Category Archives: Quick Take

Breaking: LogMeIn Free Going Away

After years and years….

Coupon with a globe, promising One Free Internet

One Free Internet!

LogMeIn Free is gone. Yes, the most reliable free remote control platform is gone. Lots of people use LogMeIn, from people who occasionally work from home to part-time techies to IT folks who need remote access to the brand-new machine that they haven’t had time to completely set up yet.

The party’s over.

Next time you sign in you’ll see a happy message saying you have seven days to buy LogMeInPro, which features nice extras like file transfer, printer and sound handling, and troubleshooting tools.

Intro pricing looks like 50% off: $49/year for 2 computers, $129/year for 5 computers, and $229/year for 10 machines.

Frankly, I’m not surprised. I knew LMI had been considering removing the free product, and had already curtailed the Free product to 10 computers.

What’s next?

Quick definition: LogMeIn, GoToMyPC, etc are remote control applications. They let you access your computer from another location, without relying on someone to let you in (like join.me, mikogo.com, etc)

There are several other remote control systems out there:

Teamviewer is based on a technology called VNC that we find a bit less reliable than GoToMyPC or LogMeIn.

Windows Small Business Servers and Essentials Server include Remote Web Access, that controls remote desktop access to your computer.

We’re not heavily impacted by this as we generally use a mix of LogMeIn Pro and Citrix GoToAssist for our remote-control needs.

It’s my opinion that it’s generally worth a few bucks to ensure your remote connection will work securely and reliably, so I recommend either Citrix GoToMyPC or biting the bullet and buying LogMeIn. For most people it’s not worth jumping to another free solution that is not as user-friendly or reliable.

We can offer 30-day trials of Citrix GoToMyPC. Please contact us if you’re interested in a solution for more than 5 computers.

Update: According to LogMeIn companies that buy the $300/year LogMeIn Central product will continue to have access to install, manage, and connect to LMI Free clients. This is the most cost-effective way to companies with more than a few computers to keep using LogMeIn long-term.

Tech Tuesday #7: Mobile Printing

Tech Tuesdays. It’s your chance to send in your tech questions, and we’ll answer one per week for everyone. To ask a question, just message us. They can be on any topic from security to cloud computing, or anything in between. And we’re featuring Media Mondays over on the CT Media sister page. Be sure to fan us over there, too!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Debbie from Gardner asks, “How do I print from my iPad?”

I’ll extend the question to include iPad, iPhone, Android phone (including my current Samsung Galaxy S3), android tablet (including my current favorite Kindle Fire HD).

If you’re just using Apple iDevices along with computers…it makes sense to look for a printer that supports Apple’s AirPrint standard. AirPrint simplifies printing by automating discovery and driver loading for these devices. Most new wireless printers and all-in-one devices are AirPrint-ready.

Second choice, search the App Store for your printer. Many printer manufacturers like Brother, HP, and Epson have apps that will let you print pictures and other content to your printer.

If you don’t want to buy a new printer, or your printer doesn’t support wireless, try Collobos’ FingerPrint. This program runs on your Windows or Mac computer and shares your printer for your iDevices. Make sure to run the trial before paying the $20 to buy it. There’s a great step-by-step guide on how-to geek for setting this up.

For Android devices things are a little more complicated. Android doesn’t have a built-in print handler like AirPrint. There is the Google Cloud Print program and app…there are about a dozen models of printer that will  automatically connect to the Google service,  Otherwise install the Cloud Print server to your computer and use the mobile-enabled service to print to your printer.

For business use, a nice choice is EFI PrintMe/PrintMe Mobile. This solution turns a computer into an AirPrint print server, similar to FingerPrint, but also offers an Android app to facilitate printing from other devices.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

Quick Take: Apple Announcements 10/23

Well, the big news today is from Apple. The company has announced some major product updates.

A few thoughts….

In typical self-congratulatory fashion, Apple cheered the iPhone 5 and iOS6, conveniently forgetting the  Maps debacle…  as well as a widespread problem with basic meeting/calendar invite handling. They do sell a lot of phones, though.

New MacBooks were introduced. Apple is firmly committed to killing the onboard DVD drive, so you’ll just buy all your programs Apps from the Apple App Store. Silly me, no one uses programs any more…

I don’t understand the drive to compress Apple displays into the maximum number of pixels. The new Pro has higher resolution than an HDTV, on a 13″ screen. I don’t know about you, but my eyes aren’t good enough to notice that.

“Like all of our products, the team works hard on making these eco-friendly.” Interesting comment by Senior Vice President of Lying Marketing at Apple. The new MacBook Pro build looks very similar to the previous version which is called out in several sources as an example of a sealed, non-recyclable, non-upgradeable design. It seems that Mr. Schiller saying it’s environmentally-friendly makes it so. Seriously, no laptop should have a permanent battery. Even the best ones last 2-3 years tops in everyday work use. Run it flat a few times and it’ll get down to about an hour on a charge. It’s the nature of lithium-ion batteries.

Wow, the iMac is updated after 1-1/2 years. The new version looks really slick. I’m concerned about cooling of the hard drive, and serviceability and lifespan of what look like laptop-type components. Starting price of $1,299 is in the same ballpark as the multi-touch Lenovo A720…which I’d argue is more innovative…

 

 

Apple announces new iMac with 5mm thin profile - Jason O'Grady

Meanwhile the “super user” Mac Pro has gone a full year and a half with no meaningful updates. It’s a very expensive entry in a field of workstations from HP and Lenovo that continue to offer better value. You’ll recall that Tim Cook said earlier this year, “We’re not a computer company.”

If you’re in the Apple iOS ecosystem and like it, you’ll like the newly-upgraded iPad. Except…the only real news is the inclusion of the new Lightning connector. Otherwise it’s kind of like the Cupertino crew needed to release a full-size iPad with the new connector and kept asking, “What’s the least we have to do to get people to buy it?” Gizmodo has an expansion of this line of thinking here.

And finally we get to the iPad mini. It’s magical, revolutionary, and has less bezel around the screen than the Android device.  It’s reasonably priced…from $329 to $659. Interestingly, no mention of the Kindle Fire ($159),  Fire HD ($199), or Fire 8.9, which tops out at $614 but includes high-speed wireless access. I still think the sweet spot of the Kindle line is the $199 Fire HD or the entry 8.9 at $299.

Bottom line

The Kindle Fire line is my favorite tablet right now…a good choice for budget buyers. 2 basic Fire 7″ tablets for the price of one iPad mini! The Fire HD 8.9 at $299 is a nice compromise between size (full-size iPads always seemed too big to me) and price. Amazon has nice integration of apps, books, and video on demand that makes the experience a small step behind Apple. Main drawback: lack of a camera. I haven’t missed having one and I cry every time I see someone taking pictures or video using a tablet.

Other Android tablets are nice for the casual user, Android convert, or the real power-user techie. Root that sucker, build your own baseband, and flash it like you want it! People with lots of android phone apps will feel at home with these devices as well.

And yes, Apple will sell ten million iPad minis. Primarily to people who are already in the Apple ecosystem and own iOS apps, but many of them will go into the education market (and to families) because of the sheer number of apps available.

The Microsoft Surface tablet is expected to cost more than the iPad now, I see Windows Tablets as non-starters. Windows RT Tablets will be sold at fire-sale prices after Christmas but we’ll be living with the legacy of this crap on our desktops and laptops for years to come.

What do you think? Is Apple on the right track? Does any of this really matter?

Tech Tuesday #5: Maintenance

Tech Tuesdays. It’s your chance to send in your tech questions, and we’ll answer one per week for everyone. To ask a question, just message us. They can be on any topic from security to cloud computing, or anything in between. And we’re featuring Media Mondays over on the CT Media sister page. Be sure to fan us over there, too!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Today’s question, from Diane from Leominster: “What do I need to keep my new computer healthy?”

Many people don’t realize that computers do need attention and maintenance.

Most computers don’t need much for physical maintenance (we recommend proper ventilation, a good battery backup power supply, and protection from excessive humidity), but they do need regular attention.

1. Backups, backups, backups! We now offer an automated (because you won’t run it yourself), online (to protect your from fire/theft/etc), and monitored (because it’s IMPORTANT) backup solution for home users to complement our more advanced business-grade backups. Contact us for details, plan starts around $15/mo.

 

 

 

 

2. Antivirus. All computers, Windows, Mac, or linux, need software protection. GFI VIPRE has worked well for us and runs well on older computers. We don’t recommend Norton/Symantec or MacAfee products. But yeah, even Mac computers need active protection with automatic updates.

3. System Updates. You should schedule Automatic updates to run, well, automatically. Any system now can be configured to run these updates at a time when you’re not using your computer…for most people this is at night. Most updates fix security problems or solve usage issues, and they’re almost always safer than NOT installing them. And if you’re running Windows make sure you activate Microsoft Update to included MS Office patches as well.

4. Other updates. Make sure your Java, Flash, and Adobe Reader are all kept up-to-date.
a) Java: go to http://www.java.com and click “Free Java Download.” Watch it during the install, though, as it will often try to sneak in the worthless MacAfee safe-scan tool, or the equally-worthless Ask toolbar. Un-check the boxes for those.

b) Adobe Flash and Reader. Go to http://www.adobe.com and look at the bottom-right for “Get Flash” and “Get Reader.” Again, make sure you’re ONLY getting what you want, un-check the boxes for the other crud.

And whenever Adobe Flash, Adobe Reader, or Java ask to do updates, let them!

Otherwise….we haven’t found much value in cookie cleaners, registry “optimizers,” and disk defrags, even the legit ones.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

Tech Tuesday #4: What do you think of Windows 8?

Tech Tuesdays. It’s your chance to send in your tech questions, and we’ll answer one per week for everyone. To ask a question, just message us. They can be on any topic from security to cloud computing, or anything in between. And we’re featuring Media Mondays over on the CT Media sister page. Be sure to fan us over there, too!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Today’s question, from Jim in Gardner: “What do you think about Windows 8?”

Windows 8 is a mixed bag.I’ll be writing in-depth coverage later this month.

Of course the newest version of Windows always has the most up-to-date security features. The Win-X menu is great, the expanded Start menu isn’t my cup of tea but seems useful. The new Task Manager provides loads of useful information for us techies, and the Win 8 systems I’ve used are very, very fast to boot and sleep.

On the other hand, there’s a lot of redundancy…you’ll see two completely separate Internet Explorer items, one of which is an “app” and runs full-screen. Many tasks have changed from clicking things to “hovering” your mouse in a certain corner of the screen, or keyboard combinations. Win-I, Win-E, Win-X are very useful but it’s my opinion that good user interfaces don’t leave the users guessing like Win 8 does. I’m also concerned about patching and updating the multiple Internet Explorers, Flash, Java, etc for each part.

And don’t get me started on Microsoft Office 2013. The previews make it significantly less usable than Office 2010 (which contained a few minor but appreciated improvements over Office 2007)

Bottom line: If you have a convertible system, tablet, or other touch-screen then Windows 8 can work nicely. For instance on a Lenovo ThinkPad Edge Twist it makes perfect sense…Use the tile-y block-y tablet-y “apps” when you’re folded over in Tablet mode, then use the Windows Desktop to run “programs” like a real computer. When properly assembled this Frankenstein makes sense…but on a conventional computer it’s just schizophrenia.

In general, though, Windows 8/Office 2013 are just bad interface design. I’m supposed to say, what? “Move your mouse to the bottom-left corner of the screen and wait for something to happen…now go to the upper-right corner, wait for the icons to slide in from the right, and click the gear.”

To say nothing about running this system remotely…on an unstable internet connection.

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ‘em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

Tech Tuesday #2: Power control!

It’s time for Tech Tuesday, where we answer reader questions!TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Here are some common questions I get about computers and power:

Q: Should I leave my computer on all the time or turn it off when I’m not using it?

Greg: I generally recommend setting your computer to sleep or hibernate when you’re not using it, unless you access it remotely (or are sharing files or printers attached to your computer). This saves a little power (and electricity cost) but also lets your system come back on quickly when you’re ready to go.

If you’re on a network we can usually set up Wake-On-LAN to turn your computer on remotely so you can use LogMeIn or Remote Web Workplace to get in when needed.

Windows Vista and 7 laptops generally behave well with the default power settings. Close the lid and your computer should be in “smart sleep” within a few seconds…and resume a few seconds after opening the lid. See the next question…

Q: What’s the difference between hibernate and suspend:

Greg: Suspend is a low-power mode that stops the processor but keeps the memory powered. So it uses a little power but can resume in a few seconds. Hibernation means saving the current state of the system to disk then shutting down. A computer in hibernation draws no power, it is shut down. Windows Vista and 7 default to “smart sleep” which starts as a suspend then goes to hibernation after the computer realizes you’re not coming back.

On Mac computers the normal Shut Down is actually a hibernation.

Q: My business got hit by lightning. I had a surge protector but my computer still got fried. What gives?

Greg: Lightning is static electricity that travels for miles. Do you really think the tiny gap in a surge protector circuit breaker is gonna stop it?

Seriously, though, this is one of those times when it can pay to save your receipts. Most battery backups and surge protectors have a connected equipment guarantee, so they’ll pay you if you can show that your properly-connected protector failed and your equipment got zapped.

Q: Should I always charge my laptop battery?

Modern laptops/notebooks/netbooks/ultrabooks/portables have lithium-ion batteries that do not have the memory effect of older ones. Your computer will stop charging the battery before any damage is done….and Li-I batteries can be damaged by running them too low. So make sure you’re set to auto-hibernate at 4-6% power remaining, and remember that battery life will naturally shorten as the device ages.

And no post of mine about POWAH would be complete without….

Got questions? Send them to CharlandTech via Facebook, post as a comment on this article, Tweet ’em to @gregc00 or @CharlandTech, or find another creative way to get them to us.

Tech Tuesday #1: Best Smartphone of 2012?

We’re introducing a new feature here on the Charland Tech page: Tech Tuesdays. It’s your chance to send in your tech questions, and we’ll answer one per week for everyone. To ask a question, just message us. They can be on any topic from security to cloud computing, or anything in between. And we’ll be featuring Media Mondays over on the CT Media sister page starting next week. Be sure to fan us over there, too!

TechTuesdays from Charland Technology

Mary from Fitchburg asks, “What’s the best smartphone right now?”

Greg: Good question. My favorite phone right now (and the one I use myself) is the Samsung Galaxy S3. Big, beautiful screen, lots of features, and okay battery life. You really do need a good quality protective case for these as the big screen isn’t as well protected and prone to breaking if dropped. I like the Otterbox Commuter line of cases.

Galaxy S III
For a more durable, smaller phone, I also like the Motorola Razr Maxx. It’s a durable phone with surprisingly good battery life. The Razr line seems to work a bit better in low-signal areas, too.

And you’re not going to go wrong with the Apple iPhone 5, especially if you’re upgrading from an older 3GS or 4 phone. But there’s not much new in the 5 compared with previous phones…the upgrade is not worth the money if you’re buying your own. I personally don’t like iTunes and the idea of buying new chargers, and accessories to work with the new “Lightning” connector, since Apple has started using the new connector design with the iPhone 5.

I don’t recommend Blackberries any more. They have fallen far behind the competition and the design of their network means that most of your messages go through the Blackberry network in addition to your carrier. In fact, the Blackberry network had another major outage in Europe this week.

I also don’t recommend the Microsoft Windows Mobile/Windows Phones. The Nokias are described as surprisingly good, but the support and App infrastructure make it a risky choice unless you’re a died-in-the-wool Microsoftie.

Now, the phone is only part of the equation. You also need to make sure you get the right service plan…from a carrier that offers coverage where you spend most of your time…but that’s another matter.

aNew MacBook Pro most expensive disposable computer ever

The MacBook Pro Retina akes me want a Mac less. Highlights:

  • A beautiful display with more than 200 dots per inch (resolution of 2880 x 1800) on a 15.6″ screen. Seriously gorgeous display.
  • HDMI video port
  • Standard SSD/flash storage for higher speed
  • Thinner and lighter than most other 15″ notebooks

Lowlights:

  • memory is permanently soldered onto the system board, cannot be replaced, upgraded, or diagnosed
  • storage is a custom flash/SSD, I’d expect Other World Computing and other specialty outlets to have compatible upgrades in a few months but don’t count on it being cheap. The low-end with a NON upradeable 256GB drive is too small. The high-end system with 500GB is about right.
  • Battery is permanently sealed into the unit. Delicate cables are placed in the glue so that you’ll trash the system if you try to replace a battery cell.
  • To crack the system open you’ll need a Pentalobe screwdriver (which unless you’re in the business you won’t have) and a lot more patience than upgrading something like a Dell Latitude or Lenovo T-series.

Our advice

  1. Think twice. You’re buying a $3000 disposable computer. Your average computer shop will not be able to so much as open the case on these. Apple’s track record on new technology rollouts has been worrisome
  2. Don’t consider buying one of these without AppleCare (Apple’s $349 extended/enhanced warranty). Apple’s standard warranty is far below industry norm at 90-days. I don’t expect Apple Stores to do much in the way of on-site diagnosis and repair on these. They’ll hand you a new one and send you on your way.
  3. Avoid the low-end 2.3 unit. The 256G drive is too small and you’ll regret it later.
  4. Buy it with 16GB FOR SURE (which in my opinion is still not enough long-term) and the bigger SSD drive if you think there’s any chance you’ll use it.

Geek out and see the teardown at iFixit’s site here.

If you’re able to wait a few months, Lenovo, Dell, and HP all have interesting new products coming soon. Otherwise the 14″ to 15″ market is filled with good choices in the Lenovo Edge and T series, the Dell Latitude, and HP EliteBook.

If you’re a Mac enthusiast I think the old-style Macbook Pro/NON Retina is a much better value and will be a more reliable and serviceable system in the future.

Neat stuff coming this fall!

We’ve gotten previews of new Lenovo products coming in Fall 2012:

Coming in August is the updated X1 Carbon. Small, light, thin, fast ultra-portable notebook computer with 3G “internet anywhere” connection…with a standard 14 inch screen. http://blog.lenovo.com/products/lenovo-reveals-thinkpad-x1-carbon-shakes-up-ultrabook-market According to TechCrunch, “If there ever was a true Macbook Air competitor…it’s the X1 Carbon.” http://techcrunch.com/2012/05/15/the-x1-carbon-shows-lenovo-can-think-different/

We expect the Lenovo X1 Carbon will be available in late August 2012 and start around $1,300. The perfect back-to-school present for your favorite CEO.

I had posted on FB before about the upcoming Lenovo Yoga convertible tablet. In case you missed it, here is an overview: http://www.gizmag.com/lenovo-ideapad-yoga-13/21073/

Lenovo UK released pricing for the device, around 1,199 UK pounds. Some analysts are directly converting this to $1,900 US but I expect we’ll be seeing this Windows 8 multi-format device in the $1,400-$1,500 range. http://news.softpedia.com/news/Official-Pricing-of-Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-Convertible-Tablet-Laptop-Revealed-264371.shtml

Lenovo Yoga is expected out in November 2012. Which means it will miss the back-to-school drop but should make it onto college students’ Christmas lists.

Finally, we’ve got the Solidoodle 2 3-d printer. 3-D printers make plastic parts by building up thin layers of material. These systems used to start at $2,000-3,000…the Solidoodle has a 6″x6″ workspace and starts at $499. It’s like having your own prototype shop (great for engineers), toy factory, or plastic sculpting shop. Why would you want one? http://replicatorinc.com/blog/2008/11/10-things-3d-printers-can-do-now/

Yes, that’s a flute, made entirely from parts from such a printer. More info on the Solidoodle here.. http://www.solidoodle.com/

Yet Another Data Breach: Credit Card Processor Warns of Compromise

Over the weekend multiple sources announced a compromise of Global Payments Inc that led to the unauthorized release of at least 1.5 million credit card records.

According to the reports the hacked data includes credit card Track 1 and Track 2 swipe details, which is everything needed to make a counterfiet card.

What to do?

This might be a good time to re-evaluate use of debit vs credit cards, particularly for business use (credit cards have much stronger protections, and you’re directly using the bank’s money)

Watch your credit and debit card activity online for suspicious charges and report them to your card issuer immediately.