i3 workstation upgrade running Windows 7
So another year gone and our workstations running Windows 7 are somewhat lagging when opening too many apps. The recent release of Windows 8 has led to a review of our developer's equipment and the verdict is that our workstations need upgrading (it always is). So on a budget (ie. as cheap as possible), we'll skip Windows 8 and wait for Windows 9, but in the meantime we need something that flows as smooth as any other Microsoft product with Windows 7 as its Operating System:

Proposed for January 2013 (5 suppliers)


Processor Intel Core i3 3220 Dual Core CPU ( 3.30GHz, Socket 1155, 3MB Cache, Ivy Bridge, 55W, Intel HD Graphics 2500, Advanced Vector Extensions) - Intel £88.50
Motherboard AsRock H61M-DGS Motherboard (Socket 1155, Intel H61, DDR3, 4 x S-ATA 300, Micro ATX, PCI Express 3.0, AsRock XFast USB, AsRock Instant Boot) - ASrock £37.58
Hard Drive Western Digital Caviar Blue 160 GB (7200 rpm) SATA 8 MB 3.5 inch Hard Drive (Internal) - Western Digital £24.95
Memory Corsair CMX4GX3M1A1333C9 XMS3 Desktop Memory 4GB - Corsair £20.05
Optical Drive Sony AD-5280S-0B DVD±RW 24x SATA Drive with Dust Protected Enclosure and Emergency Eject - Sony £17.77
Other 2 X Serial ATA Sata Hard Drive Data Cable Lead - Unbranded £0.90
Total £189.75


Confirmed for January 2013 (2 suppliers):

Not a useful note and more of a personal opinion then factual, but beyond the inventors of the Internet or any hardware has to be the following notion from IBM:

a 1976 research report by Lance A. Miller and John C. Thomas of IBM, noted that "It would be quite useful to permit users to 'take back' at least the immediately preceding command (by issuing some special 'undo' command)."

Source: Behavioral Issues in the Use of Interactive Systems.

If you've guessed it, my vote goes for whoever invented the "Undo" button: cross-platform, multi-lingual, future-proof and as everlasting as human error.


More?

  • Get business cards made.
  • Pass them out where ever you go.
  • Don’t rent a storefront yet.
  • Go to people’s businesses/homes and do the repairs there.
  • Ask local businesses if you can post a flyer in their window or on their cash wrap.
  • Initially, charge a nominal fee…maybe something like $30/hour just to build up a client base and get some referalls.
  • Put up a Web site describing your services. It makes you look more legit when you print it on your business cards.
  • Hit up local colleges and post flyers there.
  • If you’re going to market to college students, learn how to troubleshoot Macs and iPods.
  • Develop a protocol for troubleshooting common problems It’ll save you time.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver.
Source: http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/9usm7/iama_local_tech_repair_man_i_run_my_own_business/

I love the last point. Down talk as opposed to hype and then produce. Even with most services this nearly always guarantees a happy customer.
  • "So this is all I could fix in the time I have, all your issues have been dealt with and I also did this..."
  • "So this is what I've quickly put together for demo purposes."

Equipment List:
  • Car
  • Notebook
  • Mini-USB mouse (wired)
  • Norton Ghost
  • USB Drive for storage (backing up clients pc)
  • USB Drive with drivers/software/portable apps
  • USB Dongle connecting to an Internet Provider
  • OS disks
  • Document Templates:
    • Service Agreement Template
    • Computer Repair Invoice Template
  • Documents:
    • Service Agreement
  • Electronic Newsletter
  • Business Cards
  • Extra RAM (to charge for)
  • Extra Cables (again to charge for)

The following is a list of items I use to include on password checker pages:
  • A program called LC4 (formerly L0phtCrack) used by governments and the military boasts being able to crack 90% of user passwords in under 48 hours on a Pentium II/300. Additionally, it claims that it can crack 18% of the passwords in under 10 minutes (source: SpiesOnline.net 09/2006)

  • In the UK a worrying 3.7% use the password \"123\" (source: Pixelapes.com 05/2008)

  • 1 in 700 people choose 'qwerty' as their password (source: Modernlifeisrubbish.co.uk 08/2007)

  • Distributed.net's Project Bovine RC5-64, one of the fastest computers on earth, recently reached a speed of 76.1 billion passwords per second! (source: Lockdown.co.uk 01/2007)

  • By default, the Mozilla Firefox browser lists your stored passwords in plain text to anyone with access to your browser through the tools > options > security > Saved passwords > Show All. This includes a feature to search through your saved password information as well... You can opt to have these protected by a 'Master Password' but by default and without this, Firefox will display them all at a click of a button. (source: n/a 08/2008)

  • Password recovery tools for the majority of popular programs we use today are free to download and use. This includes but is not limited to: recovering all passwords stored in Internet Explorer or Firefox; most Messenging programs with auto-login features; account usernames and passwords from the majority of webmail and email programs; passwords in remote desktop sessions; and any wifi keys used in your wireless connections. All the software can run off a USB key needing only a few seconds to connect to your computer and to automatically download all the passwords. (source: NirSoft Recovery Tools 01/2008)

  • 4 main techniques used in getting your password: Steal It (by looking over someone's shoulder), Guess It, Brute Force (=try every combination), Dictionary Attack (=try every combination starting with words that exist). (source: Lockdown: Choosing a good password)


And some more which have become more popular in recent years:
  • There are loads of nightmare stories by security companies but one of my favourites is when the company hired to hack the client’s network simply drops loads of free nice USB flash drives in the parking lot. Employees pick them up and plug them into their machines at work which then sends the details over the internet. Apparently this has a 9 in 10 chance of working. Possibly the most notable in 2008 being the US Pentagon.

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