Technology News from the LIS Helpdesk

How to clean your laptop

Welcome to our guide on how to clean your laptop. Given how our hands are the easiest means of bringing germs and viruses into our homes, and how our tech is touched by us every day, it’s vital that we go about cleaning it properly.

So, we’re going to show you how to clean your laptop. It is important to get rid of debris that’s been residing between your keys since ancient times. As well as sanitizing it so you don’t need to worry about spreading bacteria between your hands, your tech and around your home and office.

Before starting, remember to wash your hands (and dry them, of course!). Now turn off your laptop and unplug it from the mains.

How to clean your laptop

Businessman cleans and disinfects his laptop in the office, using disposable wipes. Credit: Getty Images

Vacuum-clean your laptop

Hoover your laptop

To get rid of dust you should vacuum-clean every part of your laptop apart from the screen using the brush end of the vacuum cleaner. LCD screens are fragile and would be scratched by the brush bristles. They need to be cleaned more gently than the rest of your laptop. We’ll get round to cleaning the screen later.

Make sure you use the vacuum cleaner on a low setting. You’re just picking up dust and small bits of debris here and setting it too powerful may damage your keyboard keys.

As well as the keyboard, make sure to vacuum any speaker holes and vents on your laptop. These can build up a lot of dust that’s been pushed out from inside your laptop over the years. Keeping them clear is vital to your laptop running nice and cool.

Clean your laptop keyboard

Wipe your keyboard

The next step to a clean laptop is a clean keyboard. Now that you’ve vacuumed your keyboard, it should be dust-free and ready for more thorough cleaning. You could start by using some cleaning putty. A sticky, rubberised substance that you roll over your keyboard to pick up stubborn particles and debris stuck between your keys. You should also roll this putty over the speaker holes on your laptop.

Once the putty has worked its magic, lightly dampen (not drench) a microfibre cloth and wipe your laptop keyboard down with it. Apply more pressure to any stains or crusty bits that may be stuck to your keys.

Clean your laptop ports

Clean your laptop ports

Cleaning putty is also great at cleaning your laptop’s ports, which are another hotbed of debris and easily overlooked dirt. Squish the cleaning putty into your laptop’s various ports to pick out the debris from them. Whether or not you used the cleaning putty, you should also get a Q-tip or cotton bud stick. Moisten it in isopropyl alcohol, then stick it into your ports and swab around inside them.

The alcohol-moistened stick will serve the dual role of pulling debris out of the ports and sanitizing them. Don’t worry about moisture in the ports, as isopropyl evaporates almost instantly.

Isopropyl is one of the most widely used solvents for sanitizing and disinfecting surfaces. You don’t necessarily need to use the 99% strength stuff either. 75% isopropyl can be just as effective at killing bacteria. Because the purified water it’s diluted with acts as a catalyst in breaking down microorganism cell wells. It also takes longer to evaporate, increasing the exposure time between it and the microorganism.

Clean your laptop screen

Wipe your screen

The screen is one of the more sensitive parts of your laptop. So slightly different rules apply when it comes to cleaning it. Moisten a microfibre cloth with some isopropyl alcohol and gently wipe the screen in circular or straight-line motions.

Note that if you have a screen with an oleophobic layer (generally touchscreens), then you shouldn’t use isopropyl as this may deteriorate that layer over time. For these kinds of screens, use a mild non-alcoholic screen cleaner instead.

Once the isopropyl has evaporated, give your screen an extra wipe with a screen cleaner like Ecomoist or WHOOSH! Both are alcohol-free screen cleaners designed to get rid of smudges. They also have anti-static qualities that will help the screen repel dust for longer.

Sanitize your laptop

That isopropyl isn’t just for your screen. It’s an all-round surface cleaner that you should now use to wipe down the rest of your laptop. Moisten a microfibre cloth in isopropyl and wipe down your laptop all over – keyboard, speaker holes, vents, ports, you-name-it.

The high alcohol content in the isopropyl will help remove stubborn stains and smears on your laptop’s surface. Rub a little harder on tougher stains and the alcohol should help them come away. The isopropyl will evaporate soon after wiping and once it does you can rest assured that your laptop is clean and germ-free.

It’s a good idea to clean your laptop regularly, particularly in these uncertain times. As an extra precaution during the covid-19 outbreak, you should always wash your hands before sitting down at your laptop. Especially after coming in from the outside world and wipe it down with isopropyl alcohol at least once a week.

Spring clean your IT system

We can help you keep your IT system free from bugs and viruses. Our clients benefit from our anti-virus and anti-spam solutions. Keep your office systems secure and up to date with Office 365 and our Security Package. Are you fed up with your old technology or slow Internet speeds? It may be time for an upgrade.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our knowledgeable support technicians. We are more than your IT partner, consider us your IT doctor!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Laptop #CleaningTips #GermFree

 

NHS data saved

NHS data saved by Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s pilot to reinvent web

The founder of the World Wide Web may have come up with an answer for one of the NHS’s biggest challenges. How do you give patients some control of their medical data? Whilst making sure it can be shared with doctors and other healthcare workers. Does the creator of the web have the answer? Yes, he has, and Sir Tim saves NHS data, enabling patients and doctors to share access.


Key points

Tim Berners-Lee, known as the inventor of the world wide web, has revealed that Inrupt has launched a privacy platform for enterprises.

The U.K.’s National Health Service, the BBC, NatWest Bank and the Flanders Government are among its early adopters.

Berners-Lee has become increasingly concerned that today’s digital giants are exploiting citizens around the world.

For two years, Sir Tim Berners-Lee has been working on an idea called Solid. A web platform that allows users to store their data in what is called a Personal Online Data Store – or Pod, according to BBC News. With this solution Sir Tim and his team have changed the way we use the Internet and store sensitive data.


NHS data saved: The eureka moment

Far from just being an academic project, the technology behind this platform is being developed by a company called Inrupt with some major venture capital backers. Now Inrupt and its chief technology officer Sir Tim have announced what he calls a major milestone – the release of its technology in the form of the Solid Server, with a handful of clients already piloting possible use cases.

John Bruce, CEO & Co-Founder of Inrupt wrote in a blog that the NHS, for example, was using the platform to allow patients to store their personal medical data on Pods, as well as data from health apps on their phone or other devices.

NHS data saved

Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s latest project explores patients’ medical data storage and how it could be better shared

A ground breaking opportunity to save NHS data

“It’s going to drive ground breaking new opportunities that not only restore trust in data but also enhance our lives,” claimed Berners-Lee, who is Inrupt’s chief technology officer.”

“For all the good we’ve achieved, the web has evolved into an engine of inequity and division; swayed by powerful forces who use it for their own agendas,” he wrote in 2018. “Today, I believe we’ve reached a critical tipping point, and that powerful change for the better is possible — and necessary.” With this new breakthrough in technology, other large organisations will likely want to use this platform.

How do you store your data?

Cloud data storage offers valuable IT solutions for businesses of all sizes. This was originally used for personal use. However, cloud storage solutions for business are crucial in today’s world.

Now the NHS data is saved securely, this technology can help businesses of all sizes. Our clients also benefit from cloud storage and security. Cloud services are taking over almost every aspect of technology and are an important part of business life. Many businesses can benefit from comprehensive cloud services and will help to streamline their operations. Despite its accessibility, data stored via the cloud is extremely safe and secure. Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss cloud storage, hosted applications and security.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#technews #internet #NHS #TimBernersLee

 

Wi-Fi connection

Does your Wi-Fi connection keep dropping whilst working from home?

There often seems to be no reason behind Wi-Fi connections that randomly drop off or weaken. However, there are actually several common scenarios where an otherwise strong Wi-Fi connection can become unreachable. When that happens, there are a few things you can try to get your Wi-Fi back up and running again in no time.

Harriet Meyer a contributor for forbes.com takes a look at some solutions to dropped or lost Wi-Fi connections.

Insufficient Wi-Fi network range and power

Your wireless access point is going to reach only so far. When you’re accessing the internet on the outer edges of the range limit, you’ll notice the Wi-Fi connection start and stop, probably over and over. Of course, as you move even further away from the router or modem delivering the Wi-Fi, your connection will stop permanently.

You might be suffering from weak Wi-Fi access if your router is buried in a closet. It may be stuck in the corner of your basement, three rooms away, or is simply old or nearly broken. The solution might be as simple as moving closer to the router or moving the router closer to you. As you lessen the distance between the router and your device, you strengthen the odds of a good connection.

If you’re on a wireless device like a phone or tablet, it’s easy to move where the Wi-Fi strength is the strongest. On the other hand, relocating your computer or other gear isn’t always a practical solution.

Another option for improving Wi-Fi strength is to consider an antenna upgrade on your access point or on your computer, if possible. Similarly, mesh networks and range extenders are other common solutions to Wi-Fi range problems — but you don’t need both.

Wi-Fi connection

When a wireless device is experiencing an intermittent connection, it can be quite frustrating.
You want to fix it as quickly as possible so you can continue to work.

Wi-Fi connection radio interference

Radio signals from various consumer electronic products around your house can interfere with Wi-Fi network signals. For example, cordless phones, Bluetooth devices. As well as garage door openers and microwaves can each take down a Wi-Fi network connection when they’re powered on.

So, if you notice that your phone stops getting Wi-Fi when you’re right next to the microwave, chances are this is your problem. It’s best to look into what that new device is and how it works since the way it transmits wireless signals might be what’s interfering with other devices in the house.

Reposition your network equipment to improve your Wi-Fi coverage. Another solution, which might be easier, is to turn off those other devices that could be interfering with Wi-Fi. If you’re in the kitchen when Wi-Fi drops, move away from the microwave or avoid using it if you need to also use your phone, laptop, or other device.

The network is overloaded

Your hardware and home might be set up perfectly to accommodate Wi-Fi signals and avoid interference. However, if there are too many devices using the network, the available bandwidth for each device is limited.

When each device lacks enough bandwidth, videos stop playing, websites won’t open, and the device might even eventually disconnect and reconnect from the network, over and over, as it tries to hold on to enough bandwidth to keep using Wi-Fi.

You can test your internet speed to see if you’re getting the speeds you were promised. If the test shows a significantly slower speed than you pay your ISP for, there’s either a problem with your modem or router or you’re using too many devices on your network at once.

Take some of the devices off of the network. If your TV is streaming movies, turn it off. Someone gaming on your network? Ask them to take a break. Multiple people browsing Facebook on their phones? Ask them to disable their Wi-Fi connection to free up some of that bandwidth.

Cloud storage updates could affect your Wi-Fi connection

If someone’s downloading files onto a computer, see if they can use a program that supports bandwidth control. Less bandwidth will be used for that device and more will be available for your Wi-Fi device. In particular, Microsoft OneDrive tends to use all available upload bandwidth when it syncs large files. Temporarily pausing OneDrive could free up immediate bandwidth for other people.

If your network is still slower than you think it should be and Wi-Fi isn’t stable, restart your router. Sometimes, the router’s memory becomes full and needs flushing in order to work properly.

Keeping you connected

There is nothing more infuriating than trying to fix your own Internet and IT problems. Especially I you are not tech savvy. All you want to do is have the problem fixed so you can continue to do your work. Contact the LIS Help Desk to speak to one of our support technicians. We will remote into your PC and will be able to diagnose the problem.

Our clients benefit from our monthly IT support and security packages. We can also help you with your telecoms providing you with super-fast broadband, phone lines and mobile services. Think of us as you IT partners.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#tech #internetdown #troubleshooting #remoteworking

 

Do you need a VPN at home?

Virtual private networks (VPNs) are great for securing your connection when you’re using public Wi-Fi. However, they can also be put to work in your home. You might use a VPN at work, however do you need a VPN at home?

When you use a VPN, you’re adding a layer of protection to your online activities by building an encrypted tunnel between your traffic and anyone who tries to spy on you. VPNs are great for when you’re out and about, using Wi-Fi networks that aren’t your own. But at home, a VPN can help protect you from other threats and may let you access streaming content that would be otherwise unavailable.

In a recent article aksing written by Darren Allan for msn.com he explores the benefits of having a VPN at home.

Do you need a VPN at home?

People are becoming conscious of the need to take back their privacy online. It is certainly no bad thing to do so at home

What is a VPN?

A VPN gives you online privacy and anonymity by creating a private network from a public internet connection. VPNs mask your internet protocol (IP) address so your online actions are virtually untraceable. Most important, VPN services establish secure and encrypted connections to provide greater privacy than even a secured Wi-Fi hotspot.

The Threats Abroad

Outside your home, it’s hard to tell which networks you encounter are safe. If you’re at a coffee shop, for example, how can you tell which Wi-Fi network is legitimate? Unless the SSID is posted somewhere, you’re just going to have to guess. Clever bad guys will set up access points with familiar names, hoping to trick people into connecting. Once victims are online, the bad guy does a man-in-the-middle attack, intercepting all the information victims send and receive. This includes a lot of mundane stuff, to be sure, but it can also include bank accounts, login information, and worse.

An attacker doesn’t even need to trick you, they just need to trick your phone or computer. Most devices are configured to reconnect to familiar networks by default. But if an attacker uses the same name of a popular Wi-Fi network, your devices may automatically connect, even without your knowledge.

Both of those attacks require a lot of guesswork, but a good attacker won’t bother with that. Instead, they’ll configure their evil access point to switch SSIDs to match the ones devices are asking for.  For example, at the Black Hat conference a few years ago, a security vendor detected an evil access point that had changed its SSID 1,047 times, tricking 35,000 devices into connecting.

These are situation in which you definitely need a VPN. The encrypted tunnel it creates blocks anyone on the same network as you—even the person managing the network—from seeing what you’re up to.

The Threats at Home

It’s very unlikely that a bad guy broke in to your home, replaced your router, and then waited for the good stuff to roll in. For one thing, that’s just too much work. But for another, attackers need more than one successful hit to make an attack worthwhile. They’ll want to rack up as much information from as many victims as possible. Unless you live above an airport, it’s unlikely that there’s enough foot traffic in your home to justify an attack.

VPNs can be fun

At least half of all VPN use isn’t for personal protection. It’s for streaming video. That might seem odd considering the negative effect that VPNs have on your upload and download speeds, but it makes sense.

That’s where VPNs come in. You can use your VPN to tunnel to a distant server and access content that is restricted in your home country. While Netflix is very good at blocking VPNs, this trick is also useful for sports fans.

Trouble at Home

VPNs are all about securing your traffic from prying eyes, and that’s sometimes a problem when you want your traffic to be seen. If you live in an especially smart home, you’re likely to encounter some problems with using a VPN.

A great example is Chromecast, Google’s dead-simple method for getting content from your phone or computer on to your TV. When you try to use Chromecast with a VPN, all your data is shuffled off your devices through an encrypted tunnel and can’t reach other devices on your local network. You’ll have to switch off your VPN if you want to use this feature, or others like it.

One solution to this problem is to simply raise the level of your VPN and install it on your router. That way, all the data on your local network is funnelled through the VPN, giving you all the protection without causing any of the fuss on the local level. Configuring your router to use a VPN can sound daunting, but some VPN companies will sell you a pre-configured router if you want to give it a try. Still, I think this solution is not for everyone and perhaps best left to people with a determined DIY sensibility.

While many people are using VPNs to stream online content, many (if not most) streaming services are very good at blocking VPN usage. One possible solution is purchasing a static IP address from your VPN provider. These “clean” addresses aren’t associated with VPNs, giving you a better chance of slipping past attempts to block your access.

Speed will always be an issue with VPNs. When a VPN connection is active, your web traffic is going through more machines and more fibre. As a result, this increases latency and slower transfer speeds. Not all VPNs are the same in how much they affect your connection, but you will see some impact.

Do you need a VPN at home?

In truth, the answer to the question of whether you “need” a VPN in your house is going to come down to your own preferences. There are lots of good reasons why a home VPN might be a valuable addition to your security arsenal, but what’s most important is whether you will use it. If you find yourself too frustrated with reduced internet speeds, or juggling streaming devices, don’t use a VPN at home. An unused security feature isn’t useful to anyone.

As more of us are working from home, it may be a good idea to explore your options. Contact the LIS Help Desk and talk to one of our friendly team to see how we can help you.

LIS DIGITAL – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#VPN #AddedSecurity #ExtraPrivacy

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams is perfect for video calls. Have you been using Zoom for your video calls? Microsoft Teams is a better business solution and keeps all your activity with your staff in one place. Here’s our round-up of the latest video call features added to Teams.

Joel Khalili from TechRader asks what is Microsoft Teams? How it works, latest features and top alternatives.

8 reasons your business should be using Microsoft Teams

It enables effective communication

One of the key features of Microsoft Teams is its threaded conversations. Microsoft Teams allows group and private messaging with threaded and persistent conversations.

Users are able to create different channels to organise their communications by topic. This real-time chat function allows you to store brainstorming sessions, conference calls, and other meetings into one, easy-to-find place.

  • You can also integrate audio and video chats
  • You can @mention individuals to bring important messages to their attention
  • Group conversations are visible to the whole team to view, like, share and add to
  • Newly added members can easily get up to speed as everything is archived

Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams can be used anywhere, anytime, on any device

As a Cloud-based platform, Microsoft Teams is accessed anywhere via the desktop or mobile application and is supported on Windows, Mac, as well as iOS and Android. All you need is a connection to the internet.

Your productivity is increased

If you use traditional email to work on a project, you can often lose crucial information in ever-multiplying email threads. With Microsoft Teams everyone receives the same message at the same time. As a result, people can collaborate and keep the discussion flowing, helping you reach solutions faster. If a new team member joins, they can access prior conversations with instant access to all project-related files.

It’s fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365

Microsoft Teams is fully integrated to Microsoft Office 365. This includes Word, Excel, Skype for Business, SharePoint and PowerPoint as well as newer tools such as OneNote, Planner, Power BI, Yammer, and Sway.

Your meetings are synced

Microsoft Teams syncs with your calendar and pulls in all your existing appointments. It suggests times when all the other attendees are free. It gives you the option to choose if the meeting is private or open (particularly useful if you are hosting voluntary training or brainstorming sessions). Once created, attendees can post about the meeting in a separate chat thread, set agendas and upload relevant documents. You can also schedule and join meetings using Skype for Business with HD video, VOIP and additional dial-in audio options.

Work better together

With Microsoft Teams everyone can work on the same document at the same time. You can all view the same Word document; edit the same Excel spreadsheet; collaborate on the same PowerPoint presentation while logging persistent chat around that content. It combines chat, meetings, notes, and attachments allowing teams to seamlessly interact with each other wherever they are. Calendars, files and emails can also be shared. The scalability means it is easy to add new users as your business grows.

Customise your workspace with Microsoft Teams

Microsoft Teams allows you to integrate third-party tools as well as your favourite Microsoft apps. If Twitter updates are just as important to your marketing team as a message from the Director, you can customise your workspace to reflect this.

Faster processes

Microsoft Teams lets you speed through common tasks faster and share files easier with a helpful set of slash commands.

Want to get Microsoft Teams for your business?

Lodge Information Services is an accredited Microsoft Partner and can advise you on Office 365 and Microsoft 365 subscriptions. We will find the best solution for your business needs, licence it and install it. Our friendly support technicians are always happy to help. Contact the LIS Help Desk.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL YOUR WORLD

#MicrosoftTeams #NewFeatures #MoreProductiveMeetings