IT professionals like those helping you every day at BVA!

Malware-What You Need To Know

Malware, adware, spyware…whatever happened to the old days when things were simple and the bad stuff was just called a virus?!

There are many different threats to your computer these days.  The difference is that most computers are now connected to the internet.  It’s a great advantage from the perspective of gathering information, but the cost associated with that benefit is an increase in vulnerability.

Malware is a more modern term, loosely used to describe what we previously referred to as a virus.  The word itself is an abbreviation for ‘malicious software’ and covers a broad range of applications that can create problems for you.

If your computer becomes infected by malware, the results will vary.  Once malware is installed on your system it tends to propagate and you can pretty much bet that it will eventually bring your system to a crawl.  Many malware programs will actually damage necessary operating system files.  Once that happens, you will probably need someone with a fair amount of technical knowledge (and time) to get things straightened out. To prevent these attacks you can purchase anti-virus software.

Some applications will “spy” on your computer (spyware) and send information back to the author of the application.  If you use your computer for banking, viewing sensitive company files, or anything else that should be kept private, spyware can be a major problem.  You might not notice spyware because the person who created it is trying to get information from your system without you knowing.