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Machado Consulting's News You Can Use

Welcome to our blog where you can find everything from tech-tips to keeping your data secure. Have any questions? We'd love to hear from you!

Be Sure to Secure Your Online Purchases!

 

Online Shopping

With the recent boom in online shopping, more and more people are choosing to shop from the comfort of their own homes during the holiday season. If you are planning on doing any online shopping, be sure to follow these guidelines to ensure you don't get scammed...or worse!

1. Always check for "HTTPS"

Not all webpages are equally secure. Before entering any personal or payment information, make sure to look up at your browser bar. The URL should start with HTTPS, not HTTP. That one letter on the end, S, is the difference between a secure site and an unsecured site.

A secondary thing to look for is the small lock icon in your address bar. This lock indicates that you have an SSL (secure sockets layer) connection. The icon is standard for most popular browsers, including Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

On mobile devices, the address bar is tinier and easier to overlook. Do a little pinch-and-zoom to locate the S before sharing your payment information.

2. Watch your WiFi

Shopping from mobile devices means an increased chance you'll be on an unfamiliar WiFi network.

"Only window shop on public WiFi," recommends Derek Halliday, lead security product manager at Lookout, a mobile security company.

Avoid entering your credit card number or other private information when you're on an unsecured, public WiFi connection where people could snoop. Wait until you are back at home or work.

3. Beware of phishing, SMiShing and other scams

By now most people know to keep an eye out for phishing scams -- e-mails disguised as legitimate companies or organizations that ask for payment or password information. But every now and then, one comes along that looks incredibly convincing. To be safe, copy and paste all links into a fresh browser window instead of clicking on the hyperlink, check the originating email address and when in doubt, contact the company to verify the e-mail.

SMiShing (a lovely portmanteau of "SMS" and "Phishing") has taken off recently, catching people off-guard who don't expect to receive this type of spam as a text message. Earlier this year, scammers sent texts telling people they had won a $1,000 gift card from Walmart. The texts linked to a page that asked for credit card information to cover the cost of shipping the prize.

As a general rule, legitimate companies will never ask for your private information over email or text message, including payment information, usernames, passwords, mother's maiden name or social security number.

 

Get the full list of tips here (source)

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Happy New Year! It's a great time to organize your files!

Happy New Year!

The tips in this article can help you learn how to better manage and organize computer files. After you’ve decided on a strategy for organizing and managing files and folders, we bet you’ll see improved time management skills and increased productivity.

Use these tips to help with organizing your computer files.

  1. Use Documents. For many reasons, it's smart to take advantage of the Documents feature, which is called Documents in Windows 7 and in Windows Vista and is called My Documents in Windows XP. In Windows 7, the Documents feature is actually a virtual library. Learn more about working with librariesLibraries are a flexible way to organize your files in Windows 7 without moving them into one location.

  2. Adopt consistent methods for file and folder naming.

  3. Keep names short. Even though you can use long file names in Windows, you should not necessarily do so. Long file names can be harder to read.

  4. Separate ongoing and completed work. To keep the Documents folder from becoming too unwieldy, use it only for files you're actively working on. As a result, you can reduce the number of files you need to search through and the amount of data you need to back up.

  5. Store like with like. Restricting folders to a single document type (or predominantly one type) makes it easier for you to find files. For example, with all of your graphics in a single folder—or in a single library in Windows 7—it's easy to use the slide show feature in Windows Explorer to find the right picture for your newsletter.

  6. Avoid large folder structures. If you need to put so many subfolders in a folder that you can't see all of them at a glance, consider creating an alphabetic menu.
    Alphabetized folders can help you stay organized.

  7. Use shortcuts and shortcut links instead of multiple copies. If you need to get to the same file from multiple locations, don't create copies of the file. Create shortcuts to it instead. Shortcuts are links to files or programs and are represented by icons with an arrow in the lower-left corner. To create a shortcut, right-click the file and then click Create Shortcut.

  8. Quickly get to the items you use every day. Jump Lists, a fun new feature in Windows 7, are lists of recently opened items, such as files, folders, or websites that are organized by the program that you use to open them.

  9. Consider storing documents online. You can also keep documents your company’s Microsoft SharePoint 2010 site or on Windows Live SkyDrive so that you can easily access them from outside the office, share them, and edit them online by using Office Web Apps.

Learn more about working with folders:

 

For this and more tips, check out the complete article at:
http://www.microsoft.com/atwork/productivity/files.aspx

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Clean-up your Outlook auto-complete list from Machado Consulting

MS Outlook 2010 If you're like most of our clients, you use Microsoft Outlook. One great feature that Microsoft implemented some time ago is auto-complete lists. You may not know what an auto-complete list is but if you create a new email message then you probably have used them in the past. An auto-complete list is the feature that allows you to start typing in the to field and magically the email addresses of recently used addresses self-populate. Then you just select the one that you want to use, pretty easy right? Well after a long time, these start to get cluttered and if friends change emails you could end up bouncing back as undeliverable or worse you could send an email to the wrong person.

In previous versions of Outlook such as 2003 and 2007 you would have to start to type the address and then using only the keyboard, arrow down and then hit the delete key, great if you know that but most people do not know that. With Outlook 2010, Microsoft implemented a small “x” add the end of the address and now you can select the “x” with the mouse and that would delete the stored email address from the auto-complete list. Pretty handy I must say.

Machado Consulting is a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) company in Worcester, MA that provides more than IT support to small and medium size businesses. Machado Consulting was founded on the idea that great, quality IT support should be available not just for the Fortune 500 companies, but for all companies. For IT support in Worcester please contact Machado Consulting.

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10 tips for improving your wireless network

Wireless RouterHave you ever looked at your wireless signal and noticed it to be very weak? Sometimes you are even really close to the Wireless router and you still have a weak signal. Well if you do have a weak signal, it probably means you’re not connecting as fast as you could be. You might even lose your connection completely. If you're like most people and you wish you could make your signal stronger, then try some or all of the following tips, from Microsoft.com.

1. Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location

When possible, place your wireless router in a central location in your home. If your wireless router is against an outside wall of your home, the signal will be weak on the other side of your home. Don't worry if you can't move your wireless router, because there are many other ways to improve your connection.

2. Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets)

Metal, walls, and floors will interfere with your router's wireless signals. The closer your router is to these obstructions, the more severe the interference, and the weaker your connection will be.

3. Replace your router's antenna

The antennas supplied with your router are designed to be omni-directional, meaning they broadcast in all directions around the router. If your router is near an outside wall, half of the wireless signals will be sent outside your home, and much of your router's power will be wasted. Most routers don't allow you to increase the power output, but you can make better use of the power. Upgrade to a hi-gain antenna that focuses the wireless signals only one direction. You can aim the signal in the direction you need it most.

4. Replace your computer's wireless network adapter

Wireless network signals must be sent both to and from your computer. Sometimes, your router can broadcast strongly enough to reach your computer, but your computer can't send signals back to your router. To improve this, replace your laptop's PC card-based wireless network adapter with a USB network adapter that uses an external antenna. In particular, consider the Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless USB network adapter, which adds an external, hi-gain antenna to your computer and can significantly improve your range.

Laptops with built-in wireless typically have excellent antennas and don't need to have their network adapters upgraded.

5. Add a wireless repeater

Wireless repeaters extend your wireless network range without requiring you to add any wiring. Just place the wireless repeater halfway between your wireless access point and your computer, and you'll get an instant boost to your wireless signal strength. Check out the wireless repeaters from ViewSonic, D-Link, Linksys, and Buffalo Technology.

6. Change your wireless channel

Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels, similar to the way radio stations use different channels. In the United States and Canada, these channels are 1, 6, and 11. Just like you'll sometimes hear interference on one radio station while another is perfectly clear, sometimes one wireless channel is clearer than others. Try changing your wireless router's channel through your router's configuration page to see if your signal strength improves. You don't need to change your computer's configuration, because it'll automatically detect the new channel.

7. Reduce wireless interference

If you have cordless phones or other wireless electronics in your home, your computer might not be able to "hear" your router over the noise from the other wireless devices. To quiet the noise, avoid wireless electronics that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Instead, look for cordless phones that use the 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies.

8. Update your firmware or your network adapter driver

Router manufacturers regularly make free improvements to their routers. Sometimes, these improvements increase performance. To get the latest firmware updates for your router, visit your router manufacturer's Web site.

Similarly, network adapter vendors occasionally update the software that Windows uses to communicate with your network adapter, known as the driver. These updates typically improve performance and reliability. To get the driver updates, do the following:

Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  • Click Start menu, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.

  • In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows Vista looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  • Install any updates relating to your wireless network adapter.

Windows XP

  • Visit Microsoft Update, click Custom, and then wait while Windows XP looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  • Install any updates relating to your wireless adapter.


9. Pick equipment from a single vendor

While a Linksys router will work with a D-Link network adapter, you often get better performance if you pick a router and network adapter from the same vendor. Some vendors offer a performance boost of up to twice the performance when you choose their hardware: Linksys has the SpeedBooster technology, and D-Link has the 108G enhancement.

10. Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g

802.11b is the most common type of wireless network, but 802.11g is about five times faster. 802.11g is backward-compatible with 802.11b, so you can still use any 802.11b equipment that you have. If you're using 802.11b and you're unhappy with the performance, consider replacing your router and network adapters with 802.11g-compatible equipment. If you're buying new equipment, definitely choose 802.11g.

Wireless networks never reach the theoretical bandwidth limits. 802.11b networks typically get 2-5Mbps. 802.11g is usually in the 13-23Mbps range. Belkin's Pre-N equipment has been measured at 37-42Mbps.

Tips borrowed from www.microsoft.com

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