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Palindrome Consulting Blog

Palindrome Consulting has been serving the Hollywood area since 1999, providing IT Support such as technical helpdesk support, computer support, and consulting to small and medium-sized businesses.

Windows Surface RT

Windows Surface is surprisingly a bit faster than I expected. The touchscreen responds fairly well, but the keyboard cover will not work as well if not on a steady, hard surface.  The Email app was easily configured and downloaded very quickly once connected to the Microsoft Exchange server.

The Apps: Microsoft has around 5,000 apps in the Windows Store, but I am not sure what they have since many of the favorites are missing, there’s no Facebook, Twitter, Pandora, LinkedIn  or Instagram.

I am sure the number of apps will increase as users start adopting Windows 8.

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How to dispose of your e-waste

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We are taught this, or some variation of it, from a young age. The only problem is, the amount of technological devices we own/use is growing. Just 10 years ago, most people owned one mobile phone and probably had one computer in the house. Now most have two phones and up to five computers at home. Do you know how to safely dispose of all this e-waste?

Here’s how you can safely dispose of your old electronics:

Disposal points E-waste is becoming a large problem, disposing of it safely is a bigger one. In the West, many big-box stores and retailers have programs where you can drop off your old gadgets, often receiving store credit in return. Many municipalities are also doing their part and have set up e-waste collection points. The vast majority of these devices are broken down, with usable and valuable parts salvaged and sold back to manufacturers.

If the devices still work, some stores may even repair/upgrade them and resell them. Others will be shipped to China or Africa, where the parts are often saved or passed onto those who are in need. It’s a good idea to consult with your local government authority to see what they do with devices, and prepare accordingly. Most of the time, it’s as simple as bringing the device, with no cables or batteries attached, to the collection center, putting it on a counter and walking away.

If your local collection point ships products overseas for disposal, you should ensure that any and all electrical equipment is disabled. This means pulling wires from connection points, and removing batteries from phones. The reason for this is because many products are shipped and stored in compacted cubes, often within close proximity of static conducting elements. Given the right conditions, this could start an electrical fire that’s nearly impossible to contain.

Before you do this however, there are a few things you can do:

Computers When disposing of old computers, you should ensure to wipe all data on the hard drives. If you don’t, you might be surprised at how easy it is to access hard drives. Often, all it takes is a program downloaded from the Internet, a few mouse clicks, a line of code and ‘bam’, access granted.

The best thing to do is use a utility program like Eraser for Windows and the included Disk Utility for Mac. Some people go so far as taking the hard drive and RAM out of the computer and physically smashing it, or wiping a magnet over it. It should be noted that simply hitting the drive with a hammer or exposing it to magnetism may not destroy all the data. To do so, you’ll need to open the hard drive’s case by taking the screws off, yell, ‘Hulk smash’, while smashing the plates inside and then wave a magnet over it.

Phones Phones are a little easier to dispose of. First transfer all important information and remove any added memory cards. Next, do a full Factory Reset and pick the option to wipe all data. Finally, remove the battery and you should be good to go.

Office equipment If you’re disposing of external hard drives, you can basically do the same things as you would with the hard drive in your computer - wipe, smash and magnetize. For office equipment like printers and faxes, it can be a bit harder. Most manufacturers will tell you to remove all ink cartridges and paper and may have a way to wipe any flash memory on the device. It’s best to contact the manufacturer before you try anything though.

In general, it’s a good idea to contact a professional like us before disposing of office equipment, as we may have a better way to do so, or be able to take devices off your hands. Next time you have to get rid of some electronics, contact us.

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Organize the cables in the office

Take a look at your desk, you likely have a computer, mouse, keyboard, monitor, Internet cable and phone charging cord. That’s 6-10 cables just for one machine. Are they neatly organized, or are they more of a free-form tangle? If you’re like most people, it’s the latter. Ever had to go change the network cable? Or searching for the monitor power plug? Tough isn’t it? Now, think about the room your server is in, it’s probably like your desk, only a lot worse.

If something goes wrong with your servers or even your computers, it can be frustrating and time consuming to sort through all the cables. Imagine having a network connection problem and having to find one cable among a mess of potentially hundreds. We shudder at the thought, and yet see it time and time again.

Like most things in business, organization is key, and a neatly organized cable system not only helps IT, but can help ensure you can troubleshoot/repair if an IT professional isn’t available to do so in person.

If your server room/office looks like a Jackson Pollock painting, there are a few measures you can take to ensure a neat and tidy set of cables.

  • Use a cabling professional. If you are starting out with a new system, or moving offices and need to lay new cable, it’s a good idea to skip the DIY and contact a professional who can help. This will help minimize cable mess along with potential performance and connection issues.
  • Make a device map. On a piece of paper or chart, depending on how many devices you have, mark every device, assign them a unique number and mark what they connect to. For example, if you have a server and five computers, all these should link to the server.
  • Tag on the hub. Use the numbers you’ve just applied to the devices and mark their current location on the Patch Panel - the panel on a server or electrical device where you attach cables. For example, If Computer #1 connects to Patch Panel B, mark this on the panel.
  • Untangle those wires. Once you know the connection location, you can unplug all the cables, untangle them and plug them back in, in an orderly manner. Use Zip-Ties or twist ties to link cables together to make them easier to move or keep track of.
  • Use colored cables. If you have different types of devices connected to one hub, it’s a good idea to use different colored cables so you know what is connected. For example servers could be red cords, printers yellow and computers white/blue.
Is your cabling in need of a good organizing but you lack the time or are unsure of how to go about it? Contact us, we can help.
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