Friday, December 27, 2013

Microsoft XP End of Life

You’ve held on to your Windows XP PC long enough and it’s time for you to let it go… 

(If you have already let it go, you need not read any further…)

We know you love your Windows XP machines.  We hear you.  XP has been your friend for a long time and why end the relationship now, when you can still use it?

The truth is that XP has been a tremendous success for Microsoft and an amazing workhorse but all good things come to an end.  Windows XP was released 12 years ago about a month after 9/11, when gas was $1.46 a gallon, US postage 34 cents and a dozen eggs cost 90 cents.  George Bush was in his first term, Enron had just filed Chapter 11, Dale Earnhardt was killed in the Daytona 500, and the original iPod just hit the market. 

If you have the NEWEST computer running XP, it was purchased in 2006.  That year Italy won the World Cup, Barry Bonds broke Babe Ruth’s Home Run record (715), Winter Olympics were hosted in Turin, Italy, Nintendo released the Wii, Pluto was downgraded as a planet, and Google purchased YouTube.

Internet Explorer 8 (integrated into XP) has now become incompatible with many websites and there will be no new updates for the operating system.  The system will simply be obsolete and hackers will target XP PCs and steal information and identities.  Microsoft will not help you any further as of April 8, 2014 and the deadline is firm this time.   Please understand that your XP computers will still function on April 8, 2014 as they did on April 7th but they will be MUCH more vulnerable.  These vulnerabilities could adversely affect your network and possibly cause you to lose data, productivity and sleep.  TURNkey IT cannot warrant things that happen after the Microsoft deadline and will follow suit with the majority of developers, MSPs and service companies by discontinuing service for these machines.  We will not be held responsible for         things that may happen regarding these legacy PCs.  If they cause problems on your network or                 simply become inoperable, you will have to replace them.  Please consider yourself kindly informed.

We also do not want to be alarmist or predict a “Y2K”.  We simply have too many people who rely on our guidance to sit idly by. 
What will happen after April 8th, 2014?

Most security experts (including not surprisingly, those at Microsoft) expect there to be a dramatic increase in Windows XP security attacks after April 8th, the date of the last security patch for Windows XP.

First, it’s very likely that hackers have been “saving” unpatched vulnerabilities, knowing that they will have free access to exploit them after the 8th.  To add to the danger, it’s expected that the bad guys will probably even reverse engineer vulnerabilities that Microsoft continues to patch in Windows Vista (which is similar in structure to Windows XP) and will also use those to attack your Windows XP machines.  And to compound the problem even more, Windows XP already has the highest rate of malware infection among Windows versions, being almost 5 times as likely to get infected as Windows 8.

So, yes, I’m afraid that Windows XP users SHOULD worry, and prepare for the worst.

If you have a Windows XP computer that is not connected to the Internet, you’re perfectly safe, since all the threats come from being online. However, my guess is, you ARE connected to the Internet (especially since you are reading this) and you will need to take action.

But should I get a Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer?

Windows 7 is still around 4 years after its initial release and is widely accepted in the business world.  It is a little more difficult to find because you have to deal with a company like TURNkey to get it loaded and configured as OEMs (like Dell, HP, Asus, etc.) have moved to loading Windows 8. 

As much as you love your Windows XP computer, I’m afraid it’s time for a change. Using your Windows XP machine past April 8th opens you up to too much potential heartache and pain from the hackers who will no doubt scour the online world for anyone with a Windows XP computer.

The good news is, you have plenty of time to adapt if you start planning soon.  The time is now to be resolute and make that change from XP to 8.  You’ll be glad you did.

Happy New Year and cheers to a happy, healthy and prosperous one!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Can you believe all of this $#*T fits in your pocket?

20 years ago if you would have told me I'd be carrying around just about every useful and entertaining thing in my pocket I would have told you that you were high.  The truth is that we are now doing just that.  Look how the "phone" has evolved.
  • Radio - I can listen to just about anything and stream live broadcasts
  • Tapes / CDs / Albums / 8-tracks - a thing of the past but on demand I can find any song, genre, artist or track - WOW.
  • Weather - not only can I get the forecast but I can get real time radar (who needs Al Roker - by the way I liked him when he was fat better)
  • TV - I can watch sports, music videos, tv shows, bloopers (aka youtube), and random things people upload (PORN)
  • Books - Reading your favorite book on your phone is easy.  And when you take a break, you can pick up where you left off on your iPad or Kindle
  • Calculator 
  • Alarm Clock
  • Flashlight - really?
  • Camera - a really good one that doesn't use film and automatically backs up to some mysterious hard drive in the sky
  • Games - from driving games, heads up, building things in MineCraft to trivia and flinging birds through the air - there are nearly endless entertaining possibilities
  • Timer - I can boil an egg perfectly every time...
  • Ticket Broker - find and buy tickets to virtually any event at any time
  • GPS Navigation - by car or by street, I can find my way around as long as I have a signal
  • Telephone - Oh Yeah and I can speak with people
  • Traffic - Real time traffic at my fingertips, really?
  • Instant Messaging - Not that this was around 20 years ago but it's here today (naughty or nice)
  • Word Processor - That is what we called them back in the day but you could also say typewriter....
  • Email - What the heck is that?  So commonplace today but so infantile 20 years ago.
  • Photo Albums - No more faded and bent photos in your wallet, say hello to real time slide shows
  • Video Camera - Remember Clark Griswald in European Vacation "I think he's going to pork her Russ."
  • Police Scanner - Where's the Po Po?
  • Juke Box 
  • Video Conferencing
  • Online Shopping
  • Chauffeur Service
  • Instant Banking and payment center
  • Rolodex
I am certain that there are many obvious things my phone can do that I have neglected.  However, Holy S#*T Batman!  Who knows where we'll be in another 20.  I hope I am around to see it...

For Now,


Monday, September 23, 2013


It may sound like an acronym on an invite to a bad wedding but it's not... BYOD stands for Bring Your Own Device and it's really not all that exciting.  BYOD is a buzzword, a trend and one cannot ignore the implications behind it. 

It just may be that your employer may someday ask you to bring your own device to work.  For people who work at TURNkey IT, each person gets a mobile phone allowance.  In essence, each person is being encouraged to bring his/her own device and use it for work purposes.  People use their tablets, cell phones and notebook computers for work all of the time. 

The implications on a network are not to be ignored.  On average, each person has 2.2 devices to account for.  Therefore if you have an office of 10 people, it is likely that the wireless infrastructure must support 22 devices.  If you're in a Starbucks with 50 other people, it is likely that their access points are tethered to over 100 devices (or many more).

Users are changing the way they use the internet.  No longer is it just to send a quick email or respond to a text. People are tending to stream music, movies and use bandwidth like never before.  Smartphones, tablets and phablets (phones nearly as large as tablets) are most entertaining when using large chunks of bandwidth.

A single T1 line and a Linksys WRT54G router simply don't cut the mustard any more...  It will be more commonplace to see the demand for 100M fiber connections in the near future and likely increasing to gigabit connections by 2016.

Bandwidth aggregators or link / load balancers help people take multiple ISP connections and put them together.  Now you can have redundancy and total aggregate bandwidth.

Whatever may come of it, technology is very cool and life requires you now to BYOD.  Look around you the next time you're in public, you'll see device after device texting, taking selfies, and generally staying tethered to something.  Google glass thinks we should be even more connected.

We'll see how it all shakes out.

For now,

David Kolssak

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The human side of IT

People are people and largely creatures of habit.  Each person has his or her own beliefs, values and routines.  When any of those centers gets disrupted, people get off kilter.  When you get a new phone or pc, it is disruptive and people often long for the way it "used to be". 

There is a human side to IT that is more compassionate than the SNL character "Nick Burns - your company's computer guy".  For those who aren't familiar, you can find an example HERE.  IT guys can be condescending, rude and snippy.  However, one often feels provoked...

Often times technology works but the people using the technology are the ones with the difficulty.  I would suggest that many of the issues TURNkey IT faces daily are caused by a human condition.  The acronym PEBCAK came about when describing a situation where the Problem Existed Between the Chair And Keyboard.  That is, quite simply, user error. 

People don't like to be called out on being silly, stupid, ignorant or misinformed so it is the delicate line an IT professional must walk as he tries to correct the behavior and ultimately the issue at hand.  Sometimes it can be done with a knowing wink and is greeted with a sigh.  Other times the technician may do a poor job of communicating the message without being condescending. 

Just as a doctor knows more about medicine, a baseball umpire more about rules and an astronomer about stars - IT professionals know generally how things work in their ecosphere.  IT professionals are constantly adapting to new technologies and are used to the ever changing world we live in.  In a lot of ways, we are shape shifters in the non-literal sense.  A good IT professional will shift from mac, to pc to unix and Linux and through physical layers and theoretical limits several times a day.  It is also quite possible that one becomes less socially potent when lost in the midst of acronyms, technologies and high pressure situations on a daily basis.  The good ones are personable AND refined - a rare breed.

It is not unusual for personality and deep technical skill to be inversely proportional.

At TURNkey IT, we try very hard to foster the human factors that make us so useful in this world.  Be patient to the best of your abilities.  Play nice with others.  Learn something new every day.  Work hard.  Play harder.  Love. Live. Celebrate.

For now,

David Kolssak

Monday, August 19, 2013

Social Networks for Fitness Freaks!

Motivation plays an essential role in exercising. Without it, working out just becomes...working.
If you don't have a partner to push you through your lifting routines — "One more set, bro, you got this!" — consider these eight social networks instead. They're designed to keep track of your workouts, count your calories and, above all, push you to go above and beyond your wellness goals.

Happiness guaranteed.

GIF courtesy of Photobucket
Are there any good ones that we forgot to include? Tell us which websites help you stay in shape.

1. Fitocracy

Fitocracy caters to the competitive side that everyone has. The site grants you points for each workout activity you track, then awards you with badges and props for every milestone, similar to Foursquare. You can also sign up for challenges with friends or join community chat groups with members across the network.
A free app is available to download on both iOS and Android devices, too.

2. Extra Pounds

Extra Pounds is a free weight loss network with an extensive archive of diet blogs, fitness articles, body logs and support groups. What's most impressive is the Food Diary feature, where you can plan and log your meals into a spreadsheet, then determine how much you need to exercise to burn off the calories.

3. Daily Mile

Again, a network with a little competition thrown into the mix. Daily Mile is a Twitter-like website where you can track, then publicly share, your workout accomplishments. Whether you run five miles, bike around the block or finish a sick set of abdominal workouts, you can post about it through your personal Facebook account and on Daily Mile's homepage feed — a perfect way to motivate (and annoy) your friends at the same time.

4. Traineo

Another free weight loss network, Traineo lets you log and track your calorie-burning goals. One unique perk is that it lets you choose up to four "motivators" — other members of Traineo who receive email updates about your progress — who, in turn, send you weekly feedback and encouragement.
You can also read through relevant articles or take part in one of the site's frequent discussion forums.

5. MBodyment

The MBodyment Fitness Network is a bare-bones collection of fitness-related videos. If you register, you can also join one of the many groups, including the P90Xers and Exercise Procrastinators, and connect with personal trainers from a variety of gyms.

The website was a little glitchy at time of writing, but a few page refreshes seemed to bring things back to normal.

6. Spark People

Spark People is similar in style to Weight Watchers in that it offers a variety of nutrition-based articles and videos. You can also connect with its panel of experts, dubbed "Spark Coaches," on a range of topics from yoga to exercising to cooking.

7. Map My Fitness

With Map My Fitness, much like Daily Mile, you can map your running routes and track your progress through a mobile app. When you're finished, you can share it with your friends through Facebook. The site's food-logging feature also lets you keep track of what you eat, broken down by fat and calories, and share recipes with other members.

8. My Yoga Online

My Yoga Online is perfect for all expertise levels. It really has it all: tutorials for poses, meditation and pilates; a community forum where members post videos and essays; and even a music page where users can upload their favorite yoga jams. You can even brush up on your history with the "About Yoga" section, which has videos, articles and member posts that highlight everything you need to know about the age-old practice.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Looking for a Tablet? Here's Summer 2013 Buyer Guide

Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Tablets are virtually tailor-made for our summer vacations, whether we're checking email at the hotel or watching movies during an airport layover. The manufacturers must know this, as there's a surge of new slates set to arrive while the weather's still scorching. Our 2013 summer tablet buyer's guide will help you decide which of these models is worth space in your travel bag. There are also several veteran tablets we recommend, although some of them could be obsolete soon -- we'll let you know when newer devices loom ahead. Whether or not you want the latest hardware, though, our guide should have the tablet you need.

10-inch tablets

Apple iPad (late 2012)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
While there's a chance that Apple may update the fourth-generation iPad at summer's end, that doesn't minimize its importance among 10-inch tablets. Its A6X chip is still fast; there's plenty of battery life; and iOS still has the deepest library of tablet-native apps. And did we mention that it's one of the few (if not only) mobile OS-based tablets with an option for 128GB of storage? As long as you don't mind shopping for proprietary Lightning-based accessories, the iPad remains the reliable choice.
The bottom line: An old hand among 10-inch tablets, but a safe pick.
Key specs: 1.4GHz dual-core A6X processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB to 128GB of storage, 1.2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 9.7-inch (2,048 x 1,536) display.
Price: $499 and up
Google Nexus 10
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
The Nexus 10 will soon lose its edge over rivals in display resolution, but it's still quite the value at $399. Alongside its extra-sharp screen, it offers a reasonably quick Exynos 5 Dual processor and some surprisingly good speakers. For many, though, the real advantage is a stock implementation of Android. The Nexus 10 should stay on the bleeding edge of software, and that could trump the hardware advantages of some Android-based rivals.
The bottom line: The Nexus 10 is no longer cutting-edge, but it remains the definitive large-screen Android tablet.
Key specs: 1.7GHz dual-core Exynos 5 Dual, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 1.9-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 10.1-inch (2,560 x 1,600) display.
Price: $399 and up
Sony Xperia Tablet Z
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
The Xperia Tablet Z is expensive, but with good reason: it's one of the more alluring designs we've seen so far. Between its extra-slim body, water resistance and infrared blaster, it simply does more party tricks than many of its rivals. A sharp display and brisk performance don't hurt, either. Sony's tablet may have lost some luster now that the Nexus 7 matches some of its features, but it's still a top pick for anyone who wants to use their tablet as a TV remote -- even if it's underwater.
Key specs: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM, 16GB or 32GB of storage, 2.2-megapixel front and 8.1-megapixel rear cameras, 10.1-inch (1,920 x 1,200) display.
Price: $499 and up

You might want to wait for...

Toshiba Excite Pro
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Toshiba may be an underdog in the tablet space, but its imminent Excite Pro could be a winner. The 10-inch slate is one of the first anywhere to use NVIDIA's Tegra 4, which promises a big jump in computing power versus the fastest tablets in this guide. Combine the new Tegra with a 2,560 x 1,600 display, and the Excite Pro is pushing the limits of tablet technology; let's just hope that the battery life, build quality and software are equally impressive.
Price: $500

7- and 8-inch tablets

Google Nexus 7 (2013, 32GB)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
From a pure technology perspective, no small tablet really comes close to the new Nexus 7. It has the same display resolution as high-end 10-inch tablets, one of the fastest processors in the category and luxuries like wireless charging. More importantly, it's the standard bearer for stock Android. The Nexus 7 is the only small tablet running Android 4.3 as of this writing, and it should get future Android versions quickly. While it's more expensive than last year's model, it's arguably more of a bargain.
The bottom line: Exceptional value for the money, full stop.
Key specs: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front camera, 7-inch (1,920 x 1,200) display.
Price: $270
Apple iPad mini
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
The iPad mini faces a stiff challenge if you're focused on the price-to-performance ratio. The A5 chip, 1,024 x 768 display and $329 sticker don't look great next to some newer rivals. But if you don't mind ceding ground on value, the iPad mini is a fine choice with a relatively roomy 7.9-inch screen, good real-world speed, solid rear camera and the widest selection of tablet-native apps. It's also one of the few tablets its size with an option for 64GB of built-in storage, which may tip the balance for gamers and media junkies.
The bottom line: The iPad's core values distilled in a smaller, cheaper design.
Key specs: 1GHz dual-core A5, 512MB of RAM, 16GB to 64GB of storage, 1.2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 7.9-inch (1,024 x 768) display.
Price: $329 and up
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 8.0
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Wondering where the Galaxy Note 8.0 went? It's still in our guide, but the Galaxy Tab 3 8.0 is arguably the better value among Samsung's WiFi-only tablets. While it sheds pen input, it offers the Note 8.0's display resolution, storage and camera technology for $100 less. About the only noticeable sacrifice for most will be the drop from a quad-core processor to dual-core, but we'll take that performance hit to avoid a similar impact on our wallets.
Key specs: 1.5GHz dual-core Exynos processor, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 1.3-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 8-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
The bottom line: Samsung's best value in small tablets.
Price: $299

Windows tablets

Microsoft wants us to think of Windows tablets as full PCs that just happen to lack built-in keyboards. That's partly marketing bluster, but there's no denying that Windows 8 and Windows RT slates often differ sharply from the rest of the crowd: bigger screens, laptop-grade processors and docking stations are more common. Many of them could be your only portable computer and have the prices to match, so we're putting Windows tablets in their own category to acknowledge that there isn't a complete overlap with the rest of the pack.
Microsoft Surface Pro
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
The Surface Pro is the definitive Windows tablet in the literal sense of the word: it's the highest-end system designed by Microsoft itself. And that's really why we're including it here. While it occupies a sometimes uncomfortable middle ground between smaller, longer-running mobile tablets and more expandable Ultrabooks, it's also the ultimate expression of Microsoft's vision with its clean design, 1080p screen and pen input. Just be sure to buy the 128GB model for adequate drive space, and seriously consider holding out for a possible Intel Haswell upgrade and the improved battery life that's likely to follow.
The bottom line: The official Windows 8 tablet, and one of the most powerful.
Key specs: 1.7GHz dual-core Core i5, 4GB of RAM, 64GB or 128GB of storage, 720p front and rear cameras, 10.6-inch (1,920 x 1,080) display.
Price: $899 and up
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
If there's a sweet spot among Windows tablets, Lenovo may have found it with the ThinkPad Tablet 2. It's not the fastest, nor is it the cheapest. However, it manages to offer exceptional battery life and truly portable design while maintaining full compatibility with legacy Windows apps, which is almost everything you'd ask from a Windows 8 slate in the first place. The second-generation design can also adapt to your exact needs with options for pen support, 4G data, a Bluetooth keyboard dock and a full docking station. As long as you don't need raw performance or a high-resolution screen, your search for an ideal middle ground may well stop here.
The bottom line: Possibly the best-balanced Windows tablet.
Key specs: 1.8GHz dual-core Atom, 2GB of RAM, 32GB or 64GB of storage, 2-megapixel front and 8-megapixel rear cameras, 10.1-inch (1,366 x 768) display.
Price: $649 and up
ASUS VivoTab Smart
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
We enjoyed the lightweight, comfortable design and solid camera quality of the VivoTab RT, but we weren't as keen on leaving all our conventional Windows apps behind; even ASUS' distinctive keyboard dock left us a bit cold. The VivoTab Smart tackles most of those problems in one fell swoop while preserving much of what we enjoyed from its Windows RT cousin. Switching to an Atom CPU brings legacy compatibility without too much of a hit to battery life, and the official keyboard add-on is ultimately more practical in our minds. While the VivoTab RT can cost a bit less as of this writing, we'd gladly pay more for the Smart's versatility.
The bottom line: Like ASUS' Windows RT tablet, but with some key weaknesses ironed out.
Key specs: 1.8GHz dual-core Atom, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 2-megapixel front and 8-megapixel rear cameras, 10.1-inch (1,366 x 768) display.
Price: $399 and up (at Amazon)

You might want to wait for...

Samsung ATIV Tab 3
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Never mind that there was no ATIV Tab 2; Samsung's number-skipping ATIV Tab 3 has all the early hallmarks of a successful Windows 8 tablet. While the Atom chip and 1,366 x 768 screen aren't out of the ordinary, the 8.2mm thickness and S Pen certainly have our eyebrows raised. Our only initial qualms are with the high price -- Samsung will have to go out of its way to prove the ATIV Tab 3's value when it ships in early August.
Price: $699

3G / 4G tablets

It's hard to resist the call of the outdoors on a summer day, but that usually means giving up a big screen and a constant internet connection. What to do? The solution may be a cellular tablet, and there's thankfully one from virtually every major device maker and platform. Plans are diverse as well, ranging from add-ons for existing services to prepaid plans that should last just long enough for an extended visit with the family. While there's often some premium to be paid for either the device or its data roaming (on locked models), it may be worth the cost to skip packing a big, heavy laptop for that next vacation.
Apple iPad (WiFi + Cellular, late 2012)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Apple got us in the habit of expecting cellular tablets that come without commitments, and the fourth-generation iPad helps justify that route. If you can accept paying $129 beyond the norm to get that extra dash of wireless, the iPad supplies LTE-based 4G on key networks, and EV-DO or HSPA+ 3G elsewhere, without tying the hardware to a contract or even a carrier. GPS comes along with the upgrade. Some credit is due to Apple for offering the cellular variant in the same capacities and colors as WiFi models; you can pick up a 128GB 4G model if you need the absolute best iPad Apple has to offer. Choose carefully when you buy in the US, though, as getting the AT&T or Sprint / Verizon models will dictate just where 4G kicks in while abroad.
The bottom line: Everything you know from the iPad, with LTE on top.
Key specs: 1.4GHz dual-core A6X, 16GB to 128GB of storage, 1.2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 9.7-inch (2,048 x 1,536) display, unlocked LTE / EV-DO / HSPA+ data.
Price: $629 and up
Apple iPad mini (WiFi + Cellular)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Second verse, same as the first... only smaller. The cellular version of the iPad mini is noteworthy precisely because it maintains all the color options and wireless features of its bigger counterpart. The only limitation is the absence of a 128GB model, but that capacity isn't as valuable in this category. Apple's emphasis on parity leaves the iPad mini as one of the few tablets in its class that can hop on the 4G networks of AT&T, Sprint and Verizon in the US without having to sign an agreement. The iPad mini's $459 minimum price is a lot to ask this late into the device's lifecycle, but it's the most affordable way to globetrot with an Apple tablet.
The bottom line: One of the most popular LTE tablets, in bite-sized form.
Key specs: 1GHz dual-core A5, 512MB of RAM, 16GB to 64GB of storage, 1.2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 7.9-inch (1,024 x 768) display, unlocked LTE / EV-DO / HSPA+ data.
Price: $459 and up
Google Nexus 7 (2013, LTE)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
We don't need to reiterate how much of a jump the 2013 Nexus 7 represents in terms of performance. However, its cellular variant is truly something special. In the US, the new tablet offers LTE for AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon through one model; American travelers won't have to sacrifice 4G speeds or carrier support as they have in the past. Combine that with global HSPA+ support, and you have a tablet that will rarely let you down when abroad. The $350 price just makes it that much sweeter.
The bottom line: One of the most flexible cellular tablets on the market, at a price that's hard to match.
Key specs: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front camera, 7-inch (1,920 x 1,200) display, unlocked HSPA+ and LTE data.
Price: $350
Galaxy Note 8.0 (LTE)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
If you're going to spend a lot on an 8-inch tablet like Samsung's Galaxy Note 8.0, you may as well go whole hog and get a cellular model like the LTE-equipped Note 8.0 at AT&T. On top of getting a quad-core tablet with pen input and TV remote control capabilities, you'll have the freedom to hop online without WiFi. Take care to buy the US edition of the Note 8.0 off-contract, however, as the $100 you save up front at AT&T isn't worth two years of mandatory data.
The bottom line: The Galaxy Note 8.0 is very expensive in cellular form, but it's also extremely flexible.
Key specs: 1.6GHz quad-core Exynos 4 Quad, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 1.3-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, 8-inch (1,280 x 800) display, LTE and HSPA+ data for AT&T.
Price: $499
Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet 2 (LTE)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Since the ThinkPad Tablet 2 is already on our short list, it's easy to choose its higher-end configuration as our pick for a cellular-ready Windows 8 tablet. You'll pay $100 more versus the WiFi-only model, but you'll get both AT&T-friendly LTE data and HSPA+ that will work across numerous countries. Buyers can even pick a model with Windows 8 Pro if they need to join a corporate network domain. While it's unfortunate that the 4G ThinkPad loses NFC support, it's still the tablet we'd choose with an IT manager looking over our shoulders.
The bottom line: Possibly the most flexible Windows tablet on the market.
Key specs: 1.8GHz dual-core Atom, 2GB of RAM, 64GB of storage, 2-megapixel front and 8-megapixel rear cameras, 10.1-inch (1,366 x 768) display.
Price: $749


ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
The definition of value for money. The ASUS MeMo Pad HD 7 is no threat to the Nexus 7 in terms of performance, but it costs $80 less while preserving important features, such as a color-accurate IPS LCD, dual cameras and a quad-core processor. There's even the microSD slot that the Nexus 7 lacks. Never mind the software upgrade challenges that often come with custom Android; at this price, they're easy to live with.
Key specs: Quad-core 1.2GHz ARM Cortex-A7 processor, 1GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 1.2-megapixel front camera, 5-megapixel rear camera, 7-inch (1,280 x 800) display.
Price: $150
Google Nexus 7 (2013, 16GB)
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Google may have drifted out of the sub-$200 price bracket with the new Nexus 7, but the tablet's 16GB variant is still on our short list. After all, you don't need a lot of storage to stream Netflix video at 1080p -- and other budget tablets don't even have that option. When you also factor in the above-average performance, cameras and stock Android 4.3, it could be worth paying the premium.
The bottom line: The entry-level Nexus 7 is more expensive than its rivals, but you get what you pay for.
Key specs: 1.5GHz quad-core Snapdragon S4 Pro, 2GB of RAM, 16GB of storage, 5-megapixel rear camera, 1.2-megapixel front camera, 7-inch (1,920 x 1,200) display.
Price: $230
Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 7.0
Engadget's tablet buyer's guide summer 2013 edition
Yes, it's another Samsung tablet on the list, but bear with us -- the Galaxy Tab 3 7.0 is worth your attention. While it doesn't have the display resolution or quad-core processing of the Nexus 7, it's still quite responsive, carries a rear camera and touts expandable storage. Be ready to buy a microSD card, however, as there's only 8GB of included space on the US model.
The bottom line: The budget tablet that goes with your Galaxy phone.
Key specs: 1.2GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, 1.3-megapixel front and 3-megapixel rear cameras, 7-inch (1,024 x 600) display.
Price: $199

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

9 ways to optimize SMB Technology

Small and midsize businesses approach tech spending with an abundance of caution -- but there are numerous strategies for making sure it's money well spent.     
Small and medium-size businesses face daunting competition from larger enterprises. So when it comes to investing in technology, SMBs work hard to get everything they can out of their technology dollars. Sometimes, this isn't so easy. There are "down" years when you know you should invest in a technology, but you simply have to wait until sales pick up. Or maybe you make an investment, but the technology doesn't perform or deliver at the levels you had hoped.

The solutions for moving your technology and your company forward may be obvious in some cases. But in others, there might be effective optimization strategies you haven't considered. Here are 9 ways you can optimize your SMB technology investments, in good times and bad.

1: Pool your resources

Data center co-location (co-lo) is a hot trend in right now, as organizations of all sizes seek ways to avoid further investment in physical, on-premise data centers. You can move (co-locate) servers into a rented space in a third-party data center, link them into your central management network, and never miss their physical presence. If needed, you can even assign employees to the co-lo location to locally manage the applications that perform on these remote servers. Better yet, you can pool your resources into a mutual data center with other SMBs, especially if you are running the same applications. Even SMBs that are competitors in the marketplace have been known to do this! The net result is that you can reduce the energy consumption (and costs) of your in-house data center by moving equipment out. This also reduces your data center's carbon footprint, along with the amount of square footage being taken up by technology.

2: Join the user committees of your mission-critical IT software vendors

Commercial software providers tend to listen most closely to their largest customers when it comes to enhancing their products. This puts SMBs at a natural disadvantage when they are using a standard package of software and must depend on (or hope for) the vendor to put in the types of enhancements they really feel would benefit their businesses.
One strategy SMBs can adopt that will help them get their voices heard by the vendors is to become active participants in the user committees that commercial software vendors form to gather input for what they should work on next in their products. Because it means time away from the office, many companies (including large enterprises) pass on committee participation. An SMB should consider this as a golden opportunity to ensure that an investment already made in software stays relevant to its business.

3: Virtualize your data center

At the end of 2012, 51 percent of worldwide corporate servers were still unvirtualized. With virtualization, hundreds of servers can be reduced to a handful. The savings in floor space, energy consumption, and server investments naturally follows. Everyone knows these facts, but smaller companies tend to delay virtualization because of all the other projects their lean IT staffs have to handle. Virtualization shouldn't be a back-burner project. Eliminating servers (and physical storage) through virtualization can immediately start paying for itself in space and energy savings, with the corresponding increase in return on investment (ROI) dropping directly to the company's bottom line.

4: Consider outsourcing non-
mission-critical applications to the cloud

For SMBs and large enterprises, it still makes sense to keep mission-critical applications under direct management. However, other systems (e.g., payroll, human resources, office applications) are great candidates for outsourcing to a capable cloud provider. The risks of moving to a cloud services provider should first be carefully assessed to ensure that this provider can store your information securely, meet your regulatory compliance needs, and be able to fail over should a problem develop in the cloud. But if these requirements can be met and you have a strong cloud provider, you are in a position to pay for service on a subscription or on-demand basis and to reduce your software licensing fees. These savings enhance your ability to invest in IT elsewhere.

5: Extend the reach of your IT with mobile communications

Tablets and mobile devices are less expensive to deploy than laptops and notebooks, and for employees who use their devices primarily for system access and communications, tablets and smartphones are a great fit. Mobile service can also be subscribed to, so you don't have to invest in your own T1/T3 communications lines. You will save on your telecommunications and personal hardware costs, and most employees will like the move to tablets and smartphones.

6: Develop a strong Internet presence

For an SMB, Internet is the great equalizer with large enterprises. A dynamite Web site can go a long way toward making your company seem larger than it really is. Your firm can also gain credibility with partners and customers. There is an initial investment that can run into six figures if you deploy a high-ranking Web design firm to develop your site. But once it is built, you can run your it yourself and develop you own content.
If you choose to use your Web site for ecommerce, an initial investment of six figures is still far less than what you would pay for most commercial real estate you would build on or lease over time -- and your customer base would be worldwide. Web sites can also be run less expensively than physical facilities, since so many Web site processes can be automated. SMBs can enhance their revenue potential and save on operating costs if they turn to the Web.

7: Establish lifecycle rotations for personal computing equipment

IT departments establish three- to five-year lifecycles for most of the equipment in the data center and then amortize the expense of this equipment over the same number of years. They should also apply this strategy to the organization's personal computing assets, like PCs and laptops -- and many of them do -- but the process can be greatly enhanced if there is also a "cycle down" strategy for these assert as they age. Here's how the "cycle down" works:
You give your newest, most high-power personal equipment to your power users. Then, as you replace these units and the old units become available, you cycle down the older units to your non-power users who have more casual (and less resource-intensive) uses for the equipment. With a "cycle down," organizations can often keep a PC or a laptop in service for as many as seven years. This extends the time that the company recoups its initial investment and defers new investments until they are really needed.

8: Invest in service points of contact (telephone and Internet)

If you want to pick an area where you can outperform your large competitors, focus on technology that enhances your customer points of contact. You don't have to invest in a fancy CRM (customer relationship management) system to do this. Where you need to apply the technology and the effort is to Internet contact (chat, email, etc.) with your customers -- and also to phone contact. Customers want to communicate with a real person when they need to solve a problem or obtain service. If you invest in technology that allows you to humanize the customer experience over the phone and the Internet, you can distinguish yourself from competitors many times larger, because they don't tend to do this well. Your customers will appreciate it -- and they'll stay with you.

9: Set high usage standards for your software

Clients normally utilize only 20 percent of the commercial software they buy. This isn't good economics, because the price you pay for a software license is for the whole thing. Avoid buying software as a gut reaction, or without first mapping out all your requirements for it and what it is supposed to do for your business. Then, try the software out. If it doesn't give you what you want -- plus new capabilities that can further improve your business -- bypass it. If it is so difficult to learn that your users absolutely refuse to use it, don't buy it. Most vendors allow for pilots or "try-and-buys" of the software before your enter into an agreement. Take these opportunities to ensure that the software will really be put to work for the business. From an investment perspective, there is nothing worse than shelfware gathering dust at the back of the data center -- or software that goes 80 percent unused.

The strategies above are a fraction of things your small business can do to optimize your technology plan and TURNkey IT can help with all of them.  Visit us at today or call 866-928-8208.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Do yourself a favor and upgrade to Windows 8.1

Windows 8.1 has gone a long way towards fixing some but certainly not all of Windows 8's woes. Here are five ways Windows 8.1 improves upon Windows 8.

Boot to the desktop
Yes, it's finally here. With Windows 8.1, when you log in you can bypass the Start screen, and go straight to the desktop. Given that many people use powerful desktop apps rather than the more anemic Modern-style apps, this is a very big deal.

Improved Modern-style Internet Explorer
Windows 8.1 ships with Internet Explorer 11, and it does the seemingly impossible: It actually makes the Modern-style IE useful. The Windows 8 Modern-style Internet Explorer was by far the worst browser I've ever used. How bad? It didn't have a Favorites manager. How bad? You could only have 10 sites open at once in it. How bad? Well, no need to pile on, but it was pretty awful. The new version includes a Favorites manager and lets you open as many sites simultaneously as you want. I actually use it now.

Better search
Search in Windows 8 was not a pretty thing. Type in a search term, and it searched for apps, settings, and files, but you couldn't see all the results at once. You instead had to look at results category by category. And it didn't search the Internet.

In Windows 8.1 that's all fixed. You see results from your local PC and the Internet, and you see them all at once. There's also every a very nifty "Search Hero" that grabs information from all over the Internet, including multimedia content, and presents it in a visually pleasing, easy-to-scan wrapper.

Better Modern apps
Windows 8's native Modern-style apps were an anemic bunch. Underpowered and often pointless, they were therefore unloved. Windows 8.1 ships with some very nice new apps, and powers up some of the older ones. The Photos app now lets you edit photos -- what a concept! And there's a nice, new Food and Drink app as well.

Better access to settings
In Windows 8, you had to switch between a settings screen in the Modern interface and the Control Panel in the desktop to customize how Windows works. In Windows 8.1, more settings have been moved into the Modern settings screen, so there's less of a need to look for settings in two places.

If you haven't and do it.  Its free!!!  If you are one of those still on the fence about Windows 8, this is a good indication that Microsoft is listening and making improvements. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Disaster Recovery-5 Free Apps you can utilize now

Takeaway: The law of averages dictates that disaster will strike you. When it does, you can only hope you have prepared for it.

You hope it never happens - the need to recover from a disaster. The law of averages dictates, however, that disaster will strike you. When it does, you can only hope you have prepared for it. The depth and breadth of your preparedness can vary, depending upon what you are preparing for. Preparing for a server recovery is much different than preparing for a desktop recovery. You may need a cloned image of a machine that can be used to bring a server (or even a desktop) back to life quickly. You may only need a solid backup of your data. Either way, you need the right tools to do the job.

Many disaster recovery tools are not within reach of many budgets. Thankfully, there are free tools out there that can do a bang up job of getting you back up and running. Let’s take a look at five such tools.  These apps are geared for the administrative IT guy, but not to say that the IT savvy couldn't give these a go!

1. Macrium Reflect
Macrium Reflect is a free version of the Professional product. Intended just for home-use desktop machines (supports XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8 (32 and native 64 Bit), Macrium Reflect can handle: Disk imaging/cloning, access images in Windows Explorer, schedule backups, has a Linux Rescue CD, supports RAID and GPT. With this tool you can create solid disk images that will ensure you can get a machine back up and running quickly. Yes, this software is for personal use. Give it a try and, should you like it, you might want to purchase the Pro version for your business. The Pro version only runs $58.99 for the desktop edition and $199.99 for the server edition.

2. Clonezilla

Clonezilla is a free, open source, bare metal backup and recovery tool. Clonezilla is based on DRBL, Partclone, and Upcast. There are two versions of Clonezilla: Live and ClonezillaSE (Server Edition). The Live version is to be used for a single desktop, whereas the Server edition is suitable for massive deployment (up to 40 machines simultaneously). Clonezilla supports: Numerous file systems, LVM2, unattended mode, Multicast (in SE only), and much more. Images can be saved to local drives, ssh server, Samba server, and/or NFS server. Clonezilla only saves and restores used blocks on the hard disk in order to save disk space. Although Clonezilla does only save used blocks, the destination drive must still be equal to or larger than the source drive. Drives to be imaged must be un-mounted.

3. DriveImageXML

DriveImageXML is similar to Macrium Reflect in that it offers a free version for personal use. This free version allows you to backup, browse, and restore images. With the ability to browse images, this means you can recover files and/or folders (and not just the entire image). DriveImageXML uses Microsoft Windows Volume Shadow Services, so you can create images from drives that are in use. Give the free version a try and see if it will meet your needs. If so, you can then purchase a five user license for $100.00 USD, all the way up to one hundred user licenses for $500.00 USD.

4. Quick Disaster Recovery

Quick Disaster Recovery is a tool that can quickly recover a machine when various built-in Windows administrator tools have been disabled (such as the Registry Editor, Task Manager, etc.). From the GUI you can re-enable the features that have been disabled or use the replacement tools. One way or another, you can get around such “disasters”. QDR also allows you to quickly stop applications from running at startup (by way of taking you directly to that item’s registry entry where you can either delete or disable). QDR is free and is released under the GPL.

5. System Rescue CD

System Rescue CD is a Linux system rescue disk that allows you to administer and repair a system after a crash. You can manage partitions, recover data, edit configuration files, and you can work with both Linux and Windows systems. The kernel supports all major file systems as well as network systems such as Samba and NFS. Included tools are Gparted, Partimage, ddrescue, FSArchiver, Ntfs3g, test-disk, Memtest+, Rsync, and plenty of other tools (think typical Linux tools). System Rescue can be run in both console and GUI mode, is free, and released under the GPL. If you’re up to the task, you could even create your own version of a System Rescue CD and include specific scripts or tools.

Bottom line

There are so many rescue tools available to administrators. One of the single most important tasks you could face is making sure you have the right tools that are adequate for the job and fit your skill set/work style. Give one or more of these tools a try; I am confident at least one of them will wind up in your system administrator toolkit.

Monday, July 1, 2013

How Secure is Your Smartphone?

Are we being smart smartphone users? The upcoming June edition of the Consumer Reports magazine suggests that a lot of us are not. As part of their the annual "State of the Net" report, Consumer Reports surveyed 1,656 adult smartphone users to extrapolate trends about users nationwide. Here are some of the major findings.

Poor Security: Of those surveyed, nearly 40% took no precautions to secure their smartphone: No screen lock, no apps to locate the missing phone or remotely erase data, and no data backup.

Mobility Risks: As more of us send emails, shop, fill out forms and perform other daily tasks on our smartphones, more of our sensitive personal information is at risk of being lost or stolen.

Malicious Software: In 2012, approximately 5.6 million Americans reported instances of unauthorized account access, text messages sent without permission, and other problems due to malware affecting smartphones.

Minimal Privacy Control: Controlling privacy on your computer is a challenge; controlling it on a smartphone is even harder. Those never-ending privacy notices are just not fun to read on small phone screens.

Intrusive Mobile Apps: According to a 2011 study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley, roughly one in three Android apps requested more permissions of users than necessary due to confusion on the part of the developers. As a result, users may be agreeing to allow access to email and other personal information even though it is not essential for the app's functionality.

Location Tracking: While a smartphone's location tracking capabilities can be convenient, this information also makes us vulnerable. According to the survey, 1% of users experienced harassment or harm as a result of someone using location tracking to pinpoint their whereabouts. 7% reported that they wished to disable location tracking on their smartphones but did not know how to turn it off.

The infographic below, courtesy of Consumer Reports, illustrates the findings of this survey as well as some tips for securing your smartphone.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Shoud SBs upgrade to Windows 8?

It's been a few months now since Microsoft released Windows 8 back in late October, but perhaps you're still on the fence about whether or not your business should upgrade. Let's set aside the fact that the upgrade price tag jumped from $40 to $200 at the end of January - there's not much that can be done about that now. My opinion is that no business should upgrade to Windows 8 at this time. Here's why.


An Intermediary Upgrade

The primary reason that I believe businesses should hold off on upgrading to Windows 8 has to do with the User Interface (UI). The Windows 8 UI marks a radical departure from every version that precedes it. Given this, there are some kinks that still need to be ironed out. I consider this release to be similar to Windows 95, Windows Me, or Windows Vista - the intermediary version that Microsoft releases prior to a truly sound and innovative business platform such as Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP, or Windows 7.

Touch-Screen User Interface

The Windows 8 UI has been designed primarily to compete with Apple and Android for the touch-screen market. Since very few - if any - business applications benefit from a touch experience, this change delivers no benefit to the end user.
Now, it should be noted that if you are buying a touch-capable device, Windows 8 is the only way you are going to get to actually use your new whiz-bang touch screen. How often you actually use it is another matter.

Drop in Productivity

Along with the touch-screen UI, Windows 8 introduces several other changes to the Operating System (OS). While some of these updates do provide some performance improvements and security benefits, they do not outweigh the drop in productivity that the typical user will encounter upon upgrading. For example, new users will notice that their Start button has been taken away and replaced by a Start screen with "tiles." A number of key applications have replaced with Microsoft "apps." Furthermore, certain Line of Business (LOB) applications may not function as expected under this new OS.
There are third party downloads available that will allow users to customize the Windows 8 experience and bring back features from previous versions of Windows, though this involves going through the process of researching different options, downloading the application and so on. It also begs the question - why pay for the upgrade if you're just going to revert back to features from the old version?

Wait for the Service Pack

If I haven't convinced you to "just say no" to Windows 8, I encourage you to at least wait until Microsoft releases the first Service Pack. The Service Packs typically bring a host of bug fixes, further UI improvements, and compatibility fixes. If we look at Microsoft's history of Service Pack releases, we can likely expect Windows 8 SP1 to come out some time in 2014.

TURNkey IT helps small and medium sized businesses navigate thru the always updating technology landscape.  Call us anytime with your technology challenges at 866-928-8208 or visit us at

Monday, May 6, 2013

What to do with your Windows XP Laptop

This is a topic that we get asked all the time.  A client is running Windows XP and loves it.  Refuses to upgrade to Windows 7 or 8.  That's fine we say...we advise them of the fact that Microsoft will stop issuing any updates at all for XP next year.  But what does that really mean?  What will happen if they continue to use XP?  Will it get hacked or viruses without Microsoft's support?

Using Windows XP isn't a bad thing, regardless of how guilty Microsoft may want you to feel for not upgrading. Still, that doesn't mean your beloved netbook (or any old PC) is destined for the trash heap. Here are some things you can do with your old machine that make sense, and how you can continue using it the way you like without fearing for your internet safety.

What "End of Support" Really Means

"End of Support," according to Microsoft, means that after a given date, no additional service packs, fixes, online support, patches, or security updates will be released for a specific product. This also means that Microsoft will no longer issue security updates, patches, or fixes for freshly discovered exploits, viruses, or other security issues. The company's default response will be to either update your operating system or use a utility for that operating system that can protect you from those threats, if one exists.
There are actually two "end of support" dates: the end of "mainstream support," and the end of "extended support." The difference between the two has more to do with the dates a product was released and when a new version of that same product comes around, and less to do with what Microsoft will or won't do, so don't worry too much about that (if you want to read more about the difference though, Microsoft's Support Lifecycle Policy goes into great detail on the topic).
For example, Windows XP with Service Pack 3 went end of mainstream support on April 14, 2009. It'll go end of extended support on April 8, 2014, after having been extended by Microsoft several times beyond its normal end-date. Microsoft has said several times they won't extend the support date any longer here, and after April 8, 2014, you won't get any more security updates or hotfixes. That doesn't mean your XP machine is useless, and it doesn't mean it's insecure or vulnerable. It does mean that Microsoft isn't looking out for it anymore.

Use It For Non-Sensitive Tasks or Offline DIY Projects

If you're comfortable using your Windows XP machine now, that shouldn't change in the next year or so. If you are worried about security issues, just take your system offline and use it for lighter duties that don't involve sensitive data. You could turn it into a feature-rich ebook reader, for example, and keep it off the internet unless you absolutely have to be. Alternatively, you could just use it for things like writing, music, movies, or anything else that doesn't necessarily demand an always-on internet connection.
You could also use it for some useful DIY projects that don't require an internet connection, like an under-the-cabinet kitchen PC for your family recipes or even tutorial videos, or a wall-mounted computer for looking up quick things like calendar appointments or for use as a digital picture frame.
It's possible that new exploits and viruses will appear for Windows XP after it's gone end of support that Microsoft won't address with security updates or fixes. However, Windows 7 has already surpassed Windows XP in market share, and is a more attractive target, so don't expect too much. If your XP machine is all patched up now and running an updated, working security suite, there's no reason to assume that on April 9, 2014 it'll suddenly get hacked. However, the most secure system is the one not connected to the internet, so if you're worried, you can always keep it offline—that doesn't make your computer useless.

Secure Your XP Installation As Much As Possible

Like we mentioned, the best thing for you to do is make sure your netbook is as up-to-date and secure as possible. If you're running a security suite and it continues working and getting regular updates after end of support, you're in pretty good shape.
Similarly, make sure that whatever web browser you enjoy using plans to continue support for Windows XP. Both Chrome and Firefox still support Windows XP, and still issue security updates and patches for their older versions. Keep your browser up to date as well, and make sure it's bolstered by some good privacy-protecting browser extensions. You may even consider choosing and using a VPN to further enhance your security.
Granted, these are tips that are applicable to anyone, no matter what OS they're using, but the older and potentially more vulnerable your operating system is, the more important it is for you to practice good internet hygiene and safe browsing. There will inevitably be more holes and issues with the software you use for an outdated OS, even if the OS itself doesn't have significant issues.
Hopefully that gives you some options and suggestions for what you can do with your old Windows XP laptop.   Keep in mind that these aren't specifically netbook-related tips, so any older hardware or old XP machine can benefit from a little TLC if you have one lying around that you don't think is ready for the recycling bin just yet. Good luck, and stay safe!
TURNkey IT can help you with all your technology needs.  Get the technology the big boys have without the cost.  Call us at 1-866-928-8208 today!!