What is Cloud Computing?

If you regularly use a computer in your work, chances are good that you are at least aware of the concept of cloud storage. This is a great way to remotely backup your data, providing for a security net when your computer or network suffers a meltdown. For a long time, this was the sole prerogative of cloud-based technology. However, a concept known as “cloud computing” is on the rise, which may transform the modern workplace in no small way.

The idea behind cloud computing is that, instead of simply saving your files in a cloud, you could use the cloud to gain access to remotely-operated programs through your web browser. This allows you to create and edit files without ever needing to download or install the requisite software. Most of the work is therefore done by a remote machine, while your own computer is free to devote its processing power to other tasks.

The main drawback of cloud computing is that it requires a significant processing power from the cloud source, as well as a reliable up-time during lengthy processing periods. Therefore, most extant cloud processing ventures have been limited to word processing and similar, simple applications. However, as the hurdles are gradually surmounted by tech companies, we are beginning to see rudimentary photo editing programs and other, more complex applications emerge in the cloud sphere.

What is Everykey?

Security is the name of the game for most people in the online community. Nobody knows better than our Seattle data recovery service that your ability to protect your computer and your online information has become a vital part of the average person’s everyday life. Unfortunately, the need to keep track of an increasing number of usernames and passwords can really test our limits sometimes. This is the problem that Everykey is seeking to solve.

Everykey is a wrist-mounted device that seeks to manage all of your passwords and security codes. When you create an account with a website, the device can save your password or create a complex, randomly-generated password for you. Communicating directly with the devices you use at a customized range, it can unlock your computer, phone, or other devices as you approach them. In the future, the creators of Everykey hope to allow it to operate your car, unlock your house, or even take the place of your credit card.

Though it may seem risky to put all of your security eggs into a single basket, the Everykey promises to be very secure against theft. Users can program their phones to alert them if they step too far away from their Everykeys. Should you lose your Everykey, it can be remotely deactivated in much the same way you might shut down a stolen credit card.

You can read more about the product by visiting the Everykey Kickstarter page.

Fixing Stuck Pixels

We’re seeing more and more of the world in pixelated form nowadays, via our computers, our smartphones, and our increasingly larger TV’s. It is therefore a source of great frustration for many people when their screens are marred by “lit pixels”, or pixels that get stuck on a single color. When this happens, what should you do? eBits’ Seattle data recovery and computer repair service can replace the screens of many devices that are beyond repair, but there are also some surprisingly simple measures you can take at home that may restore your pixels to proper working condition. Try these out on your lit pixels, and then bring your device in to eBits if all else fails.

It’s important to remember that these are only likely to work on lit pixels, and not dead pixels. If your pixels are lit up but stuck on a single color, they are lit; if they are entirely black, they are dead. Further, certain computer warranties may not apply if you employ some of the strategies listed here, so use them at your own discretion.

Software: There is some software available designed to fix lit pixels. They work by rapidly turning your pixels on and off, stimulating them back into proper functionality.

Tapping: Turn on the screen. Find an object with a dull, rounded tip, like a marker cap, and tap lightly on the stuck pixels. Start very gently, and then increase pressure slightly if you do not see any results after five to ten taps.

Pressure: Turn on the screen. Get a washcloth or a paper towel, folding it over and placing it up against the affected area. Apply pressure on top of the lit pixels with the tip of a dull, rounded object. Whenever possible, try to apply pressure only to the lit pixels themselves.

Heat: Heat a pot of water on your stove until you begin to see bubbles form on the bottom. Turn on the screen. Soak a cloth in the water and put it into a sealed plastic bag. Being sure not to get any water on your device, hold the cloth up against the faulty pixels. Try to apply heat as much as possible only to the lit pixels. Massage the area in small circles.

How to Create a Strong Password

A good password is the cornerstone of your security in any computer profile or online account. If your password fails you, it could mean a loss of important information, a violation of your privacy, or even a significant loss of money. With this in mind, our Seattle data recovery service offers the following tips to help assure that your accounts are protected by a password that is capable of foiling unscrupulous users.

Avoid Lazy Passwords
A good password should be at least eight characters, preferably with a mix of letters and numbers. Far too many people end up using the same passwords, which makes them very easy targets for hackers. Look at this year’s most common passwords to make sure you’re not using one of them:

  1. 123456
  2. password
  3. 12345678
  4. qwerty
  5. abc123
  6. 123456789
  7. 111111
  8. 1234567
  9. iloveyou
  10. adobe123
  11. 123123
  12. admin
  13. 1234567890
  14. letmein
  15. photoshop
  16. 1234
  17. monkey
  18. shadow
  19. sunshine
  20. 12345
  21. password1
  22. princess
  23. azerty
  24. trustno1
  25. 000000

Ideally, the password should be something that cannot be found in any dictionary. Try to come up with something that only has meaning to you. Names of loved ones, your company name, your SSN, or a variation on your username are a big no-no, but nonsense words are a plus. Consider creating a word from a favorite adage of yours, like making “2eih2fid” out of “To err is human, to forgive is divine”; such a password is easy to remember but difficult to crack.

Change Your Password Frequently
It is recommended that you change the passwords protecting your sensitive information every thirty to ninety days. This helps to assure that, even if somebody has gained access to your account without you knowing, he or she will not be able to retain access for too long.

Safeguard Your Password
It seems like common sense, but some people still can’t keep their passwords to themselves. This means more than just not telling other people what your password is; it also means not writing it under your laptop, or on a post-it note attached to your screen.

Thwarting Malicious Emails

There are a lot of good programs in place to help protect you from malicious software. Anti-virus products can warn you away from sketchy sites, malware protection can block unauthorized entities from accessing your computer, and spam filters can keep phishing scams out of your inbox. Unfortunately, no system is perfect, and one wrong step can jeopardize your computer and your personal information. To help you outwit unscrupulous people who try to worm their way onto your hard drive, our Seattle data recovery business offers the following tips on identifying a malicious email:

Strange Headings
Did you receive an email titled “Re: Job Application” without having sent an email titled “Job Application”? This may be a red flag. Additionally, many malicious emails do not have a title at all.

Bad Writing
It always pays to have a good sense of spelling and grammar, because spammers are often sub-par writers or speak English as a second language. If you get an email that claims to be from a legitimate business, you should expect that this business cares enough to capitalize proper nouns and use good punctuation.

Salutations that Don’t Know Your Name
Does the email open with “Dear Customer”? Any business that can legitimately claim you as a customer probably has a simple auto-fill program that could plug your real name into the salutation.

Messages that Know Too Much About You
A strategy of some phishers is to peruse a target’s social networking profile, then use the information they find to convince you that they know you. Try to limit the information that you make publicly available, and be leery of any message that knows about your recent tweets and status updates.

Sneaky URL’s
Phishers want you to believe that they represent companies you trust. To this end, their addresses may be designed to resemble a legitimate website. Be on the lookout for anything like “mircosoft” or “apple.com-rkwebhrv” in either the address or any links in the email. It’s even possible that the phisher may direct you to a website designed to resemble one you use, where it will capture your username and password when you attempt to log on.

Requests for Personal Information
The websites that you deal with will often remind you that their representatives will never ask you for your password, SSN, credit card information, or similar information.

Don’t open any attachments that you are not sure about. A good rule of thumb is to not touch an attachment that you were not expecting. Remember, you can always hang on to it in case it later turns out to be important.

When the Cloud Rains on Your Parade

Backing up data to the cloud is a common practice today. It’s a comforting idea that, even if the worst should happen to your own computer, all of your important files exist in a highly secure server under the protection of a huge corporation somewhere. However, it’s a good idea to not rely too strongly on a cloud server. After all, should the cloud fail you, there’s nothing that eBits in Seattle could do to recover your data.

Users of Dropbox learned this lesson recently when the popular cloud storage service deleted many of their files. This came about as the result of a bug tied to the service’s Selective Sync feature, which served to let users save space by downloading only select folders to local storage. The bug has reportedly affected only a small number of users, those being users operating out-of-date versions of the software. These users have been given a year of free Dropbox Pro for their troubles.

In an effort to retain the confidence of users, Dropbox has announced that it has patched the desktop client and discontinued the problematic older versions. It is also introducing new test procedures to avoid similar problems in the future.

Such stories are few and far between, but they do show that there are cracks in the cloud that should be planned for. It is therefore advisable to use the cloud largely for backup, and not as a primary storage for your important data.

Hewlett-Packard Splitting into Two Companies

If you work with computers for long enough, you quickly learn to not put all of your eggs into one basket. Our Seattle data recovery service has seen time and time again that the people and companies who bounce back the best from disastrous data failures are the ones with remote backup, redundant hard drives, or other securities. It also works on a larger, corporate level as well, which is why many people are optimistic about the recently announced split of Hewlett-Packard.

On October 6th, this computing giant made the announcement that it would be dividing its hardware and software operations into two separate companies. Its PC and printer-related operations shall go under the name HP Inc, while its software and corporate services shall go under the name HP Enterprise. It is the hope of HP that both of the resulting companies shall benefit from an increased level of focus, resources, and flexibility, making them more competitive in the fast-moving technology market.

HP’s split is hardly a new phenomenon. The market has recently seen many other spin-offs and breakups, including Time Warner and Time Inc, Sears and Lands’ End, and last week’s separation of eBay and PayPal. Stocks attached to companies that announce breakups have shown that they tend to do well, as investors are encouraged by the greater potential for smaller companies.

The HP split is planned to be completed by the end of 2015.


Macs and Malware: Does an Apple Keep the Computer Doctor Away?

For a long time, people recognized Apple computers as the safer alternative to the Microsoft machines. After all, while Microsoft users were frequently plagued with viruses and malware, the Macs could securely surf the web without even the need for an anti-virus program. But today, this is no longer the reality for Mac users, and more and more Apple products are being brought into our Seattle stores for data recovery or malware removal. So what gives?

Unfortunately, the supposed impenetrability of the Macintosh OS was always a myth. It is accurate to say that it is a very well-made system, of course; Apple products are more difficult to infect, and generally require more error on the part of the user to contact a virus. However, every system has its faults, and no computer that is connected to the internet is entirely immune to malware.

The reason that Macs enjoyed such a long period of apparent immunity is largely that they were not as popular as Microsoft products. A virus is a computer program and, like any other program, it needs to be compatible with the system that it runs on. It therefore made more sense for hackers to build viruses for Windows, knowing that they would be able to target far more computers for their effort.

That era ended when Apple products took off. The popularity of the iPod brought attention to Mac computers in countries that had never heard of them before, and the new tablets and iPhones have been fanning this fire ever since. At last, Macs are widespread and internationally recognized enough to be worthy of the attention of unscrupulous people, and these unscrupulous people have already jumped on the opportunity.

If you own an Apple computer, make sure that you are utilizing a proper anti-virus program. Even your iPod touch or iPhone can be infected (though this is generally only a significant risk if you “jailbreak” your device). Search the web for a Mac-compatible security program, or consult eBits for more information on malware protection and removal.

Samsung will unveil the next Galaxy phone May 3rd in London

Samsung could be just weeks away from unveiling its next flagship Android smartphone — the Galaxy S III — on May 3 after the company began sending invites with the tagline “come and meet the next Galaxy” for an event that will be held in London at the start of next month.

The invite was sent to Tweakers.net, a well-known Dutch technology website, notifying them of the date and the location. The invite teases another of Samsung’s “Samsung Mobile Unpacked” events, which have served as the springboard for some of the company’s bigger smartphone and tablet launches in recent years, both at dedicated and trade show events.

Samsung has been enjoying the amount of buzz its next flagship Android smartphone is generating, despite the company’s silence on what will be included in the device and when it will launch. The company recently moved to quash any rumours it was to incorporate a 3D display in its future handsets, but has kept details of the handset close to its chest.

Recent ‘leaks’ suggested that the device would launch on May 22 in London but failed to gain momentum. However, other leaks have suggested that the device will feature a 4.65-inch Super AMOLED display and the company’s own quad-core Exynos processor.

Samsung purposefully decided against launching its new handset at Mobile World Congress, instead choosing to launch the device at a dedicated event in the first half of the year.

It appears the wait to see the new Android smartphone could be over, we are digging for more details and will update the article should we receive any further confirmation.

Apple offers refund over Australian 4G iPad confusion

Apple Australia will offer a refund to those who purchased the New iPad under the misapprehension it could hook up to 4G networks in Australia.

The company made the offer today in Australia’s Federal Court, where it was responding to a case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sought to stop the company calling the New iPad as a 4G device because “it represents to Australian consumers that the product “iPad with WiFi + 4G” can, with a SIM card, connect to a 4G mobile data network in Australia, when this is not the case,” as the only 4G network in Australia operates on a frequency the iPad’s radios cannot reach.

The matter made it to court after Apple denied misleading punters in correspondence with the ACCC.

In court today, Apple offered to contact all owners of the New iPad by email and offer them a refund if they feel they have been misled by statements about 4G connectivity. The company has also said it will amend point of sale material to explain that while the New iPad has 4G capability, it cannot connect to local 4G networks. Apple’s defence rests on similar niceties, with its Barrister telling the court the company feels Australia does possess networks that fall under the definition of 4G.

The ACCC sought an order that stickers saying “”not compatible with current Australia 4G networks” be placed upon New iPad boxes, and also asked for corrective advertisements to appear in several publications. Apple’s lawyer rejected the sticker plan as “cumbersome.”