Coming soon to a Mac near you: serious malware

Many of you are used to me having a negative attitude toward MAC personal computers, as opposed to MS Windows personal computers.  I will admit some level of bias, however, part of it stems from my experience with MAC user’s thinking so highly of their MAC’s and claiming they never have problems and cannot be infected with malicious software.

I know they do have problems and they can be infected with malicious software, i.e. think virus.

Sure they may be less prone to problems because Apple’s “control” of all things MAC.  But, they are not invulnerable to issues and I read an article today from a reliable source that points this out.

If you are a MAC user or are thinking of moving to a MAC so that you’ll never have computer problems again, please read this article.  If for some reason you are unable to just click on the link we’ve provided, try to do a “copy and paste” of the following:  http://www.zdnet.com/blog/bott/coming-soon-to-a-mac-near-you-serious-malware/3212?tag=nl.e589

 

Here is a quote from the article….

Last week I showed you how malware authors have begun using social engineering to target Google Chrome, with convincing replicas of Chrome’s bright-red security screens to trick victims into installing a package of malware.

Now I am seeing evidence that the next target is OS X. That’s potentially very bad news for Mac owners who have abandoned their PCs in the belief that switching to a Mac somehow immunizes them from malware.

Security experts know, of course, that there’s nothing magical about Macs when it comes to security. They just haven’t been targeted because Windows has been such a big juicy target for so long.

Yes, we are a Dell Value Added Reseller for sure and can frequently save you 10-15% over buying directly from Dell, but that isn’t the main reason for this article.  We just want to make sure you are aware BEFORE you purchase  a MAC, they can and do have some issues and can be infected.  Or if you already own one, do not think there is a special “force field” surrounding your MAC.

Dennis “The Computer Guy” Wilson

The Computer Guys LLC

270-344-4286

Support@TheComputerGuysLLC.com

Automated Unattended Off-site Backup Systems

I am somewhat hesitant to write on this subject because I am sure some will think I am only trying to profit from the recent natural disasters.  Let me state clearly….that is not my primary goal.

Do we offer Automated Unattended Off-site Backup Systems? Why, Yes, yes we do!

Do we make a profit from our Automated Unattended Off-site Backup Systems? Why, Yes, yes we do!

But this is not my primary goal for this article.  My primary goal is to get you to subscribe to a service somewhere to backup those precious pics and videos of your kids and grand-kids.  But also of your important financial data.  If you own and operate a small business and use Quickbooks or some other bookkeeping software or have medical records/images you really need to take care of this today.

 

Now that I have that out of the way, let me just give you a couple of good reasons why you should be using a service like ours.  (And there are many companies providing this service.)

Here is one: Across the street from Alberta Baptist Church in Tuscalosa after April 27 2011 Storm This is a picture of the aftermath of the Tuscaloosa AL tornado from April 27 2011.

If there were computers in these buildings there is a good chance they are gone and/destroyed.  if the person was making backups on tape or disk and keeping them in the same building, they are likely gone and/or destroyed too.

Here is another:  japan-earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-unforgettable-pictures-crying_33278_600x450 This is a picture after the earthquake in Japan. 

If there were computers in these buildings there is a good chance they are gone and/destroyed. if the person was making backups on tape or disk and keeping them in the same building, they are likely gone and/or destroyed too.

 

With an Automated Unattended Off-site Backup System their data files, i.e. pictures, accounting records, customer lists, medcial images, could be recovered once they get their PC back or replaced.  Please note it only backs up data, not programs.  You should store all your original software somewhere other than your house so you don’t have to purchase it again.

Our service is as low as $120 annually for up to 10GB worth of data.  If you pay it all up front with an e-check, we’ll do it for $99 annually.  And our backup server has 2TB of storage capacity.  That is equal to 2,000GB.

Don’t delay!

Dennis “The Backup Guy” Wilson

So you received a new PC for Christmas…what next?

Wow, a brand new PC for Christmas!  What should you do next?

While it may be tempting to set it all up and starting playing right away you really should do a few things:

Make the Recovery DVD Set that your manufacturer probably suggests.  Why?  Most consumer computers these days do not come with any CD’s or DVD’s to reload your system should the need arise.  They do this to save money.  Yes, they do place a factory image on the hard drive so that you can quickly restore your PC to factory settings but, what if the hard disk drive itself has a physical crash.  That recovery image will not do you any good.  If you didn’t take the time to create the Recovery Media (CD’s or DVD’s) you will have no choice but to hire someone like us to reload your operating system and drivers.  Whereas if you have the Recovery Media you, at least in theory, could install the new HDD yourself and then load the Recovery Media in and you are back in business.

And even if you do not feel you could install the new HDD yourself, it will be much better for you if you can hand the Recovery Media to your technician to reinstall everything just the way it came from the factory.

Next, uninstall whatever Anti-virus software came with your PC and install Microsoft Security Essentials.  It is totally free and legal forever.  No fees to pay.  And it does a fine job.

The third thing I would recommend is subscribing to a backup service.  Your family photos are priceless and having a service that backups your data every night automatically could be priceless too if your PC ever crashes, gets stolen or destroyed. We offer such a service.)

Yes, these to me are the very first three steps you should take.

As an option, contact us to have us install our remote support software so that if you have problems we can log in remotely and assist.  The software is free and the installation is free.  We will only charge you when we are logged in and providing support.  We can take your credit or debit card over the phone and we only bill in 15 minute increments.

If you can think of other important first things to do, please share them.

Dennis “The Computer Guy” Wilson

Data Plans–How much data do I use?

If you are thinking of buying a smart phone, Blackberry, i-Phone or some such device and want to know what data plan you need, Verizon Wireless has prepared a data calculator to help.  (If that link doesn’t work try this… http://www.verizonwireless.com/splash_includes/datacalculator.html)

This calculator should work no matter which company you get your service from and keep this in mind…you can keep you cell phone service with anyone you want and purchase a broadband card for your laptop if you want.

Verizon’s plans can be viewed here.

And, their devices can be viewed here.

If having Internet service at all times is essential to your business, then perhaps you want to check out their Mobile Broadband Router.  You could purchase this plan to have as a backup to your existing ISP.  How many times in the past year has your AT&T DSL service been out?  How about your Norlight?  Even Time Warner Cable Internet service has its outages.  Having this device will help you stay connected with your laptops even when your wired based ISP is out!

Technology changes rapidly and it is so hard to run your business and your technology.  Let us run your technology so you can focus on your core operations.

Dennis “The Computer Guy” Wilson

2017 Billing Policy

Some of our customers may want to see our billing policy.   So, we’ve decided to publish here to make it easy for customers, and prospects, to access it.

The Computer Guys LLC Billing Policy 2017

Billing: A necessary evil in our profession. The fact is, we enjoy our work and interaction with our clients, and, if we could, might be quite content doing our work for free. We can’t, so we send you bills for the work we perform. We bill for the time we devote to serving your needs. Like your doctor, we don’t bill for the results of our work; we bill for our work. Sometimes we have to expend time finding out what is wrong, what might work, what won’t work, or trying things that don’t work in order to find out what will work. We necessarily bill for that kind of time.

Research: Sometimes we have to consult with our associates internally, or with support staff in companies that have supplied products you are using. Sometimes we have to spend time researching details that relate to your system. For most problems, we should know how to find the resolution to the problem in a reasonable period of time. We don’t, and you should not, expect our staff to answer every question or resolve every problem immediately or without any research. If the best method for finding that resolution is for one of our technicians to review the problem with another of our technicians, or to review it with the maker of the product, we make no apologies and we necessarily bill for the time required. The old story about the washing machine repairman comes to mind. The customer complained about the repairman’s $100 bill. After all, the customer complained, all he did was tighten one screw. The repairman then rewrote the bill: Tightening screw to resolve the problem – $1.00; knowing which screw to tighten – $99.00.

Experiments: Sometimes the best method of resolving a problem is to implement what, based on our experience and research, we think will resolve the problem, let you test the result in your real-life work for several hours or days, and then return if needed to refine the solution. Returning to refine a solution does not constitute failure or reduce the value of previous work we have done.

Malicious Software Resolution: This can be particularly complex. By design, viruses & other malicious software hide, replicate, transport, and recur. Virus resolution almost always requires at least two sessions for success, and even then can easily recur in the near or distant future.

Hourly Rates: Our rates are set to reflect our costs in providing service to you, and in the hope, of course, of earning a reasonable profit. The rates we charge vary depending on the type of service we are performing for you since that most directly affects our cost. Database & Engineering services are charged at higher rates than PC Technician services. Phone support will be billed at regular rates.

Travel time: For short distances from our office or current location to yours is simply included in the time we bill for our work. Also, mileage will be charged if when traveling outside the Wendell Ford Expressway or anytime we are traveling on your behalf, to purchase stuff for your specific location.

Discounts: We sometimes discount our rates. If we are doing a particularly large project for you or if you are located in certain geographic regions, we may apply a small discount to our rates. These discounts are subject to receiving payment within the terms we specify on our bills. If you fail to adhere to these payment terms we will reapply to your account any discounts we may have applied.

Out-of-Pocket costs: These are costs that we incur on your behalf. In many cases, these costs are for software or hardware that we provide. These items are billed to you with NO markup and are considered a “Reimbursable Expense.”  Because there are additional costs associated with providing these items, we normally apply billing time but no markup on the items themselves. We work hard to find suppliers that can provide us with the highest quality hardware and software, not necessarily the lowest cost so you may be able to find comparable items (or at least what appear to be comparable items) at a lower cost elsewhere. We do not provide warranty service for any hardware or software problems since we do not manufacture or produce hardware or software. Most of the items that we provide include a manufacturer’s warranty. These warranties cover repair or replacement of a failed item, but do not usually cover our time in diagnosing, shipping, replacing or otherwise affecting the warranty. Like warranties of other products, these warranties cover the item’s failure, not associated costs or inconvenience. We will be happy to assist you in contacting the manufacturer yourself in order to reduce our charges in working on warranty issues.

Billing Frequency: Our bills are generated weekly as a project progresses. We expect you to pay out of pocket costs (including travel costs) and costs for proposed projects in advance. If we don’t collect out-of-pocket costs or proposed project costs in advance, they are due immediately upon billing and become past due 5 days after the billing date. Unless specific credit terms have been requested and approved in writing, charges for routine services are due when billed, and become past due 15 days after the billing date. We will usually perform routine and occasional service for established clients and bill for the service after it is complete. New clients, those for whom we do little or irregular service, or clients with whom we have experienced past credit problems will be required to make a deposit payment before work begins. We will estimate the cost for work to be performed and will base the deposit payment on that estimate. We may need to revise our estimate and receive additional deposit payments during the course of a project. Deposit payments will be applied as a payment to your account, and will be reconciled in our regular billing process. We will process a refund of excess deposit payments if needed.

Past-due Amounts: Like any business, past due accounts are a concern for us, and we apply strict procedures in dealing with them. We would prefer to never apply finance charges, and we think you will find our finance charge procedures quite liberal. But if we do apply a finance charge, we are not easily persuaded to reverse it. If your account is past due, you will find that we rarely apply any write-down at all, and if you question a charge on your bill, we will not write it off until the account is brought to “current” status. If we do choose to reverse charges that have been applied to an account that was past due and has since been brought to “current” status, we will only do so in the form of a credit on the account that can be applied to future services.

Questions: We welcome the opportunity of discussing billing and any other questions with you. Communicating with clients is always a pleasure for us, and we encourage it. Client communication sometimes reminds us of little Jimmy who, at three years of age had not spoken a word. His concerned parents sought diagnoses from the best doctors, who could find no problem. At age five, Jimmy still had not spoken, and extensive medical tests sought out by his anxious parents could still not identify a reason. At age nine, during the family dinner one evening, Jimmy suddenly said, “These peas are cold!”  His shocked parents sprang to their feet and excitedly asked, “Jimmy, you’re nine years old; you have never spoken until now. Why!?”  “Well,” Jimmy replied, “everything’s been OK up to now.”  We are always anxious to hear from you. Please feel free to call us anytime.

Hourly Rates as of January 2017:

Business and Networking:  $90

Residential and Not-For-Profits:  $65

Engineering:  $125

Custom Programming:  $100