Farewell, Windows XP: 7 Reasons to Love Windows 7

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As of today, April 8, 2014, Windows XP, the loveable, highly-obedient and loyal OS we’ve come to know and love over the last 13 years, will be taken out back Old Yeller style by its owner, Microsoft. End-users will no longer receive support such as drivers, security updates and various fixes; this could cause compliance issues and sub-par performance, leaving many businesses vulnerable (and that includes their customers!). Let me frame that for you: about 95% of ATMs in the US are running on Windows XP right now. To those of you who have not upgraded yet, I say this: Yikes.

So, in honor of Windows XP’s execution tomorrow, I thought it’d be an appropriate time to highlight some of the best aspects of Windows 7, its immediate successor (can you tell I’ve been watching a lot of Game of Thrones?). I’m not even going to mention that other Microsoft OS.

7 THINGS THAT ARE GREAT ABOUT WINDOWS 7:

1.)    Windows Taskbar

This was the first feature that really jumped out to me when I made the switch in 2011. Replete with goodies, the taskbar is now a powerful workstation that contains all your major running programs, represented by a single icon. Hover over a program and *bam* you’ve got a live thumbnail that shows you exactly what’s going on in that window as its happening, which means your Jennifer Lawrence and cat .gifs are still looping for you to peek at.  You can even pause and skip tracks on media players from here.

windows 7, taskbar, live thumbnail preview, XP

2.)    Jump Lists

Another aspect of the redesigned taskbar, the jump list is super convenient. This new addition allows you to perform actions and tasks for another program without having to actually navigate through it. Simply right click on a program and get a list of unique actions, recent documents (which you can individually ‘pin’ into place to always be there), and time-saving controls. It’s the Leatherman of Windows 7.

windows 7, jump list, XP, taskbar

3.)    Better USB Detection

This is a pretty noticeable performance upgrade. Improving on XP’s plug-and-play system, W7 is much better at detecting external devices quickly and loading/locating the proper drivers. For example, when you plug your iPhone in, it doesn’t take much time at all to start charging and letting you open applications via Autoplay.

windows 7, performance, XP, USB detection, drivers, plug and play

4.)    Windows Search

Windows search works in two ways now: in the Start menu and in any Explorer window. In a manner similar to Google Instant, once you begin typing in the search bar of W7, you’ll start seeing relevant results. Pretty cool how smart technology is getting, huh? This is how Skynet started, folks.

windows 7, search, XP, explorer, instant, predictive

5.)    Snap

Believe it or not, when I’m at home, I sometimes find myself missing my desk at my office. Unfortunately, I don’t have the luxury of owning dual monitors, so when I’m doing some serious work on my little HP laptop, it’s kind of a pain to jump between MS Word and whatever I’m researching on Chrome. One thing that makes it far more bearable is W7’s smooth UI adjustment, Snap. Snap allows you to drag a window and bring it to one side of your screen, causing it to ‘snap’ into a formation where it takes up only half the screen. Do this with another window, and you’ve got a nice side-by-side view of whatever it is that you’re viewing.

windows 7, snap, dual display, side by sidewindows 7, snap, dual display, side by side

6.)    Peek

Peek’s pretty cool. Tired of clutter? Me too. Hover over the bottom right corner of your taskbar, and W7 will make all of your windows transparent, so you can take a good look at your desktop widgets or admire your desktop wallpaper of Connie Britton.
If you want a quick glance at, say, your music player to check the name of a song, just hover over the thumbnail preview of any window, and Peek will make everything but that one window transparent, so you can hone in your attention.

windows 7, feature, peek, transparent, XP

7.)    Shake

I’m saving the best for last here. Okay, maybe it’s not the best in many regards, but it’s pretty ‘neato,’ to quote the ‘60s. Shake is the one feature I only just found out about while working on this list, but when I did find it, I instantly knew it had a place in listicle famedom. Simply grab the top of a window with your mouse and shake the window from side to side like it’s a can of soda and someone is rounding the corner. After doing this, all other windows will suddenly get sucked into a vacuum of space and time, so that you can focus on getting that one thing done. When it’s time to get the band back together, just do the same little trick and everything will be as it once was.

Windows 7, features, shake, tricks, easter eggsImage

Here at planIT HARDWARE, we have Windows 7 on all of our computers. This allows us to work efficiently as a small team that performs many different roles. Whether we’re checking inventory in IQ Reseller, evaluating the marketplace online or drafting up a blog post, Windows 7 keeps things flowing here. At least on the level of an average consumer, I don’t lament the loss of XP at all. Do you?

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If you’re in IT, let us know why you’re more inclined to stick with XP, and whether you’d eventually make the switch to W7 or not…we’d love to hear another perspective!

For any network hardware needs, contact us for a quote.

Net Neutrality: What It Is and Why You Should Care

planit hardware, net neutrality, isp, court of appeals, FCC, federal communications commission, broadband service, network equipment, IT hardware, used Cisco reseller, secondary IT hardwareThe term net neutrality has been popping up a lot over the last few years. It’s seemingly become everyone’s favorite buzzword, sure to light a controversial spark wherever it’s mentioned and rouse the ire of millennials everywhere. With the World Wide Web having just celebrated its 25th birthday, it seems appropriate to start by reviewing what it is that makes the internet so powerful and innovative, even all these years later.

What has always made the Internet fascinating and appealing from the start, I think, is the ability for the end-user to explore and journey. Imagine adventuring through a daunting terrain such as a massive forest or desert; the only thing hindering you being natural law, the physical limitations of this planet and your body. Suddenly, we were introduced to a world where those limitations weren’t really much of a factor, especially as the technology fueling that world continued to advance and mature exponentially. Sure, we were left to experience things differently, with nothing tangible but buttons, keys, screens and the mouse; if we got tired in this realm, it was only from staring at the screen for too long.

The main tenet behind all this is simple: ISP’s (internet service providers—e.g., Comcast, AT&T, etc.) and the government do not get to discriminate amongst websites, content providers, end-users and the like, as to who gets any sort of preferential treatment in the delivery of data; all content is delivered neutrally and with the same preference. The current battle is whether this neutrality should be required by law, so as to protect status quo.

Back in 2006, Jon Stewart made a big show of the net neutrality debate, long before most were aware its now-looming existence. He made jokes that if ISPs could give preferential treatment to pages by sending their data faster to the end-user, then sites like “ihate(nameofISP).com” would take forever to load. As the debate waged on for another four years, the FCC decided to finally take some action to protect the fairness of the internet. In 2010, they enforced the Open Internet Order, which made sure that ISPs couldn’t interrupt the flow of certain kinds of traffic (streaming video or downloading files, for example) simply because it wasn’t in the immediate interest of their business to do so.

As of January of this year, however, that Open Internet Order was nullified and declared unenforceable in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, the race is on between the FCC and the giants of broadband service; both will try and quickly make the case for legislation that favors their side of the fence. If the ISPs get their way, they could, for example, slow down streaming services to push users toward their own digital media service. The FCC is in the middle of tightening up its legal approach to the matter while the public is becoming increasingly vocal about which side they are on.

Our business here at planIT HARDWARE is to provide the best deals on the secondary IT hardware market. The biggest part of what we do is enabling both individual end-users and corporations as a whole to have smoother, faster and safer web experiences. We feel it’s important to protect the integrity of the internet and hope that a resolution is reached soon.

BONUS: Here’s Stephen Colbert breaking down Net Neutrality like a boss.

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Winter Storm Brings Metro Atlanta to Its Knees

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Photo Courtesy of Snowed Out Atlanta

It’s been all over the news. On Tuesday afternoon, January 28th, 2014, snow began to fall in Atlanta. What started out as a light dusting continuously came down to quickly form 2 inches…and it stuck. Any snow that ever falls in Atlanta rarely sticks to the ground, as it stays generally pretty warm. However, weeks of below-freezing weather had primed our area for the best (worst?) conditions for the storm dubbed “Leon” to have its reign of terror. Roads began to slush up, and with temperatures rapidly reaching the 20s (and eventually the teens overnight), Atlanta became Rockefeller Center (but without all the cocoa and smiles). Seemingly everyone in the immediate universe left work at the same exact time at about 1pm that day, causing a massive gridlock worthy of Walking Dead proportions.

The chaotic scramble to get home turned into an 18-hour ordeal for some. Children were stuck in schools and, even worse, in buses that were in transit at the time of the gridlock. Little to no preparations were made by the city as far as treating the roads ahead of time (this writer didn’t see a single plow truck or vehicle salting the roads on his 2-hour drive home). As a result, folks abandoned their vehicles (mostly on I-285) and trekked through the snow to find shelter and food for the day. One of planIT HARDWARE’s very own employees, Doug Love, was a victim of this gridlock, and ended up taking part in the exodus (and occasional fun) that ensued. Before finding his own shelter in the form of a friend’s not-too-far house, Doug snapped a few pictures to post on Instagram, one of which became virally shared by publications like Business Insider and Buzzfeed in their coverage of the spectacle.

#75North #gridlock #atlanta #blizzard stuck on a frozen bridge❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️❄️

A post shared by Doug Love (@dfresh999) on

We’re very proud of Doug for not only surviving (good job, Doug) but also helping others out, having fun and becoming an unwitting Field Correspondent via his snapshot. The silver lining in all this is that this storm brought out the best in people in our community (like the folks who started the Snowed Out Atlanta page on Facebook, which led to hundreds of people connecting and helping one another amidst the crisis). There are many articles from various media outlets highlighting the do-goodery that ensued; I suggest you give it a Google.  

We Want to Thank You…

planit hardware warehouse banner, planit hardware, planithw, used it hardware, used network hardware, used cisco reseller, used cisco, computer networking hardware, network hardware, it hardware, nib, nob, eol Hey folks! Like a young infant, progressing from having the limited mobility of a capsized turtle to stumbling about like a club-footed drunken sailor, 2014 is just getting its footing (*insert ‘they grow up so fast’ sentiment here*) and we’re happy to say that with this new year comes a new planIT HARDWARE.

Did you hear that we’ve moved into a new location? We wrote about it here.

Yep, we’ve settled in to our official new location in Smyrna, just outside of Atlanta. The warehouse is bigger and comfortably houses all of our inventory (with enough room for a new, half-court basketball setup). There’s a workout room with mirrored walls and a mounted flatscreen TV, a full kitchen with dishwasher (no more pruney fingers for this keyboard) and industrial Keurig machine (“Coffee? Sure, give me 45 seconds.”), and a large open-floor cube farm (hi guys!). On top of this, we’ve got a new, dedicated testing lab that our head technician, Paul Saunders, is quite pleased with. All of these factors add up to one thing: our company is growing.

For those of you who have been following our journey in one way or another, 2014 was a big year, and after two award wins and 2 new hires in 2013 (not to mention our fourth consecutive year of revenue growth), we’re ready to keep growing. Now we have a place to grow into.

Thanks to all of our clients, vendors, end-users, and readers of the blog. It’s one big family at planIT HARDWARE, and we like to think of you all as part of that.

The Walking Dead of IT Hardware

walking dead, IT hardware, used cisco reseller, planIT hardware, refurbished network hardware, eol, eol network hardware, discount cisco “Walkers” is what the show calls them. The increasingly popular, ratings-record-breaking AMC horror-drama series, The Walking Dead, has just returned to television with a season premiere that has become the most-watched cable entertainment show of all time. For a show about zombies, it’s got a lot of people looking alive every Sunday night.

In the show’s mythology, the undead are human beings with a latent virus of sorts who have died. After death, the virus becomes active and the corpses become walkers, brought back to “life” and reanimated to live until killed again by brain trauma.

At planIT, we specialize in walkers…although, our walkers are much more refined and stable than their savage television counterparts, and more intelligent too, for that matter. We bring decommissioned IT hardware back to life, refurbishing it to a state as adequate as when it was plugged in out of the box. While the same cannot be said for the monsters marauding about Atlanta in the popular series, who are clearly in far worse shape than when they were living, it’s fun to think of our lab and warehouse as a place where life goes on, where you can’t kill a piece of hardware until you smash its motherboard right in the head. This is a testament to our skilled in-house technicians and our warehouse team.

Look alive, planIT has some great deals waiting for you, both new and…undead.

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Meet the Man Behind the Stache

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I’d like to introduce you to the man with all the big ideas around here. We fondly refer to him as Mr. Mustache, although his real name is Carl.

Carl “Mustache” Lundquist grew up in Bethesda, MD, with all the pomp, commerce and crab cakes the area had to offer. The son of a keyboard manufacturer, Carl often spent Saturdays deconstructing old Casios just to see how they worked. He soon began gutting out PCs and taking electronics (some not that old) off the streets of his affluent neighborhood on “large garbage” nights. Deconstructing was the easy part, but it was the rebuilding that Carl began to enjoy. He soon started custom-building PCs, optimizing their hard drives, processors, and RAM. He made a killing in high school not only by selling these units to the few kids of his district whose parents didn’t turn their nose up at the notion of buying refurbished, but also by repairing older units for the elderly around the block and the pawn shop guy off Old Georgetown Road.

In a few years’ time, he would be accepted into MIT, drop out after 3 semesters, work as the lead technician for a top IT hardware manufacturer and quit because of a disagreement about his grooming habits. After moving down South, he would come to work for planIT HARDWARE, where he was lovingly accepted for both his extraordinary expertise and facial hair.

It’s true, I mustache him a few questions, but I’ll shave them for later (har har har). “Please don’t ever say that again.”

Monsieur M. is an avid drinker of dark roast coffee, likes it with a splash of cream: “UPS Brown.”

He refuses to talk about the weather. “Hail no,” he says when asked if he checks it daily.

Lately, he’s been jarring his own peaches with some help from Owen. Peach season is ending here in the Peach State, and those Mason Jars are good for more than a quaint drinking glass. “I need a napkin whenever I have a drink of any sort…a mustache napkin, for wiping off after each sip. It’s a lot of work having this thing.”

He only dons the finest of threads. “I buy all my clothing from Brooks Brothers and Brooks Brothers only.”

Does he have any tattoos? “Just one. A little mustache the runs lengthwise on my pointer finger.”

Hipster girls love him. “They’re always busting out their mustache wallets or flasks that they got from Urban Outfitters. It’s flattering, I suppose…although I don’t understand the fascination.”

Who are his closest friends? “Rich Uncle Pennybags, you know, the Monopoly guy…he and I are pretty tight. Also, Tom Selleck. And Steve; oh, he’s just a fellow IT hardware broker with a killer ‘stache.”

Mr. Moustache is an excellent salesman, as well as an experienced IT technician. He used to work in the northeast, but quit after he was constrained by his employer to shave the ‘stache. “I moved to the south, where that sort of thing is more acceptable in the workplace. Asking me to shave is like asking me to cut my head off…and that’s just not gonna happen.”

He knows how to save money and is a guru in the virtues and benefits of buying refurbished. “In this new economic culture we’ve all been adapting to the last few years, beards have become more popular and fashionable once again—people don’t want to waste money or time on shaving anymore. ‘Stop shaving and start saving,’ is what I always say.”

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No Messing with a G-unit

g unit, 3750g, 3750, cisco, 50 cent, it hardware, used it hardware, eol, switch, planitToday, we’re going to take a look at the King of Bling in the world of Cisco switches…the G-unit.

The G-unit is a type of high-end switch, comprised of several Ethernet ports that are all infused with gigabit speeds. A veritable entourage of ports allows these units to reach speeds of Ethernet connectivity that surpass its megabit-capacity counterparts. These ports allow data to be transferred rapidly, fired back and forth across a network. Protect yo neck.

With today’s high-traffic network demands, and in a time where digital multitasking is more available (and expected) than ever, a G-unit is an invaluable device to provide the necessary bandwidth. Let’s say you walk into the conference room and are asked to give a presentation…but you’re giving that presentation not just to everyone in the room, but also to the clients in Asia via an IP video call; you’re sending out an outline to everyone present; you’re pulling the website up to demonstrate recent changes made to the user interface. The power of Gigabit Ethernet that a G-unit can provide can make all of this possible for multiple devices at once.

No one can mess with the G-unit.

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