On Sunday, a change in state law went into effect requiring out-of-state Internet retailers such as Amazon that have business operations in the state to start collecting the 5.3 percent retail sales and use tax, just as bricks-and-mortar stores always have had to do.
Specifically: Amazon.com spent over 2 MILLION dollars in 2011 lobbying US Congress, the FCC, and the Federal Reserve so they could continue to flippantly disregard Sales Tax laws in 12 of the 16 states where they have a physical presence.
This gives them an UNFAIR market advantage against us local and regional small business, and it would cost them LESS than $2 mil a year to just hire the employees to deal with the collection and payment of sales tax. They already do it in 4 states -ANYWAY-
We are experiencing severe Thunder Storms in the Richmond, VA area. Power at our office has flickered once, and if it goes offline longer than our battery backups can sustain we will switch over to generator power.
As Hurricane Irene approaches everyone should prepare.
We have seen a lot of information from various sources about what to do for this that and the other. What we haven't seen here at ECAN is what you should do regarding your computers, electronics, and irreplaceable data.
If possible you should power down and UNPLUG any and all unnecessary electronic devices in your home. Everything except lights and your fridge more or less. Even with surge protectors power surges and lightning strikes can cause a wide range of issues with your electronics. If you are knowledgeable enough to turn off unnecessary breakers in your house this would prevent potential electrical fires and issues that could have been stopped at the breaker box.
For your computer data: If you have a backup to an external drive, great, but if its plugged in and gets zapped along with your computer it will do no good. Even though none of us want this to happen, if there is extensive wind/water/fire damage to your home, again, your backup does you no good if it is sitting next to your computer. At the very least, place your recently completed backup drive in your car or at a friend's house.
If you have no backups in place, we have a solution that will allow you to get the backup process started across your internet as soon as possible to protect your valuable data in the event of a computer or natural disaster. The software is very affordable @ $36 per year. It requires only half an hour to an hour of remote assistance for us to setup and configure this software for you. Keep in mind that depending on the speed of your internet connection it could take hours or possibly days for your data to become fully backed up.
At minimum we encourage you to go to your local computer retailer and purchase an external drive so you can do a local backup to store in your car. If you need help with this please feel free to give us a call.
ECAN has invested $1,100 today to keep us up and running during extended power outages like those expected to be caused by Hurricane Irene. If you are unable to get through due to phone or cell outages please leave a message on 804.592.1672 and we will check our voicemail at a minimum of hourly for new messages. With the exception of an actual Verizon FiOS outage, ECAN Solutions should have power and internet throughout.
Those of you who have essential internet business are welcome to come use our wireless for free using your own devices. If you require a computer to conduct your online business we can provide access to one for $10 per hour in 15 minute increments. If main power is not available at our location electricity can be provided for your device(s) at $10 per hour in 15 minute increments. Power and a device would be $20 per hour in 15 minute increments.
Please call to ensure that we are actually online or available for this service before coming. Please be safe and cautious during the next few days, and let us know if there is anything we can help you with! Sincerely, Matt Westfall President and CIO ECAN Solutions, Inc. 804.592.1672 http://ecansol.com
2010 Census Cautions & Other Tips to Keep Your Identity Safe
With the U.S. Census process beginning, you should be cautious, so as not to become a victim of fraud or identity theft.
How do you tell the difference between a U.S. Census worker and a con artist?
** If a U.S. Census worker knocks on your door, they will have a badge, a handheld device, a Census Bureau canvas bag, and a confidentiality notice. Ask to see their identification and their badge before answering their questions. However, you should never invite anyone you don't know into your home.
** Census workers are currently only knocking on doors to verify address information. Do not give your Social Security number, credit card or banking information to anyone, even if they claim they need it for the U.S. Census. While the Census Bureau might ask for basic financial information, such as a salary range, the Census Bureau will not ask for Social Security, bank account, or credit card numbers nor will employees solicit donations.
Eventually, Census workers may contact you by telephone, mail, or in person at home. However, the Census Bureau will not contact you by Email, so be on the lookout for Email scams impersonating the Census.
Never click on a link or open any attachments in an Email that are supposedly from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Additionally, you should use caution when providing ANY sensitive personal information by e-mail or on the internet.
Things to Remember:
1) Practically any real U.S. Federal Government website will be on a .gov domain (Pay attention to your URL/Location bar.)
2) State and County Governments are uncommon but possible targets for the same type of deceit that bank and paypal sites are. Before providing any personal or sensitive information on any government's website, ensure the URL is correct in your URL/Location bar.
3) If you receive an e-mail from a bank, credit union, paypal, etc, requesting ANY information whatsoever, make SURE that you confirm in the URL/Location bar that you ARE at your bank's website.
4) Personally, to date, I have NEVER received a legitimate e-mail from ANY financial institution asking for any information. Think about it, any information they might be asking you for, they already have. You already gave it to them. They didn't loose it. They don't ask for periodic "updates" to your information either.
5) Most financial institutions ONLY send alert or news type notifications by e-mail. This is usually to confirm online activity such as a transfer, online account change, online payment, etc. This is done to alert you of any activity performed online in the event your account was compromised. In such e-mails, they usually do not ask you to login to confirm any information. They advise you to contact the institution directly if you did not authorize that transaction. If they do ask you to login to a site for some reason ENSURE that you are at your institutions actual website by paying close attention to the URL/Location bar.
6) WHEN IN DOUBT DO NOT SUBMIT ANY INFORMATION ONLINE. It is better to call your institution directly to confirm any information, account activity, or correspondence you are sent.
There are rumors going around that on April 1st a virus payload will crash multiple computers across the world. This is simply not true. Snopes.com has become a one stop shop for looking up hoaxes, rumors, scams, and other things that may or may not be true. As such I defer further comment on the issue to their very thorough article on the subject:
Please note that the best way to avoid worrying about problems like these, is to have an up to date and fully featured anti-malware software on your computer. ECAN Solutions, strongly encourages the use of Grisoft's award winning anti-malware software, AVG. For the entire month of April, ECAN Solutions will be offering a 10% discount on all new license purchases of Grisoft's AVG product with simple mention of this mailing! Normally the version of AVG that we suggest is $34.99 a year. With the 10% discount, that is a mere $31.49.
Not only is AVG cheaper per year than McAffe or Norton, their software has proven time and time again in the field that it is able to more quickly adapt and incorporate new and emerging threats to computers in today's hostile environment.
First lets clarify the difference in Memory and Storage space.
Memory refers to the volatile memory your computer uses to run programs and store temporary information. Memory is completely cleared every time you reboot or shut down your computer.
Storage referse to the non-volatile disks in your computer (Hard Drives), or external drives attached to your computer. They store things such as your actual programs, music, pictures, documents, etc.
* How much memory do I have? You can find this out by opening the control panel. Usually Start -> Settings -> Control Panel. Then double click on System. (In Vista you may need to click Classic View in the top left first)
Here you will see what Operating System you have, the type of Processor in your system, and how much memory (RAM) you have.
* How much memory do I need? For Windows XP we suggest a bare minimum of 1024M (1 Gigabyte), and suggest 2048M (2 Gigabytes). For Windows Vista we suggest a bare minimum of 2048 M (2 Gigabytes), and suggest 4096M (4 Gigabytes).
* How much storage (Hard-Disk) do I have? If you have My Computer on the desktop, double click My Computer. Right click on the drive in question (Usually C:) and click Properties. It will tell you here how much free space you have on the drive.
* How much storage do I need? You should always strive to keep at least 10 Gigabytes free on your C: Drive. This allows for proper defragmentation, Windows Updates, Temporary Files, New programs to be installed, etc. If you are below 10 Gigabytes, it is time to consider maintenance on your system, and possibly adding an additional harddrive.
* How much can I fit on what storage I have left? For the typical computer user, the things that use the most space are, Pictures, Videos, and Music. Each music file is approximately 3.5 Megabytes. Depending on your camera settings, each picture can be anywhere from 768 Kilobytes, to 3.5 Megabytes. For our example we will assume an average of 2 Megabytes which is a very high quality picture. Videos depend entirely upon the quality and duration of the video. The documentation for your Video recording device should tell you how large a Video should be per second. For our example we will use 640 x 480 at 30 frames per second with Mono 22Khz sound. This is approxmiately 7.5 megs per minute of video.
Lets assume you have 50 Gigabytes free on your Hard Drive. We have to keep at least 10G free, so that leaves us 40G more to store files. 40G will hold: Approximately 12,000 Music Files Approximately 20,000 Picture Files Approximately 5,000 Minutes of Video (Approximately 80 Hours)
ECAN Solutions will provide free estimates on upgrading your Memory or Storage. This will require a brief remote login so we can find out exactly what type of Memory or Storage your system needs.
Its time for another Tips and Tricks from ECAN Solutions! Today we will be talking about:
Solid State Disks (SSDs)
An SSD is a storage device without ANY moving parts. It uses non-volatile flash memory to store your information. A USB Thumb Drive is an example of an SSD that we are all familiar with. Some people call them USB Keys, USB Sticks, USB Memory Card, Etc.
For a few years now they have been making actual system harddrives based on this same technology. Only recently have the prices fallen down to where everyday consumers and small to medium businesses could even start to consider buying one.
Today I am going to address a few of the myths surrounding SSDs and provide a little technical insight.
How Long Will Intel's SSDs Last?
SSD lifespans are usually quantified in the number of erase/program cycles a block can go through before it is unusable, as mentioned earlier it's generally 10,000 cycles for MLC flash and 100,000 cycles for SLC. Neither of these numbers are particularly user friendly since only the SSD itself is aware of how many blocks it has programmed. Intel wanted to represent its SSD lifespan as a function of the amount of data written per day, so Intel met with a number of OEMs and collectively they came up with a target figure: 20GB per day. OEMs wanted assurances that a user could write 20GB of data per day to these drives and still have them last, guaranteed, for five years. Intel had no problems with that.
Intel went one step further and delivered 5x what the OEMs requested. Thus Intel will guarantee that you can write 100GB of data to one of its MLC SSDs every day, for the next five years, and your data will remain intact. The drives only ship with a 3 year warranty but I suspect that there'd be some recourse if you could prove that Intel's 100GB/day promise was false.
Intel actually includes additional space on the drive, on the order of 7.5 - 8% more (6 - 6.4GB on an 80GB drive) specifically for reliability purposes. If you start running out of good blocks to write to (nearing the end of your drive's lifespan), the SSD will write to this additional space on the drive. One interesting sidenote, you can actually increase the amount of reserved space on your drive to increase its lifespan. First secure erase the drive and using the ATA SetMaxAddress command just shrink the user capacity, giving you more spare area.
MLC vs. SLC
There are two forms of NAND flash used in SSDs today: Single-Level Cell (SLC) and Multi-Level Cell (MLC). The difference between the two is the amount of data stored per cell, with SLC it's 1-bit per cell and with MLC it's 2-bits per cell. The key here is that both SLC and MLC take up the same amount of die area, so MLC effectively doubles your capacity at the same price.
The Intel Drive discussed above is still pretty pricey. $650 for an 80G version. They are most ideal for laptops. As a laptop you would be going from a 5400 RPM Mechanical Drive to the best of the best right now, an SSD. The SSD is still an improvement over the faster 10,000 RPM Mechanical Drives, but it may be difficult to justify the $650 for anything other than a server system that demands the best performance you can get or a very high end work station where the increased performance would definitely allow higher levels of productivity.
We would also like to remind you of our special we are running until the end of October. We are offering 1 hour of onsite time free. Basically the initial site visit charge is $50 or $60 for residential and commercial respectively. This includes the first half hour, the next hour is then free!! This is a great way to have your system cleaned up and performance optimized without costing too much money!
*Did you know ECAN Solutions hosts game servers? That's right, we can host almost any game server!! Including private World of Warcraft Servers!!
*Undo the last operation -=- Ctrl + Z *Redo the last operation -=- Ctrl + Y *Cut to clipboard -=- Ctrl + X -or- Shift + Delete (Del) *Copy to clipboard -=- Ctrl + C -or- Ctrl + Insert (Ins) *Paste from clipboard -=- Ctrl + V -or- Shit + Insert (Ins) *Select All -=- Ctrl + A *Show Help -=- F1 *Save (most applications) -=- Ctrl + S *Print (most applications) -=- Ctrl + P *Reload / Refresh data -=- F5
*Move cursor to start of line -=- Home *Move cursor to end of line -=- End *Cursor to beginning of doc -=- Ctrl + Home *Cursor to end of document -=- Ctrl + End *Previous Word -=- Ctrl + <-- (Left Arrow) *Next Word -=- Ctrl + --> (Right Arrow) *** Note that you can hold Shift with all of these operations and select the text from your cursor's current position to the destination as outlined above.
*Delete word after cursor -=- Ctrl + Delete *Delete word before cursor -=- Ctrl + Backspace
*Switch to next application window -=- Alt + Tab *Switch to previous application window -=- Shift + Alt + Tab
*Switch some applications in and out of full screen mode -=- F11 (Function key 11)
*Minimize all windows and show Desktop -=- Windows Key (The one with windows symbol) + D *Open Windows Explorer -=- Windows Key + E *Run a program -=- Windows Key + R *Search for a file -=- Windows Key + F
*Create a new tab -=- Ctrl + T *Close current tab -=- Ctrl + W *Go to next tab -=- Ctrl + Tab *Go to previous tab -=- Ctrl + Shift + Tab *** Note that these may or may not work in your tabbed application
*Pull up the Start menu (same as clicking on the Start or "Orb" in Vista -=- Windows Key
*Copy a screenshot to Clipboard -=- PrintScreen (Sometimes Ctrl + Printscreen may be required)
*Copy a screenshot of the active application window -=- Alt + PrintScreen
*Lock workstation -=- Windows Key + L
We included the short cuts that we find most useful for Windows operating systems, you can find an even more expansive list, and for more operating systems at the following URL:
In an effort to ensure high quality performance and stability for you we are upgrading Trunks. By upgrading we mean replacing. The last weekend of this month a new server will be coming online: goku.ecansol.net. This server will be located in a new data center. So we will be away from any further complications with the data center that had an explosion in it. The silver lining to this is that we are getting a significant hardware upgrade. We are going to be moving to a Core 2 Duo Quad Core system. That's right 4 2.1 Ghz Cores instead of 2 1.86 Ghz Cores. In addition we are putting a 10K RPM drive in this system instead of a 7200 RPM drive. We are notifying you of the change now so that you will be able to prepare accordingly. We will not have new IP addresses until June 26th. We will provide you with your new IP address as soon as we are able to.
Trunks will remain online until June 30th. This gives you 4 days Fri -> Mon to coordinate with our staff to get your server moved.
We will be copying all flat data from trunks to goku for you. Databases are not affected as they are hosted on vegeta.
Thank you for your understanding and patience during this migration.
Break/Fix, Computer, Network, Upgrade, Repair, Maintenance, Web Hosting, Web Development, Game Server, Application Hosting, Hosting, Linux, UNIX, Windows, Internet, Richmond, VA, Virginia, Mechanicsville, Glen Allen, Ashland, Chester, Chesterfield, New Kent