Author Archive | jimagine

Top Tips for Web Browsing

Relaxed young professional surfing the Internet on his laptop in a cafe

Most people spend a majority of their time on the computer browsing the web, either for work, study or entertainment purposes. Here are some top tips to make your web browsing quicker, easier and more efficient:

  • Use multiple tabs: by using multiple tabs you are able to quickly and easily switch between articles and web pages. If you are on a web page and would like to open a link but still continue reading, simply open the link in a new tab so you can easily access it when you have finished reading that page. To open a link in a new tab simply right click and select ‘open in new tab’ or hold down the CTRL key and left click. You can also use CTRL + T to open a blank tab.
  • Unless you want to access a secure website, you can skip the http://: You don’t need to type this in to the web browser to reach a website. In fact most websites you don’t even have to type the www. So keep this in mind to save yourself some time. In order to access a secure website, you will need to type in the https://.
  • Tab to a new field: When filling out an online form or even sending an email, you can use the TAB key on your keyboard to quickly move to the next text field. If you TAB too far simply use SHIFT + TAB to go back a field.
  • Refresh the webpage: sometimes when a web page isn’t loading properly or an issue has occurred, a simple page refresh could resolve this. Press F5 or CTRL + R on your keyboard to refresh the page.
  • Use CTRL + F to find what you are looking for: this brings up a search box so you can easily find where that word or phrase appears on the web page.

The more you use these tricks, the quicker and easier your web browsing will become, making work and study more efficient.

Is it best to leave the computer on or switch it off?

Everyone seems to have different approaches to what they do with their computer at the end of the day, but what is best? There is no real answer for everyone as it depends on how the computer is used however we have collected some important information that may help you decide what is best foryou.

It is recommended that once a computer is turned on it should be left on for quite some time, until late in the day or when you have finished using the computer for the day. If you need programs to run over night such as back ups or virus scans, however, you will need to leave the computer on.

It can be useful to put the computer into Sleep mode instead of turning it off if you would like to save some boot up time. If you choose to leave your computer on all day, it is recommended that the monitor is switched off when you won’t be using it for periods longer than 10 minutes. This will allow the screen to refresh.

For offices with a large number of computers, it is recommended that these a turned off of a night time to save power. Turning the computer to power saving mode will help however it will still consumer power.

Some more tips & helpful information to help you choose what is best:

  • Turning the computer off will not cause power surges or damage components
  • Turning off computer will not cause cracks or harm electrical components – whilst the components will cool down when it is turned off, this will not harm them.
  • Turning off the computer won’t cause moving parts such as fans to wear down.
  • Turning the computer off is unlikely to wear down the power button. This has been an issue previously with old computers however this is not the case with modern computer manufacturers. It is still possible that the power button can break but not from simply turning the computer on and off.
  • It is not true that the computer takes more power when it boots up.
  • Leaving the computer on will not cause it to overheat (unless a fan is broken).
  • All information provided above is applicable for laptop devices as well.

power-l

Would you like your computer to run faster?

There is nothing more frustrating than a slow computer. Rather than buying a new desktop or laptop, why not install a Solid State Drive (SSD) card.

What is an SSD?

An SSD is similar to USB memory sticks, but more of an oversized and more sophisticated version. Like a USB memory stick, there are no moving parts to an SSD. The information is therefore stored in microchips. Which means that an SSD, rather than a hard disk drive, is so much faster.

A typical SSD uses what is called NAND-based flash memory, that is, when you turn off the disk it won’t forget what was stored on it. Which is an essential characteristic to any permanent memory.

The SSD is actually the same size as a regular hard drive and comes in a standard 1.8″, 2.5″ or 3.5″ size that can fit into the housing and connectors for the same-sized hard drives.

What this upgrade means for your computer?

By completing this upgrade you should expect to see from the first reboot that your start ups will be a lot faster. Programs and files will launch or load faster, and your search results will arrive a lot faster for you. You may also notice that your laptop will run overall a lot quieter as a SSD doesn’t contain moving parts.

In the long run an SSD card also uses less electrical power than what a conventional hard drive would. This means longer battery life for laptop users.

SSD’s are well on their way to becoming the mainstream, standard storage mechanism, especially for laptops. So if you desire top computing performance, opting for an SSD inside your computer set up or an upgrade, don’t hesitate to contact us here at ImagineNow IT.

What You Need to Know About Mobile Payment Apps

More and more Mobile Payment Applications such as Apple Pay & Android Pay are being introduced and used in our everyday shopping experiences. Rather than paying online, these applications allow you to use your phone like a credit card at the shopping centre, meaning you don’t even have to carry around your wallet anymore! But how do they work and how safe are they? We have everything you need to know about these new Mobile Payment Apps.
To be able to compare this new system to credit cards, we will quickly outline how credit cards work. We all know that in the shops credit cards work by pay passing or inserting/swiping the card then entering a pin but a lot more happens whilst we do this. Your credit card number and some other information on the card gets sent to an acquirer (a bank that processes card transactions) who checks with your credit card company for authorisation and approve the purchase, all happening in about 1 second!

Now let’s look at the new Mobile Payment Apps! These new applications uses a type of wireless communication called Near Field Communication (NFC) rather than the magnet strip or chip on your credit card. The NFC only works within a few centimetres and your phone has a chips in it just for this. This means that you can only use this method of payment at terminals that also have an NFC chip.

Although this method sounds quite unsafe and makes you even more worried about losing your phone, it is actually quite safe. When you make a transaction, you don’t transmit your credit card number so this can not be stolen. Every purchase is assigned a different number (a token) so even if someone stole this number they couldn’t use it again as it can only be used the one time. The phone also ensures that a pin is entered, or fingerprint scanned, to proceed with payment. This means that even if someone had your phone, they would also need your pin or finger which is quite unlikely!

From what has been researched so far, these applications do like quite safe so the days of only taking your phone, license and keys when you leave the house could be just around the corner! Just remember that these new Mobile Payment Applications are still relatively new to the market so we recommend not leaving your wallet at home just yet, in case the shops you use don’t have this feature yet.

Vector illustration of mobile payment via smartphone.

Top Tips for Travelling with Electronics

Laptops, tablets, cameras, phones, GoPros and charging cords seem to be on the list of essential packing items when travelling these days. To make your travel as easy as possible, here are some top tips for travelling with electronics.

1. When packing, ensure that your electronic devices are easily accessible. When going through airport security, you will be required to remove all devices from your luggage to go through the scanner. If you’re devices are easily accessible, you will be able to quickly unpack and repack your bag, saving time and making this process much easier for yourself and everyone else in the line.

2. Make things easier by only bringing common electronic devices such as phones, cameras, tablets, laptops and gaming devices. Whilst it is certainly legal and fine to bring other, more unusual, electronic devices it may be a good idea to allow extra time. You may need to explain what it is and go through some questions with airport security. Remember they are there to ensure everyone’s safety and they will pull up anything that looks even slightly suspicious. Don’t stress, so long as you can explain what it is and show that it is not harmful, you should be fine to take it with you.

3. It is best to avoid free public wifi. It can be a long wait at the airport before you can board so you may like to fill in the time by checking emails or browsing social media. Most airports have wifi but some will charge fees so it can be very tempting to choose the free wifi option, however this is not a good idea! If it is not recommended by the airport, it is best to avoid it your for online safety. It is common that these networks are manned by hackers who are trying to access your login information for your emails, banking or anything else you do whilst using that network. To protect yourself, only connect the official airport wifi, use your mobile’s data or just wait until you arrive at your destination.

4. Activate Airplane Mode for the flight. The flight attendant may ask you to turn off your phone as there is a small risk of your device interfering with the airplane’s communication during take off and landing. Airplane mode will allow you to still use your device for some things and it also saves your device’s battery.

Travel Holiday Vacation Traveling Laptop Technology Concept

SPAM – What is it and why does it occur?

Spam is simply slang for unsolicited commercial email (UCE). The term ‘Spam’ actually arose from a Monty Python sketch where Spam is included in every dish at a restaurant, much like email spam is included in almost every email inbox or junk folder. Spam can come in a variety of forms but it is often linked with fraudulent business schemes, chain letters and offensive messages.

It is important to remember that not all bulk emailing is spam, a large amount is actually permission based. This means that you willingly gave your email address to the company i.e. you signed up for the newsletter or you made a purchase online and entered your email address. The main difference between permission based bulk emailing and spam is that permission based will normally send information that you are interested i.e. a sale at your favourite clothing store or similar.

Spam is rarely sent by a company themselves, rather it is sent by a ‘spammer’. A ‘spammer’ is a company that is actually in the business of sending UCEs. The company may havean agreement with the ‘spammer’ or the spammer may be using the company’s name as a disguise. These companies and ‘spammers’ use spam as they see it as very cost effective – it is much cheaper to send out thousands of emails then post thousands of letters.

Spammers can acquire your email address by purchasing it or by using software that take names and email addresses from websites, newsgroups etc. Unfortunately there is not a way that you can permanently get rid of spam, however you can do a few things to reduce the amount you receive. Using a spam blocker can certianly reduce the amount of spam you receive, however some spam will still reach your inbox. If you make your spam blocker to sensitive, it will start to block emails that you actually do want to receive. It is a good idea to occasionally check your spam folder in case there are any important emails in there. It is also advised that you do not open or reply to spam emails, or try to click the unsubscribe link. For spam emails, these actions will just advise the spammer that your email account is still active and it is likely that this will result in more spam.

If you are concerned about the amount of spam you are receiving, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Organise your Family with these top tech tips

We are all busy and with a family life definitely gets chaotic at times. Technology is a great way to get more organised within both your personal and family life. Here are some top tips on how to organise your family with technology.

1. Colour code your Google Calendar
Google Calendar allows you to schedule and colour code events. This allows you to see what you have on for that day from a quick glance. Get the kids to choose a colour and assign one colour to each child or each activity.

2. Share your calendar
Most Google, Outlook and other email providers allow you to share your calendar. Share your calendar with your spouse, baby sitter, teenagers and whoever else may need to know your schedule. You can even set the option for them to just view the calendar or have the ability to add events to your calendar for you.

3. Get the kids involved with ‘Choremonster’
Children love playing games and apps on tablets and phones, but what about an App that actually encourages them to do the household chores? Apps such as Choremonster do just this. You can set up a simple rewards point system based on house hold chores. Your children can then check in to see how many reward points they have and what chores still need to be done.

4. Keep track with ‘Find my Friends’
It can become quite hard to keep track of where your family is. Apps such as ‘Find my Friends’ allows you to keep track of friends and family who invite you to see your location. This way you can know that your family is safe or you can see if they are just running late to meet you or if they have completely forgotten.

5. Create a group list
Most smart phones allow you to create a group list in both your phone and email contacts. This makes messaging your family much easier as you can simply send to the group rather than having to select each person individually.

family, generation, technology and people concept - smiling family with tablet pc computers at home

Protect Your Data From Cryptolocker Ransomwar

Cryptolocker ransomware is unfortunately becoming more common and we are beginning to encounter it much more often. In fact, a US hospital has recently had to a pay a ransom of $17,000 to access its data again after it was infected with ransomware.

What is Cryptolocker Ransomware?

Ransomware is essentially online extortion that occurs when your computer is infected with a virus that encrypts your data. Once the data is encrypted, you are sent a ‘note’ stating that you must pay the ‘ransom’ fee to decrypt your data.

Many ransomware emails are just a con trying to catch you off guard which do not actually encrypt your files. However the more refined versions including Cryptolocker do encrypt your data and can do this in such a way that will be impossible to break without paying the fee.

How does your computer get infect by ransomware?

An email is the usual method of delivery for ransomware viruses. This email is usually targeted at the business departments that will open them i.e. an email sent to accounts with ‘invoice’ or similar in the subject.

Most of the time, it will look suspicious so we know not to open it however the offenders are getting more creative to encourage us to click. As mentioned, once your computer is infected you will see a screen that will have something similar to: “to decrypt your files, you must pay a ransom few of $x. If this is not received by (a certain date), this fee will double.” It can even have a countdown to when payment is due.

No Backup = no choice

Unfortunately, if you are a victim of ransomware and you do not have a back-up of your data, then you may have no choice but to pay the ransom fee.

Will your data be restored?

The offenders will usually restore your data back to its original format once you have paid the ransom, as they realise that people would stop paying if they found out it did not do anything. However it is important to remember that there is no guarantee that the offender will release your data and unfortunately you cannot fight this.

It could happen again

If you are a victim of Cryptolocker ransomware and pay the fee to access your data, this doesn’t mean that your system is safe from further attacks. It is common that the malicious software will also create gaps in your security, allowing future attacks to gain access again.

The only way to be certain that your system is safe is to remove your system completely and re-install, however you will need a reliable back up to do this.

How to avoid ransomware

The good news is that you can avoid ransomware with the top tips below:

– Make sure your operation system and software is up to date.
– Ensure your antivirus software is up to date and the settings are adjusted to inspect incoming emails.
– Consider using another malware scanner or security software to protect your system from threats before they can even enter your network.
– Make sure your staff are aware of this and encourage them to advise you when any suspicious emails are received. The most common example to look out for is an email was an ‘invoice’ attached.
– If possible, block exe and zip files from entering your network.
– If you are attacked by Cryptolocker Ransomware, immediately unplug the computer from the network and figure out what has been infected.

A Back-up is Vital

A reliable, secure back-up of your system is the best way to avoid the dangers of a ransomware attack. Remember that an external hard drive or simply saving recent files to Dropbox will not save all of your data.

A Cloud Back-Up will reset your system back to how it was prior to the attack, removing the risk of secondary ‘backdoor’ attacks and it can also restore any encrypted data. Don’t learn the hard, and expensive, way how important a back-up is.

Cloud back-ups are simple, affordable and vital in today’s world of online crime. Protect your data from Cryptolocker Ransomware before it is too late.

Top Tips To Make Your Laptop Last Longer

Laptops are being used more commonly than desktops as they allow you to work from anywhere… until they stop working! Here are some top tips to make your laptop last longer!

1. Keep it protected

Purchase a case for your laptop to protect it from any bumps and scratches. Bumps and scratches can affect the hardware in your laptop which in turn will affect how your laptop runs, so it is best to protect your laptop before this can happen! There is a large variety of laptop cases available, ranging from a slim line sleeve to a heavy duty case – any of these will help to protect your laptop!

2. Keep it clean

This will not only make your laptop look nicer, but it will keep dust and grime out of hinges and plugs. This will reduce the wear of your laptop, making it last longer. Simply wiping your laptop down and cleaning out the nooks and crannies will make a massive difference.

3. Keep it cool

If your laptop is exposed to extreme heat continually, there is a good chance it will not last very long! Heat has a horrible impact on electronic devices, causing screen damage and shortened battery life. The heat will also cause the metal and wires to expand, then contract when it cools down. If this is happening often, it is likely that you will experience many more problems. Keep your devices cool by keeping it out of direct sunlight (whenever possible) and keeping it out of the hot car.

4. Keep it for other uses

There will come a point in time when your laptop will reach the end of it’s life as you know it. The speed and performance of the laptop may slow down, meaning you can’t do your work on it, but this doesn’t mean it can’t be used for anything else. Simply transform it into a games laptop for the kids or a DVD player for holidays. Using the laptop for one simple function will increase its life and allow you to get the most out of it.

Happy student working on laptop in library