Posted on February 29, 2016 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
Electronic file encryption is a topic that has been making news headlines lately. Apple Valley and Victorville residents who have been following the outcome of the horrific terrorist attack in nearby San Bernardino are by now familiar with the efforts by law enforcement to access the files inside the computers and mobile devices left behind by the attackers.
How Encryption Factors Into Recent Events
Investigators have been looking for a missing hard drive, and they are in possession of the smartphones of the dead shooters, who were killed in a fierce shootout with police. FBI forensic investigators have not been able to access the data in the encrypted iPhones, and they have obtained a court order compelling Silicon Valley giant Apple to collaborate in this effort. Thus far, Apple has refused to comply, and the explanation by the company’s legal team is that helping to break the encryption of the seized iPhones may put the data of millions of users at risk.
The Development of Modern Encryption
Modern computing devices and operating systems feature much stronger security and encryption protocols than they did in the early 21st century, and this is largely due to the revelations about widespread surveillance and spying by the United States National Security Agency (NSA). Hardware manufacturers and software engineers believe that users have a right to privacy, and thus full encryption can be found in many settings, from hard drives to smartphones and even in the cloud.
Full disk encryption and secure file deletion are features found in Windows versions 7 through 10, and they are also found in Mac OS X. Windows also offers the BitLocker encryption tool, which requires a special chip in the system. By using the highest levels of encryption, users can ensure that their files will not be accessed by others who do not have the right credentials, which can be password combinations, challenges and even biometric scans.
Should the FBI be successful in breaching the encrypted iPhones mentioned above, there is still a chance that the dead attackers may have executed a secure file deletion, which means that the data may be irretrievable beyond any forensic means. Average users may not be able to perform such high levels of file deletion if their operating systems prevent them from doing so.
The best way to ensure that a computer or mobile device is fully encrypted, or to confirm that files can be safely deleted permanently, is to speak to a computer repair technician so that these features can be adequately enabled.
Posted on February 15, 2016 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
California is a region near and dear to tech giant Apple; after all, this is where founders Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs once dreamed of shaking up the computer industry by making it appealing to households. For this reason, it should come as no surprise that Apple products are quite popular in the High Desert area.
A Brief History of Apple’s Operating Systems
There used to be a time when Mac users in Apple Valley and Victorville did not have to worry about operating system (OS) upgrades; that was decades ago when the architecture of Apple computers was built in a way that the OS was integrated and locked to the hardware. These days, however, Apple seems to release OS X updates more often than they actually release new systems.
One particular OS X update is causing concerns among Mac users. We are talking about OS X El Capitan 10.11.3, which Apple released for the purpose of providing greater stability and security. The first thing that Mac users have noticed about this OS X update is that clocks in at a considerable 661 MB and does not really offer any new, visible features.
Possible Issues Experienced by Mac Users
Something else that some Mac users have noticed is that they are running into errors when trying to install this update. These errors display a message that explains that the update can not be verified or that the installation was not successful. As with many other issues related to Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad, these errors may be related to the OS X date and time, which can be set automatically when the Mac is online or manually if the Internet connection is unreliable.
Another fix to the errors above can be found by navigating to the Apple Support website using Safari and getting either the update or the actual OS X package with the patch, but this would be a 1.47 GB download.
Visit A+ Computers For Technical Assistance
Yet other Mac users are bringing their computers to the shop after installing the update; they believe that their system is now running too fast and unstable. This problem is usually related to an older hardware configuration, and it may just be a matter of getting used to the update.
Mac technicians can tell whether a specific machine should be running the latest OS X; however, Apple is known to release updates that are better than others. Skipping the current update and waiting for the next one, which promises new features, is another solution at this time.
Posted on January 31, 2016 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
For certain computer users in Apple Valley and Victorville, 2016 will the year they decide to break from their molds to test a new operating system.
A History of Operating Systems
Over the last few decades, the personal computing industry has been ruled by Windows and Mac OS, the flagship operating systems respectively developed by Microsoft and Apple. While these two tech giants have dominated the operating systems landscape in recent years, computer users these days are more likely to venture out of the mold in this regard.
There was a time when American computer buyers had more choices related to operating systems. In the late 1980s, for example, personal computers were powered by a variety of operating systems, from Windows to Macintosh and from Amiga to Atari. In some cases, computer manufacturers would offer more than one OS choice; for example, an Amiga could run on OS/2 and AmigaOS while a PC could run on Windows and DOS.
In the early 21st century, Windows and Mac OS dominated both the personal and business computing markets. Although Linux distributions started making headlines, Apple and Microsoft still held the lion’s share of this market; in fact, the two tech giants even released new iOS and Windows Phone for their own mobile devices.
By the time 2010 rolled around, computer users had become more open to the idea of an operating system that was not necessarily Windows or Mac OS. This idea was prompted by some school systems and government offices using Linux distributions in Europe and Latin America as well as by the proliferation of Android and Google Chrome OS on portable and mobile devices.
Modern Systems Available for Users
Computer industry analysts believe that the year 2016 will see more computer users trying out new operating systems. For those who are concerned about privacy and security, there’s Tails, an ultra-secure Linux distribution that even Edward Snowden has recommended in the past. There’s also Remix OS 2.0, an exciting version of Android that will actually run on a desktop PC or on a Mac.
Unlike Mac OS and iOS, most of the new operating systems are not hardware-centric, which means that they can be installed on just about any computer. If you are ready to try a new operating system this year, please contact our office for a professional installation that will include data backup and availability of personal files.
Posted on January 17, 2016 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
Not long ago, tech analysts pondered whether the phenomenon known as Moore’s Law was finally slowing down after more than four infallible decades. Moore’s Law refers to a 1965 article written by Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel. Moore was a semiconductor visionary who reasoned that exponential growth of microprocessors will have a downward effect on pricing and access.
Moore’s Law has been a virtual fact of computer science since the last quarter of the 20th century, particularly with regard to personal computing. Out computers have been getting faster, smaller and cheaper. If you think about desktop systems a few years ago and compare them to the new modules that are about the size of a smartphone, you can certainly see Moore’s Law in action.
There was a slight lull in Moore’s Law circa 2010, but that was mostly related to the global financial crisis and to the market adjusting to the new paradigms of cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and mobile devices. We have to get used to the idea that Moore’s Law still has quite a few years to go before it slows down.
Implications of Moore’s Law
As with other concepts that define modern technology, there is a downside to Moore’s Law. As personal computing gets faster, smaller and more affordable, the potential for electronic waste increases. Old and unused computers often sit in homes and offices across Apple Valley and Victorville until they become dusty and are ultimately thrown away.
The programs currently in place to properly dispose and recycle electronic waste are not fully mature. For this reason, environmentalists in California often urge residents of the Golden State to hold on to their old devices just a little longer. Pursuant to this advice, an interesting subculture of repurposing computers has developed.
Repurposing an old computer is as easy as thinking about how and where it should be used at home. The most common example in this regard is to create a media center. Computers can easily accomplish with just a few upgrades, connectors, and peripherals. How about a home server? For most people, home networking is limited to installing a wireless router; once you install an actual server, however, the experience is improved on several levels.
You would be surprised to learn about the many uses that can be given to an old computer that is properly configured and repurposed. They can be turned into early educational tools for small children to dedicated research and word processing machines for a home office; in some cases, they can be turned into a digital video recorder or a kitchen helper with recipes and nutritional information.
Posted on January 7, 2016 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
Over the last couple of years, the shadowy world of cybercrime has expanded and increased in terms of its reach and potential for harm. Whereas 2014 was notorious for spectacular data breaches by hacking outfits that stole personal data from massive databases, 2015 will be remembered as a year when the vulnerability of the Internet of Things (IoT) was truly laid bare.
Cloud and Smart Device Security
Two reports from 2015 are of major concern with regard to IoT security. One of these reports suggested that Iranian hackers may have gained access to a network that controls flood gates in New York. The incident appears to have been a practice run for the hackers, who may be planning retaliation for the Stuxnet malware attack allegedly perpetrated by the United States and Israel against a nuclear facility in Iran.
The second report comes from the Ukraine, where security specialists believe that Russian hackers may have injected malware in a series of networks connected to a major power plant. The breach culminated with the hackers taking operational control of the power grid and causing blackouts on Christmas Eve.
In the two reports above, security specialists are concerned that systems connected to the cloud are vulnerable to cyber attacks. This means that malicious hackers could also launch attacks on residential IoT devices that connect to the cloud, which include: printers, refrigerators, smoke alarms, home security systems, and even wearable devices. It is clearly evident that cloud and IoT security has become a must.
Choosing the Right Security Configuration
Manufacturers of consumer electronics in the U.S. intend to release and market many IoT devices in 2016. It is not unreasonable to think that every other home in Victorville and Apple Valley will soon have at least on IoT device by the end of the decade.
If you plan to introduce an IoT device to your home this year, you should also think about upgrading your security. Cybercriminals will increasingly target cloud-connected devices for the purpose of following their data stream to the homes and offices where they physically reside; the nefarious idea is to explore the potential for intrusion through the Wi-Fi network.
In 2016, cyber threats will no longer be confined to computers; they will extend to smartphones, tablets, wearable devices, and any cloud-connected object. To this effect, it is imperative to choose the right Internet security suite and to configure home and office networks so that they are protected against intrusions and breaches.
If you have questions about computer and network security, please contact A Plus computers today.
Posted on December 25, 2015 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
“I’m going to get a new computer” is a simple New Year’s resolution to make; however, once the time comes when a purchasing decision must be made, the various choices require some level of consideration. The sheer amount of choices and different configurations can be overwhelming, which is why custom computer builders expect a resurgence of interest in 2016.
Custom Built Computers Customizes to Your Needs
There used to be a time when custom computers were so in vogue that major manufacturers such as Dell created a business model based on this option. In terms of full customization, Dell and other computer giants did not offer that much; however, their marketing and scalability made them very successful for a while. In the last few years, the world of retail computers mostly focused on out-of-the-box systems, but a few trends are signaling the return of custom computers.[/su_note]
In the United Kingdom, the Raspberry Pi Foundation has been making headlines with its commitment to advance computer science through a hands-on approach. The hardware promoted by the Foundation is a tiny and very affordable computer that does not do much on its own, but it can be customized so that it can provide a variety of solutions.
Modern Innovations More Powerful Than Ever Before
What we are seeing at A Plus Computer in Apple Valley is an interest in custom computers inspired by the tiny Raspberry Pi. A number of electronic manufacturers are producing single boards with powerful microprocessors and enough ports for accessories and peripherals; these small devices are replacing the tower computers of yore, and they allow a high degree of customization.
Clients from Victorville are intrigued about these petite machines that can breezily run Windows 10 or the latest Linux distribution. These devices do not take up a lot of room, and they can be hidden within attractive and unusual cases.
The advent of Bitcoin has also advanced the field of custom computer building since mining this digital currency requires special computing rigs. All the same, advances in cryptography and the Edward Snowden NSA spying scandal have prompted the custom building of ultra-secure computers by technicians who can be trusted.
Yet other clients are not too thrilled about smart television sets; they are more interested in home theater solutions operated from a media server. In these cases, a custom computer with the right video card, processing power, and generous cooling can be made and configured as the ultimate entertainment center.
If you are interested in the type of custom computer work we do, please contact us today.
Posted on December 25, 2015 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
By virtue of being home to Silicon Valley, California is one of the most connected regions of the world, and Apple Valley is no exception. Virtually every other household from here to Victorville has some sort of network installed within, and in some cases the connections and devices are very sophisticated.
Networking is More Crucial Than Ever
In 2016, we expect to see a greater demand for home networking. We can now pick and choose the type of network installation we would enjoy at home based on our needs. The network configuration that are most requested across California is wireless. Some clients who run a business from their homes request wired networks with multiple Ethernet outlets; these are often clients who want to run their own Local Area Network (LAN), or who may have a special home automation project in mind.
Speaking of home automation, we believe that 2016 will be a great year for smart home networks. Up until recently, smart home appliances were limited to lighting control systems, fire alarms, and security devices. What we are seeing a push towards the development of the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a set of technologies and protocols that allow smart devices to network and communicate.
Networks Will Becomes More Complex
As the IoT becomes more complex, so will the need for properly installed and configured networks. Until recently, setting up a network between a laptop running Windows, an Xbox One, and a Nokia Lumia smartphone was something that anyone could easily accomplish. When we are talking about networking various computers, tablets, smartphones, printers, scanners, game consoles, electronic locks, refrigerators, smart televisions, thermostats, security cameras, and even wearable devices, a special network installation and configuration will be required.
Now that more smart devices are entering our homes, we should be paying attention to the quality of our network, which should start with a solid wiring backbone before configuring the router. Haphazard installations often result in unpleasant issues such as latency, dropped streams and bad connections. The problems are not limited to backbone wiring; the placement of networking devices such as routers and switches is also crucial for the purpose of avoiding interference and boosting signal strength.
If you are thinking about adding smart appliances and other devices to your home network, be sure to contact us before your purchase to discuss your networking needs. Without the right installation, your new device may not perform as promised, and it may even cause issues in your existing network.
Posted on December 21, 2015 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
The year 2015 was momentous in terms of personal computing. From the release of Windows 10 to the massive increase in cyber attacks, 2015 was a year to remember. As computer users in Apple Valley ponder what 2016 may bring, it is important to review some personal computer trends that may require an upgrade next year.
After years of research, development and coding, tech giant Microsoft finally released a truly cross-platform operating system that recalls the massive success of Windows XP. Even though Windows Vista and the versions that followed were certainly useful and respectable, Windows 10 was released with the distinction of being a breakthrough, next-generation operating system.
Computer users who have not yet upgraded to Windows 10 will probably want to do so in early 2016. Although this operating system is not too demanding in terms of system requirements, many users should consider investing in computer repairs and upgrades along with their Windows 10 installation; doing so will be akin to starting the New Year with a new computer.
Windows 10 is not limited to desktop and laptop computers; it can also run on tablets and smartphones. Microsoft wants a greater share of the mobile market dominated by Apple and Google with their respective iOS and Android operating systems; to this end, Windows 10 features great synchronicity across devices.
A few new smartphones and tablets loaded with Windows 10 shipped just in time for the holiday season, but Microsoft has promised to make the new operating system to some older mobile devices in 2016. Desktop and laptop computer owners who upgrade to Windows 10 should inquire if they can make a similar upgrade to their smartphones and tablets, and they should also check about synchronizing all their devices.
A major trend in personal computing for 2016 will be increased security through biometrics. Windows Hello is one of the many features of Windows 10, and it aims to provide a better authentication system than the traditional username/password paradigm. The biometrics feature of Windows Hello requires equipment such as fingerprint scanners, which can be installed as peripherals in some systems. The idea is to link fingerprints to identities and login processes so that users no longer have to worry about their passwords being stolen.
In the end, 2016 promises to be a great year for users of Windows 10. If you have questions about upgrading to this new and exciting operating system, please feel free to contact us.
Posted on March 28, 2014 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
FBI MoneyPak Virus – it is a scam. If you have encountered this virus DO NOT send money. The Virus looks very official, but there are a few things that people should consider. First, the FBI does not have the power to charge fines. That is a power that is reserved for courts of law. Even though the screen that pops up looks official, it is not.
What to Do?
If your computer is infected with the FBI Money Pak virus simply unplug it and bring it into A Plus Computers. A Plus Computers provides quality computer services to the entire High Desert and the awesome community of Hesperia. The work that they do is guaranteed, and they offer a free comprehensive diagnostic services too. It is usually much less expensive to bring the computer into A Plus Computers than it is to spend the time to find a program that may or may not work. Once the virus is initiated, it is best to let a professional make sure that it is properly removed and that your data is secure. Read more →
Posted on March 27, 2014 by Apple Valley Computer Staff in Our News with Comments Disabled
A Plus Computers updates the age old question which is better; Hunting for a virus removal program or taking your computer to the computer shop for virus removal?
The Online Solution
There are hundreds if not thousands of programs out there that claim to be able to remove virus and malware from computers. Some of them do a great job while others leave a lot to be desired. One problem with trying to find an online solution to virus and malware issues is the gap in quality. Even when you find a good program, you have to install it. If you already have an antiviral program in place that is expired or is not doing its job, the two programs may fight. Read more →