Tips for Better Computing

Facebook in the workplace

posted on Jun 04, 2013 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

Facebook in the workplace
In recent years, we have seen more and more Facebook use in the workplace. Businesses are using it to advertise and promote their businesses
The problem with Facebook is that it is a hotbed of Malware activity and people are exposing themselves and their businesses to Malware/Spyware and Viruses that could not only harm their computers but steal bank account information – The article below talks about just such a virus. If your business needs Facebook, make sure:

1. You have current and working antivirus program, coupled with Malwarebytes configured to update and scan nightly
2. That computer/staff member does no banking or logs into other sensitive websites on that computer
3. Never “Like” an unknown profile or page and don’t click on any videos or participate in any game activity
4. Consider having that computer not part of the Domain, or even have it on another network (guest network)
5. Configure your Web Browser in “Private Mode” while working on Facebook
6. Don’t use that computer for other business use – Have a dedicated Social Media computer

In this article, it’s a fake NFL Profile that triggers the virus that steals bank account information – This is serious stuff here and it’s not “Hacker Kids” doing this. It’s large Criminal Business Enterprises writing and disseminating these viruses – They have the will and the money to hire the best in the world to steal your money and information

Click here for NY Times article Fake NFL Profile

Big Village IT – Professional IT Services for your Business
(512) 524-7641

Cell phones increasingly targeted by thieves

posted on May 15, 2013 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

Increasingly, thieves are targeting smart phones and even at gunpoint – Be careful where you use your phone and remember they fetch a good penny on the used market
Here’s two articles; one discusses how the industry is not doing enough to curb phone theft; why? Because they’re making a fortune from replacing them at retail costs
The other article gives tips to avoid you from being a victim of phone theft

Click here

Industry looks the other way
Outsmarting Smartphone Thieves

Cloud Service Offerings – Google, Microsoft, Apple and Drop Box

posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA
, , ,

Cloud Service Offerings – Google, Microsoft, Apple and Drop Box

Cloud services are really starting to heat up with feature rich offerings from three major players in our computing world.

Click on the links below to learn more.

Google Apps Premier

Microsoft Office 365

Apple iCloud


Big Village IT has never offered Hosting, knowing that there was no way to compete with the cloud services that were coming from the “Big Guys”.  Local Hosting providers are rightfully nervous because they are not going to be able to offer hosting at the same level for the same price.

Google, Microsoft, and Apple are offering email, calendaring, contacts and documents sharing for a low as $5.00 per month, per user. Expanding broadband services and reliability are making it difficult to not seriously consider their solutions for your businesses or personal use. There are limitations, but for many businesses, it fits nicely.

DropBox offers online storage and file syncing to multiple computing devices – 2 Gigs for free and up to 50 Gigs for a monthly fee

In the coming weeks, I’ll be looking at each of these services and providing more details, including how to access them on your phone and iPad

Cloud solutions may not work for everyone though – Call us and we’ll help you decide if the Cloud is right for your business.

Here’s an interesting read comparing Google Apps to Microsoft’s Office 365

Information Week Compare Cloud Services

Wayne Kimes  MCSE, CNE, CCNA
Big Village IT,  Austin, Texas
512 524-7641

Can you Trust your Managed Service Provider?

posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

Do you know the difference between “Insurance” and “Assurance”, and can you trust your Managed Service Provider?

Managed Services have increasingly earned a poor reputation, with many business owners and managers placing them in the same category as “used car salesmen.”  This was quoted to me by the owner of one of Austin’s largest Managed Service Providers, who is certainly qualified to have this opinion.

Before starting my own company, I thought long and hard about this reality. Though there are many reasons why service often falls below expectation with some Managed Service Providers, I believe that there is one primary reason.

The business model of Managed Services is to lock your business into a “fixed fee”, flat monthly rate, preferably with a long-term contract to ensure recurring revenue. There’s nothing wrong with that, except there is an implied conflict of interest; the less you call, the more they profit. The only other business with this revenue model is the insurance industry.  Though the reasoning behind the model may seem sound “We guarantee 99% uptime” and “You can call us as much as you need”– it’s still IT insurance and cannot replace the value of dedicated IT staff.

When I started Big Village IT, I wanted to provide IT Assurance. Assurance is when you know you’ve hired a qualified vendor that cares, is competent, and gives you the service you pay for; the service you should expect.  Generally speaking, this is called “value for your dollar” — something that is sorely lacking in today’s technology-related service industries.

Here is an excellent article at ZDNet with some points about choosing a service provider:

ZDNet – Can you trust your IT Provider?

Big Village IT will only provide a fixed-fee solution after several months of working with your company. We don’t have a “cookie cutter” fixed fee price structure. We work with your organization to develop a tailored service structure that provides ongoing productive service for your dollar. Yes, everything will be covered and you won’t have to worry about fluctuating IT costs but, we call that IT Assurance. We’ll work hard to fulfill the promise of “Being your IT Partner” and if you’re not getting service for your dollar, we’ll lower your fee. Every single one of our clients had an IT provider before coming to us and every single one of them pays less for their service now than they did before.

Don’t take my word for it — Call us and we’ll let you talk to them.

Wayne Kimes MCSE, CNE, CCNA
Big Village IT, Austin Texas
512 524-7641

Cloud Computing – Breaking Up is Hard to do!

posted on Jun 29, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

The thought of going to the Cloud for many is like the beginning of a beautiful relationship; you’re in love, that person is the coolest person ever, and it’s all butterflies and moon beams; everything seems to better and they have so much to offer, but no one talks about what happens when it ends — I mean it can’t end, this is so perfect, right?

Well, it may or may not be; businesses grow and change, just like people do. If you’re thinking about going to the Cloud, or using Hosted Services, you need to ask up-front:  “If we leave you, how do you handle that process?” and “Are you really hosting our business in a way that makes migrations or exiting seamless?”

Chances are you’ll get a boiler-plate answer that does not provide exact details and a “Don’t’ worry about it” attitude.  You do need to worry about it!

Many companies put you in Hosted Environments with hundreds of other users that you can’t see, or in Virtual Machines, and when it comes to migrating to a better server, upgrade, or leaving because you are not happy (imagine that?) seamless migration or exit may not be possible, becoming a real headache.

An example:  A common migration process would be to install a new server on the same network as your existing server, install the upgraded operating system and email server. This would allow a seamless transfer to the new server without business interruption.  If you want to leave your Hosting Company for whatever reason, they’re not going to let you install a server on their network to migrate. Instead, they’ll give you all of the emails in hard drive or disk and tell you to import them. This means there will be a period of time where all of your users will not have all of their email and possibly suffer some loss or corruption.

Another example: We configured a business for Google Apps and migrated all of their existing Exchange email to Google. It was seamless and Google Apps works very well. After some time it was decided that Google Apps did not have all of the features they required and the decision was made to migrate back to Exchange. That was easily done. However, all of the auto-fill email addresses (you know the ones that fill automatically as you type) were altered by Google and no longer worked with Exchange – It seems trivial, until the CEO complains that they have to retype every email address and “You know how long that takes, and I don’t need all of those email addresses!”  Imagine 50 employees complaining about this at the same time.

I could go on with other examples, but the point is; do your home work and don’t trust the Hosting Company to give you a complete picture.

Consult with an IT Professional that can ask the questions of your potential Hosting Company.

If you’re thinking about Hosted Solution and you need help, call us. We don’t offer Hosting and there are many variables to consider before you decide. We’ll give you our honest assessment which may save you many headaches when that time comes to “break-up.”

Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA
Big Village IT, Austin Texas


posted on Jun 09, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA
, , ,

Here’s a recent post I sent to several clients that are using Macs in a Windows domain environment:

“Recently, there has been an increase in virus activity for Macs.  This is just a friendly reminder that Macs are not immune to virus attacks.”

The article below discusses a recent virus similar to the Windows Fake Antivirus Virus, which has a
pop-up that says your machine is infected; and it won’t go away until you pay for the full version of their software. This virus is apparently written by the same Russian group that is writing the Windows version.

I am not recommending purchasing an Antivirus product, but just be aware that your Mac is not immune and, as always, exercise caution while browsing the web and installing programs.

Below is the link to the article and below that, a link to Clam AV.  Clam AV is a free Antivirus program for Mac.  As with many free AV products, it is not automatic and must be updated and run by you.  It will not “real time” scan and block infections as they enter your computer. I advise you to download Clam AV, install, and update it – just to have it in case something pops up (a virus). You might want to update and run it periodically.

If you want a full blown AV product for your Mac, the article suggests two:  Sophos and Intego.  Sophos appears to be free, but I have no experience with these products and can’t make a recommendation.  I might spend some time in the future looking at AV products for the Mac, but I’m not sure it’s needed now. Awareness is what is needed now…”

Safe computing-


Clam AV



The Number One Thing You Can Do To Save On IT Costs – It Won’t Cost You a Penny!

posted on Jun 09, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

The Number One Thing You Can Do To Save On IT Costs – It Won’t Cost You a Penny!

More often than not, when we get a call or go on-site for a new client, the number one thing that increases the time it takes to resolve many problems is the lack of documentation, software, or other information needed to resolve the issue.

Scrambling for this information after a problem arises, increases the time it takes for us to fix the problem and results in longer down time for the business. This also applies to individuals and their personal computers.

1. Keep all of your software in one location, preferably locked up, but where someone with regular availability has access;

2. Keep all of your IT related documents in the same location. Include all licenses for all of your software, including operating systems;

3. Record all of your logins (i.e. login ID/passwords): servers, desktops, wireless routers, firewalls and websites used for business;

4. Record all IT related vendor account information, especially your ISP (Internet Service Provider), account numbers, contact phone numbers, and IP address information.

Just having the above information available for your IT Support Technician when the time arises will speed up resolution time and keep your costs to a minimum.

If you need help with collecting this information, give our office a call and we’ll lend a hand.

Wayne Kimes
Big Village IT, Austin, TX

Malwarebytes – Best Value in Antivirus, Malware and Spyware Solutions

posted on May 31, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA
, , ,

I get this same question a lot; what’s the difference between viruses, malware, and spyware?

It used to be that we distinguished viruses from malware and spyware. Viruses really screwed up your computer and malware and spyware just slowed it down and annoyed you – Now, they‘ve all morphed into what we affectionately call “Infections.”

Infections affect your computer in many ways and while there are some that don’t seem to affect the performance, they may be stealing information from you — Yes, they’re all bad.

Over the years we’ve tried many Antivirus products with mixed results and we have tried them all!  The standards, Symantec and McAffe along with others are very good, but can slow down your computer or even keep it from functioning properly– and they don’t stop many common infections.  The popularity of social networking sites, particularly Facebook, has infections on the rise exponentially.

In the last half of 2010, we finally concluded that there was no product that was effective in keeping a Windows XP machine from getting infected – We began to recommend a two-product solution:

  1. A Free version of AVG Antivirus or Microsoft Security Essentials (also free); and simultaneously,
  2. A paid version of Malwarebytes.

If you or your company has already paid for an Antivirus product, we advise to leave it installed and use it instead of Option 1.

Test Case:

When we acquired the Waterloo Ice House organization, they had a chronic problem with repeated virus infections despite the fact that every machine had a working and current Antivirus solution installed.  In the first two months, they had 17 infections that took an average of 45 minutes to eradicate.  In some instances, a reinstall was necessary.   Big Village IT purchased Corporate licensing @ $18.00 per workstation and installed it along with their current AV product (yes, you can do this with Malwarebytes)  –  We configured Malwarebytes to update and scan nightly.  The infection rate decreased by 90%!

I t doesn’t take much math to figure out the potential savings, not to mention the productivity gains.

The really good news is that Malwarebytes is free to home users. The slight drawback is that the free version only runs manually. That is, you have to update it and run it.  However, this is what we use most of the time to remove infections from client’s computers and very effective even when downloaded after you’ve been infected.  The full version cost is $24.95 and a very good value.  This version will update and scan automatically once configured.

You can download here:

You will be directed to another site (that’s ok) to download the install.  Be careful when going to these other sites, they may try to trick you into downloading something else, so remember, it pays to pay attention. The file you want is called  – mbam-setup.exe – As a courtesy to the makers of Malwarebytes, we don’t provide a copy of it.

Here’s a video of me installing Malwarebytes on a computer so that you can see how it is done: 

YouTube Preview Image

Install Malwarebytes today for more peace of mind and safer computing.

If you have any questions about Malwarebytes or any other IT related needs, please call our office.

Wayne Kimes

Free, Effective Web Content Filter for Safer Computing

posted on May 26, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

Blue Coat K9 Web Content Filter

In the last month, I’ve had about a dozen people asking me how to protect their kids from viewing inappropriate websites on the family computer.  With the summer coming, there will be lots of family getting together with time off from work and school; so it seems like a good time to tell you how.

There is a product that I recommend that is effective, safe, and free for home use. It’s also easy to install – at the end of this post, there are two videos of me showing you how to download and install it.

The product is called K9 Web Protection and is developed and distributed by Blue Coat. Blue Coat makes some pretty heavy duty web content filters for business, but provides a version that can be installed on a Windows based machine or a Mac OS-X, which is free for personal use.

It is reliable and contains no spyware or other malicious programs that sometimes accompany free programs. I’ve installed this on dozens of computers and have never had a problem.

It will effectively block a wide variety of web content based on categories, or you can simply block specific content. You need a password to make changes or un-install it – so it’s pretty “bullet proof.”

It is also effective in blocking Spyware or Malware from invading your computer; it does this by blocking “known” websites that deliver these harmful programs to your system.

It’s free for personal use, updates itself, and is maintenance free.

Watch this two short videos and I’ll show you how to get it, install it, and configure it.

Download and install – Video 1

Configuring the web content filter – Video 2

If you’re ready to install it – click here –

Good luck and next week, I’ll show how to download, install, and run the program we use to remove Spyware, Malware, and other viruses. There is a free version and it is the best we’ve seen in removing malicious software from your PC.

As Always, if you have questions about K9 or any other product, please feel free to call out office and someone will be happy to help you

Safe Computing,

Wayne Kimes

Protecting your Identity Online

posted on May 17, 2011 in Tips for Better Computing
by Wayne Kimes, MCSE, CNE, CCNA

Protecting your Identity Online

Recent security breaches at Epsilon, Sony and the Texas State Comptroller’s Office illustrate just how easy it is to access a user’s personal data. In each case, millions of usernames and passwords were stolen, and in each case, it was done from inside. Someone clicked on something that allowed a hacker from the outside access. Once stolen, this information is often sold to others. The buyers will use the usernames and passwords to try to gain access to other sites and financial institutions.

Email addresses are often used as usernames and many people frequently use the same password with multiple accounts; so it’s easy to apply this username and its related password to random sites to try and gain access. There is software that automates this task and is highly successful.

Many people have multiple websites they log into and they tend to use the same username and password, or a variation of the password, because it’s easier for them to remember. Unfortunately, that need to be able to remember the password makes you more vulnerable to data and identity theft, or worse – financial loss.

The best protection against this is unique usernames and passwords for each and every website or service you access. You can do a Google search for “Best practices for usernames and passwords” to find an abundance of information on this, but I’m going to offer my thoughts for what I think is the minimum of protection.

Cisco (Prince of Routers)

Cisco (Prince of Routers)

1.     For sites that have financial information or personal data such as social security numbers: Use a unique username and password. If it’s an email address for username, sign up for another Gmail, Hotmail or whatever “free mail” service provider and only use that email for that account; do not use it for anything else.

2.     The password should be complex with upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. The best passwords are combination of something that is entirely random and which it is unlikely someone would expect you to use. You might create one from a combination of familiar names or dates. An example might be: CiscoPOR997030 – That’s my dogs name (AKC) and birth-date backwards. Cisco “Prince of Routers” 03/07/99. You can use a family member, city or whatever you’d like – you get the point.

3.     If you’ve had the same passwords for years now – change them today!

Remember, being online is neither private nor very secure. Data breaches occur daily but are not reported or caught. The sheer number of people with online data makes the odds of your being a victim a statistical improbability, but not an impossibility. When you are a victim – it really sucks!

If you need help or have questions – please call our office for assistance!