Sunday, March 31, 2013

Ask Slashdot: How To Donate Older Computers to Charity?

Ask Slashdot: How To Donate Older Computers to Charity?

Ask Slashdot: How To Donate Older Computers to Charity?: yanom writes "My school gave me several circa-2006 computers with no operating system. I fixed them up, and now they run Lubuntu fairly well, making them great internet/LibreOffice/general Linux workstations. I've been wanting to donate them to local nonprofits where they'll go to good use — for example, I've already given several to a local church for them to use in their afterschool care/tutoring program. However, I'm having trouble finding other places where these machines could go to good use. How should I best conduct this search? How can I find nonprofits that could benefit from these workstations?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Apple BootCamp 5.0 only supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8

Apple BootCamp 5.0 only supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8

Apple BootCamp 5.0 only supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8:

With release of OS X 10.8.3, the latest update for Mountain Lion, Apple upgraded the Boot Camp utility, which allows users to dual-boot Windows and OS X on a supported Mac, to version 5. Boot Camp 5 allows users to install either 64-bit editions of Windows 7 or 8 alongside their copy of OS X -- by downloading Boot Camp Support Software 5, you’ll have all the drivers you need to run Windows on your Mac.
One consequence of upgrading to Boot Camp 5 is that support for 32-bit versions of Windows – including XP and Vista as well as 32-bit iterations of Windows 7 and 8 – is no longer supported.
Boot Camp 5 effectively ties Mountain Lion users into choosing Windows 7 or 8 as their alternative OS by dropping support for all previous versions of Windows. It doesn’t affect existing Boot Camp installations, so should you wish to install XP, Vista or a 32-bit version of Windows 7, make sure you set it up now before applying the OS X 10.8.3 update. Alternatively, go down the virtualization route by installing a copy in a virtual machine for free using VirtualBox.
Boot Camp 5 not only supports 64-bit versions of Windows 7 and 8, it also now supports Macs with 3TB hard drives. It’s only available through the OS X 10.8.3 update, which also upgraded Safari to version 6.0.3. Therefore Macs running OS X Lion or earlier aren’t supported.
Users will need to source their own copy of Windows 7 or 8 -- you can download Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64-bit as an ISO image here to work with a licensed product key.
The Boot Camp Support Software 5 contains the latest versions of all Apple hardware drivers across its platforms -- including Thunderbolt, USB 3.0, Apple Trackpad and all chipset, wireless, audio, Bluetooth, keyboard support and graphics. Also installed are the Boot Camp Control Panel for Windows and the System Task Notification item.
Boot Camp Support Software 5 is a free 554MB download for Macs running OS X 10.8.3 or later -- the drivers are installed after Windows has been installed using Boot Camp 5. Updated versions of Boot Camp Support Software 4 are also available for existing Boot Camp installations – visit Apple Support for details.
Photo Credit: Joe Wilcox

Friday, March 29, 2013

10 Secrets To Getting Better Tech Support From Asus

10 Secrets To Getting Better Tech Support From Asus

10 Secrets To Getting Better Tech Support From Asus:

An Asus technician has stepped forward out the shadows to give us the 10 insider tips for getting through and getting better and faster tech support from the computer and computer parts maker. Some things just can’t be fixed though, but it’s at least to know the soul-crushing math they’re using to destroy the customer experience. Considering how bad their tech support is, you’re definitely going to need these tips…
Our tipster writes:
If you aren’t aware, Asus makes an estimated 1 in 3 computer main boards sold globally and in addition to their own brand of products also provide system boards to a number of major OEM builders such as HP/Compaq and Dell. In January, AsusTek split into three separate entities – Asus, which deals primarily with Asus-branded PCs and laptops including the wildly popular EEE PC, ‘Pegatron’, which handles the motherboard business (though we keep the Asus brand name on them), and ‘Unihan’, which handles many of the other non-PC related Asus product line. As a result, each entity was suddenly responsible for its own profitability. No biggie, right? Well, as most of your readers know, customer service and support play a key role in the buyer experience. Given that so many products are similar in specification and performance these days, often it’s the after-the-sale support that can mean the difference in long term repeat business and losing a customer.
Not long after the company split, management began obsessing over numbers, and how to make what is normally an accepted expense (customer support) profitable. It was determined that the new company, ‘Pegatron’, would charge the parent company (Asus) for each technical support phone call, email, or live chat session that was received and responded to. While I cannot attest to the actual dollar amount charged for each call, I do know that phone calls generate the most income, followed by live chats, then emails. Ok, you say, no big deal, how does that affect me? Well, that’s what I’m about to show you, with 10 steps anyone can take in an attempt to get the best possible support by circumnavigating the games played with customers to generate revenue.
1. If you need technical support for any Asus product CALL.

Do NOT send an email, and use the live support feature at your own risk. A single phone call generates more revenue for the company than a couple of Live Support sessions, and more revenue than half a dozen email responses. As a result, nearly ZERO emphasis is placed on answering them, and emails are often replied to with canned ‘cut and paste’ responses which may not be relevant to your case.
2. Best Times For Calling With Low Hold Time

When calling, there are times that give you the best chances to get through with a minimal hold time. Since the support center is based in the Eastern Time Zone, and the best time to call is before 12 noon EST. The very best days to call are Tuesday through Thursday. From Noon-6pm hold times can be somewhat lengthy, as by that time working hours are in play nationwide. At any given time there are only 8-10 staff to take phone calls (yes, we’re grossly understaffed), email queries and answer Live chats. The U.S. office supports all of North America including Canada as well as Western Europe. That translates into a very heavy call volume for a small amount of people.
3. We’re stressed, don’t take it personally

If the representative you speak to seems curt, ill tempered, or rude, it’s not on purpose, nor personally directed toward you. All support representatives are instructed to strive for taking 70 calls per day. When you factor in a lunch hour and 2 fifteen minute breaks it leaves 450 minutes in a day. For us to reach our goal, we must be off the phone with you in 6.42 minutes. We aren’t supposed to care that it’s the tenth time you’ve called us (which isn’t toll free), or that you can’t stay on long enough to accurately even describe your issue.
4. Can I take a message?

We have recently adopted ‘messaging’ in order to achieve an objective from management that all incoming calls be answered in 60 seconds or less. To that end, we have hired a few people from temp services to answer calls, and when we experience a heavy load, they take your name and number with the promise of a return call. While calls are returned, it may take hours, if not days to get a return call. This serves three hidden purposes. If we message your call, we get paid for taking it even though no support was rendered. When we call you back, we get paid again for making a call. And currently, management has contests running offering cash rewards for most calls handled by a person during the month. Guess what? If we take a message, call you back once or twice, or you yourself call back out of frustration, we may get paid 2 or 3 times before you can speak with someone, all in the name of bonus money.
5. Don’t get through? Call back in 10 minutes

If you do get ‘messaged’, you’re better off calling back in 10 or 15 minutes if you have the time. While messages should be returned within 2 hours, it’s often not the case, and generally messaging is done only long enough to clear the incoming call queue, so it’s unlikely you’d be messaged twice in that amount of time. (unless someone is intentionally messaging you, then calling back to generate more revenue and a chance at a nice cash bonus)
6. Write down your case number. Really.

When you FINALLY reach someone, you will likely be assigned a case number. This is a good thing, as it will document the nature of the call and enable someone qualified (hopefully, more on that later) to answer your questions. If you already have a case number, please state it when you first begin your conversation, it will give the technician more time to troubleshoot your problem.
7. It’s just like in a game, except not fun

There are 3 ‘levels’ of tech support. Level 1 technicians primarily answer the phones and generate case numbers. There isn’t much point in trying to go into detail about your problem, as most will have a better grasp of basket weaving than solving PC issues. They will most likely transfer you to our level 2 support, where the fun begins. Many of our representatives are competent enough to handle your questions, but if you EVER question the accuracy of the advice you are getting, you can request to be connected to the top tier of support (Level 3) at ANY time.
8. We have the long-term memory of a snail

The reason you may wish to ask for Level 2 or 3 support immediately is this: Pegatron/Asus offers zero informational training about Asus products – past, present, or future. Typically we are not aware that a new motherboard/router/PDA has hit the street until we start getting calls about it. There is no ‘informational meeting’, no product info cheat sheets, or anything of the sort offered to the support team. Normally, the more senior members are tech-oriented, and stay up to date from home, so your chances improve greatly of getting the help you need by asking for a higher tier. Sadly, even some Level 2 agents are lacking basic skills and cannot help you with BIOS settings, RAID setup, installation of an operating system and so forth, nor will they know offhand the specs of the latest and greatest boards.
9. There is no such thing as a ‘known issue’.

Every company that has every produced a physical product has occasionally put out a junk product. We are under direct orders not to confirm ANY problem as a ‘known issue’, EVER. It doesn’t matter if every single model ‘X’ PDA plays ‘Jingle Bells’ every time you turn it on, it’s not a ‘known’ issue and we will not admit to one. If you happen into one of these products that turns out to have ‘known issues’, calling tech support won’t get you anywhere. We will offer to exchange it for an identical product only, which is just as likely to have the same ‘nonexistent’ issue. Since Asus does not sell direct to the public, you won’t be getting a refund either. Sad, but true, so you may wish to browse a few forums and seek outside input before considering any purchase.
10. Merchant refunds and returns are your special friend

If you do have a problem with a new Asus product and are within the return or exchange window offered by your reseller (often 14 to 30 days), don’t waste your time calling us. Simply return the defective product for an exchange or refund. Generally speaking, returning a product to Asus (motherboards in particular), can mean a 2-3 week wait before you see your board returned to you. In addition, it’s likely a refurbished motherboard which likely underwent no extensive testing before being dropped into a Fed Ex box and sent back to you. There is a separate department on the repair floor to handle 2nd and 3rd time returns, and once you’ve reached that level, you r chances of getting a tested board improve marginally. However, these boards won’t be cleaned, and may have thermal paste, grease, smudges, fingerprints, etc on them. It’s no fun to invest $300 in a new top of the line board, only to have an issue with it and get one back that looks like Timmy kicked it down the street for half a mile before putting it in your box. Not fun.
11. BONUS!!!!!

If you do weave your way through the Asus maze and find a helpful soul on the other end of the phone, don’t bank on he or she being there if you need them in the future. We have experienced close to 100% turnover in the past year, and those who remain are constantly threatened, both verbally and via email (proof available upon request, Ben) that they will lose their jobs for failure to make objectives. Sad, yes, but painfully true.
Do you have any tips for dealing with Asus, or Asus tech support stories to share? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ask Slashdot: On the Job Certification Training?

Ask Slashdot: On the Job Certification Training?

Ask Slashdot: On the Job Certification Training?: beerdini writes "There is a debate going on within my IT department about how our continued training offerings compare to others in the industry. I'm hoping other Slashdotters can help to provide comparisons. Currently, if we are implementing a new technology or updated software we will send someone from IT for training to become a specialist; in other words, they go to formal training as a part of their job where they learn their new skills. Alternatively, for someone pursuing an industry certification, employees usually take the training on their own time and dime. On passing the certification exam, they can submit the exam fee for reimbursement. This is the most common practice that I've seen in the various places that I've worked, but I have one co-worker who insists that it is our company's responsibility to pay for the materials, allow them to study and practice while on the job, and that all attempts to take the test should be paid by the company because it should be a company investment in the employee. So, my questions to the Slashdot community: what are the ongoing training practices in your organization? Are there any places that pay for someone to get an industry certificate? Are there any rules associated with it?"

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Article :: Building a Lab for Certification Prep

Article :: Building a Lab for Certification Prep

Article :: Building a Lab for Certification Prep: Brien Posey offers tips for building a hands-on lab environment to better prepare for Microsoft certification exams.

Interactive Tool Visualizes Tolkien's Works

Interactive Tool Visualizes Tolkien's Works

Interactive Tool Visualizes Tolkien's Works: dsjodin writes "Last year, LotrProject brought us extraordinary statistics on the population of Middle-Earth. Now, they have released an interactive tool for analysis of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. With keyword frequency search, character mentions, sentiment analysis and network diagrams of character interactions it is a beautiful set of data visualizations and fascinating for fans and non-fans alike. The site can for example be used to find out that bacon is mentioned seven times in the Hobbit while only two times throughout the entire the Lord of the Rings."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updates to know about (Wed, Feb 20th)

from SANS Internet Storm Center, InfoCON: green
via SysAdmin
Update Palooza, (Wed, Feb 20th):


Adobe Acrobat Reader 11.0.02 was published today as a fix for CVE-2013-0640 and CVE-2013-0641. More information at

Wireshark 1.9.0 was published today. Its an experimental release for testing new features for the upcoming 1.10 version.


More updates arrived:

Thunderbird 17.03 arrived yesterday. It fixes 8 security vulnerabilities.

Apple released yesterday iOS 6.1.2, which can be downloaded fast as it is small (12.8 MB). So far, this update seems to be only related with a bug on echange calendars that increases network utilization causing battery drain. Better to have last version installed as apple does not always list in a detailed way all the fixes contained in an operating system update.

Manuel Humberto Santander Pelez

SANS Internet Storm Center - Handler



e-mail: msantand at isc dot sans dot org


If you are easily confused like me, you may appreciate this quick summary as to the different updates released the last couple of days:

Oracle Java:

Java 7 Update 15

Java 6 Update 41


Firefox 19


(in addition to Apples Java update to the versions shown above)



Flash Player Windows 7 and earlier 11.6.602.168 (Windows 8 and OS X is still use 167)

Acrobat/Reader 11.0.02 (went live on Adobes FTP server Wed. 20th morning)

Probably the most dangerous thing you can do when applying patches is to rush. You may not only end up with a broken system, but worse, the patch may not be applied correctly. Take the time to test that you are all up to date. Encourage your coworkers and relatives to visit to test if all plugins are installed correctly.

(we may update this diary for a day or two)


Johannes B. Ullrich, Ph.D.

SANS Technology Institute


(c) SANS Internet Storm Center. Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.