Should old kit be abandoned?

laptop update
Old kit gets a new life

The current statistics shown that the sales of various tech is now down and that people aren’t eagerly awaiting to buy the latest thing.

There are various reasons for this and to put your finger in the one would be wrong.

But it begs the question about what we do with old kit? I have been recently taking 7 year old laptops that have still some very good kit on board and upgrading by adding a SSD drive to them.

What do we do with our computers?

We need to look at what we now do with computers: –

  • A few years ago all programmes were on the computer and so was the data until we backed it up
  • The Internet was growing fast and we are getting faster access.
  • So cloud storage became a thing and has grown over the last few years to an amazing level.
    • “According to recent research by Nasuni, there is over 1 Exabyte of data stored in the cloud, or: 1024 Petabytes of data. 1,073,741,824 Gigabytes of data. Quintillion bytes of data” This data was 2013. 6 years ago.
  • These figures don’t even make sense to us. To try and comprehend this amount of data and storage becomes something we can’t relate to.
  • Applications are also becoming more cloud driven and this will only increase over the next few years. SAAS. (Software As A Service). Office 365 is a well-known one. Google utilities, (G-suite), etc. Monthly subscriptions and the latest and greatest always at your fingertips.

So what does this mean?

Well, the strain is being taken off a lot of standalone machines as the storage needs to be less as all data goes to the cloud. (See article on using the cloud, here.)

The machines if they have a large amount of RAM and a fast SSD drive can boot up in anything from 4 seconds to 18 seconds. (The one I worked on recently booted up in 4 seconds)

So old kit can be slightly upgraded and cope very well with what you need it to do. Thus alleviating the direct need to buy the latest kit all the time.

What’s best for you?

Well, that really depends on how you operate and the things you need to achieve. But don’t immediately write off all your current kit. Maybe it is just better connections that you need or you need to think about the way you operate and see if there are ways it can be done better.

What are your thoughts on this?

Comment below.

Why do I recommend using Vanilla when installing Windows on machine?

technology

Why Vanilla?

We techie people like to have nice names for things and also some nice technobabble names for things. The word Vanilla has a rough meaning of the following: –

“Computer software, and sometimes also other computing-related systems like computer hardware or algorithms, are called vanilla when not customized from their original form, meaning that they are used without any customisations or updates applied to them. Vanilla software has become a widespread de facto industry standard, widely used by businesses and individuals. The term comes from the traditional standard flavour of ice cream, vanilla.  According to Eric S. Raymond’s The New Hacker’s Dictionary, “vanilla” means more “default” than “ordinary”

So what we mean is that when a vanilla copy of Windows 10 is installed onto a machine it is only Windows 10 with all its baggage and faults. We know that nothing else exists on the machine.

This, for us IT guys makes life easier for troubleshooting. If there are problems with the machine it can only be between Windows and the hardware as there is nothing else on the system at this point. Once we cure these and the system is running well and all seems to be operating the way we expect, we can then look at installing other programs and seeing how Windows talks to them. Each software install can have its own issues or it can simply work. Guess which one we like?

What is the alternative to a Vanilla Install?

Well, that sadly is what most of us do, thinking all will be well. “That accepting the update scenario.”

Here is the situation, you are running Windows 7 and all is well. It has been around for quite a while and all the patches and fixes have been out and installed. Your system is sweet. The Windows 10 comes out and promises a lot more, it’s faster, it’s better, you can do more and it works well.

Microsoft also offers it for free if you take it now, after that it will be charging….What do you do?

You click update and it downloads Windows 10. Oh’ the excitement of the new is always a draw, and surely it must be better, that is what they promised.

What could go wrong?

As with any installation you have to look at the foundation and what will the new Operating system be sitting on top off. Even though your computer seemed to running smoothly. Under the hood there may well have been issues that just didn’t surface. The software may have been compromising some operational items to get it all to work.

The adage we always like to use is, “If you have any issues or even minor bugs with the current system an update could cure them, but most likely it will just make them worse. A clean install and one that cures all the issues before any other apps are installed means that the foundation is correct and that issues after this are down to software conflicts of installed programs.”

Conclusion

I must be honest and I do believe that Windows 10 has some major bugs and a bit too much, what we call bloatware, (added items Microsoft think you need.)

I also believe however that some of the troubles people have had with Windows 10 on machines is because of the update option and not the flatten and fresh clean install option or vanilla install as I like to call it.

If you want to the latest and greatest operating system it is best to backup and flatten the machine. Then reinstall all the apps and connectivity. You will have a cleaner and more stable machine that you have had for a long time. Windows in itself becomes cluttered over the years with all the programs that have been installed and uninstalled leaving some fragments of files behind. So cleaning all this and installing is always the best option. I have done this to many machines last year and all are faster and getting the best performance they can. Windows also seems to update without any major faults.

If you want to talk about his or get me in to-do some of the above then get in touch or comment below.

What scares you about using the cloud?

The nature of computing over the last few years has gone one way and one way only and that is to drive users on the cloud. The software is now offered as a service and machines locally are less powerful with less storage, as your storage is not local anymore and is on the cloud remotely.

Most people are going with the flow and some others are still thinking the old way and have loads of data stored locally. The machines then become infected and data is lost or compromised.

Some companies have to store data locally due to legal requirements or just their processes in-house require it. However, the way the world is going is to store remotely, which allows so many good benefits.

What are the Benefits?

Let us start by looking at some of the benefits of cloud and remote storage: –

  1. The use and accessibility of files and work become easier. Users can drag and drop files etc. to cloud storage drives ion their machines. You don’t have to be technical. The stored data can then be accessed from anywhere in the world.
  2. How about disaster recovery? A backup plan for data has been something us I.T. guys have shouted about for years. Cloud storage drives create an automatic backup of all data stored, taking away the need for you to do it and the costs involved.
  3. Security is always the main argument against using the cloud. However, the best thing about cloud-stored data is that the server data is distributed across redundant servers and the data that is stored in the cloud is safeguarded against any type of hardware failure. Cloud servers also provide automated backups and snapshots in order to make sure that your data is safe.
  4. There are cost savings in using cloud-based data storage as well. No expensive on-site storage solutions that have running costs as well. All this is saved and the cost of cloud storage against it usually means a cost saving. This depends on your company and setup of course.
  5. Data sharing is another great benefit of cloud storage. Files can be shared in-house with colleagues or with clients externally.
  6. Automation of backups etc. is also a massive benefit. Once set up a daily routine isn’t needed locally and this frees up people for other tasks.
  7. Online cloud storage is also a great way to allow staff and clients to collaborate on documents and projects. From anywhere in the world.
  8. File integrity is also another great plus. When working on a cloud-based file you simply save and close. This means we don’t have various copies on various machines. Then trying to sync most recent of them.
  9. The amount of convenience and peace of mind offered by cloud storage system is amazing! Even if you store data on transportable devices like external hard drives or flash drives, some kind of manual intervention and physical handling is required. The data that is stored in a cloud is backed up online and it can be accessed from anywhere. Information is automatically saved as it streams in. There is no need for you to save, label or track information. The convenience of online cloud storage enables you to completely concentrate on your work without getting stressed about data loss.

Conclusion

Online storage and backup are beneficial for all types of businesses. It is a platform that does not require any huge investment and can be actively used in connecting staff and clients. Collaborating and using data smartly. Not to mention less supervision and online activities. Secure in the knowledge that it is all backed up for you and can be accessed from anywhere.

Do you own a NAS and are you looking after it well?

Synology NAS box

Synology, one manufacturer of NAS box’s

A strange question for the uninitiated. What is a NAS and what sort of food does it eat and how should I be treating it?

My focus recently has been all about storage and the space we are each using to store our data. (Whatever that data maybe). From faster drives to access the data to storage solution on the cloud and in the office. It is one of the most important and common questions I am asked.

One solution doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. But a combination of solutions is usually what people use and sometimes chaotically with no thought on how this will progress and what the strategy is or should be.

So what is a NAS?

Well, it isn’t a small creature that keeps you company and helps with your storage and access to data. Well, that is not completely true it does allow storage and access to data in various ways and will cleverly backup said data in different ways. NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. A system of storage media that is attached to your network at home or work. Over the years this type of storage has become more and more intelligent and can literally be a self-contained computer system that runs all your data and data access. It can be a small unit to a much larger unit. Various companies make them and they are, well what can I say I am biased, brilliant.

I have used one for business for over 8 years now and it has served me well. I can store data on it and it has internal drives that automatically backup to each other creating what is called a mirror of my data. I also can, and have configured it to back up to a cloud drive and have chosen the important data to back up in this way. So I have offsite data as well.

The NAS unit allows me to access it remotely over the Internet, (Through a secure connection), so my own personal cloud drive with access. I can add users and give them a proportion of the space and they can store their data there and we can collaborate on data.

Benefits

This is a lower costs system to having a fully-fledged file server in your office and still allows multiple access by users and storage and remote access. It has a configuration panel that is easy to understand and configure. An admin is appointed and can add users, block users and configure all the aspects of the system. The amount of storage is up to you and your budget. But it can be easy to handle and allow for expansion to a cloud drive or even to add extra space at the NAS unit itself.

Remember the biggest asset to any business is data and the importance of data and how easy it is to access it and collaborate using it is important.

So if you are considering storage and where it all goes?

It’s a Hard drive now a days.

computer harddriveI am asked by a lot of people about the new SSD drives as they call them, (In fact, this type of storage has been around for a while, granted it is developing and getting smarter and better all the time.), However, I digress. They ask me if the guarantee on this type of storage is as good as the older platter hard drives that stored their data to a physical disk using magnetism.

Well, there are many factors that affect both types of storage and cause them to fail or basically run out of life.

I stumbled across an article by CNet and they explain the way both drives work and how the SSD drive is much more complicated but in essence with last much longer. They are some actions you can do to help this but don’t panic you really don’t need to do them.

Check out the article here. (All credits here to Cnet.)

SSD or Platter Hard Drives

Let me know your thoughts on storage and your preferred drive type.

 

I have just given my Mobile Phone Some Pie.

Android Pie

Android Pie Operating System

I must admit that my mobiles for a good number of years have all had a sweet tooth. Being named after desserts ranging from Éclair, my first venture, through incarnations of Marshmallow to Nougat and now Pie.

For those who have no idea what I am talking about, these are all incarnations of Android operating systems for mobile phones. Being a Google man for all mobile work this has always intrigued me, and I am usually waiting for the next version and the improvements that come with it.

Android has driven the mobile market and is now the most used operating system for mobile phones worldwide, taking Apple’s crown.

Nowadays we are all fixated and linked to our mobile devices, they feed us with so much information and in my case a business owner, they help me manage my day to day activities both private and business related.

Android has always given me the flexibility and customisation that I would like in a device. Every incarnation allows me to change and alter and get the device working exactly the way I want it to.

Collecting and accessing my emails and web-based file systems. Communicating through various mediums from text-based to video calls. As more of what we do pushes onto the cloud you can expect these devices to be, literally what they have been for a while now, your main computer system. Allowing the flexibly to work anywhere and carry out complex activities and not need to be tied to a desk environment.

Here is a link to some of the new features in Android P (Pie) from our friends at Android Central

https://www.androidcentral.com/pie

What mobile devices do you use and what operating system do they employ/ Do you see this as the way forward and the way we work changing to go more mobile?

Space the Final Frontier

storage spaceHaving been into science fiction for most of my life, I thought this would be a good time to look at Space, the Final Frontier. A phrase I have grown up with. But why this title and why this topic?
Well now as opposed to in the past we have a range of places available to store our data and as we all now data is king.

So, what final frontier do you use for your data storage?

Or do you sue multiple frontiers?
In the past, we had limited solutions available to us. Floppy disk, Hard drive in the local machine, Server space on the in-house office server. Burning data to a CDROM or DVDROM. Then USB pen drives became the major medium for storage. In fact, I come across this method the most as people move and share data with each other.

Well is that the final frontier? It certainly gives us the flexibility of having mobile data we can access everywhere and share with others if need be. That must be the solution.

Of course, intrinsically it has a whole range of problems associated with it. Losing the drive, securing the data on the drive. limited space on the drive. (However, there are some very large storage capacities now available.) A virus somehow getting on the drive and then transferring nicely to all the machines you plug it into.

The Final Frontier

 Well, what is the final frontier if USB drives are flawed? Most large IT organisations are now pushing SAAS. (Software As A Service) This is normally for things like Microsoft Office Products and soon to be Windows. A monthly fee for access to software that is generally on the cloud and you get access to a web-based version and a downloadable version depending on the package you have paid for.

This whole premise of a cloud-based supply leads us to the cloud being the final frontier. A place to store all your valuable data. Also, a place where the data can be automatically backed up and shared with others securely. Access to the Internet (Cloud) is essential even though some areas can be accessed offline. The benefits are massive. All data can be shared and is automatically backed up. You can access it from any device anywhere. Work on it and collaborate on it. As technology drives us forward we will be adopting this Final Frontier More and more,

Are you heading there at Warp Speed?

Relaunch video for parent organisation

Check out the new video from our parent organisation. (Sorry for the bitable banners)

Chromebook Acer R11 Review

chromebook

 

So it’s been a while and I thought I would start with my latest piece of kit. Chromebooks have been around for a while and haven’t captured a lot of the market in the UK. In the USA, however, they have been competing with Apple in the education market and have taken schools by storm as the students love the idea of a keyboard and the lightweight functionality of a Chromebook over an IPad.

 

There are various manufacturers of Chromebooks and I did a little research before I purchased my one. So what did I go for?

Acer R11 Chromebook

This is a relatively new Chromebook in their range and this allows it to run Android Apps from the Google Play Store, as well as the Chrome-based apps, from the web store. This appealed to me as I wanted something to replace my ageing Nexus 9 tablet as it seems that Google has decided to drop the tablet market and launched all their Pixel Books instead, which are rather prohibitively priced.

This particular Chromebook is lightweight and 11-inch screen makes it very clear and visible. It also has the lovely function of flipping 360 degrees to create an 11-inch tablet. So it ticked a lot of my boxes. Larger than I had been carrying around, but I was prepared to make that sacrifice.

Battery life claimed to be around 10 hours when charged as well. However, I am finding when fully charged it is telling me around 7 hours…. Slight discrepancy there Acer.

However after some initial problems when I received it, I finally got a working Chromebook and have been using it as my tablet replacement for a few months now. Boots up fast as all SSD drives. 4 GB of Ram and 32 GB of internal storage, the rest of the cloud. High relation screen and camera for video calls etc.

Here is the full spec: –

  • Processor: 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Celeron N3150 (quad-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.08GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel HD Graphics
  • Memory: 4GB DDR3L
  • Storage: 32GB
  • Screen: 11.6 HD, 1,366 x 768 touchscreen, LED-backlit IPS
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Wireless: 802.11ac (B/G/N) dual-band WiFi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Ports: 1x USB 2.0, 1x USB 3.0, 1x HDMI with HDCP, 1x 3.5mm headphone jack, 1x SD card slot
  • Weight: 2.76lbs
  • Size: 11.57 x 8.03 x 0.76 inches (W x D x H)

It is Blue the one I got as you can see from the photos attached.

openchromebook

So how do I feel it has been going?

So far it has been good going and I have been able to do all I want on this device. It is fast enough and covers all my bases. The only faults are that the use of an emulator to run the Android Apps is sometimes very buggy and resizes the screen and crashes at times. I have wandered over to the web-based apps for so many things and they run marvellously on the Chromebook. It allows me to carry out all my online worm and to edit a document using the Google Apps suite and then save them to the cloud and access them at my desk and phone when I need to.

I haven’t outputted the display yet through the HDMI port, but I have cast it through a Chromecast and it works well. Chrome as an OS is adequate and easy to get to grips with. Automatically updates and keeps me on top of what is happening.

It connects to any Wi-Fi I have tied so far and does it fast. Speakers seem OK as well and can play audio nicely.

I think this is a good replacement for my Nexus 9 and will be happy to use this into the future.

tentedchromebook

Talking about the future.

Acer, after I purchased this, have launched a Chromebook Tablet. 10 inch. Again to compete in the Education market in the USA. However, it is making its way to the UK market in May time. So that will be one to watch. Will run Chrome OS and allow the use of Android apps as well.

Let me know what you think and do you think the age of Windows ruling devices is over?

What do you use and why?

Sorry guys

A Happy New Year and all the very Tech for 2018

First, of all let us say sorry guys that we haven’t been around for a year. Our parent company I.T. Turning Point had to close and this left us in limbo. But our passion for all things tech and I.T. is still intact.

So a year to the last post we are back and will be posting again here. A Happy New Yera to you all and I hope this year is filled with tech and technological advances for yourself and for your organisation.

We are going to look at all things tech and how they are advancing so keep your eyes peeled and ask us stuff to inspire us to go and look out the answers for you.

So instead of HEy Google, say Hey Techpoint, tell us about this, and we will try and give it our best shot. We are restructuring during this year and things hopefully will settle into a pattern.

Take care and hope to hear from you soon.