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June 1, 2016
Comments Off on Read This Before Buying A Secondhand iPhone / iPad
If you have decided that you want to buy a new iPhone or iPad (or any other electronic device for that matter), but can’t afford a brand new one, secondhand is a great option to consider. People are constantly upgrading their phones and other tech devices and you can pick up some bargains on eBay and Gumtree if you know what to look for.
However, navigating the secondhand ads can be something of a minefield if you haven’t had much experience, and there are a lot of things that you need to be aware of, otherwise you may end up purchasing a very expensive paperweight!
Speaking from personal experience, I have purchased devices before that have ended up being reported as lost,stolen, blacklisted and have decided to document all the knowledge I have learnt as a result of this to hopefully prevent this from happening to other people! (fortunately in my case it was 1 iPhone, which didn’t cost me a huge amount of money, which I was able to re-use some of the components in other repairs for later, so my loss was fortunately minimal)
Read this article before you buy a secondhand electronic device and you should hopefully save yourself a few headaches!
The main focus on this article will be on iPhones and iPads, however some of these steps are applicable for all mobile phones too.
- If not listed in the ad or clearly visible in a photo, contact the seller and ask them for the 15 digit IMEI number of the phone. Every mobile phone (or tablet if it has 4G capabilities) has a unique IMEI number. My general rule here is that is the seller refuses to supply you with this number, move right along and find another ad! From past experience some sellers believe that this number can be used to acquire their personal information. This is not true! There is no link between an IMEI number and any personally identifiable information of the owner of that device!
So how do I get the IMEI number?
If the device is an iPhone, the IMEI number can be found located on the back case of the phone, and also written on the SIM card tray. As the SIM card tray is removable and could possibly be swapped over, I’d recommend referring to the number that’s printed onto the back of the phone case (It’s still possible that the phone case has been swapped but much less likely). If the iPhone is fully functional then you can also get the IMEI number from Settings >> General >> About.
If the phone is not an iPhone (a Samsung for example …) you can find the IMEI number on the sticker located under the battery. If its a newer sealed device with a non-removable battery (such as the Samsung Galaxy S6 or S7), you can get the IMEI number out of the settings on the phone.
If you successfully managed to acquire the IMEI number for the secondhand device you are trying to purchase, we can move on to step 2 …..
- Go to this website and enter in the IMEI number of the device (this is for ALL mobile phones not just iPhones). Make sure that it says “Your IMEI is unblocked”. If the IMEI number shows as blocked, the phone has been blacklisted and will not acquire a signal from any network within Australia. The phone you are buying will be unable to be used to make or receive phone calls if its IMEI is blocked.
If your IMEI is unblocked, proceed to step 3!
iCloud Activation Lock (Apple Devices Only)
Since the release of iOS 8, Apple devices have a security feature called activation lock (which is also referred to as iCloud lock or “Find My iPhone / Find My iPad”). This allows the original owner of the device to remotely lock the device to prevent it being used by another person in the event that the device is lost or stolen. It is extremely important that when you are purchasing a secondhand iPhone or iPad that this feature has been switched off and is fully disabled, otherwise the original owner can lock the device at any time and you will end up with a device that you cannot use. Fortunately Apple have now made a website available where you can check this information, either by using the same IMEI number used in the two steps above or you can alternatively use the serial number of the device (which is located on the back next to the IMEI number, or in the same Settings >> General >> About menu where you can find the IMEI number).
Go to this website, enter in either the IMEI number of the device or the serial number, enter the confirmation code and click “Continue”. If the website reports that the activation lock is OFF – Fantastic! 🙂
If the website reports that the activation lock is ON , contact the seller and request that they login to their iCloud account (either through the iCloud website or through the device itself) and disabled the “Find My iPad” / “Find My iPhone” option. After they have switched this off, use the same website to check the serial number or IMEI number again and check that the activation lock is now switched OFF.
- If all of these above checks pass, the last thing to double check is the “iTunes And App Store” and “iCloud” tabs located in the settings of the phone. Make sure that neither of these screens are showing ANY Apple ID information and are completely empty. This means that it’s ready for you to enter your own Apple ID into and you can guarantee that the phone is fully detached from the previous owners account and will not give you any problems.
- Another great tip is that if the seller has reset the device and it is showing the white “Hello” screen ready to be set up again, get the seller to walk through all of these steps before you buy the device. If the device is activation locked, it will ask for the original owners Apple ID BEFORE it gets to the home screen. If the device is reset and all of the initial setup screens go through and you end up at the home screen, you know the phone isn’t activation locked.
- Another useful tip if you are actually meeting the seller in person to pick up the device is to get them to put in a SIM card and test calling the phone while you are stood there. The website mentioned earlier in this article for checking whether the IMEI number is blacklisted or not can be outdated by 3-5 business days sometimes, so there is a chance that the phone could still be blacklisted even if the website shows that it isn’t. When a phone gets blacklisted it is an INSTANT process. So by putting a SIM card in the phone and making sure that it successfully can make and receive a phone call before you hand over any money this confirms that it isn’t blacklisted. Of course, this extra tip isn’t possible if you’re buying the phone through eBay or elsewhere online.
Hopefully this article has proven useful and shall help anyone who is looking to purchase a secondhand device 🙂
July 6, 2015
Backups, Mac OSX
Comments Off on Are Your OSX Yosemite Time Machine Backups Broken? Here’s How To Fix Them!
Time Machine In OSX Yosemite is a great easy-to-use backup solution ……. when it works properly!
On the MacBook Pro which I use to manage approximately 300 iPads , my time machine backups stopped working after upgrading to OSX 10.10 Yosemite several months ago. As you can imagine , this left me quite nervous ……. as if the hard drive crashed I’d have to re-supervise and re-configure every single iPad (they get “tied” to the one Mac that is used to manage them)
Time machine was working perfectly fine with OSX 10.9 Mavericks , but after the upgrade I was left unable to browse through any of my Time Machine backups , and attempting to create a new backup would simply freeze forever at the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message.
Furthermore, the Time Machine preferences window would report the correct amount of drive space had been used on the drive (so it looked like it had backed up) , but the “Date Of Last Backup” wouldn’t change.
Seeing as the only use for this particular external hard drive that I was using was for the Time Machine backups , I thought I would just reformat the drive with Disk Utility and start from scratch ….. No such luck!
Even reformatting the external hard drive so it was blank , and starting Time Machine again still caused the backups to break , it would copy all the files to the drive and then hang at “Waiting To Complete First Backup” . Attempting to browse the backup using Time Machine resulted in an error message, and the files weren’t accessible. (I tried both encrypted and non-encrypted Time Machine backups – Same issue!)
This seems to be a pretty common occurrence, with many people reporting exactly the same issue on the Apple SUpport Forums and elsewhere around the internet. I searched every where for a fix ………. and finally came up with a solution!
Read on to find out how to finally fix your broken OSX Yosemite Time Machine backups once and for all …..
Note: You may need to do all of the steps below, only several of them, or perhaps only even 1. This is everything I did and the problem was resolved but some of the steps may not be necessary.
- Format the hard drive you want to use for Time Machine in Disk Utility. Apple has a great tutorial on how to do this here. Just have 1 partition on the drive.
- Go to System Preferences > Time Machine and turn Time Machine OFF by clicking the switch on the left.
- Load up Finder and click on “Go” from the top menu bar. Then click “Go to Folder” (It’s near the bottom)
- Type /Library/Preferences and click “Go”
- In the window that appears, find the file named com.apple.TimeMachine.plist and delete it (Move to trash)
- Restart your Mac
- After the Mac has restarted, go back into System Preferences > Time Machine
- Switch Time Machine back to ON
- Click “Select Disk” and choose your external hard drive which you formatted in step 1.
- The Time Machine backup should begin after a 120 second countdown , or you may start it manually by clicking the Time Machine icon in the Menu bar and selecting “Back Up Now”
- The first backup will take a while as it copies the whole contents of your Mac to the drive. When it’s finished this time however , it shouldn’t hang on the “Waiting To Complete First Backup” message. Instead you should get a message like the one below.
- Time Machine now correctly reports the “Date Of Last Backup” , and all your future backups will work properly and be able to be browsed for recovery!
Note: Only the first backup takes a long time due to everything being copied to the Time Machine drive. All subsequent backups just back up files which have changed since the last backup , so are therefore much quicker than the initial backup.
May 20, 2015
Comments Off on Western Digital My Passport Data Recovery – A Very Complicated And Expensive Process!
Western Digital My Passport data recovery is amongst one of the most complex things i have come across so far … especially with the newer My Passport Ultra drives.
In the last month alone , I have been brought 3 external hard drives for data recovery purposes. All 3 were Western Digital “My Passport” external drives (1 My Passport, 1 My Passport For Mac and 1 My Passport Ultra).
While this fact in itself is simply not enough to stop me recommending them to people , the process which then followed (and at the time of writing, is still in progress) is enough to discourage me from ever buying one again.
All 3 drives would not spin up when connected to a computer, but the USB activity light would still flash. Windows would recognize that a USB device had been plugged in , but no software could actually locate the drive and find any files on it!
In my experience of data recovery so far, a drive being unable to spin up is usually due to it either being subjected to a large amount of force (i.e dropped) or a power problem (such as the enclosure not supplying enough power to spin up the drive). None of the drives which were brought to me had been dropped or damaged in any way, they simply “stopped working”.
When people bring me external hard drives that have suddenly stopped working, there is a greater-than-50% chance that the fault is normally caused by the hard drive enclosure and not with the internal drive that actually contains the data. Over time and with general “wear and tear”, it is extremely possible for the USB connection to become loose or snap entirely.
This is a very common problem and a very straightforward solution. The drive can essentially be opened up , the internal drive removed from the faulty enclosure , and affordably transferred into a new enclosure for minimal cost , and without affecting any of the files on the drive.
and this is where things got difficult ….
After having previous success by swapping the hard drive enclosure and recovering data, I decided to go ahead and crack open the WD My Passport, only to be very quickly disappointed. (For those interested see here for a disassembly video, not of my making but its a similar process for most My Passport drives)
In an attempt to cut costs, Western Digital now integrate the USB port directly onto the main circuit board of the hard drive, instead of it being attached to a separate board which you can separate the internal drive from (and these circuit boards are completely unique to each individual hard drive!)
This prevents the drive from being connected up to another system and you can’t eliminate a fault with the USB port , making for a very expensive, time consuming and complicated repair to attempt the data recovery process.
Going from the currently available selection of external hard drives available through Dick Smith & JB HiFi , I would recommend choosing a Toshiba or Seagate external hard drive over the Western Digital My Passport series , as these drives still use traditional hard drives without any proprietary connections which will make and future data recovery much more affordable.
2 of my 3 customers who brought the drives to me decided that the Western Digital My Passport data recovery process was too risky and not worth the associated costs , my 3rd customer has chosen to go ahead with the related repair procedure (which is handled by an overseas data recovery company) I will update this post and report back with the results in a couple of weeks.
January 4, 2015
Comments Off on How To Install Microsoft Security Essentials On Server 2012
By default, Windows Server 2012 doesn’t come with any security software “out of the box” , and pretty much all free and paid consumer security products will not allow you to install them.
However, there IS a way to get Microsofts free “Security Essentials” suite up and running under Windows Server 2012. And any antivirus has to be better than none at all!
Follow the steps below and you’ll have Microsoft Security Essentials up and running on Windows Server 2012 in no time!
- Firstly, download the full installer and save it somewhere on your computer. Click here for the 32 Bit installer and Click here for the 64 bit installer.
- Right click on the “mseinstall.exe” file that you saved in the previous step. Go to “Properties” and click on the “Compatibility” tab. Change the compatibility to “Windows 7” (see image below) , and click OK twice to close the properties box.
- Open a command prompt with Administrator privileges. To do this, hold down the “Shift” key on your keyboard and right click in the same location as where you saved the installation file in step one, you’ll see an option in the menu that says “Open Command Prompt Here” – Click that!
- Type mseinstall /disableoslimit (see image below) , then press Enter.
- The “/disableoslimit” command stops the installer throwing an error saying that you can’t install Security Essentials on Server 2012. The installation will then proceed as normal and in a couple of minutes you’ll be running Microsoft Security Essentials on Server 2012! 🙂
December 17, 2014
Comments Off on Recommended Android App: Desktop Notifications
Don’t miss any notification while away from your phone or tablet with this amazing Android app!
The Desktop Notifications app allows you to receive Android notifications on your computer. When your phone/tablet receives new notifications, they’ll instantly appear on your desktop while surfing the web.
In order to use this app you also need to
1. Download the Desktop Notifications App from the Google Play Store
2. Install one of the free browser extensions using the download links below and sign in when prompted (If using Chrome, you may already be signed into your browser)
3. Google Chrome will launch silently in the background when you switch on your computer, so your notifications will always be displayed 🙂
December 3, 2014
Comments Off on Recommended Android App: DHL Tracker
Because of my business , I receive a lot of DHL parcels and was extremely disappointed by the official app provided by DHL. After entering your tracking number, in depth tracking information opened up in your phones web browser, instead of within the app.
DHLs website is not mobile optimized or responsive, which means that content didn’t fit properly on my phone (Samsung Galaxy S5)
While Australia Post have a pretty good tracking app, parcels sent from overseas will only appear once they arrive within Australia. I’ve also noticed that not all DHL parcels (or other international shipping services like Toll) appear in Australia Posts tracking system.
I then started to look for a third-party alternative and came across one called “DHL Track and Trace”, however this had a lot of the same issues as DHLs own app. While the tracking information didn’t launch the browser. It still displayed the non-mobile-optimized website in a ” frame” surrounded by ads. I uninstalled it within five minutes.
I then came across another third-party app , simply named “DHL Tracker”. After using it for a couple of weeks I can quite safely say that this is the BEST DHL tracking app currently available. The layout is very straightforward with minimal ads, and you can easily view in depth tracking information without leaving the app (see screenshots below)
DHL Tracker can be downloaded for free from the Google Play Store. Its currently number 3 in the rankings, be are to rate it on the Play Store to help it get to the top spot!
November 10, 2014
Network Admin Tips
Comments Off on How To Connect Wireless Before Login – Windows 7 Domains
In a domain network environment, it’s common for users (especially with mobile devices) to want to login to the network wirelessly. This presents a big problem under Windows 7 , as the laptop needs to be connected to the network to successfully authenticate the username and password required to login – it’s a catch 22 scenario!
Fortunately, there is a solution! Follow the steps below to allow your Windows 7 machines to automatically connect to the wireless network BEFORE login, allowing users to connect to the domain without having to plug in a network cable.
1. The first step is to login to the laptop, ideally as an administrator (using a wired Ethernet connection as the wireless login isn’t working at this stage).
2. After logging in, you need to create a wireless profile for your wireless network. Please refer to this article on Microsofts website for an excellent step-by-step guide on how to do this:
3. Load up Notepad on your computer and copy and paste the code below into a new blank document. Substitute the “profile name” in the below code with the name of the wireless profile that you created in the previous step.
Note: Make sure you copy the entire code below, including both of the ending “” quotation marks.
reg add “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Run” /v “WirelessPreLogon” /t REG_SZ /d “%COMSPEC% /c NETSH WLAN CONNECT NAME=” “profile name”
4. Restart the computer. As long as the wireless is switched on (some laptops have a switch to turn the wireless on and off), the computer will now automatically connect to the wireless network before the login prompt, allowing users to login to the domain wirelessly. If you have a lot of computers in your organization , you can use a Group Policy to distribute this setting across your network.
August 27, 2014
Comments Off on iPhone 6 4.7″ LCD Screens Are Now Available, Repairs Coming Soon
Apple are set to announce the iPhone 6 on September 9th , with the phone probably going on sale a week or two later. We have just received information from oursuppliers stating that the LCD screens for the smaller 4.7″ iPhone 6 are now available, so watch this space for iPhone 6 screen repairs coming soon! Also look out for a price drop on current iPhone repair prices after the launch of the iPhone 6!
According to recent rumours, the larger 5.5″ model is encountering production issues and will not be launched alongside the 4.7″ version in September.
July 11, 2014
Comments Off on What To Look For In A New Custom Build Computer
It’s the start of a new financial year, are you looking to upgrade and treat yourself to a brand new computer but don’t know what to look for? We have some helpful tips below to help you make sense of all the technical jargon which may confuse you when you walk into an electronics store to look for your new machine.
Why Would I Want To Buy A Custom Built Computer?
- Know exactly what goes into your system.
- No extra unwanted software installed that could affect your system performance.
- Easier to upgrade and longer system lifetime – Just replace the parts you need instead of the whole system!
- 1 Year parts and labour warranty on all systems. When we build custom computers we source all our parts locally and are therefore supporting local SA businesses.
Processor / CPU
- The processor, or CPU, is the brain of the computer and is the primary component for determining the power of the system.
- All of our computers have Intel Core i5 or Intel Core i7 Quad Core CPU’s to ensure the maximum level of performance for your money.
- For even greater performance, ask us about building you a computer based on the Intel Xeon processors – these are what you find in servers!
Memory / RAM
- Computer memory, or RAM, is important for system performance and helps when operating multiple applications at the same time. This isn’t the same thing as a hard drive!
- The more RAM you have , the more applications you can open at the same time. A minimum of 4gb is recommended for general use and a minimum of 8gb is recommended for gaming.
- The video card (or graphics card) in a computer is used to enable graphics including games and video.
- Basic computing tasks such as internet browsing and word processing do not require a powerful graphics card. However, playing computer games, especially more recent ones, requires a much more powerful graphics card.
- Graphics cards vary in price significantly, with entry-level cards costing around $50 and top-level high performance cards sometimes costing thousands of dollars!
June 9, 2014
Comments Off on Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Australia Pre-Orders Available!
Pre-Orders for the soon-to-be released Microsoft Surface Pro 3 are now available directly from Microsoft. Will you be ordering one? Microsoft are advertising it as “the tablet to replace your laptop” and it features a stunningly high-resolution 2160×1440 pixel screen!
The Surface Pro 3 comes with a 12 inch LCD screen, which packs in a stunningly higher-than-HD resolution of 2,160 x 1,440 pixels. This is obviously part of Microsoft’s “no compromises” approach to their hardware as not only have they managed to cram a much more powerful i7 processor into the Surface Pro 3 (the Surface Pro 2 was only sold with i3 and i5 processors), but they have managed to also make the Surface Pro 3 lighter approximately 100g lighter than the Surface Pro 2 despite the increase in screen size!
The Surface Pro 3 comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 Professional as is powered by either an Intel Core i3 , Core i5 & Core i7 processor, depending on your desired configuration.
The Surface Pro 3 is available with storage capacities of 64 GB, 128 GB, 256 GB and 512 GB. Further storage expansion is also possible through the use of a microSD card.
According to Microsoft, the expected battery life on the Surface Pro 3 is up to 9 hours. Of course, this may prove to be a different story when the device arrives in Australia on its expected release date of August 31st 2014.
Finally, please see below for pricing!
Surface Pro 3 Australia Pricing
64GB & i3 CPU – $979
128GB & i5 CPU – $1209
256GB & i5 CPU – $1549
256GB & i7 CPU – $1829
512GB & i7 CPU – $2279
Pre-Order From http://www.microsoftstore.com/store/msaus/en_AU/pdp/productID.300217100?icid=SurfCat_Hero_SurfacePro3_Preorder or you can alternatively place a pre-order at any JB-Hifi or Harvey Norman store.