Horse Sense #109

End of Support

Short Security Update

The Sochi Olympics is also an opportunity for those who want to scam you. Any major event has those who would use it for their own agenda. Other countries have decidedly different rules that could impact how you use technology. The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team has issued this very interesting alert:

End of Support

Microsoft Windows XP reaches End of Support 4/8/14 (MM/DD/YY). XP has been around since 8/24/2001. That was when no one thought they would need or want machines with more than 4GB of RAM. Many modern technologies were not supported and many did not exist. Microsoft has released Vista, Windows 7, and Windows 8, as well as service packs and patches to those operating systems since XP's 2001 release. Microsoft stopped selling XP (except for netbooks) 4/3/08. Since 4/14/09, security updates have been offered, but not much else. 4/8/14, even automatic security updates will end. There are currently millions of PCs still running Windows XP. Most of the world's 3 million ATMs use it. So do many smaller businesses, individuals, and medical equipment vendors. Every hardware and software product has a life cycle. It is released and sold until an end of sale date, the day the manufacturer stops selling the product to anyone. Product that is already out in the market, but unsold, can still be sold. Products will then be warranted and maintained until an end of support date.

You should pay attention to dates like these. Windows XP will still work after 4/8/14, but it will continue to become less secure and more difficult to maintain and use. The security of your operating system and programs depends upon patches that remove security holes entirely and any security software you have that actively searches for malware. In addition, XP won't get any compatibility, performance, or feature enhancements. Fewer technicians will have experience with XP as time goes on.

The more current the Windows operating system, the more it has modern technology and security baked in at the start. A 13 year old operating system with all kinds of patches to it is like a faithful old car with lots of body and engine work. It may run fine, but a newer model car is likely to be less trouble. Microsoft estimates Windows XP is 21 times more likely to be infected than Windows 8. A 4 year old machine will cost you $1260 in lost productivity per PC per year and 42 hours of downtime. The older machine will have 50% more problems and cost 30% more to repair. In addition, a new machine will perform your tasks 3 times faster than before.

You get the idea. The older your machine, the more likely you are to be running older software. Old hardware and software can end up costing you more in energy costs, productivity, battery life, time, repair costs, vulnerability to malware, etc.... It pays to inventory your assets. You need to know those that are costing you more money than they should be. Computers are tools. You can still get from here to there in your horse and buggy, but there just might be a better way....

Windows is not the only piece of software on your machine. Your older software likely has fewer features, less performance, less security, less reliability, and less compatibility than newer or patched software. Make sure all of your software and drivers are patched. Ask for help if you need it. I am continually amazed at how people will religiously take their cars in for service every 3000 miles, but the computer they drive for more hours every day is rarely, if ever, professionally maintained. Heck, it often is not even properly backed up ("Dang! I cannot drive the car! It is raining and I forgot to replace the windshield wipers!")

Do you have to replace all your old software? Of course not. But, you must do a risk analysis on it. I still use old DOS based programs (pre-Windows XP for all you youngsters), batch files, and utilities. They work fine. They have very small amounts of code. They do not need patching because there really is no need from a security or performance standpoint and/or I accept whatever risks there might be and try to mitigate them through configuration and add on software.

If you think this tip is just for those who wear eyeglasses, you are wrong. So called computer gaming glasses have tints and treatments that help reduce glare and eye strain. Some are quite stylish and look like sun glasses. In fact, you can use them outdoors to lessen glare as well. But, they also tend to do other things to help you that regular eye glasses do not. For example, they tend to wrap more around your head to prevent glare coming in from the sides. In addition, this can help keep your eyes from drying out as well.

If you spend long hours in front of the computer, call us and ask us about glasses. And, no, you don't have to look geeky. The styling is actually pretty nice. Of course, you might have to explain why you are "too cool for school" and wear your "sunglasses" indoors. Start a new fashion trend that will actually benefit your eyes and your work.

Easy Tip

Remove any old (or new) software you are not using on a machine. In general, less software on the machine means more reliability, more speed, storage space, and greater security.

Another Easy Tip

Digital detritus builds up over time. If you do not know how to remove it, have someone (like us) help you do so. Again, you will gain speed, reliability, storage space, and security.


When it comes to security software, make sure you are using the latest and greatest software, safe configurations, and signatures. Without it you will either be more vulnerable or suffer from decreased performance. As time goes on, modern malware protection software will not work on older operating systems.

Call us if you need help deciding what to do.

You have been warned. [Cue creepy music.]

©2014 Tony tirk, Iron Horse