UI Partners Offers Web and Tech Consulting for Iowa Small Businesses

Summary

UI Partners is a program through the University of Iowa that offers website and technology consulting to Iowa businesses. This page offers some general information about the program. To learn more, visit the UI Partners website or contact UI Partners to get started.

20150206fr-uipartners-uiwoa-business-assistance

Overview

UI Partners was created by the University of Iowa specifically to help small Iowa companies innovate and grow. UI Partners works directly with businesses to solve their information technology (IT) challenges, using practical insights and ideas drawn from University faculty, staff, and students.

UI Partners consults with small businesses throughout Iowa on their IT needs, such as creating websites, managing databases, e-commerce or general tech support, as well as general business planning. This translates into projects that student interns or apprentices could work on, allowing UI students to build their resumes while also connecting with innovative Iowa businesses.

UI Partners is working to create a statewide network of integrated engagement centers to assist small businesses.

To support Iowa’s entrepreneurs, targeted technology training is available through the University of Iowa’s Dev/Iowa programs.

IT Assessment

UI Partners provides FREE Technology Needs Assessments for small businesses. Their staff and students work together to find business and technical solutions that help small businesses remain competitive and work more efficiently.

Business Strategy

UI Partners can provide leading edge informatics expertise and business training to organizations, startups, and established businesses. The group uses advanced entrepreneurship and business training to help find innovative solutions for your business.

Technology & Business Survey

The UI Partners Business Survey helps gather the essential information about a business to provide the best services possible.

Student Experience

UI Partners has a student employment program to assist college students in obtaining real world technology experience. Students get to work with multiple businesses to assist with IT and business strategy projects. Learn more or Apply Now.

Technical Training

UI Partners offers resources and training to help new and established business thrive with the technology solution that’s developed for their needs.

Innovate & Grow

UI Partners was created by The University of Iowa specifically to help small Iowa companies innovate and grow. They work directly with businesses to solve their information technology (IT) challenges, using practical insights and ideas drawn from University faculty, staff, and students. They are working to create a statewide network of integrated engagement centers to assist small businesses.

Workshops and Events

To support Iowa’s entrepreneurs, targeted technology training is available through the University of Iowa’s Dev/Iowa programs. Training opportunities include guest speakers, weekend workshops, one week programs and the intensive Dev/Iowa Bootcamp. Below is a video from the Dev/Iowa Bootcamp 2014.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amD2rraQwLg]

Engagement Centers

UI Partners currently has three Engagement Centers located in Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City. They plan to open more UI Partners locations across the state of Iowa.

Direction & Leadership

UI Partners is a division of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Click here to visit the UI Partners website.

7-Port USB 3.0 Hub with 12V/3A Power Adapter

Summary

The AmazonBasics 7 Port USB 3.0 Hub with 12V/3A power adapter is a good choice because it meets the latest USB standards and offers the port power needed for hard drives and other devices that need powered ports. There are two ‘fast charge’ ports that offer the higher amps needed for fast charging devices. [Buy Now]

From the Manufacturer

This Hi-Speed USB 3.0 7-Port Hub with 5V/2.5A power adapter provides four downstream USB ports for Plug-and-Play connectivity to your USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0 devices. A perfect lightweight tool, this compact hub tucks easily into the pocket of your laptop bag or can be stored neatly on your desk. It offers an ideal way to connect on the road, and virtually anywhere you need fast, handy access to your USB devices. [View on Amazon]

USB 2.0 or 3.0?

AmazonBasics USB hubs and cables have different version numbers (2.0 and 3.0) that indicates their transfer speed. The higher the version number, the faster they can work. However, to get the full power, the host and the device must have the same version. If not, the lowest USB version in the chain will control the speed. For example, if your computer has a 2.0 USB port, your cable is 3.0, and your phone is 3.0, you will achieve 2.0 speed. If all three (computer, cable, and phone) all have 3.0 then you will have 3.0 speed. The AmazonBasics USB 3.0 4-Port Hub is backwards compatible with USB 2.0 and 1.1. [View on Amazon]

System Requirements

Desktop or notebook computer with USB port, and one of the following operating systems (no driver needed): Windows 2000/Win XP/Vista/Windows 7 & Mac 10.1 up. Connect digital cameras, iPods and iPhones, card readers, USB speakers, and more. [View on Amazon]

Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging

This AmazonBasics product features Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging that is recyclable. It comes without excess packaging materials such as hard plastic clamshell casings, plastic bindings, or wire ties. The packaging is designed to be opened without the use of a box cutter or knife, and it will protect your product just as well as traditional packaging. Products with Amazon Frustration-Free Packaging can frequently be shipped in their own boxes, without an additional shipping box, saving on resources and reducing waste. [View on Amazon]

What’s in the Box & Basic Features

  • Package includes: 1 USB 3.0 7 Port Hub / 1 12V 3A Power Adapter / 1 USB 3.0 Cable (3 feet) / 1 Owner’s Manual
  • Compatible with USB 3.0 and backwards compatible with USB 2.0
  • Support Low speed (1.5 Mbps)/ Full speed (12 Mbps)/High speed (480 Mbps)/ Super speed (5 Gbps)
  • Support auto switching between self-power and buspower mode
  • Note: This product is not intended to charge iPads/other tablets

Product Owners Manual & User Guide

Product Image Gallery

 

Ransomware Malware Virus Prevention, Protection, and Recovery

About Ransomware

Ransomware malware viruses infect a computer and make the user’s files inaccessible by encrypting them. In some cases the computer is left only partially usable. The user is given some instructions on how to get their files back. Usually this involves communicating directly with someone who will ask you for money before they will let you have access to your files again. They may also promise to fix the computer so that it will function again.

It is estimated that there are presently over 250,000 kinds of ransomware viruses. In 2013, just one of these viruses alone resulted in the extortion of an accumulated $3 million from all its victims before it was taken down by authorities. (source)

Ransomware Prevention

Some antivirus software providers, such as Kaspersky, promise that their software can protect against ransomware. This statement is on the Kaspersky website:

“To protect your computer from ransom malware, download and install Kaspersky Internet Security 2015. The application provides high-level protection against ransom malware.” (source)

Avoid Pop-Up Messages. Another important prevention measure is to be very careful with any unusual pop-up messages. Avoid clicking until you can be certain that the message is legitimate, or simply shut down the computer and restart.

Take Email Precautions. One way of getting ransomware is clicking on links in spam emails. Services like Gmail from Google examine all emails flowing through their system and monitor for malicious activity. So, for example, let’s say there is a fake message claiming to be from FedEx about a package that couldn’t be delivered. Google would likely identify that email as not having authentically been sent from Federal Express. So, it would end up in your spam folder with a notice, “We couldn’t verify that this message was really from the claimed sender” or “We’ve identified other messages like this one that are malicious.”

Use AntiVirus Software. Most antivirus software should prevent virus-like activity even from viruses that were previously unknown. Comprehensive Antivirus software can warn you of known malicious websites. In this way, they make browsing the web safer.

Use an Apple Computer. There are currently over 17 million known Windows computer viruses. The current number of Apple viruses are currently very limited. Apple computers are susceptible to security problems found in Adobe Flash and Java, so it’s important to stay updated. There have been a few fake Apple programs people have been deceived into installing, such as Mac Defender. A report of Apple viruses over the past 10 years is only a few pages long. (source) So, while Apple computers are not completely immune to viruses, they may be a better choice for security minded people.

Ransomware Protection

As described above, there are some preventative measures you can take. Ransomware protection are measures you can take to protect and limit the potential damage of a Ransomware attack.

Backups. Some backup programs run daily to maintain a backup of all your files. This is helpful, except in cases where your files have become corrupted or maliciously encrypted. In some cases, a good backup can be overwritten by a bad one. Also, a connected backup drive is accessible to viruses that might try to erase or encrypt files. In these cases, it may be best to maintain a separate manual backup of your files on a drive that remains disconnected from your computer in a safe place.

Cloud Synchronization. If you use a service like Dropbox to maintain a synchronized cloud copy of your files, make sure you have the ability to access previous versions of your files in the event they get damaged.

Ransomware Recovery

The most recent update about ransomware is an article from Sophos on 30 January 2015. (source) The article states:

Crypto-Ransomware is a family of malware that takes files on a PC or network storage, encrypts them, and then extorts money to unlock the files. … These encryptor malwares will encrypt pictures, documents, and videos, and then leave a ransom note in each directory after encrypting at least one file in that directory. They also typically attempt to do this to mapped network drives [or attached backup drives] as well. … Ransomware-encrypted files for most variants cannot be recovered at all. The encryption keys are not stored on the system. There is one variant which can be recovered, which is discussed below. … W32/VirRnsm-A infects files and changes them to .exe files, including the virus code. It still allows the file to open initially so it has a chance to spread. After a while it locks out the files. The good news is that these files, unlike most ransomware, can be recovered and cleaned by Sophos. A full system scan will fix and recover your files.” (source)

With so many variations of ransomware, it’s unlikely that encrypted files could be recovered unless they happen to be the result of the W32/VirRnsm-A variant.

Yet, some tools from Kaspersky (listed below) suggest that decryption may be possible if you have an original file that’s not encrypted and can compare this to an encrypted file.

Further Reading

Below are ransomware information pages from various sources.

Software Tools

Here are some software tools that might help with removal and/or recovery of files.

  • Kaspersky WindowsUnlocker – The Kaspersky WindowsUnlocker utility is designed to disinfect registries of all operating systems installed on the computer (including operating systems installed on different partitions or in different folders on one partition) and disinfect user registry trees. Kaspersky WindowsUnlocker does not perform any actions with files (in order to disinfect files you can use Kaspersky Rescue Disk).
  • RakhniDecryptor – utility for removing Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Rakhni
  • RannohDecryptor –  If the system is infected by a malicious program of the family Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Rannoh, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.AutoIt, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Fury, or Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryakl, all files on the computer will be encrypted. To decrypt files affected by Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Rannoh, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.AutoIt, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Fury, Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Crybola or Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Cryakl, use the RannohDecryptor utility.
  • RectorDecryptor – Kaspersky Lab specialists have developed a special utility for decrypting the data encrypted by Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Rector. Cybercriminals use Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Rector for disrupting normal performance of computers and for unauthorized modification of data making it unusable. Once the data has been “taken hostage” (blocked), its owner (user) receives a ransom demand. The victim is supposed to deliver the ransom in exchange for pirate’s promise to send a utility that would restore the data or repair the PC.
  • XoristDecryptor – There is a utility to confront malware of the family Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Xorist, Trojan-Ransom.MSIL.Vandev – XoristDecryptor. Malware of the family Trojan-Ransom.Win32.Xorist, Trojan-Ransom.MSIL.Vandev is designed for unauthorized modification of data on a victim computer. It makes computers uncontrollable or blocks its normal performance. After taking the data as a “hostage” (blocking it), a ransom is demanded from the user. The victim is supposed to deliver the ransom to the pirate, who is promising to send in return a program which would release the data or restore normal performance of the computer.

Instructional Videos

These videos refer to variants of ransomware. They may not be specific to your own experience, but the general information presented should be helpful. These videos provide an insight into the variety of ransomware and what the recovery solutions might be.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dKBXeoLIFo] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w_7wUXzhRD8] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJagR2txHJU] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LKy9X–ffw8] [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcj9RKO3e38]

Windows Update: Avoiding Conflicts, Failures, and Errors

Problem Summary

For many years, Microsoft has issued updates for their software in numerous independent update patches. Even in the Apple Mac environment, software like Microsoft Office 2011 requires many updates after a clean installation.

The most problematic issues arise with Windows updates.

If you have a computer that’s several years old, and you need to perform a system restore (back to factory settings), it will be necessary to install the many hundreds of updates that have been issued since the time the computer was manufactured.

If you follow the prompts to install each batch of updates, which can often be over 100 at a time, some of the updates will conflict with one another. Some updates will be irrelevant. This process is hugely time consuming, and could render the computer useless with repeated bluescreen errors and system failures.

At some point along the way, the system update window may indicate that the computer is up to date. This may be incorrect information. Keep persisting. Restart the computer, and then from the updates window, click the Check for Updates link. It’s common to have many updates, and then have a large Service Pack to install, which has hundreds of required updates.

Even with a brand new very expensive Windows 8.1 computer, you may find that the computer stops working after installing the suggested Windows updates.

Screenshots

The screenshot below is a good example of the problems described above. Click the image for a larger view.

20150130fr-windows-updates-01

Notice that there are multiple updates for Internet Explorer 8 as well as an update/upgrade to Internet Explorer 11. There are also updates for multiple versions of Microsoft .NET Framework. Most software vendors are able to provide an updated version of their software that includes any updates since the previous major release. With Windows, a major update like a service pack should be able to include all the updates since the previous service pack.

If the Internet Explorer 11 update is installed, then this makes the Internet Explorer 8 updates unnecessary as shown in the notice below.

20150130fr-windows-updates-02

Problem Solution

The best way to avoid conflicts, failures, and errors with Windows Update is to scroll down to the bottom of the list of available updates and select only 5 to 10 updates at a time. Notice that the checkbox at the top of the list will select and deselect all updates. You can use this first to deselect all updates, and then scroll down and select 5 or 10 updates to install. After each batch, you will likely be prompted to restart the computer. This process can take many hours.

Computer Won’t Startup – Freezes on Bootup

You may have a problem with your Apple or Windows computer where you startup the computer and it will hang on startup. With Windows computers, this may happen immediately after the POST (power on self test screens). With an Apple computer, this may happen before you see the Apple icon at startup.

This problem can be caused by a faulty USB device or USB Hub. For example, some connected hard drives may result in the system hardware attempting to identify the drive, or possibly scan the drive to determine its configuration. Multi-function devices can be perceived as external drives of they have memory card readers.

Try unplugging all unnecessary USB devices, then startup the computer, and then connect the devices again. This may speed up the startup process.

Something else that may slow down the startup process are synchronization applications for services like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft OneDrive. Try configuring these mini-apps to not load at startup. That will likely speed up the startup process. You may want to choose just one synchronization drive service.

Q&A: What’s a Browser?

Q: What’s a browser?

A: Despite the abundance of people using browsers, this is still a common question.

A browser is a program that lets you go to a web page and otherwise explore the Internet. Browsers let you interact with social network sites like Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter. Unless you’re reading this as a printed page, you are most likely viewing this page with a browser.

Searching

You can type in a website address in a browser to view that website, or you can search.

Browsers generally have some form of search capability that is connected to a search engine. This is where things get a little bit confusing.

The browser itself doesn’t search but it connects you, seamlessly, to a service that does. Generally speaking, a browser will have you use the associated search service (engine) offered by the browser provider. So, the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser will use Microsoft Bing. The Google Chrome browser will use the Google search service. However, you can set your browser to use another search engine such as Yahoo.

Saving Bookmarks or Favorites

Browsers let you print web pages and you can also save website addresses (called Favorites or Bookmarks).

Print or Save Web Pages

In addition to printing, you can save web pages as PDF files or as locally stored web content (saving the text and images from the page).

Cloud Features

Browser providers typically offer some kind of cloud synchronization so that your bookmarks, browsing history, and other settings can be synchronized across multiple devices. Apple, Microsoft, Google, and Mozilla offer cloud synchronization. This means you can easily pickup reading on one device where  you left off on another device.

Programs

Google Chrome is unique because there is a Google Chrome Web Store where you can get programs that run in Google Chrome. These are useful apps and programs written to work with Google Chrome, and in this way they can be used on Windows, Apple, Linux, and any other system that has Google Chrome.

Popular Browsers

Common browsers are Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, and Opera. There are many others.  Below are the icons for some popular browsers.

20150106tu-web-browser-icons-chrome-firefox-internet-explorer-opera-apple-safari-kadvacorp

Choosing a Color Printer: InkJet or Laser?

Summary

When it’s time to purchase a new printer, one of the first questions to consider is whether to purchase a laser printer or an inkjet printer. This page offers some considerations and suggestions in exploring your options.

Color InkJet Printers

Here are some points to consider regarding InkJet printers:

  • Lower purchase price compared to laser printers.
  • Cost of operation may be higher for those who print a lot. Although, some inkjet printers in the $400 price range or higher have economical high capacity ink cartridges.
  • Cost of operation may be higher (per page) for those who print very infrequently because the ink cartridges on some printers can dry out when not used for long periods of time (several weeks or more).
  • Good for people who print frequently (several times a week) but don’t print a lot of pages.
  • Good choice for people wanting to print pictures on photo paper.
  • Printing in high quality mode can be slow unless you purchase a more expensive inkjet printer.
  • Lower priced inkjet printers are typically small and light weight.
  • If you want scanning, copying, printing, and possibly faxing, there are inexpensive inkjet printers that offer these features.

Color Laser Printers

Here are some points to consider regarding Laser printers:

  • Higher cost to purchase initially, but long-term lower cost of ownership for those who do a lot of printing.
  • Toner is used instead of ink and it doesn’t dry out like ink cartridges used by inkjet printers.
  • Typically faster printing than low priced inkjet printers. Although, at the $400 to $500 price range, many inkjet printers are now as fast as laser printers.
  • Generally heavier and bigger than inkjet printers because multiple large toner cartridges are used and the printing mechanism is heavy. However, some expensive inkjet printers can be as big or bigger than laser printers, so it depends on the printer.
  • To get scanning, copying, printing, and possibly faxing capabilities, a laser printing system will likely cost more than an inkjet printer offering the same features.

Purchase Choices

Here are links to some top rated inkjet and laser printers on Amazon that you can consider based on your budget.

It’s best to choose from the above options based on what you feel your needs are, and then contact us to confirm it’s the right choice for you.

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Ubuntu Unity Program Launcher Desktop Dock Gone Missing

If you startup Ubuntu and find that the program icons are missing from the Launcher, and the Launcher itself is also gone, as well as the top-of-screen menu options, this means that something has gone wrong with the Ubuntu Unity desktop. Follow the instructions below to fix the problem. These steps have been tested with Ubuntu 14.04, but should also work with earlier versions.

  1. Press CTRL+ALT+F1, then enter your username and password to go to the command prompt.
  2. Enter this command:
    • sudo apt-get install unity
  3. Enter this command:
    • unity –reset
  4. Press CTRL+ALT+Delete to reset the computer.

You should now see the familiar program icons and menu bar at the top of the screen.

Home Made Linux NAS vs NETGEAR ReadyNAS

Here are a few reasons you may want to build your own Linux computer and enable file sharing instead of using a NETGEAR ReadyNAS:

  • Cloud Backup – Most consumer and business NAS systems are adequate for serving up files, but don’t have much power for server side processes such as those required by CrashPlan and other cloud synchronization co-location backup services. Using a stand alone computer with file sharing on will allow you to have the system backed up to the cloud for extra assurance.
  • Ease of Use – With a NAS system, you’re restricted to what it will allow you to do through the web interface. Using a desktop computer instead will allow you to have easier control.
  • Expansion – A larger tower computer case can typically have four or five drives installed. In addition, it’s also possible to connect an eSATA drive tower that can hold even more drives for greater expansion. Most NAS systems can’t handle so many additional drives. Having all these drives on a single computer makes it possible to have all that data backed up using a cloud service such as CrashPlan.
  • Recoverability – Let’s say 5 years from now your ReadyNAS has a hardware failure. The only way to get the drives up and running would be to plug them into an identical NAS, but by that time nothing similar would be available.
  • Software – The NETGEAR ReadyNAS connects with an online App Store to install programs. Unfortunately, only a few programs are available. If you’re running a Linux system, you will have thousands of programs available.
  • Speed – The NETGEAR ReadyNAS may take more than a day to prepare four drives for RAID use. By contrast, a Linux computer can prepare the same four drives for RAID use in about 4 hours.
  • Temperature – Most NAS systems are contained in a small box that doesn’t allow for much airflow. Here’s a test you can perform on your own: shut down your NAS system and then remove a drive to feel how hot it is. Although temperature monitors will tell you the temperature, feeling the drive really gives you an idea of how hot the drives get when continuously running and not having adequate airflow. An NZXT brand computer case (for example) has multiple fans and plenty of airflow over all the installed drives. This ensures fewer failures due to overheating.

NETGEAR ReadyNAS Setup

These are the basic setup instructions for using the NETGEAR ReadyNAS. Before starting, you should have already purchased the NAS system and four identical hard drives.

  1. Install drives using the fast and easy drive bay system that requires no tools and no screws for quick swapping of drives.
  2. Power on the ReadyNAS.
  3. Go to ReadyCloud.NetGear.com and click on Discover to find your local ReadyNAS device. Follow the on-screen instructions. Although the ReadyNAS can be setup as only a local NAS, you’ll benefit from having a ReadyNAS cloud account for remote management and access.
  4. You’ll eventually be taken to the web interface control center for your ReadyNAS.
  5. You’ll want to setup the genie+ Marketplace to register your NAS and be able to install additional features. Go to genie.netgear.com and setup an account. This account will also be used as your support login for my.netgear.com.

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Note: This document may be updated as further information is available.