Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Using The Computer At Your Job

• The computer at your place of employment is not yours, it is the company’s. You are using it as a guest would.

• Everything you do it on it can be (and probably is being) watched (aka “monitored”).

This week (Monday and Tuesday) I have already had to explain this fact to three callers to my Tech Support biz.

They wanted to make changes, and install programs, and were puzzled by the fact the machines were not letting them, or failing to show menus, that their machines at home would let them make.

One wanted to install Hulu’s desktop app.

At work.

I was polite to these people, and explained to them that business machines are often ‘locked down’ by the IT department: that I could not/would not help them. And though it pained me (biting one’s tongue can hurt) I did not say anything other than they needed to ask their boss or IT department. (Which I knew they were not going to do: that’s why they had called me.)

• Every word you type can be read – even the log in to your webmail

Please think about that.

Every chat. Every email. Everything.

If you have checked your personal email while at work, your employers now know how to read your mail. Facebook. Whatever. I suggest that when you get home, you change your passwords, and stop doing personal stuff, and/or “recreational” stuff, when you are at work, getting paid to do the company’s business activities (aka “work”).

If they bother to look, yes, they can tell exactly (to the millisecond) how many minutes a week you play solitaire and Angry Birds. That might be a factor in their thinking when it’s time for the next round of layoffs. (I know it would be if I were boss and had to cut employees..)

Once again, I can’t believe I have to write this stuff…

Hulu? At work?

Today’s “Don’t miss out“: on the chance to enter my latest software license giveaway drawing!


*** Win A Valuable Prize! ***


The folks at Softland have generously donated ten licenses for Backup4all Professional to me, to award to my readers.

“Backup4all is an award-winning data backup software for Windows. This backup utility was designed to protect your valuable data from partial or total loss by automating backup tasks, password protecting and compressing it to save storage space. This backup application is feature rich and offers an intuitive interface making all features easily accessible for both beginners and professionals.“

To enter the drawing, please see: Backup4all License Giveaway Drawing

Today’s quote: “You will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” ~ P.T. Barnum

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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August 17, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Technical Training In Tough Times

Your Ticket To A Happy Life?

Perhaps you’ve seen those commercials on TV that encourage you to “get out of your dead-end job” and get yourself a wonderful life. All you need is some (expensive) “technical training”. Well, if it’s on TV, it must be true. Right? And.. computers are everywhere.. Right?

About a year ago, I was asked if I wouldn’t be willing to promote IT training. More specifically — IT training from a certain online “university”. I replied, “Certainly! I am a proud graduate of XYZ Online University! And I would be delighted to give my old school a plug!”

Actually, I’m sure the Promotions man was hoping to hear something along those lines .. but instead he got, “Dear Promotions Person,
1) I am not about to promote something I’ve never even heard of, and 2) I would advise the young people today to learn a traditional Trade — something not IT. Haven’t you heard of outsourcing? Or H1B visas? Orcloud computing“? IT jobs are going away. I mean, Microsoft just laid off 5,000. Microsoft!”
So.. he offered me $10 per link to the school. (Hmmm… 1 link a day.. for a year.. Shoot!)

In the last week, Tech Republic (an IT-centric site) sent me newsletters with these article titles in them:

* A 40-hour week? Not in IT
IT has always been known for its long hours, but according to a new survey by the IT Job Board, the situation is getting worse..

* Workplace suicide rate up dramatically
There was a 28 percent increase in the number of suicides committed in the workplace last year over the prior year. What’s behind this disturbing trend?

* Five job search tips for discouraged job seekers ¹
Authors of a new book encourage job seekers to never give up. Here are five of their tips for job search survival.
(¹ This was also sent out with the title, “Five Job Search Tips For The Hopeless.”)

Hmmm… Why does Tech Republic think IT types will look at those? Maybe because there’s lots of massively experienced and skilled IT people looking for work, and have been for a long time now. They’re now putting up fliers saying “will fix your PC”. I know this because I saw some right next to my old flier.
(I think, but couldn’t prove, that the more experienced and more skilled are being laid off first — because their salaries were higher.)

I personally know several great IT folks who have been looking for work in their field for over a year. And I know a few who have survived the rounds of layoffs — this time. And I know many who are back in the classroom hoping that a different Certification – such as Server Virtualization – will keep them working a while longer. (Which Certificate is “hot” is a big, big topic. Because it does make a difference, as “tech” is always changing {ask a Novell Administrator}).

I’m not saying that IT Training is useless; nor that there aren’t IT jobs. And I’m not any kind of analyst or expert². And I am not telling you how to live your life. But I am saying perception isn’t always reality, and that if you’re thinking about starting a new career in Tech there’s something to consider: in tough economic times, the IT budget is (usually) the first to get cut. And please click those links up there.. and learn about outsourcing. That won’t go away even in a boom time. I am suggesting please do some research. Maybe.. start here.

And, please, be very leery of online universities.

Today’s free links: (for job seekers)
* Online job listing an ID theft scam:
‘Background check’ used to steal full slate of personal info…
* Keep Your Dreams Alive*

Today’s free download: Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator 1.4
Ever wanted to quickly and easily define your own keyboard layout for a language Microsoft doesn’t support? Or define your own keyboard layout so you can quickly and easily enter your favorite symbols with a simple keystroke? Well, want no more: the Microsoft Keyboard Layout Creator is here!

² I wouldn’t mind getting feedback from those more in the know. Or, who are hiring…

[update: Best U.S. cities to find tech jobs]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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September 23, 2009 Posted by | tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Not every Windows user is going to like Windows 7

Not every Windows user is going to like Windows 7.

And, it’s true– you cannot please all the people, all the time.

I have been using Windows 7 as my main desktop OS for a while now, and have written several installments of  “A Tech’s Impressions” series, (see, A Tech’s First Impression of Windows 7 — Part 1 of a series) with more on the way. This article is not one of them – it’s more a (my) look at psychology than technology.

It is hard to be a reader of technology-oriented websites, or business analysis sources, and be unaware that Windows Vista was not a pop sensation (it did not “go viral”) … and that many people are (deliberately) “sticking with XP”.
For a multitude of “reasons”.

In fact, many flat-out say Vista was a flop. From a marketing and sales standpoint, I think I have to agree. It was, to me, mind-bogglingly stupid (and I’m being polite) to 1) let Vista be released without driver support, 2) To not hammer home to the public the fact that Vista was NEVER meant for old machines, and 3) To let 18 months (!) of brilliant “I’m a Mac, and I’m a PC” ads run unanswered.
ImaMac
And.. when the long awaited Microsoft reply finally came?
An equally stupid (and vaguely insulting) move; a campaign called “Mojave”, that nobody saw. (see, Marketing the Microsoft Way–”Mojave”). They got a little smarter with the following “I’m a PC” campaign.. but that was way too little, far too late.
The number of Apple machines jumped from somewhere around 5-7% to 10-15% (I don’t care about that though. Good for Apple). Microsoft’s revenue declined, and has announced a 5,000 -employee layoff. (see, Gartner: Blame Vista for Microsoft layoffs.)

But Vista is stuck with an (IMHO) undeserving bad rap, and many people have chosen to stay with a less secure and aging operating system. (Me? I’ll never go back. I retired the last of my XP systems a while ago.)
XP was released in 2001. In computer years, that’s five iterations of Moore’s Law ago -more people used floppy disks than thumb drives- and in human perspective.. the Trade Towers were still standing.

Microsoft has clearly learned a few things from Vista’s “failure”, and made some changes, evident already in the Windows 7 beta release. I am eager to see if that “education” will change how Windows 7 is marketed to the masses.

Let’s get back to the topic: built on the Vista kernel, tweaked for friendliness and one-click-simple, loaded with device drivers, faster, etc., etc., Windows 7 is what Vista should have been, and all the standard reasons to avoid it (or.. “wait for Service Pack 1”) seem to me to have been already addressed and answered. I boldly predict that you will not see the same “this sucks!” or “my doohickie won’t work!” reaction that Vista saw.

But people will still find ways to avoid “going viral” over Windows 7.. and find excuses to stick with old OS’s on old equipment. For instance, I know a retired Admin who won’t run anything except Windows 2000.. it, quote, “does everything I want, or need”.
Some folks will move to Server 2008 (and say they aren’t runninspockg Vista/7) because they don’t care for the “eye candy”.
Yet others will stick with XP.. because they’ve become intimate with it over the years (or claim “it’s faster”…).

People are a “trip” (to use some California lingo), and seem to me full of idiosyncrasies; and as Mr. Spock kept pointing out, don’t always react logically. I do know one thing — people are inherently resistant to change, and find it stressful.

Is Windows 7 a big change? Well, it looks different, but, no. Does it have some new “must have” feature? Well, no. (see, What’s really new in Windows 7?) Is it “better”? Well, from what I’ve seen so far, yes. (And I think 7 will go a long ways towards moving us into 64-bit computing.) Can it run on older workstations (one reason Vista was not adopted by the enterprise) or does it require a hardware upgrade? Less stringent than Vista, but, sheeze.. just how long do you want to run that single-core+512MB’s?!

The official release date of Windows 7, and finding it on computers in stores, is a ways off yet (October?).. probably coinciding with next year’s Holiday shopping period. A very good argument can be made that Windows 7’s success or failure will not be due to consumer opinion, but the state of the economy. But.. I will be carefully watching the consumer’s reaction.

One thing I’ll be watching is if Apple’s new “Snow Leopard” continues to eat into the “Microsoft share”…

Today’s free link: Fighting malware: An interview with Paul Ferguson

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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January 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, Microsoft, tech, Windows 7 | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments