Sonicwall Registration Issues – NEW UPDATE

Standard

 

I recently wrote a blog about my issues with trying to register at mysonicwall.com. I added a brief update at the end of the blog. However, I have a new update which I would like to share.

Since getting my issue resolved, I figured that was it. To be honest, that would have been perfectly fine with me. As I mentioned in my blog, I knew someone in the company would have resolved my issue, and as long as I have had my issue resolved, I didn’t care. I wouldn’t harbor any hard feelings toward Dell’s Sonicwall line, and I am going to continue to use my Sonicwall, so no harm done really. However, yesterday I was contacted via phone by the Manager of Global Customer Service at Dell — that was something I did not expect. It really went above and beyond what I expected of Dell, so much so that I decided to write my update into a new blog post here for you all.

The manager at Dell said that she’d read my blog post. She said that what I’d said was fair, and they were able to understand the issue and my frustrations completely. She also noted that due to the fact that I’d detailed the issue so thoroughly, the issue was escalated to their website developers… and they identified the bug and resolved it on their website! Woo!

I think it is something to note that a company as large as Dell will take the time to get your issue resolved, and it really turned around something where I was upset into a renewed respect for Dell. I always feel bad when I have to send in complaints to a company, because I know they have a job and a family, just like me. But it’s good to see results as complete and thorough as the ones Dell gave me.

Dell-Sonicwall-new

 

Do You Have Drugs on Your Network?

Video

i-doser post

Recently I received a complaint about an extremely slow flow on a network. I conducted various scans on the network and did packet capturing analysis only to discover a unique and unusual case that I had never encountered before. I found a major bandwidth consumption by a few files trading on the network with the extension *.drg. I conducted a full research about this specific extension and its files, discovering that the .drg file extension is used for AllyCAD CAD design drawing files, AviSys bird watcher database files, Dyno2000 car design files,  VLBI and Tied Array drudge tasking document files. After contacting the client with my findings, I concluded that none of his users were using the software listed above. I ran a full software scan and analysis and discovered that three of the network users had an app called i-Doser installed on their iPhones, and they were connected through the corporate WiFi.

By now you must be wondering, “What is i-Doser?” I-Doser is an application for Windows and iOS that you can find on the Internet. It is used to achieve a simulated feeling of a “drug” through the use of binaural beats. There are well over one hundred “doses” or “dosers”, and some can be incredibly hard to find. Most of the doses are named after prohibited recreational drugs. In other words, it’s a brainwave synchronization software which is used for mood alteration purposes. The DRG files contain stereo audio tracks that are recorded using the binaural recording techniques used by the software. The DRG files also contain information about the “dose” file and a screenshot image.

I was extremely curious about i-Doser and its concept. What pushed these employees to use digital drugs in the work environment? How effective are digital drugs? Should employers be alarmed? According to research on i-Doser’s website, 83% of its users have had at least one simulated experience occur. There is substantial evidence and research to support i-Doser’s claim that binaurals can help simulate a specific mood or experience. But I was definitely a skeptic, so I decided to try this i-Doser myself. After-hours, of course.

I chose a dose called “Gates of Hades.” I looked up the reviews online for it, and what I saw creeped me out. People were saying that it was the most frightening thing they’ve ever experienced, e.g. near-death experiences, OBEs, distortion of reality, loss of body image, strong visual and auditory hallucinations… the works.  But, being the skeptic that I am, I decided to ignore all the talk and reviews. I said to myself, “People are just trying to scare each other.” So last night I plugged my HD headphones into my iPhone, laid in my dark room on my bed (as was recommended, in preparation for this specific dose), and proceeded to listen to “Gates of Hades.”

i-doserAs a veteran of the United States Army, I have been deployed to combat zones and have experienced some horrifying experiences. After my experience with I-Doser,  I have to admit the “Gates of Hades” dose is real, and it works.

After I finished listening to the full dose, I  experienced unusual sensations and serious anxiety that stayed with me for almost a full hour. Maximum depression-like sensations. I was seeing  colors darker than what they really are. This was like a living nightmare that I was trapped in for a full hour. This dose is very dangerous and shouldn’t be traded between people, especially teenagers. The brain-experience and reaction I had was totally horrifying and  accompanied by hallucinations.

The digital drugs are real, and they’re not as safe as most users claim.

After my horrifying experience with “Gates of Hades” and the reaction that I lived for a whole hour I wanted to understand more how this could possibly happen to me. I researched more in books and on the Internet about binaural beats. I found a logical, scientific explanation that I would like to share with you. Based on the Monroe Institute for Neural Science‘s research for binaural beats:

“The sensation of auditory binaural beats occurs when two coherent sounds of nearly similar frequencies are presented, one to each ear, with stereo headphones or speakers. The brain integrates the two signals, producing a sensation of a third sound called the binaural beat. For example, if a frequency of 100 Hz is played in one ear and 107 Hz is played in the other ear, a binaural beat of 7 Hz is created by the brain. Brain waves match or “follow” the binaural beat. If the binaural beat is 7 Hz, an increase in the brain waves of 7 Hz occurs. Binaural beats originate in the brainstem’s superior olivary nucleus, the site of contralateral integration of auditory input. The binaural beat is neurologically conveyed to the reticular formation which uses neurotransmitters to initiate changes in brainwave activity.

Brain Waves & Consciousness:
Gamma ( above 40 Hz ) Alert anxiety and could lead to hallucinations.
Beta ( 13 – 26 Hz ) Alert concentration and problem-solving.
Alpha ( 8 – 13 Hz) Alert relaxation.
Theta ( 4 -7 Hz) Deep relaxation and increased learning.
Delta ( 1 – 3 Hz ) Deep Sleep.”

I also discovered that the binaural beats have been used in the movie making industry since forever, recently on a more advanced level, which is known as sound effects. Have you ever asked yourself why, every time you are watching a horror or action scene there is always that super-surround, high-pitched sound effect in the background? Yes, that’s right, welcome to the Gamma Brainwave! These sound effects trigger the Gamma brainwaves causing instant fear and anxiety. Later on, you might even experience nightmares, not because of what you saw — it’s because of the high frequency rate that was triggered in your brainwaves. It usually takes time to discharge  its intensity to a lower level than 40 Hz. The reaction time lapse can differ from one person to another depending on the severity of that brainwave trigger they have been exposed to.

After my firsthand experience with this digital drug, or  i-Doser, I can see that the use of this program during work hours should be a concern for employers. While some employees may just be trying to de-stress, the use of any “drug” to alter their states (and possibly their judgments) is alarming.

There are lots of opinions about this new i-Doser digital drugs. Some are skeptics, some are believers, and some are addicted to i-Dosing. It’s clear that these type of digital drugs should of concern in the work environment. The user must isolate himself from the surrounding environment — in other words, breaking away from the work team and allowing himself to fade into the background. This would affect the general production of any company. Further, the i-Doser application uses a very specific file extension that is dependent on on live broadcasting from different servers, which consumes a great amount of bandwidth on any network. It’s very similar to the music broadcasting software called Spotify, which most companies currently ban using the corporate firewall and the security policies on their Active Domain Servers.

The Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics has issued numerous warnings about i-Dosing and its dangerous side effects. Some countries in Europe,  such as, France have issued new laws to ban i-Dosing. U.A.E and Lebanon in the Middle East have similar bans. These countries have taken serious counter measures against this new trend of Digital Drugs. Don’t you think it’s time to stop being skeptical and realize that it’s a real threat?

If you are concerned about the possibility of digital drugs on your company’s network, please call us at Everon (888-244-1748). Our team can review your network and recommend next steps for your systems.

Excel Power Users: Don’t Be Scared – Use Arrays!

Standard

array

 

As a frequent user of excel, at what I would consider advanced-level expertise, I spend my days flying through data connections, pivots, all kinds of complex formulas, and even a dash of VBA. But there was still one hurdle I hadn’t jumped. For some odd reason those squiggly brackets { } (technically I believe they’re called “braces”) had intimidated me from dabbling in the world of arrays. Something felt unnatural about hitting ctrl + shift + enter before exiting a formula. What magic would happen behind the scenes if I pushed those buttons simultaneously? I understood the logic and language of Excel, so asking it to “work differently” just seemed bizarre. I found myself working around actually using arrays by means of  extra columns, pivots, and very elaborate lookups and formulas.

This past week, however, I faced my fear and jumped in… three keys at a time!

Game changer!

Imagine you have a list of contact dates and clients. You want to figure out how recently each person has been contacted by running a quick summary on the data. Sure, you could throw a pivot on the data, but what if you needed it in the table format? There is not a “MAXIF” formula to perform this action. In fact, for all its strengths, there is a gap on available “IF” formulas in Excel. Enter-in arrays! Arrays give you the power to combine formulas that analyze data in tabular form without having to pivot the data.

Here’s how it works:

Let’s say you have a list of sales, and you want to be able to reach out to clients with whom you haven’t spoken in a while. Knowing the last contact date alongside their YTD sales will help you make sure that you are staying on top of communication with your best customers. Here’s a list of sales with contact dates. We can easily throw a “SUMIF” formula in to calculate the running total, per customer, per line. But finding out the most recent (or “max”) date is not so easy, because you cannot make a “MAXIF” formula. Instead, we can “nest” them with an array.

image1

In everyday language, we need the formula to perform the following tasks:

=MAX(number1, number2,…)

where the numbers are all in column A, “Contact Date.” If we just do MAX, it won’t take the customer into account. We need to add a criterion to also look for the max date of that customer.

image2

In theory it should be this:

=MAX(IF(Customer Name = This Row’s Customer Name, THEN return the Max date from column A, OTHERWISE return a 0)

image3

Unfortunately it doesn’t wrap the IF with the MAX and it produces a result that is the max overall. So let’s jump into those scary squiggly braces and see what we can do.

When you use the exact same formula — but before hitting enter at the end — instead, hold down CTRL + SHIFT + ENTER. You’ll see that Excel adds braces { } around the formula. When you copy this down, the formula magically evaluates both conditions across all the data you’ve selected. Voila! You have now added analytics to your table.

image4

NOTE:  You cannot simply add braces to your formulas to make this happen. You have to hit ctrl + shift + enter to make Excel perform the array formula.

So… What’s the takeaway? What can this do for you? By performing this array formula and quickly sorting my list… looks like I better reach out to Examples R Us. They’ve spent the most and it’s been the longest since they’ve been contacted.

image5

Imagine what arrays can do to inform your business!

Quick Tip: How to add a poll to an email in Outlook

Standard

 

It’s Election Day again! But while you’re waiting to find out who won the midterms, you can do more than just check your news feeds: you can stage your own voting topic. I recently learned a super-easy way to add a poll to an email in Outlook. This is a great way to get feedback from everyone in the office on topics from, “Should we take the designer’s advice and paint the walls red?” to “Where should we go for lunch today?” The only catch is that you have to be running on a Microsoft Exchange server. (If you’re unclear as to whether or not your company has one of these, you might have to ask your tech support. If that happens to be Everon, you can call us at 888-244-1748.)

With a poll, you can do anything from ask a yes/no question, request an accept/decline response, or ask a question with a multiple-choice response. Here’s how, using Outlook 2010 for this demo:

1. From Outlook’s Home tab, select “New E-mail.”

Email poll 1

 

 

 

 

 

2. Click in the body of the new email. Then go to the Options tab. Select “Use Voting Buttons,” and pick from the drop-down menu. (For our demo, we’re going to use the “Custom” buttons.)

Email poll 2

3. In the Voting and Tracking options section, type your categories into the space, using semicolons to separate them. Today, for our demo, we’re doing a poll to see who had the winning costume in our Halloween costume contest. I entered seven categories, separated by semicolons, and clicked “Close.”

Email poll 3

4. Now all you have to do is add your message and subject line. Once you click “send,” your recipients will get an email with a poll line in the header.  (If your colleagues aren’t familiar with email voting, you may need to instruct them on how to do this.)

Email poll 4

5. If you’ve sent the poll to yourself, you will also have the opportunity to vote. When you or anyone makes selections, you will get an email-update on the individual’s vote (yeah, it’s not 100% private this way, but only the original poll-sender can see these things).

6. You will also be able to easily track the entire group’s responses. Go to any of the response-emails and hover over the “i” line in the header (the voting section). The line will turn yellow. Click it, and you will have the option to view all of the voting responses.

Email poll 5

If you select “View voting responses,” you will get a summary-tabulation of how many votes each category has, as well as a table that breaks out how individuals voted. It’s that simple!

So… where are you all going for lunch today? ;)

 

Email Frustrations From a Tech Point of View!

Standard

stop-sign

 

Hello again world! I normally sit here and write technical articles or recent findings on a product, but I felt the desire to switch that up a little bit and talk about something that needs to be put out there. This topic is something that sometimes puts end users in a bad spot and is an utter frustration to a tech.

In my day-to-day as a tech, my primary focus is email. From email servers, to cloud based solutions, to end user support, I do it all. From my point of view, there is one thing that really grinds my gears and that is people using their “Deleted Items” folder as storage. Yeah, to some of you this may sound silly. But believe it or not, there are a bunch of people out there who will delete emails (sending them to the deleted items folder) just to clear them out of the inbox, and they will go back to them as needed. See any issues with this?

The deleted items folder is there for deleted items. Too frequently I get calls from users saying that their Outlook is acting funny (usually because their PST file* is huge), so when I start troubleshooting, I see that they have thousands upon thousands of emails sitting in the deleted items folder. Then I get told not to clear those out because they need them. Also, I get frequent calls from people who need emails recovered because they were accidentally, permanently deleted. I spend time trying to track down the email from a backup of their inbox just to find out that it was in the deleted items?!

The moral of the story is this: please stop using your deleted items as storage for emails. This folder’s intended purpose is exactly what it is labeled: DELETED ITEMS. If you are in need of creating folder structure for emails that you do not want sitting in your inbox, or if you need a solution for archiving, please-please-please call Everon. We are more than happy to help with this. This will help prevent your headaches of accidentally losing emails and will make your techs much happier when they are troubleshooting your email client or restoring email. Friends don’t let friends use their deleted items folder as storage. They just don’t. Cheers!

*Note: PST, a.k.a. the Personal Storage Table, is the file on your computer that is comprised of ALL of the email that is in your outlook, everything from your Inbox, to your Sent Items, to your Deleted Items.