Nybbles and Bytes...

loves good coffee!

Nybbles and Bytes...

wants to know if you need this button on your keyboard...?

Nybbles and Bytes

...loves exotic places...

Nybbles and Bytes

is occasionally old school...

Nybbles and Bytes

loves smartphone debates...!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Lumia is dead. Where to from here?


I tend to be a rather loyal consumer when it comes to brands.
I've always liked Nokia, and I have stuck it out with Cell C ever since I left MTN over 10 years ago, but there comes a point at which it just becomes illogical to flog a very nearly dead horse.

I am of course referring to the steady decline in popularity and market share of Microsoft's Lumia range (formerly Nokia), and how the decidedly lacking app ecosystem of Windows Phone has contributed to this factor.


When I received my first Lumia, the 920, I was unfazed by the critics and naysayers, all of whom were very quick to point out the lack of apps available on the Windows Phone platform.
At that point, apps weren't quite as big a deal as they are now, at least not to me.
I could do everything that I needed to, and for the most part I had all the apps that I required, with a decent piece of hardware to run it all on.
Also back then, Windows Phone was still gaining some traction, and developers were starting to work on more and more apps for the platform as a result.
Not so anymore it seems - all you see these days are Android and Apple logos all over the place.

This becomes especially troublesome when you work in the technology field daily - all the more reason to have all of the latest and greatest apps and tools at your fingertips.
Lately it just seems that the apps that I need the most, simply don't exist on the Windows Phone platform - very disappointing since the Lumia hardware has always been up for the challenge.

I then had an opportunity recently to play with the spaceship that is the Samsung Galaxy S7 - my mind was shredded when I started to grasp the sheer extent of the number and variety of apps that are available for Android.
This is of course common knowledge to Android users I would imagine, but for a Lumia user experiencing it for the first time, it's quite overwhelming.
The S7 also just does everything right - "it just works", as Apple once mistakenly claimed about every single one of their Macs... except this time, the S7 does just work, and damn well too.

Given my history with phones then, I would say that my next step would logically be to Android - possibly the Samsung S7, or whatever flagship is around when my upgrade is due early next year.
If you're an Apple user reading this, I can only begin to imagine what must be going through your head right now:

 - "...what about the exploding Samsung battery???";
 -"iPhones are the best!";
 -"the new iPhone 7 has the best hardware in the world!" (probably all made by Samsung anyway ;))
 -"iPhones are the best!";

Truth is, you either like a platform or you don't.
Of late, I've just warmed up to Android, and I like how Samsung releases smartphones that get people talking - not just about how they look or because they're "cool", but about the incredible technology and functionality that they pack into each new device that they release.

So let's have it - Samsung lovers, Apple lovers, Android lovers and haters, Nokia loyalists, Windows Phone lovers, Blackberry purists, bring it on.
What should I go for?

Lumia is dead. Where to from here?


I tend to be a rather loyal consumer when it comes to brands.
I've always liked Nokia, and I have stuck it out with Cell C ever since I left MTN over 10 years ago, but there comes a point at which it just becomes illogical to flog a very nearly dead horse.

I am of course referring to the steady decline in popularity and market share of Microsoft's Lumia range (formerly Nokia), and how the decidedly lacking app ecosystem of Windows Phone has contributed to this factor.

When I received my first Lumia, the 920, I was unfazed by the critics and naysayers, all of whom were very quick to point out the lack of apps available on the Windows Phone platform.
At that point, apps weren't quite as big a deal as they are now, at least not to me.
I could do everything that I needed to, and for the most part I had all the apps that I required, with a decent piece of hardware to run it all on.
Also back then, Windows Phone was still gaining some traction, and developers were starting to work on more and more apps for the platform as a result.
Not so anymore it seems - all you see these days are Android and Apple logos all over the place.

This becomes especially troublesome when you work in the technology field daily - all the more reason to have all of the latest and greatest apps and tools at your fingertips.
Lately it just seems that the apps that I need the most, simply don't exist on the Windows Phone platform - very disappointing since the Lumia hardware has always been up for the challenge.

I then had an opportunity recently to play with the spaceship that is the Samsung Galaxy S7 - my mind was shredded when I started to grasp the sheer extent of the number and variety of apps that are available for Android.
This is of course common knowledge to Android users I would imagine, but for a Lumia user experiencing it for the first time, it's quite overwhelming.
The S7 also just does everything right - "it just works", as Apple once mistakenly claimed about every single one of their Macs... except this time, the S7 does just work, and damn well too.

Given my history with phones then, I would say that my next step would logically be to Android - possibly the Samsung S7, or whatever flagship is around when my upgrade is due early next year.
If you're an Apple user reading this, I can only begin to imagine what must be going through your head right now:

 - "...what about the exploding Samsung battery???";
 -"iPhones are the best!";
 -"the new iPhone 7 has the best hardware in the world!" (probably all made by Samsung anyway ;))
 -"iPhones are the best!";

Truth is, you either like a platform or you don't.
Of late, I've just warmed up to Android, and I like how Samsung releases smartphones that get people talking - not just about how they look or because they're "cool", but about the incredible technology and functionality that they pack into each new device that they release.

So let's have it - Samsung lovers, Apple lovers, Android lovers and haters, Nokia loyalists, Windows Phone lovers, Blackberry purists, bring it on.
What should I go for?

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Is your default printer changing randomly in Windows 10? Here's how to fix it...


Windows 10, by and large, has been a decent addition to the Microsoft OS family.
Apart from isolated glitches and snags which I have encountered, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoy the experience, and it makes things a lot easier when Microsoft release patches and updates that actually fix bugs (Apple could learn a lot here...).

Recently though, Microsoft released an update which has likely caused a bit of confusion.
In cases where a machine has multiple printers installed, Windows now changes default printers whenever it feels the need, or so it seems anyway...

In truth, Windows isn't playing silly buggers with you, but is in fact just sending print jobs to the last used printer, as opposed to the "default" printer.
While this may make sense in some scenarios, there is thankfully a setting to manage this:

Click on the Start Menu (bottom left of the screen), then click on Settings:


On the next screen, click on Devices:


Now scroll down through the printer settings, and find "Let Windows manage my default printer".
Switch this off:


Lastly, double check your printers in the Control Panel, to ensure that the correct default printer is now selected, and you should be good to go.

Happy printing!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Is Cell C LTE any good? Maybe this will help you decide...


I had a rather joyous moment last week when after a very, very long wait, a small "L" suddenly appeared at the top of my Lumia 930 screen, in place of the usual boring "H+"...

Cell C
Cell C (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
For those of you who may not know, that means "LTE" - in short, a much faster mobile internet connection which Vodacom, MTN and 8ta have been offering for a while now.

Cell C is traditionally always the late guy to the party, but I have to say that this wait was indeed worthwhile.
From the moment that I noticed that LTE became active on my phone last week, I have been taking speed tests at random intervals and all around JHB on my daily travels.
From Glenhazel to Edenvale, Bedfordview to Rosebank, Illovo to Orchards - check out the results below to get a summary of the Cell C LTE experience so far...

Downloads peaked at an impressive max. speed of 54.51Mbps, and Uploads peaked at 15.26Mbps, depending on signal strength.
Overall not a bad show I have to say, but certainly a quick way to eat through mobile data!




















Sunday, September 27, 2015

Avast for Business goes free...


Following on from my previous post about Cryptowall, Avast recently launched a free business version of their proven antivirus software.

Avast!
Avast! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


While the personal version of Avast Antivirus has always been free, the huge difference here is twofold:

  • The free business version runs on PC desktop and server platforms (Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10, SBS, Server), as well as Apple Macs (that old saying "Macs don't get viruses" no longer applies, folks);

  • The solution is cloud-based.
    This is a big plus, since it can then be managed, monitored and administered from virtually anywhere.
Traditional business antivirus solutions, which are designed to protect servers as well as workstations, can set you back a fair deal.
Startups and smaller businesses however, may not have the capital to put down on commercial antivirus solutions, and this is where Avast comes in.

I am currently testing the free business solution to get a feel for it, and interestingly, there are no limitations in terms of installs or licences, so you can install it on as many devices as you need to:


The cloud-based control panel is also well laid out, and provides a tidy overview of your protected devices, as well as a real-time threat status.
I have to say that it all looks rather appealing, especially since it costs the same as a breath of fresh air...
The only real "gotcha" is that you can upgrade to a premium paid version.
This obviously offers a more formidable arsenal of antivirus wizardry, however I expect that most users will find the free version more than adequate.

Cryptowall is back on the prowl, so watch your back...


Back in 2014, a nasty virus called "Cryptowall" reared its unsightly head in the computer world, and it proceeded to leave a fair deal of pandemonium in its wake.
Of course once antivirus definitions the world over became aware, the threat was largely eradicated and peace reigned in the Kingdom of CPU.

These things are like a bad rash though, and there has of late been a resurgence of this particular bad boy on PC's all over the place.
Hell, Carte Blanche even featured an article on the virus a few weeks back - I'm sure the wonderfully talented humans who coded it must be awfully proud! Well done guys! 

Anyway, back to the post - in short, watch your back as you normally would when dealing with the internet, email, flash drives from other PC's, pretty much as you would do when walking down a dark alley at night.
This particular threat entices the hapless victim by means of links on dodgy sites, links within the attachments of spam mails and a variety of other sneaky tactics.
Once the user clicks on the link, if not stopped by an antivirus, the virus will then initiate and continue to install itself in memory, and as a startup item on the infected PC.

Symptoms of Cryptowall (how you know that you are infected...):

  • Cryptowall scans the PC for folders which contain your meaningful data - here we are talking about the Desktop folder, My Documents etc.
    It also scans mapped network drives - these will become infected as well, but only specifically mapped drives.

  • Next, it encrypts every "work" file that it finds - this includes Word documents, Excel documents and PDF documents, among others.

  • Finally, it dumps approx. 4 files into every folder that it has encrypted, named "HELP_DECRYPT.ext" - each of these files provides instructions on how to decrypt your data, and it's pretty simple - pay up. Yup, all this virus amounts to is extortion.
    The variation of the infection that I recently dealt with wanted payment in Bitcoins, but I'm sure they take Diners Club, AMEX, VISA and many other forms of payment too :)

  • Any attempt to now open an encrypted file will result in a generic program error, as if the data within the file is corrupted.
    At this point, panic may set in.
    This is justified, since there is no way to decrypt the files without paying up, unless you have a recent intact backup of your files. Do not plug your backup drive in, until you are 100% sure that your PC is clean again.
    For a very technical rundown of the threat, including cleaning and recovery options, check out:
    http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/virus-removal/cryptowall-ransomware-information
You DO NOT want to see these files on your hard drive...
So in essence it's a pretty simple virus, but the impact that it can have on a business with a lot of data is HUGE.
After going through a rough few days taking one of these bad boys down recently, my advice to end users is simple - protect yourself in every possible way, and that isn't limited to antivirus software.
Sure, getting yourself a great antivirus like Avast is a non-negotiable, however always tread carefully when making use of a public domain like the internet.

Watch where you browse. 
Triple check who sent you that not-so-kosher looking email.
Don't click on that link in the body of a "banking" email, and if you do end up being on the very unfortunate receiving end of one of these, make sure that your data is backed up somewhere off your PC - preferably on an external drive.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Netgear modem refusing an IP address change? Try this...


In my line of work, I install new ADSL modems on an ongoing basis, and I often need to change the default IP address that the modem is setup with.
One of my best sellers is the Netgear DGN2200, however I ran into an odd problem recently which puzzled my poor brain to pieces, until one of the awesome tech support guys at Netgear shed some light on the situation.

The webpage when you setup the modem IP address looks something like this:


It all seems pretty simple - fill in the new IP address, and hit Apply at the bottom.
Done, right?
Not in this case - no matter how many times I tried, the router would reboot, and then revert to the original default "192.168.0.1" IP address.
Highly frustrating.

Even Google was clueless - combing through the search results revealed nothing of use.
At the end of my wits, I fell back on the support guys at Netgear - I mean after all, that's what they are there for, surely?

2 words: "Change browsers."

The answer to a problem which became a rather unpleasant throbbing pain in my right temple, was that simple.
Accessing the web interface of the router from Internet Explorer 11 rather than from Chrome, and performing the exact same steps, resulted in a fresh new IP address.

Now if only all IT problems were that simple to fix :)

 
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