We meander around the web, fall down YouTube holes, read gardening blogs, and laugh at funny cat videos; all while not even knowing that a quiet war is being fought over which browser you do it on.
Last week we introduced you to the silent yet brilliant development of the Opera browser, and the subterfuge of Google, now we bring our little abridged history into the modern era in part three of Browser Wars.
Mozilla was dominating, and Google was taking notes.
Microsoft – no matter how hard they tried – just didn’t seem to have the time to develop a stable web browser. They had too many plates spinning over the computer world and seemed to be having trouble keeping them all going at the same time.
Then in 2007, the rumors were started sprouting up that “Google is making its own browser.” Having won the hearts of the internet public by becoming the most reliable search engine, Google used some of the cunning and guile it seemed to have learned from Microsoft to spark a fire for its new “designs” in the world of browsers.
In September 2008 Chrome spurred Google’s climb toward the top of the internet food chain. A browser that let us search the web at the speed of mouse clicking. Google began releasing new updates almost every month. Chrome helped us organize our lives, view our planet from the comfort of our homes and didn’t crash when we taxed it with our thirst for knowledge. Google’s Chrome seemed to have no boundaries.
While this was going on, world seemed to have forgotten about oh-so-forgettable Internet Explorer, and it was Mozilla’s turn to scramble to keep up. Firefox began releasing updates one after another in an attempt to rise back to the top. Unfortunately, this caused Firefox to become unstable at times, it’s coding demonstrating the panic of the company.
Technological advances were out growing the software we were using to explore the knowledge that was now quite literally now at our fingertips. With Windows 10 we learned what Microsoft had been doing in order to get a better foothold in the World Wide Web. Edge was shown to us for the first time, and had some innovations of its own.
Sadly, it seemed that Microsoft was still trying to keep too many balls in the air. Edge was and is exciting in some of the things that it can do, but it still feels a bit wobbly from such a rushed development.
The browser war continues, and each time we open our browser of choice we inadvertently help in the fight – and each time one of the players creates a new innovation, the battle begins anew.
For now, we know who the major players are, but as we’ve seen, that can always change rather quickly.
By the late 1990’s, while Internet Explorer was relishing in it victory over Netscape using it’s cunning and guile through the Microsoft “monopoly” on Operating Systems for the PC, a little fox was sneaking up to the battlefield.
Originally known as Mozilla, Firefox started in 1998 as a Linux based web browser. Rather than having a single corporation working on the “Phoenix” project, Mozilla was a community based project started in an attempt to give internet users more free software choices. Its popularity grew as the population of the World-Wide Webbers took notice that it worked on Windows as well. Mozilla brought us features like an easier to manage bookmark system, and the ability to have several windows open at one time without crashing our computers.
Believe it or not, by 2002 more than half of internet users were using this new lightweight, free internet browser. The Yahoo search engine took its business to this vastly more popular web browser, and users relegated Internet Explorer to being nothing more than a means of finding and downloading another browser (namely Mozilla/Firefox).
Of course, this wasn’t the end of the war, not by a long shot. A new player emerged on the field; silent, shy and innovative in its small compact size and use of “tabs” – Opera. Though not a major player, because it wasn’t a free web browser when it first came out (Opera would come at a cost of seven American Dollars). At this point, Mozilla was still winning, namely because it was distributed freely, at no cost to the users. However, many aspects that Opera carried in its code became the foundation for the major web browser of today – Google Chrome.
Back when Google was just getting started, and learning to crawl our web pages, it was the main search engine of the little known Norwegian browser Opera. Over time the Google search engine began to grow in popularity and used it’s eight web crawling legs to walk away from Opera in 2008. Taking its new-found fame and the Chromium Programming Language with it to become what today is the biggest meanest Web browser/search engine mogul of the internet.
While the Opera web browser kind of faded away from the spotlight; it’s innovation gave way to the amazing web browsers we have today. Multiple tabs, speed dial, ad-blocking, and other extensions – it did what it set out to do: Bring the extraordinary to the stagnant.
With Chrome taking off as the new “in” browser, Internet Explorer was beginning to have a hard time keeping up. Firefox and Opera had made us look at internet browsing in a whole new way. It was time for Explorer to try to catch up and get its Monopoly back!
Will Microsoft be able to come back from its defeat? Will Google take over the internet? Or will Vivaldi take us to the Edge? Stay tuned to find out.
There is a war being fought on the internet right now, but most of us don’t even notice. The war isn’t about the internet itself, but how we access it.
Welcome to Browser Wars!
This week we’ll take a quick look at how the browser landscape came to be the vicious online battlefield that it is today.
By 1995 the World Wide Web was being to be noticed, and began to become part of popular culture. Many of us may remember the first browser we used back then was AOL, a few readers might even remember Prodigy.
Seeing the success of the Netscape browser used by these two ancient internet companies, Windows released Internet Explorer 1.0 as part of the Windows 95 Plus pack in August 1995. Both companies began releasing updates in rapid succession over the next couple of years. It seemed that every time we turned around either Netscape or Internet Explorer was releasing a new version and wanting us to update. They were competing for the most users; the title of the best browser. Of course, all this was at the expense of being fairly buggy, but they kept showing us more and more “amazing” features.
It wasn’t just users these companies were fighting for, it was money. A popular web browser could make a lot of money from the bids by search engines to be the default search engine, not to mention popular webpages wanting to be pre-installed in the browsers bookmarks.
A seemed a minor battle until Microsoft “wowed” us with the speedy and stable update to IE 4.0 in 1997. Using the “monopoly” they had with the Windows operating system, they began packaging Internet Explorer with every release of Windows.
Over the next few years Microsoft slowly cut off Netscape’s “air supply” with its numerous resources. It even created a licensing agreement with AOL to base AOL’s primary interface on IE rather than Netscape. IE began adding features much like those of Netscape and few superior. The want to download and install Netscape.
Thinking it had finally won the monopoly over the internet, it began to relax with Yahoo as it’s default search engine, and many news websites pre-installed as book marks. It turned its ventures to other things.
Little did it know it was being stalked by a big red “O” and a cute little “fox”.
Stay tuned to Tech Force's Bits and Bytes Blog for more on the war for Browser Domination next week!
Cloud technology has created a revolution for small business, changing the way you store, share and backup files. While ‘the cloud’ is often hard to understand because it’s neither in the sky or in a single location, there’s no arguing that it’s driving growth across the board. Storage concerns are a thing of the past as small businesses like yours embrace the flexibility, cost savings and protections of cloud solutions. We’ve done the research for you and identified 5 ways small business in particular benefits from making the move.
Budget is always a limiting factor for businesses, many of which are further constrained by pressure from higher up. Some regard investing in cloud solutions as a large expense that can be put off indefinitely. In most cases though, making the switch to cloud storage costs a fraction of the price. Compared to maintaining and powering servers, scaling to keep up, and repairing in emergencies, cloud storage offers extraordinary savings. With one decision, you get access to high-end infrastructure and dedicated support, plus a healthier bottom line. Cloud solutions were specifically created to meet your needs, which means you only pay for what you use. Costs remain capped while the benefits continue to rise, a clear advantage for the budget-conscious business.
A lot of people like having their data where they can see it. But that’s not always the safest option. Natural disasters seem more frequent than ever, break-ins are a worry, and employees are always losing laptops and phones, or have them stolen. More often though, someone simply makes a mistake and deletes important files, or accidentally infects the system with malware. Cloud storage mitigates every single one of these risks, with storage in ultra-secure locations, protected against disasters, and committed to robust backup systems. In recent times particularly, we’ve seen many small businesses survive ransomware attacks purely because their critical data was secure in the cloud with clean backups available.
We know medical businesses and services need to follow certain regulations when it comes to patient data. This includes security as well as data integrity, plus backups and auditing. Many cloud providers acknowledged this need early on and made sure to offer compliance guarantees. They therefore keep abreast of changing regulations, often implementing new requirements before you’ve even heard about them. With cloud storage systems, you essentially slash your compliance workload and let your provider do the worrying.
One of the key benefits of cloud storage is your ability to collaborate remotely. In the past, this would have involved multiple file copies that need to be merged back together, often confusing employees as to which is the ‘right’ file. With cloud storage, your staff can work on the same file, using the same interface and real-time updates. Even having different versions of software is no longer an issue. Employees can work on a file in the office and then securely access the same file from their smartphone, laptop or other location, without needing to buy additional software or worry about version corruption. Sharing and collaborating becomes easier, more desirable and more secure, which helps puts your business firmly on track to reach goals in record time.
It’s Easy to Migrate
One of the biggest concerns we hear is that it will be too disruptive to migrate to cloud solutions all at once. That’s okay. We don’t have to do it all in one day, we can migrate it in parts. For example, you can move your email to the cloud, or just remote file storage. As your various servers and systems age out or need repair, we can help you move each to the cloud, which means your downtime is minimal to non-existent. You can also actively choose a hybrid approach to keep your legacy applications, with no pressure to move them to the cloud. Our technicians can help ensure smooth integration across your entire business, making sure all your systems work seamlessly together, whether in-house or in the cloud.
Talk to us about your cloud options by calling us at 262-515-9499.
The internet is an amazing place! In many ways, it has made life easier, faster, and more productive. It has also made it easier for cyber-criminals to work their scamming arts and try to bilk us out of our money and identities. No matter how safe we think we are, they seem to find a way back in through what is known as “Scareware.”
They pop-up while surfing the internet warning there may be virus, malware, or even corrupted files on the computer. Some have even been known to tell you that illegal porn has been detected on your hard drive. The display can even look like a real-time scan of the computer. It might show an actual “scanned” image of your hard drive to seem more legitimate or hijack the logo of Microsoft Security Essentials.
Most of these pop-ups ask you to call a number to speak to a “technician” in order to clear up the “virus”. If you do call this number you would be asked to install a piece of software for the person on the other end of the line to access your computer to remove this “virus.” Of course, there will be a one-time fee you would have to pay for them to take care of the issue. This software is used to infiltrate the hard drive, steal passwords, credit information and other personal data. Oh, and to ensure that you get “infected” again.
Another fake pop-up will ask you to click a link or button below to speak to a “technician” through a chat window. This scenario actually employs bots – programs to mimic human interaction by responding to key words or phrases in a certain manner. Again, a credit card is required to purchase this one time service.
The only thing legit about this “offer” is the charge to your card.
When faced with one of these pop-ups or scareware scams, it is best to just shut down your browser. Don’t click “No” or “Cancel,” or even the “x” at the top right corner of the screen. Some scareware is designed so that any of those buttons can activate the program, or automatically contact the call center. Just closing the tab it’s in will only cause it to open again. If you use Windows just press the Ctrl + Alt + ESC keys to open your Task Manager, highlight the browser program, and click “End Task”. If you’re on a Mac, press Command + Option + Esc to “Force Quit” your browser.
Upon re-opening the browser; depending on your settings, it may ask you if you want to restore your pages. Unless you want to have to go through the process again it is best not do this.
If you’ve encountered one of these scams and have questions give Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant a call. We always have your back!
At last count, Facebook has clocked up over 2.7 billion users, which makes the platform more attractive than ever for scammers and hackers. While you may be logging in to share your latest family photos or catch up with friends, the chances of accidentally triggering a scam or malware are increasing daily. Here’s how to stay safe on Facebook and stop the spread.
Look out for freebies and surveys
Everybody loves a freebie and for the most part the competition posts on Facebook are legitimate. On the flip side though, when you see a giveaway for vouchers from a mega-store, alarm bells should ring. ‘Do this quick survey and we’ll send you a $50 Amazon Voucher!’ - it’s too good to be true. Even one click can take you on a messy journey through the underbelly of the web, picking up trackers and malware at every stop and at the end, you’re asked to share the post so your friends can get a voucher too...except nobody ever gets the reward.
Check your permissions with games and quizzes
Whenever you access a new game or quiz, you’ll need to give permissions for it to access your Facebook profile. Most people click the okay button without any thought, but if you review the permissions you’re giving, you’ll often find they’re asking for a massive amount of personal data; public profile, friend list, email address, birthday and newsfeed. Do they really need ALL this information? Sometimes the shakedown is from necessity, but sometimes the apps are preparing to launch attacks against you both on and off Facebook. For example, when you call your bank they ask certain questions like your full name, birthday and maybe which high school you went to. All that information is in your Facebook profile and now shared with your permission.
Don’t friend people you don’t know
Having lots of friends is always nice, but that friend accept could end up costing you. It might be someone pretending to know you, or a picture of a pretty girl to entice men (and vice versa). Once you friend them, they get access to everything your friends can see. In this case, it’s more than the risk of someone knowing your personal data, you’ve just given them intimate access to your life. It’s exactly how romance scams start, and there are even cases where the victim finds photos of their children circulating the internet.
If it’s weird, forget it
It doesn’t happen very often, but hackers find ways to take advantage of flaws in Facebook. A common hack that keeps popping up in various forms is to embed malware in a link. The virus then infects your machine and contacts all your friends with an enticing message, like asking whether a picture is of them. When they click to view the picture, the virus catches them and their friend list, and so on. Facebook is pretty good at staying on top of these flaws, but they need time to fix it. Just like if you got a weird email with an attachment from a friend, use that same level of scrutiny in your Facebook and don’t open messages or links that seem out of place.
Need help securing your privacy? Talk to us. Click here to Contact us.
Hard Drive failure can happen for any number of reasons. The main and most frequent one is simply age. The Hard Drive could be damaged if the computer was dropped or otherwise roughed up. Dust and dirt finds its way into those tiny little cracks, which can cause overheating. And of course, liquid spills can really damage a drive.
While the small clues we talk about here can be a sign of something else, they will give you an idea of what to look out for. Being able to recognize these issues in your computer will enable you to catch the disaster and take action before it strikes.
This is especially true for mechanical hard drives. These noises can be anything from a constant clicking to a pulsing “click click” when you start a program or access data. Another sound to listen for is a whirling kind sound that is at a different frequency than the usual spinning of the fans
Trying to access a file that just doesn’t seem to be there any more, seems to have encrypted itself, or is missing those three paragraphs you added last night can be frustrating! But it also can be a sign of a dying hard drive.
Slowing Down, Frequent Freezes, Blue Screen Of Death
Let’s face it, we all get older and start slowing down, freeze periodically due to lack of inertia and wish we could hold up a sign with “file not found” written on it. When experiencing any of these things while you are working on your computer, it can make you feel hapless and a little frustrated. While these could be signs of another problem, they can also indicate an impending Hard Drive crash.
If you are experiencing any of these signs it might be time to start looking into backing up your data before it is too late, and <picking out a new hard drive> to replace the old one.
Even if you aren’t experiencing these or other signs; that lead to data misfortune, keeping your data backed up at all times is just good computer hygiene.
If you’re seeing signs that the Hard Drive in your computer is about to crash, give Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant a call.
Previously we talked about how RAM works in your computer. This week, we take a closer look at the Motherboard.
Many of us know that our computers work, but have you ever wondered how? In this episode of “How your computer works,” we are going to become a little more familiar with the Motherboard.
What we call the motherboard, mainboard, mb, Logic Board, or simply the “mobo”, is basically the “backbone” of the computer. Just like the human spine makes us into complex vertebrates, the motherboard turns all those loose parts into a proper computer.
The many slots, sockets, and ports are where the things that plug into your computer to make it “compute” are all connected. Let’s take a look at some of the components that make your Mother Board so vitally important.
1. CPU (processor) socket
This is where the CPU, or processor, plugs in. In desk top computers, little guy is hidden by the cooling unit that sits on top of it, but underneath all that metal and various fans, sits this shiny little plaque. Basically, this is where the brains of the entire operation calls home.
2. RAM (memory) slots
These long thin modules are the seat of the computers “go” power. There can be between two to four of these slots. Of course, more slots means more RAM, and More RAM means more power. But remember even a NASCAR can only go so fast. In most laptops RAM is the only up-gradable part of the motherboard. For more about how RAM works see our blog, “How your Computer works. Part One: Ram”.
3. Expansion slots
While many of these slots are never used in most office or student desktops they are still offered on motherboards as optional slots. Many Motherboards come with what are called “on-board” chips; mostly sound or graphics, but these integrated chips may not be enough for what you want to do. You might be into playing the occasional video game; so perhaps want a better graphics card, one of these slots is where you would place that beefy new graphics card.
4. Storage Connectors
Simply put, this is where things like your hard drive, solid state drive, or optical (DVD, Blu-Ray, CD/Writer) drives connect.
5. PS/2 Ports
Remember those old keyboard and mice that had the round connectors? This is where they plug in if you still use those. Of course, these days most of us use USB keyboards and wireless mice. However, these “legacy” ports are still commonly seen, if rarely used.
6. VGA/DVI/HDMI Port
Without this connection you would never get to see what your computer is trying to display. This is where you monitor plugs in so you can see where you’re going and what you’re doing. Your motherboard might also have a DVI port and/or a HDMI port.
7. USB Ports
The ultra-versatile USB port can be used to connect mice, keyboards, cameras, cell phones, external hard drives, and some specialty equipment like GPS units and even microscopes. There are so many things you can use these ports for!
8. Ethernet Port
Sometimes wireless just isn’t enough. This port allows you to connect directly to your modem or router, giving you the fastest internet possible.
9. Audio Plugs
Plug your headphones into this port to rock out to your tunes without annoying everyone else in the house. You can even plug in external speakers to this port if you really want to rock out.
This is just a brief overview of your motherboard, but it will help you to begin to understand how vitally important to your computer the Motherboard really is.
If you want to learn more, feel free to contact the experts at Tech Force in Mt. Pleasant. We’re always happy to help!
One of the things our business clients ask us about the most often is backing up their data.
Unfortunately, a majority of them wait until we’ve had to perform some level of data recovery before they even think to ask us about what could very possibly be the most important aspect of maintaining their computer.
There’s a million good reasons for a computer user to keep a current backup of their data, and keeping your data backed up is always a good idea. When it comes to backups, it’s better to have them and not need them than it is to need them and not have them.
There are two primary types of data backup: Physical and cloud-based.
Physical backups are just that. Physical. Your data is stored on an external device of some sort. External Hard Drives, USB drives, even DVD discs can be used to store data.
Backing up your data to an external device can be done one of two ways: Either by dragging and dropping the data that you want to be backed up from your computer’s folders to a folder on your external drive of choice, or by utilizing software to automatically back up your data to your external storage – Carbonite and Apple’s Time Machine are good examples of software that can automatically back your data up.
Physical backups containing highly important data can be stored in a secure place, such as a fire safe or even a safe deposit box. Adding an extra layer of security to your physical backup.
The other type of data backup is what’s called “cloud-based”.
Cloud-based backups are backups that are saved to the “cloud”, or internet.
One of the main benefits of backing data up to the cloud is that you will be able to access your data from any device, anywhere in the world, just as long as you have the log-in credentials.
Just like with physical backups, there are two main ways of backing your data up to the cloud. The first is the drag and drop method that also works for physical backups – simply copy your data over to the folder for your favorite cloud drive (Dropbox or Google Drive are good choices). The second is by utilizing software that securely backs your computer’s folders up to the cloud. Programs such as Backblaze do this extremely well.
We actually recommend, and best practices are to do both physical and cloud backups – for that added security and for some extra piece of mind. After all, you never want to keep all your eggs in one basket. Again, it’s better to have backups and not need them than it is to need them and not have them
Backing your data up is always a good idea, and really isn’t all too difficult. If you need help backing up your small business' data, or need help recovering some data that you haven’t backed up yet, give Tech Force in Mt Pleasant a call. We’re here to help!
As the old cliche goes; “An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure.” Learning how to avoid becoming infected and spreading virus infections, not only makes the internet safer for you, but for everyone else you connect and share with.
A few simple good computing habits, and a watchful eye can help you stay virus free:
Keep your operating system and software up-to-date
Most of these updates are automatic, but it doesn’t hurt to check that your software is current from time to time.
Use reputable antivirus software
Make sure that your security software is from a well-known vendor with high detection rates. Remember with “free” antivirus software, you often get what you pay for.
Don’t ignore security warnings from Windows or your antivirus software
These warnings are there for a reason. Sure they can be a little annoying, but they can save you a lot of trouble.
Use a secure and safe web browser like Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, and keep it updated
These browsers are well-known for their security features, as well as their over-all reliability.
Don’t mindlessly click on “OK”, “Yes” or “Run” when a pop-up window appears and ask you to install unknown software.
Slow down and make sure you know what you’re clicking.
Use only the official download or a trusted website when downloading programs
A common trick that fools many users into installing a virus are fake download buttons. Make sure you pay attention to where you’re downloading from.
Before you want to install “free” software (freeware) first check if its reliable by reading reviews.
The internet is full of questionable programs and applications. Fortunately for us, a quick Google search can clue us in to whether or not a program that we want to download is worthwhile or not.
Don’t download, install, or use “pirated” software
By doing this you might not just be breaking the law, but you could be unknowingly allowing a program to install that might break your computer.
Don’t click on a links, attachments or videos via, emails or web pages if you don’t trust or know the source.
Malicious email attachments are a common vector of virus infection, and seems to be on the rise. A little extra vigilance now can save your computer later.
By using these simple techniques you can keep your computer healthy and virus-free. If you think that your computer might be infected with a virus, or have any questions about keeping your computer safe, the experts at Tech Force in Racine are always here to help.
Tech Force Blog
We provide you with important, practical tips and insight for your technology and networks for both home and business.