Ways to Maximize Battery Life with your Notebook

The appeal of the notebook computer in comparison to the desktop is that the notebook allows for portable personal computing, and that’s a big plus for people nowadays. More often than not people’s laptops will be plugged in when they’re resting on a desktop at home, but when they’ve got them tagging along outside of it then there’s few things worse than seeing your notebook’s battery start to wane dangerously low.


Some notebooks are worse than others with the way they tear through a battery reserve in very little No time, and these days many of you have likely seem the new Chromebook commercials that promote a product with a superior long-life battery to prevent any of the ‘we’re dying over here’ as they say in the commercial. No matter what you might be doing on your laptop, a near-dead battery while you’re still a long way from home is definitely not cool.


Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re like the individuals at any good Canadian web hosting provider who will be similarly anxious anytime our devices are dipping way too much for our liking. One of the things the nature of our job does for us is it has us in a position to soak up a lot of information on the world of computing, and we soak it up pretty readily. When we learned of these tips for getting more battery life for your notebook, we thought it’s exactly the kind of information that would be well received in our blog.


So here goes for this week.


Start with a Visit to Power Settings


Every laptop battery is built to handle a certain number of charge cycles. This number is typically somewhere around 500 full cycles — and in some instances more. A charge cycle equals one full discharge down to 0% before recharging back up to 100%. Similarly, a discharge down to 50% and then topping up to 100% would equal half a cycle. Over the course of the battery’s working life, each charge cycle decreases its capacity from the original design specification. The less often your drain it, the longer the battery will last.


A good place to start in the quest to improve your battery performance is visiting the power settings on your laptop and then coming to understand how your battery works. Plus what battery settings you should enable. Learn about hibernation modes too and then make sure yours are ideally set up.


The best choice is to have your laptop enter hibernation mode before the battery is totally drained and also during extended downtimes when you won’t be using the laptop for a while.You can conserve even more power by taking a tour of your apps and quitting any that are running in the background and decreasing your battery life while they do so.


PC users with Windows 10 can and should enable the Battery Saver feature on their notebook. It will automatically turn on when your laptop comes to be at 20% battery life. Then background apps will automatically be blocked and features like Calendar won’t be allowed to sync or push notifications. The screen brightness will also be lowered, and there’a also other less notable changes that will also promote better battery conservation before you can get plugged in again.


Your approach if you’re a MacBook owner is to look into enabling Power Nap. It will put your Mac to sleep without worrying about it abandoning important tasks or notifications, allowing you to save more battery life. Another good move is enabling automatic graphics switching. This also helps MacBooks save energy by switching to a lower graphics mode when engaged in certain ways where graphics aren’t as important.


Most of the manual changes you can make here too are pretty easily done. Shutting down cloud storage services or video players can be a good choice, and you can also manually reduce power usage by shutting off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth when they’re not needed. Consider shutting off optional features like keyboard backlighting, and take stock of any components that may be burning power.


Guides from Microsoft and Apple explain this process further, and are easy to dig up online.


Keeping The Battery in Zone


Before lithium-ion batteries came into existence there was a problem called ‘battery memory’ that caused nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) batteries to get confused as to their full charge capacity, and then start charging to lower and lower levels while showing ‘full’. This isn’t a problem anymore, but it has left behind something of a common misunderstanding for a lot of people.


Anyone who tells you should completely discharge a lithium-ion battery and then recharge it to somehow reboot or calibrate it is NOT correct. This is actually very damaging for your battery. The industry consensus is somewhere around s letting your battery discharge to around 20% or so and then charging it up again.


Another myth is that it is good to avoid keeping devices plugged in, based on the idea that letting a battery charge to 100 percent could wear the battery out more quickly. Again not true – modern devices will reliably stop charging at 100 percent and continuing to have them plugged in doesn’t impact the battery’s lifespan.


Now for some accurate information – Never let your battery go below 20%, and if you’re going to store your laptop for an extended time without using it, then discharge or charge it to 50% before putting it away.


Avoid Overheating


Today’s lithium-ion batteries are more durable than their predecessors, but they can only take so much heat. If your batter is radiating a lot of heat while its charging it may be because the CPU or graphics processor is overactive, and if you can it’s a good idea to shut the device down and pop the battery out if possible. If not, just let the computer have half an hour or so of downtime.


Avoid using your notebook on your lap. If you really like having it there while you watch TV then consider one of the many notebook stands that can locate right off to the side of your armrest.


Avoid leaving your notebook in direct sunlight, this can promote overheating if your notebook is not turned off, but in sleep mode.


Moderately cold temperatures won’t affect a laptop battery much, but of course don’t leave your laptop in very cold or freezing temperatures. There are a number of apps you can run that will monitor laptop heat. This includes CoreTemp and Real Temp for Windows, and you can download both for free.


Software and Your Battery


Keeping your software updated helps to enable better battery life. Companies work hard to improve the way programs use power via software updates. The same operating system on a later patch may be oriented to use less battery power, providing you with a longer energy lifespan with nothing more required. Keep your OS updated to improve battery life.

Laser Blasted Magnets: A Potential Ticket to Much Faster Computers

With all the talk about the ongoing advent of supercomputers and all they’re poised to do and having major ramifications for our day-to-day existences, there hasn’t been a whole lot of talk about the technological discoveries that are enabling these new mega processor computers to do what they do. Often times it’s not that they’re doing something which they weren’t capable of doing previously, and more that they’re doing them infinitely faster than they could before. Size is only part of it, as most of these new super computers are nowhere near the room-taking behemoths that were seen in the late ’70s and early 80s.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we imagine there isn’t so much as one reliable Canadian web hosting provider who’s not keeping close tabs on these developments. Given the nature of the business we’re in, this stuff is especially relevant and we’re quite confident in guessing that it’s similarly must-read stuff for those of you with business interests that tied to what the World Wide Web is capable of as well.

So today we’re going to look at how one particular component of computers that have been part of them since the beginning – magnets – are now having being supercharged in a very particular way. If this is something that interests you, read on.

The Power in Disrupted Magnetism

A necessary scientific preface here; magnets rapidly recover their magnetic properties following any sharp hit that disrupts their magnetism. Over recent years there’s been more research into this phenomenon, and it appears that was for good reason.

Lasers were fired at slim magnets, and what happened after the laser beam hit it was that the magnetic spins of the material’s atoms started behaving more like a fluid, rather than a solid. As a result the magnetic properties formed ‘droplets’. The researchers then compared the magnetic activity to filling a jar with oil and water, and then shaking the container.

How all of this is relevant is in how the spins of zapped magnets act like those in superfluids, with the magnets increase the expanse and concentration of properties due to the new molecular arrangement that is promoted by the laser beams.

(A superfluid is a phase of matter that has no viscosity and shrugs off friction.)

The new molecular arrangement once the magnet has been zapped is to have their materials able to be ‘spinning’ in multiple directions, and not only to the North or to the South as is the case with the untreated, standard magnet. The brief pulse of amplified light disrupts the natural organization of a magnetic material.

After receiving the energy imparted by the laser, the spins of the magnet stop pointing up or down. Instead, they start orienting in various directions, which neutralizes the material’s magnetic properties. The untapped potential in all of this as far as supercomputing is concerned is in the very short (microseconds) of time that exists between the arrival of the laser pulse and the magnet moving back to its previous equilibrium.


Flipped Magnetic Orientation = Much More Data Storage Capacity

Different magnetic alloys were tried during these experiments, including ones made from cobalt, gadolinium, and iron. After the magnets were introduced to lasers, researchers compared the lab results to the ones produced by math equations and computer simulations.

What immediately grabbed their attention and quickly highlighted the potential in all of this was this; The magnetic materials remained in a solid phase, even though they’d been hit by a laser. However, the spins of their atoms started acting like the ones in fluids (which in physics encompasses gas and plasma, as well as liquids). Both their position and their magnetic orientation was changed.

The promise is in how these magnetic spins flip their orientation is that they may improve computer data storage. The belief is that the spins behaved like superfluids after the laser strike, but only for a brief moment.

The spins start to settle down very quickly, but in that very brief window of opportunity there’s the potential to accomplish a great deal in the way of processing extremely extensive computing equations that otherwise would take heaps of time, energy, and other resources. As the spins cluster together, however briefly, all this becomes possible but after time they limit their orientation to up or down instead of pointing to every direction of the compass.

Given time, the droplets increased in size. Their behavior invoked how intermixed oil and water split apart and form growing clusters. Experts now compare this cluster behavior to a seed that formed the center of bigger groups. Further, it seems there is the possibility of a zapped magnet flipping the direction of its spins. Sometimes, after getting hit by a laser pulse, a magnet recovers its magnetic properties, but starts pointing in the opposite direction. So instead of pointing up, it now points down, and vice versa.

Computers may be able to use the flipping behavior of spins and magnets to store vastly larger amounts of data, and processing, categorizing, and then eventually making it available for utilization in a much more speedy and efficient manner. The results of this experiment may help improve the performance of data storage devices, and given the rampant growth of data centers and the need to try and keep them as small and with as little ecological footprint as possible, this is DEFINITELY a very promising development in the world of computing.

5 Considerations Before Making the Jump to Gigabit Internet

If you live in one of the major metro areas of the country you will very likely have never had to deal with insufficient internet connectivity. Consider yourself fortunate, as that’s exactly the frustration that many people in more rural areas of the country have had to tolerate for a good long while now. The fact is that Gigabit internet speeds were something that you did without if you were living somewhere without much in the way of population. Which is a shame, as quite often those spots are the best places to be in the country if you want an especially high quality of life.

The good news of course is that this is changing. Long-awaited gigabit internet speeds are slowly but surely coming to a growing number of smaller communities in Canada, as fiber infrastructure improves and companies offer ultra-fast service packages. Here at 4GoodHosting, this is something that we’ve heard lamented by people in these areas, and that’s likely the case for nearly every good Canadian web hosting provider too.

So what we’re going to do here this week is share what we know about ways you can be best prepared for the high-speed Internet revolution that may well be on your horizon too if you’re living in smaller town Canada. Here’s 5 simple and very doable suggestions for you

  1. Set Up Quality Wired Connections

Wired connections tend to be better for gigabit speeds due to their reliability and lack of interference. To benefit from the best of gigabit internet, the right wired connections go a long way and if you’re on a desktop most of the time this is the way you want to go. Start with evaluating the wired connection from the internet modem to your router.

Most modern Ethernet ports manufactured in the last few years are gigabit Ethernet capable. However, if you have a router or other wired device that’s older than that, then it may be using an older type of Ethernet connection and possibly one that will not be able to support Gigabit Internet speeds. In this scenario what’s going to happen is the router will bottleneck your entire home network, and your frustrations will be just as pronounced as they’ve ever been

There are several types of adapters for a USB 3.0 to Gigabit Ethernet connection, but many times they end up slowing down performance in other ways.

If you have no clue what type of ports are found on your router, what you can do is find the product number and dig up the specifications online to confirm this. You can also do this with your computers to check on factory cards and connections. Make sure all of your componentry is rated for gigabit speeds, or 1,000 Mbps.

Another option is to look in your Settings to get up to speed on your connections. Next, have a look at the Ethernet cables themselves.

They should be at least Cat5e or higher to support Gigabit speeds. Cat 6 cables are a better choice though, as they are optimal for delivering gigabit speeds. Most new computer systems will come with them, but if yours didn’t then they are relatively inexpensive.


  1. Ensure Your Devices Support Latest Wi-Fi Standards

Alternately, if it’s unlikely that you’ll be using a wired connection on a particular device then you should determine what Wi-Fi standards are supported by it. The official gigabit-compatible Wi-Fi standard is 802.11ac, but once 2019 comes to and end next month we will have then moved on to the new 802.11ax standard – which it otherwise and more commonly known to be Wi-Fi 6.

To make this simple, if you need to go out and buy a new router in advance of this new development then make sure there’s a Wi-Fi 6 label on it.

For those who won’t be buying a new anything, then you can make sure your old router supports at least the 802.11ac standard. This standard has been around for years, and only most archaic routers won’t have it. The majority of these ended up in electronics recycling depots many years ago, but there may be a few out there still.

There are adapters that can make your old router compatible, but you’ll really be best served by a new router that’s indicated as being Wi-Fi 6 ready.

For mobile devices there are other technologies like MU-MIMO that can improve mobile connections on Wi-Fi 6, but not all devices will support them.

  1. Set Up Your Wi-Fi Router’s 5GHz Band

The majority of routers are now dual-band, meaning they support the common 2.4GHz band and the more infrequently used 5GHz band. That 5GHz option may not have as much range at the original band, but there’s a lot less of that wireless tech chatter when running on 5GHz. Indeed, the 5GHz band can provide a clearer signal and enable more of those desired gigabit-level speeds.

Most dual-band routers will prompt that’s something to do if you haven’t already. Go into your settings and see if it’s possible to lock onto 5GHz band to make it so this won’t happen

And then if your router isn’t dual-band, it’s something you will want to replace as soon as possible. Modern routers tend to be dual-band, and many have software that can intelligently switch between bands when necessary to provide the best connection. Plus, single band routers will be 802.11ac compatible.

  1. Update Firmware and Operating Systems

Provided your router has gigabit Ethernet, the latest Wi-Fi standard, and a 5Ghz Wi-Fi band already established and ready to go, then you’re ready for the advent of high-speed Internet in your home. However, it’s still a good idea to check to make sure that the firmware is updated to the latest version so that everything’s guaranteed to run smoothly.

Checking for firmware updates is as simple as logging into your router administrator console with the right address. Then, in settings, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for upgrading the device. Enable automatic updates after if you haven’t already, as then you’ll get those firmware updates as soon as they’re made available in the future.

Also recommended to update all your other devices too, especially if there are updates that you have been putting off. Many general OS updates improve general performance and efficiency.

  1. Run Speed Tests on Devices to Find Weak Spots

There are more than a few effective online speed tests you can run on both wired and wireless devices. Just google online speed tests and you’ll have a number to choose from right away at the top of your results page.

Running a test before choosing to upgrade will help you find an average baseline of your current speeds, and you use that to compare to your gigabit speeds after upgrading. Nine times out of 10 you’re going to see massive gains with gigabit internet, and you’ll very likely be pleased as punch with them.

It’s also possible to check how speed varies between wireless and wired. If the difference is considerable, then the natural step is to determine which devices need to be on a wired connection for best performance. Wi-Fi dead spots are something to always keep in mind, and most people will already to know where exactly they are in the home if they’ve found them before – usually quite by accident.


So to small town Canada, we say welcome to the world of real Internet speeds!

What’s to Know: Wi-Fi Direct

There are few if any shortened terms that are as immediately recognizable as Wi-Fi, and the way it’s universally understood to mean a wireless internet network for people to access the web via mobile internet browser devices. Unless you’re the type of person who never leaves home you probably take advantage of them more than a few times every week, and for any number of different reasons. This ultimate digital convenience isn’t likely to be any less popular anytime in the future considering we live in a world that’s increasingly digital all the time.

It’s for this reason that Wi-Fi Direct is definitely deserving of some fanfare, and while many of you may already be familiar with it there’s plenty of others who might enthusiastically welcome an introduction to anything that puts them online without having to dip into their monthly data allowance. Here at 4GoodHosting, we imagine we’re like any other Canadian web hosting provider in that we’re no different than the rest of you in that regard.

We need to start with this, though – Wi-Fi Direct is not new at all. In fact, it’s been enabling versatile, peer-to-peer wireless connections for almost 10 years now, but it’s kind of been flying under the radar the whole time it would seem.

So what we’re going to talk about here is what it is, what it can do, and what you need to know when using it.

What Exactly is Wi-Fi Direct?

The simplest and most accurate definition here is that it is a connection that allows for device-to-device communication. It links devices together without a nearby centralized network. The first device acts as an access point, and the other one connects to it using WPS (Wi-Fi Protected Setup) and WPA/WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access) security protocols. It was in the early 2000s that this standard was developed and incorporated into web browser equipped devices.

Some of the more knowledgeable of you may now be saying to yourself that sounds like the working of Bluetooth technology. It does sound like it, but it’s not the same operation here. The difference is that Wi-Fi Direct can handle more information at higher speeds than Bluetooth. Approximately 10 times the speed in optimal conditions. Wi-Fi Direct is more ideal when a peer-to-peer connection needs to transmit data-rich content – like a high-resolution image or a video — or when a Wi-Fi network has failed.

Wi-Fi Direct has many advantages, but the foremost of them is how versatile it can be where there’s no Wi-Fi network to function as a go-between for devices. Multiple devices use it to link to each other and share important files in any setting, but it’s especially valuable in urgent circumstances where connectivity is needed immediately but security worries that come with connecting via a standard Wi-Fi network are front and centre.


The good news is that most newer devices will make you immediately aware when Wi-Fi Direct is available. Most of the time when you search for a network it will pop up with its own wireless network starting with ‘DIRECT’ and then followed by a product name or number.

Likely a good many of you are now thinking ‘yes, I’ve seen that but I was unsure as to what it was.’

Wi-Fi Direct Supported Devices

As mentioned, Wi-Fi Direct has been available to consumers for nearly a decade now because of the 2011 Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) update that came with guidelines for the feature. Pretty much every mobile device manufactured in the last 5 years will be compatible with it, including a few you would probably have guessed wouldn’t be.

Android devices with an OS after 2.3 (Gingerbread) have supported Direct, and same goes for Apple devices sporting iOS 7 or later. Do note though that Apple markets the feature under its own names, ‘Air Drop’ and ‘Air Play’.

In addition, there’s more than a few entertainment devices that also make use of Wi-Fi Direct for streaming content or screencast from a mobile device. Included among them are Chromecast, Roku, and Xbox and nearly all of the newer Smart TVs. Wireless headsets with high fidelity audio, wireless printers, and even accessories like keyboards are at the top of the list of peripherals that can also work with Wi-Fi Direct.

What does vary is how Wi-Fi Direct connections are created between devices. Some devices may request that you scan a QR code. Others will have you enter a numerical PIN, and others still will have you press physical buttons to initiate a connection.

With web security becoming ever-more important, we’re seeing increasing numbers of devices using a combination of these approaches, and fewer of them will connect automatically anymore. Yes, that requires more of you, but the assurance of greater security will be worth it and especially if the nature of your communications is related to business.

Standard Uses for Wi-Fi Direct

How do most people use Wi-Fi Direct these days? Here are the most common applications for it:

  • Speedy file sharing: Wi-Fi Direct is ideal for sharing large files with a friend or team without intolerable delays when setting up a wired connection isn’t possible or practical.
  • Photo printing on wireless printers: Wi-Fi Direct doesn’t flinch when asked to process large amounts of wireless information, making it ideal for serious wireless printing jobs.
  • Screen casting / Screen sharing: Whether you’re playing games on a big screen that are based from your phone or sharing family photos from it on your TV or digital portrait, Wi-Fi Direct is a powerhouse for all sorts of screensharing tasks.
  • Multi-Player Games: Wi-Fi Direct is a saviour when you have multiple players looking to play the same game together in multiplayer mode on their own phones. If you’ve ever tried this with a standard Wi-Fi connection it’s usually pretty insufficient, and downright impossible if it’s a busy Wi-Fi network.


  • Rapid syncing: Some devices will also use Wi-Fi Direct to sync their information and update their media. This can expedite the process in a big way, especially if the requirement is to add a lot of new media at the same time.
  • Enabling NFC: NFC (near field communication) technology is most optimally enabled when done through Wi-Fi direct.

Wi-Fi Direct & the Internet of Things

Not that long ago there was talk of using Wi-Fi Direct for smart home devices, especially when IoT connectivity was new and exciting. Today, however, Wi-Fi Direct is almost never seen in the Internet of Things. That’s because Wi-Fi Direct is all about connections between two devices that aren’t part of a wireless network, but exist in separate spaces of their own.

To cut right to it, the Internet of Things has become dominated by standard Wi-Fi networks because today’s smart devices need to be highly interconnected with each other to enable more complex scenes or management. Another reason Wi-Fi direct isn’t well suited for smart devices is because it can have security issues that arise when automatic connections are enabled.

All in all though, Wi-Fi Direct has been a very beneficial development in web connectivity options and everyday more and more people are becoming aware of what it is and where it’s a better choice for their web interactions.


Google Achieves ‘Quantum Supremacy’: What This Means

It’s pretty much a weekly occurrence for the world’s leading web world giant to be making a splash of some sort, and lately a good many of those splashes have been stark reminders of just how increasingly omnipotent Google has become in every aspect of digital life. On the one hand the way they’ve pushed the development of new technology has been of great benefit to all of u, while on the other there are times when we hear of news that makes you wonder if it’s a good idea to have so much power and influence consolidated in one pair of hands.


Here at 4GoodHosting, it’s safe to say we’re much the same as any other Canadian web hosting provider would be in the way we regard this. The nature of what we do gives us a very valid first-hand overview of such proceedings, and offering genuine perspective on it is really something that comes with the territory. It’s also likely safe to assume that the majority of those trusting their web presences to us will have you understanding of what would be meant by ‘quantum supremacy.’


That term is definitely trending online right given what’s recently been announced as it regards Google’s latest accomplishment. It certainly has the potential to be quite a pivotal development in the world and one that is maybe even a little ominous too (read on), so we’ll make it the topic for this week’s blog.


An End to Effective Encryption


A term that most of you will know, however, is encryption. To encrypt something is to keep it locked behind some sort of code that is nearly unbreakable for some and entirely unbreakable for most. Up until now, encryption has been the means by which digital files and the like have been effectively kept out of the hands of those who should not have access to them.


If what is being reported here now is true, however, Google’s new 53-qubit quantum computer has achieved ‘quantum supremacy’ and apparently it will soon come to mean that nothing is entirely secure, even with the best and most advanced encryption.


To give you an idea of what this new and ultimate supercomputer is able of doing, Google’s new quantum processor took just 200 seconds to complete a computing task that would normally require 10,000 years on a similar conventional machine. It’s being reported that A 53-qubit quantum computer can break any 53-bit cryptography in mere seconds, or in fractions of sections in certain circumstances.


What this is going to mean is that Google’s new ‘quantum supremacy’ is going to pretty much mean that cryptographic secrets are going to be a thing of the past. The standard for cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and the like has been 256-bit encryption.


The reach of this goes beyond cryptocurrencies (and far beyond it in fact) but to give you an idea of what could go wrong here – once Google scales its quantum computing to 256 qubits, iBitcoin (and all 256-bit crypto) is available in its entirety since Google (or anyone with the technology) could easily break the encryption protecting all crypto transactions, then redirect all such transactions to its own wallet if that’s what it decides it wants to do.


Reaching Even Further


The revolutionary nature of it doesn’t stop there; all military-grade encryption has the potential to become useless as Google’s quantum computers expand their qubits into the 512, 1024 or 2048 range, which would render all modern cryptography obsolete. Google’s computer would have the ability to ‘crack’ even the most advanced cryptographic encryptions in less that a minute.


What’s being overcome here is this – classical computing is limited to only computing the correct factoring answers through brute force trial-and-error, and this needs massive computing power and time. Quantum computing has no such requirements or restrictions, it solves the factoring problem in 2^n dimensions, where n is the number of bits of encryption.


While traditional computing bits can only hold a value of 0 or 1 (not both), qubits have the ability to hold both values simultaneously. This means an 8-qubit computer can simultaneously represent all values between 0 and 255 at the same time.


This increased capacity will grow and grow and grow. The number of qubits in Google’s quantum computers are predicted to double at least every year, and industry experts agree that quantum computing power will very likely grow at a double exponential rate.


What this can be taken to mean is that Google will achieve > 100 qubits by 2020, > 200 qubits by 2021, and then > 400 qubits by approximately 2022. From there, once Google’s quantum computers exceed 256 qubits, all cryptocurrency encryption that uses 256-bit encryption will be null and void. And the problem is, that’s the vast majority of all cryptocurrency encryption that’s in use – and paid for.


What might be a little more disconcerting even is that by 2024 Google will be able to break nearly all military-grade encryption, rendering military communications fully transparent to them and making national security information non-private in ways it has never been before.


No one’s suggesting that much should be read into this development at this point, but it is safe to say that Google’s new 53-qubit quantum computer is going to be a major game changer when it comes the reliability of standard web encryption approaches. The saying ‘with great power comes great responsibility’ would seem to be very appropriate here.

Newly Identified Risks with Horde Web Email

It’s nearly impossible to veer away from web security and privacy concerns these days, as it’s a pressing issue in the digital world and the frequency with which new hacker attacks are arriving makes this types news as necessary as it is overwhelming. As we discussed in an earlier entry here, hackers are motivated by money, as there’s dirty dollars to be made selling sensitive information acquired from people without their consent, approval, or anything or the sort.

So here we are into the second last month of 2019 and – not surprisingly – another new and urgent software vulnerability is pushing its way to the forefront of what’s new and noteworthy in the world of web hosting. Here at 4GoodHosting, it’s likely that we’re not different from any other good Canadian web hosting provider in that we don’t have the luxury of not paying attention to developments like these, and so here we are again today.

Most of you will be familiar with Horde, as it’s one of the most popular free and open-source web email systems available to consumers these days. In truth, it’s the epitome of what a quality open-source web resource should be, as it’s been very responsibly built and is a good example of what can and should be done to ensure that software does not eventually become exclusive to deep-pocket development businesses.

However, unfortunately it seems that a major security flaw with Horde has been exposed and we believe it’s always best to put users in the know as soon as possible regarding this stuff. We’ll try to go short on the technical stuff, but this vulnerability is related to CVE 2018-19518, an IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and it exists in the ‘imap-open’ function that is used to open an IMAP stream to a mailbox.

Invisible Thieves

In most cases where security is compromised and information or identity theft occurs – both in the digital world and otherwise – there’s more often than not some type of identifiable evidence of an unwelcome guest having been on the ‘premises’. Not so here, as a prominent web security researcher claims they’ve detected several vulnerabilities in the popular open-source Horde web email software that allow hackers to steal the contents of a victim’s inbox, and do so nearly invisibly.

Now for those of you who are in fact unfamiliar with it, Horde is one of the most popular free and open-source web email systems available. It’s built and maintained by a core team of developers, with contributions from the wider open-source community. It’s popularity has grown in leaps and bounds over the last couple of years, and is actually the default email client that is used by a good many universities, libraries and many web hosting providers themselves.

According to the report, these vulnerabilities with Horde were first seen in May. How the hackers gets ‘in’ is by scraping and download a victim’s entire inbox. Now most you will be saying ‘surely that’s not possible with all the protective measures and security checks in place these days’, and you’d be right – provided the door wasn’t opened for them.

That’s how this Horde security flaw is taken advantage of. The hacker tricks the user into clicking a malicious link in an email. Once that click is made, the inbox is quickly and thoroughly downloaded to the attacker’s server.

What could happen next likely doesn’t need a whole lot of explanation. Any valuable information contained in any of the communications contained in that inbox is there for the taking. Given how many of us have sensitive information like banking and other types contained in email communications, this risk doesn’t need to be amplified any more than it already is.

Known Culprits

Earlier this year there were over 3,000 firewalls hit with 20,000+ requests over just two days, and while we don’t have numbers to indicate how the problem’s been since then the fact that it’s more in the news now than then suggests that the problem hasn’t abated and very likely grown since then.

The folks over at Sonic Wall have published some of the ‘busted’ IPs from which these requests have originated. If you know where to look for them and are using Horde yourself, feel free to have a look for any of these known bad guys: / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / / /

And if you see activity from any related to access to your software then it should very much be a red flag.

A Fix?

The norm is for security researchers to typically give organizations three months to fix flaws before they are publicly disclosed, so the fac this information has been made public and the news of the breaches counted earlier in 2019 suggests this has gone on for too long. Further, the consensus is that these flaws pose a ‘high’ security risk to users.

It should be mentioned that some – not all – of the vulnerabilities were fixed in the latest Horde webmail version. We’ve read that the Horde community has not publicly acknowledged the vulnerability — or that users of earlier versions of the webmail are still vulnerable.

Definitely something to be aware of and taking steps to protect yourself if you and / or your organization is using Horde as your chosen mail client. Not suggesting you reconsider that choice as it really is an excellent free and open-source web email system. And further, now that this is much more in the public eye, we expect Horde to be MUCH more aggressive in addressing this security vulnerability.

Fixes for Common iPhone 11 Problems

There’s no family of phones that make quite the splash like iPhones when a new one arrives. These days it’s the iPhone 11 that’s come onto the scene with a whole lot of fanfare, and for good reason. It’s quickly becoming regarded as a big step up from its predecessor, and not surprisingly they’re being snapped up big time by consumers who don’t mind the somewhat pricey tags attached to them. The tech giants out there in Mountain View, CA truly don’t ever rest on their laurels, and the iPhone 11 is a testament to that.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we’re thinking it’s likely that every quality Canadian web hosting provider is going to have plenty of customers who are iPhone faithful. We’re no exception there and we have more than a few of them here ourselves. If you’re going to shell out the big bucks for the newest iPhone then you’ll be expecting a superior product.

Now to be clear we’re not suggesting the iPhone 11 isn’t one, but it is true that – as is the case with any tech product – there’s often a few kinks that need to be worked out. These issues aren’t so major that they’ll be any type of deal breaker that will have an owner second guessing their decision to buy the newest iPhone, but they’re significant enough that any ‘fix’ for them will likely be most welcome.

So that’s what we’ll have for you here today, an overview of common problems with the iPhone 11 Pro and very straightforward ways of addressing them.

Eventful OS

It’s true that the number of reported issues with iOS 13 makes up quite a list. In response to this Apple has released a series of updates to respond to them, offering fixes to mitigate issues with the hardware. Here are a few initial iPhone 11 problems we’ve discovered around all three versions of the new phone so far and some tips on how to fix them.

Problem & Fix 1: Wireless Charging

This issue is definitely the most widespread of all, so it gets top spot on our list. The most common issue here is when an iPhone 11 is laid on a Qi wireless charger, your new device will not actually charge, despite it clearly recognizing its interaction with the charger. Some people have also claimed that their device becomes very hot to the touch, even while not charging on the pad.

There is something of a consensus that this bug first surfaced after installing various iterations of iOS 13, and that may mean the blame is more with the software than the functionality of the device itself.

Possible Fix:

A straightforward suggestion is the only one to offer here – update your iPhone’s OS with newly released versions, with Apple continuing to issuing fixes for various problems. Note as well that for some user as power-off reset/restart resolved this problem for them

  • Press and release volume up
  • Press and release volume down
  • Hold the power button and wait until the Apple logo appears

Problem & Fix 2: Activation Issues

No matter what type of device it is, activation issues are fairly standard when you try to get a new phone up and running at first. So not surprisingly, the iPhone 11 is no exception.

Possible Fixes:

Start by ensuring that all systems are up and running by checking Apple’s System Status page. Seeing anything that is not toggled in green means you need to wait until all systems are up, and then try again. If all are green and you’re still unable to proceed with the full activation, check that your phone has a SIM card inserted. Switching the SIM card from your old phone into your new one is option number one. If you continue to get a “No SIM” or “Invalid SIM” error message, despite having just inserted the SIM card and certain its there, Apple recommends doing the following:

  • Confirm with your mobile service provider that your plan is operational
  • Update your handset to the latest iOS version and restart
  • Go to Settings > General > About. If an update exists, you’ll see a prompt to select OK or Update. Choose it and see to it the update completes in full
  • Remove the SIM card from the tray and then place it there again, also ensuring the tray closes completely
  • Confirm that the SIM card is operational, by trying a different one. You can ask your carrier to test your phone with a different card. If it’s found that your current one is defective, they will almost certainly provide a function one for you at no cost

Problem & Fix 3: Volume, Audio & Sound Issues

A good many new iPhone 11 owners are also reporting that there’s issues with the volume and audio on their phones. While we haven’t been able to dig up and explanation for that yet it’s not to say this isn’t something that an OS update can remedy. It likely can, but you can also try these solutions on your own in advance and see if they work for you.

Possible Fixes:

  • Remove the SIM card from your phone, and then re-insert it. This problem can be caused by a SIM card that’s sitting improperly in the SIM card tray
  • Turn off Bluetooth and then compare the audio quality with or without it active. If it improves, have Bluetooth turned off when making or taking calls.
  • Check to see that your microphone is clean, clear, and unobstructed. These things can get filled with dust and grit fairly easily, and the blockage prevents the mic element from picking up sound
  • If the above steps are ineffective, clear your phone’s cache memory by restarting it
  • Do a hard factory reset (Settings > General > Reset). If you’re going to go this route, however, be sure to back up your data first

Problem & Fix 4: Overheating

This is the surprising one of the bunch, and especially considering the huge issues that were seen with Samsung’s Galaxy S7 a few years back. There have been plenty of reports about iPhone 11 units becoming seriously hot to the touch, along with concerns about the effect on the long term battery life of their new handset. If yours is giving you grief that way too, here’s what’s recommended. We’ll state first that if your phone is extremely hot then you should go to your provider and make them aware of the situation.

Possible fixes:

  • Remove your phone from its case. Some inexpensive phone cases actually block the heat dispersal points on the device and promote it overheating as a result
  • Avoid leaving your handset in a car or exposed to hot temperatures for extended periods of time
  • Make note of any games or apps that cause your phone to overheat
  • Try going into Airplane Mode for a while. Go into the Control Center and tap the plane icon to shut off all GPS, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular signals. Monitor your phone to see if it cools down as a result of doing this
  • Observe if it is charging your device that causes it to overheat. If it overheats and stays hot to the touch following charging, then you must take it to your retailer and ask that the issue be looked into without delay

Should none of the above steps work, you’re encouraged to contact Apple tech support or make an appointment with the Genius Bar.

Why the Rise in Phishing Attacks Against Macs?

It’s likely fair to say that people who are loyal to Macs are more fervently that way than their opposites, meaning people who are PC. Whether that has anything to do with Apple’s advertising campaign of 10 years ago or so where Mac was a young, hip, and casual and PC was older, inflexible, and suit n’ tie guy all the way. But the truth of the matter is for those with certain prerogatives when it comes to their computing device – especially for creative work – a Mac is the only way to go much of the time.

It’s for this reason and the ongoing popularity of the iMac and MacBook that today’s subject is worthy of some attention. There’s been a pronounced rise in the number of phishing attacks against Macs, especially in recent years. Here at 4GoodHosting, we can assume that many of you are Mac devotees as well, and that’s why as a leading Canadian web hosting provider we can relate to how anything that puts you more up to speed on what might be threatening your Mac is going to be quite welcome.

So what’s this all about, and what’s the need-to-know here and what’s just noise? We’ll do our best to lay it all out for you here today.

The Mac Myth of Malware Immunity

That Macs are immune to malware is a myth, but it’s certainly a popular one. It is true that the risk of attack for Apple’s computers is significantly less than for Windows computers, but they can still be compromised and infected. Look no further than the Zoom infection that hit up many users earlier this year, and something that did get quite a bit of coverage.

This is confirmed with a report a few months back from antivirus firm Kaspersky, which published a report claiming that phishing attacks on Mac users could double from their 2018 rates by the end of this year. That’s going to be a cause for concern for anyone using a Mac.

The report states that in the first half of 2019, Kaspersky software detected some 6 million or so phishing attacks targeted at Mac users, with 1.6 million attacking the Apple brand name by June 2019.

For those of you might be unfamiliar with what a phishing attack is, it’s where a malicious actor attempts to trick you into giving away sensitive information. For example, they might send you an email masquerading as an Apple message and asking for your Apple ID login info. If obtained, this info is then used to make fraudulent purchases.

2015 MacBook pro – Preferable to a 2019?

As much as that doesn’t makes sense – maybe so!

The number of phishing attacks taking aim at Macs in 2015 numbered 852,293, based on Kaspersky’s software. That rose 86% to 1.5 million in 2016, then exploded up to 4 million by 2017. There were 7.3 million attacks in 2018, and the company is reporting 5,932,195 attacks so far in 2019. Should this growth continue at its current rate, there could be over 16 million Macs targeted by the end of this year, and that would more than double the 2018 number.

Apple is offering a number of tips on how to avoid being victimized by phishing attacks. The most important thing for you to understand is this:

  • Apple will NEVER ask for your Apple ID password or verification code in order to provide support, and launching browser pop-up windows warning you that your Mac is infected is also something they NEVER do. If you get an unsolicited phone call from someone claiming to be from Apple, hang up and contact Apple directly.

There is, surprisingly, some good news in this. The number of circulating malicious files that target Mac users and the number of times Kaspersky products detected malware and potentially unwanted software on Macs seems to be declining in 2019 compared to 2018. The belief is that this is a reflection of how these interests are refocusing their Mac efforts on phishing rather than on viruses and other malware files.

Ample Annoying Adware

Kaspersky’s report explains further that although both the number of malware attacks and the number of affected users have been growing annually since 2012, the number of affected users actually dropped noticeably from around 255,000 to 87,000 in 2018.

The belief is that the era of explosive growth with Mac-focused malware seems to be behind us, and the decline in the activity of cybercriminals on this platform is a slow but definitely discernible trend.

It’s also worth noting that instead of full-fledged viruses, most of the Mac malware coming around these days is Adware – malicious files that run ads in as many places on your Mac as possible. Why this is something of a grey area, but it may be primarily because much less effort is needed than to create a virus.

To their credit, Apple is seeing this trend and making redirected efforts to protect its customers. We should note as well that this is only part of the overall picture with Mac OS security concerns. Attacks on Mac users who were running different antivirus apps – or none at all – didn’t enter the picture. For this reason it’s safe to assume that the total number of these kinds of phishing attacks is likely higher.

Antivirus Up – Now

We’ll conclude here with proving some solid if unspectacular advice; if you haven’t installed an antivirus app on your Mac, it’s high time you did. And, like anything, it’s a good idea to buy one of the pricier ones because it’s a product like most others in that you get what you pay for.

If you’re looking to protect your Mac, you should install an antivirus app. We’ve rounded up your best options to help remove the guesswork in keeping you safe on your Mac. Macworld is a very reputable source for information related to Apple products, and their #1 choice for antivirus software for Mac is Sophos Home Premium.

Browser Fingerprinting: The Risk, and What You Should Know

Internet privacy is one of the hottest of the hot button issues in the digital world these days, and it has been for quite some time. There’s so many different ones that are still discusses at length, and for good reason. News over recent years has indicated the surprising extent to which people’s private and other information has been exposed. There are ongoing efforts to counter this trend, but as is the case with many things it takes time to put effective measures in place.

Browser fingerprinting is one of them, and when one digs deeper into this particular issue it’s fairly common to have greater concerns about it. Here at 4GoodHosting, we are one of the many reputable Canadian web hosting providers who see the ‘insecurity’ of the World Wide Web to be as big a problem as it really is. As such we choose to make people informed of what they can do to protect themselves against the prying eyes that they likely have no idea are watching their moves online.

So what’s at issue here, how concerned should you be, and what can people do to be proactive in defending themselves against browser fingerprinting. Let’s look at all of this today.

Pervasive Peeping

A good number of people who use VPN services to hide their IP address and location may believe that by doing so they don’t have to worry about their browsing privacy being violated. This is the best place for us to start here, because that’s simply not true. With browser fingerprinting you can be identified and tracked.

One thing there’s no getting around is that every time you go online, your browsing device then provides highly specific information about your operating system, settings, and even hardware, to the site you’re visiting. This in itself is perfectly normal, and ideally shouldn’t be any cause for concern.

However, when this information is used to identify and track you online then you’ve experienced browser fingerprinting, and unfortunately many unique details and preferences can be exposed through your browser.

Once a sufficient amount of information has been collected, you are now regarded as having a ‘fingerprint’ for tracking and information purposes.

The sum total of these outputs can be used to render a unique “fingerprint” for tracking and identification purposes. What’s revealed as part of your fingerprint? Good question, and it’s quite a list:

  • User agent header
  • Accept header
  • Connection header
  • Encoding header
  • Language header
  • Plugins list
  • Platform
  • Cookie preferences (allowed or not)
  • Do-Not-Track preferences (yes, no, or not communicated)
  • User’s time zone
  • Screen resolution and its color depth
  • Local storage use specs
  • Session storage use specs
  • Picture rendered with the HTML Canvas element
  • Picture rendered with WebGL
  • Identifying and listing of any AdBlock software
  • List of fonts

Extent of Browser Fingerprinting Accuracy

Browser fingerprinting may be a tool to identify and track people as they browse the web, but it’s certainly not the first of them and it likely won’t be the last. There has been all sorts of talk in the news that there are many different entities – ranging from corporate and government ones – that have an interest in monitoring internet browsing tendencies and haven’t been reserved in the slightest about acting on it.

The most conspicuous ones are advertisers and marketers who find this technique useful for acquiring more detailed data on users, with increased advertising revenue being what’s at stake. Alternately, some websites use browser fingerprinting to indicate potential fraud, so it’s true that not every variation of browser fingerprinting is ill-conceived

Test Websites for Browser Fingerprinting

It’s fair to say, however, that you should be doing what you can to prevent your from being yet another information mine for those employing browser fingerprinting. Fortunately, there are some online resources you can use to determine the information that is being revealed by your browser.

The best one in our opinion is www.deviceinfo.me.

In addition, you may also want to try websites that make browser data known and also assess a ‘uniqueness’ score calculated via your variables in comparison to their database of browsers.

Panopticlick is a good one we’ve been introduced to, and amiunique.org is said to also be a good resource. Amiunique, however, is open source and provides more information and updated fingerprinting techniques, including webGL and canvas.

The question will of course be how accurate are these sites. The answer is that, for the most part, they’re only somewhat accurate. Go ahead and make use of them, but don’t take their findings to be absolute truths and a thorough representation of what may be made available through your browser.

Without going into extensive detail, browser fingerprinting test websites like the ones shared above are good for revealing the unique information and values that can be rendered from your browser. Beyond that, however, trying to beat the test by achieving a low ‘uniqueness’ score may be a waste of time by and large.

Mitigating your Browser Fingerprint

Browser fingerprinting is a very complex and evolving issue. One interesting more recent revelation is that there’s nothing you can do to mitigate some fingerprinting attacks on smartphones. That said, here are ways to mitigate your browser fingerprint:

  1. Modifications and Tweaks to the Browser

Sometimes there are different options for tweaks and modifications to mitigate browser fingerprinting. For Firefox, you can get started with this by typing about:config into the URL bar of your browser, hit enter, agree to “accept the risk” and make the following changes:

  • resistFingerprinting (change to true)
  • disabled (change to true)
  • peerconnection.enabled (change to false)
  • enabled (change to false)
  • firstparty.isolate (change to true)

We will mention as well Brave browser is a good option for those wanting a simple, privacy-focused browser that blocks tracking by default and still supports Chrome extensions. Brave also allows you to enable fingerprinting protection, which is under the Brave Shields settings:

  1. Browser Extensions and Add-ons

There are a number of different browser extensions and add-ons that you may find useful. Here are some of them:

  • Canvasblocker by kkapsner
  • Trace by AbsoluteDouble
  • Chameleon by sereneblue
  1. Use of Virtual Machines

Another option is to run different virtual machines, making it so that you’re able to run different operating systems on your host computer. VirtualBox is FOSS and offers an easy way to run different Linux VMs for more privacy and security. There are many different video tutorials online, depending on your operating system and the VM OS you are looking to use.

Virtual machines offer numerous advantages in terms of privacy and security, while also protecting your host machine. If the VM iscompromised, simply delete it and create a new one. Plus, different VMs can be used for different purposes.

  1. Avoid Browsing with a Smartphone

The reality is that every ‘smart’ device is a data collection tool for corporate entities (and their surveillance partners), and smartphones are especially vulnerable to browser fingerprinting. Most often they’re fingerprinted using internal sensors and there’s not much that can be done to prevent that. Attacks can be launched by any website you visit or any app you use on a vulnerable device without requiring any explicit confirmation or consent from you, and a fingerprint is usually generated in less than one second. Plus, the calibration fingerprint never changes, even after a factory reset.

It should be noted that Apple has apparently patched this attack vector with iOS 12.2, while Google and Android still have yet to take any action on it


5 Top Features for New Mac OS Catalina

It may be the name of a particularly scenic island off the Southern California coast, but Catalina is now also the name of the newest Mac OS that has recently arrived. Like any successful company they’re not ones to rest on their laurels at Apple, and as such these new and improved operating systems keep on coming. For most Mac owners that’s a good thing, and there’s a LOT of R&D efforts and budget directed towards determining what new wrinkles users will find most appealing.

Here at 4GoodHosting, we imagine that nearly every other quality Canadian web hosting provider is also going to be taking note of the new features seen with Mac OS Catalina. Considering that Macs are the computers of choice for people who employ their devices for creative purposes, we can go ahead and assume these development will appeal to enough of our customers that they’re definitely worthy of a blog post.

So let’s do that here today – have a look at the Top 5 New Features with Mac OS Catalina.

With its release, the new MacOS brings with it a laundry list of changes, including a host of new features, a few updated apps, and the demise of a beloved app. But among these features, five really stand out from the rest. Here are the five best features in MacOS Catalina.

  1. Apple Music, Podcasts, and TV – Replacing iTunes

To be certain, there are a LOT of people who are none to pleased to have heard of iTunes’ coming demise. Whether or not that’s going to be problematic for you, the general consensus is that over time these users will also come to appreciate the appeal of what’s being introduced here with Catalina as it regards entertainment via the devices.

Beginning with Catalina, iTunes is will be replaced with Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Podcasts apps. And, in our opinion, if you’re open to new things you’ll quickly come to see how this is all a good thing.

The general consensus is that the Apple Music app is lightning fast and will provide users with a library of some 50 million songs, playlists, and music videos. Plus, Apple Music users will still have access to the iTunes music store. The Apple TV app will support 4K HDR and Dolby Atmos, and the over 100,000 iTunes movies and TV shows now available for rent or purchase is something that promises to go over VERY well with Mac Users who love entertainment on-demand.

Apple TV+ is their new original video subscription service, and podcast fans will love how the new Apple Podcasts app includes a catalog of over 700,000 shows. Go ahead and search for podcast episodes by host or discussion topic and you’ll like how machine learning gets you to your podcast of-choice that much more quickly.

  1. 2ND Screen support with new Sidecar App for iPads

Equally worth of the most fanfare here is MacOS Catalina’s second screen support for iPads – Sidecar. This new feature allows Mac users to utilize their iPads as a second screen with their Macs for any task where two displays are preferable. Sidecar can be incorporated in two different ways; dragging windows from your Mac to your iPad and using the pad just as you would any external monitor, or pairing your iPad with Apple Pencil to make file changes that are then reflected on the primary display seen on your Mac.

It will be possible for you to use Sidecar wired or wirelessly. Do note, though, that for the wireless version to work you must be within ten metres of your Mac. There is also support for Touch Bar provided the apps you’re using with Sidecar actually support Touch Bar.

Sidecar promises to be very popular with people who write extensively with their Mac and would prefer not to have to be referencing on the same display. Of course, there will be many other appeal points for it too. Which leads us to number 3 here..

  1. 3. Using Sidecar to Use iPad as a Drawing Tablet

Another sure-to-appeal aspect of Sidecar will have a lot of promise for artists, designers, and illustrators. Once you connect your iPad with Sidecar, you can take your Apple Pencil and draw and annotate things directly on that iPad.

Needless to say, many people will be abandoning their Wacom tablets and enjoying the direct-source productivity made possible by Catalina OS and Sidecar in this way. The ability to directly edit creations with Photoshop or Illustrator without having to import a file to the device is something that’s definitely going to be well received.

  1. Screen Time

Here’s the one new feature with Catalina that is bound to be getting top marks from parents. Managing the family’s screen time is made a lot easier now that the Screen Time app has become standard with a new MacOS. Catalina’s Screen Time lets users set limits for app accessibility and time usage across all of your Apple devices – not just your Mac.

Screen Time will also generate usage reports, and it also boasts a ‘ One More Minute’ feature that provides users with a small amount of extra time to wrap things up if that’ what they need. It also allows users to set communication limits whereby you can control who is able to communicate with your kids, and when they can do that.

  1. Updated and Improved Photos App

Apple has done well with the way they have revamped the Photos app in their newest operating system, Catalina. The most notable change is the way that it curates and features your best photos for you, doing so while removing poor-quality photos and duplicate shots at the same time without you having to do that manually on your own.

The Photos app also now generates much larger previews for photos, and machine learning helps your OS to be ‘smart’ about highlight important moments and memories. In addition, Live Photos and videos can now be auto-played while users scroll through their photo library.

We’ll conclude today by saying we’re aware we did this same type of commendation for Mojave OS not so long ago, but perhaps the fact that we’re doing it again (and will be in the future too likely) suggests that they do what they do exceptionally well down there in Mountain View, CA.