Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Computer and Network Security: Why It's Important

Any business, whether long standing or just starting out, needs an adequate view and understanding of network security. Any kind of business or corporation keeps lists of vendors, customers and their accounts, budget access and spending, and more within their secured networks. This is all vital information that is, essentially, the lifeblood of any company. When you have assets at risk, such as developmental research, it's important to have a network security system in place that you're entire company knows how to work and is informed on.

Security within a company goes way beyond the night watch guard in the parking lot. It also goes beyond one simple technology. It's a unique system that has to be appropriated piece by piece so that each branch of the company's security works in tandem with each other.

Computer security, albeit just one aspect of security as a whole, is arguably the biggest portion of company security and integrity. Think about it. All of the information within your company is stored on servers that employees access and have certain control over. That security can be taken advantage of through employees however. Whether an employee has malicious intent through his actions or not, it's still a concern that needs to be noted.

Firewalls, data encryption, controlled access, and more need to be added within a proper security network in order to maintain optimal online company security. Computer company Dell is now offering a network security suite program intended to cover all online security fronts. Many security companies on the market offer excellent security measures, but it's odd to see an actual computer company offering the same type of services.

The new Dell Endpoint Security Suite is utilizing interconnected programs and capabilities such as threat detection and protection, authentication services, and encryption on all employee computing devices. Dell is looking to offer services such as data encryption instead of complete hard drive encryption. Brett Hansen, the executive director of end user computing software and mobility at Dell, made a very valid point against full hard drive encryption. Hansen expressed that should a password be lost to the hard drive, the entire disk has basically lost its use. He also claimed that during full disk encryption, entire programs become encrypted. Thus when a program needs to be updated, the entire thing must be decrypted for it to update properly. This, of course, can take a lot of valuable time.

This is just a taste of what the security protocols on the new Dell Endpoint Security Suite can do and, by the looks if it, you may want to take advantage of it. Apple has had its share of certain people trying to gain access to the security of their devices. The CIA has actually been attempting to decrypt Apple's processors and Xcode in order to create back doors to different applications and programs within the Apple operating systems.

Between people like the CIA trying to hack into Apple device security so that they may have "lawful electronic surveillance" become more possible and  employees intentionally or unintentionally putting your company's information and data at risk, it's easy to see why your company's network security is so important. Your company's information is invaluable, so make sure you have all of your bases covered.

Sources located here, here and here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Microsoft Borrows A Few Tricks From Apple For Windows 10 Operating System

Microsoft's Windows latest operating system (OS) only really has one major competitor and that's Apple's OS X. Granted OS X is usually only found on Apple computers whereas Windows is found on, well, nearly every other computer on the planet; the two are still competitors nonetheless. With Windows 8 failing to make the impact on consumers that Microsoft wanted the company has turned its sights to Windows 10, the newest iteration of the operating system. With Windows 10 being in direct competition with Apple's OS X 10.10 Yosemite, it's interesting to see how similar the two operating systems are to each other.

Desktop-Dedicated OS

Microsoft released a preview version of Windows 10 and a lot of the reviews are in. Interestingly enough, a lot of reviews are saying how similar Windows 10 looks to OS X Yosemite! One of the big changes and perhaps major faults Microsoft made with Windows 8 was trying to combine their desktop OS and mobile OS. Apple has always done a nice job of keeping iOS, their mobile operating system, and OS X separate. Windows 10 looks to change that and get back to being a truly desktop-dedicated operating system.

Task View

Windows 10 and OS X 10.10 Yosemite do look very similar, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. One feature that the two operating systems seem to share originated with Apple: OS X's Mission Control (Bottom Image). Mission Control allows you to see every running program window in an organized, heads-up way. In addition to that, it also allows you to view multiple desktops and add additional desktops with a click of a button. Windows 10 has a nearly identical feature known as Task View (Top).

Clicking or tapping on the Task View button on the Start menu brings up each and every app window in the heads-up mode in a grid. From here you can view other virtual desktops or create your own which means virtual desktops are back. What's even more interesting is the gesture shortcut for bringing up Task View is identical on Windows 10 to that of OS X. Simply swipe three fingers up on a trackpad and the mode is exposed. Sure this is a complete rip-off from Apple's OS X, but also a very smart decision by Microsoft.

Start Menu Back & Better

One of the biggest things users didn't like with Windows 8 was that the Start menu was essentially gone, replaced by the Metro Live Tiles. The good news is that the Start menu is back and not at the expense of the tiles, essentially making everyone happy. The tiles are now able to be attached to the Start menu and can also show updates in real-time. This is also similar to what OS X Yosemite is doing with its Notification Center. OS X Yosemite offers customizable widgets on the Today screen like it did in iOS 8.

SEE ALSO: HP Unveils "The Machine", Ousts Microsoft


However, Microsoft can take the credit for the similarities between OS X Yosemite and Windows 10 in terms of OneDrive and iCloud Drive. In both operating systems, user login accounts can be tied to the respective drives. When this happens, iCloud and One Drive integrate seamlessly with the desktop experience, making it easy to access files and folders from the cloud or to save files that are then synced with the cloud. Apple users have been after a more Dropbox or OneDrive approach to cloud services and now they are getting their wish.

The fact that Microsoft is borrowing from Apple and vice versa is most definitely a good thing. Sure being unique sets you apart from the competition but for the user, having more cohesive desktops allows for more seamless transitions between devices. At least this way users have the opportunity to have the best of both worlds when it comes to features of Windows 10 and OS X Yosemite.

BONUS: How to use Windows Technical Preview

Monday, November 17, 2014

Windows 10 With The Latest Technical Preview Build

If you've been keeping tabs on Microsoft's Windows 10 Technical Preview then you should really focus in here for a second. Microsoft has been consistently tweaking its Windows 10 Preview with new builds loaded with new features. These builds have been coming out pretty regularly with the first one debuting on October 1. The next iteration, which was known as Build 9860, came out around three weeks ago and Microsoft has just released the newest build, Build 9879. But why are these new builds so important?

With Windows 8 failing to attract customers like Windows 7 did so, naturally, Microsoft is under a lot of pressure to make sure that Windows 10 releases to as much fanfare as possible. In that respect, Microsoft has opened up a Windows Insider Preview Program, the purpose of which is to encourage people to download and install Windows 10 and share their opinions with Microsoft in order for the company to see if it is making the right choices. By keeping up with the latest builds you ensure that your feedback is relevant and up to date.

Windows Rentals Nationwide

In order to be up to date you have to be running the latest build, but how do you make sure that you're doing so? If you're not already running the Windows 10 Technical Preview then you can download it on your PC, though that isn't recommended unless you plan on doing so on a separate, spare computer. You can download it as an ISO file and then copy that file to a DVD or USB drive in order to install it on another PC, in a separate partition or as a virtual machine on your current computer.

Ok so if you've done all that or already have Windows 10 running it's time to get the latest build. And here's how to do it:
  • If you're using Windows 10, click the Start button and then click the option for PC settings. 
  • On the PC settings screen, click the Update and Recovery setting.
  • On the Update and Recovery screen, click the option for Preview Builds.
  • On the Preview Builds screen, click the button to Check Now. 
Once you do all this, Windows will tell you if a new build is available and display a Download Now button. If there are no new builds then another message appears alerting you that there are no new Preview Modes found. If a new build is found then:
  • Click the Download Now button. Windows will begin downloading and then installing the new build. 
  • Once the build is installed Windows will prompt you to restart your PC. 
  • Restart your  PC, log back in and the new build will be ready and waiting. 

You can then confirm that you are running the newest build by looking at the lower right portion of your desktop. There you will see the label Windows Technical Preview Evaluation Copy followed by the number of the build. At the moment, the latest build number is 9879. The next time you run this process you should see a higher build process number.

Now you are able to mess around with new build to see what you like, what works and what doesn't. Microsoft's OneDrive, for example, is not working in the current build. As Microsoft unleashes new builds, new features and new bugs will be noticed. In order to send feedback, click the Start Button and then click the Windows Feedback tile. At the Windows Feedback page you can select a specific category and feature to see feedback from other users or add your own.

Microsoft already has certain plans for Windows 10 and how it will tweak and shape things for the final build, though the company is definitely relying on the feedback it is receiving from users of the Technical Preview builds. If you were less than thrilled with Windows 8 then this is your chance to make Windows 10 the operating system you've always wanted.

Monday, October 20, 2014

HP Splitting Personal Computers And Printers Division From Enterprise Division

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When HP took over UK software group Autonomy the results were pretty bad. So bad, in fact that HP went into a full-blown crisis, which inspired the company to break up the two companies. This
news comes after allegations have been going back and forth between the two companies with each stating things like "fraud" and "misrepresentation" involved in the takeover with HP claiming that Autonomy overstated the number of contracts it had when the deal was being brokered.

CEO of HP Meg Whitman, whom has come under considerable fire for this whole situation, has decided to split HP's personal computers and printers business from its corporate hardware business, which has been highly profitable. Each part of the company will be worth tens of billions of dollars, though the deal itself is directed at making the large PC division easier to manage and focus on.

Whitman will take on the role of CEO of the enterprise division with Senior PC Division Executive Dion Weiser leading the PC division. In addition to that, Whitman will also be chairman of the PC division with the current Senior Independent Director, Patricia Russo, becoming chairman of the enterprise division. Some people have noted that this was the plan of Whitman's predecessor Leo Apotheker, who's idea of breaking up the two businesses was swiftly canned when Whitman took over. In addition to that, it has also been noted that both halves of the company are pretty equal in size, generating revenues of $55.9 billion last year.

HP was previously the world's biggest PC maker until Lenovo managed to snag the top spot last year. Lenovo has been increasing its presence in the American market with its low cost of production and quickly increasing technology. Whitman has had trouble finding HP's next area of growth in the computing world. Things like tablets and cloud computing have changed the face of the computing world drastically. As a result, Whitman has tried to branch HP into cloud computing, but with little success. That has also been exacerbated by her failed efforts to pull off a mega-merger with data storage giant EMC Corp.

SEE ALSO: Lenovo & Ashton Kutcher Are Giving Us A Tablet With A Built-In Pico Projector!

Whitman is looking at the need to not only cut costs due to the falling sales of traditional PCS. What's more is that Whitman and HP are also dealing with the need to cut tens of thousands of staff members around the world. The decision by HP to divide the two companies will likely be seen as positive by those on Wall Street due to the fact that investors have been demanding sprawling companies with diverse interests break up into smaller divisions that are easier to value and easier for management teams to oversee.

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Monday, September 22, 2014

Micron Ships Its Cheapest SSD With New 16n, Node

Last week Micron announced its newest solid-state drive (SSD), one that uses its densest process ever and one that has a chip capable of programming the memory to act like a high-performance SLC or high-capacity MLC flash drive. This new client-class SSD is known as the M600 SSD and uses Micron's new 16nm lithography with 128GB NAND density.

That greater density allows the company to drop the cost per GB to as low as $0.45. In addition to that, the ability to dynamically program the flash also reduces power use while improving write performance up to 2.8 times over models without this feature, according to Senior Technical Marketing Engineer for Micron Jon Tanguy. Tanguy also added that the M600 also has a sequential read/write rate of 560 MBps and has a random read/write rate of up to 100,000 I/Os per second and 88,000 I/Os per second, respectively.

The M600 is based on an 8-channel Marvell controller that comes with government-grade hardware encryption using the 256-bit AES protocol. This SSD is being marketed to manufacturers of corporate notebooks and ultra-thin netbooks as well as workstations and desktop PCs. As a result, the M600 comes in three form factors: a 2.5" SSD, an mSATA card and an M.2 memory stick. The mSATA and M.2 form factors come in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB capacities for $80, $140 and $260, respectively. The 2.5" SSD comes in all the same capacities for the same prices but adds in a 1TB version that runs $450. In addition to that, the prices drop depending on the quantity you purchase, meaning the more you buy the cheaper they are per unit.

These prices may seem a little steep but they are in line with consumer-class products. SanDisk recently released its Ultra II SSD, which sells for $0.44 per GB. This SSD uses triple-level cell NAND flash, which means it stores three bits of data per NAND flash cell making it the densest industry specification to date. However, the more bits that are stored in cells the bigger the potential for data errors, which requires companies to create more sophisticated ECC.

Micron, instead of packing more bits in cells or over-provisioning its SSD with flash capacity, reduced the size of its process technology and added what "Dynamic Write Acceleration". Dynamic Write Acceleration is a special firmware that changes flash cells from single-level cell technology to multi-level cell technology. According to Tanguy, "So you can swap back and forth dynamically in order to deliver a pool of SLC or MLC capacity. Any new data programming is performed in SLC mode for really high performance."

This new firmware allows Micron to create a dynamic pool of cache without the need to overprovision. "We think doing this gives us a good method to address client loads that tend to be bursty in nature as opposed to enterprise data center write workloads that tend to be sustained," Tangy added. However, changing the NAND flash from SLC to MLC and back does increase write amplification. Increasing this wears out the usable lifespan of NAND flash more quickly. "The additional write amplification introduced with the new dynamic write acceleration firmware is manageable," Tanguy stated.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Microsoft's New Surface Pro 3 Has A New Docking Station That Makes It Indistinguishable From A Desktop

I feel that there are far too many times where we see add-ons for technology or games. Really, just about anything that has to deal with add-ons kind of makes me cringe, and here is the reason why. I just spent money on the product, but now you're telling me that there is something else I need to add to make it better? While that is all well and good, I feel like I'm getting gypped because I feel as if I'm getting an unfinished product. We see this a lot with video games and downloadable content extras. I feel as if tech companies have started to take notice of all the people who purchase things like this and now have decided to use it with their own technology to increase sales. Take for example the relatively new Microsoft Surface Pro 3. The "tablet that can replace your laptop" now is offering a nice little add-on for those hardcore enough to get it.

The Docking Station
Let's get to the meat and potatoes of it all. Microsoft has just recently introduced a new docking station for their Surface Pro 3, and for what it's worth, it's actually pretty awesome. The docking station itself comes with quite a few extra ports; 5 USB ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, a security slot, a gigabit Ethernet port, and a very handy Mini Display Port connector. The Mini Display Port can enable your tablet to add another monitor to double the screen size, definitely a really nice touch for the new docking station. Arguably the best part of the whole device is the way that it makes the new Surface Pro 3 look oddly reminiscent of a desktop computer in the way that it has been designed. The new docking station is pretty portable as well, and only adds to  fact that the device can have its versatility stretched.

The Price Tag
You may not think that the price tag of something like this is really that much to talk about, but it's more the price tag for different add-on devices that tends to grind my gears. This particular device has a relatively smaller price tag. The docking station will cost you roughly $200. This in itself isn't TOO bad, but when you think about the fact that the Surface Pro 3 is already $800 (and that doesn't even include the tablet's keyboard), those extras add up quickly. So the docking station raises the price tag of the Surface Pro 3 by quite a bit, which can only raise one question: Is it really worth it?

A Sound Investment?
These types of add-ons for devices aren't usually this intricate or this practical. It definitely makes having the Surface Pro 3 that much better if you do own/use one. Now you really can have a desktop on the go with the new docking station. The docking station does still have a few drawbacks, including the price and that fact that the only display port is a MiniDisplay port. That being said, if you can get past the price of the docking station and not really need another screen, then this honestly could be a must buy. The only thing that would really hold me back from this, again, is the price tag of this station. $200 is a lot of money to ask for when you're not really getting anything other than a power charging station and a few extra ports.

For those of us who may happen to already own, or may rent, the new Surface Pro 3, this could definitely help make working with your laptop/tablet hybrid a lot easier. The fact that you can basically have a new desktop wherever there is electricity definitely makes the new docking station all that much more appealing despite the fact that it still is $200. Who is to say that more tech companies won't follow suit and start putting out tech add-ons either? We will see in the very near future!

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Monday, August 25, 2014

Windows 9 May Be Unveiled On September 30th

It appears that we may not have to wait much longer for Windows 9 to come out. According to reports, Windows is planning a huge event scheduled for September 30th. At this event the company is expected to show off an early version of their highly anticipated Windows 9 operating system.

Update: Microsoft Is Skipping 'Windows 9' And Naming Their Newest Operating System 'Windows 10.' Read more here:

Many different sources that have proven to be legitimate in the past have said that Microsoft is probably going to release a developer version of Windows 9 at the same time that the press event on September 9th happens. Last week a report from Mary Jo Foley, a ZDNet Microsoft expert, said that a preview version of the new operating system would be coming some time in late September or early October. This is pretty consistent with the news that is popping up, so all the puzzle pieces are starting to come together.

The code name that they are using right now is Windows Threshold. This is likely going to be Windows 9, but either way it is expected to feature a brand new and re-worked Start menu for Desktop mode. It is also going to have a nixed Charms bar and Metro apps that you can run in a window. There have also been hints dropped that there will be a desktop version of Cortana, Microsoft's mobile voice assistant. Cortana might not be in the first build of the new operating system, but it is pretty certain that she will make her way in at some point or another.

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There has also been some talk about what else there might be at the big event on September 30th. There may be a new hybrid of Windows RT and Windows Phone. There has been a lot of talk about a unified Windows operating system for all devices, so that might make sense. There will be tons more details as we get closer to the event, so stay tuned.