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A New, Tiny Computer Could Soon Be Coming to Apple Valley | PC Maintenance

A New, Tiny Computer Could Soon Be Coming to Apple Valley

When the Raspberry Pi was introduced to the general public a few years ago, the tiny computer was welcomed as a promising and revolutionary device that could change our perception of technology. The time has apparently come for an even tinier computing device.

What Are These Tiny Computers?

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has a long history of supporting tech education in the United Kingdom, and the release of the Micro Bit to the general public is in line with this tradition. The BBC Micro Bit is smaller than the Raspberry Pi, which was also envisioned in the UK, and it was originally intended to get children interested in coding.

The Micro Bit is smaller than a matchbox; it is powered by an ARM processor, similar to several mobile devices that run on the Android operating system. Along with the processor, the Micro Bit also features connectivity via Bluetooth and USB protocols; it has two buttons that can be programmed and the main connector made of 23 pins.

As a single-board computing device, the Micro Bit is less powerful than the Raspberry Pi, which can easily be turned into a family or work computer thanks to the Linux operating system. Micro Bits have to be coded in Python and C++.

Amazing Tiny Devices With Multitudes of Functionality

What is neat about these small devices is that they do not require a keyboard and monitor to be connected for the purpose of programming them; that can be accomplished from a cloud platform. In other words, once the code is flashed onto a MicroBit, it must be plugged into another device so that it can execute.

Some of the outstanding projects already coded by British children on the Micro Bit include an interface for a heat sensor aboard a meteorological balloon and a machine learning program that instructs the device to create sounds from graphic inputs.

Now that the BBC has introduced the Micro Bit, the UK will become known for its dedication to tiny computers that can promote tech education as well as real-life solutions to people everywhere.

The Proven Usefulness of Raspberry Pi Devices

Both Micro Bit and Raspberry Pi are educational computing devices that have proven themselves to be powerful enough to have commercial appeal. In California, for example, homebrew computing clubs regularly meet to work on exciting projects.

It is unclear when the Micro Bit will be available in Apple Valley or Victorville; however, the Raspberry Pi has already garnered local interest from people who would like to use it as a media center, a playroom computer, or even as a simple business computer for a home office.

If you would like to discuss Raspberry Pi projects for your Apple Valley home, please contact A Plus Computer.
The Problem With Wi-Fi and Home Networking | Victorville Computer Repair

The Problem With Wi-Fi and Home Networking

Homeowners in Apple Valley and Victorville are increasingly becoming interested in smart home automation and the Internet of Things (IoT), and they are almost invariably relying on Wi-Fi networks for this purpose.

The Home Networking Features People Really Need

The problem with most Wi-Fi home networks is that device manufacturers are not in the habit of providing full disclosure to consumers; this means that manufacturers often push the simplicity of plug-and-play with little regard to safety or to the quality of connectivity.

Let’s say a family living in Apple Valley goes to Walmart to pick up a Wi-Fi modem/router combo device on sale. There is a strong chance that the device will come with a small leaflet guide with steps for installation and basic password security, but it will not include issues related to data encryption, interference or bandwidth management.

Let’s say the family above decides to connect a media center, three laptops, two tablets, three smartphones, a security system, and a FitBit tracker to this router. Will this device be able to handle its duties as a single wireless access point effectively? Will it be able to always stay online and provide sufficient bandwidth to all users?

The problem with Wi-Fi home networks these days is that many wireless device manufacturers fail to inform prospective buyers about possible shortcomings. Less than a handful of manufacturers actually design and sell devices that create multiple access points that can create a mesh network that can efficiently manage bandwidth and security.

Complaints about poor performance and dead signal spots are often heard by technicians of A Plus Computer in Apple Valley in relation to home wireless networks. This is often caused by overloaded routers that only offer single-point access and lack range extension solutions.

The Latest in Routers & Networking

Thankfully, home networking conditions are beginning to improve thanks to the interest of manufacturers who serve the enterprise world, but who are starting to create wireless devices for home use. Eero and Ubiquiti are two such manufacturers; their introductory devices cost more than routers that can be purchased at WalMart, but they include smart traffic management, mesh networking and range extenders to amplify the wireless signal.

Although the new, efficient wireless routers also offer the option of simple, plug-and-play installation, they will require professional installation when it comes to smart home automation and IoT. This is particularly important when the network also supports a home-based business that handles customer data; this would be a situation that calls for greater security.
The Advantage of Local Computer Repair in Apple Valley | A Plus Computers

The Advantage of Local Computer Repair in Apple Valley

Up until the mid-1990s, the computer repair industry in California and across the United States was mostly a local affair. The most common business model for computer repair shops was largely independent and geared towards serving a few bordering communities; such is the case with A Plus Computer, which serves Apple Valley, Victorville, Hesperia and the High Desert region.

It’s been more than two decades since the computer repair industry adopted the national retail chain and franchise models. Geek Squad, for example, started in 1994 as an independent business with the intent of branching out geographically; that intention certainly became whole when the shops merged into the Best Buy electronic retail empire.

Local Computer Repair Shops Have Your Best Interests in Mind

Local computer repair shops have managed to survive the retail chain and national franchising models through various advantages to customers. As a prominent national chain, Geek Squad has not been impervious to controversy; this is nearly impossible to escape due to the sheer size of the company, and this is something that local computer repair shops are able to avoid.

According to an investigation by the Los Angeles Times, the defense attorney of a doctor accused of possessing illegal data on his computer has accused the FBI of keeping an informant within a massive Geek Squad computer repair center near Louisville.

Best Buy is certainly troubled about the allegations brought forward by the attorney; after all, receiving money from the FBI in exchange for information about the digital content of computers to be repaired puts the company in a tight spot.

Tech analysts following the aforementioned report have commented that it would be easier for the FBI to plant informants at a large facility such as Geek Squad, where they could easily spy on multiple computers over the years. Planting an informant in a small, local shop would be difficult.

Your Privacy and Data Are Protected

A local computer repair shop owner is bound to have greater control over the flow of devices that are on the technician’s benches, and they can closely monitor how the repairs are being conducted. Suspicious technician behavior is easier to detect at small shops; this is hardly the case for Geek Squad’s regional and national repair centers.

One of the greater advantages that customers have with their local computer repair shops is that they can actually speak with the owner and ask many questions about how repairs are carried out as well as how they can guarantee data privacy. In fact, the shop owner can even invite the customer to witness repair sessions; this is not possible at Geek Squad.
How Computer Users in California Are Falling Prey to Repair Scams | Apple Valley

How Computer Users in California Are Falling Prey to Repair Scams

A malware attack that masquerades as an antivirus notification or as a system maintenance utility is defrauding computer users in the central region California.

According to local news reports published in mid-April, this particular cyber attack has been serious enough to get the attention of the Santa Cruz County District Attorney.

Understanding Scams & Cyber Attacks

The attack has been described as follows: it starts with a message displayed inside a window that looks very similar to the notifications displayed by antivirus programs, system utilities or even the Windows operating systems. The message alerts the user to a severe virus infection or some other type of malware in the system, and it also directs the user to either call a telephone number or visit a website for technical assistance and repair.

When the victim makes a phone call or visits a website as instructed by the urgent message, a cybercrime perpetrator is usually on the other end. The next step is to trick the users into either purchasing online repair services with their credit cards or convincing them to grant remote access to their computers.

The Santa Cruz County District Attorney has reported that these particular cyber scams have resulted in thousands of dollars lost by users whose credit card and banking information has been stolen. The United States Federal Trade Commission has already identified these tech support scams, and officials are reaching out to consumers for the purpose of warning them.

Beware of Regional Cyber Attacks

It is not unusual to see desktop and laptop users from the same region affected by the same cyber attack. Many cybercrime outfits send out malware to entire IP blocks, which means that computer users served by local Internet service providers could be affected by the same malware at once. There’s also the issue of malware that reads the address books and contact lists of their victims so that that malicious code can propagate via email.

Santa Cruz is less than 350 miles away from Apple Valley and Victorville, and thus it is very possible that these attacks may extend to the High Desert region. All it takes for the malware to start spreading is one or two local computers becoming infected.

The key to avoiding falling prey to tech support scams is to disconnect the device from the Internet and immediately contact a trusted, local computer repair shop. At A Plus Computer in Apple Valley, we are familiar with this situation, which requires malware removal as well as a system evaluation.

Windows 10 is Evolving and Causing Headaches | Apple Valley Computer Upgrades

Windows 10 Is Evolving and Causing Headaches

The last couple of years have been filled with success for tech giant Microsoft, and Windows 10 has played a major part in this regard. The company’s strategy to gain operating system market share has worked wonders; as a result, many users in Apple Valley and Victorville now have Windows 10 on their desktops, laptops, and even tablets.

For all the positive reviews and fanfare surrounding Windows 10, it is important to remember that this is still a new Microsoft operating system, which means that it must endure an evolution process that could last a few years before all the wrinkles are ironed out.

The Latest Windows 10 Update

The latest Windows 10 build is called the Anniversary Update, and it packs quite a few new features. As of April 16, developers and insiders were getting a taste of this major update, which includes Windows Ink integration with Microsoft Office and the Edge browser; this new feature allows users with advanced touchscreens to draw and write freehand notes. The Start Menu and the impressive Cortana virtual assistant have also been augmented, but all these improvements have also brought problems.

Users who installed the Windows 10 Anniversary Update before two regular system updates, namely 7458 and 7461, have reported a flurry of issues, including:

  • Failure to install
  • Crashing upon restart
  • Crashing when activating the new Start Menu
  • Unresponsive Windows Store
  • Inoperative messaging app
  • Blue Screen of Death (BSOD)

For many users, seeing the BSOD on Windows 10 has been a very unpleasant surprise. The BSOD was made infamous by Windows XP and continued through Windows 8, but many users assumed that Microsoft had eliminated it with the release of Windows 10.

Making Sure Your System is Up-to-Date

Thus far, the Windows Anniversary Update has caused headaches for a few computer users whose systems are caught in a crash loop, and this is mostly affecting desktops as well as older laptops. Many tablets and portable systems have a convenient reset feature that comes in very handy when these issues come about.

If you are having problems with your Windows 10 device in Apple Valley, Victorville or elsewhere in the High Desert, contact our office to discuss a solution. In some cases, your system requirements may be an issue; in other cases, your Windows 10 installation may need to be repaired. If you are caught in a crash loop, your data may be intact and should not be difficult to recover in case Windows needs to be reinstalled.
Common iPhone Repair Issues | Victorville Smartphone & PC Repair Service

Common iPhone Repair Issues

With each new version of the revolutionary iPhone, tech giant Apple proves why this device continues to be one of the most popular in the world. The iPhone keeps getting more advanced and sophisticated, but this does not mean that it is impervious to technical issues.

At the Genius Bars of Apple Stores everywhere, technicians are more likely to be found helping out customers with issues related to iPhones than with issues related to any other devices. These are problems tend to be different from those that affect computers, but they can be handled in Apple Valley and Victorville by the staff of A Plus Computer.

Here are some of the most common issues experienced by iPhone owners:

  • Unable to connect to Wi-Fi networks: In most cases, the iOS version is out of date; however, this may also be indicative of a hardware component failure and may require replacement.
  • Inoperative home button: In most iPhones, this problem can be easily fixed by means of an inexpensive and simple replacement.
  • Battery no longer charges: When the icon that displays the recharging status no longer appears, this may indicate a faulty dock connector. Similar to the home button, this is an issue that requires replacement, and it is often recommended to replace the microphone at the same time.
  • Overheating and rapid loss of battery charge: Before replacing an iPhone battery, it helps to review the settings and the installed apps for the purpose of figuring out which processes are constantly running. Some owners may choose to backup their data before performing a hard reset, updating the iOS and reinstalling only essential apps.
  • Unresponsive touchscreen: iPhone displays are known to be very resilient, and they can keep on functioning even with a nicked or cracked glass; however, they have their limits. When a hard reset does not bring a damaged touchscreen back to life, a full replacement may be needed. The cost of this repair will depend on the iPhone model.
  • Apps become unstable and constantly crash: iOS is a formidable piece of software engineering, but it is known to have a few issues. Ambiguous settings, an improperly applied jailbreak, or an out-of-date version of iOS can cause installed apps to behave erratically. Depending on the issue, this can be fixed by a soft or hard reset along with an iOS update.

If your iPhone, iPod or iPad are afflicted by any of the issues above, contact A Plus Computer in Victorville.

Should You Give Linux a Try in 2016? | Victorville Computer Upgrades

Should You Give Linux a Try in 2016?

Since last year, tech giant Microsoft has been on a mission to remain the absolute leader of the operating system (OS) market. With Windows 10, the company made famous by former CEO and co-founder Bill Gates is on track to asserting OS dominance not only on desktops and laptops but also mobile devices.

Microsoft Windows Faces Rising Competition

For decades, Windows’ main competitor has been Apple’s OS X, which is currently in its version 10.11.4, called El Capitan. The only other OS that used to nip at the heels of Apple and Microsoft used to be Linux and its many desktop versions; however, that started to change a few years ago with the advent of the Android mobile OS, one of the most successful projects launched by Google.

These days, Android is an even greater challenger to Windows than OS X and Linux combined. It so happens that Android is essentially a special build of Linux, which is a major reason why this former underdog OS is once again garnering interest.

The Convenience of Smartphone Apps, on a Computer

For all the great new features of Windows 10, many computer users in Apple Valley, Victorville and across the High Desert are getting used to Android-powered devices that rely on flash storage and cloud computing. This means that a disk-based OS such as Windows is no longer as attractive. Some people are waiting for a desktop version of Android, which will probably arrive before the end of the decade; in the meantime, however, many are trying out the Linux OS in their desktops and laptops because of the ability to run Android apps.

Although Microsoft has promised to bring Android apps to Windows 10, this may take some time. Linux users do not have to wait at all; with special emulators, they can install apps from Google Play and run them on their Linux desktops, which means that they can be fully synchronized.

The advent of Windows 10 has not slowed down Linux; in fact, developers in this open source community are learning interesting concepts from Windows 10 that they would like to incorporate into future OS builds.

Don’t Be Intimidated

Trying out Linux in 2016 is not as intimidating as it may have been more than five years ago. If the majority of your files are in the cloud, and if you find yourself working out of your Android tablet or smartphone, there is a good chance that you may enjoy Linux.

If you would like to configure your desktop or laptop into a powerful Linux machine that can run your Android apps, contact A Plus Computer so that we can discuss your options.
Optimizing Android Devices | Apple Valley Computer Repair & Maintenance

Optimizing Android Devices

If you live in Apple Valley, Victorville or elsewhere in the High Desert region, there is a very good chance that you currently own, or are thinking about getting an Android-powered device.

The Thrill of New Android Smartphone Devices

Whenever you get a smartphone, tablet, set-top box, TV stick, or any other device that runs on the Android mobile operating system, you are bound to be impressed with the device performance in the beginning. As time passes, however, you will likely notice a considerable slowdown and an overall deprecation of everyday functions.

It does not matter whether you own a high-end smartphone or a cheap Chinese tablet; at some point you will be frustrated by sluggish performance, and this usually happens after you have enthusiastically visited the Google Play store to install a lot of useful and entertaining apps.

Optimize & Maintain Performance

Your Android device is more similar to a traditional desktop PC than you think. If you have gone through the painful experience of dealing with Windows computers with too many processes running in the background, you will understand that this can happen to a smartphone or tablet.

The Android operating system is designed in such a way that you don’t have to close apps; they are always in a ready state for faster performance, but this can also become an issue over time.

A smartphone or tablet that starts running slower is in clear need of optimization. There are various reasons why this may happen, and one of the most common has to do with available memory, partitions and firmware.

Some versions of Android ship with two partitions: a small one for apps and a larger one for file storage. It is very easy for the app space to fill up quickly, thus making the device slower. If this is the case, one solution would be to repartition the memory to maximize performance; this can also be accomplished by upgrading the firmware if the manufacturer allows it.

Other Android Solutions to Look Into

Another solution involves moving the apps and their data caches out of the primary storage space and into an external SD card that must be inserted at all times. To do this, it may be necessary to root the device and connect it to a PC for the purpose of formatting the SD card and moving the apps.

Once an Android device has been optimized and the RAM has been expanded, more apps can be installed, and the speed of the operating system will be similar to day one.
Is Your Computer Ready for Virtual Reality? | Apple Valley Custom Computers

Is Your Computer Ready for Virtual Reality?

Many trends come and go in personal computing, but many of them stick around long enough to become paradigms. Mobile devices are good examples in this regard; smartphones and tablets are quickly replacing laptops and netbooks, and they can actually replace desktops in some cases. Smartwatches and other wearable computing devices are still in the trend phase; many analysts believe that their time is yet to come.

Virtual reality (VR) is the latest trend in personal computing, and it seems as if it is here to stay. VR is not a new technology, but it has finally reached a level of development that makes it accessible and friendly to average computer users. VR technology combines wearable computing with advanced optics, audio and immersive multimedia to deliver an experience like no other.

VR Options Available in the Market Today

At this time, VR options range from the very simple to the extremely sophisticated; those who are interested in this technology can get started with a smartphone, a rudimentary viewer, and a few mobile apps. However, for a really immersive and life-like experience, headsets such as the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift are required. These VR headsets can be connected to computers, video game consoles or mobile devices, and they can be used with software applications that range from games to educational titles and from operating systems to simulators.

VR technology is set to revitalize the desktop gaming industry, which in the last few years has been losing ground to video game consoles. Games being developed for VR players will look and feel better when they run on desktop machines, but only when certain system requirements are in place. VR game titles for PC tend to very demanding on the hardware platforms they run on, which means that certain system requirements must be met.

Meeting the Hardware Requirements for VR

Most desktop computers currently in use across Apple Valley and Victorville are not likely to meet the system requirements needed for an optimal VR gaming experience. In fact, not all desktops configured specifically for gaming will deliver the best in VR. Aside from a powerful, modern CPU, the best VR experience also requires plenty of memory, a tuned-up operating system, and a high-performance graphics card.

If you are interested in getting your computer optimized for VR, contact A Plus Computer so that we can discuss your upgrade options. With the right configuration, you will be able to play the most exciting VR games at 90 frames per second.
Modern Computer Repair with Remote Access | Apple Valley PC Maintenance

Modern Computer Repair with Remote Access

Thanks to the wonders of computer networking these days, residents of Apple Valley and Victorville do not always have to bring their desktops, laptops or tablets to our shop for repair. Depending on the issues, a remote access session can solve the problem while the devices and users stay home.

The Development of Remote Access Solutions

Remote access computer repair is a logical progression of the telephone and online chat tech support of yesteryear. There was a time when computer buyers in the High Desert region were offered warranties that could be honored at local repair centers or at the same store where they purchased their devices. This retail model was largely abandoned in the late 20th century as computers started to be offered through department stores, e-commerce websites and even discount warehouses; this retail shift started an era of telephone and live chat tech support.

Full service repair shops such as A Plus Computers flourished once desktops and laptops were no longer sold exclusively at specialty stores. Warranties do not last as long as they used to, and shipping a computer to the manufacturer for repairs is a hassle for most users. Taking a computer to a local shop has always been a better option, and this extends to remote access repair.

Resolving Computer Problems Through Remote Access

There are several computer issues that can be handled remotely, particularly if the device is powered by a version of Microsoft Windows; however, the number of remote access repair services for Apple devices has grown exponentially since the late Steve Jobs introduced the iOS and Mac OS X systems. Fixing computers from afar requires the use of remote access applications that must be installed in the devices used by the technician and the user; for this reason, a local repair shop is always preferred due to trust issues.

Granting remote access to a computer repair technician is something that requires a certain level of trust. In the last few years, online repair shops have used Internet marketing to massively advertise their services. There is an inherent problem with giving a complete stranger remote access to your computer; to this end, users are better off meeting with local repair technicians and bringing their devices to the shop at least once.

The option of remote access repair can be discussed in advance with a local technician. At this time, the remote access application can be installed on the client’s computer, and a security protocol can be agreed upon for future sessions. For more information about how we can fix your computer while you stay at home or at the office, please contact us today.