Diagnose USB Charge Problems

Posted by admin on Jun 26, 2013

If you are trying to use a USB port to charge a device, and it is not working, there are tools in Windows that can help. Go to Control Panel -> Device Manager -> and select Devices by Connection from the View menu. Click the name of your PC and press the asterisk (*) key. This will open a list of devices connected to your system. Scroll down till you find “Generic USB Hub”. Right-click that item and select Properties. Then click the Power tab.

After all that clicking, you will see a list of USB devices, and the amount of power that each one is drawing. This information can help you determine whether the device will charge quickly or slowly given the amount of power it is drawing.   Fixing the problem could take a bit of trial and error, but start by unplugging any non-essential USB devices and see if the numbers change.

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Don’t Defrag Your SSDs

Posted by admin on Jun 25, 2013

If you are running a Solid State Drive in your computer, you should turn off the automatic defragment option in Windows.  SSDs are not affected by file fragmentation in the same way as traditional hard drives are and don’t need to be defragged.  Actually, it shortens their lifespan.  After purging a bunch of data from your SSD, you should restart your system and just let it sit idle for a while.  It will optimize itself.

Email Bad Habits

Posted by admin on Jun 19, 2013

Continuing from my previous post about bad habits, here are some email specific habits that need breaking.

1) Keeping a full inbox is cumbersome, and slows down productivity.  Many people strive for “inbox zero” (keeping your inbox empty), but the idea is to keep your inbox as small as possible.  Email programs (even web based ones) will allow you to create folders to organize your emails.  Use the “three d’s” method of dealing with emails.  Do It (take care of the email immediately, then file it), Ditch It (if it is not worth your time, delete it or unsubscribe from it), and Delegate It (if it is actually someone else’s job to take care of that, forward it to them, and delete it).

2) Don’t respond to SPAM.  If you do, you have essentially confirmed that your email address is valid, and you will get much more. Unsubscribe if you can, setup a SPAM filter, or in severe cases, change your email address.

3) Think before you reply.  Write your reply, and then read it over again.  Make sure that you have not said something you will regret, or will get you into trouble.  Have you fully answered the question or explained yourself clearly? Also, double check the recipients… did you click “Reply” or “Reply All”?

Personally, I get probably a hundred or more emails every day… and I currently have three in my inbox. Everything else has either been dealt with, filed, deleted, or scheduled in my calendar to take care of.

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The Worst Tech Habits

Posted by admin on Jun 18, 2013

We all have bad habits, but our bad habits can hurt our technology.  Here’s how to break those bad tech habits.

1) Don’t leave your equipment in plain site.  You are just asking for it to be stolen or damaged.  Imagine if your laptop was stolen with all your wedding photos and banking information.

2) There is a time and a place to use your gadgets.  Distracted driving (and walking) is a great concern to public safety.  Make sure when you are engrossed in the content on your cell phone or tablet, that you will not get into an accident or drop your device and damage it.

3) Using your device with dirty hands will shorten the life of it.  Standard keyboards can get clogged with grime, and even touch screens can get so covered that they will not work well.  It is also a great way to spread germs.

4) Keep your equipment clean – in this case, I am talking about your laptops, desktops, printers, etc.  At least once a year, you should clean your computer equipment.  If you are not comfortable taking your computer apart to clean inside, then take it to a repair shop and have them do it.  Your stuff will last a lot longer.

5) Bad posture is another bad habit.  Take a few minutes to adjust your chair, your desk, your screen, and even your lighting.  You will be more productive and less stressed if you have a comfortable work environment.

6) Take breaks – lots of them.  Your employer may not agree with the idea of taking 10 fifteen minute breaks during the day, but at least once an hour, you should get up from your desk and stretch.  Go get a drink, use the bathroom, go outside for some fresh air, anything that is not sitting.

7) Don’t work with your laptop on your lap.  I know, that is what they are called, but they can cut off circulation in your legs.  Not to mention, that they need air flow underneath to stay cool, and your legs can block that air flow. Try using a lap desk, or find a different position to use your laptop.

8) BACK UP YOUR DATA! Do it, and do it often.

9) Another thing you have probably heard a million times is to not use the same password for everything.  If you don’t value your money or information, go ahead and use the same password.

10) Do updates – all your software needs updating.  That also includes your phones, tablets, and computers. Updated software crashes less, and gives you more features.

11) Save paper, ink and money – don’t print everything.  Save it, and back it up (see number 8).

12) Don’t fax, use email instead.  Faxing is slow, poor quality, and wastes more paper and ink.  Scan and email your documents instead.

13) Recycle your electronics.  There is no excuse anymore.  There are numerous places you can take your electronics to be recycled.

14) If you are having a problem with a piece of technology (hardware or software) check the manual and the manufacturer’s website before you call for help.  In most cases, someone else has had the same problem, so you can probably find the solution online.

15) Social Media is great, but don’t over share. Only share posts or make comments that your “friends” will actually appreciate. If you are one of those people who share every post they see, most people will end up blocking your feed altogether.

16) No gadgets at the dinner table – or any time when you are in the company of others.  It is rude and distracting.

17) Keep your phone, tablet, laptop, or any other fragile device in a case. You don’t have to invest in a state-of-the-art waterproof case from Otterbox, but you should use something to protect it.

18) Silence your phone when you are in a theatre, doctor’s office, or library. Better yet, turn off all audible notifications for anything other than a phone call.  That is why they invented vibrate.

19) Reboot your devices from time to time.  All electronics can benefit from a refresh from time to time.  If you notice that your phone, tablet, or computer is acting a bit strange.  Before you get mad at it, take a few minutes and restart it.  You will be surprised at how much better it works.


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Set Up A Safe Virtual Private Network

Posted by admin on Jun 11, 2013

I have several clients that require a VPN -Virtual Private Network, and it can be a great solution to businesses both large and small.  So what is a VPN? Basically, think of it as using the internet to extend your office network to anywhere in the world.  If you have remote offices, employees that work from home, or sales people on the road, a VPN can be a valuable tool.  Those off site workers can access your local network, server, and even shared printers!  They can essentially work as if they were in the office.

Our favourite tool for setting up a virtual network is Hamachi. It is free for up to 5 users, and they have a very reasonable yearly price for larger networks. It is a small program that runs in the background on Windows and Mac, and assigns each Hamachi user a unique private IP address.  This is what creates the security.  Not only do you need a username and password to connect to the network, but you also need to have an approved IP address and save a security file to your device.  If you run a server, they would also still need to log in as they normally would, adding another layer of security.

The speed of the network, is of course, dependent on the internet connection… but any connection will do.  You can even use a public WiFi connection and not have to worry about someone hacking you. I have used mine with my cell phone tethered to my laptop, and it worked just fine.