Category: TechBlog

Zoho Creator – Custom Cloud Database Applications!

We’ve recently tried our hand at devleopment using Zoho Creator, a cloud-based custom database platform. Creator is an example of Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), providing all of the nuts and bolts to create a customized series of forms, views, and reports that fit your internal business workflow. For us, that workflow was tracking tickets in our Baltimore Computer Repair Shop at 1414 Key Highway. Since day 1 we’ve experimented with numerous systems, including OSticket, WordPress Ticket plugins, MerchantOS’ (cloud based Point of Sale) built-in workorder system. As with most “off the shelf” products, each is great at a particular workflow model, but falls short in at least one area. For example, MerchantOS […]

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Home Energy Monitoring

I’ve recently been testing a few products that allow you to see your household energy usage in real-time.  There are numerous possibilities for remote monitoring of household energy data, as well as home automation (think being able to control lights and your thermostat from an iPhone app!). The latest test-drive was a product called the Power Cost Monitor by Blue Line Innovations.  It is an outdoor reading unit that you attach to your power meter with a hose clamp.  It can read live energy usage on almost any meter, and in my case it is reading invisible infrared signal blips.  BGE (Baltimore Gas & Electric)  installed a fancy new meter […]

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Windows 7 Malware on the Rise

Gone are the days of super-vulnerable Windows XP computers requiring constant babysitting, maintenance and cleanup. (well, mostly gone, we still see a few here and there). While there was definitely a lull of malware and virus removal after people started moving to Windows 7, we have started to see the trickle of infected Windows 7 Machines slowly increase. This image shows a piece of Malware called “System Fix”, which prevents the user from doing much of anything on the computer, and constantly warns them through pop-ups and taskbar notifications that there is something very wrong with their computer. Next they will try to get you to purchase software to address […]

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Laptop Power Jack Replacement

We receive a lot of calls in the shop for broken power jacks on laptops.  While many jacks can stand up to a lot of abuse, when you trip over your power cord, drop your laptop from the bed or sofa, or otherwise subject it to forces or angles it wasn’t designed for, you could end up breaking the power jack.  In most cases, this can be a death sentence for your computer, as replacing the power jack will involve an intricate and risky procedure that involves dismantling the entire computer, desoldering the broken jack, and re-soldering a new jack. These repairs fall under our “advanced” flat-rate bench fee of […]

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Network Camera Demonstration

  The video feed you see above is streaming live from a Network Camera installed on a construction site in Baltimore, Maryland. Network Cameras offer powerful remote monitoring capabilities, and can be easily viewed in a web browser from anywhere in the world (yes, even on mobile devices!). Note: This model of Network Camera streams in MPEG-4 format, and is best viewed in Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. We’ve been installing network cameras for surveillance of construction sites for years, giving General Contractors a great way to keep “eyes-on” at sites that may be located across town or across the country. Requirements: To install a network camera on your location, […]

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How to remotely uninstall software?

There’s a lot of times when you just want to uninstall a piece of software without interrupting the end user, but unfortunately there isn’t an easy, out of the box way to do it. To uninstall software on a local machine without any user interaction, you would do something like this: msiexec.exe /norestart /qn /x {2902F983-B4C1-44BA-B85D-5C6D52E2C441} The last part, after /x is the GUID of installed software. To find out the guid on remote software, download this script from here and run this command: cscript /B SwInventory.vbs RemotePC > RemotePC.txt Open RemotePC.txt and look for GUID. Next you need PsExec from SysInternals. This tool will allow you to run commands on […]

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Clearing Hundreds of Duplicate Events from a Google Calendar

The infinite loop gremlin strikes again! We deploy Google Apps for many of our clients. One of the big reasons we push it, is because without any extra servers, services, or expensive add-ons, it will sync email, contacts, and calendars beautifully with virtually any mobile device. iPhone, Android, or Blackberry, your Google Apps data will sync everywhere! However, there exist a few pitfalls that can lead to circular syncing. The best way to configure a Blackberry for Google Apps is via Google’s Apps… one for mail, the other for syncing contacts and calendars. The alternative is to configure an account the way you would any other on the blackberry, by […]

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Data Closet Organization

The server room or data closet can be an intimidating place, especially if multiple tenants in a single building are sharing infrastructure. Over the years, technicians from the phone company, cable company, WISPs, phone system installers, network technicians, CCTV, Access Control, Security, and Fire Alarm companies come in to patch connections, and install boxes and cabling. These technicians generally want to get in and get out and move on to the next job. While there are standard practices for labeling and organizing cables of all varieties, sometimes they just aren’t followed and a rat’s nest develops in the wiring room. The more organized everything is, the easier it is for […]

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Windows Deployment Services and Your Business – What You Need to Know.

Recently, we had a client who needed to setup 30+ laptops for their employees. The plan for this client is that once all of these laptops are deployed, we can have a couple of imaged laptops ready to deploy at a moment’s notice. They’ll already have the standard apps necessary installed and we can spend just a few minutes customizing it for the particular user and overnight it to them. This is a handy backup plan to get a remote user online quickly in the event of a major problem on their machine. Now, anyone who has ever setup a single computer knows that it isn’t very difficult to setup […]

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The “Boss’ Nephew” IT Support Model

We come across many small businesses who use the “boss’ nephew” IT support model. The boss’ nephew is good with computers, and comes in every now and then to remove a virus, add a printer, or help with user issues. He works part-time somewhere else, so he can’t make it out during normal business hours. He only comes out when something major happens, so the office is “on their own” for day-to-day issues. He setup a backup but isn’t responsible for checking it. He setup a secure wireless network but didn’t leave the password. Does this sound familiar? Does it leave you with the uneasy feeling that nobody is really […]

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