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Retrieve Windows 8.1 key from BIOS


When the web is enough, a Chromebook is enough

Low maintenance and sufficiently capable, a Chromebook ends the "install, update, reboot" cycle. 


The following two systems meet different needs:

1. Existing systems: Login, install, update, reboot, work

I helped an independent consultant set up a new Dell Latitude laptop in February 2015. Which means that we:

  • Downloaded and installed the Office 365 suite of desktop apps
  • Installed QuickBooks (from a CD -- how quaint), then installed two sets of updates
  • Searched for and manually installed a printer driver
  • Downloaded and installed Adobe Acrobat Standard Edition
  • Downloaded and installed McAfee Security Center
  • Downloaded and installed five Dell system device updates

We also downloaded and installed two successive sets of operating system updates, each comprised of several files.

Fortunately, the laptop had plenty of RAM, a fast SSD drive, and a recent mid-range Intel processor. We downloaded the software over a 50 Mbps internet connection: fast enough to exceed the FCC's definition of broadband in early 2015.

The task took a few hours. The new system works well. It meets my client's needs and requires little change -- other than the need to learn a few touchscreen operating system gestures.

He will need to periodically respond to prompts to download and install updates, which may sometimes mandate a system reboot.

2. Chromebook: Login, work

In December, I helped my teenage daughter set up a new Chromebook. Which means I stood by as she:

  • Turned the system on
  • Selected the Wi-Fi access point and entered the password
  • Entered her username, password, and 2-step authentication

The system was ready for her to use within a few minutes. Her bookmarks, settings, Chrome apps, and extensions all installed automatically.

She wiped the data from her old system in another few minutes (Settings | Show advanced settings | Powerwash), then offered that system to one of her friends.

The new system works well. It meets my daughter's needs and requires little change. She will need to periodically respond to a prompt to restart the system to update, which will require no more than a minute or so to complete.

Different needs, different systems

The two systems meet different needs. Both meet the needs of their respective users. Both provide a core set of connectivity and functionality. Both offer ways to communicate, to create documents, and to connect and share online.

A Chromebook poses a basic question: when is the web enough? That's when, not if.

To focus on "...but a Chromebook can't" misses the point. A "...but it can't" statement only identifies a market opportunity.

Most laptop and desktop operating systems were built for an installed software world. If your organization is sufficiently large, you have people to manage the complexity of those systems. They manage the complexity, that doesn't mean the complexity goes away. The systems are still complex.

Chrome OS simplifies the system considerably: "login, install, update, reboot, work" shortens to "login, work." As an administrator, you still configure many options, but the complex parts reside on Google's servers -- on the web, not on each person's device.

As an IT decision maker you should ask yourself: when is the web enough?

When the web is enough, a Chromebook is enough.

By  February 6, 2015, 7:33 PM PST //  @awolber


Wichita business attacked by hackers


It's been a frustrating week at Smart Security Inc. in West Wichita. On Monday owner Dee Brandt discovered her business' computer had been hacked.

"I'm angry. I don't like to feel powerless and I'm angry," Brandt said.

Wichita police say hackers installed ransomware on Brandt's computer, making it impossible for her to access the information inside. Brandt says there was a message on her screen instructing her to click on a link and pay $500 to get her information back.

"They basically want me to pay ransom to get into what I own," Brandt said.

Brandt did not click on the link, instead she called police. Officers with Wichita's financial crimes unit say that was the right call. Police say hackers often take the initial payment then drain the victim's account entirely.

Brandt says she's sharing her story so others are aware. She's working on recovering her information and says she'll back up all her data from now on.

Copyright @ 2015, KWCH-TV. All rights reserved.


10 Security Tips to Share with Your Staff

Are your network users aware of the types and severity of security threats on the web? Are they prepared to defend your essential data?

To protect your network from security breaches, it’s critical to educate your users. The simple tips found in ThreatTrack Security’s Users Beware: 10 Security Tips to Share with Your Users, will help your users understand:

  1. Where and how cybercriminals breach your data
  2. The potential impact of cyber-attacks
  3. Simple and effective defenses
  4. Mistakes to avoid

The right knowledge goes a long way to protect your organization from destructive malware and cybercrime.