Sig-ma

Computer Tune Up

It is a simple fact that over time computers slow down. You might think this is inevitable and that only a new computer will give you back the speed you once had.

Whilst in some cases the hardware might well be the cause of the problem; for instance, some computers with only the minimum ram installed are bound to struggle as soon as you have a number of programmes open. In most cases though, your computer is probably just crying out for a tune up.

We recommend you have a tune up carried out on your computer at least once a year.

We’ll carry out the following and you’ll have your computer back working as efficiently as possible.

keep-calm-and-tune-up

  • Remove temporary and unnecessary files
  • Clean the registry of obsolete entries
  • Remove unnecessary startup programmes
  • Remove all Spyware, Malware and Viruses
  • Install all windows updates and drivers
  • Update software to patch vulnerabilities
  • Install FREE anti virus software if required
  • Defrag your hard drive
  • Clean the dust fans and components


  • So, if you are putting up with a slow, unresponsive computer, don’t delay. Book your computer in for a tune up today.

    Our tune ups are usually completed within 24 hours, if you need more information contact us

    Internet Connection Speeds

    With news just out that rural high speed internet connections have been delayed and won’t be expected to be completed for at least a couple of years, it would be interesting to see what kind of speeds you are getting.

    I have just been to www.speedtest.net and completed the test there by clicking on begin test then share this result when it had completed. This is my result:-

    internet_connection_speed

    Nice to know I am in the bottom 9% of internet connection speeds.

    How do you compare? Go to the website and complete the test. If you have a facebook account it would be great if you could share your result and mention Sig-ma in your status, so that I can see the results. To link to my business page on facebook just type @Sig-ma anywhere in the status and a link will be created. You can also post the link in the comments box of this blog post if you want or if you do not have a facebook account.

    Let’s see who has the best and the worst of connections.

    Amazon Autorip

    Amazon’s Autorip service is now live in the UK

    As of today when you buy an AutoRip-eligible CD or vinyl record from www.amazon.co.uk you will get a digital copy for free.

    Amazon will even put all your previous eligible purchases into your Cloud Player next time you log in, so you can stream or download all the albums you forgot you owned on your web browser, iPhone, Android device or Kindle Fire.

    Amazon

    So what are the benefits of AutoRip?

  • You can enjoy your music before the CD or vinyl arrives in the post
  • No need to manually copy your CD or vinyl to the computer
  • Get free MP3 versions of all past AutoRip-eligible purchases
  • Access your music on the move with Cloud Player
  • Keep your music safe in Cloud Player
  • How It Works

  • Buy any AutoRip CD. They’re easy to spot; just look for the AutoRip logo on the artwork or in the product description.
  • Once you’ve completed your purchase, log in to your Cloud Player (every UK customer has one – it’s free!) and your album will be waiting for you to stream or download. If you’ve pre-ordered the album, you’ll have to wait until release date.
  • You can now access your music wherever you are; on PC or Mac, Android or iPhone and Kindle Fire devices.

  • I just logged in and found 348 songs added to my Cloud Player, which included two CD’s that I had forgotten about.

    Visit Amazon now, click on the main Amazon logo then MP3s & Cloud Player. Then click on the link for which device you want to use.

    Browser Security

    Browser security is a very important part of keeping you safe online.  Your browser is one of the main tools you use to access the Internet.  It is a software program that allows you to visit web pages and use web applications.  Unless you have been more adventurous than most you are probably using one of the top five browsers:  Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Opera.

    Top 5 browsers

    Top 5 browsers

    Whichever browser you are using though, cyber attackers can be pretty certain you will have at least one on your computer which is why they make browsers one of their primary targets.  They search for, and find, programming errors and other flaws in browsers which are known as vulnerabilities.  These vulnerabilities can be exploited, giving attackers access to, and sometimes even complete control, over your computer.

    The browser developers release patches to fix these vulnerabilities which is why it is essential that you always have the latest version of your browser installed.  Having the latest version will ensure your browser has these known issues fixed.

    Check the browser security of all browsers installed on your computer, even if you do not use them they are still vulnerable to attacks.

    To manually check whether your browser is up to date follow the instructions below:

    Chrome

    Click on the Chrome menu button and then click on the About Google Chrome link.
    Chrome Browser Security

    Firefox

    Click on the Firefox button, click Help then click About Firefox.
    firefox_browser_security

    Internet Explorer

    Updates for Internet Explorer are included when you install Windows updates.

    Safari

    Safari is no longer developed for Windows and the last update was in May 2012. If you have Safari installed on your Windows based computer it is recommended that you remove it.

    Opera

    Click on the Opera button, click Help then click Check for updates.
    opera_browser_security

    Phone scam

    Scams never seem to go away; this particular phone scam has been around since at least 2009 and keeps resurfacing on a regular basis.

    Do NOT follow the advice of these unsolicited phone calls, they are scams.

    The phone scam starts with a member of the household being asked for by name, the scammer will say they are working for Microsoft or will give the name of what sounds to be a legitimate tech company.  They will then tell you that your computer is infected or that it has errors which will cause the computer to fail and you will lose your data etc.

    Most of the phone scammers will get you to open a program called event viewer on your computer and you will see warnings and error messages which the scammer will claim as proof of your computer being infected or its imminent demise.  These errors and warnings are legitimate, harmless errors and do not mean you have an infected computer or that your computer is failing.

    Phone scam event viewer

    Example event viewer window scammer will get you to open

    Next the scammer might ask you for a payment so that they can repair your computer.  You might be asked to visit a website and give remote access to the scammer, who could then access your personal data, or download software that will give them access.

    Do NOT give your card details out to unsolicited callers.  Do NOT give remote access to unsolicited callers.  Do NOT download software or click on links that you are not sure about.

    HANG UP.  They might call back, just hang up every time they do.  They will get bored and give up at some point.  If you pay money to these scammers you probably wont get it back and will end up needing the services of a legitimate computer repair company which will cost you more money.

    Protect yourself and friends by forwarding this on to anyone you think it might help.

    Easter Eggs on your computer

    Easter EggsEaster Eggs aren’t just the chocolate variety given to celebrate Easter. You can find Easter eggs on your computer in a variety of places. The Easter eggs in these instances are hidden messages or an inside joke within software.

    There were a lot of Easter Eggs in the earlier releases of Microsoft software. These hidden programmes and messages caused a lot of concern for many companies and government offices (fear of confidential / sensitive data being compromised) and Microsoft now officially bans the practice of embedding Easter Eggs in their software as part of their Trustworthy Computing initiative.

    Google has many Easter Eggs – type ‘answer to life the universe and everything’ into a Google search and the calculator will appear with the answer ’42’. This is from the book Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. A supercomputer is built to discover the answer to the ultimate question which turns out to be 42. Now we just need to know the question.

    The following work in Google Chrome and some other browsers like Firefox, Opera and Safari:

    Typing ‘askew’ will tilt your screen slightly
    Typing ‘do a barrel roll’ will cause your screen to roll 360 degrees
    Type ‘zerg rush’ and the Google O’s will destroy the search results

    Type ‘about:mozilla’ in Firefox address bar for an strange extract from the Book of Mozilla and type ‘about:robots’ for a message from the robots.

    See what else you can find, there are a lot of ‘tricks’ out there too – type google gravity and click the “I’m feeling lucky” link for a different experience.

    Hard Drives explained

    Hard drives are the main storage component of your computer, which are sometimes referred to as a hard disk drive and abbreviated as HD or HDD. The first hard drive was announced back in 1956, it comprised fifty 24-inch diameter disks (platters) and could store 3.75 megabytes of data. The hard drive’s cabinet was 60 inches long, 68 inches high and 29 inches wide.

    First IBM hard drive, 350 RAMAC

    First IBM hard drive, 350 RAMAC

    Today’s hard drives come in two sizes, 3.5 inch and 2.5 inch. The size refers to the diameter of the platters where the data is written. Desktop computers tend to have 3.5 inch hard drives and laptops have 2.5 inch hard drives. Both sizes can be found in external hard drive enclosures.

    3.5" and 2.5" hard drives

    3.5″ and 2.5″ hard drives

    Hard drives also come with two different connection types, IDE (PATA) or SATA. SATA cables have much faster data transfer speeds than IDE which allows programmes to load faster. The cables are smaller in size allowing increased air-flow inside the computer case and the length of the SATA cable can be up to 1 meter in length allowing more flexibility on where a hard drive can be mounted, whilst the IDE cable has a maximum length of 18 inches.

    SATA and IDE connections

    SATA and IDE connections

    Your hard drive has a controller board which communicates between the computer and the hard drive, it controls the motor, tells the head to read and write data and exchanges data. At least one platter is attached to a spindle which spins at 5400/7200/10000 rpms. Each platter has a read/write head on a fixed arm which is controlled by an actuator (motor). Data is magnetically stored on the platter and the spindle is spun whilst the read/write heads are moved into place by the motor to where the data is stored.

    With a number of components that can go wrong it is important that you keep regular backups of any pictures, music, files etc.

    A lot of computer manufacturers ‘partition’ the hard drive into two separate ‘drives’, normally calling the second partition DATA. In most instances I have seen, this section of the drive is left empty whilst the other half of the drive is steadily filled up until the computer slows down quite considerably. This normally happens because when a computer is set up, the main folders for documents, pictures etc are on the C drive and people will save the files to these folders.

    People also think that storing backups on the ‘DATA’ drive is a safe option, but if the hard drive fails then this will mean that all partitions on the drive will have failed. Whilst data recovery options may be available to rescue data, they are generally expensive and not 100% guaranteed.

    The best option is to have a second external hard drive which your important files can be written to and stored away from your main computer. Then, if anything happens – failure, theft, fire – at least your files will be on a separate medium and can be restored to a new hard drive if necessary.

    Google Chrome

    Google Chrome has been the most popular browser since May 2012 and 88% of internet users use Google to perform internet searches, but did you know that Google offers so much more.

    google chrome statistics

    Statistics taken from gs.statcounter.com

    Let’s take a look at a few things you might not be so familiar with.

    If you open a Google account you will have access to Google Drive, which is 5GB of free cloud storage and a free web-based office suite that allows you to create and edit documents online. Store and access your files from anywhere, on any device – desktop, laptop, phone or tablet – and share files without the need to email them as attachments, just upload and share your files or folders.

    You will also get a free email account called Gmail which you can also access on any device. 10GB of email storage, video chat, voice chat and the ability to check other email accounts means you will never miss out on those important messages.

    Do you already use Google Chrome?

    I will be posting a number of blogs about various Google applications over the coming months, so it will be useful to know how many of my readers use Google Chrome.

    Leave a comment below if you already use Google Chrome and why you prefer it to other browsers. Maybe you don’t, and you use Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari or Opera, let me know which browser you use and why you prefer it to other browsers. A bad experience with Google Chrome or just never tried it, you can download Google Chrome from this link, it is quick and easy and you can always remove it afterwards.

    Asteroids

    Today, 15 February 2013, asteroid 2012 DA14 will fly within 17,200 miles of earth. This is lower than the communications satellites that orbit 22,000 miles above the equator. The asteroid is about the size of half a football pitch and will not hit earth, and it is not expected to hit any satellites.

    The best chance to see the asteroid will be after 19:26 with binoculars or telescope but will be a challenge to spot.

    Talking of asteroids reminds me of a game we used to play at school back in the mid 1980’s on a BBC Microcomputer. We were supposed to be entering code to draw shapes on the screen or code like the example below to repeat text on the screen.

    10 FOR X=1 TO 10
    20 PRINT “HELLO WORLD”
    30 NEXT X

    Classic asteroid game

    Asteroids

    Pretty simple stuff, but in those days when the processor speed was 2MHz, RAM was 64KB and we had up to 8 colors we were pretty impressed. Click on the image to the right and experience the classic asteroid game, it is free and no download is required. Use your cursor keys to fly your ship and the space bar to shoot.

    The lowest specced machine I sell has a 2.5GHz processor, 4.0GB of RAM and 16.7 million colours and I am giving away free labour charges to the highest scorer of this classic asteroids game if they want to buy any of the computers in my range. Not looking for a new computer at the moment? Then how about 10% off labour charges for the next year.

    For a chance of winning I want you to play a version of asteroids on the following link, asteroid competition, within Google Chrome and then using Google Chrome, print your best score as a pdf and email it to me by midnight on 28 February 2013.

    For rules and conditions please read

    Java Vulnerabilities

    Java has been in the technology news recently after vulnerabilities were found in the latest release. Vulnerabilities in software leave computers open to attack, so it is important that the software on your computer is up to date.

    But what is Java and why do you need it?

    Java allows programs written in the java programming language to run on your computer. It works on multiple operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS or Linux and means that the programmers only have to write a program once and not worry about whether the user has a PC or a Mac computer, or be concerned with which browser is being used.

    Java runs on more than 850 million personal computers worldwide, and on billions of devices worldwide, including mobile and TV devices.

    Is your version up to date?

    The easiest way to check is to go to www.java.com and click on the verify java version button. Follow the prompts and install the latest version if needed. Clear the checkbox if you do not want the Ask Toolbar installed during installation.

    java_vulnerabilities

    A computer health check with us at Sig-ma is £50.00, we will give your computer a thorough clean and make sure it is running at its best, this includes removing unnecessary files and programmes, installing important updates and software patches.

    Contact Us

    T: 01935 426652
    M: 07799 051770

    E: support@sig-ma.co.uk

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    Company Info

    Sig-ma is a computer repair company based in Yeovil, Somerset. 

    We offer professional, affordable services to businesses and home users alike.

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