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Using Your Smartphone as a Desktop PC | Apple Valley Home Network Setup

Using Your Smartphone as a Desktop PC

A few years ago, being able to use your desktop or laptop computer as a full-featured phone was considered a hi-tech trend, at least until Skype, VoIP, and smartphones hit the market. The roles have now been reversed; smartphones have become as powerful as desktop computers, but they have stumbled on their way to becoming full PC replacements.

The future of personal computing is something that has not been clearly defined yet. We suspect that it will heavily involve mobile devices, but there are also the prospects of wearable computing and virtual reality to consider. If you are mostly interested in casual internet browsing and checking your social media activity, a smartphone is indeed a good PC replacement. If you need to accomplish school and business-related tasks, there are a few things you can do to turn your smartphone or tablet into a desktop PC.

iPhone Remote Desktop Computing

Unfortunately, the extent of PC use on iPhones is mostly limited to remote desktop sessions enabled by apps such as Team Viewer, LogMeIn, and Mocha VNC, which all work reasonably well. Other options include using the Reflector software, but that requires an actual PC or Mac; some users can use a combination of Apple TV and AirPlay or even Apple’s own HDMI connector, but these options are not as elegant as the next.

Nokia Lumia 950

In October 2017, Microsoft announced that it would suspend development of Windows 10 Mobile and new smartphones. Fortunately, the Nokia Lumia 950 is still on the market, is fully supported and is selling very well. This advanced device features the Continuum option; this means that it can be connected to a Microsoft Display Dock, which retails between $65 and $100. Once connected in this fashion, the Lumia 950 turns into a full Windows 10 device with keyboard and mouse support.

Android Smartphones

There are various methods to turn your Android smartphone into a desktop PC; they may involve cables, connectors or Bluetooth streaming. Depending on the input and output jacks on your Android device, you may be able to connect a mouse, keyboard and monitor with a powered USB hub. The Android operating system has offered decent mouse support since version 4.4, known as Kit-Kat. In the near future, new Samsung smartphones will also offer Dex, a Linux kernel app that will allow a full desktop experience by means of a dock.

If you need help turning your smartphone into a desktop PC, contact A Plus Computers in Apple Valley today.

Can Celebrities Infect Your Computer With Malware? | Apple Valley PC Repair

Can Celebrities Infect Your Computer With Malware?

Daily cyber threats continue to make the internet a very dangerous place for your personal and business computing devices, particularly when you are browsing the web and searching information about your favorite celebrities.

According to a recent report published by information security firm McAfee, developer of the popular antivirus software of the same name, hackers take advantage of the popularity of celebrities by using malware code along with search engine optimization tactics to make you visit websites where they have planted malware.

The greatest danger for internet users is when they search for free MP3 audio files featuring their favorite musicians; when unsuspecting users download what they think are songs, they are likely to end up with a Trojan infecting their computers with malware. Naturally, users whose systems are not protected with antivirus software, or who have not updated their virus definition database, are at the greatest risk.

Here are the celebrities whose internet searches are posing the greatest risk for users at this time:

Avril Lavigne

This Canadian pop singer has a substantial internet following, and this is something that hackers try to take advantage of. Rumors about Lavigne’s alleged death and about her romantic life abound in online discussion forums; there is also the fact that she has been working on a new album that is scheduled to be released sometime this year.

Carly Rae Jepsen

This is another Canadian pop singer with a large internet audience. A few years after her catchy single “Call Me Maybe” topped various pop music charts, online discussion about her personal life, which she mostly keeps private, grew at a massive rate. Quite a few malicious websites purportedly feature intimate photos and videos of this singer; all of them have been set up for malicious purposes.

Bruno Mars

This talented American musician is known to release one hit song after another, and he is often remixed by electronic dance music (EDM) artists. Searching for Bruno Mars MP3s on torrent websites is extremely risky since many of them are packaged as Trojans that hide malware.

Calvin Harris

This British EDM musician and producer is extremely prolific and manages to attract the attention of entertainment and celebrity gossip sites. As expected, quite a few false and outlandish rumors about Harris routinely appear online; this is fodder for malicious hackers who intend to distribute malware programs such as keystroke loggers and browser hijackers.

Windows 10 Security Tips for Small Businesses | Victorville Computer Upgrades

Windows 10 Security Tips for Small Businesses

If you are a small business owner in Victorville or elsewhere in the High Desert, Windows 10 should be your first choice in terms of operating system, and you should also make sure you are running the version that is adequate for your company.

As of October 2017, Microsoft has released a dozen versions of Windows 10. The two baseline editions are Home and Pro; the rest of the editions are developed for specific uses such as mobile devices, educational laptops, and larger enterprises. Unless you run a micro company from home, your choice of Windows 10 should be the Pro version. If you are still using Windows 8.1 Pro, you should make an effort to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, and your main motivation should be protecting your company’s data.

In the current cyber threat environment, small companies are at a great disadvantage. Hackers and cybercrime outfits know that small business owners often work with limited budgets that do not allow them to invest a lot in terms of information security. Fortunately, Microsoft has included many security features in the Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 10, and most of them are built into the Windows Defender app.

Here are some Windows Defender features you can configure right now to protect your business data in the High Desert:

Device Guard

This Windows Defender feature works at the kernel level of the operating system. By default, apps are generally trusted and allowed to execute if they are not blocked by the antivirus system; once Device Guard is activated, this feature takes a closer look at the running processes and locks down apps that are not trusted or that are acting irregularly.

Application Guard

Similar to Device Guard, this feature locks down Windows 10 to prevent unauthorized installation of apps that have not been vetted by an administrator. Application Guard also scans attachments and will prevent the execution of malicious code hidden therein.

Exploit Guard

As its name implies, this feature takes a closer look at previous known exploits and evaluates potential new weaknesses, particularly when users run legacy software.

Credential Guard

Advanced cyber attacks look for opportunities to steal username/password combinations. Credential guard adds a layer of security to incoming remote connections; this is particularly useful if you allow employees to connect to the office network from home or when they are out on the road.

If you have security questions related to Windows 10, contact PC Performance Pros in Victorville.

Dealing With the CCleaner Malware Hack | Apple Valley Virus Removal

Dealing With the CCleaner Malware Hack

Windows PC and laptop owners in Apple Valley should check if they have the popular CCleaner utility software in their systems. CCleaner is an application that simplifies the process of deleting junk files from hard drives where the Windows operating system is installed; some of the files are made up of registry changes, browsing sessions, archived document changes, and others that tend to slow the system down. For the most part, this app is effective and heavily marketed, thus contributing to its popularity.

Trojan Attacks Through Fake Servers

If you have CCleaner desktop version 5.33.6162 for Windows or CCleaner Cloud 1.07.3191, you should know that the developer of these apps and its parent company have reported a security breach that could affect more than 2.25 million computers around the world. For the record, the two compromised CCleaner are for 32-bit systems, but they will run on 64-bit operating systems such as Windows 10. In essence, hackers were somehow able to infiltrate the binary code of CCleaner so that it could behave as a Trojan horse attack. The mechanism was for the installed apps to call a rogue server located in the United States, which would look for certain data in the infected machines and upload it for malicious purposes such as identity theft.

Piriform, the British developer of CCleaner, explained that the matter is being resolved by parent company Avast, which develops and sells a popular antivirus and internet security solution. The rogue server in question has been taken down, and Avast has released a security patch to fix the issue; however, questions remain about a secondary “back-door” attack, which the company believes could hide in a compromised Windows system and go undetected.

Protect Your Computer From Malware

If you have a copy of CCleaner installed on your Windows computer, you should not run this program to check on the version. Instead, you should remove it from your system completely and revert to a previous restore point that was saved prior to installation; this is what Avast has recommended, and the company has updated its virus definition database so that it can detect and eliminate the malicious code.

Windows users in Apple Valley who have questions about CCleaner can contact A Plus Computers and speak with our security technicians about removing the program and scanning for other malware instances and restoring the device to a safe point. As other antivirus developers include this issue in their malware definition databases, more infections may be revealed.
Bluetooth Vulnerability Could Affect Mobile Devices in Apple Valley

Bluetooth Vulnerability Could Affect Mobile Devices in Apple Valley

One of the most common features found in modern computing devices has become a security concern after researchers announced their discovery of a few vulnerabilities. Bluetooth connectivity has become a standard in both desktop and mobile computers; this is a feature that has been incorporated into smartphones, video game consoles, printers, connected toys, headphones, and many other devices. We have become so accustomed to Bluetooth that we tend to leave it on at all times, and this happens to be a security concern according to recent findings by Webroot and other information security firms.

Tech news media outlets are reporting on the “BlueBorne virus,” which is more of a security weakness than an actual computer virus. BlueBorne was originally discovered by researchers at Armis Labs in April; since then, many tech companies have been working on distributing security patches and fixes to address this vulnerability, which affects virtually all operating systems except the most recent versions of Apple iOS 10. All Windows, Android and Linux systems could be affected until patched.

Implications of BlueBorne Security Vulnerabilities

The BlueBorne vulnerability has been described as being very problematic because it can go virtually undetected. Hackers who work with devices that scan for Bluetooth radio frequencies can find the weakness to inject malware of their choice. A major concern is that the malware could be coded to infect other Bluetooth devices carried by users who are in proximity to the infected host, and this could occur without detection.

At this point, even hackers whose skill sets are not very sophisticated could obtain scripts from Dark Web sites that will allow them to scan for devices vulnerable to BlueBorne. All that a hacker would need to know before injecting malware is the operating system and the Bluetooth drivers.

Apple, Google, and Microsoft have stated that they are working on developing and distributing patches and updates for all their operating systems to fix this vulnerability. Security analysts are particularly concerned about Google’s ability to distribute patches to millions of Android users around the world. In the case of Linux, developers are putting the final touches on a new kernel, which should be easier to patch; however, the same cannot be said about previous versions.

Owners of mobile devices in Apple Valley should turn off Bluetooth whenever they are not using it until they can ascertain that the operating system has been patched. If you have questions about updating your operating system, contact A Plus Computers today.

Leaked Apple Document Reveals iPhone Repair Secrets | Victorville Computer Repairs

Leaked Apple Document Reveals iPhone Repair Secrets

We live in the age of WikiLeaks and public disclosure of secrets across government and corporate platforms, and thus it is not surprising to learn that an Apple warranty manual for certain iPhone models was anonymously uploaded to a public cloud storage server.

According to a recent news report published by Business Insider, the leaked manual is titled Visual and Mechanical Inspection Guide for the iPhone 6 and later versions all the way to iPhone 7 Plus.

Within the manufacturer warranty limits, there are four repair issues that Apple instructs technicians to repair under warranty and without looking too deep into the possible causes:

  1. Hairline cracks in the touchscreen that do not present an impact point, particularly those near the edge section that curves down into the bezel.
  2. Dead pixels.
  3. Debris visible underneath the glass cover.
  4. Camera lens out of alignment due to improper support from the foam packing material.

Other iPhone issues that will also be repaired by Apple but on an out-of-warranty basis include:

  • Cracked glass screens.
  • Broken connectors.
  • Fractures due to impact.
  • Inoperable camera lenses.
  • iOS issues.
  • Water damage.

What is interesting to note about the leaked guide is that Apple will not repair iPhones if technicians are able to ascertain the following:

  • Severe or catastrophic damage.
  • Evidence of iOS jailbreak.
  • Batteries other than those branded by Apple.
  • Evidence that the iPhone has been opened.
Apple offers an extended warranty coverage plan known as AppleCare+, which is often recommended for users who would like to omit the aforementioned repair criteria. The AppleCare+ plan allows iPhone owners to replace their units if the glass is damaged; they are still expected to pay a $29 replacement fee. This plain works even better when the loss is catastrophic since Apple will replace the iPhone after a $99 payment.

For the most part, the leaked document confirms what is widely known about Apple and its repair service, which many iPhone owners believe is not very friendly. If Apple has turned you down for iPhone repair, bring it to A Plus Computers in Apple Valley. Our technicians can fix the following issues:

  • LCD replacement
  • Cracked or broken glass
  • Water damage
  • Headphone jack issues in older models
  • Battery problems
  • Home button issues in older models
  • iOS optimization and configuration

At A Plus Computers, we will try our best to provide repair services to your iPhone regardless of warranty, model or if its operating system has been patched.

These New PC Games Deserve a Custom Computer Build | Apple Valley Computers

These New PC Games Deserve a Custom Computer Build

Good news for fans of the PC video gaming scene in Apple Valley and across the High Desert: although the console wars are still being waged by Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo, video game developers seem to have rediscovered the PC thanks to recent advances such as reasonable, attainable virtual reality.

Games To Take Full Advantage of Custom Gaming PCs

The Fullbright Company, developers of the hit immersion narrative adventure “Gone Home,” recently released “Tacoma,” another mysterious narrative adventure that transports players to an advanced and futuristic space station controlled by an enigmatic artificial intelligence program. The crew of the Tacoma Space Station was planning on returning to Earth when they came across a dangerous meteor shower. The player of “Tacoma” will assume the role of a female investigator tasked to figure out what went wrong.

Tacoma” was not developed with custom-built gaming PCs in mind; in fact, the Fullbright Company focuses on making its games available on as many platforms as possible, but you might as well take advantage of an advanced system to get the full immersion treatment and the gorgeous graphics. What happened to the crew of the Tacoma is played by means of highly detailed holographic scenes that will play better on a custom computer build designed for gaming purposes.

Another immersion game that seems to be tailor-made for custom gaming rigs is “Xing: The Land Beyond,” developed by WhiteLotus Interactive. The basis of Xing is the reincarnation belief found in many Asian religions; in the game, the player is guided by spirits through a mystical landscape filled with mysterious puzzles that illustrate the struggle of the soul even after death.

The orchestral arrangements and gorgeous environs of Xing require a virtual reality setup to be experienced in full. Consequently, this means a PC powered by a Nvidia GTX 970 or an AMD Radeon 480 graphics card plus 10 GB storage and 4 GB RAM at the very least.

Yet another exciting title is “Voltron VR Chronicles,” which follows up on the space manga series revived on Netflix last year. Voltron fans will really love this game because it puts them inside the series as long as their PCs can support the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive VR headsets, which are pretty demanding in terms of computing power.

If you would like to own a PC that can play the games mentioned herein, your best bet is to talk to the hardware architects at A Plus Computers in Apple Valley. You would be surprised to learn that a more powerful custom-built gaming rig can be a greater value than a desktop you get off-the-shelf.
The Most Common Computer Repair Issues in 2017 | Apple Valley Laptops

The Most Common Computer Repair Issues in 2017

If you bring a personal computing device to A Plus Computer in Apple Valley this year, chances are that you will require a computer repair service related to the Windows operating system. According to a recent press release published by a national computer repair chain, the most common problem reported by their customers thus far in 2017 has to deal with Windows installations, particularly Windows 10.

Troubleshooting Issues with Windows 10 Operating System

Even though technology giant Microsoft can rightfully boast of its dominance of the operating system market, the company cannot deny that rolling out Windows 10 has not been as smooth as expected. Analysts believe that Microsoft may have been too ambitious with its Windows 10 update strategy, which often causes systems to perform erratically.

While some Windows 10 problems can be temporarily managed by users who are familiar with the system restore utility, quite a few other issues will require intervention by computer repair technicians. Nearly 34 percent of all repair tickets are related to Windows installations.

Problems Arising from Applications & Malware

The next most commonly reported computer repair issues are related to Windows applications, which are often connected to the aforementioned problems emanating from operating system installations and make up 23 percent of all repair tickets.

Malware infections account for 10 percent of reported issues; however, the spectacular ransomware attacks seen this year suggest that these problems will likely increase over the next few years.

Password and data recovery services make up five percent of computer repairs; these are issues that can be prevented by properly setting up cloud storage backups and secure password vaults. The ongoing shift towards mobile computing and cloud services along with greater adoption of biometric features in personal computing devices will likely make these issues less likely to occur in the near future.

Hardware Failure is Uncommon but Serious

Hardware failure currently makes up less than one percent of reported issues; this is not so much a testament to the durability of modern components as much as it is an indication that computer manufacturers are successfully promoting a replacement. By releasing new models that make previous ones obsolete, computer makers drive sales and discourage consumers from trying to hold on to older devices.

Six percent of computer repair issues in 2017 are related to printers ceasing to function or that refuse to be installed. The problem is often found with incompatible network printing protocols or IP addressing conflicts.

If you experience any of the issues listed above this year, contact A Plus Computers and speak to one of our repair specialists.

Summer Laptop Maintenance in the High Desert | Apple Valley Computers

Summer Laptop Maintenance in the High Desert

Compared to desktops, smartphones and tablets, laptops and hybrids such as certain Microsoft Surface devices tend to be more prone to potential damage and failure. The portability and design of laptops somehow elicit rougher handling and exposure to harsh conditions. In Apple Valley and other communities in the High Desert, laptops are often exposed to hot, dry and dusty environments that require preventive maintenance.

Summer Can Have Real Effects on Your Laptops

The warmer summer months of the High Desert can take a toll on laptop systems due to thermal stress. Portable systems with traditional hard drives have gotten slimmer over the last few years, and they tend to operate at higher temperatures than desktop systems because the cramped arrangement of hardware components take away precious space needed for ventilation and air circulation. To this effect, if you plan on purchasing a slim laptop these days, you should ensure that it uses a solid state hard drive that is easier to cool.

Preventive summer maintenance of your laptop means taking steps to protect it. To prevent thermal stress, you should avoid storing your computer in a space where the temperature is higher than 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Likewise, you should not expose it to temperatures lower than 40 degrees.

Preparing Laptop Devices for Travel

If you plan to fly away on vacation, you should try to pack your laptop in a padded case that you can bring aboard the aircraft as carry-on luggage. If you must store your laptop as checked luggage, do your best to cushion it all around.

When you travel to new destinations in the summer, you should allow your laptop to go through an acclimatization period. Let’s say you plan a beach vacation in the Caribbean or in Costa Rica; before you rush to check your email and social media feeds, give your laptop about 30 minutes to adjust to room temperature. Air circulation is crucial in hot and humid environments; condensation is the last thing you want happening on a laptop equipped with a spinning hard drive.

Poor ventilation and dust buildup are two factors that can exacerbate thermal stress and cause overheating by limiting air flow. Before going on a beach vacation, you may want to bring your laptop to A Plus Computers so that it can be thoroughly cleaned with compressed air. Our technicians will also make sure that the fans are running smoothly and that the components that generate the most heat are properly insulated.
Windows Fall Creators Update: What to Expect | Apple Valley Computers

Windows Fall Creators Update: What to Expect

Microsoft is planning on releasing another major update to its Windows 10 operating system, which in 2017 is starting to gain traction in terms of enterprise market share.

Over the last couple of years, Microsoft has been concerned about what seemed to be a slow adoption of Windows 10 by enterprise users who seemed to be content with running Windows XP, an operating system that is no longer being supported by the company. Although Windows 7 is the most popular OS in the world, the resilience of Windows XP was a thorn in Microsoft’s side until July, the first month to report more Windows 10 installations than the legacy XP.

What Can Windows 10 Users Look Forward To?

Users who have already upgraded to Windows 10 will be able to apply the Fall Creators Update, which has a few notable developments. One of the most notable changes is related to Microsoft Paint, which is being deprecated after more than three decades as a Windows accessory. MS Paint is almost as popular as the Solitaire and Minesweeper games, but earlier this year it received a major upgrade known as Paint 3D, which was the first indication that the original MS Paint was due for retirement. Once MS Paint is deprecated, it will no longer be supported by Microsoft, but this does not mean that it will go completely go away.

Outlook Express is scheduled to be removed from Windows 10, and this should not come as a surprise since Outlook.com and the Outlook app are far superior. The MS Reader app and the list of topics to read are also being removed since they will be integrated into the Microsoft Edge browser, which is still struggling to keep up with Google Chrome in terms of functionality and performance.

The Syskey.exe utility is also being removed since BitLocker encryption, and file locking are preferred functions. Similar to MS Paint, Windows PowerShell 2.0 is also being deprecated since users can enjoy the more comprehensive PowerShell 5.0.

It is interesting to note that Microsoft has already set a support termination date for Windows 10: October 14, 2025. If you purchased a laptop powered by the Intel Clover Trail processor, you will not be able to apply the Windows 10 Creators Update and may need to roll back your installation since Microsoft will no longer support this chipset.

Windows 10 users in Apple Valley who are not able to install the Creators Update should call A Plus Computers and speak to our technicians to discuss available options.

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