My recommended security product just got more expensive – makes you WannaCry (:

hacked

For the last 3 years or so, Kaspersky has been the recommended security product for PC’s and laptops.  I make a point of reading the annual PC Pro Security product labs very closely.  It’s somewhat worrying to note that the big high street retailers (the ones, supposedly with “Knowhow”) consistently recommend and preload the product that comes consistently last in the labs tests (Yes McAfee – that’s you).

Very recently, we’ve had the most serious cyberattack ever (WannaCry) hitting many networks, most notably our NHS.  I’ve always managed to source Kaspersky for my customers around about the £5 per seat figure, by buying from smaller suppliers, although I do make a point of getting something physical in the post, as opposed to the people who just send you activation codes – seems a little too close to piracy if you ask me.

But recently, I’ve had orders cancelled because suppliers can’t get stock anymore.  Looks like the supply chain is being reduced, to maximise the price.  Call me cynical, but it seems too much of a coincidence to me.

Watch this space – it will be interesting to see who wins the next security labs – usually featured in the autumn, as the products labelled “2018” come on stream.

Kaspersky is developed in Russia.  Just saying 😉  The product that _almost_ matches it for performance and malware detection is BitDefender – developed in Romania.

I’ve never used Bitdefender, but maybe it’s time to give it a try …

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Windows 10 – Creators Update

Described by many reviewers as a minor major update, the creators update is still arriving to a bemused public.  A definite improvement over previous versions, but containing nothing earth shattering – not that we would want that 🙂

 

I like the new privacy options given during setup -much clearer than before, although you still need to keep a close eye on proceedings if you care about your privacy.  I literally jumped recently when the setup program started talking to me – quite a surprise.

So, Windows 10 gets a little better than it was.  As a support provider I’m just glad the awful days of the “Critical Error” are now behind us.  Thank you Microsoft.   I’m assuming you haven’t collectively gotten religion and are calling on God to help with the code, but hey, who knows in these days of post truth and alternative facts.

In the light of the recent Cyber attacks, suddenly the thought of an operating system that keeps itself up to date automatically doesn’t seem quite so bad, and Microsoft has taken steps to reduce the impact of updates and system re-boots.  I can tell you, there is nothing much worse than the system you are relying upon to get work done, to suddenly start to reboot itself, or decide to start applying updates when you want to pack it up and leave.

(OK the critical error was worse) 🙂

Verdict:  Thanks for the improvements – keep listening to your customers …

Did I mentioned the new 3D thingy’s – <nope> – thought not …

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Un-google? ha ha

Back in January, I wrote of un-googling.  This was before I changed my phone from a Windows 10 driven thing to an Android device.  To say it was a big improvement is an understatement.  Next shock, after struggling with a private email server for some time, I realised that the best way to synchronise my emails, contacts and calendar across multiple devices, was to stick with gmail.  It just works.  One day, I’d like to be free from the power of Google – but not just yet……  I worry they will begin charging for these services one day – once they have squashed all the competition.  Chrome is relegated to third choice browser behind Firefox and Opera, and will stay that way unless it changes it’s behaviour !

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Windows 10 – 1st Anniversary – I’m not celebrating :( (Updated!!)

I have to say, after a year of using Windows 10, I’m somewhere I never expected to be – I can no longer recommend the current version of Microsoft Windows for my customers.  Never thought I would be saying that, but the operating system simply isn’t good enough.

My main work computer has been downgraded to windows 7 – and I am spending more and more time working with Linux Mint than ever before.

I’ve struggled with the “Critical Error – Start Menu has stopped working” on and off for over 6 months now.  Every time I think I have it fixed, the damn thing comes back.  I’m not willing to spend any more of my time on this.  We are well past the “throw the computer out the window” point.

I hear there are some big updates due soon.  I’m not holding my breath.

I’ve been reading similar verdicts in PC Pro magazine – a publication that has changed significantly in recent years.  Once upon a time you would not see a mention of an apple product there – now their devices frequently head up the “A” list in several categories.

On the positive side, the computer operating system is no longer the main thing.  Getting the job done you want doing is, and there are plenty of ways to do that nowadays.

Ironic isn’t it?  Like politicians, something we once trusted has let us down.

I look forward to a happier situation at the end of 2016 – so far a pretty disastrous year on many fronts.

UPDATE – December 2016

Only one month after I wrote the above, Microsoft rolled out their anniversary update, which started updating customers from August 2nd.

It FINALLY fixed the “Critical Error” issue I, and no doubt thousands of others, had been struggling with for months.

So … Windows 10 is usable again.  I can recommend it again with caveats …

I still hate the way the user has no choice about receiving updates

I hate the way it takes decisions about updating MY computer – even when I am trying to get work done !!

I hate the fact that the main user settings are in two places (Control Panel, and the newer Settings “Cog”).

But at least we can get on with work again without too many distractions …

With that in mind I have to say, “recommend” is probably the wrong word when it comes to Windows 10 and computer operating systems.  I don’t hate it anymore, but you should seriously consider alternatives, if you can.

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A Conscious un-googling

Some time before Christmas I noticed Google chrome was running increasingly slow on some of my windows computers. Then it began hanging altogether. After this happened a few times, I downloaded Firefox and switched to that as my main browser of choice. Back came the speed I remembered.

Then, I began to be really irritated by the messages coming from the main google search engine. Over and over again “Before you leave – please read this” and you couldn’t just ignore it, as the search engine wouldn’t work until you acknowledged it. Now there is “A privacy reminder from Google” in nearly every search.

At this point I actually uninstalled Google Chrome from all my computers.

I even changed the default search engine to Yahoo – then came the story about Yahoo selling Ivory from their Japanese site. Great. Who can you trust in this world?

Have changed to an “amalgamator” called Dogpile now – I’ve used that for some years when google failed me, and it will do for now, until I hear otherwise …

I still have a gmail account, although the intention is to phase this out gradually … but it begs the question – how much can we exclude these giant corporations from our on-line lives?

More recently there has been the rotten tax deal google made with the UK government. I’m sure all the struggling small businesses in the UK landed with huge annual corporation tax bills are going to be overjoyed to hear about that one. It really encourages us all to be good little taxpayers …

So goodbye Google – we have loved your maps and free email. Not sure how we are going to get by without you, but there are alternatives, and I will be going out of my way to utilise them.

In the end, it was your own motto “Don’t be evil” …

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Windows 10 – four months on

So, windows 10 has been with us, officially for over 4 months.

Mainly well received in the press as Microsoft’s “Make or break” operating system I’ve now installed it many times on a variety of computers, either as a fresh installation or as an upgrade.

Long enough to develop a few likes and dislikes.

Top of my dislike list is the way windows 10 updates itself and you have no control over when or if that happens.   I understand if you are lucky enough to have the professional or even the Enterprise versions of Windows 10, you can restore some control over the process, but the home versions force Microsoft’s software updates upon us, often accompanied by a supposedly helpful messages like “We’re updating a few things…” – what if I had some urgent work to complete?

2nd on my dislike list are the awful privacy standard settings when you install windows.  It’s very important to choose “Customise” and change most settings, otherwise you will be sending all your personal data to Microsoft, including your location.

At the moment, all I would say is things are a lot better than they were under Windows 8 / Windows 8.1, but its very clear Microsoft are not learning from the errors of the past.

I find I’m installing Linux more and more these days …

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Harmonix IT – Bringing harmony to IT Support

As of October 2015, Harmonix IT is up and running providing bespoke IT support and musical services to the Wakefield area of Yorkshire.

This blog will be mainly used for IT related articles.

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