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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in new technology

 

We live in an age of the high-powered long-life battery-powered portable device. But it seems that the limitations of the nickel-based batteries that were prevalent in the early '90s still apply to the more modern lithium ion and lithium polymer technologies we use today.

Battery technology may not have changed much in the last couple decades, but common knowledge is even worse.

Here are the most common battery myths we hear at PC Pitstop Port Macquarie.

Myth #1: Leaving your devices plugged in will "overcharge" them

FALSE. Most chargers are smart enough to momentarily stop charging once the device is fully charged. Manufacturers want their batteries to last as long as possible and therefore go to long lengths to design and employ very smart charging systems that even cycle the batteries to make them last longer. 

Leaving the device plugged in like this every single night can have an impact on the lifespan of the battery, but the act of leaving it plugged in isn't as damaging as some people make it out to be.

Manufacturers do recommend you "exercise" the battery every month or so by letting it fully drain before charging it back up again - but really thats about it.

 

Myth #2: You should always let the battery drain completely before recharging

FALSE. Today's Batteries never truly fully discharge. Even when you see 0/Zero percent or evern dead, your laptop or smartphone's battery would still be sitting around 5-10 percent charge. This is why when you press the button to turn it on you still get the message to charge the battery.

If you choose to follow the myth anyway and allow your device to go "dead" everyday, it will reduce the batteries effectiveness over time.

So: top off charge more often to prolong the battery life of your electronics, and stop letting your laptop or smartphone die every day.

Myth #3: Always fully charge your device before its first use

FALSE. But to be fair - it doesn't really matter or hurt anything to fully charge your device's battery before you use it, and it doent't hurt anything either if you miss this step.

So why do manufacturers sometimes tell you to do it? Fully charging the battery before using a device is to kick-start what's known as a "calibration process." This helps the device learn how the individual battery behaves (pretty smart!). Most batteries are self-calibrating, so it's still an unnecessary step.

Myth #4: Store your batteries in the refrigerator

FALSE. DO NOT STORE YOUR BATTERIES IN THE REFRIGERATOR OR FREEZER. This is not only bad but dangerous. Extreme temperatures - hot or cold and especially for long periods of time - are not good for any type of battery.

Remember, a battery is a collection of chemicals that store energy. Doing something that upsets those chemicals will have dangerous consequences.

To maximize shelf life, Energizer suggests storing "batteries at normal room temperatures (20 degrees C to 25 degrees C) with moderate humidity levels (35 to 65 percent RH)." This should provide a shelf life of five to 10 years for your standard, cylindrical alkaline cells and 10 to 15 years for cylindrical lithium batteries.

Interesting fact: if you're wondering why your smartphone battery isn't performing as well after just a year or two, that's because the more you use a battery, the less efficient it becomes - batteries have a limit to the amount of times they can be charged (refered to as charging cycles). This charging cycles vary from battery to battery.

 

Battery prices have come down and down over the past 24 months. A laptop battery that used to cost $220 is now arount the $95 mark.

PC Pitstop recommends you replace your laptop battery every 24 - 36 months depending on use to get the best possible use out of it.

Our team order in your replacement (or additional if you want extended use - think airport or long haul flight) and have it delivered to the store usually within 24 - 36 hours.

We wish we could keep in store every battery from every model of device ever manufactured - but to keep the prices low and stock fresh - we order in overnight.

Need a new battery for your device? Drop into the store and the team will identify and quote you on spot -
10 Bellbowrie Street Port Macquarie - Phone - 02 65 841 551.

 

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As the kids head back to school lets take a look at how to stay smart online.

sso-logo

Kids & Teens

While the internet offers an exciting world of experiences for kids and teens, it is important to be mindful that they could:

  • experience cyber-bullying
  • be exposed to inappropriate or harmful content
  • be at risk from contact with strangers
  • unknowingly or deliberately share personal information without realising they may be subject to identity theft, or that they are leaving behind an online footprint that might not reflect well on them in the future.

Many companies check to see if job applicants have online profiles. Be aware that the photos and information you share with your friends may not be what you want a prospective employer to see. 

Resources for Kids and Teens

There are lots of online resources to help kids and teens understand how to stay safe online.

  • Budd:e Primary - Budd:e for primary schools offers fun and engaging games and activities to build unique robots, while introducing basic practices that will equip children to stay safe and secure online. Topics include privacy, password creation, protecting personal details, virus scanning, secure websites, and scams.
  • Budd:e Secondary - Budd:e for secondary schools explores advanced online safety and security topics, including: creating content, file sharing, pop-ups, privacy, sharing, scams, spamspyware, malware,phishing, online transactions and computer viruses. Students can earn points answering questions to 'buy' parts and accessories to build a unique cyborg that can be used as an avatar on social networking sites.
  • Cybersafety help – Information and Cybersafety help button.
  • Cybersmart - Information and education to empower children to be safe online.
  • Hector's World – A fun resource for younger children to learn about internet safety.
  • ThinkUKnow - Internet safety program.

READ MORE >>> http://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/kids_and_teens

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14.7 million pixels.
And the power to do beautiful things with them.

 

 

And this for Apple: http://www.apple.com/au/imac-with-retina/

And this for Dell: http://www.extremetech.com/computing/189342-dell-unveils-5k-desktop-monitor-with-almost-2x-the-pixels-of-your-puny-4k-display

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It is the year Back to the Future II predicted sneakers would lace themselves and kids would fly about on hoverboards.
Technology in 2015 technology may fall short of those lofty goals but there is still much to anticipate, from virtual reality to smart motorcycle helmets and, yes, at least one hoverboard.

We peer into the crystal ball to deliver 10 top technologies to watch next year:

  • Virtual reality headsets
  • Apple Watch
  • Windows 10
  • Hendo Hoverboard
  • Samsung Project Zero
  • Fitbit Surge
  • Skully AR-1 Motocycle Helmet
  • Google Glass Revisited
  • Jawbone Up3
  • Netflix

Read more: http://www.news.com.au/technology/gadgets/top-technology-to-watch-in-2015-from-hoverboards-to-wearable-tech-and-the-gadgets-we-really-want/story-fnda1lbo-1227159730194

 

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This is such a great article from Smarter Business Ideas...had to share!

the-internet-of-things-hero

If your computers are four or more years old they’re artefacts of earlier technology eras – and they could be costing you big time.

Brought to you by Intel

The computers you bought a few years ago were designed to meet the processing demands of the day – and then some, depending on their specifications. But even the highest spec machine from four years ago can struggle to deliver the performance you need today. 

To find out how a PC refresh can make a big difference to business productivity, Smarter met with Danielle Watts, Intel’s national marketing manager for Australia/New Zealand. What we learned about tired old computers versus the new generation of machines might surprise you.

Some business owners figure that as long as their old machines keep working they can hold off upgrading a little longer. That logic might suit mechanical devices designed to perform simple tasks but even so, the more you use them, the more they suffer wear and tear. 

It also ignores the many competitive advantages and lifestyle-enhancements offered by innovative technologies. “Given they’re running their businesses on those old computers the consequences can be frightening,” ponders Watts. “What if they lost 
all that data?”

Moving business records safely 

While it’s fairly easy to calculate the costs of repairing, upgrading or replacing components in your IT set up [see below: “Maintenance costs add up”], it’s harder to put a value on the data you own.

“Businesses rely so heavily on databases, so it’s understandable you’d be worried about moving them,” Watts acknowledges, “An expert service provider can help transfer accounts, HR and customer records safely and securely – the upgrade decision could include looking at server technology or Cloud-based tools to support and manage the business.”

Adding to the woes of outdated technology are security issues: “If you’re still using Windows XP you really need to upgrade,” advises Watts. “As of April this year technical support and security updates for XP from Microsoft ended, so your laptop or PC is far more vulnerable to malicious attacks.”

SEE ALSO:

Slow machines cost time and productivity 

Older PCs not only cost more to maintain, their performance also diminishes as they age. 

Consider recording the time lost to PCs taking forever to start-up, running slow or not working at all: “That’s a lot of lost productivity,” notes Watts. “If you value your employees you want to provide them with efficient tools. Investing in new technology shows that you value their contribution – and they’ll respect that.”

Can you work three times faster?

If you like spending time making a nice cup of tea or coffee while you wait for your computer to wake up you might want to update your schedule. 

According to system performance benchmarks from Intel the latest Intel processor-based systems running Windows 8.1 Pro typically start-up within a handful of seconds – and when you’re hard at work running your business with them, they’ll run everyday computing processes more than three times faster than a four-year-old system.

Latest devices are fast and ultra-portable

“Start-up time and battery life are especially important for road warriors,” says Watts.

“You don’t want to wait so you can enter an order, start a presentation or check inventory. Devices with fourth generation Intel processors also work for up to 10 hours on battery power – a big advantage over the 2.5 hours of older PCs – and include management tools specifically for businesses.

“We’re running our personal and business lives on them, so it helps that notebooks are lighter (some less than a kilo), thinner and offer powerful multi-tasking. On average they cost $200 less than PCs four years ago, so over time the cost to replace rather than repair becomes a lot more attractive.”

Maintenance costs add up 

All machines need some maintenance but as a machine ages it can break down more often and cost more to repair.

The Techaisle May 2013 whitepaper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study”, reviewed direct and indirect costs of maintaining PCs. The research found:

  1. Direct maintenance costs (repairs and upgrades) – jump more than 33 per cent for older PCs. (Average yearly costs for a PC less than four years old: US$324 to repair and US$95 to upgrade; costs for a PC more than four years old: US$427 to repair and US$134 to upgrade.)
  2. Lost productivity costs (downtime) – double from an average of 21 hours a year of lost work time on a newer PC to 42 hours a year for an older PC.

Did you know?

36% of small businesses use PCs that are four+ years old
Source: Techaisle June 2013 whitepaper, “The Ageing PC Effect – Exposing Financial Impact for Small Business.” 

42 lost work hours on average every year due to an old PC needing repairs
Souce: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Older PCs might handle up to 5 applications simultaneously vs newer PCs that easily run 8 applications simultaneously 
Source: Techaisle May 2013 white paper, “Small Business PC Refresh Study” 

Case study: Brightstar

After a successful stint at a big software firm, Jon Yeo set up Brightstar in 2003 to coach businesses on using technology to improve their lives. More recently his passion for ‘ideas worth sharing’ also motivated him to become the licensee and curator for TedxMelbourne.

His studies in information management and organisational behaviour serve him well to help clients embrace more rewarding and productive ways of working: “They often don’t have a technology problem – they know they need it – they have a people and process problem,” he explains. “They aren’t making the most of what is available.” 

And he’s adamant that old technology is demotivating: “Old systems are slow, inaccessible and unresponsive compared to today’s technology. If you’re not thinking about upgrading now you’re making it much harder to compete at all in the next two to three years.”

Yeo suggests that if you’ve accepted your old systems need replacing then you know you have to transfer your valuable business data somewhere. So why not make it easier and faster to access and manage?

“Think about what you really need to convert across – it might not be so complex. Cloud services, ultraportable laptops, mobile devices and integrated communications help us make greater use of our information,” he explains.

“I now have a very small laptop that weighs less than a kilogram and does everything and more that my old desktop and laptop could do combined, faster. Because I’m on the road a lot, I have seven to eight hours of battery time on my new machine versus two hours maximum on my old laptop – there is no competition. 

“I also have a stylus-based tablet so I can take client notes once and they’re stored in the Cloud. I used to have a heavy laptop, a paper compendium and my briefcase full of paperwork – I still smile when I think about hauling it all through airport security.”

Find the right devices for the job

In three simple steps find out the ideal technology mix for your business – and how much your older computers are really costing you: http://smb.intel.com.au/start

 

Call into PC Pitstop today and discuss the best upgrade option for you and your budget!

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Why We Think Norton Internet Security is the Best Virus Protection for Everyday Users

We use and recommend the latest version of Norton Internet Security on a regular basis and it's the only virus protection software we sell instore.

Why?

If you're looking for a traditional security suite, with essential features like antivirus, firewall, antispam, parental control, and phishing protection, it's a great choice, and it's one of PC Mags Editors' Choice suites.

But wait, why should you pay for a security suite when modern Windows versions already include an antivirus and a firewall? Here's the deal. Yes, the built-in firewall does a good job hiding your computer from outside attack, but it doesn't exercise control over which programs can access your network the way third-party firewall components do.

If you're using internet banking on your computer...you need Norton Internet Security.

And, because this...

 

LOL.

Point made.

Get your Norton Internet Security software from PC Pitstop today and we'll even install it for you.

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Despite Setbacks, Moving Forward in Clean Tech

 


eSolar

 

When environmental history is written, 2010 could be seen a disaster for the clean technology industry. The year dawned just after the disappointment that was December's U.N. global warming summit in Copenhagen, where the nations of the world failed to produce a comprehensive treaty to cut carbon emissions — the sort of agreement that could have given business the long-term confidence to invest in clean tech. It didn't help that the overblown controversy known as "climategate" — which involved allegations of fraud by climate scientists — undermined trust in global warming science, letting skeptics back into the debate. Worst of all, the Senate failed even to vote on a bill that would have capped U.S. carbon emissions and produce a market designed to kick start clean tech. In America, at least, green tech seems to have gone backwards.

But that's a myopic view. In Europe, which already has a carbon market, investment in clean energy — including wind and solar — isn't going away. China has emerged as a major player in clean tech, investing hundreds of billions of dollars in renewable energy and energy efficiency. In doing so, it's positioning itself to lead the world in the industry of tomorrow. And even the U.S., for all its political problems, hasn't stood still: the Department of Energy, under Nobel Prize-winning physicist Steven Chu, has begun directly supporting innovative clean tech companies and pumping more money into basic research and development. Most important, the U.S. — and especially Silicon Valley — is still home to what might be the world's most innovative entrepreneurs in clean tech. These folks are not short of smart ideas, as you'll see here.

  • Recycling e-Waste
  • Algae Biofuel
  • Algae food
  • Thin-film Solar
  • Molten Salt Storage
  • Solar Tower
  • Custom Biofuels
  • Electric Cars
  • Smart Meters
  • Lithium-ion Batteries
  • Fuel Cells
  • Rooftop Wind Power
  • Tidal Power
  • Green IT
  • Green Concrete
  • Green Building Materials
  • Modular Nuclear Power
  • Artificial Photosynthesis
  • Waste to Energy
  • Biochar
  •  

     

     

    READ FULL ARTICLE >>> HERE <<<

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    5 things you need to know about cloud, that you might not know already

    5 things you need to know about cloud, that you might not know already

    Still getting your head around the cloud and whether it can help you at work? Here is an introduction to some basic questions you should be asking.

    As part of our coverager of the cloud and how it can help you, we invited Kris Hansen, technology manager at GFI Software to submit this guest column. Disclaimer: GFI has been an advertiser on the BIT website.

    1. You'll still need your IT support

    Even though your hardware (and software) will be off your hands you’ll still need access to expertise to configure and manage your cloud based services and accounts.

    How do you find the right solution? Who can you contact to ask questions? What if it stops working? Managed service providers (sometimes called cloud service providers) can be your contact point to get the most out of cloud services and keep them running smoothly.

    Consider Google Apps, a popular cloud service to host IT services like email, websites and documents. The price might be attractive, but you don’t have a number to call for support when you need it. Other providers may not offer support during your core business hours.  Having an IT Expert who is well versed in the cloud services you need is a necessity.

    Having an easily accessable IT Expert who is well versed in the cloud services you need (and knows of more you may want) ensures the service is configured for your business.

    2. You need a way to migrate your existing data

    Unless your first day running in the cloud is the first day you’re open for business you will need a way to export all of your company data from the old way you stored it, to the cloud storage. Data can come in all shapes, it could be a excel spreadsheet you keep, it could be a storage file in a local application you use or it could be a directory full of text files such as sales receipts and job notes. This data must be identified then converted into a version the cloud solution understands, and then uploaded.

    Always ensure that the cloud solution can migrate your existing data and how much time and money this migration of all your data will cost.

    Don’t forget to also consider how you get it all back again if you need to? In order to change service providers in the future, or to retrieve your data for sharing with 3rd parties a cost effective, bulk retrieval method must be available to “get your data out” when you wish.

     

    3. Its easy to try it out first

    Don't get me wrong, most services are better in the cloud but there are some compromises, which for your business may be a deal breaker.
     
    For example you may have a requirement to regularly transfer large amounts of data from your local computers into a custom system, your internet link may not be quick enough to provide cloud benefits, or should you have compliance requirements to locally store data. Apart from that, most of your current business applications can either be hosted on cloud servers or better, provided as a direct service to cut costs and increase capabilities. 
     
    Reputable cloud solution providers will provide free trials if you ask so you can test out the live solution on your company’s network before you go ahead. You can find out if you need to upgrade other parts of your network to allow for the service.
     
    Also compare a few different solutions before you pick the one that feels right for your company. With cloud services the setup time is minimal so trialling is very simple – experiment with a non-critical business function first to get a feel and remember, your on-tap cloud expert can help you identify and work around any such considerations.
     

    4. Due diligence… are you going broke?

    Many cloud service providers will boast, "It's so easy to get started with a cloud account, anyone can do it." The fact that cloud is great for easily expanding capacity without the cap-ex, of purchasing a new computer means you need to be diligent to ensure that your consumption remains under control. With cloud adding capacity can be as easy as ticking a box in your interface or sometimes just being billed for what you HAVE used. 
     
    For example, one of your staff members may want to buy some cloud file storage. The setup charge may minimal but an accidental upload of a large amount of data or even just a large amount of traffic may mean a larger bill next month you didn’t expect. 
     
    It’s important to have a well-managed process for controlling who in your business can order extra capacity. Negotiate with your service provider to place limits on your usage beyond which they’ll need to notify you and gain your sign-off; in the same way your mobile provider or your internet ISP notifies you when you reach various billing and usage thresholds.
     

    5. Regulation and compliance requirements in your industry.

    Data Privacy, Backup & Security are a requirement in most professional industries. However many Australian small businesses don’t know this until the auditor arrives at their doorstep.

    Cloud services can actually help you better achieve compliance in some instances, but you need to ask questions to your cloud provider to ensure you know where your data is stored along with how it is secured and backed up.

    Ask your cloud service provider to attest to which security standards they adhere to that can be referenced in any compliance reporting you’re on the hook for.

     

    Summary

    1.       Know what data you want to “move” into your new cloud services and make sure the company can help you get it there.

    2.       Retain the services of an IT support company for help and advice.

    3.       Try before you buy and ensure the cloud service is better than your current way of working.

    4.       Only authorise key staff to setup cloud services and have them stay vigilant over what's being spent. An existing service can easily be expanded, which may cost you more unnecessarily. 

    5.       Is the solution industry compliant? Know your requirements before you decide and choose a solution that can meet your industry requirements.


    Read more: http://www.bit.com.au/News/383168,5-things-you-need-to-know-about-cloud-that-you-haven8217t-been-told-already.aspx#ixzz30QLCDrrD

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    Posted by on in Tech News

    http://blogs.computerworld.com/privacy/23792/microsofts-scroogled-campaign-bites-dust-or-does-it

    http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/04/apple-mac-pro-australian-review/

    http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2014/04/irs-misses-xp-deadline-pays-microsoft-millions-for-custom-support/

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    Doomsday for XP :: You could be under attack right now!

    4 dys until we say Rest in Peace XP.

    Are you ready for this?

    "Microsoft first said it was planning to end support for Windows XP in 2007. It has since been warning consumers and businesses an upgrade is necessary to keep their computers from being run over by a train of malicious software, or malware."

    READ MORE >>> http://www.smh.com.au/it-pro/business-it/doomsday-approaches-for-windows-xp-users-20140319-hvkdg.html

    Windows-XP-End

    If you answer yes to any of the following questions, give us a call on 65 841 551, and as each situation has different variables we'll assess each accordingly and get your SORTED!:

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run any specialised software or hardware that only runs on XP?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run software that needs a 32Bit operating system?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business and share files or printers between any Windows XP based computers?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business with new versions of Windows and Windows XP?

    Arrow-Right-iconAre you confused about what operating system is best for you?

    POINTS TO NOTE:

    - Unfortunately, going from Windows XP to Windows 7 and above is not just a simple upgrade. There are just too many differences between the versions of Windows.

    - A full migration of all your information needs to take place and you may need to purchase newer versions of software to compliment your computer (i.e Microsoft Office). All you programs and settings will be lost in the migration and will have to be setup manually again. It is a big job, but something the team here at PC Pitstop do every day. Our team are well equipped and will plan and work through with you to make the migration as smooth as possible.

    - Your printer or a piece of hardware may also be too old to run the newer version of Windows and an additional investment may need to be made there too. We must assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

    - Additionally, our team can even come to your premises and spend the time to set everything up just the way you like it. We also go as far as offering one on one lessons to help you feel comfortable with your new system. ($85/hour instore, $99/hour at your premises)

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    Windows-XP-End

    Avoid Virsues from End of XP Support :: Upgrade Now!

    "On April 8 2014, almost thirteen years after it was first released, Windows  XP will finally breathe its last breath and die — officially, anyway. From that date, Microsoft will no longer support the inveterate Operating System, meaning instability bugs and security vulnerabilities will go forever unpatched.

    With Windows XP’s desktop market share still around 30%, and many enterprises still months or years away from upgrading to Windows 7/8, these unsupported and insecure machines represent a serious risk to the health and security of the internet and other high-tech infrastructure. If just a single vulnerability is found after April 8, it will never be fixed. There’s no telling what damage cybercriminals might sow with such an exploit.

    It’s important to note that the Windows XP EOL/EOS (end of life/end of support) has been a long time coming. We’ve known since June 2008 that Microsoft would withdraw paid assisted support, security updates, and non-security hotfixes for Windows XP on April 2014. There will also be no further updates to online technical documentation. While this is obviously an issue from a security perspective, the larger issue is compliance — if you manage personal data (which is basically every big company), there are industry and federal security regulations (PCI, Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, etc.) that you need to comply with. Using a non-supported operating system, and thus dangerously exposing your client database to hackers, is a compliance no-no."
    Exert from ExtremeTech Blog.

    If you answer yes to any of the following questions, give us a call on 65 841 551, and as each situation has different variables we'll assess each accordingly and get your SORTED!:

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run any specialised software or hardware that only runs on XP?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run software that needs a 32Bit operating system?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business and share files or printers between any Windows XP based computers?

    Arrow-Right-iconDo you run a business with new versions of Windows and Windows XP?

    Arrow-Right-iconAre you confused about what operating system is best for you?

    POINTS TO NOTE:

    - Unfortunately, going from Windows XP to Windows 7 and above is not just a simple upgrade. There are just too many differences between the versions of Windows.

    - A full migration of all your information needs to take place and you may need to purchase newer versions of software to compliment your computer (i.e Microsoft Office). All you programs and settings will be lost in the migration and will have to be setup manually again. It is a big job, but something the team here at PC Pitstop do every day. Our team are well equipped and will plan and work through with you to make the migration as smooth as possible.

    - Your printer or a piece of hardware may also be too old to run the newer version of Windows and an additional investment may need to be made there too. We must assess each situation on a case-by-case basis.

    - Additionally, our team can even come to your premises and spend the time to set everything up just the way you like it. We also go as far as offering one on one lessons to help you feel comfortable with your new system. ($85/hour instore, $99/hour at your premises)

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    hardwareupgrades

    Benefits of Hardware Upgrades

    There is the wide range of hardware available today that will, in most cases, plug in or integrate to your existing system with little or no fuss. Hardware upgrades such as bigger hard drives, more RAM or a better graphics card for example, can be installed to your core system in lieu of replacing the computer or to facilitate the needs of new software or peripheral equipment.

    Hardware Upgrades provide:

    •         Speed and space increase from improved technologies
    •         Productivity gains from faster equipment
    •         Reduced cost of ownership over replacement
    •         Customised solution to fit your needs
    •         Extended service life by replacing ageing components
    •         Access to features not available with your original purchase

    Talk to your PC Pitstop Trained Technicians about suggestions for your working requirements, 65 841 551.

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    Posted by on in Tech News
    HAPPY BOXING DAY.
     
    For those of you not shopping and not watching the cricket...here's some good news from LifeHacker:
     

    Planhacker: The Best No-Contract Phone Deal For Each Australian Mobile Phone Network

    Not only does signing up to a contract for a phone leave you stuck with the same network and handset for a full two years, it can often result in less data and call allowances than if you take a no-contract prepaid or month-by-month deal. We’ve eliminated the also-rans and come up with one clear recommendation for the best value no-contract deal on each of Australia’s main mobile networks.

    Phone picture from Shutterstock

    We ran a basic version of this list back in September, which made it clear that it’s a topic that interests people but that we needed to offer more detail. So this is an expanded and up-to-date version of that guide.

    The Rules

    These are the criteria we applied when selecting plans:

      • The plan had to be a no-contract deal, which means either a classic prepaid arrangement which you recharge every month or a month-to-month deal you can cancel at any time. It also couldn’t be tied into buying another service.
      • It had to offer a decent allowance for Australian calling, SMS and data.
      • It had to be priced at under $50 a month.
      • Ideally, the plan would offer 4G access, but we didn’t make that a compulsory requirement (since 4G phones will also end up on 3G some of the time).
      • We made one selection for each of Australia’s active networks: Telstra, Optus and Vodafone. Coverage varies, so which network suits you depends on where you live (and travel). We’re not aiming to list every prepaid plan from every MVNO provider here.

    If you need a really large amount of data, or are focused on being able to call overseas numbers, or only want to spend $20 a month, you’ll need to do more research and choose a different plan. However, if you’re paying $70 a month for a contract deal, you should crunch the numbers carefully. An outright buy and a no-contract plan is could well be cheaper when you factor in data allowances, which are typically very low on cheaper contract plans.

    Telstra

    Telstra’s broad 4G coverage means it’s a very popular choice, but it also charges a serious premium for data, which makes it difficult to find a plan that offers any reasonable amount of data. As we’ve noted before, this can be done via the Encore Cap deal — but it’s a confusing plan that requires careful explanation.

    Here’s how you can use the Encore Cap deal to get a decent calling and data allowance:

    • Buy the $50 recharge. This includes $950 worth of calling and texting credits for Australian numbers, and the ability to make free calls and texts between 6pm and 6am. While not as good as an unlimited deal, for calling and texting purposes, this should be more than adequate for most people. (And if you do use all the credit, you won’t be stung with excess charges; you’ll just have to recharge again.)
    • The problem with this plan on the face of it is that it only includes 800MB of data, which isn’t a lot. However, there is an option to add extra data without spending any extra money. Here’s how
    • As well as $950 for call credits, the $50 recharge also includes $50 of “recharge credit”, which you can spend on other services (such as dialling international or premium numbers). The important point here is that you can spend that credit to buy a $49 Browse Plus Pack, which adds 3GB of data to the 800MB you already have.

    When we’ve written about this plan before, many people have misunderstood and assumed you have to spend $99 a month ($50 for the cap and $49 for the Browse Plus Pack). That’s not how it works. That extra data can be paid for with the “recharge credit” which you are assigned when you spend the first $50.

    Yes, that’s a slightly fiddly arrangement. In particular, you have to ‘buy’ a new browse pack (via your mobile our computer) each month and can’t automate the process. Nonetheless, it’s easily the best-value deal on the Telstra network.

    Optus

    Our favourite plan here is Amaysim Unlimited . For $39.90 a month, you score unlimited calls and texts to Australian numbers and 4GB of data from a reliable, well-established provider. (It’s also a lot less fiddly than the Telstra arrangement described above while offering more value.)

    The one minor caveat is that Amaysim doesn’t currently offer 4G (and isn’t in a rush to do so. If 4G is essential, then the best choice is probably Optus’ $2 Day plan. That costs $60 a month if you use it every day (which puts it out of full contention given our criteria here), but you get unlimited calls and texts in Australia and as much as 15GB of data. Check out our detailed writeup if that’s of interest.

    Vodafone

    Vodafone’s best option uses a similar approach to that described for Telstra above, though it’s a little less generous. If you purchase the $49 Flexi Cap, you receive 3GB of data and $350 of “flexible credit”. (You also have $650 of credit for calling Vodafone numbers, but that’s not particularly useful for most purposes).

    One of the thing you can spend that “flexible credit” on is additional data packs. $8 scores you 350MB of data, and there’s no apparent limit on how many you can add, so this is a useful way of expanding your data allowance. However, there are no free calls or texts on this plan, so you need to balance what you spend on data with what you’ll need to spend on basic communications each month.

     

    PS. THE PLUG :: If you're one of those poor suckers (we've all been there!) who've dropped your phone or device over Chrissy, better come get it fixed! Call Tristan, 99% of the time he'll have it ready for you in less than 3hrs. #WINNING

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    Take advantage of the instant asset tax write-off

    computer-present

    (Written by David Markus for SMART COMPANY)

    We have until January 1 to install new PCs, printers, storage systems and servers, update a firewall or invest in a large TV for displaying charts on the office wall.

    If your business is turning over less than $2 million you can claim an instant asset tax write-off on goods up to the value of $6500 in one year. After January 1 this will only apply to goods up to $1000 in value.

    With Windows XP going end of life in April 2014 you would have to have rocks in your head not to replace every Windows XP PC in your business before New Year’s Eve. Note the device needs to be installed by then so don’t wait for the last minute. There are some fantastic new devices on the market that offer the full power of a PC in a tiny form factor and it is a great time to invest in a new device. If you are in a design industry there will not be a better time to upgrade any out-of-date workstations with high speed, high end systems.

    Let’s just look across an SME doing under $2 million in turnover and consider some of the bits of technology or infrastructure you are likely to have that do cost over $1000 and could be replaced if they are going to require that soon in any case.

    Let’s start at the front door and work our way through the office:

    • Signage
    • Security system
    • Electronic door locks
    • CCTV for video surveillance
    • Phone system
    • Servers
    • Routers and switches
    • Firewall
    • PCs (especially those with windows XP)
    • Printers
    • TVs or digital displays
    • Office furniture
    • Carpet or other floor covering
    • Lighting
    • Kitchen whitegoods like a new fridge or coffee machine

    Of course you can argue that many of these things will cost under $1000 each and so there is no rush to run out and spend money. That is fair enough but if you need some larger ticket items, now is a great time to be buying things up to the threshold to get the immediate benefit of the depreciation this year. How many items can you think of that I left off the list?

    Now this is not purely technology advice, but it will apply to plenty of things in your office. Do expect some delays in delivery and some job queues with companies getting busy finishing off projects or closing of production runs in the factory by the end of December, so don’t wait for the last minute to order whatever it is that you need.

    This is a great opportunity for businesses of all sizes to take advantage of and PC Pitstop can help you seize it! CALL TO ARRANGE A QUOTE FOR YOUR NEEDS TODAY :: 65 841 551

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    This Christmas, the team at PC Pitstop will be on hand for your last minute emergencies more days than ever.

     

    pcpitstop-aus-xmas-hours

     

    And don't forget to SHOP 24/7 at www.pcpitstop.net.au

    (OR TELL YOUR RELOS OUT OF TOWN THEY CAN SHOP PCPITSTOP TOO)

    shoponline

    1097247 open sign


    Just another way we're YOUR WINNING TEAM ;)

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    Posted by on in Helpful Hints

    blocked-Windows-8-pcpitstop-australia-blog

    Got Windows 8 update issues?

    We found a fix >>>

    http://www.theguardian.com/technology/askjack/2013/aug/29/what-blocking-file-downloads-windows-8

    STILL GOT PROBLEMS? Call in to see your PC Pitstop Trained Technician today!

     

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    Posted by on in Helpful Hints

    If it's been a while since you've visited our YouTube Channel HERE'S AN UPDATE:

     

    BELIEVE IN BETTER COMPUTER REPAIRS

    pcpitstop-australia-blog-youtube-believe video

    >>> WATCH IT NOW <<<

     

    QUICK GLANCE AT PC PITSOP PORT MACQAURE SERVICES

    pcpitstop-australia-blog-youtube-services-video

    >>> WATCH IT NOW <<<

     

    THE IMPORTANCE OF KEEPING SAFE PASSWORDS

    pcpitstop-australia-blog-youtube-password-video

    >>> WATCH IT NOW <<<

     

    KERRIE EGGINS - 3 WAYS PC PITSTOP SUPPORTS HER BUSINESS

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    >>> WATCH IT NOW <<<

     

    3 REASONS TO CHOOSE PC PITSTOP FOR YOUR BETTER BUSINESS SUPPORT

    pcpitstop-australia-blog-youtube-betterbusiness-video

    >>> WATCH IT NOW <<<

     

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    Hate computer cowboys? Us too.

    pcpitstop-australia-blog-5-thruths

    Geeks that insult your intelligence as they 'help you' [read: do it for you...so fast that you have no idea what they did]?

    How about 'reputable' internet sites or news sites reporting on THE SCREEN THAT WILL NEVER BREAK?

    How about that 'friend of a friend' at the dinner party or BBQ who talks a whole lotta 'I know this' and 'You need to do that' bullocks at the top of his voice so everyone in attendance knows just how smart he is? Err, I hate that guy!

     

    Yep, we hear you and we hate it too. Not only does it put an cloud of dishonesty over the whole industry and paint everyone with the same brush but most importantly, it confuses you guys - the consumers. And confusion costs money, time and a whole tonne of heartache whether you're in business or the business of getting good at Mahjong!

    So here's some cold hard truths. Some straight down the line honest technology truths you need to know. For your benefit...and your wallets...and your friends at your next dinner party!

    1. Your hard drive will die at some point in the next 5 years.
    2. No anti-virus protection is 100% safe - YOU are the weakest link.
    3. Everyone has a different opinion about brands but only a technician who has experience with various brands and with your best interests at heart can tell you what's RIGHT FOR YOU...but there are always lemons, even with the better brands!
    4. Moore's law is real. He states that technology's power doubles every 18mths. Staying as up to date as you can doesn't meaning having the latest of everything, but sifting through the latest and finding something that benefits your productivity the most!
    5. Extended warranties offered by most major retailers are risky business because they are not usually manufacturers warranties but instead underwritten by an insurance company who are gambling on you not requiring the service and if you do, the repairs are performed by a third party provider to whom you are often just a number. Basically, if you can get an extended manufacturers warranty it's an option, otherwise don't bother. By the time you would use an extended warranty with technology the parts may not even be available anymore!

     *****

     Are you nodding your head in agreement or do you feel like you've been reality-slapped in the face? I'll tell you, it took me awhile to get my head around 'the truth about technology' too when I first started in the industry. And I was an IT student at school. And thought I was 'up with it.' True. You can be all those things but until you see a new problem, a new discovery, a new solution every half hour in a real IT repair workshop then it's just not something you really fathom.

    I'm not saying technology is a horrible waste of money and completely controlled by corporate greed. It's not. In comparision to other things especially. But luck does factor into it a little bit. And a whole lot of TLC and correct knowledge. TLC for your devices should be top of your list. Know how to use your device properly...because that's different for every brand too. And leave the in depth troubleshooting and repairs knowledge up to the experts. A doctor with a little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing - that's why they have specialists!

    Everyone has a tech story. Usually a bad one. Test your gratitude for your tech and tell us your success story! Share in the comment section below :)

    *Comments moderated for spam so your comment may not appear for 24-48hrs!

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    Posted by on in Helpful Hints

    spring-clean-computer-pcpitstop-australia-blog

    Spring has sprung and the trash piles are out on the lawns and garage sales are a go-go. So what about a spring clean for the mahine you work hard every day - your computer?

    Do these 3 simple steps and watch your computer smile!

    1. Do a Defrag. (How?)

    2. Uninstall any programs you no longer use. (How?)

    3. Empty your Recycle Bin. (How?)

     

    3 1/2. Yep, 3 1/2! Of course, there are much more indepth ways to give your computer a thorough spring clean. Drop your PC into PC Pitstop, leave it with us for at least 48 hours and we'll take it through our rigorous 99 Point Tuneup Checklist to make sure it returns to you IMPROVED! Drop in today to avoid the Christmas Holiday panic!

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    Posted by on in Helpful Hints

    Excel users...this is the one of the best NEED TO KNOW guide I've seen in a long time, thanks to brilliant Bit.

     

    "

    15 basics to know if you use Excel spreadsheets

    Don't like that annoying habit Excel has of trying to guess the right format for a cell you're updating? Here's how to turn it off, plus other handy tips.

    When it comes to organising data, Excel is tremendously capable. However, the wealth of tools available can be daunting, and many powerful features are easily overlooked. 

    Here’s a selection of 15 of our favourite one-click tools and simple features that can help you whip a worksheet into shape in moments. These tips all work in Excel 2007 and later (except where stated), and many are available in earlier versions, too.

    Formats and fills

    1 Format Painter

    The Format Painter tool lets you copy the formatting of a cell onto one or more other cells, leaving the contents unchanged. Place the cursor in your source cell, click Format Painter (under the Home tab), then click in another cell to apply the formatting. You can drag to apply the format to a range of cells at once. 
     
    The Format Painter automatically disengages when you release the mouse button: if you double-click its icon, however, it will stay active until you click again to disable it, or press Escape – handy for formatting non-contiguous ranges. 
     

    2 Clear Formats 

    When you type a number into an empty cell, Excel tries to guess the right format: for example, enter “17/2” or “25%” and your cell will automatically switch to Date or Percentage format. This isn’t always what you want, and it’s annoying if you later change the cell contents, since Excel won’t thereafter update the applied format to suit new data. You can remove all formatting from any cell (or range) via the dropdown labelled Clear, which you’ll find to the right of the Home tab, within the Editing group.
     
    Other options under this dropdown let you clear the contents of cells, leaving the formatting untouched, or remove comments or hyperlinks. If you don’t want Excel to automatically format your cells in the first place, you can precede a cell’s contents with an apostrophe to make Excel interpret it as text.
     

    3 Quick cell format changes

     
    You can set the format of a cell directly from a dropdown menu, or  with the click of a button
     
    You can specify a format for any cell or range via the Format Cells window (click the pop-out icon in the Number group under the Home tab). It’s quicker to use the dropdown menu within that icon group, though – you’ll see the default setting is General.
     
    The buttons below this dropdown can save time too. The one that looks like a banknote and coins sets a cell to Accounting format (click the dropdown to choose a currency), while the percentage sign does what you’d expect. The comma icon punctuates large numbers to make them easier to read, so 1000000 becomes 1,000,000 (this doesn’t affect your ability to use the number in calculations). Lastly, the decimal icons make the selected cells show more or fewer decimal places, making it easier to deal with calculated values that present an unneeded degree of precision.
     

    4 Autofill

    Most people know that you can quickly fill a column or row with copies of the same number or text by entering it once, then dragging the marker at the bottom-right corner of that cell to cover the range you want to fill. This works with numerical series, too: if you have two adjacent cells containing “1” and “2”, you can select them both and drag onwards in the same direction to automatically count as high as you like. 
     
    This also works with days of the week, calendar dates and other types of data Excel recognises. You can even use numbers that follow simple patterns: drag to extend the series 12, 17, 22 and Excel will correctly fill in the next cells with 27, 32 and so forth.
     

    5 Text to columns

    If you have to process a mass of imported text, you can split it across multiple columns by clicking Text To Columns in the Data Tools group under the Data tab: the dialog box that opens will allow you to split cell contents according to either character counts or separator characters. 
     
    In Excel 2013, you can also extract specific elements from a column of data with a new feature called Flash Fill. To illustrate how it works, let’s imagine you have a column of computer memory capacities such as “2GB”, “1GB”, “4GB” and so on. If you manually enter “2” in an empty cell next to the 2GB value, then drag down to autofill the cells below, Excel will by default fill all the cells with the same value. But if you then click on the Smart Tag that appears at the bottom corner of your new range and select Flash Fill, Excel will use values extracted from the neighbouring column instead, using your originally selected cell as a model: you’ll see that the cell values change to 2, 1, 4 and so on.

    Managing your data

    6 Remove duplicates

    If you’ve imported a large amount of data from another program, you may have any number of duplicate entries. You can get rid of these manually by sorting and deleting cells, but Excel can do it for you: simply select the table, then go to the Data tab and click Remove Duplicates. If you’ve selected a two-dimensional range, you can specify which columns must all match for a row to qualify as a duplicate.
     

    7 Name your cells and ranges

    In a large spreadsheet, you’re likely to be working with numerous ranges of data, and making sense of your cell references can quickly become confusing. You can make life easier by assigning names to important cells and ranges so that, in place of opaque formulae such as “=SUM(A19:J31)+L16”, you can use readily readable descriptions such as “=SUM(Payments)+Bonus”. You’ll find the Define Name tool under the Formulas tab. Once you’ve created a name, you’ll see it come up as an autocomplete suggestion whenever you type in a formula, although old cell references in existing formulae won’t automatically update.
     

    8 Trace precedents and dependents

     
    The Trace Precedents feature shows you exactly which cells are referred to by a formula
     
    No matter how neatly you organise your spreadsheet, sooner or later you’re likely to come across a confusing formula that seems to draw data from a dozen unexpected places. You can get a visual indication of exactly which cells it’s referring to by selecting the cell, then opening the Formulas tab and selecting Trace Precedents (under Formula Auditing). A handy set of arrows will show exactly which values are used. Similarly, a click on the Trace Dependents button will reveal, at a glance, exactly which cells in a worksheet contain references to the selected cell. Note that if you have a range of cells selected when you click, only the cell that’s actually active (that is, the unshaded one from which you started dragging) will be traced.
     

    9 Show formulas

    In a large spreadsheet you can lose track of which cells contain raw data and which contain calculated values. A click on Show Formulas – again under the Formulas tab – will expand all cells containing calculations to show their formulae instead of the results. Click again to return to the regular view. In Excel 2013, you can also create a Conditional Formatting rule to highlight cells where “=ISFORMULA(A1)” is true (replace A1 with the reference of the top-left cell of your selected range).
     
    Another easy way to find formulae and other types of cell is with the Go To command, which is located on the Home tab under Editing (you can also access it by pressing Ctrl-G or F5). The Go To window shows you a list of named references you can jump to; click “Special...” and you can use it to select cells of many types, including precedents, formulae, blanks and comments.
     

    10 Paste Special

     
    The Paste Special dialog lets you turn formulae into values, carry out multiple mathematical operations, and switch rows and columns
     
    You probably know that you can use the smart tag that appears when you hit “paste” to specify formatting options for pasted data. You may not know about the more powerful “Paste Special” dialog: you can find it under the Paste dropdown on the Home tab, or you can open it directly by pressing Alt-Ctrl-V. The Paste Special window makes it easy to paste only the values of the formulae you’ve copied, or to copy only aspects of the source’s visual style. 
     
    You can also use this feature to perform calculations on several cells at once. Select Add and, rather than replacing the destination cells, the source cells’ values will be added to them. As a final trick, try ticking Transpose in the Paste Special window: you’ll see that your pasted cells are flipped around, so columns become rows and rows become columns – something that’s otherwise a pain to achieve.

    Views and visuals

    11 Freeze panes

    When you’re working with large tables of data, row and column headers tend to get pushed off the edges of the window, making it easy to get lost. The answer is the Freeze Panes feature, which you’ll find on the View tab. With one click, you can freeze the top row or the first column of your worksheet, so it will remain visible as you scroll around. 
     
    If you want to freeze both at once, simply position your cursor at the top left of your table data (so it’s below and to the right of your column and row headers) and select the general-purpose Freeze Panes option from the dropdown. Now you can scroll around your data to your heart’s content, while your headers remain visible at all times.
     

    12 Conditional formatting

    Conditional formatting can provide an at-a-glance indication of the highs and lows of a set of figures. To see it in action, select the range of cells you’re interested in, then click the Conditional Formatting dropdown from the Styles group on the Home tab. The top two options let you highlight cells according to a particular rule – such as those greater than a specific value – or choose a Top/Bottom rule to automatically mark the highest or lowest values. 
     
    The most powerful conditional formatting options automatically add graphical tags or coloured backgrounds to the cells in your range, to give a clear visual indication of high and low values. Hover your mouse over the various options under Data Bars, Colour Gradients and Icon Sets to see how your data will look with each set of formatting applied. 
     

    13 Sparklines (Excel 2010/2013)

     
    For Office 2013 users, Sparklines provide a handy visual indicator of trends and trajectories across multiple datasets
     
    Conditional formatting is great for comparing a single set of figures, but what if you want an at-a-glance overview of multiple trends? One option is to insert a graph, but a neater solution is to use Sparklines – groups of miniature graphs that each occupy a single cell. To add Sparklines to a worksheet, select a two-dimensional table of data, then go to the Insert tab and select Line, Column or Win/Loss from the Sparklines group. You’ll be prompted to specify where you want the Sparklines to go: drag along an available column or row and click OK and you’ll see Sparklines appear. 
     
    You can configure the appearance of a Sparkline group using the Sparkline Tools | Design tab that appears when you click on a Sparkline cell. By default, each Sparkline automatically scales to use the full height and width of the cell; under the Axis dropdown you’ll find options to use the same minimum and maximum values for all Sparklines, so you can compare values directly across an entire Sparkline group. 
     

    14 Collapse grouped cells

    Many spreadsheets include large tables of figures with summary rows at the top or bottom. Sometimes you just want to work with these summaries, and temporarily ignore the data from which they derive. This can be done easily with Excel’s Outline tools. Select the relevant rows or columns, then go to the Outline group on the Data tab and click the Group icon. You’ll see a new column open at the left or top of the window, bracketing your range together with a minus sign icon. Click this icon and the rows and columns will be temporarily collapsed, so you can get a clean overview of your spreadsheet without having to move or hide your data.
     

    15 Print Area 

    Excel’s print dialog tries to fit your spreadsheet to the desired number of pages, but it’s fiddly. It’s much easier to use the Page Break Preview, which you’ll find under the View tab. This view overlays thick dashed lines and page numbers onto your worksheet, so you can see exactly what falls where – and if you’re not happy with the layout, you can drag the page boundaries with the mouse to specify precisely what should go on which page. 
     
    You can also specify that only a certain area of the worksheet should be printed – useful if, for example, you’ve made notes off to the sides of a table of data. You can do this by dragging the outer page boundaries in Page Break Preview to exclude unwanted cells. Alternatively, while in Page Break Preview, you can select an area of your worksheet, right-click and choose Set Print Area from the contextual menu. You can also do this using the Print Area dropdown from the Page Layout tab.
     
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