Security for Webcams

Security for Webcams

You may or may not heard the news last week but a Russian hacker has posted links to several webcam feeds all over the world to exposure how lax the security is on these devices. I remember when wireless routers were becoming more and more popular I always told users to change the default password right out of the box. I jokingly said that the first thing I do when I take the device out of the box is throw away the CD that came with it (I like to manually configure things :)) The main take away here is that you need do do the same for webcams and all other network devices alike!! The manufacture gives you instructions to get you up an running as fast as possible but it is also the least secure way to do it.

Whenever I have reset a network device and I don’t know the default passwords, all I have to do is conduct a quick Google search and, voila, I have the information I need. Of course I immediately change this information once I get the device up and running.

That’s all a hacker has to do to get information to your webcam device if you haven’t changed the defaults. It is not cool considering that your webcam maybe a baby cam or a nanny cam or security cam, etc. You may have sound turned on as well so not only can they see you , they can hear you. Keeping the bad guy out is reason you got the camera in the first place!! Not changing the default security settings does just the opposite…..

Here is an article that explains it in a little more detail .

If you have any question please contact me. I would be glad to help!

 

One way to Give your Clients a Price

One way to Give Your Clients a price

 

A lot times a potential client would like me to give them a quote on services. I am am always happy to do so but the problem is they want a price right on the spot! I think in this age of the Internet everybody can get pricing on almost everything right away and that is great for a lot of things. Clothing, electronics, books, etc are just examples. Getting a website designed or having a computer network maintained and monitored , not so much. In order for someone such as myself to be able give clients a price is to meet with them and find out what there needs are:

One Size Does not fit all when giving your Clients a Price

Above I mentioned items like shoes and electronics. Yes one size can fit all when pricing theses items (pun intended) but for other items like services, you really need to access the situation before you give a price. The reason I say this is that what may be good for one client may not be good for another client. You don’t want short change a client by rambling off a price before you really understand their needs but also you don’t to short change yourself. As my Father told once me”be careful of the job you quote because you just might get it!”. It sounds funny but it really is sage advice.

Make sure the pencil is sharp and educated!

It is important to give the best possible price but it needs to be based on accurate information. Giving your clients a price based on “making it as cheap as possible” is never a good practice to get into. It is a double edged sword: 1) You really won’t be able to properly serve your clients and 2) you will never keep the lights on (aka no more business).

Always put your best foot forward! There could be a lot of reasons for why you didn’t get the job but keep moving forward because when you do land one, both parties will truly benefit!

 

 

What to get your kids for Christmas

What to get your kids for Christmas

I know it is not even Halloween yet but I know you are thinking about Christmas!! You are probably thinking “What to get the kids for Christmas?”. If you are the parent of soon to be tween or tween you actually have to think about this a little bit. They are now at the age where the electronics you buy them aren’t only toys any more but can also be used as tools for things like homework, research on projects, etc.

However the question remains: “What to get your kids for Christmas??”.

 

What to get your kids for Christmas….A thought

Since your kids are probably into playing games like Minecraft on your computer or tablet why not combine the two in either an inexpensive net book or notebook. My reasoning here is that if your kids are at an age where a computer might be used for things like research and homework, it would great to have their gaming device and school device all rolled into one.  Prices for these devices are coming down and now you can get net books / notebooks either in a conventional configuration or touch screens or detachable screens anywhere from $300-$400. If you go to Staples in the United States or Canada you can look at some of their sales. If you live in the United States or can get across the border for a few days from Canada, I bet you can take advantage of some good Black Friday sales coming up next month.

What to get your kids for Christmas….Another thought

You could also think about replacing the family computer or laptop with an all-in-one computer this year. They have also come down in price and they now have touch screens! I know Mom’s out there will hate the smudges but it is a great addition. You can get a fairly decent all-in-one starting at about $750 but I am sure there will be some sales before Christmas.

I hope this helps you with some decisions on what to get your kids for Christmas. I know this has been something I have been thinking about and I thought I would share.

Dan

9 Step Computer Install Checklist

9 Step Computer Install Checklist

Your 9 Step Computer Install Checklist :)

You should use this 9 step computer install checklist, why?….I have built a lot of systems and I mean A LOT. Large companies with IT departments have the luxury of imaging their systems. They purchase many of the same model and build an image for it that they load on to each system before they deploy it to the user. Regardless, they use a similar checklist. It ensures the computer is built, efficiently, consistently and eliminates any problems down the road because you know exactly what you have!!

Now you are probably saying, “I am a small or medium sized business owner, why would I need to do this?”. Whether you are using one or 100 computers in your business it is a good habit to get into and your computer will least likely breakdown when you need it most!! Here is the computer install checklist I use and I hope you already use something similar to this. This is a general guide that can apply to Windows, Mac and Linux:

Put it all together

There is no sense turning the computer on if it is not put together in the configuration that you will be using it in. So make sure all parts that you got with the computer (i.e. Docking Stations, Monitors, Keyboard, Mice etc. are plugged in). Peripherals like Printers, Scanners etc. are not included in this step (more on this later).

Create a user account and perform initial setup

When you turn your system on for the first time, it will want to know this like a user account (name and password), your time zone, regional settings (like keyboard settings) and whether or not you want to receive system updates and the frequency. A little tip I use is when it asks for what keyboard and region setup I need to use even though I am in Canada, I choose “US”. There are 2 things at play here 1) we represent dates many different ways and it is easier to represent dates as MM/DD/YYYY and 2)because most of the software we use is from the US anyways (it plays nicer with it).

Configure computer for the network

In the case of Windows if you set up the computer without specifying the Work group name, it will default to “WORKGROUP”. You may or may not want to keep it this way. All you have to do is go into the system’s settings and click “Advanced Settings”. It will bring up the system properties. You can click the computer name tab and then rename the work group by clicking the “change” button. You will have to reboot the computer for the change to take affect. If your computer needs to find other resources on the network (like servers and printers) it should find it easier this way. It looks nicer too when are looking for devices on the network and they are all in the same work group :p.

Update the operating system

Regardless of what operating system you are running it is always a good idea to make sure it is as up to date as possible before you deploy it. Nothing is a frustrating as not know about an issue that can be fixed by a system update and deploying the system only to find that you have to go out and fix a problem that never should have been one!

Uninstall unnecessary Programs

This to me is IMPORTANT. System makers have been getting better with this but it used to be when you got a new system, it was so full of demo ware and the performance out of the box was so slow, you thought they had shipped you a 5 year old system by mistake! If you know you are probably never going to use the software, Uninstall it! You would be surprised how much stuff loads at login that you don’t ever use……

Install and Configure Necessary Programs

Alright, we are getting somewhere! Take the programs that you do use and Install them. Configure them too. Before you know it, you  will be up and running, but first….

Install an Antivirus!

I know what you are thinking, “why didn’t you put this in the last step?”. I would have but it is really important and deserves it’s own step. Forgetting this step might get you the computer back to someone like me sooner then you like. Install an antivirus. A lot of newer systems (Windows 8) come with one pre-installed. If you don’t like it put one on you do. I posted these links in an earlier post but here they are again:

  1. AVG Free
  2. Avast
  3. Avira

Install Necessary Peripherals

OK, now you can hook up you printers, scanners or what ever else you have other than a mouse, keyboard or docking station. I suggest hooking up one at a time and verifying functionality before going on to the next one. If you have any network connected peripherals, this would be a good time to hook them up too.

Bring over data from old Machine

If you are like a lot of small to medium sized business, you may have a combination of local stored information and network stored information. I find that regardless of your situation, you will have a lot of information (Spreadsheets, Word Docs, PDF’s, etc) stored locally on the old system. Find a way to get them over to the new machine. I like to use a USB disk to to this. It is easier, You just copy all the information from the old system to the USB drive and from the USB drive to the new system. One item to note is that items like Internet bookmarks and contacts from an email program might have to be exported from the old system, copied to the USB drive, copied to the new system and then  imported into the new system’s programs.

Voila you are done! If you take the couple of hours to do this 9 step computer Install checklist, it will save you safe many, many hours of headaches down the road. As always, if you have any questions please contact me!

 

Cheers,

 

Dan

 

Corrupt Contacts with Google App Sync

Corrupt Contacts with Google App Sync

Corrupt contacts with Google App Sync – I have had this issue with an email migration. It was with corrupt contacts with Google App Sync making email addresses appear Invalid. I received a call form a client who said they were getting bounce back messages from specific recipients. I checked who they were and they were people within the organization?? Weird. I created these email accounts in Google Apps over a week ago and they have been sending and receiving mail fine???

I asked if others in the office were having trouble sending and receiving to these recipients. Nope. I ruled out the Internet connection being bad which would be weird since the new mail exchanger had a whole week to propagate through DNS?? So I had the affected machine (Who was using Outlook 2013 BTW) send email to other domains. No problem. I noticed I was sending all of my test email from the two affected contacts in this users address book. I indulged my curiosity by clearing the address cache in Outlook and then sent an email to the affected recipients manually typing their email address and bingo, it went through!

Thankfully this user did not have a lot of contacts. So what I had them do was delete the contacts in Outlook, re-sync with Google apps, create the contacts in Google apps and re-sync to bring them back to Outlook. If you have a lot of contacts, I would suggest verifying that the bounce back message is a false positive and then re-create the contact as you need to. If not, you are probably in for the long haul and I would enlist the help of your IT staff (maybe that person is you :p)

I had migrated several users and I only had this issue with one! I hope you have never had this problem before but if you do, this is one way to fix it.

Cheers

Dan

Google Apps Migration Tool for Microsoft Outlook – Migrate to Outlook 2013 in 2 Easy Steps

Google Apps Migration Tool for Microsoft Outlook

Google Apps Migration Tool for Microsoft Outlook – Migrate to Outlook 2013 in 2 Easy Steps

I have just been involved in a migration from Exchange 2003 to Google Apps for a company of about 20 users.  They all connected to the old Exchange server on versions of Outlook 2003-2013. The main reason they switched was because Outlook 2013 was not compatible with Exchange 2003 (This Server is no longer supported anyway). Since the installation was only 20 users and it didn’t warrant the cost of a new Exchange Server and upgrading a lot of users to Office 2013. We decided to go the Google Apps route and worry about the Office upgrades later (considering the circumstances, this was the best option).

Once we got the mail domain switched over to Google, the mailboxes had to be configured and the mail had to be migrated over. I decided to do a mailbox at a time instead of the whole server – my reasoning – I am a bit of a skeptic and I would prefer Google apps to tell me one mailbox migration failed than a whole server migration. I had 75 GB of mail to migrate over and I would hate for it to fail after 20 hours. Even if you are doing this over a weekend, you do not want to run out of time!

The biggest problem I had was my Click-To-Run Installations of Office 2013. It seems the Google Apps Migration Tool for Microsoft Outlook does not work for this version of Office 2013 (Those who get Office 2013 through office365.com be warned!).  If you buy and actual DVD or download and install from an .ISO, apparently you won’t have this problem. There are several workarounds but it all involved hacking the Windows registry and reinstalling Office with a downloaded version. You can convert your Click-to-Run Installation if you want. I had 6 installations at four different sites. I opted not to do this :)

Step #1 – Connect to the old Exchange server and export the user’s Mail File as a PST and a version of Outlook older than 2013

Even if the new email server is already accepting mail, as long as you still have the old Exchange server online and the ports still forwarded to it you can fake the computer out by putting the host name and the old IP address in the host file of the computer you wish to get the PST file. I also had an older version of Outlook (2010) connecting to the mailbox. Make sure you take this entry out of the host file when you are done!

I just chose the File Tab / Chose “Open” and the Import / Export File Button. I chose to export to a file or program, chose to export to a .pst file and made sure the top level of the email was chosen and “include sub folders” were checked (so I would get the whole mail file). Depending on how large the mail store is, it could take a while to export. I guess I was lucky. They were migrating away from an SBS version of Exchange. It caps mailbox size at 2GB. I also had everyone clean their mail out prior to the migration to help me out. Well almost everyone did :p.

Step #2 – Use the Google Apps Migration Tool for Microsoft Outlook

Once you get the .pst file, uninstall the older version of Outlook (It confusing Google Apps Sync). When you finally decide to install Google Apps Sync for this user, you will thank me! Note: If you still get errors getting Google Apps Sync to install and you know for sure you have only one version of Outlook installed on the machine, Go to Control Panel / Mail and delete all Exchange profiles from the machine. You will have to create one dummy profile in Outlook 2013. Google Apps Sync will work then.

Once you get the .pst file, take it to another computer and use the Google Apps Migration Tool for Outlook:

2. It will ask you to sign in with your Google account, your email address is your user name. Click “Continue”.

3. It will pop up a browser window asking to have access to your Google profile to do the migration, Click “Accept”.

 

If you haven’t logged in to this Google account on this machine before, it will asked you to do so now. If have already logged in before or you just have, you will see the screen in the next step…

4. Minimize the browser window and you will see the screen below:

 

 

5. Like the screenshot, please choose “From PST files(s) from the drop down box.

6. From here navigate to your where you stored the .pst file and choose the “Mail File” file.

7. It my case I chose “Migrate only new data”. You can choose “All” data if you want.

 

 

 

 

8. Click Next.

 

 

9. In my case, I only chose “Email Messages” but as you can see, there are many options you can choose then click Migrate.

 

10. You will see a screen similar to the one above. You can “pause” the migration at any time by clicking “Pause Migration”. To Resume the Migration, just click on “Resume Migration.”

11. If the Migration is successful it will tell you so. If it fails it will also tell you but also give you a choice to restart the migration or cancel. Click restart migration and it will begin where it left off.

Note: Even if only one message did not get migrated, The Google Apps Migration Tool For Microsoft Outlook will consider the migration a failure. To me it was a success! I just tell the user to mount the PST folder and Look through that file if the mail is really that important. OK if there were several thousand messages that failed to migrate, I would look into it but not 3 or 4! To, me, a failed migration is usually due to a network error and significant amount of mail did not get migrated.

When you install the Google App Sync Tool for the Outlook 2013 user, it pull down all their mail without any issue.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on using the Google Apps Migration Tool For Microsoft Outlook with Outlook 2013. As always, if you have any questions, Contact Me.

 

Dan

Exchange 2010 Mailbox Size

Exchange 2010 Mailbox Size

This article talks about Exchange 2010 Mailbox Size. Whether your Outlook 2010 mailbox is connected to an Exchange server or via POP/IMAP, Gmail connector or another connector, you may at some point need to reduce the size of you mailbox. In this article, I will show you how to do just that.

Using the Outlook Mailbox Cleanup Tool

In Outlook 2010 Click File in the Main Window and then “Cleanup Tools”. In Outlook 2003/2007, you need to click “Tools” in the main window and then choose “Mailbox Cleanup Tools”:

 Outlook 2010

Outlook 2003/2007

Once You click the button above, you will have two choices, “Mailbox Cleanup” and “Empty Deleted Items Folder”. I recommend doing both since it will reduce the size of your mail box significantly.

Viewing Mailbox Size

When you choose “Mailbox Size” in Outlook 2010 you will get the same screen that you see above as in Outlook 2003 / 2007. At that point, you can click on “View Mailbox Size”. You will get something similar to this:

Now you can see which folders need the most attention when deciding what to clean up. Now you can go about it one of two ways.

Go though Each Folder Manually

Since you know the size of each folder in your mailbox, you can go to each folder manually use the date or size column for sorting and then delete the oldest and / or largest emails and send them to your deleted items folder.

Use the Mailbox Cleanup Find Feature

Using the find feature allows you to search across the entire mailbox for items of a certain age or size. If you are confident in deleting this way, you can quickly send a lot of items to your deleted items folder. All you have to do is choose whether your are look for items older than a certain date or messages larger than a certain size and then click “Find:. It will bring up a search window similar to this:

From here, you can pick and choose what you want to delete.

Emptying Out Your Deleted Items Folder

When you are finished sending all you folder items to the Deleted Items Folder,  you can choose Empty Deleted Items Folder (Outlook 2010) or Click the empty button (Outlook 2003/2007). You will be asked:

Click “Yes” and your mailbox is reduced significantly. This will help you deal with you Exchange 2010 mailbox size. If you have any questions, contact me!

Dan

 

Windows Won’t Boot – 3 Possible Reasons

Windows Won’t Boot – 3 Possible Reasons

 

3 Possible Reasons Windows Won't Boot

Sometimes your Windows system crashes pretty hard. A lot of times you can reboot and it comes back no problem. Sometimes it doesn’t. I am here to talk about three instances that I came across recently as to why Windows wont boot.

Reason # 1 – Basic File corruption

This may happen if your system has crashed by an errant program or malware one too many times. It is kind of a pain but if you know how to recognize the signs, you will be able to get your system back pretty quick. If your system came with Windows pre-installed with your system will automatically reboot to the black Windows screen where you can Launch Start-up repair. If your system came with an install disk, you might have to boot from it to get to this screen. After launching start-up repair, it will take a little while to do it’s thing but you should be back at your login screen in no time.

Reason # 2 – Corrupt Registry

This article explains what I initially found out why start-up repair was failing. The problem was I didn’t exactly know what patch was failing and even if I did, Windows won’t boot. I couldn’t uninstall the patch anyway!

I don’t know about you but I am not very fond of rolling back Windows to an earlier time to see if that will fix the problem and I will tell you why. Usually when I get the machine it has already been rolled back and didn’t work and two, it’s not my machine so unless the person can tell me exactly when the machine started to act funny and if they installed anything to make it act that way, it is basically useless to me. So I guess you figured by now I didn’t try that. I am glad I didn’t, regardless Windows won’t boot!

So my research yielded a possible corrupt registry that gives the exact same error message when you try and fail at attempting a start-up repair. Carefully following this , I was able to find out where windows keeps a back-up copy of it’s registry and through the advanced start-up repair option, get to the command prompt and replace the potential bad registry with the back-up and voila! It got be past the infinite reboot loop. I was able to log in and view the system. Now the registry was a older and smaller than previous one but reinstalling programs that are causing issues now will be fixed once those registry settings are put back. At the very least we can get the important data backed up and do a rebuild without much worry!

Reason # 3 – The Hard Disk is failing and you don’t know it (or maybe you do?)

Sometimes the hard disk is just getting ready to crap all over your system. You might know the warning signs: constant write errors from windows, very slow boot times and performance, etc. You might even be lucky and have your BIOS tell you the hard disk is failing :) In this case, you don’t even bother fingering out why Windows won’t boot. You are now in crisis prevention mode!!  Your only concern at this point is to get the important data copied from the disk to something like a USB drive and replace the hard drive. I like to use Parted Magic. It allows me to boot from a device other then the local boot drive, access the Internet if I have to and connect a USB drive to the machine and copy data from it. It really makes it a breeze.

I hope these three possible reasons why Windows won’t boot help shed some light on a computer situation you may be facing. If not, it will at least give you some things to try and maybe lead you to a solution. Let me know if you come across other fixes for why Windows won’t boot. I would love to hear from you!

 

Thanks,

 

Dan

Living Inside Your Head

Living Inside Your Head

Living Inside Your Head

Here is some more inspiration (and yes it is on a Friday again)! This is part 3 in my series about the inspiring stories and how I got them published. Part one is called Friday Inspiration and part two is called Wednesday Inspiration and I encourage you read them! I want to share them with you because I know that what I have gone through is nothing new. Everyone one is battling something and little inspiration will make them feel that they are not alone. This article was published last month in Cracking the Happiness Code and is about how to stop living inside your head. I have found that a lot of people talk themselves out of doing something even before they get started. This article show your that as soon as you stop living inside your head, you will start accomplishing more of your dreams and goals! Living inside your head is like a prison and by just starting to accomplish some of the things you think about breaks you free! Please read the article here . I hope you enjoy it and thanks for letting me share.

Wednesday Inspiration Message

Wednesday Inspiration!

 

Wednesday Inspiration

In part 2 of my 3 part series. I would to share with you a post that was on havingtime.com . It talks about what lessons I learned from surviving a brain tumor. Yes it was scaring but I knew I was going to OK if I kept a positive attitude and looked at it (or framed it as such). The main lesson I learned is that no matter what you face in life, if you looked at it in a more positive light, you will react differently to it and you outcome will be better. By keeping this attitude, things will snowball and in a good way!! Before you know it, you will be stronger and doinf things you never thought you could. All you had to do was look at things a different way!

Here is the link . I hope you enjoy it! Have a great Wednesday.