23 November 2014

Windows Vista to 7

If you are running Windows Vista then you are at risk of your computer starting to slow down and sometimes hang up for no discernible reason. It may also suddenly fail completely leaving you without a system.

Upgrading is quite straightforward provided that your computer is powerful enough for, or can be updated to accommodate Windows 7.

Most computers running Vista should be OK with 7, or may just need some extra RAM ('thinking') memory added.

For more details, contact Andy on 020 8 662 1124 or mail@a222.net

30 September 2014

Sweex UPS 650 VA operation

I've recently installed a Sweex UPS. UPS means 'Uninterrupted Power Supply' and is a box which keeps your computer running for a short time in event of a mains power failure.

When mains power fails, the box will respond by a rhythmic beep. You have a few minutes to respond.

First close any programs which are open. Prioritise the programs most likely to be affected by a cut, so work through the following list:

Accounting programs - Sage, Quickbooks etc. Do NOT take the 'backup data' option.
Microsoft Outlook.
Any open Microsoft Access databases.
Other MS Office programs - Word, Excel etc.

Do not bother to shutdown web browsers, Windows Media (or other video/audio player) or Adobe acrobat.

Whilst doing this, you can monitor how much time you have by right-clicking the UPS icon and selecting 'Start Monitor'.

Shutdown the PC.

Once done, switch off the Sweex by pressing the power button at the front of the unit. Remember to turn it on again when power resumes.

16 June 2014

St Jude

St. Jude, as some of you might know, is the patron saint of Loast Causes.

A customer came to me recently with a laptop which was failing as soon as Windows loaded. A local computer shop had shrugged and said it wasn't worth mending. Client had given up with it and left it on te shelf for 6 months. A222, however, had it up and fixed for just £110.

So, do you have a computer which is gathering dust because it's not working properly?

Do you want to get it going again? Retrieve vital data stored on it? Get in touch with us via www.a222.net

We'll see what we can do. If it's not repairable then we can retrieve any data and dispose of it properly per our previous posting - you might even get some money back!

9 June 2014

Bring out ye dead!

Old and dead computers are a problem. People worry about throwing them out because of personal or confidential data which they contain.
A222 can help.
So, what do we do with your old computer?
Firstly, all data is removed. If you need that data then it can be returned to you on some form of media or even loaded back on to one of your other computers. Alternatively we can retain it in our archives for you for a finite or infinite time.
The equipment is inspected and one of three things happens to each item.
Anything salvagable and of value is sold and the proceeds split - so you may get something back!
Working items with no commercial value are usually passed to a charity which provides computers for schools in Sri Lanka.
Whatever remains is properly disposed of via licensed or council recycling facilities.
So if your PC or laptop is on its last legs we can give it a safe secure send-off, find the best green solution, and maybe get you some cash back in the process.
Call us on 020 8 662 1124 or email to mail@a222.net

1 June 2014

Wordpress - how to change the author of a post.

This is not immediately obvious and WP documentation is not 100%

The usual Edit mode does not always provide the author selection drop-down.

Instead, choose Quick Edit - this will work.

22 April 2014

Don't XPanic - life after Windows XP.

From April 8th, many Windows XP users saw a message indicating that their system (XP) would no longer be supported by Microsoft.

This has led to a bit of a panic, so let's set some things straight.

  • XP (obviously) continues to work after April 8th has passed.
  • Any sudden problem on your computer over the past 3 weeks is probably unrelated to this.
  • There might not be a need to upgrade to a later system - but there are probably good reasons to do so.
Do I need to upgrade?

The answer depends on how you are using your computer, you will need to upgrade if:
  • It is a compliance requirement with other organisations you are working or sharing data with. Most users are not affected by this, but those dealing with financial (banking / credit card) transactions, healthcare or the legal profession may find themselves required to move away from XP.
  • Your XP system is already showing signs of deterioration. After a few years (sometimes sooner), XP systems start to suffer unexplained slowdowns or hangs. This is reason to upgrade regardless of April 8th.
  • You anticipate adding or upgrading programs or software which are not XP compatible.
  • You have a less than adequate antivirus/security system. You can get round this by replacing your free/cheap antivirus with ESET, Kaspersky or the like.
  • You want improved performance.
What's the risk if I don't upgrade?

If you don't upgrade then you are exposed in two ways.
  • A new piece of software, or an upgrade, might not work thus leaving your computer unable to function fully.
  • Without the Microsoft security upgrades, your computer will become vulnerable to new malware (viruses, trojans) and to hacking.
I'm just a home user, can I stick with XP?

Get a decent antivirus/security system, avoid suspicious websites and watch for dodgy emails. Review the situation in 2015.

Can I upgrade my old computer?

It depends a lot on what it is. I have recently upgraded a 7 year old PC with no difficulty. 
If your PC is capable of utilising 4GB of RAM (thinking memory) then Windows 7 should be viable.

Is it cheaper to buy a new computer instead?

Probably not. You will still have the time and expense of installing programs and transferring data from the old system. A new machine will, however, almost certainly be quicker with more capacity for expansion.

What about getting a second hand PC with 7 already installed?

This can be a cheaper option if you are 100% sure of the provenance of the computer. You might be buying a computer already compromised by virus or hacker.

Is there somebody I can talk to?

Sure! Call 020 8 662 1124 for free advice or email on andy@a222.net .


12 April 2014

HeartBleed bug

Heartbleed

There is much in the press at the moment about the 'Heartbleed' bug which has enabled passwords on certain services to be hacked.

I won't go into a lengthy 'science bit' but will provide a list of popular websites and service which might have been affected. In most cases this is precautionary as the site or service employed technology which might have been affected. Those which have reported problems are marked with *.

  • Amazon web services (not ordinary Amazon accounts) - contact Amazon for advice.
  • Box *
  • DropBox *
  • Etsy *
  • Facebook
  • Flickr *
  • GitHub *
  • GoDaddy *
  • Google (but not Chrome)
  • Google Apps
  • Google Gmail
  • Google Play
  • Google Wallet
  • HMRC - ordinary online users unaffected, others will be contacted by HMRC.
  • IFTTT *
  • Instagram *
  • Minecraft *
  • Logmein
  • MumsNet *
  • Netflix *
  • OKCupid *
  • Pinterest *
  • Sage Online
  • SoundCloud *
  • Tumblr *
  • Wikipedia (account holders only)
  • Wordpress *
  • Wunderlist *
  • Yahoo *
  • Yahoo Mail *
  • YouTube *
.
If you use any of those listed then it is recommended that you change your password just in case it has been compromised.

The majority of sites listed above have detected no actual problem but are recommending password changes just in case.

UK Banking systems report no problems.


A222's own webhosting is not affected.

The list above is not comprehensive - you can always check a website's vulnerability at https://filippo.io/Heartbleed

2 March 2014

SRA virus - information and advice.

Last week, Solicitors all over the UK received an email purporting to be from the Solicitors' Regulatory Authority (SRA). The email was quickly identified as spurious and very possibly harbouring a virus of some sort.

Two or three days later, although many people had posted warnings about the letter on the web, nobody appeared to have analysed the threat, nor could I find any technical details on the websites of the main internet security companies.

As a result, A222 decided to make their own investigation. Two of my customers have received the email and I am grateful to Andall-Legal forwarding me a copy for analysis purposes.

FINDINGS
  • The email contains an attachment : a Word document called sra.docm.
  • This does contain a virus, actually a Trojan* called Win32/Injector.AYKU 
  • Antivirus programs fail to spot the infected mail because it is disguised.
  • PCs are vulnerable. 
  • MACs look as if they could get infected but the trojan may be ineffectual.
  • Trojan was intercepted by the ESET anti-virus when it tried to do anything. Other anti-virus programs might or might not be so vigilant.
  • Trojan was only detected in February and it's exact effect is not yet documented.
  • Although this particular trojan was identified, other instances of the email might contain a different trojan or virus.
(* viruses can reproduce and spread, trojans cannot) 

IF YOU'VE RECEIVED THIS EMAIL
  • If you haven't opened the attachment then no problem.
  • If you've previewed it in Outlook 2007/2010/2013/365 or via a web browser then no problem. If you've previewed it in earlier Outlook or any other program then please contact us for advice (see below).
  • If you opened the attachment then you may still be safe but further analysis is required. Do please contact us for advice.
  • Do NOT delete the email - a copy will be needed for analysis.
  • Initial tests suggest that Word 2003 is not vulnerable but later versions are at risk.
A222 may be contacted on 020 8 662 1124 or via sra@a222.co.uk

RELATED INFORMATION




1 March 2014

SRA virus - technical information

This relates to the SRA virus posting on this blog.

The virus is not a conventional attachment, it is delivered thus:
  1. The Word document (sra.dcom) contains long strings of hidden text which are obviously program code.
  2. When the document is opened (security levels permitting) then it runs a macro (think of it as a little App) which also hidden within the document. 
  3. The macro reads through the document and uses this to construct a program which is written to the hard drive of the computer.
  4. This newly created program (the virus or trojan) is then executed.