No Bleeding Hearts Here

You heard about the Heartbleed bug, and probably got email from your email provider or other online entity instructing you to change your password. Hopefully, you heeded their advice. While the data on your Mac is safer than data on a PC, the Internet levels the playing field, and Heartbleed caused more than its fair share of havoc.

If you’ve had your computer serviced here at Simutek, you’ve probably heard us mention Backblaze for virtual backup of your data. While other online backup companies were being compromised by the Heartbleed bug, Backblaze was unaffected, and your data, payment information, and password were all protected.

Here’s what Backblaze had to say about the Heartbleed bug in their blog:

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The Backblaze website was never vulnerable to the Heartbleed bug. Your email address, password, credit card information, and all of your backed up data have always been safe. You do not need to change your Backblaze password.

A little more detail
The security bug was found in a particular version of an encryption library called OpenSSL. Backblaze never used that version on our website.

Most sites on the Internet were using the affected version, thus making it important to change your password once they patched their servers. Since Backblaze was never vulnerable, you can leave your password as is. Of course, if you prefer, you may change it as well.

Take a look at this list from CNET (they continue to update it as information becomes available) and make sure you’ve changed your password where needed, and stay safe.

DriveSavers Tips

Anyone who’s had a hard drive crash, brought their computer to Simutek, and found out their data couldn’t be recovered in store has received a pamphlet when they pick up their computer. DriveSavers is one of the best data recovery labs in the industry, which is why we have their pamphlets on hand to give to you as an option.HD

We’d like to share some tips and information directly from DriveSavers to you, if for no other reason than we put a face to the company (they are wearing surgical masks in those pamphlet pictures).

Here are some of DriveSaver’s top no-nos when it comes to hard drives:

We spend a lot of time at DriveSavers reminding our customers what they can do to prevent data loss, but today we’re looking at what not to do.

  • Don’t turn on any drive that is clicking, whining, grinding, wheezing or making any unusual noise. Bad sounds are typically made by a drive that has failed mechanically or has sustained physical damage. Putting power to the drive could make matters worse, sometimes destroying the data you want to save in the process.
  • Don’t run any data recovery software until you are dead certain of the type of problem you’re facing. There are myriad software tools on the market, and they may be useful in some cases, but none of those tools will help with a physically damaged or mechanically failed drive. Even if you suspect5 the drive isn’t damaged or mechanically ailing, software can make changes to the drive that are irreversible. Call the experts at DriveSavers first for guidance and information.
  • Don’t turn a failing drive on and off repeatedly in hopes of it coming back to life. In most cases, you may be making a bad situation even worse.
  • Don’t put a failed hard drive in the freezer. Despite what some online pundits suggest, this outdated approach isn’t recommended. Doing so could reduce the chances of a successful data recovery.

Back up on Aisle Backup!

harddrive-calloutWhen’s the last time you backed up the data on your hard drive? You know, your photos, documents, music, all that good stuff you can’t live without. It’s one of our favorite subjects for a reason. Hard drives crash (even backup drives); data becomes corrupted, hard drives die of old age, overstuffing, and a host of other maladies.

There’s no manual that comes with your computer telling you to back up your data (or explaining how). There’s no warning system that pops up asking where you’re backing up to, why you aren’t backing up, or what could happen if you don’t. You’ve got a great application that comes with your Mac called Time Machine, but you need hardware to start using it. You need an external hard drive.backup-callout

If you’ve been in our store, you’ve seen big signs urging you to back up your data. If you’ve received a call from service, even if your computer wasn’t in for a hard drive issue, we check to see if you have a backup system in place, and when we don’t see any evidence of that, we make recommendations when we call to let you know your computer’s ready for pickup.

At the sales counter, staff recommend external backup drives and will format and set up those drives for you before you leave the store so all you have to do is plug it in when you get home. We purposefully stock refurbished Lacie drives at a deep discount to encourage our customers to back up their data.

But, what if you’ve got a solid state drive? Those are much more stable, right? Don’t fall into a false sense of security. Those fail, too. Maybe not as often, but––unlike a traditional spinning platter drive––a solid state drive doesn’t have any warning signs before it crashes, and when it does, it’s like falling off a cliff. There’s no hope of data recovery outside of a specialized lab costing potentially thousands of dollars.

Luckily, there are options, and lots of them. We’re only going to recommend the ones we’ve used ourselves, and only those we wouldn’t hesitate to install on our own family members’ computers.

BACK UP TO AN EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE

Pros: it’s fast, easy, and you’ve got your backup right there when you need it.

Cons: hard drives die, including external drives; if something happens to both your computer and your external hard drive, you’ve got no backup.

This requires software (an application like Time Machine, already on your computer)

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and hardware (an external hard drive that connects through one of the USB ports on your computer, or WiFi-enabled hard drive like Time Capsule).

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If you want more control and tweak-ability, there are two third-party backup and recovery programs we recommend and use regularly: Carbon Copy Cloner© at $39.95, and SuperDuper!© at $27.95. Both are well worth it.

The other option is virtual backup. A company provides server space and encrypted backup service for a fee.

VIRTUAL BACKUP

Pros: once everything is backed up, it will back up your data as long as you’re connected to the Internet. No other hardware to carry when you travel; the backup is available no matter where you are. It’s also off-site, so if something should happen to your computer, your backup is at a safe distance.

Cons: the initial backup can take a very long time. After that, you won’t even know you’re backing up.

We recommend two companies for virtual backup service. Colin and Martha are practically evangelists for Backblaze, and both have been using it for years with flawless backup and restore experiences. Colin has tested their services much more heavily, and they stand up to an impressive amount of data stress.

CrashPlan is another virtual backup service that we recommend without hesitation.

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For an annual fee of around $50-60, these two companies will back up your data, and you can restore at any time.

BACKING UP YOUR BACKUP

The third choice is, of course, to do both types of backup. One to an external hard drive using Time Machine, Carbon Copy Cloner, or SuperDuper!, and one through a virtual backup service like Backblaze or CrashPlan. This way, you’re covered on all fronts, and if you forget to do the external backup for a while, you’ll still have the virtual backup. We can’t tell you how many people we’ve had bring in their external hard drive to restore their data after a hard drive crash, only to find that their last backup was six months ago.

The bottom line is that backing up data is best when it happens automatically in the background. You don’t have to try to adhere to a schedule or remember when you last backed up. You’ve got better things to do with your time.

If you can’t afford to lose the data on your hard drive, and you’re not backing up your data, trying to get data off a bad drive is far more expensive than any solution listed here. We have refurbished 1 TB external hard drives that are a fraction of retail.  Come on in and speak with any staff member about the best backup solution for you.

All the news that fits

The news you already know (and some you might not):

Half the year is over.

We’re in Tucson “winter.” Very few people are seen walking outside in the sweltering sun, and monsoon season has officially started. Now we watch the dewpoint and anticipate rain!

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Summer Solstice was last night (or Winter Solstice for those south of the equator), and we’ve got a Perigee moon (a.k.a. supermoon) on Sunday morning, when the full moon will be the closest to earth that it will be all year.

The news you might not know (and some you might):

Jake got engaged!

Tom rushed to the hospital yesterday to be with his wife who’s expecting their first child! We don’t know the status as of this writing, but our thoughts are with them.

Richard is undergoing yet another back surgery today. We’ll be keeping him in our thoughts as well, and hope for the best possible outcome.

Man, did we ever get treated this week!

We’d like to thank a customer who provided a phenomenal lunch extravaganza that had everyone smiling, chewing, and offering up many thanks.

We’d like to thank another customer who brought fantastic island goodies to provide stimulation, relax-ification, and spice-ification of the tastebuds.

Thank you both so much.

And to all our customers, thank you all for your ongoing support, fun visits, enduring our jokes, unexpected acts of gratitude and appreciation, and for bringing your computers here from the Islands, Scotland, and Bisbee when we know you could frequent a closer place (okay, except for Bisbee. We are the closer place). We’re happy and honored to be of service to each and every one of you.

We’ve been in business for thirty-three years and going strong, thanks to all of you.

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Vrooooom!

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles chair of fun arrived yesterday, and it went through rigorous testing in service before its debut on the sales floor…


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In case you were wondering, David is testing the iPad steering wheel with a racing game. He won.

Ready for prime time, the fab car made its way to the sales floor, and––since there were no really short people around––it went through more rigorous testing:

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Jake actually sat still long enough to lose miserably… oh, wait. His hands are still moving faster than the speed of light.

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Finally, two really short people showed up, both wearing blue shirts. (It’s not the same person. Observe the leg length.) The first, not-as-short short person had fun racing, with his sister as back seat driver:

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But, when the even shorter person got settled in for a good race, Rich––having not had a turn at the wheel––tried to bribe him with a quarter. He pointed to the candy machine to try to distract him. He was unsuccessful.

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If you have very short people accompanying you to Simutek, know that you can place them safely in this car and it won’t drive away. And none of the staff will try to trick them into leaving it.

Training Center Events

If you haven’t experienced our new state-of-the-art training facility, this Saturday might be your chance!

Our own Levi Granek is teaching a workshop on iPhoto Meets GarageBand from 10:30 am to Noon. If you’ve ever wanted to customize your iPhoto slideshow music, this workshop will teach you how to do it.iphotogarageband

You can bring your laptop (no desktops, please), but you don’t need to bring a computer at all for this workshop. Just come ready to learn some really cool stuff!

If you’d like to reserve a spot, give us a call at 520-321-9077, but be quick about it! With only six seats available and a cost of only $10 per person, they’re going to go fast.

If you don’t make it into the workshop, Levi will be back the following week for one-on-one appointments.

To those of you attending, we’ll see you this Saturday, April 27th!

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We are happy to announce that starting Tuesday, May 7th, John Nemo will be conducting workshops at our training facility. Check out the details below:

SIMUTEKTRAININGAD042313

 

A little something for everyone

If you haven’t been into the store in recent months, you haven’t seen the transformation. It’s a big one, and things are still changing and growing daily.

We knocked out the wall and reclaimed our full space (some of you will remember that side as the service entrance), built a classroom and a refurbished section, filled it with fantastic computers (more coming… again!), and filled the walls of the main part of the store with products.

Our iPad center has four iPads on display: two iPad 4th-generations and two iPad minis, all in brand new display stands for maximum play. We also have an iNotebook on display, and if you haven’t seen one of these innovative pieces of technology, it’s really something to see and experience. The concept seems simple: you have a pen, paper, and an iPad. You download a free app and connect the iNotebook to your iPad via Bluetooth. You start writing on the paper with your iNotebook pen. Your notes are recorded live into a notebook you create and name, digitizing your musings in an app file.

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We’ve also gotten in a number of new iPad and iPad mini cases, including an origami one that’s quite versatile. Everything iPad is now straight ahead when you walk in the door.

As for iPhones, we now have two full-length wall racks dedicated to cases and accessories for iPhone 4, 4S, and 5. Among our newest offerings:

Native Union POP Phone can be found at Nordstrom’s, Urban Outfitters, etc. for more money, but if you want value and the hottest new retro-tech accessory seen on the streets today, you might want to stop here first. (And yes, we’ve got gratuitous shots of celebs using these gadgets, and yes, we think it looks pretty kewl.) There’s a discreet button on the inside of the handle that allows you to answer and hang up calls without even looking, adjust volume, all the important stuff.

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New cases for iPhones are all priced under MSRP.

Sneak Peak:

Brenthaven BX2 iPhone 5 Case

Your phone is safe and secure in this minimalist, protective, non-slip design with a convenient pull-out stand. Multiple colors available.

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HEX Axis Wallet for iPhone 4/4S

This low-profile, stylish wallet for iPhone is so functional, it might just become your go-to case. Come on in and see the multiple colors and other HEX styles available.

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There are plenty of Otterbox cases, too!

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There’s a lot more lining our walls, so pop your head in some time and say hey! We’ll leave a computer on for you.