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Tuesday, 30 October 2012 13:45

Windows 8 Launches – Viruses?

It may be flu season, but I didn’t expect that to affect my computer. Of course, the colds and coughs going around haven’t made my computer start sneezing, but recently it did become infected with a virus. The software I needed to download from HP for my printer wouldn’t download, so I took my laptop in to the tech doctor at Staples. He took a look at it and said it looked like it had a virus, pointing to the word “Trojan.” I believe what it said was “Trojan remover.” I glanced at it, not too concerned as I was sure that was the special system for virus removal that I had paid the company in Las Vegas to install the last time my computer got a virus. But I couldn’t help remembering that invisible hand moving my cursor around – some faceless stranger reaching into the most private areas – and feeling violated. The tech doctor showed me what to do to download the program, and I went home and tried again. This time, the website kept redirecting to “crabwalkin’ Heavy” and the next thing I knew, hundreds of windows popped up one after the other, all over my computer screen. So I shut it down and took it in to the doctor again. .

It had a virus and it would take three to four days to remove the virus. They would try to recover the files, but nothing was guaranteed. I was about ready to buy a new computer right then and there just at the thought of having to go without my computer for days, and I couldn’t even think about losing any of my files.

When they called to tell me it was ready and that the files were fine, I was relieved. The fellow who helped me was even nice enough to put an icon on my desktop with the link to download the software I needed. But at home, I noticed a couple of the files on the desktop had not been recovered properly as the first letters on the titles had been changed to symbols. I couldn’t bring myself to open them yet, so I clicked on the icon to download the software from HP. A pop-up said “corrupt and unreadable.” I wasn’t sure why – the virus had just been removed – so I clicked it off. It was taking forever to find the page – but it seemed everything was taking forever. I thought it was the new internet service we’d switched to… but then it said “redirecting”… and bam! I was at the same “crabwalkin’ Heavy” website and I knew it was bad. I got off the website and started saving all my files then shut down the computer and took it in – again.

At this point, I was starting to feel like my laptop was akin to an old car – always needing repair or some kind of updating just to keep it functioning. Yet it is not as if it is that old. It is from 2009 – only three years old. Still, I had already had to buy an external CD player as the original internal device stopped working. The scan function on my new printer wouldn’t work because the computer was too old to be compatible, and now, if I were to get an upgrade to Windows 8, the most important feature of touch-friendliness wouldn’t work because the computer is not a touch screen. Nevertheless, it would have to be cleaned up of the virus so that my files could be restored properly – it wasn’t an option for them not to be.

I could still use the computer at least temporarily, I queried the technician. He gave me a wary look. Well, for a couple of weeks? A week? A few days? “What kind of security do you have?” he asked. Bell. He told me Bell and Primus are terrible and that it is better to not have any security. I asked about McAfee, which I had had before when my computer got the first virus. He said McAffee was bad, but not as bad as Bell or Primus. Excellent. And, according to him, my files weren’t safe, period, without decent security, and that meant purchasing Norton. What to do!

This is the third time my computer has had a virus. On one of my visits to Staples, the technician explained to me that when a virus infects your computer, it may seemingly be removed effectively, but that the company that is supposedly removing it is able to program it to reactivate on a certain date. Interesting, because I had thought it a rare coincidence that my computer got a virus on the very day that Windows 8 came out.

“Have there been a lot of people in here with viruses in the past week or so?” I asked.

“The past three weeks.”

Fabulous. Of course, for those of us who have to get new computers, we’re going to want computers with Windows 8, aren’t we? They assured me that is has nothing to do with Microsoft. But these days, we live in a worldwide web. Everybody and everything is connected, in one way or another. Staples is ready too, with a sale that just began yet ends today on installation packages for new computers – just in case you need one.

All of the data can be transferred to the new computer, but what about the virus? Can it not be transferred as well, even if it is removed, because of the time activation feature used in the installation of viruses? The technician told me “no” – yet with a hesitant wishy-washy twist of his features. He was clearly uncomfortable with the question. “It should be fine… (more muttering). That really shouldn’t happen.”

Really? People used to say we would never have computers with the capabilities we have now, with operating systems like Windows 8 and touch screen technology. Anything is possible – including purchasing a new computer with Norton Anti-virus protection, having files transferred safely, and enjoying clean, cutting-edge technology.

*Please note that Trojan is malware and is not a virus, as was explained to me by Staples technicians in diagnosing my laptop. You may see the blog “Riding a Trojan Horse” for more information on the subject of this common error. 

Published in Blog
Tuesday, 30 October 2012 13:35

What is LTE?

Remember the days when it was often difficult to place long distance calls with your cell phone? The further away you were from the person you were calling, the more difficult it seemed not just to get through, but to have any service or connection at all. If you did get through, the connection was often weak, causing static, and a call that kept breaking up or was lost altogether. Maybe it was hard to hear or it seemed there was a delay from you speaking to you being heard. Well, those days are gone.

Thanks to the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP), Long Term Evolution (LTE) was born. Founded in Angara, Turkey, and first publically available in December, 2009, LTE is “the first truly global mobile phone standard.” It has taken the world from 3G to 4G technology, marketed by the 3GPP as LTE, or 4G LTE. But what is LTE?

The name says it all: Long Term Evolution. LTE is a living, evolving standard for wireless communication involving high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals.

The goals of LTE were to:

1). Increase capacity

2). Increase speed

3). Redesign and simplify network architecture

4). Reduce cost

5). Ensure competitiveness of the 3G system

Increased speed and capacity of wireless data networks were made possible by using digital signal processing (DSP), and the redesign and simplification of the network architecture were accomplished by utilization of an IP-based system.

The Evolved Packet Core (EPC) is the name given to IP-based network architecture and is designed to replace the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) Core Network. The EPC supports seamless handovers for voice and data to cell towers with older GMS, UMTS, or CDMA2000 technology. Previously, voice and data capacity were supported by High Speed Packet Access (HSPA), but now with each E-UTRAN cell there is four times the support, resulting in lower operating costs.

Evolved from the 3G system and with downlink peak data rates of up to 326 megabits per second (Mbit/s), uplink peak data rates of up to 86.4 Mbit/s, and Quality of Service (QoS) provisions permit transfer latencies of less than 5 ms, 4G LTE certainly ensures competitiveness.

4G LTE is the most advanced network there is. In Canada, the largest 4G LTE network is provided by Bell, with a speed of up to 75 Mbit/s.

3GPP has revolutionized the Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) with LTE, and it just keeps growing. Already, LTE Advanced has evolved from LTE, setting an even higher mobile communications standard than ever before.  

Published in Blog
Monday, 29 October 2012 09:20

Microsoft Surface

Launched yesterday, Friday, October 26th, 2012, the Microsoft Surface is the new hot tablet.

Described by Microsoft as “a work of art,” the new Surface tablet is a sight to behold. It has a kickstand – so gone are the days when you were constantly propping your tablet up against books or on pillows – or worse – had it left flat on the coffee table, only to be used as a coaster. And wait – is that a keyboard? No – it’s the cover – no... it’s both. It’s the magnetic touch cover that converts to a keyboard when you open it, and lays flat, just like the keyboard on your PC. Now how cool is that? To top it off, it comes in five colors: black, white, red, cyan (blue), and magenta, all in made with matte VaporMg casing. And if a more traditional type-style keyboard is for you, that is also an option. Surface is light and slim, and, according to USA Today, is “an impressive piece of engineering.” It can do everything you expect, and more.

So you’ve got to get one, right? That’s great – but it’s not so simple. You will have to decide whether you want your Surface with Windows RT or with Windows 8. But what is the difference?

The biggest difference is that Windows RT is a limited edition of Windows 8. When you get a Surface with Windows 8 Pro, you are getting the full version of the new, super cool Microsoft operating system. The RT edition uses an ARM CPU (Central Processing Unit) while Windows 8 Pro uses an Intel CPU, each unit affecting compatibility.

Keep in mind that the edition of the Microsoft Surface tablet that launched yesterday is the Surface RT, and that you will not be able to run any of your programs from older computers on it. To do that, you will have to wait about 3 months for Surface Pro to come out. Will the new RT version already be out-dated by then? All we can tell you is that right now, the new Microsoft Surface RT has come out strong and is going head to head with iPad.

Published in Blog
Monday, 29 October 2012 09:15

Editions of Windows 8

Please keep in mind that Windows 8 has various versions, as did Windows 7 also have various versions. Although Windows 7 can be upgraded to Windows 8, with an advertised price of $39.99 for download to your computer, only similar versions are compatible. For example, if you have an IA-32 version of Windows 7, you will need to upgrade to an IA-32 version of Windows 8. Or if you have an x64 version of Windows 7, you will need the x64 version of Windows 8 to be compatible. This shouldn’t be a big deal. Think of it as going from what you are used to – to what you are used to. If anything, it should make the transition comfortable.

The only problem comes in if you are expecting to be able to upgrade a Professional, Ultimate, or Enterprise version of Windows 7 to the regular Windows 8, or what is being referred to as Windows 8 (Core). It won’t work. However, you can upgrade all versions of Windows 7, except for the Enterprise, to Windows 8 Pro. Windows 7 Enterprise gets upgraded to Windows 8 Enterprise, along with a few others. And if this is still confusing, Wikipedia has a great chart.

If you have Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, or Home Premium, you are good to go with Windows 8 – period.

Below are the four available versions of Windows 8:

Windows 8 – This is standard Windows for regular people.

Windows 8 Pro – This is a professional version for business users.

Windows 8 Enterprise – This is a variation of Windows 8 Pro.

Windows RT – This is a limited version of Windows 8, designed for tablets.

Published in Blog

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