Windows 7 on a MAC…hmmm…why?

This story from CrunchGear featuring  Windows 7 being launched on NBC’s Today Show pokes some fun at an older MacBook showing up as a prop in the background.They never actually use it but there’s no reason it wouldn’t work.

win7-macbook

With the move of Macs away from Motorola chips and to Intel processors, running Windows on your Apple computer isn’t all that difficult. Of course die-hard Mac users wrinkle their noses up in disgust and ask why would you want to? But for business computer users it is an acceptable alternative and for many it resolves the dilemma they face when being forced to choose between WindowsPCs and Macs. Now they can use both. In the same computer!

Getting back to why . . .  some folks like Mac computers for their personal use and have used them for years but when they move into corporate computing they are often forced to use a Windows based PC. Traditional IT departments, outsourced organizations and infrastructure doesn’t support Apple computer technologies based in both technology and cultural mindsets. Custom and legacy business software applications are developed for PCs and not the Mac operating system known as MacOS – AKA Snow Leopard, the current version. Up until recently this has created the separation between the two. It seems that Apple is positioning their computers for business users by supporting the use of Windows on their hardware and providing support in their new MacOS for some enterprise tools such MS Exchange for email subscribers using MS Outlook. Microsoft makes a few versions of Office for the Mac and the files are transportable between either PC or Mac platforms.

Windows XP can and does run on the Intel based Mac computers in parallel with the MacOS. Windows Vista never was a choice but Windows 7 has been used during the pre-release period and now with the official release versions. There are two ways to do this.

Boot Camp lets you choose between MacOS or Windows when you first boot up your Mac. When you boot into Windows (XP or Windows 7) your Mac runs just like a PC. To get back to the world of Apple just reboot and choose the MacOS. There are folks who need both environments at the same time and by using software utilities such as Parallels or VMWare Fusion you boot into the MacOS and start up a Windows session in a window. You can swap data between the two environments and with this dual personality Mac users can get the best of both worlds.

Just so you know, I represent a company that sells computer hardware and we carry both PCs and Macs. My customers are home based consumers and business folks. Our techs setup Windows XP & 7 on Macs on a regular basis and it seems to work well for those folks who need both operating systems.

BTW: Hulu.com won’t show the video outside of the US but you can watch it on the NBC Today Show site by clicking here.

Dean

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Laptop overheating, a preventable problem

Here is good advice for laptop users from an article posted by the CBC regarding the tragic death of a man in Vancouver when his laptop computer caught fire after overheating when it was left on a couch.

Safety recommendations

The coroner’s office recommended anyone using a laptop take the following precautions.

  • Always operate on a hard surface that allows ventilation. Soft materials can block the airflow vents and cause it to overheat.
  • If it is not possible to avoid using a soft surface, an optional heat-sink base should be used to maintain cooling.
  • Always shut down your laptop, even for short periods of time, especially when placed in a carry bag.
  • Inspect and clean the air vents on a weekly basis. Forced-air dusters can be used to keep the vents clean and free from debris.
  • Replace any equipment or parts that do not work.
  • Using a laptop desk or cooler to allow air circulation between the laptop and the desk
  • Visit the Health Canada recall listings website to see if a laptop has been recalled.
  • Review the manufacturers’ website for additional safety tips and recommended maintenance.
  • This is good advice. A fifty dollar cooling fan unit goes a long way to keep your computer cool and prevent premature failure.

    Dean

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    Apple’s billion dollar endorsement of cloud computing

    Apple is building a huge data centre in North Carolina which will cost them one billion dollars over the next ten years. Apple has a culture of secrecy regarding their actions and this activity is no exception. Industry experts and Apple watchers speculate that this Apple data centre will provide the storage capacity required for Apple’s move into cloud computing. Service offerings will range from document storage, movies, music, pictures and Apple’s yet to be announced online application services. They are not alone in building new data centres. Microsoft and Google are also busy expanding their storage capacities to meet the expected needs of the future of cloud computing. It appears that this investment is Apple’s endorsement and show of support for cloud computing.

    data-center sign
    Flickr photo - Kathika - Creative Commons lisc.

    Dean

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    Two common problems – bad passwords and no back-up

    Robert Scoble posted about his experiences with bad passwords and a hard drive failure with no back-up.

    These along with poor malware protection have to be the most preventable but common problems with computers. In our personal lives and in our businesses. Why is this? Are we too lazy to take precautions? Maybe we just don’t know about the risks and the measures we can take?

    I’ve never had a problem with passwords but on more than one occasion I’ve lost valuable data without a backup. Password design was drilled into me early in my IT support career. Back-ups? Just lazy I guess . . . after all I can always back it up tomorrow!

    Dean

    Trojans accounted for 70 percent of the new malware detected

    Trojans accounted for 70 percent of all new malware between April and June 2009, according to data compiled in the latest PandaLabs Quarterly Report. Adware rose dramatically over this period, from 7.54 percent in the previous quarter to 16.37 percent. This is largely due to the increase in fake antivirus applications, a type of adware that passes itself off as a legitimate security solution.

    Trojans were also responsible for more infections than any other type of malware over this period. This type of malware was behind 34.37 percent of all infections detected by PandaLabs, an increase of 2.86 percent with respect to the previous quarter. Adware infection levels remained stable, accounting for 19.62 percent of the total. Worms increased slightly (0.89%), staying in the picture due largely to the effectiveness with which they spread.

    In terms of specific strains of malware, the number one ranked specimen between April and June 2009 was Downloader.MDW, a Trojan designed to download other malware on to computers. The Virtumonde spyware and Rebooter.J Trojan were also among the malicious codes that caused most infections.

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    Top 5 easily preventable network vulnerabilities

    Large enterprises and small companies have one thing in common when it comes to IT – vulnerable computer networks. Tests were applied to both small and large corporate networks using criteria based on industry best practices from CISCO Networks, the US National Security Agency and Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). They all failed with most of them failing a majority of the tests. As a result of not following basic configuration steps and best practices these networks were vulnerable and open to intrusion. Following is a short list made up of the most common errors.

    If you are a small business owner and whether you have in-house IT staff or outsource, ask them about these five common mistakes. What’s really critical is that you ask them for proof that best practices are being followed. A penetration test and survey from a third party IT firm is not a bad idea either. Since they don’t know what they are looking at, they’re more likely to find vulnerabilities in systems that your own staff have overlooked.

    1. Not changing the default passwords on all network devices.

    It’s hard to believe that this happens but it does. A server, switch, router or network appliance with the default password – usually “password” or “admin” – still enabled usually happens when installation is performed by DIY users or unskilled IT techs but it also happens to pros. Why? Lack of familiarity with the equipment or lack of an installation checklist being in place or being followed. Things like, “I don’t have time to set it right now, so I’ll do it later”, but it never gets done since a lot of networks are a ‘set and forget’ project. More than half of all the records that were compromised last year were the result of using a default password on a network device, according to a Verizon Business study.

    2. Sharing a password across multiple network devices.

    For convenience sake, people often use the same password across multiple servers, and several people know the password. It might be a good password but once it’s shared among several systems, these systems are all at risk. You need a process to make sure that server passwords are not shared among multiple systems, are changed regularly, not shared beyond those people who require direct access and are kept secure. If the password is discovered by a hacker, the hacker can get into many servers and cause more damage.

    3. Misconfiguration of your access control lists.

    Segmenting your network using access control lists is the simplest way to make sure that systems communicate only with the systems that they should. Having properly configured access control lists would have protected 66 per cent of the records that were compromised last year, according to the Verizon report.

    4. Allowing non-secure remote access and management software.

    One of the most popular ways for hackers to get into your network is to use a remote access and management software package, such as PCAnywhere, Virtual Network Computing (VNC) or Secure Shell (SSH). Often, these software applications are lacking the most basic security measures, such as good passwords. This problem accounted for 27 per cent of the compromised records in the Verizon Business report

    5. Not adequately protecting your servers from malware.

    Most malware is installed by a remote attacker and is used to capture data. Typically, malware is customized, so it can’t be discovered by antivirus software. Lock down servers so that no new applications can run on them. Malware on servers accounts for 38 per cent of all security breaches, Verizon Business says.

    If you accept credit cards as payment for products or services, here is a bonus mistake.

    6. Not following the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

    Dubbed PCI DSS, this set of 12 controls for protecting cardholder information work but most companies don’t even try to meet the strict but basic PCI standards. Even though 98 per cent of all compromised records involve payment card data, only 19 per cent of organizations with security breaches followed the PCI standards, according to the Verizon Business report.

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