Windows and free software

 

Windows mobile

Windows mobile (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A while back, I wrote about my problems with Ubuntu and Windows. It was entitled Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine. Now I was left with a choice – either run Windows or Ubuntu by itself. So I opted to run just Windows, as it was already installed.

Now I’m not anti- Windows, anti-Linux nor Anti-Apple. It’s just with Mac stuff, I don’t have any experience with it. But for now, I will stick with Windows and a paid security suite. I feel that the paid security versions are a bit above the free ones. I recommend the site Filehippo and installing their update checker.

But most folks need a word processor and Excel sheet solution. They also need a solution to read Word documents – in Excel and Word. For a viewer, I recommend installing the Kingsoft office suite. It associates itself with all the Microsoft office suite document types. But for real work, you can’t beat Libre Office. The license agreement of Open Office allows Libre Office to include any features Open Office creates – but not the other way around.

For zip files, I use Peazip. It’s an active project and constantly being worked on. I also believe it uses some elements of 7-Zip.

VLC media player for playing sound and video files. Audacity is used as a sound editor and recorder. Both are great tools.

Skype is still my preferred communication tool – even though it is owned by Microsoft. It’s free and you know it won’t have conflicts with any Windows supported operating system. If I was looking for an alternative, then I would choose Google Hangouts.

For browsers, I prefer Firefox and Google Chrome. But I also have Opera installed, should I ever need it. I do believe that internet Explorer is a good browser. I just prefer the open source versions and the developed extensions.

I really need to plug Malwarebytes as a good scan tool. Each week, I do a quick scan with both my paid security suite and Malwarebytes. Of course, I don’t run them at the same time. I think that between the two tools, they can detect any problem that comes your way. And if you send any email attachments to the Virus Total scanner, it should ensure you are clean.

For a mail client, nothing can be Thunderbird. You can configure all your email accounts with it and handle your mail with one tool.

Then there’s the Java Run time Environment. While there are open source alternatives, I still go with the one from Oracle. Sure, it’s not open source. But you have a big company behind it and it’s very stable and often being developed.

Anything else? Sure. If you run a Mac, then I would also install File Hippo update checker and get software from their site. Why pay either Microsoft or Apple for software, when you can get either a free and/or open source alternative?

The Grief Recovery Hanbook Review

 

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover

English: Classics Illustrated Comic Book Cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

October 4, 2014, will be the one year anniversary of my mom Lucille’s death. There is a similarity between the death and hospital stay, of my mom and Joan Rivers. Both were diagnosed with cardiac arrest, both were in a coma for a week and both moved out of intensive care – after a week. Now the cause for Joan Rivers was something related to the outpatient procedure. For my mom, the cause was acute stomach bleeding. I’m not sure why both cases had only a week in intensive care. Perhaps it was something to do with insurance. In my mom’s case, I did insist on the MRI results, that would show potential brain damage.

According to the medical doctor on ABC News, you have a four to six-minute window, after cardiac arrest sets in.  Otherwise  brain damage would occur.  Which makes me wonder if local police departments are trained in these matters.  When I called for my mom, they sent both an ambulance and a local police officer.  The officer first came up to check the situation.  Then when the paramedics asked what medicines she was taken, I mentioned just over the counter remedies.  The police officer on duty asked me to see the medicines – which I showed him.  Both examples were ticking away precious seconds, in the four to six-minute window.  I’m sure the outpatient clinic for Joan Rivers was better trained in these matters.  Perhaps both Joan Rivers daughter and myself should check legal options?

Now this brings me to a great book entitled The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith Paperback by John W. James (Author), Russell Friedman. After my mom’s death, I had help offers from local hospice grief counselors and the local police department social workers. But instead I worked with local church and retirement home grief recovery groups, in the area. This helped me out a bit. Unfortunately, this book came to my attention just now.

I came across the book from their online grief seminar. I ordered the book through the local library and checked out the reviews on Amazon. It has an average rating of five out of five stars, from about two hundred reviewers. One point the book made is that total recovery might take from two to three years. While I might feel grief after the one year anniversary, most of my grief probably worked itself out within a year. It’s still too soon to tell.

I do like that the book has you create grief timeliness for major events. It also has one of the authors sharing their own grief story, as well as stories from other participants. I can’t comment on their grief groups, as I haven’t attended one. But if you work with hospice grief counselors and groups, as well as church sponsored grief groups, it can probably be a good addition.

The book is a short one – perhaps too short. But it had good things to say. A church my mom and I used to attend, sent me the series Journeying through Grief by Dr.Kenneth C. Haugk.  The four volume free series is about the size of the Grief Recovery Handbook.   Now Grief Recovery is a secular program. There’s another series called Grief Share, which is a faith-based program. But I honestly feel you need both a secular and a faith-based approach – to get a proper balance

In the end, you have to do the work – to work through the grief. I remember my senior year in high school. In a literature class, we had to read The Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. Back then, they had a comic series called Classics Illustrated and Cliff Notes. I brought and read both, hoping to avoid the reading assignment. But I got hooked by the comic book version and book outline series. It prompted me to read the original book. But I did give the comic book and Cliff Notes to others to use. It turned out you really had to read the book, to answer the test questions. The teacher was smart. There was no short cur. You also have to do the exercises in the grief book – to work through the grief.

Problems with Ubuntu and Windows 7 on same machine

 

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit ...

English: Picture from Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric on Budapest, Hungary Español: Fotografía del Ubuntu Developer Summit Oneiric en Budapest, Hungría (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have a laptop running both Windows and Ubuntu. It’s referred to as a dual boot. For Ubuntu, I was running 12.04 LTS. There was an offer to upgrade to Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. It sounds reasonable. Now I do back up my machines to an external drive each week. This way, if there were a problem, I could revert back to a previous version.

 

I did install 14.04 LTS, which took about six hours or so. When it finally completed, I got this error message: “Upgraded to 14.04 reboot fail.” Fortunately, I’ve learned to search Google for error messages and see what tech forums teach me. In this case, the discussion at Ubuntu Forum There was one answer and involved interrupting the Ubuntu boot process. Then you had to use a tool called the Grub manager and change all read to read/write occurrences.

Guess what? That worked! But then problems occurred when I permanently changed all occurrences from read to read/write, in the configuration file. There was no occurrence of read in the temp configuration file. I had to change this in the permanent configuration file, which is not recommended.

To make a long story short, this worked for Ubuntu. I could bring up 14.04 LTS with no problem. The problem was one the windows side. For one thing, the time and date display was showing midnight, for the next day. Windows couldn’t find Java on the machine. There was also a few other problems.

Anyway, I thought I would see if Windows could be fixed. If so, I would abandon Ubuntu and run just Windows. After all, I do run mostly freeware or open source on Windows – except for a paid security suite. Otherwise, I use tools like Pea Zip, Libre Office, and VLC video player.

The biggest issue was the Java run-time environment. I first tried to install the sixty four bit version and it took several minutes. Windows couldn’t find the run-time environment, even after the install completed. So I thought I would reboot and try to install the 32 bit version. I tried this twice. For some reason, it worked on the second install. I don’t’ know why. Perhaps Windows takes a few reboots, in order to accomplish this.

I think the root issue was that Ubuntu didn’t configure the upgrade for those who used the Ubuntu Windows installer on 12.04 LTS. Sorry, Ubuntu. I do like your product. But now Windows has made it harder to duel boot with Linux systems. For now, I will run Windows and a paid security suite solution. But I will use the same open source products you find on Linux, as long as they are popular, supported and have a Windows version.

I really can’t say why Java was such a problem. But if someone has a cheap computer with Ubuntu as the sole operating system, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my home network. After all, I might want to open file attachments that are questionable, in a secure sandbox. But only after every anti-virus tool at Virus Total, flags everything as sound.

Structured Cabling System Design Considerations

 

English: Nettech Class on Structured Cabling i...

English: Nettech Class on Structured Cabling in progress (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Structured Cabling System (SCS) is a set of cabling and connectivity products that integrates various data, voice, video, and various other networking management systems of a building. SCS consists of a number of standardized elements, open architecture, and standard connection interfaces. SCS is a complete system of cabling and related hardware, which provides a comprehensive networking system. This has wide range of uses, such as providing business phone systems or transmitting data over a computer network. The structured cabling system starts at the particular point where the service provider terminates. This point is referred to as the point of demarcation or Network Interface Device.

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There are generally six major structured cabling system components. These are building entrance, equipment room, telecommunications closet, backbone cabling, horizontal cabling and work area. These are also known as subsystems.

 

Building Entrance: Building entrance requirement specification is for the point at which the cable enters a building. The specification includes recommendation for type of connection and surge protection devices. Entrance facility includes cabling, connecting hardware, network demarcation point or points, protection devices and other equipment which connect to the access provider and/or network cable. This also includes connection between the inside of the building and the outside.

Equipment Room: Networking equipment rooms generally house equipment of higher complexity compared to telecommunication closets. Almost all the functions of a telecommunications closet are provided by an equipment room. It may be any secure storage area in which the cables, communication racks, servers, switches, routers and other expensive hardware devices are located. An equipment room must always be locked in order to prevent theft of equipment as well as data security and also restrict unauthorized access.

 

Racks of telecommunications equipment in part ...

Racks of telecommunications equipment in part of a data center. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Backbone Cabling: Backbone cabling is one which runs vertically between the floors or between the equipment rooms. This provides interconnection between the building entrance sites, equipment rooms, including Cat5 or Cat6 cables and terminators. This includes vertical connection between floors, cables between an equipment room and building cable entrance facilities and cables between buildings. The term backbone depicts the cable handling major network traffic. There are two types of backbone cabling. One is the inter building and other is the intra building.

 

Telecommunications Closet:  Telecommunications closet is that area inside a building which mounts the telecommunications cabling system. It includes mechanical terminations and cross connects for horizontal as well as backbone cabling system. It may also include the MC or IC for various portions of backbone cabling system. Telecommunications closet also provides a controlled environment to the telecommunication equipment and connecting hardware. Using Telecommunications closet is for specific implementation.

Horizontal cabling: Horizontal cabling is the physical media which runs at the work station outlet to the termination point in the equipment room.

Horizontal cabling system extends from work area telecommunications outlet to the telecommunications closet and includes horizontal cable, jumpers, mechanical terminations and patch cords which are located in TR or TE. This may also incorporate multi user telecommunications outlet assemblies and consolidation points. Often, horizontal cables are routed directly from the closet to the work station without any cable junctures, splices or taps. This reduces the chance of faulty connections and electrical noise to a great extent.

Work area: The work area component extends from the telecommunications outlet to the work station equipment. Work area wiring is designed in such a way that it is relatively simple so that interconnection, addition and changes can be managed easily. At least two telecommunications outlets have to be provided for each work area. The work area includes the following components:
a.Station equipments, data terminals, computers, telephones etc.
b.Patch chords, PC adapters, fibre jumpers, etc

About The Author

Michelle Patterson is an avid technology blogger and writes extensively about IP/VoIP and Unified Communication. She works with some leading companies to understand the trends of these modern communication technologies.

Market to the Right Customers to Increase Seasonal Business

Business is much like the weather. It can be hot or cold or maybe just mild. To keep business as steady as possible throughout the year, small businesses need to execute a smart and tactical marketing plan to rake in the customers when things are hot and draw in others when business starts to cool off. Knowing how and when to target niche customers can make all the difference in weathering the highs and lows of your business.

shutterstock_196043033

The best bang for the buck

If, for example, you’re a small family owned hardware store in a community that just so happens to have two (or maybe seven) other hardware stores, how do you compete? How do you sift through the consumer base to find the right type of customer for that particular special offer during a particular time of the year? Advertising is a costly business, where you have to spend money to make money, and small businesses usually have a tight budget. There’s little room for error. For a hardware store, trying to stand out among a crowded market is not about getting your brand out there to everyone, it’s about reaching the right kind of customers looking for your brand.

Any business must reach the right kind of customers and reaching them at the right time. For hardware stores, honing in on new homeowners is a great strategy, as any consumer who is making a lifestyle change has proven he or she is looking to stock up on materials and equipment from a hardware store. Roughly 17 percent of a population is made up of new residents. And some of those new residents are new homeowners who will spend between $10,000 to $12,000 on average during the first year to spruce up and stock their new homes.

Physical and digital strategies

To reach just those particular customers, direct marketing, specifically direct mailing, can be very effective. With help from a database business like Acxiom, you can collect a list of specific customers who are new homeowners under the age 40 and who own trucks, for example. With this information, a direct mail system can advertise to each of those customers their particular wants or needs, attracting the right kind of customer to your business at the right time. With direct mail, you know your message is getting to the right customer. It also gives you valuable statistical data on how much direct mail you sent out and how much feedback you get.

Where insurance companies can hire others to do their underwriting, they need to be a little savvy when marketing to new customers. Getting your business listed on search engine local directories is one good and popular strategy, but to really stand out, really get in touch with your customers and get them involved in your online marketing scheme. Online sites like Quote Wizard can help you gather leads on the specific customers your business would like to target. This lead aggregation strategy can cut out the fat, avoiding potential customers who most likely would ignore any marketing campaign you present them, and hone in on the right kind of customers actually looking for the type of products you offer. Much like direct mail works, online agencies like Quote Wizard can extract the kind of customer you’re looking for from their living status, health status, all the way down to their sex and weight. This definitely helps when business is slow and you are looking to appeal to a new customer base.

Getting your clientele to actually advertise for you seems like a pipe dream, but it is another unique strategy. On top of keeping in touch with customers through social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, videotaping live testimonials from a group of your most loyal customers and featuring them on your website is a great way to get your customers involved. It can not only strengthen your business relationship with them, but they can also be used as advocates for your business. Potential customers will see your business is trusted by people they may know or can relate to and that you’re a business that promotes community people and not just business.

Take the Money and Run

Take the money and run is a song by the Steve Miller Band.  But it can be a song about getting caught in a social media romance scam from Nigeria.

It started when an attractive woman on a popular social media network, sent me an email and some photos. For the record, the photos were fully clothed and very respectable. This person was very cute, with red hair and white skin. Let‘s give her a fictitious of Gertrude  (that’s an oxymoron – a fictitious of a fictitious name) , who claims to work for a well-known international charity named UNICEF.  According to this person, she was doing volunteer work in Nigeria. And she is of claimed legal age, claiming to be in her late twenties.

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Anyway, we corresponded by email for a few days. But she was coming on too strong, for my tastes. I kept telling her to slow down. I thought the psychological aspect of transference was happening. I even told her about this. Anyway, we corresponded like this for about a week.

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Then came the big bang.

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She claimed to be sick from food poisoning and typhoid fever. She needed money for food and medical care. I used to be a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia, West Africa. I was familiar with scams and especially those coming from Nigeria. This story has too many loose ends.

For example:

  • Why would a respected international charity not have excellent medical care options in place? I found out later that the organization had excellent medical insurance coverage for volunteers. They also have excellent medical facilities they set up in remote countries. When I asked about this, it was implied they mismanaged things locally.
  • What is the name of the medicine the doctor wanted to prescribe? If this person is working with medical professionals, they should know that stuff.
  • Do you have an ID number from the charity, if I need to reach them? She wouldn’t give me one. But she wants to ask a complete stranger for money.

I asked for how much money was needed and how would I send it? I needed some more info. I was given a city and state in Nigeria and told to send it by Western Union. My respond is that I would reflect on this, for a day or so. In the meanwhile, I would say prayers for healing.

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Anyway, the next day I did two things:

  • I went to visit a friend, who had ESP abilities. Now my lifelong Protestant mom – now deceased – was supposedly born with a veil over her eyes. This means she had the gift of prophesy. And the people I know with this gift, don’t go out and charge money and make a fortune on it. They just share it with family and friends. When I relayed this story, he said it was a scam.
  • I have some LinkedIn connections in Nigeria. I asked them to check on this person. To their credit, they are professional people living in Nigeria, who hate scams themselves.

Here’s what was shared by the professionals from Nigeria:

  • Well, one person lived near that area and knew the charity. She couldn’t find that person connected with that charity.
  • Another told me that charity doesn’t work in that area.
  • Another mentioned that there were other inquiries about that person being investigated.
  • Another told me that charity has excellent medical facilities.

I told this person that I couldn’t honor the money request, based upon feedback from ESP and some Nigerian professional contacts. But I would be happy to connect on Facebook and video chat with them. They stopped emailing me.

And here’s what UNICEF says on its website at UNICEF on Nigeria

  • UNICEF provides support to all its staff members and consultants at all times, no matter the situation.
  • Never send money or personal information (including your resume) to anyone you don’t really know.
  • Remember that UNICEF websites and email addresses all use the UNICEF dot org domain.
  • If in doubt, check with UNICEF Nigeria’s communication officer:

Yes, Gertrude, your story was fully of holes.      You used a public email address and not the UNICEF dot org domain, which wasn’t part of your email.  If you claim to work for a charity or any worldwide organization, they give the email for your use.  You didn’t ask for the money to be sent to an official UNICEF site.  You, as a “claimed” nurse, had no clue what medicine the doctor wanted to prescribe.  You also forgot that big international firms also provide medical care and/or health insurance to employees.

Oh, yes. Here is the best part.

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You know the cute fully dressed and respectable photos she sent me? I did a search on Google images and they did find a match. They belong to a very popular porn star. I don’t think this person will be contacting me on Facebook video. After all, I don’t think they look like this porn star. Nor can they pay the porn start enough to help them scam me.

Lessons learned

Check everything out, with a fine tooth comb – especially if you never met in person.  This should be true on both sides.  I did this and I saved a couple hundred initial dollars.  Probably more, as this would just be the start of the scam.

You need help?

Obviously, you might not have lived in an African country and grew up with scams  And you might not have access to folks with real ESP ability nor professionals on the ground, to check things out.  Here are a couple of websites that can help:

There’s a good Wiki article on romance scams at Wiki on romance scams.

Here’s an AARP scam quiz you can take at AARP scam quiz

YouTube videos on Scams

Let me leave you with a couple good YouTube videos on scams.  Remember.

  • You never have to pay an up-front, processing fee, for a lottery prize.
  • IRS agents will always contact you by regular, US mail.  And you can verify the status, by getting the real IRS number from your local, public library reference librarian.
  • And if someone gives you a check to deposit, don’t send any money back until the check clears the bank
  •  Don’t open any attachments  or click any links, from people you don’t  know.
  • Nobody gives large sums of money to total strangers.

Apply a little common sense and you will avoid many headaches. ABC News recently shared a scam, where they call folks up at midnight in US motels or hotels.  They ask for a card number or they have to leave the motel or hotel.  What to do?  Just tell them you need time to find the card and will call the front desk back in 5-10 minutes?  IRS or law enforcement?  Call back to an official government number and check out the story.

 

 

Mobile Unified Communications?

When in an office with a computer and fixed IP phone line, it’s very easy to access all the data you have at hand and share it with others who need to see it. A workforce that’s mobile, though, can be a huge headache in terms of Unified Communications (UC), though, unless the corporation as a strong UC solution in place. Otherwise, users simply end up jumping between fragments of fixed-line and mobile UC applications and voice calls, which is not the point of UC in the first place. An enterprise can boost productivity and aid how workers communicate and collaborate, simply by equipping them with smartphones that have UC clients on them.
At this time, there are many options for such clients, including lightweight SIP apps, third-party mobile convergence products, and native apps from UC vendors.

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SIP based UC clients

In class at BlackBerry course

In class at BlackBerry course (Photo credit: asgw)

Some enterprises have taken a do-it-yourself path to mobile UC by creating client apps based on Session Initiation Protocol (SIP). These clients offer solutions to an organization in which the technology doesn’t have a native mobile client; one example would be Asterisk. The Android OS has a native SIP stack, and has since version 2.3; similarly, the Apple App Store has over 250 SIP clients and related apps. A UC manager, however, will have to be careful about the software chosen, as not all client audio codecs are compatible with those of the organization’s IP telephony system.

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Mobile Unified Communications via third-party FMC products

The touchstone goal for a mobile UC client is this: Does it seamlessly provide Fixed Mobile Convergence, or FMC? This refers to the integration of communications across the UC infrastructure of the enterprise, across its fixed and mobile networks.
You don’t have to use the native mobile UC clients — there are third-party FMC solutions that offer viable alternatives.
In case you’re still using BlackBerry products, RIM has the BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS), which is intended to connect IP telephony and switched circuit solutions with RIM’s BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). As there is a secure linkage providing UC for the mobile devices and the BES, there is no need for a VPN. Alas, this ability is only given to BlackBerries, so organizations that have embraced a more heterogeneous approach will need to look elsewhere for a broader solution.
Functioning much like the MVS solution, however, is ShoreTel‘s Mobility Router. This option connects disparate, heterogeneous devices to a broader range of IP telephony solutions. It does not matter if those devices are coming from a 3G/4G network, WiFi hotspot, or wireless LAN.

Natively Run Apps From UC Vendors

Many UC vendors have provided free native apps that run very well on smartphones. Avaya and Cisco Systems are just two of the developers that have created such apps for Apple products, freely available for download from the App Store. Although free, these apps do require licensing and authentication to make the proper connections to your existing enterprise UC infrastructure.
The functionality of these native UC clients varies wildly, though. While some offer a fully featured solution that has the majority of the features of a desk phone, there are others that offer only basic access. This type simply enables a user to send their desk extension to their mobile.

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Ensure Your Infrastructure is Mobile UC Ready

Your enterprise infrastructure will have to be robust enough in order for your mobile UC deployment to be successful. Rest assured that users that have the capability of using mobile UC will push it to its limits when they get the chance. UC managers should therefore coördinate with the network team to make sure the wireless LAN is ready for the users. Mobile VoIP users will want their devices to work wherever they are — between floors or buildings, or even in stairwells.

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Author Bio

Michelle Patterson has learned and written about the new IP based communication technologies. She loves sharing her information so that businesses and business owners could take advantage of these technologies.

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