Thursday, June 17, 2021

Splendido Villa Audio/Video

By Merlin Benningfield
Managing Partner


As home theater technology continues to evolve, the demand for Audio/Video professionals has been growing.  Fast Rhino has had the opportunity to consult on several challenging A/V projects over the past decade.

Not all projects are as easy as they appear on the surface. Recently, we had a long-time client move into a new villa at Splendido and they needed new televisions installed. We carefully surveyed the new location and provided a comprehensive plan for installation.


The existing living room wiring was not at all conducive to a modern home theater, which needed HDMI terminated to the television, not Coax. The client wanted their cable box out of view, yet access to rerouting these cables was limited.
Fast Rhino utilized some creative cabling techniques to route existing Coax, run new HDMI and mount a new TV with sound bar to a tough masonry wall.

In addition, we mounted another bedroom TV and sound bar combination, creating a wire-free, almost floating appearance. 


If you are looking for professional results with your audio video project, simply contact Fast Rhino

 

Saturday, June 5, 2021

Computer Options

 
By Mike Brookhouser
Operations Manager & Partner


There are a number of options available when choosing a computer: Tablets, Laptops, Desktops, All-in-Ones, or Custom Builds and their operating systems can be Windows, MacOS, Linux, ChromeOS or Android.

Don't let the buying process be intimidating. It's pretty easy to whittle down your choices with a few questions. Where are you going to use it?  What do you want to do with it? Is there an option you require?
 
Where are you going to use it?
If it's going to be something you don't want to move around then an All-in-One or Desktop may be your best bet. If you want to be able to take it with you when you travel then a Laptop or Tablet may fit better.
 
What do you want to do with it?
Passing the time playing games, email, surfing the web and other light duty activities can be accomplished with just about any machine. However, if you want to use a flight simulator, do photo or video editing with large files or other intensive work you want to steer towards a desktop or a custom build. 

Is there an option you require?
It may be as simple as... you've used Apple products all your life and it's what you're comfortable with. Or maybe your work...or kids prefer you to get this or that. Whatever it is, it makes sense to know your requirements.
 
Here's some general information: Keep in mind that there are always exceptions, so if you have specific needs just ask and we’ll see what we can do.
 
Tablet
Tablets range in size from that of a large phone to the size of a small laptop. They are touch screens and usually don’t come with a keyboard. Most can add a physical keyboard, but out-of-the-box, it comes with an on-screen keyboard. They connect to the Internet using either your Wi-Fi connection or your a data package, if it supports it.
 
Laptop
Laptops generally range in size from 11 to 17 inches. They may or may not be touchscreen. They have a physical keyboard attached. Some will be able to connect with a physical Ethernet cable and some will even connect using your phone's data package but they can all connect using Wi-Fi.
 
All-In-One
All-In-Ones generally are 24” to 32” and may or may not be touchscreen. They usually come with a wireless keyboard and mouse. They should connect to the Internet using Wi-Fi, and most will have an Ethernet port.
 
Desktop
Desktops are where customization starts to come into play. There are many different sizes. You can get one that will fit in the palm of your hand or one that will be a couple feet tall. Our best selling desktop is 13”D x 14”H x 6.5”W.  You can also do some customizing with most desktops. But some are very limiting. We recommend talking to a professional if you plan on customizing at all. You can add a hard drive or video card. You may be able to add Wi-Fi or it may come with wifi. There are many options and many things you can change. They may or may not come with a keyboard and mouse. With a desktop you will need to buy a monitor or use your old one if you have it. This can be a good thing because you can pick one that fits your needs. If you’re limited on space you can get a smaller one, if you have plenty of room and do a lot of photo editing or spreadsheet work then having 2 or more screens may be for you.
 
Custom Build
With a custom build, the sky's the limit. If you can dream it, we can build it. Gaming, Home Theatre, Work. If you need anything more extreme than what a standard computer will handle, this is for you. Do you want to keep track of your stocks on 8 screens, stream content to an 85” 8K TV or maybe just fly a flight simulator on a 100” projector? Custom builds can be loads of fun, but they can also get expensive. The normal custom systems we do are usually for someone who wants or needs a CPU, video card or RAM upgrade that just doesn’t make sense to put in an off the rack desktop.
 
So now that you have a general idea of the type of systems available, let’s talk about operating systems. Usually, you have a specific reason for getting a computer and that can sometimes dictate which OS you go for. If you’ve used Apple products all your life, stick with the MacOS. If you’ve used a Windows PC all your life, stick with a Windows OS. Switching between the two isn’t usually a hard thing to do but there can be a learning curve, so we recommend sticking to what you know. Linux is an open source operating system and is generally used by people who love to get into the guts of an OS. But it also has the ability to be a very basic machine, and that’s our target audience with Linux. People that just want to surf the web, write some letters and check email get along well with Linux, too. In fact, Linux machines can be extremely affordable, since the OS is free. Google provides a Chrome OS in their Chromebooks, which are limited use laptops, but sufficient for surfing the web and checking email.

MacOS, Windows, ChromeOS & Linux can be on Laptops, Desktops, All-In-Ones and Custom Build systems. Tablets usually run Apple iOS or Android, sometimes Windows.
 
Some of the biggest mistakes we see when people buy systems are getting something that doesn’t fit their needs or getting something that should not have been sold in the first place. Buying an older, recertified system that has been upgraded with more ram and a solid state hard drive doesn’t help you if the computer doesn’t support Windows 10. And unfortunately, we have seen “legitimate” companies out there sell unsupported systems. Another big mistake is getting a system with a very small hard drive and cheap processor. We’ve worked on systems that don’t even have space to do handle system updates. You’re usually not doing yourself any favors by wasting money on a system like that.

OK, I know we threw a lot of info at you there. Contact us with any questions or concerns.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Assumptions We Shouldn't Have

By Mike Brookhouser
Operations Manager & Partner

There are many things we have a bad habit of assuming people know. These are some things you should know if you don’t already.

Your Laptop Should not be Plugged in all the Time.
Your laptop battery is like a muscle. It needs to be worked in order to stay in shape. If you leave it plugged in all the time it will atrophy and lose the ability to work when you want it to. We recommend using the laptop on battery during the day and charging at night. And heat is the enemy of batteries. Avoid leaving it in a hot car or on the patio if possible.

Turn Off Your Computer Correctly.
There are power settings that change the way your computer powers down, sleeps or hibernates, and settings to change what happens when you tap the power button or close the lid on your laptop. We won’t cover every situation here. Generally speaking if you want your computer on, leave it on. If you want it off do a proper shutdown. That means using the start menu or apple menu and selecting “shut down”. We recommend that twice a month you shut it down at the end of the day and let it rest overnight.

Malwarebytes is Great...and Free.
Almost every computer that leaves our shop has Malwarebytes installed. It’s a great anti-malware program that we recommend you run twice a month, and it’s free! There is a paid version which runs real time protection. Which is great in theory but it also has the annoying side effect of slowing down your system. Stick with the free version.

A Good Anti-Virus is Crucial...But You Only Need One.
Free anti-virus programs often cause more trouble than they are worth. We’ve seen time and again when systems come in running slow and the problem is the anti-virus software. Some have even gone as far as collecting data from you and reselling it. There are many AV programs out there and some of them may be good programs, but due to our experience, we recommend specific AV products based on r
eal-world analysis. Having more than one installed on your system can cause all kinds of conflicts. Stick with one good one.

CCleaner and other Registry Cleaners Are Not Your Friend
We hear time and again how “CCleaner found XX many items and cleaned them for me.” While this may sound great, do you know what it did? The average user won’t know and that’s the main reason they shouldn’t use it. You’re better off and safer using Window's built-in disk cleanup and de-fragmentation tools. Microsoft does not support the use of any registry cleaner. The risk of a serious problem caused by a registry cleaner erroneously removing an entry you need is far greater than any potential benefit it may have. Besides that, registry cleaners often get bundled with malicious programs.

There are Predators out There
This could probably be the longest section in this article, so I’ll try to be brief.

Nobody legitimate will call to tell you there is a problem with your computer. The FBI will show up in person to talk to you, they won’t flash a warning on your screen telling you to call this number. Your grandson isn’t going to send a vaguely worded message saying he needs help that can only be solved with iTunes gift cards. Don’t click links on pop-ups or emails that warn you of a problem. Go directly to the website/account in question. You don’t have to answer every call, text or email. Mark unwanted email as spam or junk and move on.

Password Do's and Don'ts
I misspoke before, this would be the longest section.

Passwords are the keys to your online information. Email, banking, credit cards and shopping are all important online activities that many of us do frequently. And each one can cause havoc if we don't protect ourselves.

The best passwords will be at least 14 characters, totally random consisting of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols. In a perfect world you would remember it. But that’s not very practical. Use a password manager or write it in an address book that you don’t keep by the computer. Don't store passwords on your computer in a word or text document

Realistically if you want a safe easier to remember password come up with a sentence that you will remember and pick the first letter of every word. Then add symbols and numbers. For example: "My first dog was named Ginger and I loved her" can become $MfdwnGa1Lh*

In Summary
If you are unsure of something when it comes to your computer, give us a call or email us and we'll be happy to help answer any questions. We try not to assume, because we all know what that does.

 

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Fast Rhino named Arizona’s Top Rated Local® Business in Arizona, Computer IT Services (#1 in 2019)


Fast Rhino ranked #1 Computer IT Service
in the entire state of Arizona for 2019!

We felt extremely proud to have been ranked in the top ten of Arizona's Computer IT services in 2018, but this year's 1st place award left us speechless! We cannot thank our clients enough for sharing their experience with others about Fast Rhino.  We are truly fortunate to work with such generous voices.

Find out more about how we were ranked across various review sites and how our rating score was achieved using aggregate data by Top Rated Local®.


Top Rated Local® Business in Arizona, Computer IT Services (#10 in 2018)
Top Rated Local® Business in Arizona, Computer IT Services (#1 in 2019)
Top Rated Local® Business in Arizona (#27 in 2019) - Out of all business categories in Arizona.


Contact Fast Rhino today for top rated service!



Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Modern Password Security Policies

How secure are your passwords? 
Today's passwords need to be a lot more complicated to be effective.

by Merlin Benningfield, Managing Partner - Fast Rhino, LLC

Pull your house key out of your pocket and take a good look at it. Now put it back in your pocket and grab a pen and paper. Could you draw the notches or teeth exactly as they appear on your key?  Most people answer that question with a resounding, "Of course not!".  My next question is, "Why?".  The answer is because the notches in the key are complicated, and for good reason. 

Passwords are modern day keys. No one expects people to remember the exact shape of their house keys, so why do people think they should somehow remember their passwords, especially since most of them have several?  If you have a password that you can remember, chances are it isn't a very good one.  

Let's look at some modern password policies you should be following today (bear in mind that based on how fast technology is moving, this list will need to be updated regularly):

Password Length:  12-14 characters (the old requirement of "8 character" passwords are easily broken by computers now).

Character Types: You should use all of the following types of characters in your password: 
  • Upper case letters
  • Lower case letters
  • Numbers
  • Special Characters ($, @, *, ?, etc.)


Uniqueness: It is not recommended that you use the same password twice, since it is common that once a hacker has successfully stolen a password, they immediately try using it elsewhere.

How often do I change them?: As a rule, you should be changing your passwords once every 90 days to help defend against data breaches.  Companies are targeted by hackers all the time and if you have an account with one of these companies and their network is breached, its possible your account information (username and password) are stolen and then sold on the dark web.   No matter how complicated your password, a data breach could reveal it.  The idea is that if you are regularly changing your passwords, a data breach might not affect you since it takes time to steal, distribute and then use the stolen account data. Most data breaches include millions of records, so the criminals don't usually use them right away and this gives you the ability to hopefully have changed them before they can be used against you.
Documenting all your passwords in an organized fashion so that you can easily find them is a good idea, however keeping that list safe is important.  Password managers can be a good way of storing and accessing your passwords also, but many are cloud-based, which should also be a consideration regarding security.

The bad guys are not sitting in their underwear late at night lounging around in their grandmother's basement trying to break into your account one password attempt at a time.  They've gotten a lot smarter and are now using super computers with extremely fast processors running brute force logarithms.In summary, the majority of passwords we used last decade are not strong enough to stop these brute force attacks.  If we want to protect ourselves, we have to change our defensive computing strategies.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Fast Rhino's 15 Year Anniversary

Celebrate Fast Rhino's
15 Year Anniversary
and take 15% off any service call!
Offer may not be used with any other discount
and does not apply to bench work or products.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Fast Rhino named Arizona’s Top Rated Local® Computer IT Services Award Winner

Top Rated Local® is pleased to announce that Fast Rhino is a 2018 award winner for computer IT services in Arizona!

Posted on
by Top Rated Local

From malware removal and data recovery to system diagnostics and troubleshooting, when you need computer IT services in Tucson, no company beats Fast Rhino.

Fast Rhino has earned dozens of online reviews with an average rating of 4.89 stars, an impressive 94.86 Rating Score™ and a 2018 Top Rated Local award for being rated among the top 10 computer IT service companies in all of Arizona!
Here is just one of the many five-star reviews they’ve received from their happy clients:

“I had a problem with Error Code 43, tried to find a solution online and ended up disabling my server connection. I called Fast Rhino, and within a day, Merlin from Fast Rhino arrived at my door and solved the problem. He was professional, knowledgeable and solved the problem within minutes. I highly recommend Fast Rhino!” – Wendy J

Not Your Average Computer IT Services Company

Clients at Fast Rhino are pleasantly surprised to learn that they offer a lot of services that other companies do not, and best of all, clients get a ton of services included in one low price. For example, when a client buys a computer at Fast Rhino, set-up, delivery, data transfer, installation, the first year of anti-virus software and a full, one-year warranty are all included.

Another thing that sets Fast Rhino apart is that they don’t force their clients to wait around for them by giving them appointment windows. When they say they’ll show up at 8 AM, they’ll show up at 8 AM.

The team at Fast Rhino is incredibly experienced, and they work hard to keep their clients informed so they feel good about their purchase. They live and breathe by their value proposition: Experience. Enjoyable. Computing.

We asked the owner of Fast Rhino, Merlin Benningfield, why they do what they do. Here’s what he had to say:
“We understand computers and know that many people need someone who not only understands but also who cares about their needs. There is an old saying that we live by every day and keep in mind with every customer interaction, ‘Customers don’t care how much you know; customers want to know how much you care.’

You can read more of the article here.