Data-Plan Drains

We’ve talked about keeping your data usage in line with your plan to avoid expensive extra charges. It’s getting easier and easier to exceed your plan’s limits, and it’s going to get more expensive. Here are some data-plan drains you can easily plug.

Let’s start with the cloud. As much as we like the idea of being able to store all sorts of files in a place where you can get them from any computer and easily share for collaborative efforts, the cloud has its dark side. Companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, Apple and Google all encourage you to store work, music and picture/video files on a site so you can easily share them on mobile devices.

When those mobile devices are not connected to a Wi-Fi network, they use cellular data networks. And because we’re sharing these files more – or accessing music files on a cell phone or even from our car radios as we travel – we’re using a lot of data. If you have a 2-gigabyte-per-month data plan, you can drain it pretty fast.

You can prevent hefty charges by either limiting your data downloads or by increasing your plan’s limit. Either way, you still need to watch your data so you don’t drain your plan.

Little plug-in hot spots are becoming more popular, and they can be big drains on your plan. Again, you can download a lot of data when you’re using a cellular network. And if you invite a business associate or friend to use your hot spot while on a cellular network, guess whose data they’re downloading. That’s right – yours.  It won’t take long to drain your account and get hit with those extra charges.

Those 4G cellular networks can really sneak up on you, too. After Sandy, we drove to South Carolina and Florida. When we stopped our first night out, I turned on my laptop to work with a client. When I finished, I got a text message from my wireless carrier telling me I had already used 50 percent of my monthly data limit. It was only then that I realized my computer getting back into sync after being off for a few days. With a 4G connection, it took only 45 minutes to hit 2 gigs.

Fast Internet connections are readily available on cellular networks. You really need to monitor your use, but we know that can be difficult. As much as we dislike Microsoft’s Windows 8, it has a feature that can measure your usage when connected to a measured connection. You can also set your computer so that you don’t get any Windows updates when you’re on a wireless network. You will need Windows 8 – and upgrades are going $39 to $200.

Where can you get some help? You’re not likely to get it from the carriers. We see unlimited data plans going away as more people put more things in the cloud and access them more often. It makes good business sense for them, so being more vigilant makes good sense for you.

We can answer questions and offer advice on your particular data-plan and usage needs. Just call us at 973-433-6676 or email us.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.

School-Dazed Networks

A talk on “The Global Technology Outlook” by William La Fontaine, Vice President of Technical Strategy & Worldwide Operations Research, IBM, at the Morris County Chamber of Commerce raised a lot of interesting points about the role technology needs to play to help our students be competitive in the job market. As a parent and IT specialist, I have strong opinions to share.

We need to continuously upgrade our curricula and ways we learn to prepare our students to find good jobs and provide the workforce our country needs for economic growth and sustainability. Today’s college degree is yesterday’s high school diploma, and tomorrow’s college degree will need to be today’s graduate degree.

Smart and powerful technology will play a key role as educators and students learn how to find and use more resources and develop more and better collaborative tools. They will do this in their own classrooms and then expand to classrooms or collaborative groups that can be located anywhere in the world.

To me, the prospects for my children are exciting beyond my imagination.

However, our schools tend to have older equipment that can’t keep up with the devices students and teachers can bring to classes. Computers are old and slow, and the Wi-Fi networks can’t handle the traffic needed to provide the best learning opportunities in school.

If you are reading this, you know how important it is to have the right technology to receive and send information, and you know what it takes to do it. We need to demand and support initiatives that teach our teachers how to make full use of technology, and we need to demand and support measures that ensure our schools have the necessary tools – computers and networks – to handle the Internet traffic that deliver educational resources.

I was impressed by the global technology R&D efforts that William La Fontaine outlined at the Morris County Chamber. I’ll be really impressed when I see schools and parents working together to implement new ways of learning that give our students a leg up in meeting future challenges head-on.

What’s going to impress you? You’re invited to leave a comment.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.

Where’s My Speed Channel?

“My computer worked fine at the coffee shop. Why is it so slow at home?” We’re hearing this complaint more than we’d like. The problem usually is that you don’t have your connection set to the channel at home that gives you less interference.

We get a lot of calls about this from clients who have been on a public network and then find their computers running “slower than molasses” on their wireless network. In most cases, the computer is fine. The problem usually is with the connection channel and a conflict with other wireless devices in your house or neighborhood.

It’s very easy to see if your wireless channel setting is the problem. Just plug your laptop directly into your router. This gives you a direct, wired connection – the fastest connection you can have. If you see an immediate improvement in your computer’s speed in browsing the web and downloading files, you’ve likely identified the problem as a wireless issue and not one with your computer.

We can typically fix this problem very easily by remote access to your router and computer. Every router and computer is different – even if you have two routers and computers that are the same models from the same manufacturers. Settings can vary.

In addition, homes have a lot of devices that all broadcast radio signals of one sort or another. Besides routers and computers, you have cordless phones, bluetooth devices and TVs that either run through your Wi-Fi network or run within a limited bandwidth range.

We have the training and tools to analyze your router, computer and how all devices in your home interact with each other. We can tweak various settings to optimize your network and Wi-Fi devices to get you on the right channel for maximum speed.

We can also help you with the proper placement of a Wi-Fi extender. The best location for an extender is where you get a strong signal from the router to the extender and from the extender to the locations in your house where you use a computer or tablet connected to the Internet. If that ideal location is in a place where you don’t want the extender to be seen, we can help you conceal it.

Somewhere down the line, increasing use of LED light bulbs in homes and offices will affect wireless networks. The LEDs in the bulbs have the ability to transmit data, and we may soon see “Li-Fi” networks. They will present other challenges in managing radio interference to keep networks running smoothly.

In the meantime, if you need to find the right speed channel for your home or office, call us at 973-433-6676 to set up a remote troubleshooting session or email us to schedule one.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.

Microsoft Out of Band Fix for IE – January 14

As of 2:15PM we havent seen the Microsoft Patch on Windows Update.   However we just received another announcement from Microsoft that they are holding a conference call today at 1PM Pacific Time which is 4PM Eastern Time.   We expect shortly thereafter to see the patch made available on Windows Update Servers.  This is remember an out of band patch and the patches on a regular cycle or normally issued at 1PM Eastern Time.

Java Vulnerability Fix

Microsoft & Oracle both have released critical security updates today.

 The Java flaw is significantly more wide-spread than the Internet Explorer vulnerability, affecting any machine with Oracle’s Java client installed – an estimated 850 million desktops and laptops around the world. The flaw was serious enough for browser makers, including Firefox creator Mozilla, to temporarily Java from loading in order to provide some level of protection against attack.

Microsoft is breaking with its self-imposed monthly patch cycle to address a serious security vulnerability in its Internet Explorer web browser as well.

The Microsoft Patch can be downloaded from Windows Update in Control Panel

 The Java Update 11 can be downloaded from 

Once Java has been installed and patched you can reenable Java in your browser.

Just follow the instructions on our website to disable it and this time click on enable

Java Vulernability Discovered

Java Vulnerability Discovered

Cyber criminals are exploiting a vulnerability in Java, a widely used add-on or plug-in for most browser applications. We recommend you disable Java from your browser or uninstall Java immediately.

Procedures to disable Java in

Internet Explorer (IE)

  • If you use Internet Explorer version 7 or above, open Internet Explorer and select Tools | Manage Add-ons then skip to Step 3.If you use an older version of Internet Explorer, open Internet Explorer and select Tools | Internet Options and continue to Step 2.
  • From the Internet Options window, click the Programs tab and select Manage Add-ons.
  • From the Add-ons windows, click once to select (highlight) Java Plug-in then click the Disable button. Click Close and OK to accept the change.
  • Alternatively, you can also click Tools | Internet Options | Advanced. If Java is installed in your browser, you will see a listing for Sun Java in the Internet Options menu. Just uncheck it to disable. 
  • When you encounter a site that requires Java (for example, some small online games and calculators), you can re-enable Java easily by following the same steps above, this time selecting the enable option.


This article explains how to disable the Java plugin in Firefox so that Java applets no longer run.By default, Firefox allows Java applets to launch automatically. However, you may decide that you do not want Java applets to run. To disable Java applets in Firefox:

    1. At the top of the Firefox window, click on the Firefox button (Tools menu in Windows XP), and then click Add-onsOn the menu bar, click on the Tools menu, and then click Add-onsAt the top of the Firefox window, click on the Tools menu, and then click Add-ons. The Add-ons Manager tab will open.
    2. In the Add-ons Manager tab, select the Plugins panel.

  1. Click on the Java (TM) Platform pluginJava Plug-in 2 for NPAPI Browsers (Mac OS 10.5 & 10.6) or Java Applet Plug-in (Mac OS 10.7 and above)Java plugin to select it.
  2. Click on the Disable button (if the button says Enable, Java is already disabled).


  • Click the Chrome menu Chrome menu and select Settings.
  • Click Show advanced settings.
  • In the “Privacy section”, click the Content settings button.
  • In the “Plug-ins” section, select the following:
    • Click to play: Chrome will block all plug-ins. However, you can click the plug-in icon click to play plug-in to run it this time.
    • Block all: Chrome will prevent any plug-ins from running


To disable the Java web plug-in in Safari, follow these steps:

  1. In Safari, choose Safari > Preferences
  2. Click “Security”.
  3. Uncheck (deselect) “Enable Java”.
  4. Close the Safari preferences window.

You can find more complete information from this Computerworld article

Dick Tracy’s Technology Update?


Back in 1946, Dick Tracy, the famous comic-strip detective, broke technological ground when he began wearing his 2-Way Wrist Radio. Sixty-seven years later, we’re hearing a lot of rumors about a new Apple iWatch.

Chester Gould, creator of Dick Tracy, gave his character the new communication device after visiting with inventor Al Gross, a pioneer in mobile wireless communication. Gould upgraded Tracy to a 2-Way Wrist TV in 1964, but we’re way beyond that today.

Some people have put their older iPod Nanos on wristbands, essentially making them into multi-functional wristwatches. Other manufacturers have put “smart watches” on the market, but they haven’t achieved Rolex status. However, nobody can match Apple’s technology buzz. The reports we’ve come across as this newsletter went to publication indicate that manufacturing is gearing up for getting the new device on the market this summer.

I would find it especially helpful. We all have smartphones clipped to our belts or in our purses, and they’re hard to access just to see who’s calling. With a device on our wrist and Bluetooth, it would be as simple as checking the time to see the caller ID and know if you need to pull out your phone or activate it with a voice command.

Other manufacturers have some capability with smartphones, wrist-borne devices and Bluetooth already on the market, so this type of device makes sense for Apple. We’ll be watching.

We’ll also be watching for a possible new iPad – rumored to be released in March – and new developments in Apple TV. Maybe this and a new wrist device will enable us to watch Dick Tracy reruns while we’re walking the dog or waiting for a bus or train.

Check in for updates on our website or Facebook page.

Cutting the Cable? Ditching the Dish?

Evolving technologies that stream content to our TVs and mobile devices are portending the end for cable and satellite TV. They’re not going away all that quickly, but it’s just a matter of time.  HDMI allows you watch anything from a computer on a TV. So, if you can wait a day to watch your favorite TV show, you can go to a website and watch it at your convenience. Live sports and news are another story, but you know the technology will be there to deliver the content.

As for TVs, our experience shows that the best deals on big flat screen TVs usually come in the middle of January – two weeks before the Super Bowl.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.

New Stuff – Hardware and Software

With the holidays in our rearview mirrors, it’s time to look at what’s new, already, besides the ever-present Apple rumors. One new product that’s here is Brookstone’s HDMI pocket projector. Let’s take a look at it along with some other new hardware and software products.

The pocket projector looks really cool, and it fits with where many of us are headed in 2013 – a move to more mobile devices and greater use of the cloud.  For personal uses, you can show pictures stored on a web-based service or use an app to show a YouTube video. If you have photos or videos already stored on your device, you can access them directly. Either way, you don’t have to pass your phone or tablet around to everyone in your group.

For those of you who give presentations, you can now avoid dragging along a laptop and avoiding all the things that can possibly go wrong when you hook your computer to a projector. You can connect one of these to your smartphone or tablet and use an app that works with programs such as Keynote or Documents to Go, which emulate Word, PowerPoint and other Microsoft Office programs. Mobile devices have good reliability records, and you usually have the option of connecting to remote servers via Wi-Fi or cellular service.  Just make sure you have the right cables. It comes with adapters and cables for most devices. If you have an iPhone or iPad, yes, you will need to get special adapters and connectors.

If your need is new “standard” technology for 2013, our Windows OS saga continues. We continue to see a lot of customers having difficulty with Windows 8. You can send the computers back, but it’s a cumbersome process.

The better path is to do some careful research. You can order certain desktop and laptop computer models from most manufacturers with an option to have it run Windows 7. Just be sure to read all the product details and technical specs to see that the computer meets all of your performance needs and has the ability to run Windows 7.  If you’re not sure or have any questions, call us (973-433-6676) or email us for answers and advice.

Making a List

Now is a good time to take an inventory of your computers, servers and other office equipment. Many of our clients have “evolving” technology – moving from older to newer equipment in stages. We’ve been taking inventories of computers, servers, versions of Office and operating systems as we visit for service calls. Many don’t believe their systems are as old as they are. However, an accurate inventory will help you plan and budget for new systems in an orderly manner and minimize office disruptions.

On the software side, the Microsoft Outlook web app has some good upgrades, which you get automatically if you subscribe to Office 365. We posted a link on our Facebook page to an article from Microsoft that describes the features in the upgrade.

One of the new features we like is the ability to use webmail offline. However, you need to have IE 10, Safari 5 or Chrome 16. We want to assume it will work with Firefox soon, if it hasn’t already been done. Once we have the chance to test it all, we’ll give you a report.

If you use Microsoft Exchange for your email, datacenter enhancements have enabled the service  to increase the limit of sending 1,500 emails per day to 10,000. The limits protect the online service from becoming a source of spam and keep customers’ email messages flowing.

We believe in the cloud and highly recommend it for many of our clients for better data security, easier access to data and automatic upgrades to keep your systems current. Call us – 973-433-6676 – or email us for questions about or help in moving to the cloud.

This article was published in Technology Update, the monthly newsletter from Sterling Rose LLC.