Unified Technology Blog

Supercomputers, Who Uses Them and Why?

on August 6, 2019 No comments

Back in the 1970s and 1980’s, computing was all about big, beefy computers and dumb terminals. Then a new wave hit, and everyone switched to de-centralized processing using networks of PC’s which then uploaded their data to a centralized system for processing.

Today, most small to medium sized companies simply use their own network of desktop computers, laptops, and tablets, and their own servers to run their operations. Most of them also use VoIP systems to handle incoming and outgoing phone calls. But there are large companies who still use large mainframe computers because of the sheer volume of data they need to process.

Then there are the supercomputers. Those are a whole different breed of computers. They actually consist of hundreds, or more probably, thousands of servers in clusters which are used for complex computations and simulations.

Some are put to use trying to forecast storms and other weather conditions. If you aren’t certain why we need a supercomputer to predict weather patterns, I can offer you some examples. Weather conditions will affect crop yields, they will affect the transportation of goods, they will affect whether military operations can be conducted and it can even affect the price of commodities offered on the stock market.

Many of the supercomputers in use today model the effects of nuclear disasters, down to subatomic levels. Though none of us wants to even entertain the threat of a nuclear war, it would be naive not to find ways to understand what would happen and how to prepare.

The big issues for supercomputers in mean time between failure. They run so fast and process such a huge amount of data, that they often fail. The issue now facing the supercomputer industry is the current technology can’t keep up with demands for processing speed. Which means companies are looking for more efficient ways to build servers that use something other than silicone for their memory needs.

What does that mean for the rest of us? Well, I think that in the next decade, much of what we see in the world of computers is going to have to change. That can be exciting for some of us nerds and probably downright mind-blowing for others.

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Your IT GuySupercomputers, Who Uses Them and Why?

Heat and Electronic Devices

on July 27, 2019 No comments

Living in Florida, one of the first lessons anyone learns is that sudden and radical changes in temperature and humidity will totally wreak havoc on your electronic devices. You may not realize this,  but just the simple act of carrying your laptop from your air-conditioned hotel room out to the swimming pool can create real problems.

Condensation can quickly form on the inside of your laptop in situations like this, and when you combine water + electricity + moving parts it is a recipe for disaster. First thing, you must be sure that you power off your machine prior to moving it (good advice regardless of the temperature), and just wait a few minutes for your system to adjust to the new conditions before powering it back on again.

When your laptop or tablet is exposed to excessive heat, especially for extended periods, it causes all sorts of issues for devices. In fact, it’s not unusual for these devices to begin to experience unexplained crashes, random shutdowns, as a result of being left in very hot air. It is likely, in those circumstances that you will most certainly lower the life of your laptop or tablet, so please think about protecting your, or your employer’s investment.

So what should you do first:  Check where the intake and exhaust vents on your laptop are located. Most computer manufacturers place them at the side or rear, while poorly designed ones may put them on the bottom. Regardless, though, it is far too easy to block those vents by using your laptop on a soft surface.

Pillows, beds, even your lap can restrict airflow and cause significant heat build-up. When the surrounding air temperature is already 30+ degrees Celsius, that’s the last thing you need. Always place your laptop on a hard surface such as a table or chair when in use and/or elevate it slightly using a solid object, and it will stay remain much cooler over time.

Please realize that even when turned off your laptop can still be affected by the heat. Leaving your laptop in the car can wreak unspeakable damage.  It’s not unusual for cars parked in direct sunlight to reach temperatures two or three times hotter than the outside air, for example. In that kind of heat, the components in your laptop will start to expand. This can potentially cause both short and long term damage, and as notebooks become ever-smaller and more cramped inside, this problem only gets worse.

Just these simple tips can make such a difference in the longevity of your system.

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Your IT GuyHeat and Electronic Devices

What To Look For In An IT Support Company

on July 12, 2019 No comments

We, at Unified Technology Solutions,  know that most of you, as business owners, dread having to deal with computer issues, but in 2019, computers are an integral part of our lives. Businesses run on them, our data packages run on them. Let’s face it, businesses are tied into their computers and without them, nothing gets accomplished.

Most of us are fairly adept at using our laptops, desktop, tablets, and smartphones as tools to generate information and communicate. When the hard issues come up, it’s not an area you work in every day as we do. You are going to need an IT specialist. If hiring a full time IT Staff to manage your systems is still financially out of reach. So what should you do?

One solution, if your operation can support it, is to have at least one in house person as a go-to for IT issues. A trained analyst who can quickly help in the event of tech issue, and who also acts as the contact point for any further assistance you might need. It’s also important to have the number of a reliable IT Company at your fingertips.

So what should you be looking for when choosing an IT company?

Easy Access

This should be a basic requirement when you are choosing an IT support company. You need to establish and develop a good working relationship and one that builds trust.

If you run your own business it is unlikely that you only work 9-5 Monday – Friday in the office and you need IT support to be available to you when you need it, as an extension of your team.  In fact, it’s a good idea to have your tech team monitoring your system’s performance at all times.

The IT experts at Unified Technology Solutions prefer to take a more active role and be proactive when it comes to finding issues before they are problems. For a flat monthly price, we start by installing network monitoring tools on every PC and Server so we can get a better view of your system’s performance, using these tools Unified Technology Solutions can spot problems and bottlenecks before they affect you and your employees

DIFFERENT LEVELS OF SUPPORT
You need to find an IT support company who can offer you different levels of support depending on the size of your company, your budget, and your requirements. At UTS, we offer services ranging from When you call UTS you don’t get put on the schedule for next week, you will quickly get a technician with the latest remote support tools who are ready to help solve your problem right away.

For example, if you are a charity, you might look to pay for a service when you need it, rather than opt for a monthly contract.

Ultimately you need an IT support company who understands your business needs fully. They will be supporting your business alongside you, understanding your workflow and looking for areas where you can increase your profitability.

When you choose an IT support company make sure that you have evidence in past results from other clients – that the IT support has been reliable, cost-effective and trustworthy.

The right IT support company will understand that whether it is your laptop, network or server that is down – it is costing you time and money with every minute that ticks by.

 

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Your IT GuyWhat To Look For In An IT Support Company

THE END, Windows Server 2008

on July 5, 2019 No comments

You reach the last page of a novel and it’s the end. There is no more. Yet, with Microsoft software, even though the end of new releases of all components of Windows 7 & * happened a few years ago, there are still those of you, you know who you are, who are stubbornly clinging to these outdated versions of Windows. If you got upset with the loss of new versions on Windows 7  & 8, wait until you hear this.

Support for Windows Server 2008 is over for good on January 14, 2020. When we first posted about this subject you were saying to yourself, I have a whole year to migrate over. But guess what? Half of that year is gone. Now you only have 6 short months. Why short months? Well, because we pretty soon we will be entering Holiday Season. There is 4th of July Holiday, summer vacations, Labor Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas coming up. Oh, and being a Veteran, I can never forget Veterans Day in November.

Here in Florida, we also have the threat of hurricanes heading our way, which will inevitably cause a few days of downtime at some point. The point is, there really aren’t all that many days left. Mike and I are urging all of our business owners in the Indian River County Area and beyond to give us a call. We will come in, look over your operation, and assess your current situation. We will check and see which applications you are currently running and work with you to make certain they will not be disrupted when you upgrade to Windows Server 10.

We will install the latest version of Windows 10 software, and we will work with you to make certain everything is up to date and on the most current level of software. AT UTS we can also work with your other software vendors to install any updates you would need. Please don’t wait until Christmas Eve, 2019 to give us a call.

Your Tech Guys

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Your IT GuyTHE END, Windows Server 2008

Windows 10 Updates!

on July 3, 2019 No comments

Touch keyboard improvements

For many of you, a great physical keyboard is a must. But with dual-display devices making their way through the lab, maybe we’ll all end up typing on glass. In any case, Microsoft made the on-screen keyboard ( the one you’d use with a tablet in tablet mode) more responsive by widening the landing areas of certain keys beyond the drawn boundaries of the key.

Windows 10 April 2019 Update touch keyboard

Mark Hachman / IDG

Microsoft’s diagram of how its touch keyboard will work. Note that this is the keyboard that appears in tablet mode.

Those wider landing pads trigger only in certain cases, though—when Microsoft’s AI predicts you’re trying to type that word. The touch keyboard also can generate the list of items for the revamped emoji/kaomoji/symbols keyboard.

Unconfirmed sighting: RAW image support

It’s unclear whether RAW image support will make it into the Windows 10 May 2019 Update. RAW, a minimally processed image file format, doesn’t include the compression JPG files do, so photographers typically prefer working with the format to make their own edits.

Within the Insider versions of Windows 10, Microsoft included a special build of a Raw Image Extension (Beta) app that should let Windows treat RAW photos just like JPEGs. In practice, it didn’t quite work out that way: Sony .ARW (RAW) files displayed as random noise or fuzzy, thumbnail-quality images, while Fuji’s .RAF files opened in Windows’ Photos app normally.

 

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Your IT GuyWindows 10 Updates!

Email Etiquette For The Workplace

on June 25, 2019 No comments

With the popularity of texting/Facebook Messaging/Slack…email is no longer regarded as an essential tool for online communication among millennials. Most of us probably use our personal inboxes more as a way to collect Uber receipts and track the status of our Amazon purchases than for keeping in touch with friends and family.

Even though it’s used less in our personal lives, whether we like it or not, emails are a part of business. The issue with email comes as you get more and more inundated with email messages. At some point, you want to do everything you can to ensure that your important emails get read. One method you can use on your own outgoing emails is to adopt some best practices for professional email etiquette. From a professional email greeting to professional email format, it can all make a big difference.I have listed below some best practices for business email etiquette tips that will increase the odds of your emails being read rather than trashed..

1. Use a professional email address
Most companies provide a professional email address for their employee’s correspondence. Proper email etiquette calls for sending emails from your business email address rather than from a personal email address. Using a personal email address for business purposes can be seen as unprofessional by some, especially if you’re discussing confidential matters.

2. Use clear and precise subject lines
To ensure your email gets opened, read, and thoroughly understood, start with a short and precise subject line addressing the issue at hand. Ex. “Wednesday Meeting Agenda”. You should title your email in such a way that the recipient immediately knows what the message is actually about.

3. Avoid “reply all.”
It’s usually a good idea to forego the temptation to hit the “reply all” option when sending professional emails. Proper email etiquette aside, it can be quite annoying for people to be included in a group email if the content of the message has nothing to do with them. So be considerate and hit “reply all” only if the message would be of interest to all of the recipients. Otherwise, your email might be considered spam.

4. Acknowledge emails.
With business email, even if you are too busy to reply with a full on answer, it’s always a good idea to at least send an acknowledgment and follow up later.  You should not only acknowledge all emails but also do so in a timely fashion. Since this is not always standard practice, you’ll be surprised at how much your professionalism can set you apart.

Remember to keep these tips in mind next time you open up your inbox at work and in no time you’ll be an email expert!

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Your IT GuyEmail Etiquette For The Workplace

Task Batching For Maximum Focus

on June 18, 2019 No comments

We’ve all heard the phrase, work smarter not harder. We have also heard umpteen experts telling how to schedule our day and get the most work done during our workday but we rarely hear about batch scheduling our tasks for efficiency.

Task-batching is very similar to time blocking but takes the method a giant, more efficient step further.

Batching involves completing similar tasks in a scheduled block, avoiding the need for switching back and forth between skills and concentrations.

Research shows that task switching is hugely detrimental to productivity. When we change our focus, it can take, on average, 15-23 minutes for your brain to “catch up” and re-focus.

Depending on how many different types of tasks you have on your to-do list, that can really add up, leading to a tremendous amount of lost or otherwise wasted time.

For example, every Monday you might plan out your Facebook or Instagram feed for at least a week. So instead of thinking of something to post every morning, you only have to think about it once per week (and then  you don’t have to think about it again until next week!)

It works well because it keeps you focused on the task at hand. This can significantly lessen your struggle to think of things to post and it would take so much more time editing the posts day by day. But because you do them all at once, your attention is completely focused to easily create a week’s worth of content in an hour, for example.

This method is really the best way to make the most of your time.

Think of it like this. Your brain is like a computer with at least 30 tabs open and your brain is just jumping back and forth between ideas. But when you focus primarily on one task instead of 20 minutes on blogging, 30 minutes on Twitter, you get the point. You can focus and keep on task like never before.

Scheduling and batching is the best use of your time and will help you get so much more done! More time = more money.

How does your workweek look? Let me know in the comments if you have a similar structure to me, or if you have any other time-saving, productivity ideas!

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Your IT GuyTask Batching For Maximum Focus

Why Strong, Unique Passwords Matter.

on June 12, 2019 No comments

Strong password policies have come a long way. How many people remember the 1995 movie Hackers. It had a very young short haired Angelina Jolie in it but the point was the entire mess started with one of the hackers being able to access files that should have been secure. All because the executive with the company had his password as “god”.

Fact: Every extra character in your password increases the difficulty for hackers to crack it.
The most commonly used password is…123456.

And it’s closely followed by just as insecure passwords like “password”, “welcome”, and “12345″.

Think one extra letter or number doesn’t mean much? Consider this:

A 6-character password with only letters has 308,915,776 possible combinations.
An 8-character password with only letters has 208,827,064,576 possible combinations.
An 8-character password with letters (upper & lower case) and includes numbers and symbols has 6,095,689,385,410,816 possible combinations.

Creating a strong password policy is key to helping users safeguard these critical systems they rely on every day. While additional complexity can seem like an inconvenience to many users, it shouldn’t prevent a strong password policy being implemented in your organization.

Now that you’ve come up with the strongest password possible, it’s time to absorb some principles of good password security practice in daily life:

  • Never disclose usernames and passwords to third parties
  • Never store usernames and passwords on paper or in an unencrypted computer file
  • Update your account password at least every 6 months
  • Do not use passwords that have been used in the past
  • Never provide credentials when requested through email
  • Run regular virus scans on your computer
  • Use Two-Factor Authentication (2FA). With 2FA, you will receive a text message for login and password reset requests. You may choose between SMS, OneTouch, and TOTP (Time-Based One-Time Password) 2FA authentication.

If you have to share a password, use a site like a one-time secret. This site creates a link to a page with your password info (or whatever info you choose), and once the page is viewed once, it is gone forever.
Don’t save passwords or use “remember me” on public computers

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Your IT GuyWhy Strong, Unique Passwords Matter.

Windows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8

on June 3, 2019 No comments

Windows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8, in fact, it actually ended a while ago.

What does that mean to you? If you simply can not bear to learn Windows 10, I am here to tell you, in the most gentle way possible, that it’s time to get over it.

Windows 10 can be made to look more like Windows 7 or 8, and if you are like most end users, the software is not a radical change from previous Windows versions.

What it has changed is the level of protection it offers from the slew of new viruses and malware that crop up out in the world. If you don’t update your software and your servers with the latest version of operating systems, you are asking for trouble, plain and simple. We understand that man of the features other than virus and malware protection, are not ones you might be using if you aren’t working on a tablet or a touch screen computer.  But all the same, you need to make the change.

If you think we are being alarmists, you have decided to take your chances and not upgrade to Windows 10, just  take a look at what the Microsoft support page has to say:

An unsupported version of Windows will no longer receive software updates from Windows Update. These updates include security updates that can help protect your PC from harmful viruses, spyware, and other malicious software which can steal your personal information. Windows Update also installs the latest software updates to improve the reliability of Windows—such as new drivers for your hardware.

Will I still be able to use Windows after support ends?

Yes. If you continue to use an unsupported version of Windows, your PC will still work, but it will become more vulnerable to security risks and viruses. Your PC will continue to start and run, but you will no longer receive software updates, including security updates, from Microsoft.

For full details about the support policy, see the Microsoft Support Lifecycle Policy FAQ.”

We are happy to help you upgrade your software with you. Call us at Unified Technology Solutions for an appointment.

Your Tech Guys

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Your IT GuyWindows Support Ends for Windows 7 & 8

Why Move Your Data To The Cloud?

on May 22, 2019 No comments

Why are so many businesses moving to the cloud? It’s because cloud computing increases efficiency, helps improve cash flow and offers many more benefits.

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Your IT GuyWhy Move Your Data To The Cloud?