Author: Making IT Right PTY LTD

Sonos Wireless Sound System

sonos  Note the name allows the system to be inverted and still read correctly.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a gentleman who was in his late 70’s/early 80’s.  He had an existing LG Soundbar and woofer connected to his TV but was unable to get the sound quality he needed to be able to hear the dialogue from the TV.

I did some research on what options were available and finally suggested he try the Sonos sound system.

He went into the stores (Bing Lee/JB Hifi/ Harvey Norman) and tested out a few that I had mentioned (Bose/Samsung/Sonos/B&O) etc and agreed that the best sound appeared to come from the Sonos system.

So he agreed to purchase the soundbar  sonos-playbarand two Play 1 sonos-play-1speakers.

We the initial installation went OK and appeared to go without a hitch with the playbar connecting to the TV via a Optical Cable optical-cable.

The two play 1 speakers were connected as a stereo pair and then grouped with the Playbar to get the TV sound playing out of all three speakers.

The sonos App had to be installed on his iPad mini which acted as a controller and allowed the volume of the Playbar and the Play 1 Pair to be controlled together or separately.  It also allowed the existing TV remote to control the volume.

After having resolved a few issues with setup using Sonos support, I was called back by the customer a few hours later when the play 1 speakers were no longer getting sound, only the playbar had sound.

I chased this issue down with the Sonos Rep who was very helpful.  He told me about a previously unmentioned setting in Sonos which if selected (DEFAULT), will un-group the speakers when the TV s turned off.  Support had not mentioned this feature nor was it in any manual?  Go figure!!

I changed this setting and the connection grouping was retained even when the TV was turned off.

The home where this system was installed was using a Asus Wifi ADSL 2+ Modem Router.  This appears to be less stable than using a Sonos Bridge suggested by Harvey Norman Sales Rep.

This was the cheapest component at under $100  sonos-bridge  Currently, all Sonos speakers communicate via the SonosNet peer-to-peer mesh network, which must be connected directly to a router via the Bridge device. The firmware update will work with all existing Sonos products, but there are a few limitations to the new “wire free” Sonos setup.

The bridge connected to the Modem via a Ethernet cable and the sonos system then talked to the bridge.  Things appeared to be stable for a few months but now again the Play 1 Speakers are having issues.  The sound appears to alternating between the the left and right speakers.

According to Sonos rep, this is probably caused by wifi interference.  They have suggested calling their Melbourne Support line and seeing what they can do or suggest.

Wifi interference can the the modem itself, or even a new wifi signal being turned on nearby(Nearby Apartment) generating a interfering signal, or a cordless phone which also has wifi.

Let me know if you need help with purchasing and implementing a SONOS system.

Swapping your conventional Hard Disk Drive (HDD) to a new Solid State Drive (SSD)

I recently received a call from one of my customers that one of their computers in their office was performing very slowly.  It was an older computer which was using a conventional Hard Drive with a capacity of 500GIG.

Option 1:  Replace the computer with a new computer which would come with a SSD drive installed.  The cost of such a machine could be between $1100 and $1600.  On top of this we would have to setup the machine to work in the office by adding networked printers, mapped network drives, configure standard antivirus software, install Office 2013 again etc.  All this will take a few hours and add to the overall cost.

Option 2:  Clone the contents of the existing drive onto a new SSD drive of the same size and and then unplug the old drive and connect the new.  Under the covers there is a change to the drive, but nothing appears to have changed on the PC except for the boost in performance.  Cost here would be 1-2 hours in labour plus the cost of the drive.  Drives vary in cost depending on the brand, quality and capacity of the drive in GIGABYTES.  It is always recommended to cleanup the drive and remove all unnecessary data to speed up the cloning process.

SSD drive are 2.5″ drive sizes which are normally the size put into laptops.  The capacity of the drives start as small as 120GIG and go up to 1 Terabyte or 1000GIG and can cost from around $100 up to $500.

I finished cloning of the drive and the computer performance was as the customer put in  and I quote “computer booted-up ‘like lightening’…thanks”

The drive rating using the Windows Experience Index went from a 5.9 to a 7.4 out of a possible 7.9.  Vast improvement.

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and Laser Printers

UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and Laser Printers

I found out an interesting bit of information today about UPS devices.  UPS is Uninterruptible Power Supply.

 

I installed a 850Watt Eaton device at a client and connected a HP Desktop all-in-one  and a Multi-function Laser Printer.  That’s all.  Well after charging the unit for the prescribed 6 hours, I turned off the computer, and then plugged it and the Printer into the UPS.  I turned on the UPS and after a short while, a loud continuous beep sounded and did not stop.  I checked the manual (2 page document) and the only mention was the beep could be caused by a fault in the UPS.  I went back to my supplier who stated that he would loan me another unit to test to see if it was the UPS at fault.  It also had the same issue.

After calling the Australian Supplier of these units, I was asked if I was connecting a Laser Printer.  I told them that I was.  He said that I should try not to connect the printer, but to only connect the PC.  I returned and did this, and the unit did not beep.    Very strange!  Well I researched this a little further and found the following article in http://superuser.com/questions/466642/why-shouldnt-i-attach-laser-printers-or-scanners-to-a-ups/466645

In summary it states that one should never connect a laser printer to a UPS.  I guess that should be in the manual in bold lettering!!

When turned on, Laser printers draw a high current to heat up their fuser roller.

A typical UPS cannot cope with such a spike.

Descriptions of the problem by UPS manufacturers do not go into details.

The problem may be one or other of

  • The initial inrush current at start-up, This can be seven or more times the average operating current of the printer.
  • Initial power-on when the fuser is heated to the temperature needed to fuse toner. Subsequent re-heating of the fuser may be periodic or may occur when the printer switches from and idle state to full-power to satisfy a print request after a period of inactivity.

Fuser temperature is up to 200 °C (392 °F).

Odin Ransomware

Odin Ransomware

On the 3rd of October 2016 I received an urgent call from one of my customers. They had started one of their computers in the office and this triggered what landed up being the “ODIN RANSOMEWARE Virus”.  It quickly spread to their Server infecting files on both computers.  It appeared that a file called payment_receipt_contact_235142.zip contained a java script file (js) which contained the virus.

Read this article from   Sophos ODIN Ransomeware Virus article

payment-receipt-file

I immediately told them to disconnect their backup drive which was connected to the server in the hope that it had not yet spread to this device.  Fortunately the drive was not infected.  Very lucky!!

I determined once I was able to pickup the two infected computers, that the Antivirus that was “Running” on the first computer had been a trial version which had expired so was not updating itself.

expired-trial-tm

Computer 1 had over 3000 infected files and the server had over 9000 files infected.  Infected files were renamed  filename.odin.  Like the Viking God.

In addition when the computer started up, the following message was presented.

locky-virus

So, what had to happen from here.

The two infected computers did not have recovery disc’s or any record of the windows software licenses.  I did determine that there was, what is called a recovery Partition on the computers hard drive.

recovery-partition

I triggered a rebuild of the computers using this recovery partition which resulted in windows being reloaded.  (No windows 10 pro product key required)

All other software would now need to be reinstalled.  Office, Adobe, Chrome, Firefox etc.

I downloaded and installed a 30 day trial copy of Trend Micro Maximum 10 antivirus which could be activated within 30 days.  This protected the two newly rebuild computers until activation would happen.  The Workstation (i3 CPU) took over 10 hours to perform the rebuild and the Server (i5) took closer to 4 hours.

I have recommend that multiple backups be implemented with there always being a current backup which is not connected to the system/network.  This is what is called a “Air Bridge” to prevent it from getting infected.

I have also recommended having a Full Image taken of each computer in the office and stored on a separate drive (Ideally two drives) to cover for a system crash or a drive failure where you would lose the recovery partition also.  Easier to recover from this image.

It might be strange to say this, but it would have been so much worse.

  • No backup or infected backup.
  • Corrupted recovery partition or recovery partition.
  • More computers could have been infected in the office if not detected as soon as it was.  Other machines were turned off so not impacted.

Windows 10 Updates

Recently Windows 10 released its new update called the Anniversary Update version 1607. The previous version was 1511. What does this version offer?

Take a look at these articles for a detailed listing.

http://www.zdnet.com/article/what-to-expect-from-the-windows-10-anniversary-update/

http://www.howtogeek.com/248177/whats-new-in-windows-10s-anniversary-update/

  1. Cortana has become smarter. This is like Windows version of Siri
  2. There are more Apps
  3. You can interact with android and windows phones
  4. More themes
  5. Microsoft Edge (new windows 10 browser) supports extensions
  6. Fingerprint Authentication with Windows Hello and unlock PC with companion devices
  7. Start menu redesigned

There are many more features.

If you are running windows 10 and don’t know what version you are running then

Hold down the windows key and press the R key and in the entry field type winver and press enter.  This should show you the windows version you are running.

Windows 10 Start Menu windows-10-menu and the Anniversary Menu looks like windows-10-anniversary-menu

 

The update itself is around 3.5gig in size so unless you have a fast internet connection, this will take a while.

Telstra Bigpond email change

If you have a Bigpond email account, you might be impacted by a recent change that has been rolled out.  

If you stop getting emails suddenly, (Late July 2016) then you may be part of a group who’s mailboxes with Telstra require a change to the mail server settings from where you access your email from a Mobile Device, Outlook or similar mail software.

Let me know if this has happened to you.

Telstra Outages

Yesterday I went to a client who had another outage from their cable service provider.  Telstra.  A great deal of their work is done online and when the service is running, the speed is great.  This weeks outage started  28 July and was reported to be down until Thursday evening 4 August 2016!!

Currently reporting to be back around 7pm.  See image below for the 2030 post code.

How can a businesses continue to operate with this happening on a regular basis.

They have resorted to using a Telstra wifi dongle which both their office computers can connect to.  This is a very expensive way of remaining connected to the Internet to do business.  $50 for 5 gig for 365 days. This also impacts the rest of the family.  School homework done via the Internet, submitting homework, doing research and of course all the must have social media activity (Facebook, Instagram, snapchat, Twitter, whatsapp, email etc etc etc.)

Chasing Telstra is a very frustrating activity and most often does not result in a timely solution.  You just have to wait for them to take action while in the interim rack up huge costs and stress!!

All if not most roads lead to Telstra so you don’t have many choices.  Some ISP’s have great support while others have better speed.  What do you choose?

Exeter I am told have great customer service but iinet have better speed. Internode used to be top of the pile for customer service but much to my dismay, this is no longer the case.  

I used to be with internode for over 9 years and had no issues.  Support was great.  When I relocated 5 years ago, I was forced to change my ISP. I went with TPG.  Yes not always the greatest, but good enough.  Unlimited download plan, bundled with my home phone and unlimited cams to landlines and mobiles for $69.99.  My speed on a good day is around 11-13mbps which is ok.

Tell me what you are experiencing at the moment and who your internet service is through.

Cryptolocker or Torrentlocker Virus

I spent an hour today 7-7-2016, participating in a Webinar from Trend Micro, discussing the treat from Torrentlocker and the like.  Australia is being hit particularly hard with these viruses.  They come in the form of an email purporting to be from AGL, Australia Post, Australian Federal Police and a few other.

Virus Emails

Do not follow the instructions in the email to enter a CAPTCHA code to download something.

From Trend Micro

If you are a Trend Micro customer:

  • Make sure web reputation is on
  • Must have IP reputation on at least QIL level 2

At the present we have seen 70 compromised websites redirecting traffic to the TorrentLocker landing page:
hxxp://silver-gold-arbat.ru/FgP5XIzvmqGu/9GKsCc8pDIMPA.php?

hxxp://divorcefinancehelp.com/XCEUx/OJ0vid81.php

They are using landing pages such as:
hxxp:// aglbill-tracker2.net

We advise IT Managers:

  • Put such landing pages into firewalls for protection of other servers / devices
    (noting that they will rotate through multiple landing pages). They have changed tactics – and now the landing page is delivering malicious JavaScript rather than using a public download site.

We advise users:

Not to enter Captcha codes to any energy / bill related websites.

AGL1 AGL2

 

Internet Speed

Internet Speed

Is your internet Speed not fast enough? 

Everyone complaining in the home or office?  You can get an indication of your speed by going to http://www.speedtest.net website where you can Test your internet download and upload speed.  Once the website comes up, click the Begin Test button.

The image above shows a relatively slow internet speed for ADSL2+  How do you interpret the numbers?

The Ping number must be a low as possible. This represents how long in milliseconds it takes for a signal to leave your computer and then return.  The quicker the better.(Low Ping is shorter time)

The Download Mbps.  This must be as high as possible.  Depending on the service you are signed up with ADSL or Cable, these numbers will vary greatly.  These numbers may change from one minute to the next depending on a number of things.

  • There could be a line fault
  • There could be a faulty modem
  • The modem may require a “Power Cycle” – Turn off wait 30 seconds and then turn on again
  • Congestion on the line at the moment of the test
  • Are you testing via a WiFi connection or are you connected with a cable.

Internet speed is not always determined by your connection speed, but also by the computers/Servers you are connecting to and their speed.  If they are very slow or congested, then you will be impacted by this.

The Upload Mbps is normally slower (0.85 Mbps) than the download unless you have a upmarket plan which provides high upload connectivity.  Uploads are things like sending emails or uploading files or using services like Dropbox, Google Drive, One Drive etc.  When uploading occurs this will also impact the download speed, so if you have a lot of data to upload, try do it out of normal working hours as this will impact the regular use of the internet.

ADSL2+ theoretical top download speed is 20 Mbps and the best I have seen is around 17.8

Standard Cable Services can get around 35 Mbps download and around 2-2.5Mbps upload.  This is obtainable from Telstra or Optus and they provide the modems.

Elite Cable services from both Telstra and Optus offer a higher speed service which gets close to the 100 Mbps speed.

If your speed appears to be slower than what you would expect or has noticeably slowed down, then I would suggest contacting your ISP and asking them if there is something that they can do to address the speed issue.  Sometimes if you are on a old plan or setup, then you can get a speed boost by them changing settings on their end.