Technology is moving very very quickly. While certain computer components do not change much, the over-all architectures of PCs have taken a huge leap in the last few years. Historically, it was the rave that a particular PC went from a Pentium 100 to a Pentium 200, and so on. Those days are now long gone. Today the question is how many cores does the computer have. That means, each motherboard is now hosting multiple CPUs that run in parallel with each other. Thus it isn’t a matter of my Pentium runs twice as fast as your Pentium, its a matter of, my computer has 4 to 64 times the processing power as your single processor computer! Does that mean they can be 100x faster — eh, I haven’t done the benchmarking myself, but essentially yes, if you compare a 2000 computer with a 2020 computer of similar quality.
Other factors come into play as well — in 2000 almost all laptops were equipped with traditional hard disk drives (HDDs). Those are the drives that have a physically spinning magnetic plate. The read/write speed on these disks is relatively fast, but still limited by physics. Today, nearly all new laptops are equipped with solid state drives (SSDs), with no moving parts. They look and work much like a Thumb drive works, but their interface is especially equipped to handle much faster transfer rates. What is the speed difference between an HDD and an SSD? About 80-160Mb/s versus 200 – 600 Mb/s; that is, SSDs are 200-600% faster than HDDs. (Be sure to read Mb/s as megabits per second, versus the 8 times larger quatity, MB/s, megabytes per second. Transfer speeds are almost always in bits per second, while file sizes are typically listed in Byte sizes.)
Finally, one must compare other components, such as the Graphics card that must process all the images, then the traditional RAM memory component, and something most people don’t think about — the bus subsystem. The bus system is what connects the processors to the screen, RAM, and drive. One very easily observed speed difference is in the USB 2.0 versus USB 3.0 specification. In virtually all retail stores it is possible to purchase a Thumb drive (aka Flash drive, but I figure they will always be about the size of one’s thumb or thumbnail, while the technological term, Flash, may change tomorrow). If you review the packaging, you will see it is likely either a 2.0 USB drive or a 3.0 USB drive as of November 2023. What is the speed difference between 2.0 and 3.0? 10x the speed. In order to get the 10 fold transfer increase, your computer must also have a USB 3.0 interface. The drives usually tout backwards compatibility, but that simply means they can still read and write at the slower rates, in case your computer only has 2.0 slots. For lightweight uses, this might not be a big deal, but if you consider trying to save a 4GB movie (that is roughly the content of a single DVD), to a 2.0 external drive at a maximum of 10 Mbps, you are talking about 1 hour. Under 3.0, that would be 6 minutes. (Please understand, I am not referring to reading a DVD to a USB drive, which would be much slower due the DVD drive read rate. I am referring to transferring the amount of data a DVD could hold directly from your computer to a USB Thumb drive.)
Incidentally, DVD devices are on their way out…..they are very slow, and DVDs scratch relatively easily, subjecting you to a huge potential data loss. New software now typically must be downloaded or comes on Thumb drives, which are still a bit vulnerable, especially if they are dipped in peanut butter and left around a Labrador, for which you can thank your two year old. ;-)
When I attempt to visit bacomputer.net and certain other websites I get this message that the site is not secure. Does that mean the website is dangerous?
NO. What it means is the website has chosen not to encrypt the data on it’s site. If you inspect the address line you will see either an http:// or an https:// prefix to the website address. The S in the latter means that the site is using technology to encrypt every page of it’s site before it is delivered to your web browser, which then decrypts and displays the page. The process of encryption-decryption uses more resources both on the server and on your computer slowing things down slightly.
The best reason to encrypt pages is IF AND ONLY IF there is data being entered. If no data is being entered, then no matter how many potential eavesdroppers there might be, all they will ever see is the website itself, which is already published for viewing — Let them eavesdrop to their heart’s content!
In fact, www.bacomputer.net site is not designed to receive information from any third party — it is strictly informational only. However, when you click on a link under the Payments menu, you are immediately redirected to a SECURE website (check the https:// ) into which it is indeed safe to enter financial information for processing payments.
Once you know a particular site is safe (albeit deliberately not encrypted for practical reasons), you may add it to your “safe” list in the web browser you are using, whether that be Firefox, Edge, Chrome, or some other web browser. The procedure to do this varies, but usually when you get the warning message, a link or button is presented that will go directly into the section of settings where you can manually add, bacomputer.net, to the Allowed or Exception section.
Applicability: You have been running Windows 7 and have newly migrated to Window 10 on one or more PCs; you still have variously formatted disk drives, some under Windows 7 and some under Windows 10.
DANGER LEVEL: HIGH — Possible Loss of Entire Windows Installation
Microsoft has quietly changed the underlying formatting of NTFS between Windows 7 and Windows 10 generations. While both OSes have the same CHKDSK command with the same options, running it under Windows 7 on a Windows 10 volume will product 1000s of errors and may cause your entire Windows 10 volume to become unreadable under Windows 10. One must particularly be careful to watch for trying to read a 64bit volume under a 32bit Windows 7 or Windows 10 machine. We booted into Windows 7 and ran CHKDSK on a Windows 10 drive, and the following errors scrolled for eons:
Deleting extended attribute set due to the presence of reparse point in file xxxx
We then followed up with attempting to read the disk on a 32bit version of Windows 10 and it told us the volume had to be formatted! Disk manager saw the disk, but could not read the partition at all.
Finally we took the volume over to a 64bit Windows 10 machine and it saw the volume again. Fortunately, I had an image of the original volume, restored it to the drive, and then used 64bit Windows 10 CHKDSK to repair the USB-connected drive volume. Only the real disk problems, an orphaned file or two, were reported and volume was repaired back to normal.
In researching this problem, the common advise found in various Microsoft and other technical forums was to turn Fast Boot off using the powercfg /hibernation off command. While this advise is good, it does not entirely fix the problem because Windows 10 Updates may turn Fast Boot back on. Further, this drive was extracted from a dead laptop and powercfg does not turn off hibernation for an external Windows installation.
Bottom Line: Windows 7 CHKDSK is definitely not 100% compatible with Windows 10 CHKDSK and should never be run to repair Windows 10 volumes.
In a nutshell, B. A. Computer Services discourages the purchase of liquid ink-based printers for general printing purposes. Nonetheless, there are some good reasons to buy specialized ink-based printers, primarily related to photographic printing.
Ink-based printers are sometimes offered free with purchase of a computer for the simple fact the printer itself is not the money-making item, it is the very high cost of ink cartridges. Someone might argue that $15 is not all that high for a cartridge, but consider the number of pages that can be printed for that $15. The page yield is often not printed on the cartridge box at all, but experience with inkjet printers will quickly demonstrate that any given cartridge may last only a few hundred pages, or if you have to mess around with cleaning the head or making test prints, you may get only 50 pages printed, in several hours of time before the cartridge shows empty again!
Another key reason ink-jet printers (often also marketed as desk-jet printers) are poor choices is their failure rate over time, especially if not used frequently. The tiny tubing that is required to flow the ink from the cartridge to the printer head, and the printer head itself WILL DRY UP over time and clog the system. Attempts to free the clogs are usually futile, and replacing the tubing and printer head becomes an ordeal beyond most printer-owners’ ability. In contrast, a laser printer, if it sits, will happily fire back up months later because laser printing is basically a dry-printing process.
What about those scan-copy-print-all-in-ones? They seem like a great deal! First of all, how often do you really need to copy a stack of papers? Once a month? Is it possible that the cost of getting those copies done at the local copy shop or library greatly outweighs your personal need for an awkward and cheap machine to do it at home for you? Further, if you have a printer, it is likely you also have a computer, and probably a cell phone too these days. Have you tried taking a picture of your document with a cell-phone application, and emailing it to yourself, or directly to the recipients? That email can then be viewed on your computer, and the page printed. Even better, B. A. Computer Services can demonstrate how you may turn your phone into a page scan-copy-print device directly without the need of your computer at all.
Printer models change over time so it is impossible to recommend any particular model without details about your needs. However, on the average, laser printers have throughput about 10 times the throughput of inkjet printers. One very inexpensive laser printer recently sold at Walmart for $110, had a printing speed of up to 26 pages per minute! The standard toner was rated at 700 pages and cost about $45 to replace, while a high-yield (recommended) toner cost $80 for 3000 pages of print (less than 3 cents per page)!
One last consideration regarding ink-based printers — the printed ink will run when wet! Inkjet printers are simply a very poor choice for long-term storage of documents. Any accidental spill over an inkjet print will smear the ink all over the page. Even a wet thumb on the corner of the page can distort part of the printout. Laser prints are a dry printing process and are much more highly rated for legal document storage. No serious business should ever consider printing their invoices on ink-based printers.
For further information on what to do, see also the article McAfee PHISHING SCAM ALERT. In this particular case, we blocked the sender, and forwarded the email to firstname.lastname@example.org. It is also important to note what we did not do: We DID NOT PANIC. We DID NOT CALL THE PHONE NUMBER in the email. We DID NOT FORWARD the email to our friends to ask them what they thought, so that they too could get scammed. We DID NOT ATTEMPT to contact Google, because Google Gmail already provides a method to simply mark as spam or block sender. We DID NOT THINK TWICE about our PayPal account because we do not have one under the email address they said we are using, nor an Apple ID by that identifier. We DO NOT SAVE CREDIT CARD information in our online accounts. We did use ALT-F4 Microsoft Windows kill process hot key to instantly kill the popups. We then proceeded to fully check the system for virus damage.
In today’s online world, nearly every company, every website, every electronic service, wants to assign you an account consisting of a login account name and a password. The concept seems simple enough, for the first account, but then you sign up for another service, and they assign yet another login account name, and associate yet another password. Before long, you have dozens of account names, and dozens of passwords. How can they be kept straight?
Software makers, such as Microsoft, Firefox, and Mozilla offer solutions such as password key keepers. The idea is if you forget one of your passwords, you can go to your password keeper, enter one master password, and see all your accounts and passwords. The very bad side to this system is, if someone gets your master password, they now have access to ALL your accounts at once. All or nothing is a bad system. The custom-made solution of putting all your information into a password-protected spreadsheet or document is essentially the same bad solution. One password grants access to your entire life’s electronic accounts. Another bad “solution” many people arrive at is to use the same password on all their online accounts. Of course this is worse than the master password file — the file isn’t even needed to get in!
Some of the major online account providers, such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, now provide multi-platform authentication. Multi-platform authentication means, for instance, the ability to go to a site such as Yelp.com and instead of creating a new account name and password, it offers that my Google information may be used to login. As long as I remember my Google account information, I can access not only Google, but Yelp as well. This reduces the number accounts I must track, but it also creates a greater dependency on Google. If I lose my Google account information, I also lose my access to Yelp. This can also get very confusing if competing providers allow each-other’s login information to authenticate into their system. For example, logging into Google with a Microsoft account email address and password.
B. A. Computer Services uses many systems itself and would like to share with you what we believe is a best practice regarding maintaining multiple account passwords. Our policy addresses the fact human mental capacity is not flawless, and yet there is a real security need. We cannot disclose exactly the methods we use due to our own security needs, but we can offer similar tactics without giving away our security measures.
To begin with, if you already have quite a few accounts, you should privately list them with pen and ink to get them straightened out. If you have lost access to some accounts or need password resets, the online provider’s “Forgot Password” option may be needed to regain access. B. A. Computer Services can assist you with the process confidentially in our office. We will help you begin a table that will look something like this, and for this example, let’s assume your name is John Doe:
Select “use Google to login”
my bank account number, DOB, and SSN
Example Password System
In the above example, even if 1000 random people used this example instance, each and every account password would be different for every online account for each person. The random hacker might gain access to one of the weaker sites, but they would have to start all over again to hack the next site. The strength of this system is: 1) All your passwords can easily be remembered and yet are not exactly the same for each online site; 2) the passwords are using uppercase and lowercase, a symbol, and a number which will generally pass every online site’s minimum password strength criteria. Unfortunately, this suggested system also has some serious weaknesses: 1) it is based on your name, very easily guessable; 2) it uses a rather weak number, the current year, also guessable; and 3) because it is systematic, if you ever give someone one of your passwords, they could guess your system and produce all the other online passwords.
These password-system weaknesses can be addressed as follows:
Make every password at least two (2) segments separated by at least one symbol character. (XXX#xxxx#xxxx#xxxxx or YYYYYY-YY-YYYYYYY or zzzzzzzzzz%^zzzzz%^zz) The length of the segments, the number of segments, and the special characters used to separate segments is entirely arbitrary, except total password length must be greater than 8 characters.
NEVER give one of your systematic passwords out to anyone else. (Or even if you do give them one, never hint that you have a system about it.) If you must allow someone access to your account (e.g. computer support people, or family member), CHANGE THE PASSWORD to something else simple like abc-123-456 and give that to them until they no longer need access. Change it back when they are done.
Do not use personal information in any part of the segment. Especially avoid dates of birth, ages, social security numbers, license numbers, personal names, children’s names, names of pets, street addresses, or anything else that could be guessed by a friend or neighbor who may observe your activities over time day by day. Do use unique phrases that have unique meaning to you alone. Do use unique non-sequential numbers that you can easily remember but not a publicly accessible number like license plate number. For example, you might remember you bought your first car on Feb 28, 1996, so using 960228 would be a perfectly legitimate choice. Unless your neighbor was there with you at the time, it unlikely they will guess this number, in this particular format.
Finally, in order to make each password unique and yet memorable, one of the segments must be tied to the website. Thus in the table above we used the overly simplified Go for Google.com, Li for Live.com, and Ba for Bank.com. This system can get tricky if the name of a website changes. For example, Angie’s List recently rebranded from angie.com to angi.com. Nonetheless, major websites generally do not change over time. If one does, be sure to go back and update your related passwords for that site. You can use any combination of the website name, respell it, or slice it into parts and create two or more segments. For example, you might take the very common Google.com and place it in a password that would fit one of these schemes: xxxx-elgooG-xxxxx-xxxxx or gle-xxxxx-Go-xxxxx. Your Microsoft.com account password under the same scheme would be similarly: xxx-tfosorciM-xxxxx-xxxxx or oft-xxxxx-Mi-xxxxx.
Let’s put it all together and make a new password table based on the examples used here. Again, these are arbitrary examples. Please be innovative and use your creativity for how you come up with your numbers, your special characters, and your site combination segments. The arrangement of the segments chosen below were entirely randomized.
Segment 1: A memorable number: 960228
Segment 2: The consonants in all caps in the name of the site, except lowercase the .com consonants
Segment 3: Special character separator: () (as many characters as you want can be used)
Does it pass the test of site password checkers? Yes – all passwords have upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. All passwords are longer than 8 characters.
Can I remember it? Yes – all passwords begin with the same prefix and end in a combination of letters I can derive from the website domain. Exceptions are derivative sites, YouTube and Outlook which use the same password as their parent company site. Yelp optionally can use Google login, or you may prefer to create it’s own unique login to stick with your scheme.
This article cannot be an exhaustive discussion, but we felt this highly technical subject needs to be addressed in toddler language for citizens over 60, who are still largely using traditional brick and mortar investing.
Toddlers love to play with ABC blocks, so visualize that you have a dozen sets of such blocks with a large (but not endless) closet supply of more sets any time you need them. Now suppose whenever your toddler comes up with a word combination of 5 blocks, you add $1 to his allowance. We could call this transaction one blockchain. But it isn’t quite that simple, because it is necessary to uniquely mark that set of blocks and to connect the set to the next set of blocks that occurred in time sequence after it. In other words, we are not dealing with only one toddler, we have a whole preschool and they are making words, selling them with each other, and cashing out to go home at various times of the day. Without transactional time linkage, it would be impossible to keep the finances straight. In blockchain purchases, computers do the transactions automatically and uniquely. The system is created in such a way that each time a new blockchain is created, there are fewer blockchains (fewer blocks to work with), which implies higher demand. Higher demand pushes the price of making a chain of blocks higher — Johnny then gets $5 for each word he makes!
Is this a pyramid scheme? Not at all. It is traditional capitalism. It is more akin to a high-risk investment portfolio. Anything bought or sold is a risk of some sort. If you spend $10 for 10 lbs of potatoes, you have a risk that some of the potatoes are not good, and perhaps you could have done better buying a different product. The risk is low, but it is there. Now you may find there is a shortage of potatoes, and thus suddenly that same bag of potatoes is $20. If you see the store shelves are empty, you might be able to re-sell your bag of potatoes for $30 to a customer who really wants potatoes. This is basic supply and demand economics. The greater the supply, the lower the price. The greater the demand, the more people will pay for the product. It is nothing different in cryptocurrency — as demand for a currency (think of it as something that can be bought and sold for profits, like potatoes or scalped football game tickets) — as demand rises, so does the potential profit from sale of the item.
Like any product, hype or marketing can make cryptocurrency increase value temporarily, but once the value has settled, it usually decreases only when people decide they want to get rid of the investment they have made. You spent $10 on potatoes – great, you have 10 lbs of potatoes and assuming they don’t all instantly rot, you’ll have $10 value tomorrow. However, if a booming potato crop that year hits the market, chances are you are not going to be able to sell your bag of potatoes to get your $10 back. BUT, you still have 10 lbs of potatoes. Did you lose anything? Not really. The financial world calls this unrealized gain or loss. It appears potatoes are worth less (not worthless, less worth) but you still have 10 pounds, so how is it worth less? It only has less worth if you attempt to sell. Free market economics changes the value of your “potatoes”.
The newness of cryptocurrencies makes them relatively high risk. At one point in United States history, the American dollar was high risk. Some might argue it is high risk today. Again, everything comes with risk. For some, the potential price increases in putting money into a new cryptocurrency is well worth the risk they face, for they guess, the currency will likely increase rather than decrease in value over time, much like land and other traditional investments do. The key reason for this phenomena is the fact that given any apple pie, one can cut it into 8 slices, and sell each slice for $1, but at some point, that 9th person wants a slice and then the value of a slice doubles to $2, and if a 10th person wants it too, now you can ask for $4 for that last slice, and so on: supply and demand economics. Blockchains are intangible assets that are wholly controlled by electronic programs which record each transaction, keep ledgers automatically, and limit the size of the pie so the value of the block never disappears completely. The worst thing that could happen, is that millions of people suddenly decide to sell their cryptocurrency at the market prices. With each sell, the price will drop slightly until the very last person who sells may get back less than originally invested and pay transaction fees. They will think they have been shorted, but have they? They bought $10 worth of potatoes, kept them for a year (supposing potatoes never rot), and then they went back to the store a year later and sold them for whatever price someone would give them. They neither won nor lost anything. Only, because of inflation, they find when they want 10 lb of potatoes they now have to spend $12 to buy them!
The main consideration that makes cryptocurrency different from a bag of potatoes (or stock, or land purchase) is the fact that cryptocurrency is entirely digital in nature. Even if the lights go off I can feel the potatoes and count them, but if the world’s computers were suddenly destroyed, cryptocurrency would essentially cease to exist — at least until electricity was restored — for all the records would be merely in electronic format and no one could know who owned what until the computers came back online. Would the records disappear? No, very unlikely, because the whole idea behind blockchain is duplication of records across hundreds of different networks so that not one, not two, and not even a multi-failure of networks brings the whole system down. It might work more slowly for awhile, but it will still continue with the same records. It would take a TOTAL failure of every connected network around the world for it to be catastrophic enough to make the currency inaccessible, and thus without value.
Caution should not be thrown to the wind with regard to purchase of cryptocurrency. While cryptocurrency investment can be a very legitimate form of investment, as with any investment, it carries substantial risk. Risk also means potential for increase on the positive side, or potential for loss on the negative side. The rate at which a particular cryptocurrency is fluctuating must be carefully considered. Unlike stocks, which can be traced back to physical assets and corporate production of products or services, cryptocurrency has no backing other than the transactional record of deposit itself. Thus a run on the cryptocurrency system — everyone trying to cash out at once — will definitely affect the price of the Nth person who cashes out. The last person out will be sorely disappointed, while the first person out will likely take a windfall profit. It is anyone’s take, however: As long as your cell phone works or you can get to a public computer, everyone has essentially equal access to cash-out at any random moment.
B.A. Computer Services is not a broker or investment advisor. Nothing herein constitutes investment advise or recommendations. We merely provide our best effort to break down technology lingo for the “average Jo[e]”.
It has come to our attention that Google has a policy of arbitrarily suspending business profiles for alleged policy violations WITHOUT any process in place to notify the business owner of the alleged violation prior to the suspension taking place. This effectively kills off the business contact to the world and may result in customer loss. Google fails to notify business owners of a defect prior to suspending their Google My Business profile. The business profile, including all reviews, photos, phone information, chat channel, and its map location are totally hidden from the Google map search results. Your clients will no longer be able to find you from the typical Android cell phone that is programmed to use Google maps by default.
B. A. Computer Services has had the experience of trying to work through the Google processes to restore these profiles and has found the Google system arbitrary, difficult, and slow enough to leave your business offline for weeks. It is of course the prerogative of any private enterprise to discontinue their services at any time with anyone they choose, provided contractual notice is given. Even if no notice is technically required, it is simply bad business conduct for any company to arbitrarily cancel or suspend clients WITHOUT ADVANCED NOTICE to give them opportunity to cure the objection prior to suspension.
It is B. A. Computer Services’ policy not to promote issues based on political agendas, but to report them based on real-life experience from a technical perspective. If you have been affected by these issues, B. A. Computer Services may be able to help walk you through the process to restore your business profile and promote your business through non-Google channels.
For some, Yahoo has a been a beloved site with everything from free email, to free advertising, and free chat, dating, stock quotes, just about everything under the sun. Sadly, Yahoo hasn’t had a very robust financial backing for some time.
Yahoo email is now owned by Verizon and Verizon has announced it will slowly but surely discontinue the Yahoo brand in favor of its own brand. While we have no definitive details about when or how Verizon intends to accomplish this, here at B. A. Computer Services we must warn and strongly suggest that users of Yahoo Mail find an alternative as soon as possible.
B. A. Computer Services warns and strongly suggests users of Yahoo Mail find alternatives as soon as possible.
As for Hotmail, it was officially discontinued decades ago, but is incorporated into Microsoft’s other email websites. An attempt to access Hotmail.com will redirect you immediately to https://outlook.live.com. If you are still using an email ending in @hotmail.com it may still work for the moment because Microsoft has forwarded the email internally through its primary email servers, but that is no guarantee at any given day they decide to turn that forwarding off. You should take action and move to another email address as soon as possible.
B. A. Computer Services offers services that can move your existing mail, folders, and data from Yahoo or Hotmail over to another email and data provider of your choice.