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Simulate OS’s and Applications for Remote Phone Support

Published 29th January 2014 By Bryce Whitty
Simulate Operating Systems and Apps for Remote Support

If you have ever done phone support, you know how hard it can sometimes be to visualize the steps your client needs to take in order to solve their problem. What would really help is if you had that operating system or application in front of you.

This is where Chasms.com and NetworkOverload.com comes in.
These two sites are basic emulators that allow you to go to the common areas of the operating system and various applications. Both sites contain most of the major computer operating systems as well as common antivirus and email applications.

Chasms.com has more operating systems and applications than NetworkOverload.com. It includes Ubuntu, Tablets, Router Webmins, Phones and Gaming consoles which NetworkOverload doesn’t cover. While Chasms has a terrible website design, the meat is still there.

NetworkOverload.com seems to go a little deeper into the operating systems and applications allowing you to access more menus than Chasms, but there are less overall operating systems and applications.

While doing phone support this way is not as robust as having a full blown virtual machine, its a great in-between, especially for operating systems and software that you don’t actually own.

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Posted in Websites

LogMeIn Discontinues Free Accounts

Published 22nd January 2014 By Bryce Whitty
LogMeIn Free

We typically don’t cover news here at Technibble but I feel that this one will affect a lot of Computer Technicians.
The remote support software “LogMeIn” has just announced that they will be discontinuing their free offering. Users will have just seven days from their next login to decide whether to move on to another solution or become a paying customer.

This change also affects LogMeIn Ignition users (A paid app for iOS and Android) as users will no longer be able to use the app on the free versions. LogMeIn has offered discounts for the paid version as a “peace offering” for LogMeIn Ignition users. Other LogMeIn offerings such as Cubby and Join.me are unaffected.

LogMeIn posted a FAQ on why they have changed their plans but the main point was “In order to address the evolving needs of our customers, we will be unifying our portfolio of free and premium remote access products into a paid-only offering.”

If you are just babysitting friends and family computers, Teamviewer is a good free alternative for non-commercial situations. If you were using LogMeIn Free on client computers, then Instant Housecall (cloud) and ScreenConnect (self-hosted) are great paid alternatives that are heavily used by Technibble forum members.

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Compare Prices on NewEgg.com with Hover Hound

Published 21st January 2014 By Bryce Whitty
Hover Hound Plugin

Many Computer Technicians in the US will spend a bit of time scanning Newegg.com looking for the best hardware prices to stock their computer businesses. While Newegg is known to have some of the lowest prices for computer hardware, Amazon and TigerDirect often have even better prices.
The browser extension Hover Hound makes it easy to search Newegg.com, and then compare the price of any product with Amazon and TigerDirect. The plugin works by adding an extra button on Newegg that when hovered, shows you the prices of same product on both Amazon and TigerDirect. It can also show you a price history graph of the product and if you are a Amazon Prime member, you can filter Hover Hound results to only items at Amazon that have Prime Shipping.

The plugin is available for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox and is a must have for any computer technician who purchases stock from Newegg.com

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Large List of Free Forensic Software

Published 16th January 2014 By Bryce Whitty
Free Forensic Software

While I personally have never gotten into forensics due to liability reasons, it has always been something that has interested me. Recently, one of our forum members (mm201) posted an amazing resource with a large collection of free forensics tools for Windows, Mac and Linux as well as iOS, Android & Blackberry devices. If you are already doing forensics work or simply have an interest in it, be sure to check out this site:
http://forensiccontrol.com/resources/free-software/

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How to Quit Your Job and Start a Computer Business – Book Review

Published 7th January 2014 By Bryce Whitty
How To Quit Your Job and Start a Computer Business Book Cover

Matthew Rodela from “Your Friendly Neighbourhood Computer Guy” has recently come out with an ebook called “How to Quit Your Job and Start a Computer Business“.
As you can tell from the title, it’s about making the jump from working for someone else to starting your own computer business.

“Taking the jump” from full-time employment to self-employment is not something one should ever take lightly, it’s a huge undertaking and the aim of this book is to help guide you through it.
Late last year I managed to get a copy of the book off Matt and have been reading through it over the holiday break. I have to say it is quite impressive. Read on for the full review.

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Posted in Reviews

PCPartPicker

Published 30th December 2013 By Micah Lahren
PCPartPicker.com

If you’re often replacing hardware or building custom computers, check out PCPartsPicker.com. As the name implies, the site provides assistance in choosing parts, making sure they’re compatible with other hardware, and provides pricing guides so you can make sure you’re getting the best performance for your money. It also provides up-to-date pricing from many online retailers, such as OutletPC, Amazon, and TigerDirect.

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Posted in Websites

What’s Best for Your Business: Focusing vs Diversifying

Published 13th December 2013 By Chuck Romano
Whats Best for Your Business

The amount of people thinking about making it big in this crowded technology crazed world is impressive. Many will get out of their bed in the middle of the night and jot down ideas they thought will change the world. Most meditate on the likes of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and wonder how they could replicate the same level of success. What made Microsoft and Apple successful? Microsoft focused on software and Apple did the same for hardware. Instagram focused on pictures and being social and it worked to the tune of a billion dollars. Is focusing on a niche the secret to creating the next big thing?

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Maximize Your Workflow as a Tech

Published 7th December 2013 By Micah Lahren
workflow for techs

As technicians, we often have a wide range of tasks, from estimates, invoices, and contracts, in addition to the actual tech work we perform. This involves customer relationship management solutions, billing solutions, software tool updates, and much more. If you haven’t given much attention to your workflow, you might be jumping from one unrelated task to another and wasting a lot of time and effort in the process. The well known adage ‘time is money’ applies quite well here, so let’s take a look at some ways you can maximize your workflow. In fact, an easy way to remember the tips is simply the acronym ‘IDEA’.

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Evolve or Die: 5 New Service Areas You Should Be Looking At

Published 25th November 2013 By Derrick Wlodarz
evolve or die

If 2013 taught us anything about computer repair, it’s that our industry is changing, and changing fast. While traditional computer repair will not die for the forseeable future, as even the tablet craze hasn’t bumped users from their primary workhorse machines, technicians need to be forward looking so they don’t get caught with their pants down. There has been a lot of hot air in the media about PC sales being destroyed by alternative devices, but recent reports are proving this to be not as drastic as originally reported. Windows 8.1 is helping lift PC sales, with a US year over year drop in sales only at 0.2% which is negligible at best if you ask me. The titanic isn’t sinking, no matter how much the media blowhards love to scare us in the repair industry.

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Guide to Using DDRescue to Recover Data

Published 14th November 2013 By Contributor
Guide to DDRescue

This guide was written by one of our forum members SilverLeaf and was originally written as a forum post. This guide is intended for people who are looking to do quality data recovery using free tools. This guide is fairly technical requiring you to deal with the Linux command line. Some paid software is more straight forward than the steps here, but this is a great way to get the job done for free. Use at you own risk. Technibble and SilverLeaf take no responsibility for the loss of any data, business, reputation etc..

It seems that a guide for using ddrescue might be of some benefit to many members who may be shy of the linux terminal. So, I’ve decided to document some real-world examples from in the shop. I plan on doing this in 3 parts to cover the most common scenarios.

Part 1: Creating an image from a failing disk
Part 2: Restoring an image to a new disk & cloning directly to a new disk
Part 3: Working with the image files

In will be using Parted Magic as a platform for this guide. I usually PXE boot (or boot from a live CD) the machine that I am working on to Parted Magic for this purpose. If you run linux on your test bench machine and prefer to attach the failing drives to it, this guide will give you the basics, but obviously the screenshots will be different.

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