Archive for News

New Ransomware Prevention Kit Coming Soon

Back HomeAmy Babinchak, President of Third Tier, has announced that they will be releasing an updated version of their Ransomware Prevention Kit next week. 

Two years ago (October 2013), Amy and her team led the way in providing a solution to help block the CryptoLocker attacks that were causing havoc worldwide (see blog post).

A lot has changed in the past two years, and such threats can still do great harm and damage for both individuals and businesses. Thanks to Third Tier, I sleep better knowing that my systems are protected.

Finally, Third Tier wants to reach out and encourage more women to get certified and work in the I.T. field, and is using this new Prevention Kit to raise money for this effort!

Windows 10 First Major Update

Microsoft announced the release of the first major update to Windows 10.

imageIn prior terminology, we would be calling this Service Pack 1, but Microsoft want to simply refer to it as the November 2015 Update. During pre-testing phase it was referred to as TH2.

This update will be pushed out automatically through Windows Update.

It contains a slew of new new features and improvements, including

  • Improved boot time (30% faster than Windows 7 on the same device)
  • Cortana and Microsoft Edge enhancements
  • New Windows Update for Business and Windows Store for Business services
  • Mobile Device Management
  • Azure Active Directory Join
  • and more!

Read more on the Microsoft site:

Outlook Crashing after Latest Updates–KB3097877

I am seeing many reports today of Outlook crashing after the recent set of Office 2010 updates, as well as getting a blank screen after pressing CTRL-ALT-DEL for the login screen.

It appears that KB 3097877 may be the cause. If so you can try uninstalling that KB patch.

There is also a suggestion to clear the Java cache. Instructions can be found here:

MaxFocus RMM Dashboard SHA-2 Security Update Affects XP and Windows 2003 Servers

MaxFocus (formerly GFI) has announced that they will be upgrading all of their SHA-1 SSL certificates to SHA-2. This change may impact XP devices and Windows 2003 servers from connecting to the RMM dashboard, if they are not properly upgraded.

  • XP workstations must have Service Pack 3 installed
  • Windows 2003 Servers must have either KB 2868626 or KB 2918614 installed.

(Please note that Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP and for Server 2003. As such we are providing this update in an advisory capacity, but cannot offer support with any installation issues of the patches on these endpoint devices.)

MVP Summit 2015 Wrap-Up

I returned home Thursday evening from this year’s Microsoft MVP Summit in Bellevue WA. Due to non-disclosure agreements, I am not allowed to go into detail about what was presented or discussed. But I can tell you it was a great opportunity to meet with Microsoft product teams and spend time talking with fellow MVP’ers, some whom I have known for 12 years or longer.

My MVP designation is for Windows Server Small and Medium Businesses (WSSMB), so most of my attention was focused on server related topics. But I also had opportunities to learn more about Windows 10, Office, and the new Surface Book that was just released in October.

The weather was a mix of rain, clouds  and some sunshine. In Florida we do not really experience the changing colors of the seasons, so it was very enjoyable to see the yellow and red and orange colors in the trees while walking around the Microsoft Campus.


On a travel note, I was able to fly Alaska Airlines which now has a non-stop flight from Tampa to Seattle – less than 6 hours. Yea!!! The flight on Sunday left Tampa at 6:10pm and landed in Seattle at 9:25pm (which is after midnight Tampa time). The return flight left Seattle at 8:40am, and arrived in Tampa at 5:09pm.

Attending Microsoft Global MVP Summit 2015

I will be attending the Microsoft MVP Global Summit from November 1-5, 2015. This will be my 12th Summit, and I look forward to renewing contacts with other MVPs, as well as Microsoft product managers, and to provide feedback on Microsoft products and technologies.

Details as to what will be presented and discussed is under strict NDA (non-disclosure agreement), so I cannot share any such information. More later!

Splashtop Business New Enhancements

Back in January 2015 I started testing and using Splashtop Business as a remote control/support replacement for LogMeIn, which was getting too expensive for me. Splashtop is not my primary remote control solution, but I needed an alternative to LogMeIn for specific on-demand situations.

For the most part, I have been very happy with Splashtop. It does what I need it to do —

  • Easy setup to remote control into a user’s computer
  • Provides built –in file transfer capabilities
  • Supports mutiple monitors (on remote side)


And with their Version 3.0 release which just came out, they now support multiple concurrent connections, and have redesigned the Splashtop Business window interface for easier use.

My only complaint with Splashtop had been some occasional slow performance when remoting into servers. We resolved that issue earlier this month (see blog post).

It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles with products like ScreenConnect, LogMeIn Central, and others – but the price is right ($60/year) for my needs!


Windows 10 Phone Update

I have been using a Lumia 920 phone for almost 3 years now, and love it, in spite of a few quirks. I have been anxiously awaiting news of a Windows 10 phone.image

On the heels of releasing Windows 10 operating system back in July, Microsoft did announce the Microsoft Lumia 950/950XL Windows 10 phones. Both phones will come with a 20-megapixel camera. The 950 will have a 5.2” screen size, and the 950XL will be 5.7”. AT&T has already announced that will carry the phone.

However, availability of these phones are still up in the air.

But wait … there’s more!

Surface Phone Next?

News is slowly coming out that Microsoft may release a new Windows Phone next year that may be marketed as a Surface Phone, rather than a Lumia. Attachments could include a pen and a mini-attachable keyboard.

Read more at the Latin Post.

Office 2016 Released


Microsoft’s Office 2016 goes on sale today (September 22, 2016). It’s hard to believe that Microsoft Office has been around for 25 years. I’ve been using it for the past several months on my laptop.

If you have already been using Office 2013, the user interface has not changed much.

What has changed is the emphasis on collaboration. One Microsoft person describes it this way: “We clearly have caught up with Google” on the collaboration front (see link).

For example, with Word 2016, two people can work on the same document and see changes real time. This will use OneDrive’s collaborative workspace. Outlook 2016 includes a Groups feature, allowing a business team or just a group of friends planning a trip to manage messages and documents. PowerPoint will have a new tool (Sway) that will allow making instant PowerPoint presentations.

Here’s a PC World article explaining some of the new features.

Recycling Old Computer Equipment


For years now, the Hillsborough County Solid Waste department (Tampa FL) has provided a place to drop off household hazardous waste, including old electronic equipment, batteries, and chemicals. I have used their service on a regular basis, and encourage people to find a similar solution in their local community.

I also did a post earlier this year on a company (Urban e Recycling) that will come to your business or residence for free to pick up and recycle old computer equipment.

I recently had the need to call on them. This time they came out to my house to remove and recycle a pile of old computer towers, monitors, battery backups, boxes and boxes of old cables, and destroy about a dozen disk drives for me.