Four Reasons To Upgrade To OS X Yosemite

October 16th, 2014

Mac with OS X Yosemite

The latest version of the native operating system for Macs was officially released today. OS X Yosemite takes the place of OS X Mavericks as the latest and greatest operating system available. Overall, the functionality of Yosemite is similar enough to previous versions of OS X that it won’t feel foreign to everyday users. However, there are some key features and additions that you should be aware of. At Lifehacker, Thorin Klosowski published a list of what you need to know about OS X Yosemite. Here are the main points.

  • An Upgraded Spotlight

By pressing Command and spacebar, you’re able to open ‘Spotlight’, which isn’t new to Yosemite. But, it’s much more useful now than it was previously. In addition to using Spotlight to search your hard drive for applications and files, users are able to search the web, find content on iTunes, read the news, check for movies playing in local theaters and much more. Spotlight has become more of a one-stop feature to help users with whatever they’re currently doing.

  • iCloud Availability 

Yosemite has turned iCloud into an easily accessible storage feature, which is probably closer to the way it was originally envisioned. Similar to Dropbox, users are able to upload just about anything to their iCloud account, then access it from their other devices. The simplicity and ease of access makes you wonder why this isn’t the way iCloud has always been.

  • A Better Notification Center

How do you improve the Notification Center in Yosemite? By making it customizable with widgets. Head to ‘System Preferences’ to view a list of available extensions. Soon, third party extensions will also be available, which means your Notification Center can sync with extensions from Apps you’re already using. To add widgets, open the Notification Center and click ‘Edit’.

  • More Mail Features

While the Mail app in Yosemite looks similar to what was featured in OS X Mavericks, it actually includes a number of handy extra features. You can now sign PDFs and other documents directly within the Mail app without adding a third party app. There’s also a ‘Markup’ button that allows you to make notes on images before you send them. Finally, send larger files via the Mail Drop feature. Instead of attaching large files directly to an email, Mail Drop uploads them to iCloud and sends them to your Contact.

With OS X Yosemite just being released, it may be wise to wait to upgrade. While a public beta version has been available for quite awhile, there are still bound to be some bugs in the days following this official release.

If you’re having issues with your Mac, or any other device, Geek Rescue is here to help. Stop by or give us a call at 918-369-4335.

For your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

Four Improvements Microsoft Should Make With Windows 9

September 29th, 2014

Microsoft sign

The public will get a long-awaited preview tomorrow of the newest version of the Windows operating system. Microsoft is currently using the code name ‘Windows Threshold”, but that’s expected to become Windows 9 before release. At ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes put together a list of features he wants to see from the newest operating system if it’s going to keep up with the competition.

  • Streamlined Updates

The updating process has been a complaint of Windows users for about as long as there has been a Windows operating system. Keeping your operating system fully updated helps to keep your system secure and compatible with new technology. But, the current method leaves a lot to be desired. Among the complaints are how long it takes to fully update and patch a system, even in Windows 8. There also seems to always be updates available, which is frustrating when you just finished rebooting from an update. Speaking of, reboots should be kept to a minimum given how disruptive they are to typical users. Finally, it’s rare that all available updates are able to be installed without issue. It seems there are always a few that refuse to install correctly for some reason. Improving this process would allow more users to run up to date systems.

  • Windows Recovery

While you’d like to think a catastrophic failure won’t happen to you, it’s still a good idea to plan ahead just in case. When a Mac encounters this serious problem, there’s a fairly simple recovery process that can be done”over the air”. For a Windows user however, you’re left trying to remember where you put all of those disks or keys that came with your operating system or computer. Most users won’t know off-hand where those tools are months or years after purchase. But, as Apple demonstrates, they shouldn’t be necessary.

  • Desktop Specific Experience

It’s understandable that Microsoft would want to include tablet users into their Windows audience with Windows 8 given how popular tablets have become recently. Unfortunately, the way they chose to target tablet users forced desktop users to suffer through features that weren’t specifically designed for them. Instead of trying to satisfy both the desktop and mobile audiences, Microsoft would be better off focusing Windows 9 on desktop users only and having a different operating system, or at least a modified version, for tablets.

  • Easier Backups

Creating backups of the data stored on your computer is advice that’s relevant to most security and protection tips. Regardless of what catastrophes befall your desktop, if you’ve backed up your data recently, you should be able to recover. Unfortunately, Microsoft hasn’t made the back up process simple enough. What should be a primary feature designed to be easy to use for everyone is actually mostly hidden and only used by more advanced users.

We’ll find out soon what advances Microsoft has made with Windows 9. Whether or not you plan to upgrade your system, Geek Rescue is here to help when there’s problems. Come by or call us at 918-369-4335.

For your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

How To Fix Slow WiFi Plaguing iOS 8

September 23rd, 2014

WiFi symbol on iPhone

Apple’s latest mobile operating system, iOS 8, has been available to the public for about a week now and, predictably, the bugs and issues are starting to trickle out. While there haven’t been any major problems reported, one annoyance has plagued many users. Thankfully, as Leslie Horn reports for Gizmodo, there’s a quick fix for users who are experiencing slow WiFi connections in iOS 8.

This isn’t an issue that is spread to all iOS 8 users, but there has been a significant number of complaints that WiFi seems slower since the upgrade. That extends to multiple models of iPhones and iPads too.

If the slow connection is troubling you, one solution would be to simply turn off WiFi on your device. But, if you’re using an iPad without a data plan, or have limited data on your smartphone, this isn’t exactly a good option either.

To fix the problem, there are a couple of options. First, try resetting your network settings. For some users, this brought WiFi speeds back up. If that doesn’t help, the other option is disabling WiFi Networking. To do so, go to Settings>Privacy>Location Services>System Services and turn WiFi Networking to off.

This is the first widespread bug reported for iOS 8, but it’s unlikely to be the last. While Apple will likely work quickly to patch and fix any issues that surface in the next few weeks, it’s not a bad idea to stick with iOS 7 if you can until more of these bugs are found and fixed.

If you’re having trouble with any of your mobile devices, bring them to Geek Rescue or call us at 918-369-4335.

For your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

Seven Features New To iOS 8

September 22nd, 2014

Apple symbol

You’ve likely heard plenty about iOS 8 in the past week and may have even updated your Apple device, but do you really know what iOS 8 is capable of? More importantly, do you know why it’s better than the previous operating system, iOS 7? At Gizmodo, David Nield put together a handy list of “things you can do on iOS 8 that you couldn’t do on iOS 7″. Here are seven new features that are most useful.

  • Third Party Keyboards

This new feature has actually gotten quite a bit of publicity and led others to wonder why it was never before possible to add a different keyboard to an iPhone. There have been many complaints about the native keyboard in iOS, although just about every digital keyboard has its quirks. Now, you can go find the keyboard that fits your typing habits best.

  • Battery Usage

Here’s another feature that surprisingly wasn’t already available. By going to Settings>General>Usage>Battery Usage, you’ll be able to see how each app is affecting your battery. This could prove to be extremely useful in situations where your battery is low and you’re nowhere near a charger. Or, could help you decide if a new app is worth the trouble or not.

  • Timelapse Video

Creating timelapse videos is now possible by simply enabling an option in the Camera app. One frame of video will be captured each second. These timelapse videos will then be saved to your photo stream with a timer icon in the corner to help you identify them.

  • Escape Group Texts

Group texts between multiple contacts are handy, but can quickly become an annoyance. In iOS 8, you’re now able to remove yourself from group chats you no longer want to be a part of. Select the ‘Details’ option from conversation screen to see this option and other new choices.

  • Voice Messages

If you’re ever in a position where you don’t want to send a text message, but also don’t want to talk on the phone, there’s the new feature of Voice Messages. These are simply short audio recordings you can send directly to contacts. It’s like leaving them a voicemail, but quicker. In iMessage, press and hold the record button to start a new message, or press play to hear a message you’ve received.

  • Timed Photos

A timer has been a standard feature for digital cameras for years and now your iPhone can take pictures on a three to ten second delay. To enable this feature, tap the timer icon in the Camera app and then quickly gather your relatives for a group shot.

  • Scan Credit Cards

First, Apple Pay will let you purchase items without having your credit card with you. You’ll load the card’s information into Apple Pay and then pay directly with your iPhone. A useful idea, but also one that makes your phone even more valuable to criminals. Adding your card’s information to Apple Pay could be tedious, but iOS 8 enables the ability to scan credit cards. You can also use this feature when buying items online. Just use the ‘Scan Credit Card’ option in Safari.

If your iPhone or iPad have any kind of issues, bring your device to Geek Rescue or call us at 918-369-4335.

For your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

Four Tips For Keeping Your Mobile Device Safe

September 2nd, 2014

Smartphone with padlock

It’s no secret that mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets, are becoming an increasingly attractive target for cyber attacks. Threats associated with mobile devices have increased exponentially over the past two years and will likely continue to increase as more users store more information on their phones and tablets and use them to access more. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know how to keep your devices safe and protected. A post at Spyware News details a few helpful tips for preventing malware infection and keeping your mobile devices safe from attacks.

  • Texts from unknown numbers

Most smartphone users have received a text from a number they don’t have saved in their contacts. When these messages are from a friend whose number has recently changed, they’re perfectly harmless. However, when these messages contain links to websites, or inform you about services you don’t remember ordering, it’s a sign of a problem. The last thing you should do is click on the links provided or reply to these messages. If the message claims to be from a legitimate business, like your cell phone provider, you should contact them directly to find out about the message.

  • Update your operating system

Updates for mobile operating systems come out fairly often. The reason for that is because of security flaws that are found and exploited by attackers. When you don’t update in a timely manner, you’re leaving a gaping hole in your phone or tablet’s security, which attackers already know how to exploit. It’s always a good idea to back-up your device before updating the OS, but be sure it doesn’t take you too long to implement the updates.

  • Beware of apps

The apps you choose to install on your device are often the gateway for malware. Some apps are actually malicious programs, but others simply don’t have adequate security in the case of an attempted attack. If you’ve installed apps from outside the official app store for your device, there’s a better than average chance that you’ve opened yourself up to infection. Even official apps have been known to contain issues, however. So, you’ll want to update them regularly too and be sure you’re aware of the permissions each app is granted.

  • Wi-Fi

It’s common for users to leave their Wi-Fi capabilities turned on at all times. This way, their device connects automatically to available networks. It’s convenient, but it isn’t always safe. If your device is set to connect to any network within range, it could be automatically connecting to unsafe networks without you even knowing it. That could potentially allow others on the network to monitor your activity and gain access to your personal information. When you’re away from trusted Wi-Fi networks, it’s a good idea to turn off that capability.

Keeping information stored and accessed by your mobile device safe isn’t as easy as it once was, but with a few intelligent practices, you’ll be able to stay protected.

If any of your devices have been attacked or infected by malware, or you’d like to implement better security, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

For your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

iPhone 5 Battery Issues Prompt Action From Apple

August 26th, 2014

Apple iPhone

The iPhone 5 was released in September of 2012 and only enjoyed a one-year reign as Apple’s flagship smartphone before being replaced by the iPhone 5S. Still, the iPhone 5 is remains widely used, but it’s not without its faults. Most notably, an issue with the battery that results in charges lasting a shorter and shorter amount of time. At CNet, Shara Tibken reports that Apple is offering free replacement batteries to users with one of these troublesome devices.

Apple maintains that only “a small percentage of iPhone 5 devices may suddenly experience shorter battery life”, but the problem is evidently large enough to warrant a recall. The one exception is that only devices purchased between the iPhone 5′s release in 2012 and January of 2013 are eligible for a free battery replacement. Those users experiencing similar problems with devices purchased outside of this window are on their own.

To find out if your phone is eligible, put your serial number into this page Apple has created specifically for this issue.

If you’ve already paid to replace a defective battery on an eligible device, Apple advises you contact them about refunding the price of the replacement. However, if you’re planning to take advantage of this offer, any damage that impairs the replacement of the battery, which includes a cracked screen, will have to be repaired first.

This isn’t the first issue with the iPhone 5 that’s necessitated a free replacement from Apple directly. In May, Sleep/Wake buttons were recalled when users reported problems. Eligible customers in that case were also treated to a free fix.

The iPhone 5S and Macbook laptops have also been the subject of free fixes for problems that crop up long after the device’s release.

If you’re having problems with any of your devices that aren’t eligible for a free fix from the manufacturer, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

And for your business solutions needs, visit our parent company JD Young.

Three Fast Ways To Improve Your PC’s Security

May 30th, 2014

Hand holding stopwatch

Implementing proper security features on your computer isn’t high on most individual’s priority list. The assumption is that it will take hours to install new antivirus software and make other necessary changes. But, in reality, some significant improvements can be made in just a few minutes. Andy O’Donnell of About offers his “10-minute security tune-up”. While these won’t make you computer immune to malware infections, they are helpful.

  • Patch and Update

Whether it’s your operating system, browser, antivirus program or other applications, it’s important to keep them updated and install the latest patches released by the developer. It’s a quick and easy process, but it protects you from some of the most dangerous threats to your PC. Patches and updates are often released to fix a vulnerability that has been demonstrated to be exploitable by criminals. So, failing to install these updates leaves a known security flaw open. That’s like asking for trouble. Similarly, updating your antivirus program allows it to stay up to date with the latest recognizable threats so it can identify them on your PC or stop them from infecting it in the first place.

  • Second Scanner

Most users have an antivirus scanner installed on their PC, but have you ever considered the need for a second one? Even if you keep a trusted antivirus program updated, it’s still likely to miss a few threats. Some experts suggest adding a second antivirus scanner to identify problems that would have slipped through. This can potentially cause issues if both antivirus programs are set to actively scan at all times. Instead, you may consider using your primary antivirus program at all times, then run additional, regularly scheduled scans with your secondary scanner.

  • Create Back-Ups

Regardless of how many security tools you put in place, there is always the chance of a catastrophe. Cyber attacks grow more intelligent every day and it’s impossible to close every potential vulnerability. Even if your PC isn’t taken down by malware, you could lose your data because of a hardware issue or natural disaster. That’s why it’s important to regularly back-up all the important data stored on your hard drive. With cloud storage readily available, you can even store it off site so the loss of your computer doesn’t mean the loss of your back-ups.

As mentioned, no security is perfect. If any of your devices are infected with malware or you’re experiencing other issues, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

A Windows XP Hack To Prolong Support From Microsoft?

May 29th, 2014

Microsoft building

Microsoft ended support for their operating system, Windows XP, on April 8th. Since then, users continuing to use XP have been at risk of attacks via known exploits because no patches are being released to fix them. One security expert has discovered a potential workaround, however. Gregg Keizer of ComputerWorld explains how users could trick Microsoft into delivering patches to their outdated operating system.

To understand this hack, you first need to get to know another Microsoft operating system, Windows Embedded POSReady 2009. In this case, POS stands for point of sale. This operating system was developed for use in cash registers, ATMs and other point of sale devices. It shares the same core as Windows XP, however. It also will enjoy support from Microsoft for another five years.

So, the security experts hack involved tricking Microsoft into thinking an XP system was actually an Embedded POSReady 2009 system. The updates and patches delivered aren’t developed specifically for XP, but the environment is close enough that they reportedly don’t cause crashes, blue screens or other errors.

Before you start thinking that this will keep your XP machine protected for five years, understand that neither Microsoft, nor the security expert who developed this hack, is sold on it effectively patching vulnerabilities. A Microsoft spokesman told the public that these patches intended for POSReady 2009 won’t fully protect XP users. Microsoft’s stance is that users need to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8 as soon as possible.

However, some businesses have built their entire infrastructure on XP and upgrading isn’t a simple option. For those individuals, wouldn’t doing something to protect themselves be better than nothing?

Doing something is certainly preferred, but implementing this hack might not be the smartest choice. Instead, switching web browsers from Internet Explorer to Chrome or Firefox should be an XP users first move. Both Google and Mozilla have continued support for their browsers used with XP. There are also security tools to implement that would help protect against the gaping, known security flaws in XP. It’s not a patch that ends the possibility of an exploit, but it is additional protection.

Whether your computer has been infected, or you’d like to improve security, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Three Advanced Tips For Router Security

May 9th, 2014

Router with connected devices

Most homes and offices use wireless routers, but that means they’re also susceptible to hacks and attacks. Routers are notorious for their many security flaws so it’s important to take a few extra precautions in order to stay safe. For some of the basics of securing a router, check out this post from February. At LifeHacker, Melanie Pinola published a list of some more advanced ways of improving your router’s security.

  • Remote Administration

This feature is included on every router, but it isn’t always turned off by default. Remote Administration allows a user to access the router’s control panel from anywhere, which means you don’t have to be currently connected to your network in order to change settings. There might be some situations where this would be helpful, but mostly it is an opportunity for hackers to wreak havoc. Check your router’s settings for a Remote Administration, Remote Management or Enable Web Access from WAN option and make sure you turn it off.

  • Universal Plug and Play

More commonly referred to as UPnP, Universal Plug and Play refers to a feature that makes it easy for your router to recognize internet ready devices. While this should make connectivity easier and more streamlined, it also introduces a number of security issues. Namely, with UPnP your router doesn’t include any type of authentication and considers every device trustworthy. Turn it off in the router’s settings, usually under an Admin section.

  • Open Source Firmware

Keeping the manufacture’s firmware on your router updated is important, but for advanced users, finding trustworthy open source firmware is an even better option. DD-WRT is a trusted source and offers much more secure firmware than what’s included with your router. There are also more frequent updates to fix any problems that pop up. If you decide to install alternative firmware on your router, however, be sure to do your homework first.

These tips, in addition to more basic security tips like changing your router’s password, keep your network safer from attacks.

For help creating a secure wireless network for home or business, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.

Firefox 29 Brings Big Changes To Browser

April 30th, 2014

Firefox logo

Mozilla’s Firefox web browser is currently the third most used browser, behind Google Chrome and Microsoft Internet Explorer. This week, Mozilla released the Firefox 29, which is the first significant interface redesign in three years and makes more than 1300 changes to previous versions of the browser. Seth Rosenblatt of CNet has details about what’s new with the new Firefox.

  • A menu icon has replaced the recognizable, orange Firefox menu button and has moved from the top-left corner to the top-right.
  • A ‘Download Manager’ icon now resides by default in the add-on bar.
  • The ‘Forward’ button for browser navigation disappears until there’s a page to move forward to.
  • Tabs will no longer shrink as drastically as they have in years past when a number of tabs are open. Mozilla wanted to keep tabs legible at all times.
  • If there are more tabs open than fit in the bar, users can scroll with their mouse, or use navigation arrows provided to access additional tabs.
  • The entire new interface takes some direction from mobile-friendly websites and apps in order to become a more acceptable browser for touchscreen devices.
  • To aide syncing, Firefox introduced Accounts. Users may create a username and password and log-in through an icon provided in the browser menu.

Many of these changes, particularly the use of accounts and some changes to the interface, are designed specifically to help Firefox break into the mobile browser market. Currently, about 0.1-percent of Android users have Firefox on their smartphones.

This new version of Firefox couldn’t have been released at a better time considering Internet Explorer users are being urged to find an alternative browser until security issues are fixed.

When you’re having problems with your device, network, hardware or software, call Geek Rescue at 918-369-4335.