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Welcome to our blog where you can find everything from tech-tips to keeping your data secure. Have any questions? We'd love to hear from you!

Clean-up your Outlook auto-complete list from Machado Consulting

MS Outlook 2010 If you're like most of our clients, you use Microsoft Outlook. One great feature that Microsoft implemented some time ago is auto-complete lists. You may not know what an auto-complete list is but if you create a new email message then you probably have used them in the past. An auto-complete list is the feature that allows you to start typing in the to field and magically the email addresses of recently used addresses self-populate. Then you just select the one that you want to use, pretty easy right? Well after a long time, these start to get cluttered and if friends change emails you could end up bouncing back as undeliverable or worse you could send an email to the wrong person.

In previous versions of Outlook such as 2003 and 2007 you would have to start to type the address and then using only the keyboard, arrow down and then hit the delete key, great if you know that but most people do not know that. With Outlook 2010, Microsoft implemented a small “x” add the end of the address and now you can select the “x” with the mouse and that would delete the stored email address from the auto-complete list. Pretty handy I must say.

Machado Consulting is a Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) company in Worcester, MA that provides more than IT support to small and medium size businesses. Machado Consulting was founded on the idea that great, quality IT support should be available not just for the Fortune 500 companies, but for all companies. For IT support in Worcester please contact Machado Consulting.

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10 tips for improving your wireless network

Wireless RouterHave you ever looked at your wireless signal and noticed it to be very weak? Sometimes you are even really close to the Wireless router and you still have a weak signal. Well if you do have a weak signal, it probably means you’re not connecting as fast as you could be. You might even lose your connection completely. If you're like most people and you wish you could make your signal stronger, then try some or all of the following tips, from Microsoft.com.

1. Position your wireless router (or wireless access point) in a central location

When possible, place your wireless router in a central location in your home. If your wireless router is against an outside wall of your home, the signal will be weak on the other side of your home. Don't worry if you can't move your wireless router, because there are many other ways to improve your connection.

2. Move the router off the floor and away from walls and metal objects (such as metal file cabinets)

Metal, walls, and floors will interfere with your router's wireless signals. The closer your router is to these obstructions, the more severe the interference, and the weaker your connection will be.

3. Replace your router's antenna

The antennas supplied with your router are designed to be omni-directional, meaning they broadcast in all directions around the router. If your router is near an outside wall, half of the wireless signals will be sent outside your home, and much of your router's power will be wasted. Most routers don't allow you to increase the power output, but you can make better use of the power. Upgrade to a hi-gain antenna that focuses the wireless signals only one direction. You can aim the signal in the direction you need it most.

4. Replace your computer's wireless network adapter

Wireless network signals must be sent both to and from your computer. Sometimes, your router can broadcast strongly enough to reach your computer, but your computer can't send signals back to your router. To improve this, replace your laptop's PC card-based wireless network adapter with a USB network adapter that uses an external antenna. In particular, consider the Hawking Hi-Gain Wireless USB network adapter, which adds an external, hi-gain antenna to your computer and can significantly improve your range.

Laptops with built-in wireless typically have excellent antennas and don't need to have their network adapters upgraded.

5. Add a wireless repeater

Wireless repeaters extend your wireless network range without requiring you to add any wiring. Just place the wireless repeater halfway between your wireless access point and your computer, and you'll get an instant boost to your wireless signal strength. Check out the wireless repeaters from ViewSonic, D-Link, Linksys, and Buffalo Technology.

6. Change your wireless channel

Wireless routers can broadcast on several different channels, similar to the way radio stations use different channels. In the United States and Canada, these channels are 1, 6, and 11. Just like you'll sometimes hear interference on one radio station while another is perfectly clear, sometimes one wireless channel is clearer than others. Try changing your wireless router's channel through your router's configuration page to see if your signal strength improves. You don't need to change your computer's configuration, because it'll automatically detect the new channel.

7. Reduce wireless interference

If you have cordless phones or other wireless electronics in your home, your computer might not be able to "hear" your router over the noise from the other wireless devices. To quiet the noise, avoid wireless electronics that use the 2.4GHz frequency. Instead, look for cordless phones that use the 5.8GHz or 900MHz frequencies.

8. Update your firmware or your network adapter driver

Router manufacturers regularly make free improvements to their routers. Sometimes, these improvements increase performance. To get the latest firmware updates for your router, visit your router manufacturer's Web site.

Similarly, network adapter vendors occasionally update the software that Windows uses to communicate with your network adapter, known as the driver. These updates typically improve performance and reliability. To get the driver updates, do the following:

Windows 7 and Windows Vista

  • Click Start menu, click All Programs, and then click Windows Update.

  • In the left pane, click Check for updates, and then wait while Windows Vista looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  • Install any updates relating to your wireless network adapter.

Windows XP

  • Visit Microsoft Update, click Custom, and then wait while Windows XP looks for the latest updates for your computer.

  • Install any updates relating to your wireless adapter.

9. Pick equipment from a single vendor

While a Linksys router will work with a D-Link network adapter, you often get better performance if you pick a router and network adapter from the same vendor. Some vendors offer a performance boost of up to twice the performance when you choose their hardware: Linksys has the SpeedBooster technology, and D-Link has the 108G enhancement.

10. Upgrade 802.11b devices to 802.11g

802.11b is the most common type of wireless network, but 802.11g is about five times faster. 802.11g is backward-compatible with 802.11b, so you can still use any 802.11b equipment that you have. If you're using 802.11b and you're unhappy with the performance, consider replacing your router and network adapters with 802.11g-compatible equipment. If you're buying new equipment, definitely choose 802.11g.

Wireless networks never reach the theoretical bandwidth limits. 802.11b networks typically get 2-5Mbps. 802.11g is usually in the 13-23Mbps range. Belkin's Pre-N equipment has been measured at 37-42Mbps.

Tips borrowed from www.microsoft.com

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5 ways to speed up your PC

By following a few simple guidelines, you can maintain your computer and keep it running smoothly. This article discusses how to use the tools available in Windows 7, Vista, and XP Service Pack 3 (SP3) to more efficiently maintain your computer and safeguard your privacy when you're online.

1. Free up disk space

2. Speed up access to data

3. Detect and repair disk errors

4. Protect your computer against spyware

5. Learn all about ReadyBoost

To read more of the Microsoft article, click here.

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How strong is your password?

Check your password — is it strong?

Your online accounts, computer files, and personal information are more secure when you use strong passwords to help protect them.  Click on the following link, Password Checker, to have Microsoft test the strength of your passwords.

So what is a strong password?

A strong password should appear to be a random row of characters. It should be at least 14 characters long. It should include a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, punctuation, and symbols.

For tips about how to create passwords that are easy for you to remember but difficult for others to guess, don't hesitate to reach out to our security specialists. Stay safe everyone!

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