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IE11 and Buggy Software

~~November 2013 saw the release of Microsoft’s latest version of Internet Explorer, IE 11 for Windows 7. The new web browser’s impact is growing as many Windows 7 and Windows 8 users install this new version of Internet Explorer as part of their regular Windows Updates. As touted by Microsoft, there are a few benefits to the new browser such as faster rendering (loading) of web pages, better security, and it is also optimized for the touch screen interfaces that are now being used with the new Windows 8 platform. All of these sound like steps in the right direction, but, in providing desktop support for the business clients of TRA Consulting, I find that I am spending a considerable amount of time preventing IE 11 from being installed in the first place, and removing this latest incarnation of IE when it has caused problems for users. Whenever a new version of Internet Explorer is released, there is always quite a bit of trouble for computer users in making the transition. This is particularly true in the business world where businesses are tied in to other programs that need Internet Explorer in order to work and are needed in the day-to-day running of the business.
One of the problems caused by the update of IE 11 lies in the fact that the development of the many add-ons and extensions created for in Internet Explorer for business-use have not kept pace with Microsoft’s efforts to keep IE relevant to home users. These add-ons and extensions for business-use are often created by smaller third-party companies that usually don’t have the personnel or resources to keep up with Microsoft’s many changes. As a result, there can often be a disconnect in the coding between newer and older versions of Internet Explorer and its interfaces with other programs that were created for older versions of IE, causing users to report bugs.
For example, one of the companies we support has financial accounts at a bank that allows users to print checks directly from the bank’s web site using a compatible check printer. The bank’s site and the printer are accessed exclusively through Internet Explorer up through version 9. By default, IE is set to automatically update to the latest version via Windows Update. Once the IE 10 and IE 11 updates were released, users at this company started reporting problems regarding check-printing. We solved the problem by un-installing IE 10 and IE 11 and rolled the users back to IE 9 and blocked any further updates until printer add-on has been updated to be compatible for further versions of Internet Explorer.

Employees can sometimes waste valuable time trying to find a work-around or a solution to these problems, when their time could be spent more productively. Businesses can increase and facilitate the productivity of employees by providing them with smooth and user-friendly computer systems. We can help by providing pro-active desktop support through remote management software (RMM), and personal one-on-one service from TRA Consulting which means we can block and/or remove IE 11 on each managed system individually or as a group in a matter of minutes; thus saving time and keeping IT costs for our customers in line with their projections.

Desktop Support On An Organizational Level

~~Desktop support is a term that IT professionals use to describe the duties of keeping a desktop computer in tip-top working order. This can be achieved through in-person interactions with computer users, over the phone helpdesks, and remote control from a local computer. In the last ten years more and more of this desktop support work has been done through management software and services known as Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM). Tra Consulting has been encouraging the businesses it supports to upgrade to our current RMM solution in order to allow us to increase our support to users; streamline updates, upgrades, security systems, and malware and virus removal; and it allows us to be more proactive in preventing problems before they happen, which in turn, increases worker productivity.
RMM allows IT professionals like me at TRA Consulting to increase desktop support to businesses by allowing remote access to the computers on-site at the business. For example, RMM can decrease the wait-time between when a computer issue is reported and when it is resolved.  In the old days, when an employee at one of the businesses TRA Consulting supports reported a problem and a technician was not already on-site, there would be a longer lag-time between receiving the report, wrapping up at another location, then driving to the location where the issue was reported and that can mean valuable productive time was wasted while the employee waits for their computer to be fixed. Now with RMM, there is a shorter wait-time. I can log-in to the reported computer, and address the issue from a remote location. Getting an employee’s computer up and running more quickly using remote management software can increase productivity.
With the use of RMM, I can streamline many of the processes that would otherwise be very time consuming to complete one computer at a time.  For example, one of the companies supported by TRA Consulting was looking to upgrade their virus protection software. This project would have taken days to complete if we had had to install the program at each unit individually. But with the remote management service that we provide, we were able to complete the installation on all of the computers at one company in one day. RMM also plays an important role in keeping all of the computers at a company up to the same standards from machine to machine so that any employee can go to any computer and be assured that the programs that they need and use will be there for them.
TRA Consulting’s remote management service to the businesses we support also helps us to be pro-active in preventing potential problems that users might face during their workday. For example, we can block an incompatible update from installing onto computers where the update might cause problems. I talked about this in a previous blog post where we found that Internet Explorer 11 was causing compatibility problems with a banking add-on that allowed check-printing. In that case we were able to learn of the problem ahead of time through one or two early reporters, and then block future installations for all other computers at that site so that others never even experienced the problems.

The XPocalypse Is Upon Us

~~The XPocalypse: a real threat or a Y2K-like scare?

Is the XPocalypse as bad as everyone says it’s going to be? Well, yes and no.
With the proper preventative action steps, it doesn’t have to be.

All good things must come to an end. On Tuesday, April 8th, 2014, Microsoft will officially stop supporting their operating system, Windows XP.  What does this mean for people who are still hanging onto their old XP operating systems on their PCs? It means that Microsoft will no longer be offering security updates, patches, or platform support after April 8th.  This will make Windows XP vulnerable from that point on to viruses, worms, and other malware that Microsoft hasn’t designed protections for.  Moreover, any user who is having trouble with her/his operating system is on their own when it comes to troubleshooting support. 

The XPolcalypse doesn’t have to be scary, but it is the end of an era. It will become more and more risky and difficult to keep your computer and your information safe if you’re still using Windows XP after April 8th.  It is estimated that some 500 million computers throughout the world are still running Windows XP as their operating system. Very soon, all of those users are going to have to upgrade their operating systems to Microsoft’s flagship products, Windows 7 and Windows 8, or they run the risk of being vulnerable to viruses and malware. Save yourself the time, hassle, and heartache of lost files, identity theft, zombie computers, viruses and other malware by taking some simple precautionary steps today.

Whether you were a fan of Windows XP or not, the fact is that Microsoft has adopted “planned obsolescence” as a business model. Accepting the fact that Microsoft has chosen to end its support of Windows XP, thereby effectively ending the life of the operating system, is the first step to ensuring that your computer stays in good working order and your small business doesn’t lose productivity due to viruses and other malware invading your old, unprotected operating system. The next step is to take preventative action by upgrading your operating systems from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8 before the April 8th deadline. We can help!

Here at TRA Consulting Inc., an IT consulting firm located in Long Beach, California can help you and your small business upgrade your operating systems and avoid the XPocalypse all together. We provide computer solutions to individuals, small, and medium-sized businesses and we can help you upgrade your computers from Windows XP to Windows 7 before Microsoft’s April 8th deadline.

The bottom line is this: for better or worse, Microsoft has decided to end Windows XP as an operating system.  Save yourself time, trouble, and headaches by contacting TRA Consulting, Inc. today and we can help smooth the path for your transition to Windows 7 or 8.  If you waited and the XPocalyse has already come for you, there’s still hope! TRA Consulting provides computer repair and virus removal in and around the Long Beach area.

Why Updates Are Good For Your Computer

~~Have you ever seen that little yellow shield in the lower right hand corner of your PC screen? You might have just ignored it in the past and kept right on working, but here we’ll explain why that little yellow icon with the exclamation point on it deserves a few moments of your attention even if it means restarting your computer after the updates have completed.
Windows updates are usually released on the second Tuesday of each month and they contain packets of software code that updates various Microsoft products on your computer (such as Outlook, Word, and many other programs most businesses use on a daily basis) as well the Windows operating system in general. Sometimes updates and patches are released more frequently depending on what threats and software problems are emerging. Most computers are set to automatically check with Microsoft for updates and then notify you when updates are ready to be downloaded. When your computer checks for updates, it lets you know by displaying that little yellow shield icon with the black exclamation point on it in the system tray (that’s the bar right next to the clock on the lower right hand side of your screen). Most computers are set to download those updates when you shut-down your computer for the day. If you are someone who leaves your computer on at the end of the day, those updates may not be completed for quite some time.
It’s important to allow your computer to install updates as soon as you notice the little yellow shield icon on your screen. Simply click on it and then click “install” when the window pops up asking you about installing the updates. For most users, the “Express install” option is just fine, and the good news is that that is the default setting for the updates installation so all you have to do is click install.
There are several reasons why you should attend to this simple and quick bit of computer maintenance. One is that you will help keep your computer system protected from viruses and malware. While updates don’t protect your computer completely from attacks, they help by inoculating your computer against known threats. It helps to patch security weaknesses in the programs you use every day by making sure hackers can’t take advantage of back-doors and loop-holes. It’s a lot like getting a flu shot. So be sure to buff up your computer’s “immune system” by taking just a few moments every few weeks to allow your computer to do updates. Another great reason is that these updates often contain code that can fix problems in the programs you use at work. Have you seen a weird glitch in Outlook or encountered a problem with Excel, sometimes it’s a software “bug” or benign minor problem that can be fixed with a simple update. The third reason it’s important to keep current on your computer’s updates is that it will save you a lot of time in the future. Rather than installing many month’s worth of updates in one go, which can take a very long time and really bog down your system, a regular update takes only a few minutes usually and then you’re back up and running.
At TRA Consulting, Inc., we also offer managed support software computer solutions for businesses in the Long Beach and greater Los Angeles areas. This managed desktop support software allows our IT consultants to complete updates on your business’s computers for you, so that your employees don’t have to run their own updates. This will help keep your computers in good working order and ensure uniformity among the computers at your business. Take a few minutes to take care of your computer and it will take good care of you!

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance


The recent and ongoing issues plaguing the Obama Administration's attempt at the website spearheading the Affordable Care Act's initiative is a case-study in poor planning and follow through.  I can relate this to IT in general.  There is an old adage in the IT world which goes, "People never notice IT until something breaks." I think that saying appropriately relates to many aspects of IT.

Something TRA fights every day to change is this very notion of IT as a behind-the-scenes, shadowy, reactive force which only rears its ugly head when something breaks.  We proactively partner with our clients to plan for lifecycle management, efficiency, and proactive support.

Back to the Affordable care act, if this website was planned for properly and designed with the amount of care that should go into such a huge implementation, we wouldn't be having these issues.  Good luck to the cleanup team.  I don't wish that sort of project on anybody.

TRA Consulting, Inc.

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