Monthly Archive February 2017

Hottest Item this Christmas! – Smartphone Virtual Reality Headsets

Originally posted at www.triella.com in December 2016

This article explains the new product that has been flying off store shelves this Christmas and bringing Low Cost Virtual Reality to everyone.

Introduction: You may be wondering why this year you are not seeing the ever popular phenomenon of 3D television and devices as you did last year, where almost every HDTV had a very expensive 3D option, and either you had to buy expensive Wireless Active 3D glasses or if you owned a Passive 3D HDTV you could even use the inexpensive 3D glasses used by the Movie Theatres. I believe that the reason these are not on the radar this year is because of a paradigm shift in the 3D Experience to Virtual Reality, and the use of VR headsets that put you inside the action, right in the middle in a 360 degree interactive world as an active participant, not just as a spectator, and a view like nothing you have experienced before.

First came Google Cardboard: Google came out with the first Smartphone VR App and device called Google Cardboard, named because the device was literally made of cardboard and two concave plastic lens. Intended on being inexpensive enough to bring VR to everyone, these cardboard headsets were very basic, and not very pretty or great for extended periods of use as the user had to hold them up with their hands since they lacked head straps. These cost between $10 to $20 CDN.

 

The Next Generation of 3D VR Headsets:

You may be aware of the ever popular VR Headset for the PC called the “The Oculus Rift”. If not, I recommend looking it up. We previously wrote an article on it as well. The project started with a Kickstarter funding campaign in 2012 where it raised US $2.5 million. In March 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus for US $2 billion, and in March 2016 the Oculus Rift was released. Currently it sells for about $800 CDN. There have been several model revisions since development and it will likely continue to evolve, but the design of the Oculus and its popularity have widely inspired the direction of VR headset designs.

 

The Sony PlayStation 4 VR:

Even the mainstream Game consoles have not been able to ignore the tsunami of VR interest and recently Sony announced the release of its own 3D VR headset for use with its PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro. They have also released a line of VR titles for exclusive use with it. The Sony PlayStation VR currently sells for about $600 CDN.

Back to the Inexpensive Smartphone VR Headsets Mattel’s View Master VR:

If you have ever been a kid in the last several decades, odds are that you grew up with those amazing Mattel View Master Goggles where you bought those little 3D movie image discs and were able to see amazing 3D pictures. Well, View Master is still in the game and has easily made the leap to VR with the View Master VR viewer, and it has a twist. Now you can also purchase discs that add the element of Augmented Reality to the experience. They still look very much like the original toy did with the unmistakable Red colour, but now you just add your Smartphone and the free app from the Google or Apple Store and you are ready to go. The consumer reviews have been very good, scoring an average of 4.5 out of 5, and it may have something to do with the focus on the children’s market. The only drawback is that they do not have a head strap to keep them in place and need to be held up by hand. They can currently be purchased in stores and off their website for about $30 CDN.

All the other Smartphone VR Headsets:

Everywhere you look today, chances are you will find that nearly every major brand is making a Virtual Reality headset for their own Smartphone line, Google has recently released the DayDream VR, Samsung the Gear VR, LG the 360 VR, and the list goes on. These units usually run from about $100 CDN to $300 CDN on average. Don’t worry there are plenty of lesser known generic brands out there as well that are well under the $100 price point, starting at about $20 CDN and up. If you are an Apple IPhone user, don’t worry, the Apps and headsets are out there for Apple too. In fact many headsets work with both Android and Apple Smartphones.

What Software can I use for the Smartphone VR headsets?

There are currently hundreds of free VR 360 apps that can be downloaded from the Android Store and likely from the Apple Store as well. Some of these apps even allow the user of an external controller to create a more interactive experience. The most amazing experience in my opinion is the ability to view YouTube videos created with VR 360 cameras in VR 360 mode. Even if you do not have a headset you can get the Google Cardboard app and start experiencing the motion sensor movement in the videos, which creates the experience of looking through a movable window on your smartphone, where you can rotate and view the video freely in 360 degrees. However, if you want to really experience being inside the video you need to add the VR headset to take it to a whole new level. Switching to VR mode is just a click of a button on the YouTube video, and the button is the Google Cardboard icon, which then changes the video to a side-by-side double view with a line down the middle that you line up with your headset.

VR Headset Accessories:

There are a ton of accessories you can also buy, and some even come bundled with the headsets. Bluetooth controllers, and Bluetooth earphones are the most common.

Make your own 360 degree VR movies:

You can even make your own HD VR 360 movies, there are many cameras available and usually they are a ball with several camera lenses around the ball. Some vendors like Samsung even have their own that they have added to the VR line but there are plenty of other very Star Wars sci-fi looking multi-eyed robotic cameras out there.

If you are looking to try VR for the first time, go out and grab a $20 to $30 unit before they are sold out this holiday season and experience it for yourself before investing in any serious expensive hardware. You will never look at 3D the same again.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Thinking of Upgrading to a New Computer Monitor?

Originally posted at www.triella.com in June 2016

Adding or changing a monitor is not as simple as it used to be…

Change is not only inevitable, it is constant.

Computing hardware technologies evolve so it is important to know the changes in new devices and how they connect with your computer. Monitors have been in transition over the past few years, with Flat LCD screens, larger displays, higher resolutions, sharper pictures and more.

 

An often overlooked change has been how the connections on the monitors have evolved and how that change may affect your ability to use those newer monitors on your computer. You will need to ensure that your computer’s built-in connectors are compatible with the monitor’s built-in connectors and understand whether you will require additional hardware to make the connections work. This becomes even more important when you expand to a dual monitor set up. Monitors, which can come with a variety of connectors, need to be compatible with your computer.

 

Here is a breakdown of the common connectors you may find on your new monitors.

 

The VGA (Video Graphics Array) Connection – (Introduced in 1987)

 

The oldest of the connectors being used today and likely the first to be phased out completely in the next few years.

 

 

A Video Graphics Array (VGA) connector is a three-row 15-pin DE-15 connector. The 15-pin VGA connector is found on many video cards, computer monitors, and high definition television sets. On laptop computers or other small devices, a mini-VGA port is sometimes used in place of the full-sized VGA connector.

 

 

 

The DVI (Digital Visual Interface) Connection -(Introduced in 1999)

 

It was the first major monitor connector in more than a decade after VGA was introduced

 

The digital interface is used to connect a video source, such as a video display controller to a display device, such as a computer monitor. It was developed with the intention of creating an industry standard for the transfer of digital video content.

 

The interface is designed to transmit uncompressed digital video and can be configured to support multiple modes such as DVI-A (analog only), DVI-D (digital only) or DVI-I (digital and analog). Featuring support for analog connections, the DVI specification is compatible with the VGA interface.[1] This compatibility, along with other advantages, led to its widespread acceptance over competing digital display standards Plug and Display (P&D) and Digital Flat Panel (DFP).[2] Although DVI is predominantly associated with computers, it is sometimes used in other consumer electronics such as television sets, video game consoles, and DVD players.

 

 

 

The HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) Connection – (Introduced in 2002)

HDMI is a proprietary audio/video interface for transferring uncompressed video data and compressed or uncompressed digital audio data from an HDMI-compliant source device, such as a display controller, to a compatible computer monitor, video projector, digital television, or digital audio device. HDMI is a digital replacement for analog video standards.

 

 

 

The Display Port Connection – (Introduced in 2008)

 

 

DisplayPort is a digital display interface developed by the Video Electronics Standards Association (VESA). The interface is primarily used to connect a video source to a display device such as a computer monitor, though it can also be used to carry audio, USB, and other forms of data.

 

VESA designed it to replace VGA, DVI, and FPD-Link. DisplayPort is backwards compatible with VGA, DVI and HDMI through the use of passive and active adapters.

 

 

What are your options if your computer is not currently compatible?

 

Option 1: Get a Different Monitor

 

Not all monitors are created equally and you will find that they don’t all come with the same connectors. In fact, as manufacturers move to reduce production costs and bring in lower price points for products, old technology like the VGA connection and the DVI connection are being phased out on both computers and monitors. Be sure that the monitor has the same connectors you need to connect to on your computer.  Future proof your purchase by getting the latest standards.

 

 

 

Option 2: Get a Different Computer

 

The type of computer you use will have an impact on the type of monitor connections you will have access to as well. A full tower computer has more room for manufacturers to add more built-in connections, but when you are looking at Micro Desktop Computers or Laptops, your choices will become more limited due to the space restrictions, and newer computer systems will likely only have a one Display Port and/or one HDMI connection built-in.  These compact micro-computers do not have the option to add video cards, so you may be stuck with what you select when purchasing.

 

 

 

Option 3: Purchase Gender Changer Adapters

 

By far, the most cost effective option is to pick up an adapter that will allow you to change your computer connection or your monitor connection at one end of the cable to a compatible connection with your existing computer or monitor. These adapters can range in cost from $20 to $80 depending on the type of connections needed. The cost could double or triple, depending on how many monitors you want to connect to your computer and how many connections need to be converted. Typically an adapter for the newer Display port to HDMI will be less than a Display Port to older VGA connection. Keep in mind that HDMI cables are also used to transfer digital audio along with Video in the same cable, where the other connections are strictly for video only, so if you do convert HDMI to another standard you may need to disable the Audio output to the HDMI cable so that you do not lose your computer’s sound.

 

 

 

Option 4: Video Card Upgrades

 

If you have a computer that allows for add-on video cards, then you may be able to purchase a card that will provide you with more connections and the ability to support multiple monitors at the same time, if your computer’s built-in graphics do not allow for it. The cost of video card upgrades can range anywhere from $50 to $1,000 depending on capability.

 

 

 

*** Credit goes to wikipedia.org for Reference material.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Microsoft Outlook Mailbox Best Practices

Originally posted at www.triella.com in June 2016

This article will explain some of the important facts about the way Outlook works and how to best manage your mailbox.

Outlook Overview

Microsoft Outlook Mail is widely used by most businesses, and has been for many years. When it is used in conjunction with a Microsoft Exchange Server, your email messages, calendar, tasks, and other items are either saved on a mail server, on your computer, or both.

Offline Outlook Data File (.ost)

If you are using a Microsoft Exchange account, your items are usually delivered to and saved on the mail server. Outlook is setup to create a local copy of your mailbox in an (.ost) file to allow you to work with your messages even when you can’t connect to the mail server.

 

Outlook Data Files (.ost) are used when you have an Exchange account and want to work offline or use the default Cached Exchange Mode. This type of data file is also used for accounts that you set up with the Outlook Connector for Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail). Outlook (.ost) files are always copies of items that are saved on a mail server and don’t have to be backed up like Outlook (.pst) files. The .ost file is updated with the Exchange server when a connection is available. This process is known as synchronizing folders.

You can add, delete, and change the contents of an offline folder exactly as you can for a folder on a server. For example, you can change and move items between folders, send messages that are included in your offline Outbox, and view the contents of your offline public folders. Meanwhile, new messages are kept in your Inbox on the server, and other people might add, delete, and change items in public folders. You’ll not be aware of these changes on the server until you synchronize. You work with the information offline on your computer, and Outlook synchronizes the information with the server. When your connection to the Exchange computer is interrupted, you can continue to work with your data. When a connection is restored, changes are automatically synchronized, and the folders and items on the server and on your computer are identical again.

 

Outlook Data Personal folder File (.pst)

Outlook (.pst) files are used for POP3, IMAP, and web-based mail accounts. When you want to create archives or back up your Outlook folders and items locally onto your computer.

This is the most common file in which information in Outlook is saved by home users or in small organizations. Home users usually use an Internet service provider (ISP) to connect to the Internet. The ISP also provides one or more email accounts. The most common types of accounts are referred to by their Internet protocol names — POP3 and IMAP. Another type of account is an HTTP or web-based account that works similar to IMAP email accounts. All three account types use a .pst file.

Your online Exchange server items can also be moved or archived to an Outlook Data File (.pst), and because a .pst file is kept locally on your computer, it is not subject to mailbox size limits on the mail server. By moving items to a .pst file on your computer, you can free up storage space in the mailbox on your mail server. Outlook can be configured to deliver new items to a .pst file, but if you do this, it has several disadvantages. This includes being unable to work with your items when you are using Microsoft Outlook Web Access with the Exchange Server email account or when you are working on another computer. You can save, copy, and move a data file (other than the file that is used as your default delivery location) to another location on your computer or to a share on the network. However, you must have folder read/write permissions to open an Outlook Data File (.pst).

 

Warning: Do not access an Outlook Data File (.pst) from a network share or another computer, because it increases the possibility of data loss due potential file corruption. This is only an issue with .pst files, and not .ost files because if an .ost file becomes corrupt, you simply delete it and re-build another one by caching the online mailbox to create a new .ost file, no data is lost as the mail items are always on the online server.

Tip: You should regularly back up your Outlook Data Files (.pst) and save them in a safe place. Your ISP or Microsoft can’t recover your e-mail or other items if the file is lost.

 

Outlook Data file Best Practices

To ensure that your mailbox does not run into problems with performance issues and data corruption it is important to maintain your mailbox and practice good housekeeping habits. When your Outlook data files become too large it creates the potential for bigger problems. Online storage space of your mail servers is not unlimited and you may reach your mailbox quota which could prevent you from sending and/or receiving emails if your mailbox is not cleaned up regularly. Pro-actively archive old mail to a PST file, and store the file safe backup location to access only when needed. Be conscious of the size of the PST files you are creating. If they are getting too large, you may need to create smaller separate ones. Where you store them could also be a problem if they are too large, ensure your storage is formatted to accept files larger than 4GB which is the limit of Fat32 formatted devices. In general try to keep PST files under 10GB to reduce the risk of corruption and data loss. PST files can sometimes be repaired, but not always, so keep extra backups of important PST files.

Remember to empty your deleted items, and spam folders before creating PST files if you plan on creating a backup of your entire mailbox. If you have 10GB of deleted items and 5GB of Spam, it is going to increase the size of the PST file and the time it takes to create it. The less unnecessary files, the less likely that they will contribute to possible data corruption as well. No one needs to have a 35GB mailbox. Large mailboxes can also lead to performance issues, especially when the entire mailbox needs to be downloaded to create new OST files.

Keeping your mailbox clean and reducing your OST and PST file sizes will save space on your hard drive as well. Several PST files and a few large OST files could quickly eat up all your free space which in turn will cause other problems from performance issues to errors.

If an OST file becomes corrupt and you need to build another one, remember to delete the old OST file off the hard drive, you cannot use them anymore and will just be eating up your drive space as well. Remember one 10GB mailbox, multiplied by 5 old .ost files becomes 50GB of drive space.

If everyone does their part to keep their mailboxes clean, then there will more available server space for everyone, more local space for yourself and less need to spend more money on larger hard drives, and may even prevent having to call your IT department to resolve related issues caused by size and corruption.

 

Reference: Introduction to Outlook Data Files (.pst and .ost) at https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Introduction-to-Outlook-Data-Files-pst-and-ost-6d4197ec-1304-4b81-a17d-66d4eef30b78

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Firewall Port Security: How Network Access is Protected

Originally posted at www.triella.com in March 2016

This article will explain the basic premise behind how your network is secured against unauthorized access by the configuration of the Firewall ports and the services supported by them.

TCP and UDP port numbers

If you were to take a look at your basic Firewall set up you would notice two types of ports available for configuration:

1.) Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and

2.) User Datagram Protocol (UDP)

These ports are used to give people outside of your network access to services such as Email, Websites and Remote Desktop access from the Internet.

Some ports are “Official” ports registered with Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for use with specific applications and services. “Unofficial” ports are not registered with IANA for use with specific applications and services. The remaining ports are “Multiple use”, meaning multiple applications are known to potentially use those same ports.

The port numbers in the range from 0 to 1023 are the well-known ports or system ports. They are used by system processes to provide widely used types of network services.

The range of port numbers from 1024 to 49151 are the registered ports. They are assigned by IANA for specific service upon application by a requesting entity.

The range 49152–65535 contains dynamic or private ports that cannot be registered with IANA. This range is used for private, or customized services, temporary purposes, and for automatic allocation of ephemeral ports.

 

A few common Firewall Ports are…

20, 21 = FTP (File Transfer Protocol) related ports
25 = Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP), used for e-mail routing between mail servers
80 = Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP)
3389 = Microsoft Terminal Server (RDP) officially registered as Windows Based Terminal (WBT) 

 

 

Port Forwarding & Security

Think of a Firewall like a Condo building with a Concierge Security desk. When the Mail Carrier arrives to deliver the mail, they first need to be let in by the Security Guard, and then each parcel needs the Suite number in order to reach its recipient, otherwise all mail would just end up at the Condo’s Front Desk with no final destination.

Firewall routers work on similar principals. When you are at home on your computer and need to access your email outside the office, your email software would be setup to reach out to your mail server on the Internet, and then the request would eventually reach a Firewall Router.  The email software would be configured to request access to certain ports; if these ports are also configured on the Firewall to allow pass-through then the software can communicate with the email server. Once it reaches the email server, then the user’s credentials would get verified and the resulting response would be sent back to the software on your home computer, in this case meaning that you would receive your email.

 

Inside the Network, there may be many servers and computers. How does the software used outside the network know which server it needs to access for that particular application or service? The Firewall would need to be configured to take the external requested port and forward that request to the correct server internally by the server’s internal IP address, and the server would need that port activated internally for use as well.

Port scanning software exists today that allows anyone to scan your Internet modem and check for open ports, and potentially hack into a network by gaining access to unsecured ports. The best way to prevent this is not to open a port if it is not needed. This is why, if you have a Web server, it may only have port 80 open, and nothing else. This minimizes the risk. Some businesses cannot afford to have a separate server for every application port that they need, so they may use only one server, but have their Web Server, Email or other services running on it and require multiple ports to be open on one server. This is where security plays an important role in managing these ports correctly and effectively.

Every hacker out there knows what the default common application ports are. It’s no secret; it’s available all over the Internet. One way around this is to not use a common port on the Firewall if it can be avoided, and instead changing to a random port that only the authorized users and their applications would know about. The Firewall would then take this random port and re-direct it to the common port on the inside of the network, establishing the service communication link.

 

 

There are endless websites that you can find to do an external port scan of your own Internet Firewall. (No downloading of any software, this should always be avoided). Here is just one of them you can safely try… (Use it in a Google, Mozilla or Safari browser)

http://www.whatsmyip.org/port-scanner/

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Did you Know there was a New Internet? – IPV4 vs IPV6 Addressing

Originally posted at www.triella.com in March 2016

Years ago we were told that the Internet was running out of IP addresses. What did that mean exactly? This article will attempt to help you understand what IP addresses are, why they are important and how they are changing.

What is a Private IP address?

An Internet Protocol Address or IP Address is how all information travelling across a network or the Internet knows where to go. Just like the post office knows where to deliver your mail by your home address, the Internet works in a similar way, but more complex.

Your private network will use a private IP range; typically these ranges are as follows…

10.0.0.0 through 10.255.255.255
172.16.0.0 through 172.31.255.255
192.168.0.0 through 192.168.255.255

 

These IP ranges are for internal use only and do not connect directly to the Internet. You may only have a few computers or devices using your internal private network and there are plenty of addresses available for your network to grow, if needed. These private IP ranges are used by many separate home and business networks, and because they are separate networks with no overlap, the same IP address can be used in different networks. There is no real risk of running out of numbers in a private Local Area Network or LAN.

The same is not true for the Wide Area Network or WAN, such as the Internet. While your private network may only have 10, 100, or even 1000 devices, the Internet has billions of devices needing to surf the Web and that requires a lot of gateway IP addresses.

What is a Public IP address?

Your Internet Service Provider or ISP’s Modem and Your Network Router work together to translate communications between your ISP’s external public IP address and your internal private IP address so that your computer can communicate with other computers around the world, and they have the ability to communicate back to your computer. Even though your computer may be named Pauls-PC, this is only really a label that is translated to an IP address by a Domain Name Service, or DNS. All website names such as www.Google.ca are translated into an IP address and directed to an internal router port that runs certain types of Internet services on them. (FTP, HTTP, SMTP, POP, Etc.) Resulting in whether you reach a Website, a File server, get an email, and so on.

 

If you were to run a simple command to ping google.ca you would learn that its IP address is 74.125.22.94

This address is the External Public IP address. Run the same ping on any website address and you will get any number of results. It’s these external IP addresses that are becoming less and less available and the only way they become available is if someone stops using them and releases them back to the Internet Service Provider. This is not a problem when IP addresses are dynamically assigned on lease and then renewed and replaced with new addresses every week or so as some Home ISP’s will do, but when it comes to businesses, they need to own static IP addresses that never change. Finding available static IP addresses to purchase is becoming an issue.

What is the difference between IPV4 and IPV6?

These types of IP addresses using the format mentioned previously are called IPV4. This limitation created by the IPV4 format introduced the need for a new IP address format without such limitations, and so IPV6 was invented. IPv6 uses 128 bits instead of 32 bits for its addresses, creating Trillions upon Trillions of possible combinations. IPV6 has nearly an endless amount of available addresses for future device growth. IPV6 addresses look very similar in appearance to the Hardware MAC address associated with every network capable device. The IPV6 has the following format (For example: 21DA:D3:0:2F3B:2AA:FF:FE28:9C5A).

 

Will this change affect you at all? Not that you would ever notice, as it will likely be invisible to most Internet users, but will certainly impact those who are in charge of your websites and external facing servers in some technical way, but for the rest of us, the Internet will continue to work in the same manner it always has.

 

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2014 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Microsoft Windows Surface Pro vs other Full Windows Tablets

Originally posted at www.triella.com in February 2016

What makes the Microsoft Surface Pro better and more costly than other full Windows Tablets?

The Microsoft Surface line of products sets itself apart from the rest. They cost a whole lot more than your average Windows Tablet and in this case you really do get what you pay for because the assumed goal is to have a tablet that can truly be a business desktop, workstation or laptop replacement rather than simply another Windows based tablet to compete with consumer based Google Android and Apple IPad tablets.

The reason they generally cost more is because you are getting far more expandability for your money. In the consumer end Windows tablets market, you will find systems that are roughly comparable in specs to those of the Google Android and the Apple IPad. The specs have certainly matured over the years in both the OS software and device hardware. Today these consumer tablets generally have internal storage space between 16GB to 32GB, and run on a system memory between 1GB to 2GB. The displays usually have a maximum resolution of up to 1280 x 720 on 7 inch screens and full 1080p on 10 inch screens. The core CPU of these Windows tablets mainly runs using the Intel Atom Quad core processors. Some of these consumer end units will have optional accessories such as keyboards and a stylus. Specifications will vary based on price and vendors. On average you can expect to pay up to $300 CAD for a 7” tablet and up to $600 CAD for a 10” tablet.

Why does the amount of internal storage space matter?

In simple terms, the more storage space you have, the more software you can install and the more data you can save. Windows 10 will use up at least 3GB of disk space itself.  Add to that Microsoft Office could take up another 1GB of space.  You can get an idea of how fast space can get eaten up and how a 16GB Windows tablet is not going to provide enough storage in the long run.

Microsoft Surface gives you between 64GB and 512GB, for most business users this should be ample enough for any business software needed and data to be stored locally.

 

Why does the amount of system memory (RAM) matter?

Basically, if you have the storage space to install the business software you want, you are going to want to be able to actually run it, and a Windows tablet with only 1GB of system memory is not going to do it well, or even maybe at all. For example, Microsoft Office 2013 requires a minimum of 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (for 32-bit); 2 gigabytes (GB) RAM (for 64-bit), and even if you can squeeze by on 1GB or 2GB, you won’t be able to open more than one application before you start getting “Out of Memory” error messages. It’s important to note that the Microsoft Surfaces are the only tablets that I know of today that are running the full 64bit version of Windows 10. This is why they can come in 8GB and 16GB system memory options. The 32bit Windows tablets cannot utilize more than 3GB of system memory which is why most only come with 2GB. The 64bit versions require more system resources, not only for the OS but for the 64bit Software applications as well. It may also be important to note that the 64bit versions are generally backward compatibility with 32bit software applications, but the 32bit versions are not forward compatible with 64bit software applications, so they just will not run on them at all.

 

Why does a Tablet with Windows 10 Professional matter?

Now that you know the basic difference between 32bit and 64bit versions of Windows, you probably want to know why a having a tablet with Windows 10 Professional would matter. Why can’t you just use the Windows 10 Home version? Well, it’s fine for “Home” users who will be using that tablet as a standalone unit with no need for any real business networking needs or if they just want to set up a small network workgroup with no centralized user management security.

The reason Windows 10 Pro is important is it is for “Professional” business networking. If you have a domain server that manages your users, you are going to need to join your computer to the business domain, and you can only do that with the “Professional” version of Windows, not the Home version. Sure for an additional $150 you may be able to upgrade your “Home” version to “Professional”, but will you have enough storage space and memory to run it on one of those other consumer end basic Windows tablets? It’s best to just go with a tablet/laptop that was designed for business right out of the box.

 

What are the base specifications of the Microsoft Surfaces?

Microsoft Currently offers the Surface Tablet in several base options:

  1. The Surface 3 starting at $639.00 CAD (10.8” Full HD Touch display, Windows 10, 64GB to 128GB of storage, and 2GB to 4GB of system memory, with Wifi and with optional LTE)
  2. The Surface Pro 3 starting at $949.00 CAD (12” Full HD Touch Display, Windows 10 Pro, 64GB to 512GB of storage, and 4GB to 8GB of system memory, and running on either an Intel Core i3, i5, or i7 processor.
  3. The Surface Pro 4 starting at $1,179.00 (12.3-inch PixelSense™ touchscreen display, Windows 10 Pro Operating System, 128GB to 256GB of Storage, 4GB to 16GB of system memory, and running on an Intel Core m3, i5, or i7 processor.
  4. The Surface Book starting at $1,949.00 (13.5-inch PixelSense™ touchscreen display (3000 x 2000) resolution, Windows 10 Pro Operating system, 128GB to 512GB of storage, 8GB to 16GB of system memory and including integrated dGPU on some units, running on a Core Intel i5 or i7 processor.

The advanced accessory features list goes on to include such things as the Magnetic Charger, Digital Stylus and the Wireless Display Adapter, and more. The price may seem high at first glance when compared to other consumer end Windows tablets, but not when you compare what you are getting to a standard business laptop or workstation comparably equipped. Consider that a comparable desktop or laptop will likely meet at the same price point, but may fall short on the advanced features, convenience and portability that you would get from this ultimate business class tablet.

Many business clients are already successfully using them in their offices and when travelling today, and they are extremely impressed by their versatility and the ease of adapting them into their existing business environments. In fact, Triella has installed Surface Pro 3 and Surface Pro 4 tablets in three different firms.

If you are interested in making the transition in your own business, contact Triella today and speak with a consultant about how they may improve your productivity, and also benefit your working environment.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2016 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

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Use Microsoft Window’s Ready Boost Feature to Speed Up Your Computer.

Originally posted at www.triella.com in November 2015

This article explains the often overlooked Windows Ready Boost feature that was first introduced in Microsoft Vista, and continued in Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 10. The following information was located in Windows under the Windows Help and Support document “Using memory in your storage device to speed up your computer”. This can be found by clicking the Start button and searching for “Ready Boost” directly in Windows.

 

Using memory in your storage device to speed up your computer

ReadyBoost can speed up your computer by using storage space on most USB flash drives and flash memory cards. When you plug a ReadyBoost -compatible storage device into your computer, the AutoPlay dialog box offers you the option to speed up your computer using ReadyBoost. If you select this option, you can choose how much memory on the device to use for this purpose.

When you set up a device to work with ReadyBoost, Windows shows you how much space it recommends you to use for optimal performance. For ReadyBoost to effectively speed up your computer, the flash drive or memory card should have at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of available space. If your device doesn’t have enough available space for ReadyBoost, you’ll see a message telling you to free some space on the device if you want to use it to speed up your system.

You can enable or disable ReadyBoost for a specific flash drive or other removable storage device. For more information, see Turn ReadyBoost on or off for a storage device.

 

Turn ReadyBoost on or off for a storage device

ReadyBoost can speed up your computer by using storage space on most USB flash drives and flash memory cards.

Go to the Windows website to watch the video. (1:32) at http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/turn-readyboost-on-off-storage-device#1TC=windows-7

  • Plug a flash drive or flash memory card into your computer.
  • In the Autoplay dialog box, under General options, click Speed up my System.
  • In the Properties dialog box, click the ReadyBoost tab, and then do one of the following:
  • To turn ReadyBoost off, click Do Not Use This Device.
  • To use the maximum available space on the flash drive or memory card for ReadyBoost, click Dedicate this Device to ReadyBoost. Windows will leave any files already stored on the device, but it’ll use the rest to boost your system speed.
  • To use less than the maximum available space on the device for ReadyBoost, click Use this Device, and then move the slider to choose the amount of available space on the device you want to use.
  • Click OK.

 

 

What to look for in a flash memory device

Here are some tips on what to look for when selecting a USB flash drive or flash memory card to use with ReadyBoost:

The minimum amount of available space recommended for ReadyBoost to effectively speed up your computer is 1 GB.

For best results, use a flash drive or flash memory card with available space of at least double the amount of memory (RAM) in your computer, and preferably four times as much memory. For example, if your computer has 1 GB of RAM and you plug in a 4 GB USB flash drive, set aside at least 2 GB on the flash drive to get the best performance gain from ReadyBoost, and preferably the entire 4 GB. How much memory you need depends on how you use your computer. Keeping a lot of programs open at once uses more memory.

Give ReadyBoost 2 GB to 4 GB of space for best results on most computers. You can reserve more than 4 GB of space for ReadyBoost on most flash drives and flash memory cards. (Storage devices formatted with the older FAT32 file system can’t store more than 4 GB.) You can use a maximum of 32 GB of available space on any single removable storage device with ReadyBoost and up to 256 GB total per computer (by inserting up to eight USB flash drives or flash memory cards into the same computer).

To work with ReadyBoost, a USB flash drive must support USB 2.0 or higher. Your computer must have at least one free USB 2.0 port where you can plug in the flash drive. ReadyBoost works best if you plug the flash drive into a USB port directly on the computer, rather than into an external USB hub shared with other USB devices.

If you want to be sure a USB flash drive works with ReadyBoost, look for a note from the manufacturer that the flash drive is “Enhanced for ReadyBoost.” Not all manufacturers list this on their packaging. If there is no mention of ReadyBoost compatibility, the flash drive still might work with ReadyBoost.

There are many different kinds of flash memory cards, such as CompactFlash and Secure Digital (SD) memory cards. Most memory cards work with ReadyBoost. Some SD memory cards don’t work well with ReadyBoost due to issues with the SD card interface. ReadyBoost will display a warning message if you attempt to use one of these cards.

 

Notes

If your computer has a hard disk that uses solid-state drive (SSD) technology, you might not see an option to speed up your computer with ReadyBoost when you plug in a USB flash drive or flash memory card. You may instead receive the message, “ReadyBoost is not enabled on this computer because the system disk is fast enough that ReadyBoost is unlikely to provide any additional benefit.” This is because some SSD drives are so fast they’re unlikely to benefit from ReadyBoost.

In some situations, you might not be able to use all of the memory on your device to speed up your computer. For example, some flash memory devices contain both slow and fast flash memory, but ReadyBoost can only use fast flash memory to speed up your computer.

If AutoPlay doesn’t open, it might be disabled.

For ReadyBoost to effectively speed up your computer, the flash drive or memory card should have at least 1 gigabyte (GB) of available space. If your drive or card doesn’t have enough available space for ReadyBoost, you’ll see a message telling you to free some space on it. For best results, use a flash drive or flash memory card with at least double the amount of available space as the amount of memory (RAM) in your computer.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2015 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

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Email Spam Management Protection

Originally Posted at www.triella.com in July 2015

This article is intended to describe the purpose of email spam management protection and the types of protection available and the advantages or disadvantages of using one type of protection over another. 

Since the invention of email communications the world has been plagued by unwanted Spam emails. We have experienced various degrees of Spam which have resulted in being simply annoying to potentially being damaging on a wide scale.

Spam has been used to market and advertise, but others have abused email technology by exploiting it for more threatening purposes. Spam has been used to trick people into providing personal information, access to banking information, credit card information, and to spread viruses through tainted file attachments and fake web links. It’s painfully obvious that we need to have methods in place to protect ourselves from such unbiased attacks. I will explain some of the methods available to everyone today and how effective they may or may not be. Some of these methods are free.

Methods of Email Spam Management Protection

1) Common Sense (Potential fourth and Last layer of defense, Spam has reached your inbox) – I consider this one of the best defenses against the threat of Spam. The well trained eye can pick up on many details in an email that may otherwise lead to disaster if overlooked. We have no doubt all seen those questionable emails stating that you have unclaimed money from a distant uncle or have been chosen as the beneficiary of the estate of a recently deceased rich man with no heirs. If you were keen enough to ignore them, good for you, or perhaps you were burned once and learned the lesson the hard way! You know that it is better to be safe than sorry and if something doesn’t feel right check it thoroughly.

Here are some things you should avoid doing…

  • Never reply to an email with your personal banking or credit card information, even if it says it’s from an organization you use, such as a bank.
  • Never open attachments, containing compressed files (.zip) or program executable files (.exe) from anyone without checking with them first to confirm that it is safe and they did in fact send it.
  • Never click on a link in an email without hovering over it first and preview the actual address of the link. If the link in the email says it is from the Government of Canada, but the link actually points to something at Joe’s Barber Shop, well you know it’s fake and should not be trusted.

2) Mail Client Software filtering (Potential third layer of defense, Spam has reached your mail software) – Most mail software such as Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird have their own built in limited Spam filtering and this is also true for online Mailboxes such as Gmail, Hotmail and so on.

These are very basic filtering processes and simply attempt to guess which emails you receive are most likely Spam emails. There may be several things they look for in the emails such as known spam senders, email servers, IP addresses, keywords, links and attachments found in the email addresses, the subject lines, the message content and information in the hidden email headers. Generally, they do a good job at catching most spam and sorting it into a Spam folder for you to manually review later. Unfortunately nothing is perfect, and they sometimes miss the mark and mistake legitimate emails for spam moving them to the Spam folder as well. They may alert you to potential risks associated with spam, such as possible phishing emails, but they generally do not manage the threats for you leaving it up to your “Common Sense” to discern good from bad.

3) On-Premise Spam Management Servers or Appliances (Potential second layer of defense, Spam has reached your internal spam management server) – This type of spam protection attempts to detect and catch spam at the mail server point of entry within your network, and either block it from reaching your mailbox on your computer or filter and mark it as spam before it reaches your computer. For example, Microsoft Exchange Server has a basic level of spam filtering. A popular free server based spam filter is SpamAssassin ( http://spamassassin.apache.org/).

The downside to this layer of protection is that it means Spam has already infiltrated your network and if the Spam contains a virus, it could potentially infect the server and spread across the network if not properly protected by the spam program or your antivirus software. It is certainly better than having no spam protection. The more layers of protection, the better.

 4) Third party “Cloud” Spam management Services (Potential first layer of defense, Spam has reached an external spam management server) – This type of spam protection exists outside your network, on another company’s spam management server and detects, blocks, and filters your spam before it reaches your network. Spam gets trapped, flagged and marked to give the user the opportunity to manage the spam before it reaches them. This involves giving the user access to a Web management portal. The user can blacklist or whitelist spam and release those that they trust. The user has more feature rich control over the management of their spam. It also contains a reporting component which periodically sends an email report to the user listing the currently “trapped” spam for their review. These services are monthly paid subscription based. One popular example is the Spambrella service. https://www.spambrella.com/ available through Triella (www.triella.com).

5) Internet Protection Software Packages (Spam threat has reached your computer) – There are many premium malware and antivirus software packages that include email spam protection, these are typically extra features that tend to carry additional costs for the upgraded protection. What they attempt to do is protect you from threats such as viruses contained in email attachments, and against phishing attempts, identify theft and more by scanning emails when they are downloaded to the computer and blocking and/or quarantining the threats by deleting the file attachments or preventing links from being clicked on. It’s important to know that just because you may have basic antivirus protection does not mean you are protected against other forms of malware and Spam threats. Generally you need to pay for these added features, if they are being offered.

None of these methods are ever perfect, and therefore sometimes it’s best to have more than one in place in case something gets past one level of protection, it may get caught by the next level. There is also a caveat to having too much protection as well, and that could be that legitimate mail has more hurdles to get past in order to reach your mail box successfully.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2015 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm

Business-in-a-box™: The World’s #1 Business Document Templates Software

Get a library of business documents which you can use as a starting point for your business. http://www.biztree.com/

Biztree is a privately-owned corporation with offices in the United States, Canada, China, United Kingdom and France. Biztree was founded in 2001, and develops and markets productivity software for small and medium-sized businesses and home-office entrepreneurs. Business-in-a-Box™ is their flagship product which was designed to help business people get more done in less time. The do-it-yourself document template software has been created to increase productivity and efficiency. It is currently used by more than 6 Million people in 200 countries, and in Canada it has been used by thousands of companies since 2001.

Business-in-a-Box™ contains over 1,800 document templates created by Lawyers and other experts that you can use to start, run and grow your business, at a minimum all you really need to do is fill in the blanks and print. It will help you save time and money, while also boosting your productivity, and improving your communications and your professional image.

There are templates for a wide range of activities, from contract writing to daily communications, client acquisition, business management, HR management, accounting and more.

There are document templates for a wide range of Industries, and Job Titles. Some of the template groups involve Planning & Management, Legal, Human Resources, Finance & Accounting, Sales & Marketing, Operations & Logistics, Internet & Technology, Consultants & Contractors, Credit & Collection, and Real Estate. The list goes on and on.

All the documents contain professional-looking formatting; they are 100% Customizable files that are compatible with All Office Suites. Quickly and easily find a document, Auto-fill repetitive data fields in on Click. Never lose your work with the Auto-Recovery feature. Regular updates are provided to keep your business current, and many more features are built in and ready to use.

Business-in-a-Box™ is available in 7 languages, and is available for both Windows and Apple Mac operating systems.

The Demo is available for download from the Biztree website, and can be instantly upgraded to the Pro version once the activation key is acquired. The Pro version (3-User License) is normally available for about $300 CDN, but Biztree does occasionally offer an instant rebate of $100 off for a limited time, so check their website often.

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2015 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

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One Cable to Rule them All: The Next Big Wave in Data Connectivity – Intel’s Thunderbolt™ 3

Originally Posted at www.triella.com in December 2015

Thunderbolt™ 3 connectivity is coming to all computers, Laptops, Tablets, Smartphones and more in the near future.

What is Thunderbolt™ 3? A single cable supplies power and provides four times the data and twice the video bandwidth of any other cable.

 The USB-C That Does It All

Thunderbolt™ 3 brings Thunderbolt™ to USB-C at speeds up to 40 Gbps, creating one compact port that does it all –delivering the fastest, most versatile connection to any dock, display, or data device. For the first time, one computer port connects to Thunderbolt™ devices, every display, and billions of USB devices. It’s unrivaled for new uses, such as 4K video, single-cable docks with charging, external graphics, and built-in 10 GbE networking. Simply put, Thunderbolt™ 3 delivers the best USB-C.

Key Features

  • Thunderbolt™, USB, DisplayPort, and power on USB-C
  • USB-C connector and cables (small, reversible)
  • 40 Gbps Thunderbolt™ 3 – double the speed of Thunderbolt™ 2
  • Bi-directional, dual-protocol (PCI Express and DisplayPort)
  • 4 lanes of PCI Express Gen 3
  • 8 lanes of DisplayPort 1.2 (HBR2 and MST) – supports two 4K displays (4096 x 2160 30bpp @ 60 Hz)
  • USB 3.1 (10 Gbps) – compatible with existing USB devices and cables
  • DisplayPort 1.2 – compatible with existing DisplayPort displays, devices, and cables
  • Connect DVI, HDMI, and VGA displays via adapters • Power (based on USB power delivery)
  • Up to 100W system charging
  • 15W to bus-powered devices
  • Thunderbolt™ Networking
  • 10Gb Ethernet connection between computers
  • Daisy chaining (up to six devices)
  • Lowest latency for PCI Express audio Solutions and products built to Thunderbolt™ and Thunderbolt™ 2 specifications will work with Thunderbolt™ 3 via an adapter.

Thunderbolt™ Networking

Provides a peer-to-peer connection at 10 GbE speeds to quickly transfer files between computers, perform PC migrations, or set up small workgroups with shared storage.

Full 4K Video Experience

Connect displays with astonishing resolution, contrast, and color depth to see your photos, videos, applications, and text with amazing detail.

External Graphics

Gamers can now connect plug ‘n’ play external graphics to a notebook to enjoy the latest games at recommended or higher settings.

Best Single-Cable Docking

Now, one compact port provides Thunderbolt™ 3 data transfer, support for two 4K 60 Hz displays, and quick notebook charging with a single cable. It’s the most advanced and versatile USB-C docking solution available.

 

Thunderbolt™ 3 is going to be a game-changer in technology evolution for computing devices and how we access and transfer data on them. The future looks bright, Thunderbolt™ Bright!

** Source material and information belong to their original copyright owners at https://thunderbolttechnology.net/

Paul Comtois is a Client Support Specialist at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology audits, planning advice, project management and other CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Paul can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, go to www.triella.com/publications. Triella is a VMware Professional Partner, Microsoft Certified Partner, Citrix Solution Advisor – Silver, Dell Preferred Partner, Authorized Worldox Reseller and a Kaspersky Reseller.

© 2015 by Triella Corp. All rights reserved. Reproduction with credit is permitted.

All my Articles can also be found on linkedIn at…

Under my profile https://ca.linkedin.com/in/pcomtois at 

https://www.linkedin.com/today/author/0_2d-_Qoz43qmUS-7EMrVVh9?trk=prof-sm