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Windows 10 Features – What To Be Excited About

Windows 10 has been the topic of discussion for quite some time with anticipation building for the official launch of the new operating system. From the looks of the preview demos, this is going to be a great upgrade for business and personal users alike.

Set to launch later this year Windows 10 is said to be a free upgrade to existing Windows users. So if you have Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and even Windows Phone, you’re in luck. Since the OS is getting a major overhaul, here’s a break down of the top ten Windows 10 features to look forward to.

New Web Browser

The days of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer are limited. Windows 10 will be launching a brand new default web browser: Project Spartan. With this browser Microsoft has focused on user experience by streamlining the appearance across different devices which is something Internet Explorer has struggled with. Other things to look forward to in Project Spartan include: an offline-capable reading list similar to Apple’s, PDF support, and Cortana integration.

Return of the Start Menu

Microsoft is bringing back the traditional Start Menu with a twist. They old search functions are back making it easier to navigate your PC. But it’s been updated by and additional area of live tiles that can be personalized so you see the information that is important to you.

windows 10 features - start menu


Do you have a 2-in-1 computer? Continuum is a new feature that helps you switch back and forth smoothly between tablet and PC mode. When you detach the keyboard from the screen, you’ll be prompted to enter tablet-mode which is designed to be touch based. Continuum automatically senses if a keyboard and mouse are connected and displays prompts automatically.

Cortana for the Desktop

Microsoft’s digital voice assistant, Cortana, is coming to PCs with the launch of Windows 10. Microsoft is taking the features from mobile and integrating them into the PC for a seamless user experience with Cortana. Launch your favorite apps, listen to your music library, set reminders and alarms, call your contacts, and of course ask everyday questions. Cortana pulls answers from Bing along with data from your computer’s hard drive or One Drive account.

Improved Multitasking

Task view button allows you to see all of your open windows at once and switch between them, making multi tasking a piece of cake. They have also updated the snap assist feature. You can view up to four applications on the same screen. Snap Assist has also gotten smarter. It will intuitively suggest apps that work well together and you often use at the same time.

windows 10 features - snap assist

Multiple Desktops

You are no longer limited to one desktop. Microsoft is adding virtual desktops to Windows 10. You can create multiple desktops that you can switch between depending on what you are doing. Each desktop has another set of windows as if you are on a different screen. You can had a desktop designated for personal use and switch over to a virtual desktop that is specifically set up for business tasks.

windows 10 features - multiple desktops

Notification Center

Notifications got a makeover in Windows 10. Instead of a small notification in the lower right-had corner that is often overlooked, notifications now appear larger in the upper right corner of the desktop, similar to Apple’s OS X.

Universal Apps

Microsoft will be introducing new apps that are, you guessed it, universal. These apps will be integrated into all devices, giving the user a seamless experience when switching between phone, PC, and tablet. The apps include Photos, Videos, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar. Information on these apps are stored in One Drive and can be accessed from any of your devices. Get someone’s contact information on your cell phone and be able to send them an email from your PC in a matter of seconds.

Office Suite

Not only are the apps getting updated, the Microsoft Office apps are getting revamped as well. Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook will all be touch based interface that will work on all of your devices.

Command Prompts

Keyboard shortcuts for everyone! Windows 10 is the first operating system in a long time that allows users to personalize Command Prompt. Although this may be a little complex to set up, if done correctly Command Prompt allows you to set up keyboard shortcuts that you can use on your computer.

It seems like we have a lot to look forward to with the release of Windows 10, which is expected to come out later this year. In the meantime, Microsoft is still developing the operating system so there may be more surprises in store before Windows 10 hits the consumer market. What do you think about the new features in Windows 10?

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.

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: 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: 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

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

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 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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Unlocking Cell Phones Finally Legal (Again)

Last week President Obama signed a bill that now makes unlocking cell phones legal (again). The law has gone back-and-forth several times arguing that unlocking a cell phone violated the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act which prohibits Americans from bypassing technologies that protect things that are copyrighted. But for now it is officially legal to unlock your mobile device.

This new law has made some very happy, some upset, and a lot of people just don’t really care. There are also some who simply don’t understand what this all means for the average cell phone user. Let us break it down for you:

unlocking cell phonesWhat is Cell Phone Unlocking?

Most cell phones that are sold in the United States have a certain software lock system in place that prohibits the device from being used on competing networks. By unlocking this software, it allows for phones to be used across different cell carriers.

Why is it Important?

The biggest impacts that cell phone unlocking has on everyday users are that you can now take your current phone with you if you switch carriers. This eliminates the need to buy a new phone with your new contract. It also allows some international travelers to take their phones with them on their trips and actually use them overseas, depending on their device.

What you need to know

Even though unlocking a cell phone may seem easy and that it works for everyone, that’s not the case. There are a few things you should know about unlocking your cell phone.

Just because it is unlocked, doesn’t mean that you can take any phone to any carrier. Cell phone carriers use different network technology. While some use GSM, others use CDMA. You cannot use the same phone if you are switching to a carrier that uses a different network technology. For example, a Verizon phone cannot be used on an AT&T network.

Cell phones are made and optimized specifically for the network that distributes them. If you take your phone to a new carrier, certain features may not work properly or even at all on a different network.

How to unlock your phone

It doesn’t cost anything to get your phone unlocked. But your cell phone carrier can refuse to unlock your device if you aren’t in good standing with the company or your contract isn’t expired.

The process of unlocking your phone is fairly simple, just call your mobile service provider and they will provide you with unlock codes or software updates that will unlock your device. If they have a different process, they can usually unlock your phone remotely or in-store.

Although having the ability and freedom to unlock your phone is great, it may not last. Similarly to how the previous act making it illegal expired, this new act will expire in three years. Unless it is renewed by Congress, it too will be reversed. What do you think of this new law? Will you be unlocking your cell phone?

Sources: FCC & CNET

iPhoto & Aperture Users: Read now

Apple recently announced it will cease development of Aperture and iPhoto. Users can migrate their current library into the new Photos editing app included with Mac OS X 10.10. We recommend running a backup before starting any data migration. Read this article on tips for backing up your library before the move.

Library Contents: What To Look For

Your actual library is called “iPhoto Library.photolibrary” or “Aperture Library.photolibrary.” Mac OS X handles these libraries as packages, hiding the folders within. However, CrashPlan sees iPhoto and Aperture libraries as folders.  Below is an example of how your library appears the CrashPlan app’s file selection.  This folder contains information that OS X hides:


Why all these files?

iPhoto and Aperture rely on metadata and non-destructive techniques to manage changes made to your photos. This is important to remember when restoring iPhoto and Aperture data: if you only restore photos, and not your photo library, then your events and edits won’t be restored.

Shoe Box Analogy

Think of having all of your photos in one big shoe box. This is your library. When you go through this shoe box, you may separate each event with rubber bands or slips of paper. When you crop a photo, instead of using scissors, you decide to cover up the parts you don’t want to see with sticky notes.

In iPhoto, your events and edits are stored in your library as metadata alongside your photos. None of your photos are actually cropped or re-colored unless you explicitly tell iPhoto to do this. iPhoto keeps notes on what you want to have your photos look like and shows those settings “on the fly” when you look at them.

Ransomware: Protect your files or lose them forever

In October of 2013, Antivirus companies discovered a new ransomware known as Cryptolocker. Since then, after many attempts at blocking and killing the software attacks, a new version came out, and both are “seized” according to Deputy Attorney General James Cole. The leader, Evgeniy Bogachev, is even wanted by the FBI. Whenever one attack is stopped, there is almost always another that is stronger and less detectable than the last. Here is the low-down on ransomware.

What is Cryptolocker Ransomware?
Ransomware is a type of malware which restricts access to the computer system that it infects, and demands a ransom paid to the creator(s) of the malware in order for the restriction to be removed. Cryptolocker ransomware is particularly nasty because infected users are in danger of losing their files… forever.


These messages have been targeted to businesses through phishing attacks. The only way to unlock your files is by using a private key stored on the cybercriminal’s server. Infected users must pay $300 USD to receive this private key. There is also a time limit placed on this, if you exceed it, you’re files could be lost forever.

Here is a list of file extensions that are targeted and encrypted so you can’t access them after attack:

3fr, accdb, ai, arw, bay, cdr, cer, cr2, crt, crw, dbf, dcr, der, dng, doc, docm, docx, dwg, dxf, dxg, eps, erf, indd, jpe, jpg, kdc, mdb, mdf, mef, mrw, nef, nrw, odb, odm, odp, ods, odt, orf, p12, p7b, p7c, pdd, pef, pem, pfx, ppt, pptm, pptx, psd, pst, ptx, r3d, raf, raw, rtf, rw2, rwl, srf, srw, wb2, wpd, wps, xlk, xls, xlsb, xlsm, xlsx

Here is further insight on Cryptolocker.

How do you protect yourself?

When you see the message like the one shown above, it’s actually too late. You need to prevent ransomware before it starts.

First off, be aware of how to identify malicious emails in your inbox.

Second, make sure you have a program on your computer that blocks these types of attacks. Losing access to all your files can be detrimental for your business. Protect yourself and your client’s information that is stored on your computer by investing in an anti-malware software. FlexTech offers programs that will both protect against ransomware, and help to recover files in the unfortunate event you are attacked.

Contact us to get more information or with questions you have regarding suspicious activity on your computer.

Source: Cryptolocker Ransomware: What You Need To Know

Zeus Malware Used in Targeted Email Attacks

Your Vital Banking and Personal Information is at risk! Virus and Malware attacks are getting more advanced and slipping through our spam filters everyday. Keep in mind many of these emails look legitimate, so just because it’s from someone you know doesn’t mean it is safe. So how do you detect malware in your inbox?

The most recent example of this is an evolved strain of Zues malware that has been discovered using the Windows ‘PIF’ file extension to steal information from compromised computer systems. These are legitimate looking emails targeted to personal and business inboxes with malicious links that could capture private information like your:

  • Financial information
  • IP address
  • Email credentials
  • And even screen shots of your activity

Here are some of the example emails being sent:

Email subject: Failed delivery for package #1398402
File name:
VirusTotal detection rate: 2 percent

Email subject: Pending consumer complaint
File name:
VirusTotal detection rate: 11 percent

Lure email examples:

3583.Zeus PIF_2_s.jpg-550x0

4505.Zeus PIF_1_s.jpg-550x0

8358.Zeus PIF_3._sjpg.jpg-550x0

Here are ways to tell whether an email you’ve received is malicious:
1. There is always going to be a link. Move your mouse over the link to show the real address, and if it doesn’t match what you expect, it’s probably malicious.
2. Are there files attached with zip or htm extensions?
3. Outlook detects the email as a potential phishing or unsafe email.

If you are concerned you’ve been targeted in a malicious attack, call us. We’ll review the email(s) you’ve received and guide you on how to proceed.

Don’t click a link you’re unsure of! You’re secure information could be on the line.

Sources: ZDNet, Websense, PowerBiz

Comcast Home Routers Turn Into Wi-Fi Hotspots

Comcast has started the project of swapping out home Wi-Fi routers and replacing them with ones that can double as public hotspots. As of June the company has already done this to 3 million home devices and plans on converting another 5 million before the end of the year. As of now this project has spread across the United States. Boston, Chicago, Houston, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Seattle are just a few of the cities expected to have new Comcast home routers installed. Although some may have their doubts, representatives from Comcast insist that families shouldn’t experience any conflict resulting from this update. They also offer an opt out policy where, at the customer’s request, they will deactivate the public hotspot router.

comcast home router


Each of the new routers has two separate antennae so people can’t gain access to your personal network. The hotspot has its own network and antenna. The strength of the router will stay the same, people will have to be inside your home or business to access the network. Everyone using the hotspot must sign in with his or her own Xfinity account.

Connection Speed:

Since each network has its own antenna, people using the hotspot wont slow down your personal Internet connection. The private network will continue to run at 25 megabits per second while the hotspot will run at 15 and will only support five people using it at one time.

Benefit of Updated Comcast Home Routers:

If you have an Xfinity account with Comcast you can register your devices and be continuously connected no matter your location. Whether you are waiting in the lobby at the doctor’s office, or at your friend’s house watching the game you no longer need to ask for the passwords to connect to the internet.

Disadvantage of Updated Comcast Home Routers:

When you add another access point to the network there is always an increase in security risk. While Comcast is opening up an access point for people to use the Internet, they are also opening an access point to network hackers. Even though Comcast is sure in their security measures, there’s always a chance.

Is this advancement in router technology something you would take advantage of?