Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Technology Lessons Taken From the World’s Most Ridiculous Barbecue Grill

Everyone knows that it’s beneficial to upgrade your company’s technology and use the latest and greatest solutions. As much we all enjoy using new technology and shiny gadgets, is there a point when upgrading goes too far?
In situations like this, the phrase “too much of a good thing” applies. There comes a point in the upgrading process when new additions become frivolous. Technology being purchased solely for the sake of having new technology is counterproductive, seeing as the entire point of upgrading is to adopt new solutions that will save you money.
To prove this point, there are several examples of extravagant technologies that we could cite. However, since grilling season is upon us, let’s venture outside of the office and examine one of mankind’s favorite technologies, the barbeque grill!
The barbeque grill is a technology designed for one basic purpose: cooking food (generally meat). In order to perform this task, grills utilize a fuel source to produce an open flame, such as charcoal or propane. Additionally, every grill requires a metal grate of sorts for the food to rest on as it’s being cooked.
These are the most basic components required in order for a grill to be a grill. Yet, over time, backyard chefs around the world have innovated and upgraded the barbeque grill, turning it into an overly complicated piece of technology.
The technological evolution of the grill can be clearly seen at your local department store. On one side of the grill section is the cheapest, most basic grill (some assembly required), and on the opposite end of the aisle are the hulking, stainless steel masterpieces, complete with built-in thermostats and LED light-up gauges. Despite the dramatic differences, each unit performs the same task.
For fun, let’s take this barbecue grill illustration to a ridiculous, 345-horsepower extreme.
The OldSmokeyBoys have provided us the impressive specs behind this grilling behemoth, “With the power and torque of the 5.7-liter V-8 HEMI engine, this grill can cook 240 HEMI dogs in three minutes and is covered by more than 330 square feet of steel.” As a general rule, your barbeque grill shouldn’t cost more than your car and require regular oil changes.
Maxing out the credit card to purchase a fancy barbecue grill is often less about functionality and more about showing off. While impressing others at your backyard party may be a good enough reason to splurge on a grill, it makes less sense to spend money on unneeded technology upgrades for your business; especially when that money could be better spent to further profit-generating initiatives.
For example, a basic workstation only needs 4-8GB of RAM; anything more is overkill. Also, having an office full of the latest iPhones may make you feel like a hip and trendy business owner, but there are alternative brands that can perform the same job for far less money.
That said, if outfitting your office with gadgets to boost your image is a priority for you, then we can certainly provide you with recommendations. However, for the average SMB owner, technology is seen as a means to an end. Therefore, Net It On can assist you in selecting solutions designed to provide maximum efficiency for as little money as possible. For most business owners, boosting ROI like this is the entire point of purchasing technology. Whatever the technology goals of your business, we can help.
Like barbecuing, using the right technology is an art form; one that’s all about using the right ingredients. Call Net It On at (732) 360-2999 for recommendations on cooking up the perfect solutions for your business.

Tip of the Week: 6 Ways to Guarantee You’ll Wake Up Earlier

The last time you tried to wake up before 6:00 a.m., how did it go? Dragging yourself out of bed can be a huge pain, and when you realize that you have to work for eight, ten, or even twelve hours, you might get the urge to just crawl right back into bed and drift back to sleep. Even though it seems tortuous at best, getting into the routine of waking up early can set the tone for a productive workday.
However, it’s important to remember that you can’t jump into this routine without jumping over some relatively painful hurdles. At first, you’ll feel tired, but once you can get past the difficult step, you should be able to build a quality routine that helps you be productive in the wee hours of the morning.
Wake Up with an Upbeat Alarm
If you don’t have kids or a pet to let you know that it is time to wake up, you probably use an alarm clock to wake yourself up in the morning. You can make it easier to get out of bed by using a song that makes you want to get pumped up and ready to go. A good heavy metal song will work, or you could just go with a funky-fresh track that makes you want to get up and dance.
Keep Your Phone Away from the Bedside
If you’re using your smartphone as an alarm clock, chances are that you keep it right by your bedside and charge it overnight. This makes it awfully tempting to just hit the snooze button and go back to sleep. If you keep your phone on the other side of the room, you’ll be forced to get out of your comfy bed and welcome the morning with open, if somewhat reluctant, arms.
Keep a Glass of Water Nearby
When you sleep, your body goes without water for several hours - this is why you might feel dehydrated in the morning. Jumpstart your system by downing a tall glass of water, conveniently left by your bedside overnight. Just make sure that your cat doesn’t knock it over first.
Go Outside and Get Some Exercise
Even with a glass of water rejuvenating your system, you’ll need to get your body moving if you want to accomplish anything important. Get your blood pumping with an invigorating jog around the block, or go for a walk down the street. You’ll find that you can focus better on what’s important.
Do Something - Anything
Now that you’re ready to get something done, get to it… in a little while. One of the best ways to get going in the morning is to start with something that’s not necessarily important, but rather, something that you particularly care about. Maybe you could take your dog for a walk around the block and enjoy the scenery; you could knock out two birds with one stone, so to speak. Then, when you get back, try to get something important done.
Eat Breakfast
Do you eat breakfast every day? If not, your mood and your health could be at risk. In order to feel your best and get the most work done throughout the day, you need to eat breakfast in the morning, be it a simple bowl of cereal, or a lavish meal of steak and eggs. Ideally, you want something that’s quick and easy but still packed with protein and other important nutrients.
What are some of your favorite ways to get the day started the right way? Let us know in the comments, and subscribe to our blog for more great tips and tricks.

27 Million Spam Messages Earns Man the Title of “Spam King,” and 2.5 Years in Prison

The man who, between 2008 and 2009, stole the log-in credentials of Facebook users to spread his credential-stealing web links, has been sentenced to some hard time.
Sanford Wallace, a habitual spammer with a long history of spreading the irritating garbage to unwilling recipients, will be spending two and a half years in prison in addition to paying a fine of $310,629.
Wallace’s modus operandi involved sending his victims a link to an external site that would steal both their credentials to log in as well as their compiled friend lists. To do so, he utilized the aliases of David and Laura Frederix and 1,500 falsified domains. Once he claimed their data, his message could be sent to members of the friend list from the victims’ accounts, creating a system that expanded exponentially as more and more fell prey to the spammer’s trap. This trap, by the way, turned Wallace a profit; he was able to send links to other websites and was then paid for generating traffic to them.
This system resulted in a total of 27 million spam messages being dispersed to over 550,000 Facebook users.
While this was Wallace’s first conviction, it was not his first spam-related offense. His experience with the widely-reviled junk mail reaches back to 1995 when he established his company Cyber Promotions as part of a junk fax campaign. He also had lost multiple civil cases from bigwigs such as Facebook, the FTC, and others. Wallace was held in contempt after he failed to abide by three court orders issued in 2009, barring him from ever again visiting Facebook.
Upon his release, Wallace faces an additional five years of probation, along with court-ordered mental health treatment. And, almost certainly for the best, Wallace has been barred from owning or using a computer without the express permission of his probation officer, although only time will tell if that ultimately makes a difference.
Lessons From the Spam King
Hackers and malware distributors can be frustratingly persistent in their attempts to cause grief. As a result, you need to stay just as persistent in your defense and vigilance against these threats. Here are a few tips on how to do just that:
  • Condense your friend list: While Facebook and other social networks can be great tools for remaining in contact with people you know, there probably isn’t much need to stay friends with the guy you shared a class or two with in college and never really spoke to. If it isn’t someone you will likely need to keep in touch with in the future, there isn’t much reason to add another point of vulnerability to your account. After all, one more friend is one more possible victim of an attack like Wallace’s.
  • Keep your private details private: Despite the option to fill in numerous personal details as a part of your account, it is strongly recommended that you refrain from doing so as much as possible. Otherwise, you are handing out the details needed for crimes like identity theft or spamming. If nothing else, at least be certain that these details are set to private viewing only and check back periodically in case an update to the website has reset your selections.
  • Avoid strange or unusual links: Keep an eye out for a few warning signs of social network malware. Is the message coming out of the blue from a contact that, besides this sudden message, you had more or less fallen out of touch with? Is the message misspelled, with odd grammar mistakes that are out of character for the alleged sender? Is the “personal” message vaguely worded, making it applicable to any reader but still tempting to click on? Chances are it is not actually from the supposed sender, and clicking the link will only serve to allow your account to be jeopardized as well.
Nobody likes being spammed, so it’s everyone’s duty to avoid helping spammers like Sanford Wallace in their attempts to do just that. For more tips on this and other IT matters, subscribe to our blog.

Alert: Acer Customer Credentials Stolen. Is Your Data Safe?

If you made use of Acer’s online store to purchase a device between May 12, of 2015 and April 28, 2016, we have some bad news for you: There’s a chance you received a letter from Acer to inform you that your card’s credentials were stolen.
If you have not received any letter, congratulations - you may have avoided being one of the 34,500 customers whose information was stolen. This information included the name and address of the cardholder, the card number itself, as well as the expiration date and security code for the card - in short, everything an identity thief would need to make fraudulent purchases on your dime. Fortunately, the social security numbers of the victims have been left untouched by the theft. Those who were affected are contained to the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. As an added precaution, any in-store customers would be wise to check on their account information, to be sure that they were not also involved.
Acer has remained mum as to the cause of the breach, quite possibly because many breaches of this nature occur because someone on the inside - usually an employee - falls victim to a malicious email.
While Acer is an obvious target, due to their relatively large customer base, that does not mean that your company is safe from such breaches. In the current online environment, there are dangers lurking in seemingly innocuous places. The best defense is to ensure that both your company and your employees have a comprehensive working knowledge of the threats that plague businesses, and of the best practices that will help you avoid them.
These best practices include:
  • Utilizing judgement upon opening email: Very likely the cause of Acer’s troubles, an employee naively opening an email can lead to catastrophic consequences for your business. A favorite method of infiltration, phishing attacks send malicious links to email recipients in hopes that some will shortsightedly click on the link and subject their computer (or entire system) to whatever attack was set in place. To avoid this problem, emphasize the importance of examining every email with a critical eye before clicking through to anything.
  • Emphasizing security: While many aren’t likely to admit it, there is a shockingly frequent use of over-simple passwords despite the overwhelming danger in using them. Discourage your employees from using words like “password” as a password, or (if possible) block it as an option entirely. You should also reinforce the importance of never sharing your password with anyone, and not recycling it over different accounts. Set a schedule to have employees change their password after a given period of use.
It’s very possible that Acer is facing the troubles they are because they failed to enforce similar policies with their employees. Take their example as a cautionary tale and implement practices such as these to preserve your security.
For more help in keeping your data protected, reach out to Net It On. We can help you implement the practices and procedures to keep your critical data protected.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Tip of the Week: 3 Pro Tips to Troubleshoot Your Internet Connection

Having an Internet connection is an important part of your business’s operations. Why are we stating something so obvious? Sometimes you might be experiencing network issues that could be caused by heavy or unexpected traffic, technical difficulties, or worse. Depending on the problem, it could be as simple as restarting your modem. We’re here to help you figure out why your Internet connection is less than optimal, and what you can do about it.
Here are three questions to ask when troubleshooting your Internet connection.
Does Everything Appear to Be in Order?
Before you start to worry that there’s a problem with your Internet, you should first check to make sure that everything is plugged in and accounted for. Has a breaker tripped and caused your modem and router to turn off? Are any ethernet cords unplugged? Check with your coworkers to see if they’re also experiencing a problem. If it’s just you, it might be due to a hardware or software issue on your machine. If everyone is experiencing a problem, chances are that there’s a problem with your network on a large scale.
Are You Using Wireless Internet?
Generally speaking, a wired connection is going to give you a more stable Internet connection than a wireless signal would. Either way, you need to ensure that your devices have the proper credentials to access the Internet, and that your devices have a clear path to the connection. This means keeping the devices relatively close to the router, and with a minimal amount of obstacles in their path (like walls, objects, etc). If you’re having specific troubles with wireless Internet, try restarting the router and modem to see if this fixes the problem.
Do You Have Other Devices Eating Your Bandwidth?
If you’re having trouble connecting to the Internet, consider how many devices you currently have trying to access the network. Are there several workstations and servers that are all communicating with the network? Do you have Voice over Internet Protocol phones making outbound calls? Are your team members doing any music streaming or receiving video calls? All of this combined can be contributing to your Internet connectivity problems. Therefore, you should adjust your Internet connection’s bandwidth to both meet and exceed the demands of your users. Always prepare for extra network traffic; this way, you’ll never be caught off-guard.
The biggest threat that a poor Internet connection can produce is in the form of downtime. This is classified as any time when your systems aren’t operational and your business can’t function as it needs to. In general, it’s a best practice to avoid downtime as often as possible. Doing so can minimize the amount of time and revenue wasted in the long run, and improve your bottom line.
If your organization continues to suffer from network connectivity problems resulting in expensive and wasteful downtime, Net It On would be happy to help. Our trusted technicians have the skills and tools necessary to troubleshoot your wired and wireless connections, and to help you get the best signal possible for your office. To learn more, give us a call at (732) 360-2999.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Tip of the Week: How to Prevent a Certain Facebook Friend From Seeing Your Post

What makes Facebook so valuable is that it connects you to a wide variety of people. However, for many users, having such a diverse audience means holding back on sharing their personal opinions, which kind of takes the fun out of social networking. Did you know that Facebook allows you to exclude certain people from seeing your posts? For this week’s tip, we’ll show you how to take advantage of this feature.
To get started, update your status like you normally would. After you’ve typed your message, click on the privacy control button, located on the bottom right side of your status window. This will cause a drop down menu to appear.
Unless you’ve previously changed your privacy setting, it should be set to Friends. You’ll want to change this by scrolling down and clicking on Custom. This will cause a new popup window to open for Custom Privacy.
Next, go to the Don't share with section and select the form. Now type into the form the name of the person you desire to exclude from seeing your post. You can also type the name(s) of additional people that you’d like to exclude as well. Plus, if you happen to have your friends already organized into lists, like family, coworkers, etc., then you can enter an entire list into the “Don’t share with” form.
Once you’ve finished entering all the people that you wish to exclude, select Save Changes. You will now be taken back to the Update Status window. Give your post a final read through and then share it (without having to worry about a certain someone taking it the wrong way) by selecting Post.
In case you’re wondering, the only way that a person you excluded from seeing your post could see it is if you tagged them in the post, or went back and changed the privacy settings. You’ll also want to be mindful of mutual friends. They may relay what you said to everyone in real life. Also remember, screenshots can come back to bite you.
Depending on how sensitive you may be to posting to Facebook, this helpful trick may change the way you use the social network. From a business perspective, consider using this custom privacy setting to express concerns over a product or service without offending any of your Facebook friends associated with it.
Of course, not everyone cares if every Facebook friend reads their post or not. After all, that’s what the unfriend button is for. What about you? Is this a helpful tip, or are you one to post whatever you feel without much regard to who sees it? Share your opinion in the comments below.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tip of the Week: Find Out the Ideal Amount of RAM Your Workstation Needs

If your computer is underperforming, then it may not have enough RAM to do what you’re asking it to do. When selecting a PC, how do you know if you have enough RAM?
RAM, or Random Access Memory, is found in every computing device; from workstations, to server units, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more. In the case of several of these devices, you can simply add more RAM if you find yourself not having enough. Not every device allows for this, which is why it’s best to buy a device with the correct amount of RAM in the first place.
For your consideration, here’s our handy RAM checklist:
1GB: Barely Enough
For PCs running the 32-bit version of Windows 10, 1GB of RAM is the minimum requirement. However, that doesn’t mean 1GB will be enough RAM to do much more than to run your OS. With 1GB of RAM, you may be able to squeak by doing some basic web browsing, checking your email, and using a word processing app, but forget about doing much anything else, or even running all of these tasks at the same time. To give you an idea of how little 1GB of RAM is, consider that most smartphones and tablets come with more than 1GB.
2GB: Not Much Better
For PCs running the 64-bit version of Windows 10, 2GB of RAM is the minimum requirement. However, like the previous example, don’t look to do much more than running your OS if your PC only has 2GB of RAM. Although, with 2GB of RAM, you can get some work done, while perhaps having a couple of tabs open in your web browser, but you’ll still be unable to handle a multimedia project or run a resource-intensive software solution.
4GB: Par for the Course
With 4GB of RAM, you should now be able to run multiple applications at the same time without experiencing any issues. 4GB makes for a more productive work experience, as well as removes much of the frustration associated with having a slow computer. Generally speaking, 4GB of RAM is the benchmark when dealing with a low-end office workstation.
Although, if you’re running a 32-bit OS with 4GB of RAM, keep in mind that you will only be able to access 3.2GB. Additionally, when using a 64-bit operating system, you’ll have access to the whole 4GB (and higher). It’s also important to remember that the 32-bit version of Windows 10 has a 4GB RAM limit while the 64-bit versions require more RAM.
8GB: Ahhh Yeah!
With 8GB of RAM, you’re now getting into the territory of using editing software, like the Adobe Creative Cloud or light multimedia. When working with media as well as running a basic office workstation, having 8GB will increase performance and minimize frustration. Also, for those interested in PC gaming, 8GB of RAM is a good place to start.
16GB and Up: Awesome. But is it Worth It?
With 16GB of RAM or more, your system will be the belle of the ball. However, unless you’re planning on using your computer for a resource-heavy task like video editing or running a virtual machine, paying for 16GB will likely be a waste of money.
This checklist will serve as a basic guide for selecting enough RAM for a single computer. In order to select enough computing resources and other components to run more serious and complicated hardware on your company’s network, we recommend consulting the IT pros at Net It On by reaching out to us at (732) 360-2999.
Disclaimer: Just to be clear, RAM is a hardware component and is not something that can be downloaded from the Internet.