Every now and again, certain milestones are reached in the world of technology that mean change, and they are usually brought about by the simple fact no one ever expected the whole world of technology to get so darned 'big' (well, ok, with Y2K apparently they did not expect computers to have to operate 10-15 years into the future… and that still mystifies me today).

Back on topic though.

Unbeknownst to all but the most devoted closet techies, the last block of IPv4 addresses are being sold off as we speak. What is an IPv4 and why do you care? Well, that is an IP address. Every smart phone, router or other Internet device must have its own IP address to function (its that number you see that looks like 192.168.123.190). When the schema was dreamed up, the 32 bit standard with 4.3 billion or so available numbers seemed like, well, a lot. A whole lot. Turns out, it was not enough, and now we are going to run out.

But, there is always a fix! Say hello to IPv6, which uses 128 bit numbers. How many is that? To be honest, my calculator shows an E when I try to come up with it. Suffice it to say that it is enough that every person on the planet could have trillions of devices needing their own IP address and we would still have lots of room to grow. Based on my one router, 3 cell phones and 2 iPads, I'm going to be just fine.. even if I add a few things. It makes the current 4.3 billion look like a really teeny tiny number.

But, there is a hassle of sorts for us all to be aware of, and one that the media may play up (if it is not deemed to techie to be scary). Sometime in the next few years, all the remaining IPv4 numbers will be assigned and we will have to transition to the new system. Kinda like Y2K.

But, this should not be too painful. For most of us it means a new router shipped from our Internet provider. For SMB IT it will possibly mean replacing some older routers or other equipment, or perhaps just firmware updates and some elbow grease. Software won't have to be re-writting in mass scale as Windows has been ready for IPv6 since XP SP1. For most of my readers (yes, both of you), I anticipate this won't be a massive issue, but it is not a bad idea to be thinking about IPv6 when purchasing new equipment or upgrading, just to be sure that all investments are appropriate in light of upcoming changes. A few simple questions of your IT support and you can rest assured that you will not be making any short sighted decisions today!

Well, if you remember Y2K, you may remember that despite all concerns, planes did not fall out of the sky, and the world did not come to an end. IPv6, much like Y2K will be more of a media event than a real event for most of us. We have not yet found the proverbial 'end of the internet'. Take a deep breath and relax knowing you will be just fine with your dozen mobile devices and home computers. IPv6 is here to help us avert disaster.

If you want to learn more, just Google it. There are mountains of technical articles out there!

Without IP addresses, we would not be able to continue practicing

Happy Computing!

 -Richard Brunke

Windows 7 Security Tips

There are a lot of good reasons to upgrade to Windows 7, but today I am just here to talk about security! I recently had to completely re-load my son's computer at home due to a particularly pernicious virus. After doing the clean up and the reloading of everything, I realized that there were a few things I could have and should have done to help protect that computer. The fact that 'nothing valuable' was on it did not make it less costly and time consuming to fix! Please note, these are really tips for you home usersÂ… if you are on a corporate network, some of these settings may be an issue, and you should just call IT (after all, IT guys gotta make a living too).

Clearly, you need to have anti-virus software. Everyone should be nodding their heads at this point in agreement, glad in their knowledge that they have already taken this critical step. Unless of course you are not nodding your head. Then I'd advise hopping on Amazon.com or running the the nearest store and buying a good security suite, or heck, there are good free ones (Avast, Microsoft Security Essentials, AVG Free) that you can download.

But of course I know we already all had that step down. What I wanted to talk about was configuring Windows 7 to really help keep the world of computing a happier, safer place.

First – Turn on Automatic Updates!

Make sure Windows Update is turned on. To do this, just type the word 'update' in the search box when you click on the Start Button and (without hitting enter) click on Windows Update, which will be listed above. In the left pane click on Change Settings then under Important Updates you can choose to install new updates automatically. You can also select the day and time that will least inconvenience you. Under Recommended Updates chose "Give me Recommended updates the same way I receive important updates" by checking the box next to it and then click OK. Easy Peasy.

Second (and building on our newfound confidence in complex windows configuration as shown in our achievement of the above step) –

Turn on Windows Firewall!

Now this is starting to sound important, right? Well, this one is simple! Click Start and select Control Panel. Click on Systems and Security. Take a break. Let your fingers rest. No reason to get carpal tunnel here. Ok. Now click on Windows Firewall and to the left you will see Turn Windows Firewall on or off. Click on it and then select the button for Turn on Windows Firewall for each type of network. Just turn them all on. Again, bask a moment in the glory of the control you are taking here! If you have never configured anything other than iTunes, this is pretty cool stuff!

Third – Windows Defender

Windows Defender is the built in anti spyware software in Windows 7. Let's make sure it is on and working for you! Click on the Start button and type in "Defender" and hit enter. If you get a dialog box that says This program is turned off, AND you don't have any purchased anti spyware running (remember above when we bought that fancy security suite?) Check the box and see if it is doing this! If not, then click on the words "click here to turn it on" at the bottom of the dialog box. Done.

Fourth – Getting to Know the User Account Control

This User Account Control is the doorman at the IT party. It keeps out the undesirables and ensures that your computing fun is only enhanced by all the things that may want to come in. Click on Start button and click on control panel. Type UAC in the search box and click on the Change User Account Control Settings link. Now we get to tell the doorman how selective we want him to be! PowerÂ… so much power. Ok, let's focus, we are almost done here. The settings here are from lowest protection (Never Notify) to highest (Always Notify) I strongly recommend using one of the top two settings. This may slow you down on occasion when using the internet, but it will give you a chance to recognize and respond to strange files downloading and executing themselves. Now, unless you give them permission (which my son still did) they can't install or take any action. Go for the big beefy hard to please doorman at the top of the list. You'll thank me later.

Final Step – The Action Center

This is it. We have reached the Star Chamber and have shown we desire mastery and enjoy the control of our own computing destiny. The Action Center is the home base of PC security. This is where we validate we have done everything correctly. Click on Start button, Control Panel, System and Security and Action Center. Sit back and look at the status and revel in the protection you have created for your home Windows 7 computer! If anything is missing, you have the steps above to fix it!

Happy (home) computing!

 -Richard Brunke

ISOutsource is excited to announce our new telecom audit offering. We have established a partnership with Trinity Network Solutions to offer all of our clients free telecom audits. The goal of the audit will be to determine if you can receive better pricing, or better service levels for the same pricing on all of your telecom needs. Whether you have contracts ready to expire or not, we have found that there may be significantly reduced costs available to you or significantly better service for the same costs, and of the customers we have already done telephony audits we have seen many receive significant savings (as much as 30% in some cases).

Again, this is a free offer as a value add to our customers.

You're primary consultant will be scheduling a meeting to do the audit over the next 6 months. This audit will give us the information we need to manage your telecom budget and options in partnership with you on an ongoing basis, and will result in immediate and long term recommendations specific to your circumstances. You will receive options for all major vendors, including the vendor you are currently using.

If you would like an audit sooner, then please contact sales@isoutsource.com and we will get you scheduled as soon as possible.

We have been working with Trinity for a number of years and have had 100% positive experiences when we have brought them into meet our customers. Based on this, and based on the savings and service they have helped us deliver, we decided to formalize our relationship and ensure that, as part of our managing your IT infrastructure, we offer this as an ongoing service to all or our customers.

Again, if you would like to meet someone right away, or have any questions about an audit, or the service, contact sales@isoutsource.com and we get you taken care of.

If you are not a customer of ISOutsource, we can make this service available to you also. Just send an email to the sales email address and let us know that you are not a customer but would like a telecom audit. Happy to do it!

Happy Computing!

 -Richard Brunke