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Angie's List Super Service Awards!
The On Button was awarded Angie's List Super Service Awards for 2013 & 2014! Thank you to our wonderful clients, it has been a pleasure helping you!
Technology problems solved...

Computer virus: "...very quick response to my call regarding a virus on my computer... professional and very knowledgable... we will be recommending TheONbutton to my friends." Lynn, Hillsborough NC

Apple Mac computer training: "Neil's prompt service and vast knowledge of computers has been a godsend. At this point I can't imagine life without him!" Margaret, Chapel Hill NC

Computer issue troubleshooting: "Excellent response to issues dealing with the home computer. All problems were solved and his explanations were easily understood." Jane, Durham NC

Laptop memory upgrade: "Punctual and very effective service! Highly recommend." Mike, Chapel Hill, NC

Computer performance tune-up: "I had the good fortune of finding TheONbutton. Neil was prompt, friendly, knowledgeable, fast, efficient, and affordable. I give him my highest recommendation!" Sean, Durham NC

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More testimonials

Wireless Internet connection problem: "Neil got our wireless router and modem going again that Time Warner and TP Link help desks had struggled with. We will definitely use the TheONbutton again should problems arise." Jeff, Durham NC

Computer virus: "...very quick response to my call regarding a virus on my computer...professional and very knowledgable...we will be recommending TheONbutton to my friends." Lynn, Hillsborough NC

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What's Going ON?

We love tech and here's where you find out just how much! Our blog covers tips, tech, gadgets and other computer service related stuff in Durham and beyond! Let us know what you think by sending us a comment, we love reading them and we promise to do our best to respond!


Three technology trends for 2015

Happy holidays!

2014 was an exciting and also scary year for technology. Amazing devices came our way as did a record number of scams and financial attacks. As we approach 2015, here are three technology trends for the year ahead.

Internet of Things

The “Internet of Things” is the industry’s name for all manner of Internet-connected devices, such as smartphone-controlled light bulbs, Internet-connected thermostats and in-home cameras. The market for these will expand significantly next year, with more affordable home lighting options that can be remotely controlled, home thermostats that can be turned on when leaving work and an increasing popularity of connected home surveillance systems.

We will also see an influx of Internet-connected wearable devices. Fitness trackers have been popular for a couple of years but 2015 will bring an explosion of connected watches. This market has seen relatively low sales volume so far; the Apple Watch coming in the first half of next year will be seen as a barometer of the future success of this sector. Watches may take over the fitness tracker market, but it will be interesting to see if they offer enough additional benefits to convince us to buy them in large numbers.

Increasing risks to personal and financial data

Sadly, 2014 was a record year for Internet scams, hacks and thefts of financial data. Due to their success, it’s likely that these attacks may increase in 2015 in both sophistication and scale. They started a few years ago as poorly worded scam emails but have turned into convincing, well-crafted attacks. The most prevalent attacks against individuals in 2014 involved representatives from fake support companies calling consumers and pretending to be calling from Microsoft or Apple. The callers try to convince victims that their computers have serious problems and the goal is to obtain credit card information in exchange for resolving the mythical problems. In other cases fake system optimizer software gets installed on a computer with a phone number to call to resolve fake problems.

Protecting against these attacks needs up to date security software as well as vigilance when seeing unusual things on the screen or receiving unsolicited telephone calls and emails. Always be sure to have a good backup of your important data in case you are the victim of an attack that damages your files. The Federal Trade Commission successfully closed down two of these scam companies and is pursuing lawsuits against others dating back to 2012.

TV subscriptions to continue falling, replaced by streaming

Current trends suggest that we will continue to cut back on cable TV subscriptions and increase our use of streaming TV over the Internet using Netflix, Hulu and other online services. Netflix already makes up one third of primetime US Internet traffic and we may see HBO launch a streaming service that does not require a cable TV subscription. Many TVs have these services built-in, while more capable low cost add-on devices like Apple TV, Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV have been selling well. These streaming services now work well using your wireless network as long as you have a good quality wireless router and consistent high speed Internet connection. I’ve recently been impressed by Amazon’s new Fire TV, which has fast playback start times for Netflix and Amazon Prime shows due to infrastructure that Amazon has installed at its datacenters.


One constant in technology is that its benefits to us and its complexity will increase. It is important to make informed, well-researched decisions. Have you ever noticed how people in technology commercials are so happy and carefree? As technology becomes more sophisticated, companies continue to advertise devices and online services as making life simple in the blink of an eye. The reality is that managing our personal and business technology is increasingly complex. Our technology choices now impact family members and colleagues, as we have to find compatible ways to share photos, documents and apps. So we need to plan the decisions carefully. My approach to this challenge is to use my knowledge of the market to help my clients find the right mix of devices and services for their specific needs.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton


Buying guide: Apple iPhone 5s vs iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus

After a year of using the iPhone 5s, I've spent a week with both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. All three phones are part of Apple's current line-up. Here are my thoughts:

iPhone 5s - A sound choice for a single-handed phone.

The main visual difference between the iPhones is that the iPhone 5s has a 4" screen whereas the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have larger screens. The iPhone 5s is still very capable after a year of availability. Its main brain, the A7 chip, is only slightly slower than the A8 inside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, so it doesn't feel sluggish at the moment. The iPhone 5s is easier to handle than both the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus due to its smaller size, and it's also slightly lighter than the iPhone 6. The camera on the iPhone 5s is also excellent, and while the iPhone 6 does have a slightly better camera, the iPhone 5s still takes very good photos.
The iPhone 5s will work with the upcoming Apple Watch but it will not work with Apple Pay, which is the payments system coming in October that will allow us to pay for things without needing to hand a credit card over to a restaurant or store.
All in all, the iPhone 5s may be a year old but it's still very capable. 
A note on the iPhone 5c: This is the other 4" iPhone currently sold by Apple. It contains the brainpower of the iPhone 5 that was released in 2012. While the iPhone 5c is now the iPhone that is often available for free on a new contract, I would go with the iPhone 5s for an extra hundred dollars because its main brain, the A7 chip, is twice as fast as the A6 chip in the iPhone 5c. This means the iPhone 5s will continue to be more responsive than the iPhone 5c when Apple's iOS software becomes more demanding of the iPhone over the coming years.


iPhone 6 - Likely to be the sweet spot for many people 

The iPhone 6 is larger than the iPhone 5s but only marginally heavier. It has a 4.7" screen compared to the 4" screen on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c. That may not seem to be a huge jump but everything becomes easier to see and manage. The keyboard is wider, text is bigger and the camera viewfinder is larger. The iPhone 6 is also thinner than the iPhone 5s and its curved edges make it easy to handle. It's possible to use the iPhone 6 single-handed if your hand is large enough, but reaching the top of screen can be a challenge.
The iPhone 6, like the iPhone 5s, fits into most pockets comfortably. This is definitely an advantage over the iPhone 6 Plus, which can be harder to fit gracefully into pockets.
The iPhone 6 typically costs a hundred dollars more than the iPhone 5s. 
The overall feeling of the iPhone 6 for me is that it feels perfect in the hand, amazingly lightweight and probably the best balance of practicality and size. But the larger screen on the iPhone 6 Plus is very appealing...

iPhone 6 Plus - Almost an iPad replacement 

The iPhone 6 Plus looks cosmetically similar to the iPhone 6. It has the same curved sides and antenna design on the rear, but its screen measures 5.5" compared to the 4.7" screen on the iPhone 6. This makes the iPhone 6 Plus significantly larger than the iPhone 6, and you immediately feel this when you pick up the iPhone 6 Plus. It's both heavier and a lot bigger to handle than the iPhone 6. The benefit is the huge 5.5" screen, which is very useful when reading web pages or if you like to increase the size of text on the screen.
Most of the features on the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are identical but the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus has optical image stabilization, which should produce less blurry images if you move the phone slightly when taking a photo. I've found the camera on the iPhone 6 Plus to be excellent so far. But I've also found the camera on the iPhone 6 to be excellent. 
The iPhone 6 Plus is harder to fit into some pockets. This is worth bearing in mind unless you carry your phone in a bag or purse. It's also a couple of ounces heavier to hold than the iPhone 6. 
One advantage of the extra weight of the iPhone 6 Plus is that its battery lasts a lot longer than the iPhone 6. I haven't had to charge the iPhone 6 Plus part way through a day. Another advantage of the larger size of the iPhone 6 Plus is that the antenna straps on the back are physically larger than those on the iPhone 6. As a result I've experienced better cellphone reception with the iPhone 6 Plus compared to the iPhone 6 and iPhone 5s.
The iPhone 6 Plus is an excellent choice if you are comfortable with the larger size and extra weight.

What's in my pocket?

There’s no ‘right’ choice with this wonderful decision. I will probably settle on the iPhone 6 Plus because I’ve enjoyed being able to carry a larger screen with me and the extra battery life has made a difference. I also like the improved cellphone reception that I seem to get with the iPhone 6 Plus. But there are big plusses to the iPhone 6 and 5s also. Spend time with all of them in a store and decide which one fits best into your lifestyle.

Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton


Asus VivoBook X202E / S200E / Q200E SSD hard drive upgrade

The Asus VivoBook X202E touchscreen laptop is an excellent value Windows 8 ultraportable notebook. With a street price of around $499, this three pound Intel Core i3 powered computer goes far beyond the specs of a netbook but yet has a compact 11.6" screen and similar dimensions of one. Given its competitive price point, a traditional 500GB hard disk is to be expected, but wouldn't it be great to upgrade that to a lightning fast SSD?

Before reading any further, please note that if you follow this guide then you do so entirely at your own risk. Asus does not provide instructions for opening the X202E / S200E / Q200E and you could easily damage your laptop by attempting this procedure or invalidate your warranty.

One other important note is that this laptop requires a 7mm 2.5" hard drive / SSD rather than the more common 9.5mm 2.5" hard drive size.

So with that said, here's what I encountered when I upgraded the hard disk in my X202E-DH31T to an SSD. I'm primarily going to focus on how to get the original hard drive out and fit the new SSD, because it seems that many people have been struggling with how to open up the X202E. The drive cloning process itself is similar to how it would be done on any laptop using one of the various software tools for doing the cloning. I'm going to assume that you have already cloned the existing hard drive onto the new SSD by connecting the new SSD using a USB 2.0 or 3.0 connector or enclosure as shown in the photo.

Opening up the Asus X202E / S200E / Q200E

Start by turning the X202E over and unscrew the nine screws on the underside. Place the screws safely aside. When I unscrew laptop covers I tend to arrange the screws to mirror how they came out so I know exactly which screw goes into which hole in case some are longer or differently proportioned than others. 

Now pry open the bottom cover where it meets the rear hinge. Be gentle, it's made of plastic and plastic can easily snap.

Once you've made a slight opening, continue to the rear corner and then along the side. Then do the same to the other rear corner and along the other side.

When that's fully done, the cover will angle upwards like the hood of a car. At the correct angle it will disengage naturally from the front of the laptop and can be pulled away.

At one corner you can see the hard drive with screws holding it down and a plastic removal tab. If you were thinking also of upgrading the memory in your X202E, you may have noticed in the photo that there are no accessible RAM slots. Asus soldered the memory directly onto the motherboard. ReadyBoost anyone?

Although there are four screw holes for securing the hard drive housing, my X202E only had three screws fitted. Unscrew these and set them safely aside.

Now pull the plastic tab on the drive housing gently towards of the side of the laptop. The drive housing should disengage from the SATA data and power connector and can be removed.

Then unscrew the screws on the side of the drive housing to remove the hard disk and put your new SSD or new hard disk into the housing.

Follow the above steps in the opposite order to screw everything back together. When replacing the bottom cover, start with the front and then gently push it down at the sides until you hear the internal pastic clasps click into position. Finally push down the section at the rear next to the hinge.

If your drive cloning software did its job, and you correctly fitted the new SSD, then you should now be able to boot up your X202E / S200E / Q200E and enjoy a much faster laptop!

Good luck!

Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton


What's Going ON? Apple TV, Google Glass and Windows 8

Apple TV and Roku

The Roku that TheONbutton donated to yesterday's Paws4Ever charity auction sold for almost the full retail price! There were many curious onlookers who hadn't seen one before, so here is some more info. Did you know that more than 30% of evening Internet usage in the US is from people watching Netflix? My two favorite ways of watching Netflix on a TV are to use an Apple TV or Roku. These are perfect partners for a flat screen TV. Roku gives you access to Pandora radio and Amazon videos, while Apple TV can display photos wirelessly from your iPhone or iPad and connect to your iTunes account for movie rentals. Both can play shows in digital surround sound and high definition.

Google Glass inspires privacy concerns

An upcoming wearable product from Google is worrying privacy advocates. The product, called Google Glass, is worn like eye glasses and projects an image for the wearer that can display email notifications, maps and other Internet based information. Google Glass also has a camera, which has raised privacy concerns about wearers snapping photos, videos or audio recordings at any time without consent. One developer has already added the capability for Glass wearers to shoot a photo simply by winking. Google Glass is currently only available to a limited number of developers and journalists; expect a heated public debate if these become generally available!

Managing access times to the Internet for kids

I am regularly asked how to manage Internet acceess for kids to keep a handle on the amount of time devoted to school work compared to Internet leisure time. There are parental controls built into Mac and Windows computers, as well as programs such as NetNanny that will assist with this. Some home network routers can also be set to completely block one or more specific computers from going online at certain times of the day. I recently did this for a family using an Apple Airport wireless router, and many Linksys routers also have this capability. 

iPhone and iPad GMail apps

GMail is a popular free email service with advanced searching and filing features which many of us enjoy. Google recently created a GMail app for the iPhone and iPad that gives full access to GMail's advanced features. Using the app, you can send emails with your regular GMail signature as if you were sitting at your computer, fully search your mailbox and make use of labels. Highly recommended for any GMail user and available in the App Store.

Make better use of time with podcasts

Podcasts are free news, comedy or feature shows that you can listen to on your smartphone, tablet or computer. Most modern cars have an audio connection for smartphones and this is a great way to make use of time on your commute. My favorite podcast apps are Podcruncher for the iPhone and Doggcatcher for Android. Both of these store your favorite weekly shows for easy download and make searching for new titles a breeze. The iPhone also has a free podcast app called...Podcasts! All three apps include ways to search the world of podcasts; you'll find broadcasts from NPR, Bloomberg and a wide range of others.

Windows 8 touchscreen laptop prices now more affordable

If you're excited about using a touchscreen laptop then now may be the time to take the plunge. I've been using a touchscreen Windows 8 laptop for the past six months and I'm on the fence about whether the touchscreen is actually useful as a productivity tool on a laptop. But the touchscreen is a fun addition and if you're interested then take a stroll through your local electronics store and give them a try!

Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton


Logitech iPad / tablet / smartphone speaker review

The memorably named Logitech 984-000193 tablet speaker for iPad is one of my favorite gadgets. It has a simple mission: amplify the sound output of your tablet or smartphone wherever you need it.

First impressions of the Logitech tablet speaker for iPad

This is not an audiophile speaker, but with a street price of around $18 it's cheap and a claimed eight hours of battery life give it good mobile capability. It also ships with a protective pouch. The cable wraps in the back of the speaker when not in use. The speaker is made of black plastic but it looks and feels sturdy.

There are rubber feet on the bottom to help it stand properly on a flat surface. At the rear there's a mini-USB charging port and a wall charger is supplied in the box. There's also an integral clip that allows the speaker to grip onto an iPad or tablet.

Using the Logitech tablet speaker for iPad

There's a speaker at each end of the plastic casing, which creates a small stereo image of medium quality sound. This is not a criticism given the size of the device. The speaker drivers are necessarily small and do not have the ability to generate significant bass. They work great for podcasts, audiobooks and other spoken work media though. It's also not hugely loud, but is loud enough to give your smartphone a volume boost in a bathroom or porch.

Although the word iPad is in the product's name, the Logitech speaker actually works with any device that has a regular 3.5mm headphone connector such as a smartphone or iPod.

The internal rechargeable battery lasts for a decent amount of time. I haven't Done a full drain test on it, but it's lasted for full afternoons in my usage, which seems fine to me.

Is the Logitech tablet speaker for iPad a sound investment?

The Logitech tablet speaker for iPad Sounds pretty good to me for about $18 at current prices. I'm not going to procrastinate about the lack of bass on a low cost a set of small speakers. Bass generally needs internal space and airflow, both of which aren't present in this speaker. Overall the Logitech tablet speaker for iPad does a decent job at an extremely attractive price, as long as your expectations are reasonable.

Neil Berman, Helper-in-Chief, TheONbutton