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Microsoft has announced as of April 8, 2014, Windows XP, Office 2003, and Exchange Server 2003 will no longer be actively supported by Microsoft.

windows XP with red circle/slash

What this means to you:

These older versions of Windows and Exchange were developed in a time before the Internet played such a critical role in the life of your average business.  The result is that these systems cannot be trusted to handle the wide variety of threats to your data and computers that are ever present in our Internet-connected world.  Without the continued availability of critical security and software updates,  the Microsoft software that you rely on to help run your business will be under ever increasing threat, exposing you to malicious software and may result in a failure to comply to updated industry compliance standards.

Getting current with the latest versions of Windows and Microsoft Office helps you modernize your business and dramatically simplify everyday tasks

    If you are ready to upgrade your Microsoft Software, or have any questions/concerns regarding the end of support by Microsoft for these versions of software please Contact Us.

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CryptoLocker Virus

This is a Security Advisory sent to all Beanstalk Computing clients, partners, and contacts. Recently a ransom-ware virus known as the CryptoLocker Virus has been infecting computers and causing extreme damage to businesses internationally that can result in the permanent loss of data. This CryptoLocker is the worst strain of virus that we have seen, which is why we felt it necessary to send this email and bring this to your attention. The CryptoLocker is a new breed of virus that is able to encrypt most important files on your computers including files on any mapped network drive to which you are connected with write access. Once encrypted, your company files will be inaccessible unless you agree to pay the ransom demanded (via online payment, typically via MoneyPAK) by the sender of the virus, or recover your data from backup.  The encryption is currently unbreakable. Once you are presented with the ransom notice the damage has been done. This ransom-ware virus concept is not new, but this is the first time that a such a virus has been capable of doing widespread damage of the type that CryptoLocker has been responsible for. For this reason, we felt it important to remind clients and friends of some best security practices that they can take: 1.)  Back up your data. The importance of a reliable data backup is imperative. There are a number of factors to consider but your backup system should support file revisions as well as offsite data storage. 2.) Run effective Antivirus software. All computers should be protected by an up to date antivirus client. 3.) Do not open attached files via email. This is the most common infection vector for this and many common viruses. Many viruses will attempt to convince you that a file attachment containing the virus is something you really want to read. Be skeptical and careful!  ***Do not click on links within emails you were not expecting. For example: FedEx package, BBB complaint, domain expiring, etc. 4.) Use a spam filtering service. More than 80% of the email traffic on a daily basis is unwanted Spam email. A spam filtering service can prevent the vast majority of spam email making it to your inbox and can be particularly helpful in preventing the spread of viruses via infected attachments. 5.) Additional software solutions. These can include web content filtering, Firewall security services and software restriction policies put in place on your network. Limiting your exposure to security threats is the key and there are many options available in the type layered approach that Beanstalk Computing recommends to our clients.For any more information on CryptoLocker and safeguards please feel free to contact our team direct by emailing support@beanstalkcomputing.com or calling (800) 813-0926. For more information please see the links below: http://www.snopes.com/computer/virus/cryptolocker.asp http://www.informationweek.in/informationweek/news-analysis/285827/beware-ransomware-cryptolocker-quick-heal What you will see if you are infected! malware warning
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Two Amazon Accounts with the Same Email Address and Different Passwords?!

I recently purchased a Kindle Fire, which is awesome by the way.  But one thing I realized was that for some bizarre reason you can have two Amazon accounts associated with the same email address if they have different passwords.

This is a rather quirky and slightly disturbing fact about Amazon.  This has caused me confusion for quite some time.  I have had my Android phone for some time connected to one amazon account and to my amazement my Kindle Fire to another completely separate account with the same exact email address but a different password.  The apps, magazines and videos I have purchased on my phone should be syncing to my new Kindle Fire but they were not due to the fact that I was using two completely separate accounts with the same email address.  Why on earth Amazon would allow such a confusing thing to happen is beyond me.  And when I asked support to combine the accounts into one this was their response:

“I’m unable to combine account information into a single account or merge your accounts due to technical limitations in our systems. “

Technical Limitations?  Why have this be a possibility in the first place?

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Beanstalk Computing Receives 2011 San Diego Award

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Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

San Diego Computer IT Support:Beanstalk Computing Receives 2011 San Diego Award

U.S. Commerce Association’s Award Plaque Honors the Achievement

NEW YORK, NY, October 18, 2011 — San Diego Computer IT Support:Beanstalk Computing has been selected for the 2011 San Diego Award in the Computer Servers category by the U.S. Commerce Association (USCA).

The USCA "Best of Local Business" Award Program recognizes outstanding local businesses throughout the country. Each year, the USCA identifies companies that they believe have achieved exceptional marketing success in their local community and business category. These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business through service to their customers and community.

Various sources of information were gathered and analyzed to choose the winners in each category. The 2011 USCA Award Program focuses on quality, not quantity. Winners are determined based on the information gathered both internally by the USCA and data provided by third parties.

About U.S. Commerce Association (USCA)

U.S. Commerce Association (USCA) is a New York City based organization funded by local businesses operating in towns, large and small, across America. The purpose of USCA is to promote local business through public relations, marketing and advertising.

The USCA was established to recognize the best of local businesses in their community. Our organization works exclusively with local business owners, trade groups, professional associations, chambers of commerce and other business advertising and marketing groups. Our mission is to be an advocate for small and medium size businesses and business entrepreneurs across America.

SOURCE: U.S. Commerce Association
CONTACT:
U.S. Commerce Association
Email: PublicRelations@uscaaward.com
URL: http://www.uscaaward.com

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Windows Phone 7.5 and Windows 8: The future is Metro

Microsoft has recently released Windows Phone 7.5 and will soon be releasing Windows 8.  Both use the same type of interface so your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop computers will all run a new interface and all run new apps called Metro apps.

Now that Microsoft has bought Nokia, researched are predicting Microsoft will be number two in phones behind Google and beating what will become the number three player, Apple.  I think that Blackberry is going down and WebOS is dead, leaving just those three left.

Paul Thurrotte is a well respecting blogger in the Windows community with his SuperSite for Windows and has this to say about Windows Phone:

“Windows Phone is the most useful, usable, and innovative smart phone platform available. It’s nicer than the old-fashioned “whack a mole” iPhone user interface, which forces you to jump in and out of individual apps over and over again, like we used to do in MS-DOS. And don’t get me started on Android: Google hasn’t found an interface that’s not worth stealing, and Android is a patchwork of inconsistent yet vaguely familiar user interfaces. It makes me feel dirty just using it.”

And finally, Microsoft has release a first of many videos showcasing Windows 8 as below:

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Beanstalk Computing Partners with Datto for Hardware Based Backup and Disaster Recover

Today Beanstalk Computing announces a partnership with Datto and now offers our clients a premium disaster recover solution.

Beanstalk Computing can now provide true business continuity, eliminating downtime on your business’s network.  When your server goes down, we can have you up and running in seconds with instant virtualization.  When disaster strikes, every second counts.  Taking days to recover information and get computer systems up and running translates into money lost – and likely, the end of your business.  With Beanstalk Computing’s backup solution, your company can be back up and running in just seconds.

This is the only backup and disaster recover solution that offers instant on and off site virtualization, backup verification and true business continuity.

Call Beanstalk Computing today for a free 30 day trial of our newest and most powerful backup and disaster recover solution at 800-813-0926

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Mechanical Switch Keyboards take you back to 1984

Back in the day, it all started with the IBM Model M Keyboard.  These keyboards were built so well many of them are still used today, while the computers and monitors of the day are obsolete.

Most computers these days come with a freebee dome-switch keyboard and I have been typing on these most of my life.  They are inexpensive to make and pretty much everyone on earth types on one of these things.

I am typing on my new mechanical switch keyboard.  Based on technology from 1984, these keyboards use real switches underneath each and every key.  Most modern mechanical switches are made by a company called Cherry Corporation out of Germany.

A mechanical switch keyboard reminds me of the keyboard I grew up with in the 80’s on my dad’s IBM computer.  It is very comfortable to type on and has a satisfying click when the key is depressed but be warned, these keyboards tend to be loud and should not be used in an office environment as demonstrated in this video.

I chose the Razer BlackWidow keyboard because of its excellent review on Newegg TV as shown below.  For a review of 8 other high end keyboards check out MaximumPC.com article here

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The Spotify Music Service Has Landed in the U.S.

Finally, after launching in Europe almost three years ago, Spotify launches in the US.  What is Spotify?  It is a free (or paid premium) music service that combines the best of Pandora, Google music, rhapsody and amazon into one service.  As or right now, you have to sign up to be on the waiting list for a free account or you can pay $4.99 and up to get started immediately.  Click here for more info.

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Netflix, Nintendo bringing movies – and eventually 3D flicks – to 3DS

Nintendo and Netflix announced a new partnership

From NYDailyNews.com: http://www.nydailynews.com/tech_guide/2011/07/15/2011-07-15_netflix_nintendo_bringing_movies__and_eventually_3d_flicks__to_3ds.html

Maybe that standalone streaming Netflix subscription won’t be completely overpriced after all. At least if you own a Nintendo 3DS.

On Thursday morning, Nintendo and Netflix announced a new partnership to bring streaming movies to Nintendo’s fledgling 3DS console, a move that seems like a boon to both companies, and means that you will eventually be able to watch 3D movies on the go.

“Nintendo is a terrific partner with Netflix,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said in a statement. “We’re excited to extend the partnership to include streaming on Nintendo 3DS.”

The announcement comes just days after Netflix unveiled a new subscription plan that will charge separate $7.99-a-month prices for DVD-by-mail and streaming services, essentially a 60% price hike from the company’s old all-encompassing $9.99 plan.

Yes, that meant plenty of badwill (who wanted to pay more money, really?), but the extension to 3DS consoles could bring a little bit of good. Netflix draws 1.5 million users a day on the Nintendo Wii, so both companies have already experienced success.

A free downloadable Netlix app is now available in Nintendo’s eShop to make this all happen. The program will launch with a basic library of Netflix offerings, but Nintendo said in a statement that customers would “soon have access to an additional library of select movies that can be viewed in 3D without the need for special glasses.”

That effectively brings a whole new level of content to Netflix’s streaming services while simultaneously revitalizing the 3DS market. Sales for Nintendo’s newest portable have been less-than-stellar, but on-the-go 3D movie content could easily inject life into the market, possibly drawing movie fans who are not even into gaming.

The 3DS has already shown itself capable of presenting quality 3D movies; a “Green Lantern” trailer was available for download about a month ago, and a “Yogi Bear 3D” trailer shined at a few pre-release events.

“The new Netflix application looks great, plays great and is a fantastic consumer experience,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime. “. . . Nintendo 3DS truly offers something for everyone.”

Nifty, right? Just keep a few things in mind that you’ll need WiFi access to enjoy all that streaming content (forget your underground subway commute), and you’ll need to fork over that $7.99 a month.

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