Write a Google+ Review, Win a Tablet

Didn’t get that tablet that was on your Christmas list? Don’t worry, there’s still a chance to get one.

Flex Technology Group wants to know about your experience with them. Did we solve a problem? Did we save you time and money? Did we sell you a great device? Flex Technology is giving an Android tablet to someone who leaves a review on their Google+ page. This is a limited time offer. One winner will be selected from all of the Google+ reviews that are submitted before January 30th.

Not sure how to submit a review online? It’s pretty simple, all you need is a Google account. You can use your email account for this. Don’t have one? Sign up with Google. After that, follow these five steps to write your review and possibly win a tablet:

1. Go to Flex Tech’s Google+ Page

win a tablet

2. Click to the About section

win a tablet

3. Click on the Write a Review button

win a tablet

4. Write about your experience with Flex Tech & Click Publish

win a tablet

Yes, it is that easy! What are yo waiting for?

The End of Windows 7 Mainstream Support

windows 7 mainstream support

January 13 marked the end of Microsoft support for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1).

Windows 7 is the most popular operating system for PCs worldwide. It is more stable than the previous Windows Vista, and more familiar than the updated Windows 8. It’s no wonder why many people are in a panic over Microsoft “killing” their preferred operating system. But that’s just it, Microsoft isn’t killing off Windows 7, it is slowly phasing it out. There are two stages in retracting the operating system: mainstream support and extended support.

Windows 7 Mainstream Support

Mainstream support gives customers free security and non-security updates. You can contact Microsoft either online or via telephone support for specific products. Mainstream support expires after 5 years from release, or 2 years after successor product is launched.

Windows 7 Extended Support

Once mainstream support expires, Microsoft narrows the amount of service it offers on that product and calls it extended support. Microsoft will maintain free security updates for products in the extended support phase. This ensures that the operating system doesn’t become vulnerable to online hackers. Other support issues aren’t technically offered but can be resolved for a fee through Microsoft. Extended support expires a minimum of 5 years after general availability or for 2 years after the second successor product is launched, whichever is longer. Extended support is expected to end on January 14, 2020 for Windows 7.

See the differences in this chart from Microsoft:

Windows 7 mainstream support
Although Microsoft may not be immediately killing off Windows 7, it is making it more difficult for you computer to run on the older operating system.

What this means for you:

  • No updated appearances or features
  • Microsoft will charge for software support
  • Security issues will still be serviced by Microsoft
  • Occasional stability fixes for businesses with Extended Support contracts
  • PCs will continue to be sold with the Windows 7 operating system

While Microsoft is slowly saying goodbye to Windows 7 we can be expecting a new operating system, Windows 10, later this year. Is this a coincidence or just a way to encourage more people to switch over? Either way, Windows 7 users will have to upgrade sooner or later. The initial introduction to this will be announced on January 21st. Stay tuned for more information on Windows 10.

CryptoWall Virus: Don’t Lose Everything

Remember that Cryptolocker virus that was affecting computers earlier this year? It was a type of ransomware that restricts access to the computer and demands a high-dollar ransom in order for the creators of the virus to remove the restriction. We hate to say it but this has gotten worse. With Cryptolocker it was possible to get your files back but with this new variation of the virus you pay ransom or lose everything.

CryptoWall Virus

cryptowall virusThe CryptoWall virus infects computers through email messages and illegitimate downloads. After the virus is on your computer it will encrypt all of the files stored on the hard drive making them impossible for you to access. In order for you to get the files back the creators are demanding a ransom of $500 to decrypt them. This virus is especially dangerous for Windows users with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8 operating systems. Although it is relatively simple to remove the virus, it is impossible to decrypt the files without paying the ransom.

When someone encrypts your files it means that they have completely changed the structure of your data making it impossible to work with, see, or use. When files are encrypted you are basically losing them forever without the decryption code.

How to Protect Your Files

The team at Flex Technology Group has had to tell over 30 people in the last month that they have lost all of their data without hope of getting it back. Don’t let that happen to you. Take these tips to avoid infecting your computer with the CryptoWall virus.

  • Know how to identify suspicious emails in your inbox
  • Install anti-malware software
  • Don’t use unreliable video players
  • Only update Flash though Adobe

Contact the team at Flex Technology Group to get more information on the CryptoWall virus and get your questions answered about any suspicious activity on your computer. We can also help with providing and installing anti-malware software.

Tech Gifts For Your Wish List

Every year there are new tech gifts and gadgets making it on people’s Christmas lists. Also, sometimes we need a little inspiration on what to get for others and especially what put on our own lists. For all of those tech savvy people out there, here are some last minute adds to your wish list that you should be asking for this year. Hopefully you’ve been nice!

FitBit Charge

For the fitness fanatic This wristband takes activity and sleep tracking to the next level. FitBit Charge features a display area that makes it easier for you to keep track of the time, caller ID, battery life, and real-time stats throughout the day. The FitBit Charge syncs to your other devices making it easy to see your results at the end of the day. Log into the app on either your computer or smartphone to see your progress, compete with friends, log your food intake, and earn badges for completing goals.

  • Longest battery life in the industry
  • Minute-to-Minute stat updates
  • Clock display & silent alarm
  • Automatic sync to devices
tech gifts

Photo Credit: www.fitbit.com/charge

Cord Organizers

For the Constantly Connected There’s always that one person who so many cords they don’t know what to do with them. Get them a Cordie. The Cordie is a weighted cord organizer that keeps all of your essential cords within reach. With this little gadget you wont have to dig or untangle your cords just to find the right one.

  • Weighted, no-slip design
  • 4 cord slots
tech gifts

Photo Credit: www.quirky.com/shop/84-cordies-desktop-cord-manager


Olloclip Camera for iPhone

For the “semi-pro” photographer No matter what smartphone someone has, they almost always complain about the camera capabilities. At least if they are taking more than selfies they care more about camera specs. Olloclip has a clip-on camera attachment for both iPhones and Samsung Galaxy phones. Most of these cameras come in 3-in-1 or 4-in-1 varieties. They offer you different lenses to take better, higher quality pictures in different situations.

  • Fisheye
  • Wide-angle
  • Macro
tech gifts

Photo Credit: www.olloclip.com

Amazon Fire TV Stick

For the TV addict The Amazon Fire TV Stick brings online streaming to your TV. Cut the cords and plug this USB device into the HDMI port of your TV to watch your favorite shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, even YouTube. This product is similar to Chromecast, Apple TV, and Roku but it does have its unique advantages. Amazon Fire TV Stick has dual core processors and 8 GB of flash storage. Other perks include:

  • Instant streaming
  • Dedicated remote and app
  • Voice search
  • Screen mirroring between devices
tech gifts

Photo Credit: www.amazon.com

Bluetooth Talking Gloves

For the “Chatty Kathy” The Bluetooth Talking Gloves seem a little ridiculous, but they would be especially useful those who have to deal with harsh winters. The glove connects to your smartphone through bluetooth and allows you to answer phone calls by making the “call me” gesture while wearing them.

  • Battery life of 12 hours
  • Rechargeable through micro USB
  • Unisex style and fit
  • Use your touchscreen while wearing them
tech gifts

Photo Credit: www.sharperimage.com/si/view/product/Bluetooth-Talking-Gloves/201624

These are some fun suggestions for you to put on your last-minute Christmas list or for you to get for that techie person in your life. What other tech gifts are you giving this year?

What Causes A Blue Screen Of Death?

Windows_XP_BSODOne of the biggest annoyances for Windows users over the years has been the dreaded “Blue Screen of Death” (BSOD).  Unlike crashing programs, the BSOD strikes from out of nowhere at any time and brings your entire computer to its knees — and along with it, any unsaved work.  In prior versions of Windows, all a blue screen would give you is a screen full of diagnostic information most users couldn’t understand.  Since Windows 8, Microsoft did away with the technobabble and replaced it with the more relatable, but still frustrating, frowny-face emoticon.

So what causes these critical system errors?  Here’s a few things to watch for after you’ve been blue-screened:

Software Problems

If you encounter a BSOD after installing software or updating a device driver, this might be one logical place to look for a solution.  Sometimes software conflicts, viruses or poorly-written drivers for things like graphics cards can cause your system to blue screen.  If you notice your computer slowing down, it is most likely a situation related to a software issue, not a hardware issue.  You can try to restart your computer in Safe Mode (by holding down F8 on boot-up).  If things work normally in Safe Mode but don’t on a regular boot, it is most likely a software related issue.  You can try uninstalling the software you most recently installed that may be causing the problem, or you can use System Restore to roll your computer back to a previous, working state.

Hardware Problems

Hardware can also trigger blue screens of death.  Bad sticks of memory (RAM), faulty hard drives, power supply problems and overheating processors (CPUs) are all common culprits of blue screen errors.  If you’ve recently added new hardware or RAM and you get an error, it could be damaged or malfunctioning.  If you notice your computer all of a sudden succumbing to blue screens, it could be an existing piece of hardware failing or a CPU fan that stops cooling your processor.  If your system fails to boot, or exhibits issues even in safe mode, a hardware problem may be to blame.

If you are having blue screens of death or other nagging issues with your PCs, feel free to contact us.  We’d be happy to help you resolve all your computer-related issues!

Featured App Of The Week: Send Anywhere

screen568x568In the OS X Yosemite update, Apple added the ability to quickly transfer files between iOS devices and OS X devices using AirDrop.  But what do you do when you want to send files quickly and securely between Macs and Androids?  What about Windows or Linux PCs?

Enter Send Anywhere, a platform that bills itself as “simple, unlimited, instant file transferring.”  If you have a mixed technology ecosystem in your home or office, Send Anywhere is a quick and easy way to get files from one device to another.

It works via apps on smartphones like iPhone, Android and Windows Phone, as well as Windows, Mac and Linux PCs.  There is also a Chrome browser extension and a simple interface on their website.  There’s no need to even sign up for an account.

When you upload a file, you are given a six digit code that expires after ten minutes.  You can send the code to a recipient and they can download the file directly.  They don’t even need to install anything.  They can simply go to the Send Anywhere website, enter the six-digit code and download the file.

Not only is this a quick, simple way of exchanging files, but it differs from services like Dropbox because the file does not make a rest-stop on a server on the way to its destination.  It’s a direct, time-limited peer-to-peer transfer, which makes it a quick, secure one-off way of getting files from one place to another.

If you have an app on your smartphone and you send a file from your computer, it will even detect “nearby devices” and allow you to initiate a direct send of the file without having to enter the code.  (An acknowledgement prompt appears on the phone asking if you want to receive the file.)

Send Anywhere is seamless and secure way to move files between devices, no matter what brand or operating system they may be.


Featured App of the Week: Oracle VirtualBox

Oracel VirtualBoxHave you ever wanted to turn one computer into two, or maybe even more?  Do you have older hardware you can’t part with that doesn’t have drivers compatible with your current computer?  Maybe you even want to pull all your beloved floppy-based games out of the closet and play them like the good ol’ days.  Then this week’s featured app of the week is for you.

VirtualBox, a free program from Oracle, turns your current Windows, Mac, Linux or Solaris computer into a host that can simultaneously run almost any other operating system.  It is a program popular with Mac users because it is a free alternative to the pricier Parallels application.  VirtualBox allows OS X users to run Windows and its compatible applications inside a Mac environment without the need to reboot, as you would with a Windows installation in BootCamp.

Once VirtualBox is installed on the host computer, you can then set up “guest” virtual machines.  Users can tailor these individual profiles by allocating how much processor power and memory to use, how much hard drive space to reserve as a “virtual” drive and other options.  From there, the virtual machine acts exactly like a computer would.  You would boot up the machine for the first time, install your chosen operating system, and run it as you would a real computer.

It is also a great way to run older versions of Windows to support older programs or hardware that can’t run natively in Windows 7 or 8.  For example, someone with an older Canon scanner could boot up a virtual Windows XP “machine” and operate the scanner.  You can set up “shared” folders like you would in an operating system to exchange files over a network, only you are doing the transfer between the virtual machine and the host computer.

Virtual machines are also useful for testing purposes, and for keeping certain files or operations “sandboxed” — or kept safe and separate — from the host computer’s operating system.

Oracle’s VirtualBox is a great, free software application with practically endless uses, and is free to download from Oracle’s website.


Hewlett-Packard Safety Recall

HP Safety RecallFlex Technology Group was recently notified by Hewlett-Packard that some of their HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook power cables have been the subject of a recall. We wanted to inform all our customers and social media followers about this important situation.

Below is the text of the official recall notice issued by Hewlett-Packard, with instructions on how to work with them to address the current situation. The entire process will occur through Hewlett-Packard.  If you have a power cord potentially affected by this recall, please contact Hewlett-Packard at your earliest convenience.

Right From the Source – Recall Letter From HP

August 26, 2014

Dear Valued HP Customer,

In cooperation with various government regulatory agencies, HP has announced a voluntary recall and replacement program for certain AC power cords used with AC adapters shipped with HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook computers, as well as with AC adapters provided with accessories such as docking stations.

These AC power cords were shipped with products and accessories sold from September 2010 through June 2012. The AC power cords have the potential to overheat, posing a fire and burn hazard. Because these power cords pose a fire and burn hazard to customers, it is extremely important that they are validated on the program website. HP strongly encourages all customers to immediately cease use of the affected AC power cords.

Note: Not all HP and Compaq notebook and mini notebook PCs were sold with an affected power cord. Please validate the power cord shipped with your notebook PC or purchased with an accessory, or as a spare.

Your action required:

Please go to the HP Notebook PC AC Power Cord Replacement Program website at:
http://www.hp.com/support/PowerCordReplacement to see if your notebook AC power cord is affected.

  • The notebooks, AC adapters, and AC adapter accessories are not affected. Only the power cords are affected.
  • The AC power cords can be identified by an “LS-15” molded mark on the adapter end of the cord. Not all of the AC power cords with the “LS-15” mark are affected.
  • It is important that you validate that you have a potentially impacted power cord by following the steps in the HP power cord replacement website. Verified, eligible, power cords will be replaced at no cost to you.

Note: The validation process may show that your power cord is not affected by this recall.

Visit the program website at: http://www.hp.com/support/PowerCordReplacement to see if your notebook AC power cord is affected, and to request a replacement power cord if yours is affected.

Customer Support Telephone Numbers

Canada (8 am – 5 pm, MST Monday–Friday)
1- 877-219-6676
USA (8 am – 5 pm, MST Monday–Friday)
1- 877-219-6676
Worldwide http://welcome.hp.com/country/us/en/wwcontact_us.html

If additional support is needed, contact your HP in country support center. In-country support numbers are located at the worldwide link in the table above. Select your country/language and click “Technical support after you buy”.

HP apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused you.

Hewlett-Packard Company

Featured App of the Week: Start Menu 8

Start Menu 8The Microsoft Windows operating system got a huge make-over when they came out with Windows 8. Some liked the changes while others hated it. Like all new things, Windows 8 takes some time to get used to. It features a “tile view” start screen. The various tiles help to alert you to various notifications including: new emails, social media updates, upcoming calendar appointments, news events and more.

The biggest issue that many people struggle with is the lack of a start button and start menu. The idea behind Windows 8 is that the tiles that show up when you start your computer replaced the start menu. But many were unhappy with the change and preferred the structure of the original start menu. Do you want to get your traditional start menu back? There is a way to get it by simply downloading and installing on of the many apps available.

Start Menu 8

If you’re looking for an application to install and get the start menu back on your Windows 8 operating system, Start Menu 8 is a great option to do this. This is a free app that is easy to install on your computer or laptop. It is customizable so it allows you to determine what shows up in your start menu, how the start button looks, and the overall theme. It also gives you faster access to the specific programs and files that you are looking for. If you want to skip the tile view start page altogether, this app allows you to do that as well and go straight to the traditional desktop.

Click here to download Start Menu 8 to your computer now. 

Security Alert: Phone Calls from “Microsoft Tech Support”

It may come as a surprise that cybercriminals aren’t just sending fake emails anymore. Recently, we’ve found they might also call your personal or work phone and say they are an employee at Microsoft. They will claim they are offering to help you with a computer issue or sell you a software license. Once you give them access to your computer, they can do the following:microsoft-telephone-security

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Convince you to visit legitimate websites (like www.ammyy.com) to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there.

Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls (cold calls) to charge you for computer security or software fixes.

Tech Support Scams: Here’s what you should know

Cybercriminals will use any information they can find to earn your trust such as your name and your operating system. Once they’ve earned your trust, they might ask for your username and password or for you to download a free software that gives them remote access to your computer so they can “fix” it.

Here are some of the organizations that cybercriminals claim to be from:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)

Report phone scams

Learn about how to report phone fraud in the United States. Outside the US, contact your local authorities.

See how to protect yourself from telephone support scams, what to do if you already gave your information to a tech support person, and other useful information at Microsoft’s Safety & Security Center.

Information in this article from: Microsoft

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