Bloxx announces discontinuation of products

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Bloxx to become part of Akamai Technologies

Web filtering provider Bloxx have announced that they will be ceasing support for their products and services, following a shock email from the company’s Chief Executive.

The move comes as part of a cash deal takeover bid by cloud services firm Akamai Technologies, announced on 2nd November 2015, and will see an end to the sale of all Bloxx products.

Bloxx has a good reputation in the UK and beyond for delivering a strong feature set in their appliances that are used to filter online content delivered in sensitive environments. Their products are commonly implemented by educators, healthcare providers, local authorities and businesses.

Although existing contracts will be honoured, those who have invested in physical Bloxx hardware may well find the lifespans are now limited, with little indication of whether Akamai will offer suitable replacements.

Bloxx’s impressive record has drawn the attention of national media before, with the Edinburgh based-company receiving hate mail from teenagers unable to access restricted websites on school computers even with a range of proxies.

With online security stories dominating the news in recent weeks, wider awareness of the need for web, social media and email monitoring is likely to only increase demand for such products. It remains to be seen whether interested parties will consider a cloud-based offering from Akamai to be sufficient, especially when it comes to security and bandwidth management.

Need help with online content filtering and network security for your organisation? Speak to Lineal today: call 01271 375999 or email [email protected]


Personal Computing with Mac just became less personal

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Here at Lineal we’ve generally been impressed with the release of OS X El Capitan – but the release of Apple’s latest operating system has not come entirely without pitfalls.

Some of our own staff experienced printing problems for the Mac version of Microsoft Office 2016 – these have fortunately already been rectified in update version 10.11.1 by a humbly apologetic Apple.

One of the most notable surprises however was the outright removal of functionality that long-time Mac users have had from the earlier days of personal computing.

Apple’s Disk Utility app update has removed the ability to verify and repair disk permissions on your Mac, leaving users with no way to verify incorrectly installed programs with the correct disk permissions to read/write to their hard drive.

At Lineal we’ve always advised users to verify and repair disk permissions after major updates, and even some Apple software regularly flags up as in need of verification.

Apple has made two sweeping generalisations: firstly, that Mac users only need to run software that immediately cooperates with their hardware (a big assumption) and secondly that users will be content to let Apple worry about the details of their computer maintenance.

Personal computing today feels a little less personal. Mac users have become used to the idea that Mac updates are very reliable, and worthwhile installing promptly – yet the sudden removal of longstanding features puts this in doubt for the first time.

Should we all trust manufacturers? A question for Volkswagen.

Lineal can offer Tech Support for a range of Apple devices: get in touch with us today via 01271 375999 or contact us online. 

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Punching above its weight – how ShoreTel helps SMBs outclass the competition.

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SMBs & ShoreTel

Presenting a professional face to the world relies upon efficient customer service, but if you’re just one small business starting out, how do you keep up?

ShoreTel’s Cloud Phone systems are a perfect example of how technology can be a force multiplier for SMBs allowing your small team to take on much bigger competition – and win.

Your goal should be to make dealing with your business stress-free and more convenient than bigger rivals. It’s no surprise that the UK Which? ‘Worst Customer Service’ Survey 2015 is topped by utility and telecoms companies – those with typically slow, large scale, poor quality interaction with customers over the phone.

A cloud-based phone system allows users to cleverly route incoming calls to the right place, by any method you choose – service level, skill matching, customer identity, caller location or simple priority. By deploying a smart call routing system to direct calls to the right person you can ensure that the customer spends as little time as possible holding on the line and gets their query answered.

In order to better serve customers when they call, ShoreTel’s unified communications platform can be configured to give members of your team the relevant details at their fingertips – such as simple screen pop-up containing a customer’s information. This helps your customer service team deal with queries faster, and in a more informed manner.

Being away from the phone need not be a barrier to SMBs either: voicemail and fax can also be routed onwards into transcribed email, so mobile working won’t hold you back from interacting with customers promptly. ShoreTel’s data also integrates with common CRM systems, seamlessly stitching the different strands of your business’ existing work flow together. Operating a business with a small staff, on the move, or across multiple locations? ShoreTel is made for you.

ShoreTel Connect’s Contact Centre is based around a monthly subscription service rather than a big hardware investment – a much more cost effective option for smaller businesses and ensuring a faster return on investment (ROI). Yet the true investment is in your reputation as a company – as a trusted business that is efficient and responsive to your customers’ needs.

Don’t get stuck holding: explore ShoreTel today.

To learn more, speak to somebody from Lineal today – call us on 01271 375999

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Cyber Crime hits the headlines

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Cyber crime is finally set to become the UK’s most common crime type, following inclusion in the latest crime figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

This re-classification comes only days after news headlines emerged that an Eastern European crime group successfully used ‘Dridex’ malware to steal over £20m from UK bank accounts via thousands of infected PCs in the UK.

Cyber criminals are increasingly mounting more organised attacks on businesses, small and large – last year even U.S banking giant J.P Morgan suffered unfortunate press and a sudden plunge in its share price when digital thieves stole the personal information and contact details of more than 76 million customers.

The 2015 National Strategic Assessment from the National Crime Agency estimates that losses due to cyber crime in the UK now amount to a staggering £16 billion annually. The NCA also asserted that the theft of large amounts of private companies’ data still faces ‘considerable under reporting.’

Nowhere is this more threatening than for those in the financial services industry, where both reputations for reliability and access to funds make IT security of paramount importance, requiring compliance with the strictest procedures for identity validation, network safety and fraud detection.

All businesses need to be prepared for the future, where cyber crime is likely to become more sophisticated and UK companies may be expected to demonstrate greater data protection measures. This week Microsoft promoted it’s Financial Services Compliance program in connection with Office 365 – making assurances (aimed squarely at businesses in the financial sector) of direct access to staff and resources to ensure that Microsoft Office cloud services comply with financial security regulations.

Greater awareness of cyber crime amongst Government figures, the media and the public can only be a good thing, but ultimately it still remains very much up to the individual to ensure their IT systems are secure – before the worst happens.

 

More than 70% of businesses fail after significant data loss. Lineal can install a range of security measures to safeguard your business IT systems and data – enquire today via: http://www.lineal.co.uk/contact/

 

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Keeping your business IT secure – What’s the perfect password?

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How to keep your IT Secure

Data breaches can lead to a massive loss of trust among customers, so how do you ensure your IT remains secure?

Despite what many online sign-up forms would suggest, the ‘strongest’ password is not necessarily long and complicated. Whilst complexity makes a password harder to guess or crack with a ‘brute force’ testing of combinations, most security breaches occur from stolen passwords, either physically or by malware attacks.

Very complex passwords do not help in this respect: users still need other IT security, such as antivirus software, errors are more common when typing (particularly on handheld devices) and employees may find complex passwords harder to remember – undermining data security by writing down their login details. The ubiquitous sticky note attached to the monitor is still a trusted solution to working with complex password policies in some organisations!

Routine password changes are a sensible precaution for most businesses, but can make it harder for employees to remember their passwords, leading to the same problem in which users are locked out of work accounts, copy passwords across accounts, or write passwords down at risk of theft.

Phrases can help avoid this problem by making passwords easier to recall: ‘Lineal15theB3st’ is preferable to a 15-digit numeral because a touch of personality adds memorability. Beware profanity though – just imagine trying to explain it to technical support later on!

Here at Lineal we’d also advise against ‘Remember Me’ automated sign-in functions, as well as Windows 10’s new Wi-Fi password sharing ‘Wi-Fi Sense’ Feature, as these make your chosen password redundant.

If you want to see where the future of online security is going, follow the money: most online banking incorporates a two-stage authentication process, requiring both a password and a unique alert code texted to the customer’s mobile phone for identification. This is already a free optional setting for Google, Facebook, Twitter and other popular websites.

Lineal’s advice is to stick to the following basics:

Avoid physical theft:

  • Don’t write your passwords down on a post-it note on your desk! Microsoft has a practical tip: if you absolutely must write a password down, do so in a safe place, without labeling it as a password or to which account it refers. Substitute words should also be used to hide the true password, for example writing ‘Fruit8£’ could refer to a password of ‘Apple8£’.
  • Don’t use an easily guessed word, such as your name, your company’s name, 1234, the name of something on your desk, the word ‘password’, or anything similarly obvious.
  • Never tell anyone your password, and change your password if you suspect it has been compromised.

Ease of Access:

  • If you struggle to remember your passwords, use a password storage program to store some of them. Remember to use a secure password for the program.
  • Mitigate against your own forgetfulness by setting up alternate password recovery options, allowing you to choose more varied, difficult passwords.
  • Consider where users will need to log in from – take full advantage of using numbers and special characters ( ! , £, %, * etc.) for keyboard users.

Preventing digital theft:

  • Use different passwords for your most important accounts, such as online banking.
  • Use two-stage authentication.
  • Maintain up to date anti-virus security software and firewalls on your work desktops, and don’t download untrusted software or open suspicious emails which could be phishing or contain password stealing malware.
  • Consult IT specialists to ensure office networks are protected from outside attacks.

Your security should always be strong enough to give peace of mind. Lineal can provide expert advice and support for securing your IT systems: why not get in contact with us here?

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iPhone 6S, 6S Plus and iPad Pro Release: Apple stays ahead of the pack

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This week saw the hotly anticipated release of the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, Apple Inc’s flagship smartphone announced in their annual product release that has become as inevitable as the tides.

With the iPhone now accounting for something close to 70% of Apple’s revenue, the 6S and 6S Plus were the main attraction. The new design fixes old durability problems with a stronger case and tougher screen, but added features include the obligatory faster processor, a new rose gold colour choice, and an upgraded 12MP camera – all aimed at keeping ahead of the competition, at least when it comes to performance.

‘3D Touch’ is Apple’s newest technical innovation, making the screen of the company’s newest devices pressure sensitive. This gives users the illusion of screen depth by accurately judging the strength of the screen press, allowing for new capabilities like a ‘peek’ at an app with a gentle touch, and giving Apple another technical edge with which to play the long game.

Not that Apple’s thinking hasn’t been questioned: commercial clients may find the power to shoot high resolution 4k video enticing, but will likely be sceptical at how practical it is to save such high-quality video files on a smartphone.

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iPadPro_Pencil_Lifestyle2-PRINTIndeed, for a company whose founder’s dislike of the stylus is well documented, releasing a large tablet with a stylus appears an open invitation for criticism. Nevertheless this is exactly what Apple have now done, introducing the new iPad Pro, a 12.9 inch tablet, ostensibly optimised for creative use by designers, illustrators and other editors needing a larger screen.

The demonstration of the iPad Pro included the new $99 (£65) stylus, the Apple ‘Pencil’ effortlessly photoshopping a woman’s smile on screen, an illustrative but perhaps ill-chosen example that somehow made it through Apple’s press office without ringing media alarm bells. Appropriate use aside, the technology is nevertheless impressive: the Apple pencil combined with 3D Touch allows pressure sensitive brush strokes on screen drawn with great precision.

This year’s releases represent Apple maturing a little, yet still relying on groundbreaking technical features to stay ahead of the curve.  Apple Inc. shares actually slid two percent to close lower on Wednesday, with investors holding their breath to see whether the new products were enough to really ‘impress’ customers. The tech giant has arguably sacrificed some of the flamboyance of previous years’ releases to concentrate on the innovation needed to outpace rivals, and open more important doors for its own future, including in the form of its renewed invasion into our living rooms with the new Apple TV and tvOS complete with the long heralded AppStore.

Lineal has over 20 years of business experience with Apple Mac, including connecting your mobile devices for working on the move – why not get in touch with us today? http://www.lineal.co.uk/contact/

 


Skylake processors begin new era for Intel

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Intel have announced the release of their new Skylake processors – their sixth generation of processor chips using multiple cores to combine greater processing power with lower energy consumption.

The new chips will boast around a 60% performance increase for a standard PC, with overclocking capabilities and other features clearly aimed at capturing the higher end of the gaming market and similar. There are also more rudimentary improvements behind the scenes: for example supporting multiple 4k displays, and optimising for new connections expected on the next generation of laptops, including USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3.

Skylake’s greatest asset however will be remarkably more efficient power-use. Intel believe superior energy efficiency (and less overheating) will allow more devices to operate without the need for internal fans, saving device weight, size, manufacturing costs, environmental costs, maintenance on moving parts, and prices for consumers. Their smaller models, Core m3, m5 and m7, will also help corner the market on more portable devices, saving weight and critical battery life in the tablets and smartphones of the future.

Intel must realise their market is changing and that it will be harder to keep selling new processors. Both Microsoft and Apple now offer constant upgrades to their Windows 10 and OS X Yosemite operating systems via free downloads – such that users are no longer forced to buy a new computer or package when they wish to upgrade. The IDC estimated last November that new tablet sales were also slower than the industry expected, as users hold on to older, well-built devices longer than expected rather than purchasing newer models. Hard drive capacities, in devices of all sizes, will only increase.

This all leaves Intel with a sales challenge – how to sell computer hardware to a world that doesn’t necessarily need or covet new devices as regularly? Skylake must provide new opportunities to manufacturers to push the boundaries of what can be achieved with a better chip to drive fresh sales across the industry.

Expect to see Skylake processors become available by the end of 2015, with the PC market picking up the range fully in the New Year.

If you’d like to take advantage of Lineal’s advice and expertise, you can contact us online easily by clicking here: http://www.Lineal.co.uk/contact/

 


Windows 10 – Surviving your first two weeks

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Microsoft’s Windows 10 has been available to home PC users for more than two weeks now – but as more users get chance to test its features, how has the new operating system fared against the initial scrutiny of the news cycle?

With more than 67m devices now running Windows 10, some horror stories have already graced the internet post-migration. Not everyone has had an easy upgrade, with some users reporting touchpad or connectivity problems. Windows 10’s propensity to slideshow images, pulled from users’ ‘My Pictures’ Folder into the start menu, has caused the obvious hilarity. Some unfortunate early adopters found their PC displaying adult content from deep in their personal files played in an embarrassing slideshow.

The most widespread complaint though has been Microsoft’s new ‘Wi-Fi Sense’ feature. WiFi Sense by default allows your contacts and Skype friends shared access to your Wi-Fi network credentials without handing over a password. This has prompted serious security and privacy concerns.

The fuss here is not entirely without basis, with the tech community correctly noticing that even if Wi-Fi Sense doesn’t share access from your immediate friend on to a third party, in reality your immediate friend may share access to your network to a third party via their own Wi-Fi Sense if your friend has obtained the password first hand – either from you or via a written source.

Users merely need to turn off Wi-Fi Sense, but it’s important that those making the upgrade are aware of the need to make a decision over protecting their own network security.

Overall though, these problems are a shadow of the grief that Windows 8 gave Microsoft, and here at Lineal we’ve generally been impressed by the transition – the majority of our customers who have wanted to upgrade to the new operating system have done so without incident. The removal of Windows 8 style full-page apps, the introduction of the new Edge browser and the welcome return of the Start Menu have all been greeted warmly by a worldwide user base that has clearly felt listened too.

Most importantly, because some internet stories have reported lost files after upgrade, the golden rule still stands – if you have important data, always make sure this is backed up elsewhere, just in case.

If you’d like advice and support upgrading your systems – why not click here to see what Lineal could offer your business: http://www.lineal.co.uk/systems/


Cloud Computing: Yes or No?

As always, the answer depends on your needs.  For sharing work, such as documents, presentations and other data between team members working remotely, the Cloud is great.  But if your entire team is physically located together in an office, then it might not be the right choice for you.

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If you have a small team, some or all of whom work remotely, then Cloud working is a convenient, cost effective solution which means you don’t have the cost of buying and maintaining central server resources.

The benefits are agility and flexibility, both in work and financial terms.

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Fibre Broadband; worth having?

Well, that depends what you want it for and whether you can actually get it. One is very fast and relatively expensive; the other can be mind-numbingly slow, but is cheap – sometimes free. There are two broadband delivery methods: ADSL and fibre optic. ADSL comes down copper wires, fibre optic reaches you through a glass fibre. Certainly fibre is more expensive over standard ADSL, even when you take away any ‘new user’ incentives, but how fast do you need emails to come into your Inbox?

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For many small users, if your current ADSL set up is giving you speeds is in excess of 2MB/s, and you don’t run a business or have two teenage sons on Call of Duty, then what you’ve got is probably fine. Continue reading…


Disaster Recovery, do I really need it?

A Somerset client’s basement was flooded, not, as you might have expected, due to the Levels flooding, but due entirely to a catastrophic failure of a very large nearby water main. If the basement had been used for storage it might not have been too bad, but unfortunately the basement rooms are used as offices, with a lot of IT equipment in use.

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Lineal was able to provide same day support, with the loan of equipment, network setup and new telephones.  Extra room was made available upstairs, and by the end of the next day, our client’s office was working back to full capacity again.

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Free Mac Adware Removal Tool for OS X – now with reliable support for Google Chrome!

Adware is a piece of software that automatically displays or downloads advertising materials such as banners or pop-ups when a user is online. Aside from being really irritating, it can slow down your computer and, with serious cases, can make it almost unworkable when connected to the internet. Adware is different from malware, the latter being a kind of unwanted software that often has malicious intent and may be designed to harm your computer. There are a plethora of adware removal tools available, some paid and some free. You have to be careful when downloading an adware removal tool as some programs purporting to remove adware may actually contain adware or malware themselves.

 

AdwareMedic is a Mac app from the Thomas Reed (“The Safe Mac”) for removing sneaky software that modifies your Mac system against your wishes for commercial gain and which is difficult to remove. The utility does a quick scan and cleanup of this nasty garbage after connecting to the company’s website and downloading adware signature definitions. (The utility is not an anti-virus program, per se, only an adware remover.) The latest versions fix Chrome glitches. AdwareMedic 2.2.6 is distributed freely as shareware for OS X 10.7 and up.

 

For more assistance in adware or malware removal on your Mac or Windows PC, or to discuss any other specific problems, please call Lineal or use our contact form.


Google Chrome Listening In To Your Room Shows The Importance Of Privacy Defense In Depth

Google has been stealth downloading audio listeners onto every computer that runs Chrome, and transmits audio data back to Google. Effectively, this means that Google had taken itself the right to listen to every conversation in every room that runs Chrome somewhere, without any kind of consent from the people eavesdropped on. In official statements, Google shrugged off the practice with what amounts to “we can do that”.

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George wins Best Apprentice at the North Devon Journal Business Awards

Lineal is delighted to announce that our apprentice George Ward was successful in being awarded Best Apprentice at the North Devon Journal Business Awards on Friday.  George was joined for the presentation evening by Doug Matthews, Matt Norris, Ian Meredith, Mike Matthews, Will Adkin and Martyn Kay who were proud to be there as the winners were announced.

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OS X El Capitan System Requirements & Compatible Mac List

With an emphasis on performance and reliability, OS X El Capitan is expected to be a great system software update for Mac users. Of course, updating to the next version of Mac OS X will only be possible if the Mac hardware supports the new version. Fortunately for those wanting to update to OS X El Capitan, the system requirements are quite forgiving, and basically if your Mac can run OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks, it will almost certainly be able to run OS X El Capitan as well.

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2 new Superfast Fibre lines now at Lineal!

Lineal now have invested in 2 new fibre lines with different providers so if there is a problem on one of the lines then we can still have a superfast connection to our customers!

This means that we can now expand our Disaster Recovery Service so that your backup data can be continuously uploaded to us with no usage limits.

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Unlike any other cloud based disaster recovery, we bring the storage device to you for the initial synchronisation and in the case of a restore, personally restore your system back to how it was. Which makes restoring and backing up much faster, especially if your business works with large data files. The Disaster Recovery Plan comes in three options, Gold, Silver and Bronze so you can choose the perfect package to suit your business.

 

Contact Lineal if you would like more information about our disaster recovery packages.

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Lineal Joins ShoreTel Champion Partner Program!

Lineal Software Solutions announced today they will begin selling and delivering ShoreTel® unified communications solutions as a new Champion Partner. ShoreTel, Inc., the leading provider of brilliantly simple phone systems and unified communications (UC) solutions, has designed the Champion Partner Program to strengthen the relationship between ShoreTel and its partners to provide end-customers with a brilliantly simple UC solution. The program’s goal is to advance and grow both companies’ market share in the UC industry, while ensuring every customer continues to be delighted with their ShoreTel experience.

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Windows Server 2003 Support ending July

After July 14, Microsoft will no longer issue security updates for any version of Windows Server 2003. If you are still running Windows Server 2003 in your datacenter, you need to take steps now to plan and execute a migration strategy to protect your infrastructure. By migrating to Windows Server 2012 R2, Microsoft Azure or Office 365, you can achieve concrete benefits, including improved performance, reduced maintenance requirements, and increased agility and speed of response to the business.

 

Contact Lineal if you need help migrating to a newer server!

#technology #windows #server #support


How to Change the Root User Account Password in OS X

Some advanced Mac users require having the root user enabled in OS X for administrative or troubleshooting purposes. While many will keep the root user account password the same as their general administrator password, this is not always recommended for some situations, and thus these Mac users may wish to change the root user account password in OS X.

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Why You May See a “This Cable is Not Certified and May Not Work Reliably” Error on iPhone & iPad

Rarely, when you plug an iPhone or iPad into a particular Lightning charger cable you’ll see a pop-up or lock screen message on the device that says something to the effect of “This cable is not certified and may not work reliably”. This usually prevents the lightning cable from charging the device as well. Though most users will never see this error, if you do see that message, there’s almost always a reason why.

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iPhone Won’t Stop Vibrating? Here’s How to Resolve the Endless Buzzing

Most problems with iPhone are fairly simple to explain and resolve, but a somewhat rare outlier is the case of the spontaneous continuously vibrating iPhone. You’ll know it if you encounter it, the iPhone will basically seize up and do nothing but vibrate with a black screen, and the vibrations aren’t even pulsed like a message, it just buzzes nonstop.


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How to Remove a Finger Print from Touch ID on iPhone & iPad!

When you properly set up TouchID to unlock your iPhone or iPad, many users add several different of their fingers to the configuration so that they can unlock the iOS device in different orientations. That’s a good idea, but sometimes you may want to change which fingers (or whose fingers) are allowed to access and unlock the Touch ID sensor, and to do so you’ll probably want to delete old finger prints from the Touch ID database in iOS.

delete-fingerprints-from-touch-id Continue reading…


Number Keypad Not Working on a Mac Keyboard? It’s a Simple Fix!

Many Mac users go with the full sized Apple wired keyboard rather than a wireless keyboard so that they can have a dedicated number keypad on their keyboard. Sometimes that numeric pad seems to randomly stop working though, and suddenly numbers don’t type at all, which can be frustrating to say the least. To further complicate the matter, the Apple Wired Keyboard does not include a traditional “Num Lock” key like you’d find on most PC keyboards, so it can be difficult for switchers to easily identify if that’s related to the issue or not. Fortunately, for almost every occurrence where the number keypad has stopped working with a Mac keyboard, the resolution is easy.

mac-keyboard-keypad-not-working-fix Continue reading…