Happy Birthday Windows 95

On 24 August 2020 Windows 95 celebrated its 25th Birthday. We often think about the evolution of the PC in terms of hardware. Spare a moment for the software. Many of the things we take for granted today – such as the Start menu or not having to reboot your PC every single time you wanted to play a game – started with Windows 95. Happy Birthday Windows 95!

Windows 95 was not the best operating system Microsoft ever released. Many people would apply that designation to Windows XP. However, it was certainly one of the most important iterations. In addition to introducing the Start menu, Windows 95 also made things easier by supporting long file names. Up to 250 characters, versus 11 characters previously. It also implemented plug and play functionality before fetching custom-tuned drivers from the manufacturer.

It was also the first Microsoft OS to really encourage gaming directly from within the operating system as opposed to going through DOS. There was a whole lot of resistance to it at the time, partly because it often made games run worse as the OS still stole some of your precious memory and CPU cycles, but also because it was a buggy mess at the start.

Happy Birthday Windows 95

Windows 95 is twenty today. It’s hard to imagine it now, but the launch was greeted with
the sort of hype that only Apple generates today. (Image credit: Microsoft)

Look where we are now

One of the greatest things about PC gaming is the sheer amount of hardware options to choose from. This is why plug and play was, and still is, such an important feature. It allows your PC to detect a peripheral or gadget and offer at least some basic functionality.

Other innovations included the task bar and recycle bin, both introduced with Windows 95, and later the addition of DirectX to the mix. According to Microsoft, Windows 95 sold 7 million copies during its first five weeks. That was quite a bit for the era it debuted in.

The launch event was a spectacle, which undoubtedly helped move some copies. Former late-night television host Jay Leno introduced Bill Gates at the Windows 95 launch event. Microsoft also paid The Rolling Stones $3 million to use its “Start Me Up” as the soundtrack for the festivities and subsequent ad campaign. And of course Steve Ballmer was bouncing up and down on stage and throwing fist pumps.

If you’re feeling nostalgic, you can kick the tires on Windows 95, right inside Windows 10, using an app uploaded to GitHub by Slack developer Felix Rieseberg. It’s a little less than a 300MB download.

Are you up to date?

Funnily enough LIS are also 25 years old this year. So, happy birthday Windows 95 and LIS. We have been around and seen it all. From the launch of Windows 95 through to Windows 10. We even helped clients resolve issues with Windows 8 and ME (we won’t talk about these versions 🙂 ).

Are your systems running slow? Do you have out dated hardware? What office package are you using? If your software is out of date, then you have security risks? Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your options.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#win95 #HappyBirthday #ITSupport #Upgrades

Realistic robotic pets

The realistic robotic pets are designed to give seniors some companionship, without all the responsibility of an actual animal. Your elderly parents can comfort, cuddle and care for these lifelike cats and dogs. The realistic robotic pets help the elderly battle with loneliness, dementia and mental wellbeing.

Realistic robotic pets

Thanks to built-in sensor technology, the robotic pet responds to petting and motion much like the cats you know and love.

Realistic robotic pets comfort the elderly

Without a doubt, the hardest thing about getting older is watching the people you love get older, too. Your aging parents or loved ones deserve to spend their remaining years with as much love and warmth as possible, especially if they are battling an illness.

That’s why, over the last few years, pet companions have become so popular, particularly for older adults who are feeling lonely or have dementia. In fact, a 2017 study revealed that the interaction between aging adults and animals — whether real or robotic — can help lower blood pressure, ease anxiety, reduce feelings of loneliness, and improve overall quality of life. Some nursing homes even offer pet therapy for dementia patients to ease any unintended agitation and aggression.

For these very reasons, more than 1,300 Amazon shoppers have left five-star reviews for Ageless Innovation’s Joy for All Companion Pets. Perfect for dog or cat lovers, these plush animals have built-in sensors, “vibra purr” or “bark back” technology, and brushable fur, making them surprisingly realistic. In other words, they look, feel, and sound exactly like the pets that your loved ones grew up with (minus the litter box or backyard clean up). Insert four batteries, and the cats, which come in four different shades to mimic real breeds, can open and close their eyes, lift their paws, and move their head and body. If you pet them in the right spot — like on their belly or back side — they’ll let out a “purr.”

If your loved one is more of a dog person, you can also buy a stuffed golden puppy, accessorized with a red bandana, that will bark if he’s feeling happy, sad, or needy. At only four pounds, the stuffed pup is easy to play with and won’t weigh down even the most fragile frame.

Is it worth the price?

The price of Ageless Innovation’s toy is steeper than other stuffed animals on the market. Glowing reviews prove that these lifelike robotic pets are worth every penny, especially when gifting them to a loved one. “My family recently had to place my mum in a nursing home for long term care. She has dementia and my 88-year-old father could no longer care for her. We worried about the time she would spend there when no one was visiting. Because of this, I got her one of these cats. I am happy to say that this was one of the best purchases I have ever made. It is truly remarkable what this cat can do. It is very lifelike and although my mother knows it isn’t real, she enjoys it nonetheless,” one Amazon shopper wrote.

One reviewer who has a wife with dementia shared a similar sentiment. “My wife of 72 years has been diagnosed with rapid onset moderate dementia. She always wanted a dog. However, I knew that in our situation a real dog would demand more than we would be able to provide. When searching for robotic dogs as a novelty gift, I came across this companion pet and purchased it, if for no other reason than its realistic appearance. She has since spent hours with it every day since. “It has a heart” she says, reacting to the beating mechanism inside. Anything that can bring such joy and happiness is something to be truly grateful for.”

A company with a human touch

Here at LIS we can guarantee you will not have to deal with robots or automated telephone systems. When you contact the LIS Help Desk you get to speak to an experienced and friendly IT Technician. We are able to help with security issues, cloud-based back-up solutions, upgrades, IT support and telecoms. Call today to arrange your IT audit. It is FREE and there are no obligations to buy.

Realistic robotic pets are perfect for older people in need of companionship. As well as anyone who wants a cat but can’t be bothered with litter trays and tins of cat food. So why not work with an IT company than can give you peace of mind. Allowing yourself more time to focus on your business!

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Robotics #Pets #ITSupport #Security

Messaging could be easier

Testing has started on a new feature that would merge Messenger with WhatsApp. Messaging could be easier for end uses of either system in the future. The huge tech move would mean that users of either app would be able to send messages to people on the other app seamlessly.

Messaging could be easier for users

An example would be that if you had a Facebook account, you could reach your friends on WhatsApp without downloading the app. Discovered by tech expert WABetaInfo, known for figuring out tech updates and new developments before they’re announced. He came across the update hidden in the code of Messenger.

Messaging could be easier

Facebook users could message those on WhatsApp without the app. Picture: PA

WABetaInfo has made a name for himself through scanning innards of apps to figure out new features. He also explained that this new merging of apps isn’t available yet.

He said: “The integration of WhatsApp into Facebook Messenger isn’t available yet. This is a very complicated feature and it requires time. We’ve no idea if the plan to merge those services will continue or if it will be abandoned.”

Facebook own WhatsApp and Instagram. They plan to combine features between both apps. Last year, Facebook announced its plans to merge all three services into one. However, nothing has been mentioned since.

 

Social Media

Facebook owns Instagram and WhatsApp. Picture: PA

What could the merge mean for users?

Should the merge go ahead, one person could reach another contact on WhatsApp through the Facebook Messenger app, and vice versa.

That raises some interesting security questions. WhatsApp is famous for its end-to-end encryption, which keeps the content of a user’s messages secure. Users will also need only a phone number to sign up. Facebook requires a person’s “real” identity to register. Messenger is not currently encrypted in the same way WhatsApp is.

Facebook has previously said, “We’re working on making more of our messaging products end-to-end encrypted.” The news of the potential merger comes just a year after Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he wanted to see greater integration between Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

“As you would expect, there is a lot of discussion and debate as we begin the long process of figuring out all the details of how this will work,” said Facebook.

How to communicate with your IT provider?

Good communication between you and your IT provider is essential to your business. This can be challenging to communicate your problem over the phone or email. Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out about our IT Support Services. Our team can remote control into your device and fix the problem straight away. Alternatively, if it is not an emergency schedule a time that suits you. IT does not have to ruin your day, just contact us and consider us as your IT therapist.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Facebook #Messenger #WhatsApp #SocialMedia #ITSupport

Internet under the sea

Aqua-Fi is a Wi-Fi system for watery environments where radios typically struggle. Communicating underwater has always been a hassle. Radio transmissions, the ubiquitous wireless standard above the waves, can’t transmit very far before being entirely absorbed by the water. Acoustic transmissions (think sonar) are the preferred choice underwater, but they suffer from very low data rates. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just have Internet under the sea?

Researchers use lasers to bring the Internet under the sea

Underwater Wi-Fi is exactly what researchers at the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, have developed. The system, which they call Aqua-Fi, uses a combination of lasers and off-the-shelf components. This creates a bi-directional wireless connection for underwater devices. The system is fully compliant with  IEEE 802.11 wireless standards, meaning it can easily connect to and function as part of the broader Internet.

Internet under the sea

The Aqua-Fi system uses a Wi-Fi connection to wirelessly connect a device to a Raspberry Pi,which converts the signal into a laser to be beamed to a relay on the water’s surface.

How will Internet under the sea work?

Waterproofed smartphones can transmit data underwater. The researchers used a regular old Wi-Fi signal to connect that device to an underwater “modem.” Specifically, they used a Raspberry Pi to function as that modem. The Raspberry Pi converted the wireless signal to an optical signal. In this case, a laser that was beamed to receiver attached to a surface buoy. Established communications techniques were used to send the signal to an orbiting satellite. For the underwater device to receive data, the process is simply reversed.

Aqua-Fi stems from work that the KAUST researchers did back in 2017. The researchers used a blue laser to transmit a 1.2-gigabit file underwater. But that wasn’t interesting enough, according to Basem Shihada, an associate professor of computer science at KAUST and one of the researchers on the Aqua-Fi project. “Who cares about submitting just a file?” he says. “Let’s do something with a bit more life.”

The light bulb moment

It was that thinking that spurred the team to start looking at bi-directional communications. With the ultimate goal of building a system that can transfer high-resolution video. Internet under the sea could be a possibility.

Shihada says it was important to him that all of the components be off the shelf. “My first rule when we started this project: I do not want to have something that is [custom made for this],” he says. The only exception is the circuit in the Raspberry Pi that converts the wireless signal to an optical signal and vice versa.

The team used LEDs instead of lasers in their first design, but found the LEDs were not powerful enough for high data rates. With LEDs, the beams were limited to distances of about 7 meters and data rates of about 100 kilobits per second. When they upgraded to blue and green lasers, they achieved 2.11 megabits per second over 20 meters.

Shihada says that currently, the system is limited by the capabilities of the Raspberry Pi. The team burned out the custom circuit responsible for converting optical and wireless signals when, on two occasions, they used a laser that was too powerful. He says that in order for this setup to incorporate more powerful lasers that can both communicate farther and transmit more data, the Raspberry Pi will need to be swapped out for a dedicated optical modem.

Testing the system

Two students at KAUST talk over Skype using Aqua-Fi. Each phone is connected to an underwater Raspberry Pi on each end of the black box. A green laser is reflected down the length of the box several times to create a distance of 20m.

What are the limitations?

Even with the limitations of the Raspberry Pi, the KAUST researchers were able to use Aqua-Fi to place Skype calls and transfer files. However, there’s still a big problem that needs to be addressed in order to make a system like Aqua-Fi commercially viable; and it can’t be solved as easily as swapping out the Raspberry Pi. “If you want to imagine how to build the Internet underwater,” says Shihada, “laser alignment remains the most challenging part.” Because lasers are so precise, even mildly turbulent waters can knock a beam off course and cause it to miss a receptor.

What options are available?

The KAUST researchers are exploring two options to solve the alignment problem. The first is to use a technique similar to the “photonic fence” developed to kill mosquitoes. A low-power guide laser would scan for the receptor. When a connection is made, it would inform another, higher-powered laser to begin sending data. If the waves misaligned the system again, the high-power laser would shut off and the guide laser would kick in, initiating another search.

The other option is a MIMO-like solution using a small array of receptors, so that even if the laser emitter is jostled a bit by the water, it will still maintain a connection.

Do we need the Internet under the sea?

You might still be asking yourself at this point why anyone even needs the Internet underwater? First, there’s plenty of need in underwater conservation for remote monitoring of sea life and coral reefs, for example. High definition video collected and transmitted by wireless undersea cameras can be immensely helpful to conservationists.

However, it’s also helpful to the high-tech world. Companies like Microsoft are exploring the possibility of placing data centres offshore and underwater. Placing data centres on the ocean floor can perhaps save money both on cooling the equipment as well as energy costs. If the kinetic energy of the waves can be harvested and converted to electricity. Finally, if there are data centres underwater, the Internet will need to be there too.

How can we connect you?

We are sorry to report that we are unable to help with the progress of launching Internet under the sea. However, our land-based clients are happy with our service and a support team that is not wet behind the ears! Contact the LIS Help Desk to find out more about super-fast broadband. Unlimited broadband packages are available with speeds up to 1,000mb download and upload. If that’s not fast enough we can join several lines together and the sky is the limit… yes, we ran out of sea puns!

Our experienced team can also help you with any other IT enquiries, security issues and telecoms.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#UnderTheSea #UnderwaterWiFi #WithCoolLasers

Windows File Recovery App

Windows File Recovery app is a new app from Microsoft that can recover deleted files. Have you ever deleted important files accidentally? We’ve all been there, shift + delete can sometimes be a nuisance, or deleting the recycle bin and then realizing that you needed one of the files. If you have a backup you may restore the files but if you don’t, you are left with file recovery software or caches.

Abhishek Baxi from the technology news website Neowin explains more in their recent article. Microsoft’s new Windows File Recovery app will assist in recovering files that you may have deleted and want to bring back or resolve issues with corrupted data.

It supports a number of file types for photos, videos, documents, and more. Whilst also supporting a number of file system types, including:

  • NTFS
  • FAT
  • exFAT
  • ReFS
Windows File Recovery app

Microsoft is releasing its own Windows file recovery tool, designed to retrieve files you have mistakenly deleted.
Like any file recovery tool, you will need to use it as soon as possible. Ensuring files have not been overwritten.

A number of options

It offers users a number of recovery modes. Which one you should choose  depends on how long it has been since the data was deleted. For example, for files deleted recently, the default option should suffice. However, if it’s been a while or the disk has been formatted since, then the Segment and Signature modes may be more successful.

Whilst the app is usable by anybody on Windows 10 or later, it is recommended for power users, as it uses a command line interface. Using the Microsoft Store on Windows 10, the file recovery app can be downloaded.

While this certainly isn’t a tool for beginners, it’s nice to have it available in case the worst happens. We are are all human and sometimes unintentionally delete files. One thing to keep in mind, though, is not to wait to use it once you realize a file or files are missing. As Microsoft points out in the documentation, “If you want to increase your chances of recovering a file, minimize or avoid using your computer. In the Windows file system, the space used by a deleted file is marked as free space, which means the file data can still exist and be recovered. But any use of your computer can create files, which may over-write this free space at any time.”

Giving  you peace of mind

We are unable to control how your staff operate their PCs. However, rest assured we can set up a cloud based back up system. Our solutions secure your files and back up your data. You are in safe hands.

Contact the LIS Help Desk to discuss your requirements. We protect anything from a single PC or laptop to large corporate servers. We cover your Office 365 One Drive and Share Point files, Exchange and SQL server data, and can even provide 10 year email archiving. So, you have certified evidence against future litigation.

All our backup systems are secure, encrypted, robust, tested and built to meet your specific requirements.

LIS – SECURING YOUR DIGITAL WORLD

#Microsoft #FileRecovery #WindowsFileRecovery