- Comments: 17
- Written on: December 9th, 2009
I saw this USB power outlet online and I honestly will be installing a couple of these in my home office!
These are standard 110-volt outlets with two additional USB ports built right in. This would allow me to charge my iPhone, video camera, and the host of other USB devices I use in one convenient place!
They are a little pricey for outlets at $10 each, but cool nevertheless!
- Comments: 14
- Written on: December 8th, 2009
Microsoft is releasing six new updates today that will impact all Windows users in some way.
The updates, scheduled to be automatically downloaded and installed tonight on most Windows systems, patch severe security issues in Internet Explorer 7, Internet Explorer 8, and Microsoft Office. Because of the Internet Explorer 7 component, just about every Windows System made after 2001 will be impacted.
This set of updates will address a critical security flaw that could allow users to take control of your computer, so it is important you get these installed.
If your computer is having trouble installing updates for any reason, contact us in Lincoln or Omaha, or seek the assistance of a technician who can get them installed before your computer is infected.
- Comments: 16
- Written on: December 7th, 2009
Beginning over the Thanksgiving Holiday weekend and continuing until recently, a report by security company named Prevx published a blog post stating tat a coming Windows Update will render millions of Windows 7 PCs inoperable suffering from a “Black Screen of Death.”
Today, ZDNet has published an article explaining the details and the time line of events that lead to industry giants like PC World Magazine picking up the story as fact.
After further investigation and a near heart attack at Microsoft, Prevx recanted the story and claimed they were not responsible for the damage that was caused to Microsoft by its initial report.Their statement reads:
Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused an inconvenience for Microsoft.
According to ZDNet, it looks like Prevx’s initial report was titled with the headline, “Black Screen woes could affect millions on Windows 7, Vista and XP.”
Major Tech Publications Punked
Computer World and PC World Magazine noticed the headline and without waiting for any corroboration or comment from Microsoft, ran with the headline “Latest Microsoft patches cause black screen of death.”
The fact of the matter is that after investigation, there is no problem and this is a prime example of how the Internet echo chamber can lead to an inflated story – especially when there is competition to break the story first online where seconds matter to search engines.
No Takebacks, No Way
The most shameful thing of all is that PC World and Computer World both refuse to change the old headlines that they now know to be wrong. That means they will be present in search engines for years to come, continuing to mislead and misinform the poor Windows 7 user with a VGA cable that fell out.
- Comments: 13
- Written on: December 5th, 2009
Have you ever wondered if your computer is giving you the actual speed and quickness that was advertised when you originally bought it?
In modern computers the advertised speed should really be considered the “up to” speed because few if any of the computers in the marketplace are actually giving you the advertised speed ratings – especially when they are being stressed with a difficult or time consuming task
What is PC Component Throttling?
It’s pretty easy to make PC component throttling sound more sinister than it is. The bottom line is that your computer is engineered to protect its self.
Its pretty much common knowledge that many PC BIOS chips today will adjust fan speed to match the heat being generated by the processor. This keeps the CPU cool under stress and prevents it from burning itself up.
The idea behind the technology (called SpeedStep in Intel based systems and Cool and Quiet in AMD based systems) is that to reduce the speed of the components in the computer to reduce heat when the fans are working at 100% and you are doing a really intense task like rendering video, playing a high-end game, or editing 50 high-resolution images in Photoshop at one time like my wife does.
If your computer is cooling at its maximum and that’s not enough, it will drop the speed until the temperature falls back to normal levels.
Why You Want / Don’t Want It
Views on PC Component throttling generally fall into two camps – high-performance junkies hate it because if it gets too hot they will just install more / better fans.
Average Joe users love it because there is literally no risk or burning up a processor or a motherboard because the computer was working too hard.
Throttling comes in extremely handy when dealing with notebook computers. Notebook computers throttle performance for heat management like desktops, but also for power consumption.
Have you ever noticed that more of your CD burns fail when you are on battery? Have you noticed that the speed of your computer drops by about 15% when you yank out that AC adapter? These are al measures to save battery power.
How to Throttle Your Computer to Maximum Speed
If you are a performance junkie and you want to punch your computer’s potential speed through the roof it’s pretty easy to do.
** WARNING **
These instructions involve editing your BIOS settings. The layout and available options contained within your BIOS< as well as the method of entering the BIOS will differ depending on the brand of computer you are using. Please don’t change these settings on a notebook or laptop computer, and only change them on a desktop PC if you are confident you have proper cooling. Failure to adhere to these warnings could result in permanent component damage to your system.
- To boost your computer’s speed, enter into the BIOS. This is typically accomplished by pressing F2, F10, or the DEL key on your keyboard as the computer is booting.
- Next locate the SteedStep or Cool and Quiet options in the BIOS (Typically under power management)
- Turn off Cool and Quiet (AMD processors) or SpeedStep (Intel Processors)
- If your board supports this, set your maximum CPU temperature to no more than 125 degrees. Anything hotter than this will almost certainly damage your processor. This acts like a partial safeguard against component damage.
- Comments: 0
- Written on: December 4th, 2009
I am very aware that I have been absent from writing here for many days. There has been a lot going on, so I thought I would mention a few of the things here briefly to tweak your curiosity and then come back with more detailed posts in the coming days.
Here’s a few of the things I have been up to:
- Entertained a bid from a group of investors interested in buying Schrock Innovations (and turned them away)
- Selling our current home and moving into a new 4500 square foot home in Papillion, NE (yes, right before Christmas)
- Laying the groundwork for an announcement about our weekly radio show, Compute This – If you like the show now, just wait until you hear what is coming next
- Closed down our Omaha, NE Service Center in preparation for building our new (and permanent) Omaha facility in 2010
- Assisting in the development of a new Website Marketing Division at Three Eagles Communications
- Preparing for the official launch of the Top IT Shop Consulting Website
- Teaching my son Jake how to play Wii Boxing
Its a lot, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. More updates to come in the upcoming days!
- Comments: 23
- Written on: November 16th, 2009
In early October Verizon started running a commercial series comparing their 3G wireless coverage to AT&T’s 3G coverage. The commercials got AT&T’s attention, and they requested Verizon modify the campaign.
AT&T says that the 3G coverage maps featured in the campaign, as well as the depicted frustration of iPhone users lead viewers to believe that AT&T users can’t use their wireless devices at all across the majority of the country.
Here’s the primary commercial they are frustrated with:
I am an iPhone user myself and I can testify to my level of frustration when I can’t drive down Interstate 80 between Lincoln and Omaha NE without my call dropping. That’s not even 3G – That’s a straight cell call. AT&T finally got coverage across Lincoln, NE – a population of over 230,000 people – this summer.
Here Comes the Judge
AT&T is now suing Verizon over the commercial series. Their complaint states:
Verizon’s advertisements also depict AT&T customers as frustrated or sad and unable to meet their friends as the map showing swaths of white or blank space hovers over the fictional AT&T customer’s head, reinforcing the misleading message conveyed by the maps; that AT&T has no coverage and thus AT&T customers cannot use their wireless devices in large portions of the United States.
AT&T goes on to claim:
[AT&T is] losing incalculable market share, invaluable goodwill that it has spent billions of dollars to develop among consumers, and the significant investment it has made in its wireless network.
I think this comes down to a pretty basic question. Is Verizon challenging the 3G coverage AT&T offers or AT&T’s overall coverage of any kind.
Hello AT&T check out the GIANT “3G COVERAGE” label under the maps. I think it is pretty clear that they are claiming that Verizon has a superior 3G coverage network. How AT&T thinks the commercials make people fell is irrelevant.
The Kinda-Scientific Test
I decided I would solve this case for whatever unfortunate judge has to hear it before it even goes to court.
I hopped in my car and departed from Omaha, NE where Verizon’s map shows AT&T has 3G coverage and drove toward Des Moines, IA.
According to Verizon, I should lose my 3G coverage when I leave Omaha and should not regain it until I am in DesMoins. Click here for my route.
I updated my findings via Twitter as my wife and I drove the route. Here is the coverage I experienced in reality:
- Testing Verizon’s AT&T map. 3g signal lost at IA mile marker 11 on I80 in Iowa. So far Verizon’s map is accurate.
- No AT&T signal whatsoever from IA I80 mile marker 14 through 17 12:14 PM Nov 14th
- No AT&T 3g from I80 mile marker 11 through mile marker 83. 1:06 PM Nov 14th
- No AT&T signal at all from I80 IA mile marker 83 through 87 1:07 PM Nov 14th
- No AT&T 3g from I80 IA mile marker 87 through 101. No signal at all from 101 to 103 1:19 PM Nov 14th
The bottom line is that in the test I conducted, Verizon’s map is accurate and their advertisement is very true.
If anything, they were generous to AT&T because there were many times when I had to type and hold a Twitter update because I could not get ANY cellular or data coverage at all on the AT&T network.
All of my technicians in the shop are flashing their Droid phones and while I love my iPhone, the plan is super expensive and lets be honest – the 3G coverage just isn’t the best around.
- Comments: 93
- Written on: November 9th, 2009
When you buy the latest versions of Symantec’s Norton products, you are asked to establish a Norton Account.
This account retains the credit card information you used when you purchased your Norton (assuming you purchased or renewed online).
As a “convenience” to you, Symantec will automatically renew your Norton subscription when it is expiring using the credit card on file. It will appear on your statement as “Norton *Annual Renewal”.
But what if you did not want to renew, choose to buy an updated off-the-shelf version, or even switched to another security software provide
When Did I Agree to Auto-Renew?
When you purchased or renewed your Norton software online there was a small text notification at the bottom of the shopping cart page with a checkbox that you were required to check to complkete your purchase.
As in most cases, the devil is in the details, so if you checked without reading, you agreed and that is why your card got dinged for the renewal.
How Do Opt-Opt of Norton Auto Renewal?
The easiest way to prevent an unwanted auto-renewal is to simply opt-out. Symantec has made this inconvenient enough that many people may not do it, but it is not hard to do.
To opt-out, visit www.mynortonaccount.com and log in using the email address you used in your original purchase session and the password you were required to establish when you purchased.
Once logged in, click on the renewal center link at the top of the page and cancel the auto-renewals on the desired products.
What is the Easiest Way to Cancel a Billed Auto-Renewal?
Unfortunately, canceling is a lot more difficult than the automated renewal process. Thankfully, it can be done with the right information.
Here’s what you will need:
- The first 6 digits of your credit card number used for the renewal (if you have multiple cards on your bank account, you MUST have the one you used to buy initially)
- The last 4 digits from the same card
- The name on the card
- The expiration date
- The email address associated with your Norton Account (your log-in name)
- Your order number (in the event you are trying to cancel an accidental purchase)
There are 3 ways to cancel your Norton Auto-Renewal after it has been billed to your bank account.
- Call the toll-free number on your Bank statement – 1-877-294-5265
- Use Symantec’s online chat to cancel
- Fill out Symantec’s cancellation form
Call me a pessimist, but I don’t like to trust my refund to a fire and forget form.
I have tried the live chat option, but after a very long wait most of the associates did not know what they were doing and were unable to process my request.
After 5 hours of online chatting to get a $48.13 credit on my bank statement, I called the toll-free number.
The call made it to a live person in just a few minutes, and my refund was processed in 10 minutes.
Additionally, they removed the credit card information from my Norton Account all together so no other unintended renewals would happen in the future.
- Comments: 7
- Written on: November 7th, 2009
If you listen to my weekly radio show, have had your computer in to Schrock Innovations, or generally have not been living under a rock for the past ten years, you know that you need to have security software on your PC.
You probably know that you need anti-virus software and you might even know you need a firewall program.
However, Secunia.com reports that many security suites attempt to detect threats when they arrive at the PC rather than preventing those threats by closing the doors they come through.
Your Computer Can Catch H1N1 – Here’s How
Most security software works in a similar way to your immune system. Your immune system sees a new intruder, fights it and defeats it. It then creates a set of detections based on that infection’s signature. Your detections are supplemented by inoculations (definition updates) to teach your body how to fight intruders it has never seen before.
Now imagine that a new intruder comes along and smacks your immune system. Imagine this infection is H1N1. Your body has never seen it before. Your body will probably beat the infection, but there is a chance it could get through and cause all kinds of problems, even death.
To help reduce the risk of being exposed to the virus you are told to prevent infection by reducing the number of infection opportunities – wash your hands, cover your cough, etc..
When is the last time you reduced the risk of being infected by washing your computer’s digital hands with some serious anti-exploit soap?
So Why Don’t We Do That With Our Computers?
We are all told to get our Microsoft Updates and update our security software. While these sound practices help reduce some infection opportunities, Secunia.com reported recently that 28% of the applications on your computer are probably insecure.
That means that common programs that most of us use every day like Flash, Java, Skype, iTunes, and more may be out of date. Software programs are constantly under attack by an ever more sophisticated culture of digital thugs seeking to use your computer for their purposes.
Recently these thugs are finding it easier to attack your insecure programs to gain access rather than your more heavily fortified Windows Operating System.
If you keep all of your applications patched with their most recent security updates, you are in effect reducing the possibility that any viruses or malware infections will find a way into your computer – you are in effect washing your computer’s hands with some really good anti-bacterial soap.
This doesn’t take the place of good antivirus software, but it helps improve your overall security picture.
Think You Are Up To Date? Scan and See
I own and run a computer repair company. I read all of the boring stuff online about trends, infections, updates and the like. I would consider my computer to have one of the cleanest sets of hands around.
I decided to run a free scan from Secunia.com to see how many of my computer’s programs are not up to date with the most recent security patches. I was stunned:
Run the scan yourself and see how your computer does!
- Comments: 3
- Written on: November 6th, 2009
This month you could win a $1,500 Schrock Innovations 2009 Holiday Special PC with Solid State Hard Drive Technology just for watching the morning News!
Here is the spot that is running on Channel 10/11 to promote the contest:
- Comments: 19
- Written on: November 3rd, 2009
I had some conversations with a client recently about their websites. This is a multi-million dollar company that operates over 12 websites that are used mainly to promote their other products and services.
Each of their websites was attracting less than 15,000 unique visitors and each visitor was consuming about 2.25 pages of content per visit. They were not making any money on the websites and that’s why they wanted to talk to me.
They thought their web statistics were great, and they thought they just needed to find the right mix of technique and opportunity to cash in on their traffic.
I was in the uncomfortable position of telling him that the stats were not that great – a good start – but definitely not capable of generating the six-figure return they were seeking.
How would You Define Success With Your Website?
That got me thinking about how success is really a relative term. It means something different to every person based on their expectations and who they are comparing themselves against.
Some webmasters would be perfectly happy with a couple hundred dollars of income every month, while others would be looking for thousands.
What is your dream website income and how close are you to achieving it?
Developing a Plan and Executing
Obviously for my client we needed to bring more traffic to his websites before he would have any hope of generating the kind of money he confided to be “success.”
It always comes back to content. Sometimes you can beg, borrow, or even steal it – but it always boils down to you making some of your own.
Do you generate enough content to make your dreams of website success a reality?