Q1 2012 PC Vendor Market Share

Q1 2012 PC Vendor Market Share (credit: Apple Outsider)

Since the introduction of the Apple iPad in April 2010, then the entry of the extremely affordable Kindle Firein November 2011, the sales of traditional computers like laptops and desktops have slowly dwindled.

Check out the graph which clearly shows the trend in sales for the Apple iPad.  Notice Q1/2010.  This is when the iPad was released.  With the exception of Lenovo, all PC vendor market shares were trending down.

Look at Q4/2011. Notice that the Lenovo market share begins to show a hint of a downward trend.  Q4/2011 was when the Kindle Fire was introduced by Amazon.com.  For $199 a pop, the Kindle Fire quickly moved up second to the iPad in the tablet computer market.

I work in the IT (Information Technology) field.  My general bias is to people who happen to have the traditional personal computer.  But, based on recent conversations with people considering a new purchase of a computing platform, most see themselves as buying a tablet computer.  The reason being is that most users have really been using computers to do one or more of the following activities:

  1. Check e-mail
  2. Stay connected via social networking
  3. Shop online
  4. Read the latest news and gossip
  5. Watch movies
  6. Listen to music

If I missed one, let me know, but based on what I’ve heard directly from people who aren’t that computer savvy, these are pretty much all they do!  If that is so, then the tablet computer is the new paradigm of personal computing.

With Microsoft joining the bandwagon of tablet computing, there is no going back.  I bet you, when the next holiday season comes a long, the tablet computer will be the number one purchase.  There will be so many tablet vendors clamoring for consumer attention that tablet features will be full while at the same time prices will be amazingly low!

This is just on the consumer side of the fence.  I’ve noticed a strong trend on the business side as well.  Where I work, the standard computing device is a Windows-based computer.  However, within the last 3 or 4 months, the strong demand for tablet computers has forced iPads into our business environment.  Note that this is an IT department who is a strong Windows proponent.  This is simply amazing.

This technological revolution can certainly be attributed to the following things:

  • The tablet operating system is extremely easy to use that even a two or three-year old could operate it.
  • The battery life of these devices blow away those of laptops.  Tablet battery lasts anywhere from 8 to 10 hours.
  • Tablet prices have been going down; for $199, anyone can have one.
  • Tablet applications are plenty and extremely cheap.  In the good old days of PC software, $20 or higher software prices were typical.  Today there are many free apps; and for those you buy, the price ranges from $0.99 to $9.99.  Most are only $0.99!

Enough of my ramblings.  The tablet trend is definitely here, and there is now getting around that.

What do you think?  Is the tablet the new personal computer?

Dell Inspiron M5040 Laptop

Dell Inspiron M5040 Laptop

Just a week or so ago my daughter’s laptop–a Dell Inspiron M5040–was hit by one of those fake antivirus.  She was browsing one of those sites which provides access to movies that haven’t been officially released yet on DVD.  Based on my experience, those sites are typically untrustworthy and are infected with fake antivirus.

If you are ever infected, the best thing is to do a cold shut down of your computer (just turn it off; not a normal shutdown).

Not knowing enough on how and what these things can do, she did a restart of her computer, which is one of the things you don’t want to do in such a situation since that pretty much gives the fake antivirus running in memory permission to embed itself into the computer’s registry, ensuring its persistence between boots.  When her computer completed the restart, it continued to report that there were some problems on the computer, requesting a scan of the computer to fix the problems.

I tried to do a recovery through one of the repair options of the computer, but did not succeed.  I wanted to use the built-in recovery image from the disk drive, but for some reason, I could not see it nor could I find anything that allows the system to reload the manufacturer base computer image.

At this point, I realized that the best way to fix this was to simply re-install Windows 7 from a DVD.  I was able to complete this, but Windows 7 can’t seem to detect the following:

  • Video driver for the display on the Dell Inspiron M5040
  • Network ethernet adapter driver
  • Wireless LAN adapter driver

One would think that dell.com would make these drivers easy to find, but no luck.  After multiple searches, I eventually found the drivers at driverswin.com.  These were the drivers I used to get my daughter’s laptop looking and working right:

You should take this approach only if you cannot recover the image from the computer’s existing recovery volume.

Let me know if you find this useful by commenting below.

techguy.org

techguy

I found a web site that provides absolutely free tech support.  The site is called techguy.org.  They’ve been around since 1996, and they seem to have a large membership group of around 450,000.

The free part comes from the fact this site is sponsored by ads and is mainly supported by people like you.  Through forums, people with various issues can post their  problem, and another user who may have the answer posts their answer back.

Since they’ve been around since 1996, they have amassed a lot of problems and solutions that may be applicable to your situation.  Be advised though since technology changes at an extremely rapid pace, having been around the Internet that long may not give them the advantage.

Their strength really comes from the large membership.  For example, I did a search on “fake antivirus”.  The search result came back with over 5000 results.  I checked one of the responses and most of them are pretty detailed.

Give their site a try.  I know I will on occasion just to see what I can find.

No Cable TV!

Cutting the Cord: No more Cable TV

My family has been with no cable TV for over 2 years now.  We’ve saved almost $1000 over that time.  Well, we didn’t really save; we didn’t have to spend is more accurate.  I imagine some people have more expensive cable packages–in the $100/month range.  At this rate, someone could easily reduce their yearly spending by at least $1000 per year!  That is significant especially in this poor economy.

You might be wondering what we do for entertainment since the TV is generally the modern-day traditional entertainment center.  The secret is high-speed Internet and streaming video.

Within the last decade, high-speed Internet has been here and affordable.  It costs me around $30 per month to maintain DSL speed Internet service.  In 2007, Microsoft came out with built-in WiFi on their Xbox units.  A year later, Netflix became available on the Xbox.  With wireless access points for the home being available at a very affordable price, these two events set the stage for Internet TV.

Today, between YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, and the occasional DVD purchase, we can pretty much watch anything on TV.  The only thing we cannot watch are those pay-per-view type events or other events that only makes sense to watch live.  But I think it is only a matter of time before the networks realize that the Internet is the way to go.

This is the basic setup I have:

  • Console:  Xbox 360 4GB Console – around $200 at Amazon.com; you can use the Wii or the PS3 also
  • Internet service:  Verizon’s DSL Service – around $30 per month; any high-speed Internet service will generally do
  • Wireless router:  NETGEAR RangeMax 150 Wireless Router  – around $70 at Amazon.com; this one has been pretty reliable for me
  • Streaming service:  Netflix – $7.99 per month

Have you cut the cord yet?  If so, how are you doing it?

An ad as seen on Apple.com

An ad as seen on Apple.com

A few days ago I received an email from Apple.com with their announcement of the availability of the white iPhone. Only Apple can create such a big hoopla around the availability of such an essential feature such as color.

I wouldn’t be surprised if die-hard Apple fans would line up to get a white iPhone.  Some of my friends are figuring out the Apple marketing scam.  They dupe their loyal and die-hard customers into buying a new iPhone through the incremental introduction of features.  Here are some of the most obvious examples:

  • The original iPhone didn’t have a camera facing the user.  The iPhone 4 added that feature.
  • The original iPhone was in silver/black color; now there is white!
  • The original iPhone had its buttons located in a certain position; the new iPhone made some slight design changes, causing the buttons to move by a  few millimeters–enough so that you can’t use your existing or current iPhone cases with the new iPhone 4 phones.

Here’s what I predict Apple will do to squeeze more moola from its loyal customer base.  In a future release of iPhone, Apple will include or offer:

  • A micro SD slot; NOT! Memory limitation or restriction is what keeps users coming back for more iPhones.
  • Flash player-capable iPhone
  • Standard USB interface
  • A 100% silver colored iPhone.

That’s all I can think of right now.  If you have other ideas to add, please post in the comments section.

Encryption: key to secured data transmission

Encryption: key to secured data transmission

Not many people realize that the traffic they generate on the Internet as they check e-mail, upload files, chat, and so on are out in the clear. This means that if someone tapped into the network (wired or wireless) where your traffic is flowing, that someone would be able to capture the information flowing through that network, and possibly interpret or maybe even change the account or various confidential information that may be in that flow. One way to keep those Internet peeping toms from seeing your confidential information is by using some form of encryption technology. There are three general scenarios where encryption technology is crucial. The first is the encryption technology you must ensure is used when accessing confidential information online. The second scenario is when you are sending confidential information to someone or some organization. The third is when you are using wireless technology to access your network or someone else’s in the process of connecting to the Internet.

When accessing confidential information online, you must make sure that the site you are connecting to uses TLS/SSL (Transport Layer Security, the successor to SSL–Secure Socket Layer). You can tell this in three ways:

1) The URL for the sites starts with https://

2) There is an indication in your browser that your connection is secure—typically symbolized by a padlock icon (in Internet Explorer 8, it can be found to the right side of the address field)

3) Your browser indicates that it trusts the site you are visiting (in Internet Explorer 8, the address field background turns green)

For example, when you access your bank online, you will see that their URL begins with “https://”, and that there is a padlock symbol somewhere on the bottom or top of your Internet browser. When you’re browser is using TLS/SSL to communicate with a web server on the Internet, you are doing two things by convention—ensuring that the site you are visiting is who they say they are through the use of an SSL certificate which is certified by a trusted authority (for example Verisign) , and the data you are transmitting are encrypted and thus protected from eavesdropping exposure.

What if you need to send something to someone—like a file or an email containing very confidential information (e.g. a set of social security numbers tied to their corresponding owners’ identity)? If trust and confidentiality are important attributes needed in your communication, then there is a product called PGP Desktop that you and your receiver can use. PGP stands for Pretty Good Privacy. The way it works is as follows:

1) Each user creates two kinds of crypto keys—one key is the secret key, the other the public key

2) The public key can be used to encrypt data. The data can then be decrypted using its corresponding secret key.

3) Say that user A and B have each created their PGP key pairs. User A wants to transmit data to B, and he wants only B to be able to read A’s message. They would first need to exchange public keys. User A would then use B’s public key to encrypt his data before transmitting it. When B receives the message, he can use his secret key to decrypt the message. No one else can decrypt A’s message because B is the only one that has the corresponding secret key to decrypt the message.

The use of PGP in the above example is just one of the many ways people can use the pair of crypto keys to encrypt their Internet traffic. By the way, the existence of PKI (Public Key Infrastructure) facilitates the exchange and certification of public keys.

The third and final scenario where you can encrypt your Internet traffic is WI-FI technology use. If you are using some form of wireless technology, you need to make sure you encrypt your wireless network lest you invite your neighbors to see everything you do on the Internet. Currently, the best form of encryption one should use for your home wireless access point is WPA2. WPA stands for Wi-Fi Protected Access. It is more secure that the previous WEP (wired equivalent privacy) or the WPA standard. By using WPA2, you are ensuring that your neighbors cannot see your private Internet traffic.

Remember, Internet traffic is generally not secure. To help keep your confidential data secured when it has to traverse it, you will need to put into effect the habit of only using web sites that support TLS/SSL. And if you need to transmit data to someone, you can use PGP. Lastly, make sure to use WPA2 encryption for your wireless access point to keep your neighbors from seeing your wireless traffic.

Protect your computer

Protect your computer/confidential information

Introduction

These days, there are so many bad or nasty things your computer can catch or stumble into from the Internet without even trying.  Virus, malware, trojan, spyware, and malicious web sites are some of the things to avoid. Each is intended to damage files, steal your identity, capture your account information, show you ads, or turn your computer into a platform for launching more infections (worms, virus, adware/spyware).

With so many potential vectors of attack, what is one to do? How is a typical computer user going to fight this onslaught? Well, if you are reading this, chances are you are looking to improve your computer’s security because of some prior bad experience. Guess what, you’ve found the most complete discussion on computer protection ever.

First Line of Defense

In order to protect your computer, you need to acquire a multi-layer set of solutions like the one listed below.  All these are free!

Last Line of Defense

If your first line of defense fails, your last line of defense can help you by protecting your personal or confidential information.

Encryption

If you own a laptop, then you shouldn’t leave home without making sure you are using TrueCrypt–an encryption solution that can help make sure your confidential and personal information are totally secure should you lose your laptop, or god forbid, should it be stolen.  This free open-source software solution allows you to create virtual encrypted disk drives which only you can read.

ID Protection

If you are worried about identity theft and have a few dollars to spare, look into subscribing to a credit or identity protection service like protectmyid.com.  This service sends you alerts whenever there is a change in your credit status–like someone applying for credit under your name!