Christmas Screensavers

December 14th, 2009 | Tech Tips

This time of year many people download Christmas screen savers, including the favorites with snow falling and a nice warm fireplace near the Christmas tree with lights twinkling. Well just be warned, before you download that ‘cute’ screensaver, know this, bad things can be wrapped in pretty packages. Often these screen savers or other ‘cute’ little applications are just a wrapper for gaining access to your computer, allowing for spyware and even trojans and viruses to be installed. Back in college I remember as I was working for the SPC (Student Provided Computer) service on campus, I made extra money during the holiday season, because I had to clean computers after screen savers where downloaded.

How do you avoid this? Well first don’t download that cute screen saver. Do you really need it? If you are the one that answered yes to that question then be prepared to read all the fine print. Even after you are done reading all the fine print, know that you computer still may not be safe.

Now I’m not going to preach doom and gloom to your computer, but just be aware of the malicious attacks that can be done through the innocence of downloading a ‘cute’ screensaver.




Windows 7: Buy early!

August 3rd, 2009 | In the News

Do you want to buy a computer now, and want Windows 7? Well you can. Most computer sellers are currently selling new systems where you buy the computer now with Windows Vista and when Windows 7 releases October 22, you’ll get a copy of it to upgrade your computer!

Windows 7 Upgrade

Find Windows 7 Upgrade information here!

Microsoft and select computer manufacturers, such as but not limited to Dell, HP, Toshiba, Acer, Sony and more, have entered into a cooperation to provide select computers with FREE upgrades to Windows 7 upon release. In order to find out which computer manufacturers and models qualify visit Microsoft’s website for a detailed list. One disadvantage to the upgrade option is that you must perform your own update to Windows 7 once you receive the installation disk by mail.

So if you’re debating on buying a new PC, now you don’t have to wait to get Windows 7 and a new machine. Buy the computer now, get Windows 7 later!




“Intel: Windows 7 will deploy faster than Vista”

July 29th, 2009 | In the News

Windows 7

CNET states in their article (Intel: Windows 7 will deploy faster than Vista), that Intel’s sales chief Sean Maloney believes that the business industry is hungry for Windows 7.

Intel's Sales Chief Sean Maloney




Benefits of a Website

July 27th, 2009 | Tech Tips

A website is a tool that provides simple and effective advertising that has the ability to reach potential customers within your target market whether local or global. Websites can come in all shapes and sizes, but they all boil down to providing information to the public. Here is a quick list of how a website can be beneficial to a growing or already established company.

* Worldwide Exposure
* 24/7 Advertising
* Extremely Cost Efficient Advertising
* Dynamic Content Marketing
* E-commerce Solutions
* Potential customers gain easy access to your business

In today’s tough economical times, gaining every possible customer is crucial to survival, and a good well designed website will help you reach that goal. With a website that is easy to navigate (with any browser), full of good information and pleasing to look at, you gain a greater customer rate of return! Professional web developers are experienced in designing and coding websites that support multiple browsers and search engine optimized. Too many companies try to use homemade (Microsoft Frontpage) websites that frustrate visitors and drive away potential customers. A little side note… According to http://www.w3schools.com/browsers/browsers_stats.asp as of June 2009 IE versions 6-8 hold 40.7% of the market share. Firefox holds 47.3%! Are you sure you want to use a cookie cutter Microsoft Frontpage website that probably won’t display properly in Firefox? If so you could be loosing up to 47% of your customers. Pure Custom Solutions specializing in developing websites that support all of the major browsers (IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Netscape…).

Another big importance to website design, and somewhat becoming a cliche in the web industry is SEO (Search Engine Optimization). In developing a website there are best coding practices and content setups that improve where you website is found on search engines.

So before you go and think you can design a website yourself with a cookie cutter (FREE Website Builder), think again. You get what you pay for!




Online Promotion Scams

July 24th, 2009 | In the News

Greg Sandoval for CNET posted a scary article this morning. Check it out below.

Buy.com, Orbitz linked to controversial marketers

Wow, I’ve used Orbitz before. Now before you go and get all paranoid about using the internet, let’s review some common sense steps to take when purchasing online.

First, make sure the website you are using has a secure connection to process your credit card (https:) and usually there is a marking with a logo saying that the security is verified.
However, in the article you read above, this wouldn’t help you any, because your information was securely collected, but then sold to another company. It was once a common practice that if you are signing up for something you are safe as long as you don’t provide your credit card information. That is not the case anymore. You need to be extra cautious now when you use your email address to sign up for something.

Also make sure you keep on top of your finances and credit card transactions! A company I use and highly recommend is Mint.com. Mint.com will compile all of your credit cards and bank account information into one easy to use location. They will also send you alerts by e-mail or text when you have done anything unusual, or when you have a low balance, ect. One of the really nice features of Mint.com is that it will after a couple months develop a recommended budget for you.




Windows 7 Complete

July 23rd, 2009 | In the News

Windows 7 is complete! Don’t know what it is, well it’s the new operating system from Microsoft to replace Vista! As many of you know Vista has caused a lot of mixed emotions during it’s existence. Windows 7 is designed to increase the performance and look of the OS. Check out this video from CNET on Windows Vista 7.

If you are like me, or like most windows users, you want more than one window at a time. Windows 7 will allow you to view two windows at the same time easily! Most software applications that handle multiple windows provide tiling options (Tile Horizontal, Tile Vertical) where the application takes all open windows within that app and display and re-size them all so they are all visible. Window 7 will now do this amongst different application you have open!

Familiar with Mac OS X? Well there are some Mac OS X looking features in Windows 7. The taskbar is all new as you just saw in the video, providing fast and easy program docking.

Well the hype is there, and the industry is expecting Windows 7 to be a success and give a helpful boost to the struggling tech industry. The scheduled release date is in October 2009. So if you are planning on buying a new computer in the next couple of months, you might want to wait till October and give Windows 7 a try. We’ll see how it does. I don’t have a pre-release copy of it, but I know some people who have run it, and they liked it’s improvements over Vista. Time will tell!




Num-Lock

July 23rd, 2009 | Tech Tips

The ‘Num Lock’ button is usually located over by the keypad on the right side of the keyboard. What’s it for? Well it locks the number functions on the keypad. When ‘Num Lock’ is on, using the keypad will produce the numeric functions (0-9, .). With ‘Num Lock’ turned off, you have access to the navigation keys on the keypad (Home, End, PgUp, PgDn, arrow keys, delete, insert). So next time you use your keypad and get an unexpected result, check ‘Num lock’!




Firefox 3.5 vs Internet Explorer 8

July 22nd, 2009 | Tech Tips

Recently Mozilla has released their newest and fastest browser yet, Firefox 3.5. Around the same time Microsoft released IE 8. Which browser is faster, and why should I care?

Before we start talking about the results of the browser test, first we must discuss the importance of browser speed. In order for you to view the internet there are several factors that play into that webpage showing up on your computer screen. In it’s simplest form, a website is hosted on a web server (files on a computer with internet access through port 80 or 443 [ssl]), then the IP address to this computer (where the server lives) is stored on a DNS (domain name server, like a phone book). When you type in a URL (web address / domain name), your internet connection has DNS addresses registered, that it looks up what address that domain name lives at, and connects to that computer through the appropriate IP address. Now data (html) is returned from this computer to your computer, and you now have the web page on your computer. So that’s the watered down version, to help make sense of this issue. Each connection between your computer, the DNS and the webserver are all limited by the speed of the internet connection (DSL, Cable, Dial-up – all of these connections can have different speeds). You can make these connections faster by paying more money and your ISP (internet service provider) will increase your bandwidth (Mbps – mega bits per second – how fast data travels). But your faster connection may not necessarily allow you to view your webpage any faster. How come? That would be annoying if you paid more money to view a webpage faster, and it still takes a while to load.

The final stage that was left out in displaying a website is your internet browser. An internet browser in it’s simplest form is a software application that reads the data (html) sent from the webserver and interprets it according to set rules and displays the information in a visible format. This is where browser speed comes into play. How fast can a browser interpret the data received and display it, determines the browser’s performance. Granted your computer hardware can affect the speed of the browser (more RAM, faster CPU, larger chache, ect), but for this comparison the test was run on the same computer under the same circumstances with the same internet connection (16Mbps according to http://speakeasy.net/speedtest/).

The test was conducted using the SunSpider JavaScript Benchmark (http://www2.webkit.org/perf/sunspider-0.9/sunspider.html). This bench mark does a comparison of tests testing the performance of JavaScript interpretation for a certain browser. JavaScript is a client-side scripting language used in most website code to allow for more user interaction to a web page.

The Results

Firefox 3.5 is 1.78x faster than IE 8!

That’s a significant difference.  In today’s microwave society whow wants to wait around almost twice as long as is necessary.  However there are some limitations to Firefox over IE.  They are called ActiveX controls.  ActiveX controls are small applications built into Microsoft that allow web devlopers to access local system resources when you visit a webpage.  How brilliant, let’s give a way for a website to interact with a user more personally, hey we could even steal your information and install viruses and spyware on your system for you so you don’t have to go through the hassle of doing it yourself. IE explorer because it is built into the core of Microsoft Windows poses security threats by potentially opening up holes for unwanted guests to have their way with your computer. Firefox however, can’t run ActiveX controls. So what happens when you visit a site that requires ActiveX and you’re using Firefox, well you get forced to go use IE, because you won’t be able to use the website in Firefox.

Final note: Most websites today if they are credible, are developed by developers who take into account the security of the end user (you), and develop websites that will work with any browser (Firefox, IE, Safari, Chrome, ect.). So go download Firefox 3.5 right now, and start browsing the internet faster and more secure. No, I’m not paid or nor am I endorsed by Mozilla, Firefox is free and fast. http://www.mozilla.com/en-US/firefox/upgrade.html




Windows Shortcuts

July 22nd, 2009 | Tech Tips

Many computer users still use their mouse way too much. Built
into Windows are many default keyboard shortcuts that allow for
quick and easy navigation without pulling your hand off of the
keyboard to find the mouse. The following list are only a few of
the many shortcuts available, but some that I find are more
common, and I use on a regular basis.

Formatting Shortcuts
Ctrl+C Copy
Ctrl+X Cut
Ctrl+V Paste
Ctrl+I Italics
Ctrl+B Bold
Ctrl+U Underline
Navigation Shortcuts
Win+D Shows Desktop (minimizes all open windows) 
Win+L Lock your computer 
Win Opens Start Menu 
Win+L   
Win+TAB Cycles through open applciations 
Alt-TAB Switch between open applications 




Off course there are many other shortcuts that are commonly
used, but these are a few to get you started.  Other common
shortcuts include Ctrl+Z for ‘Undo’ and Ctrl+Y for ‘Redo’. 

Knowing shortcuts like this help you navigate and operate your
computer more efficiently, allowing you to maximize your
production.




PCS – Tech Tips

July 21st, 2009 | Tech Tips

Welcome to PCS – Tech Tips.

This blog is designed to provide you with current technology tips and news.  Stay posted for more information.

Submit a question by e-mailing tips@purecustomsolutions.com