How to Pack for an Unforgettable Camping Trip in 2018

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Camping is a key ingredient for an Ontario summer. 

Tent? Check. Cooler? Check. Sleeping bag? Check. But this is 2018, and there are a few more necessities to add to your camping list if you want to have a good time. 

 

GoPole DualCharge Solar Portable Charger

Battery dead? Don't sweat it. The Dualcharge 2 from GoPole harnesses the energy of the sun to charge your digital must-haves. With 2 USB ports you don't have to worry about your phone or GoPro losing juice because you can charge them simultaneously. 

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Features

  • 5000 mAh solar powerbank
  • 2 USB ports 
  • Solar panels automatically recharge  when exposed to solar rays
  • Water- and dust-resistant 
  • Includes a carabiner to keep the Dualcharge 2 secured to you as you go

 

Lifeproof Aquaphonics Speaker

 Music is a must on a camping trip. With AQ10, the mid-sized AQUAPHONICS Bluetooth speaker you can jam on the water without worrying about ruining your speaker. This is definitely a staff favourite right now.  It even has a dry-box storage spot to hideaway keys, cards and cash. You can't go wrong with this one. 

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Features

  • 13 hour battery life
  • 3.28 feet / 1 meters underwater for 30 minutes
  • Floats in water
  • Built in mic- works as a speakerphone
  • Survives drops from 1.2 meters 
  • Available in multiple sizes 

 

Lifeproof Fre Phone case

Because our smartphones are practically our fifth limb, it can be daunting to protect them on an outdoors adventure. Nothing ruins a camping trip like a broken phone (or limb). That's why we don't go anywhere without the Lifeproof Fre Phone case, the fully enclosed case made to withstand extremes. Not many phone cases can withstand being submersed 2 meters deep for up to an hour. 

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Features

  • Survives drops from 2 meters high
  • 360° protection with built in screen cover 
  • Shields ports, mic, and speakers 
  • Light-weight

All of the products mentioned are available at Altair Electronics at 750 Progress Ave.
in Kingston. Our knowledgable team of experts can help you with all of your tech needs. 

Wi-Fi in Every Corner With Mesh Technology

Do you struggle with endless buffering, dead spots or weak signals throughout your home or small office? 

With the explosion in popularity of smart home devices and countless streaming media services like Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify, whole-house Wi-Fi coverage has become a must. 

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Many of the latest wireless routers can provide strong coverage to most rooms of a typical medium-size house, but larger homes and dwellings with dense walls, multiple floors, metal and concrete substructures, and other structural impediments may require additional components to bring Wi-Fi to areas that the router can't reach. 

Range extenders do a good job of filling in dead zones, but typically provide only half the bandwidth that you get from your main router. 

Eliminate your Wi-Fi woes by placing mesh routers around your home, wherever you want, to create a single, whole-home mesh network.

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Altair carries many mesh technology solutions that automatically detect and adjust your connection quality while it blankets your home in reliable wireless for full coverage in every corner.  Come in to either of our locations and talk to our knowledgable staff about your home or business wi-fi needs.

Gadgets Worth Checking out this Month

At Altair Electronics we have an array of products and gadgets. Cables, chargers, cases- you name it, we've got it. Here's a list of some of our favourite gadgets from April. 

Mantis Desk Stand for iPad

How does it work?

The POS app and iPad have been adopted by plenty of businesses in the last few years. The Mantis Desk Stand mounts the iPad to any surface, keeping it secure and functional. The Mantis Desk Stand glides into any horizontal or vertical position with the lightest touch, making it easy to adjust. These sleek mounts aren't only for iPads either. There are various styles, including wall mounts for TVs and monitors. 

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What do we use it for? 

Our boss, Mark, uses this on his boat. When his boat rocks, the iPad stays secure in one place. Brilliant! 

 

Belkin Lighting Audio and Charge RockStar

How does it work?

The latest models of iPhones don't have an audio jack, making it next to impossible to listen to your music while charging your phone. The Belkin Lighting Audio and Charge RockStar solves that problem. This adapter plugs directly into your iPhone jack with two lighting ports on the opposite end of the adapter. One in a charging port, and the other is an audio jack to plug in headphones or an aux cord.

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What do we use it for? 

Our staff uses this gadget on long drives to listen to music with an aux cord and charge our iPhone at the same time. This gadget is definitely a favourite at Altair. 

 

Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive

How does it work?

This ultra-small drive provides extra storage for your laptop or computer so you don't have to buy more ram or cart around a big hard drive. You can transfer a full-length movie from one device to another in less than 30 seconds. That's 15 times faster than USB 2.0 drives. All of the data stored on this flash drive comes with a password-protected private folder too, so even if you lose it your data will still be protected. 

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What do we use it for? 

Our staff uses the Ultra Fit USB 3.0 flash drive on business trips. This way we have access to larger files at all times but our laptops still run at top-speed because they're not crowded with files. 

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All of the gadgets mentioned in this article are in-stock at Altair Electronics, located at 750 Progress Ave. in Kingston. 

3 Free Apple Apps That Will Make you More Productive

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Productivity can be a challenge when working from your computer, with countless distractions and new updates that we have to adapt to. We've compiled a list of our three favourite apps to help you stay organized and work more efficiently. The best part about it? All of the apps are free. 
  • Agenda - Agenda is a note taking app that's a little bit unique because it's date based, which makes it ideal for project planning. Agenda offers a timeline organizational system that makes it easy to keep track of your progress on a project, with an "On the Agenda" tool for surfacing things that need to be addressed right away. 

    There's a full text editor built in complete with styles and formatting, and notes can also be added to categories for even deeper organization. Agenda is a free download, but it will cost $24.99 per year to unlock premium features like creating calendar events, saving searches, and exporting in Markdown or HTML.

  • CheatSheet - CheatSheet is simple little app that's designed to offer an overlay with a list of all the keyboard shortcuts that are available on your Mac. It's customized to the current application that's open, so if you're running image editing app Pixelmator, for example, it'll display all of the available Pixelmator keyboard shortcuts.

  • DeskApp for YouTube - DeskApp is another simple but useful app that's designed to let you search for and watch YouTube videos from within the DeskApp app instead of through Safari, Chrome, or another browser. It allows for quick access to YouTube from the menu bar on your Mac, it supports multiple windows and tabs, and it has a clean, easy to use interface.

So there you have it. Now stop reading this blog and get to work! 

Slow Computer? It Might be Time for a Tune-up

In many ways, your computer is like your car. You rely on its performance to get things accomplished, which is why it's important to keep them in good condition. You get oil changes and tire rotations for your car. For your computer, it's tune-ups. 

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Here are some sure signs that it's time for a tune-up:

“My Computer is Slow”

Your computer gradually slows down over time. You may not even realize it’s happening at first until it’s so slow you’re pulling your hair out waiting for applications to open. This can be caused by data clutter or lack of memory, just to name a few. If your computer is taking several minutes to start up or shut down, it’s time for a tune-up.

“My Computer Keeps Freezing and Crashing”

If this is happening frequently, then you have a problem. When your system crashes, it’s letting you know that it can’t handle what you’re trying to do. You guessed it- it’s time for a tune-up.

“I’m getting weird Error Messages on my Screen”

Error messages are the hard- or software’s way of letting you know that they’re having difficulty with a particular function. Sometimes updating the application can fix the problem. If it persists, a tune-up would allow a technician to diagnose the cause of the error and eliminate it.

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We recommend getting a tune up every six months for maximum performance and speed. Your computer works hard for you, performing countless tasks and commands each day. Don't neglect it. Show it some love and it will love you right back, trust us.

 

So What Exactly is a Tune-up, you ask?  

Your Mac or PC will be cared for by our technicians in our award-winning service department. Here’s what we do in our tune-up:

✓ Check and verify your computer's vital statistics

We'll check the status of your hard drive and memory, what operating system you're running and your warranty expiry date. We'll also ask how your computer is performing.

✓ Run Service Diagnostics

The Service Diagnostics are a suite of the most stringent hardware tests available for your computer. These diagnostic tests will check your Mac or PC for Malware and Spyware.

✓ Verify integrity of your storage

The Storage Diagnostics and SMART tests check the internal error-reporting mechanism of the hard drive itself, and can catch problems with your drive before they happen.

✓ Optimize Directory Structure and Repair File Permissions

Every file on a Mac or PC knows which users and programs are allowed to access it. These permissions sometimes get skewed, which can cause subtle glitches or reduce system performance. We check for permissions issues and fix them if we find them.

✓ Prescribe Upgrades

Some extra RAM or upgrading your computer’s storage to an SSD might just be the ticket to a more responsive Mac or PC. We’ll let you know what hardware upgrades might help you get more out of your computer.

✓ Coach you on your data backup strategy

Hard drives (even the new SSD Flash memory ones) fail every day. We want to make sure you always have an extra copy of your files (usually on an external hard drive) so you never have to go through the pain of data loss.

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For a limited time only, save 20% on your tune up when you like us on Facebook and subscribe to our newsletter! 

Packing for a trip: Traveling with Electronics

You've checked your luggage and bought your coffee to sip while you wait to board. You grab your phone or tablet- may as well browse Facebook while you wait.  

Although it can be tempting to connect to free public wifi, unless it is recommended by the airport, or establishment you're at, do not connect to it. Hackers often use this as a ploy to access traveler's information. 

This video does a good job at explaining precautions to take when connecting to "Free Public wifi". 

You glance out the window while you're waiting to board. The baggage handlers are chucking suitcases from the cart to the conveyor belt. You cringe, and think to yourself, I'm so glad I packed my electronics in my carry-on. 

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Your carry on is a much safer place for your computer or iPad . The airline staff is not responsible for being delicate with checked baggage, and if your device isn't in a very durable case, you could experience damage from it being tossed around.

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While we're talking about airport operations, there is another important point to note that is often overlooked when we pack our electronics. 

Make sure your device is charged before checking your luggage incase the TSA officials need to verify information on your device (if you're traveling for work this is more common).  Have all devices accessible and ready to be scanned to prohibit delays. Ask your airline representative for their size and weight restrictions for their carry-on items before you pack.

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And finally, the most important tip for traveling with your electronics- keep them locked away when you're not using them. In third world countries valuable items are at higher risk of being stolen. If you're carrying a camera of phone for example, keep them in a fanny pack or a front facing backpack to avoid being pick pocketed. 

Bring your own lock, as hotels/ hostels offer lockers for valuable items. Resorts usually provide safes in each room. When you're not using your device, keep it locked away. Getting your expensive iPad stolen is a sure way to ruin a nice family vacay. 

So there you have it: the top four protective measures to take when traveling with electronics. Now you can sip daiquiris on the beach worry-free. Safe travels! 

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Here's a share-worthy infographic with all the tips we just mentioned! 

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Why Altair Electronics is Different from Other Computer Stores in Kingston

So, you're trying to decide which computer store in Kingston to have repair your computer. You search "Computer repair Kingston" and see dozens of businesses that seem to meet your needs. Perfect. But how are you supposed to know who to trust? Altair stands apart from our competition in many ways. Here are three of them.

 

THIS ISN'T OUR FIRST RODEO

Altair Electronics launched 36 years ago at the same Kingston location that exists today. We designed a computer kit that hooked up to television sets for beginners to learn how to use a computer at a time when no one even knew what a floppy disk was. Anything similar to what we designed was three times as much. We believed that everyone deserved the opportunity to learn how to use a computer, regardless of how much money they made.   

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So basically, we’ve been a business longer than some of the owners of the other computer stores in Kingston have been alive.

 

APPLE HOLDS US ACCOUNTABLE

When it comes to your Mac, you don’t mess around. It cost more than your first car- we understand. Which is why we always advise Apple users to verify before getting their Mac, iPad, or iPhone serviced that the technician is Apple certified. If they aren’t certified and they don’t fix your computer properly, your warranty won’t be valid.

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Our technicians know Apple like they know Sleep and Eat, which is why they have been consistently acknowledged for their skills and hard work:

  • Altair is the recipient of the Apple Commitment To Excellence Award for being in the top 10% of Apple Service Providers in North America.
  • We received the Canadian Apple Computer Star award for achieving a 100% customer satisfaction rating.

As Apple Certified Service Providers,  we are held accountable to provide top notch customer service, too:

“Service Providers are required to meet Apple’s standards at all times with regard to service levels, certification of technicians and availability of service to customers. Apple typically audits and reviews Service Providers to ensure these high standards are consistently met.”

 

WE ARE DEDICATED TO FAST-TURNAROUND

Our award winning technicians understand that your life is moving fast, and the world of IT moves even faster. We are committed to providing the fastest turnaround time in Kingston and Belleville. Most of our customers experience no more than a 24 hour wait for their computer, phone, or tablet to be diagnosed, repaired, and ready for pick up.

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Call us at (613) 384-3876 (Kingston), or (613) 969-4490 (Belleville) to have your laptop, computer, tablet, iPad, or iPhone serviced by our award winning technicians. We fix and sell HP, Lenova, Apple, and Acer products. 

 

Cyber Security: How to Protect your Computer from Viruses and Hackers

It seems like every time we turn on the news there’s a story about valuable data being compromised. We can all be vulnerable to hackers and viruses if we don’t take proper precautions to protect our computers- both personal, and work-related.

National Computer Security Awareness day started in 1988 when companies began to collect and store valuable data electronically. In light of Computer Security Awareness day on November 30th, we’re sharing the 3 most effective methods to assure your PC is 100% secure.

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Step 1: Install AVG anti virus

The AVG software performs periodic scans, checking for any viruses on your computer. It also scans each email sent to your inbox and on messaging apps, like Facebook. When dealing with an exclusive AVG retailer, such as Altair, you or your business will receive dedicated, ongoing support with any problems that may arise.

 

Step 2- Keep your operating system updated

Both Microsoft and Apple release updates on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. Most times they are just small adjustments, but they play an important part in protecting your computer from malware and viruses, but especially hackers. Often times when hackers are successful, it’s because they’ve found a gateway through your computer’s own security features. Therefore if your operating system isn’t updated, your odds of being hacked increase.

We recommend adjusting your system preferences to automatically update. We all know how easy it is to ignore notifications.  

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Step 3: Educate yourself

Buying your first computer isn’t like buying your first car. You don’t need a license to own a computer, but what if you did?

Being educated about computer security is just as important as having a license in our opinion. With all of the sharing that occurs today online, we are more vulnerable than ever to malware and hackers. It’s important to understand how vulnerable you really are by grasping the fundamentals of how a computer is protected, or not protected.

There are several computer security courses online, but instead we’re suggesting something a little less heavy- YouTube.

Protect your iPad with These 3 Recommendations

Ten years ago, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, he was faced with the challenge of introducing not only a new product, but a new category of portable devices, sized between the Mac and iPhone.

Jobs’ prediction was accurate. $300,000 iPads were sold within the first week, and today they are still one of our best sellers. Ideal for traveling, reading e-books, and even classroom learning, iPads are the perfect mobile device.   

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Except for one thing.

iPads are composed of glass and metals, which as a whole are notoriously fragile. When traveling with a device, it’s easy for accidents to happen. You drop the iPad, it gets scratched by something in your bag, the list goes on. Because there aren’t any predictions of there being a life-proof version of the iPad being released in the near future, using durable and quality protective gear is critical.

The following is a list of our top 3 protective accessories for iPads, based on durability, reputation, and design.  

 

Urban Armour Gear iPad Case

 

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Urban Armour Gear makes heavy-duty cases with impact resistant soft cores. We’d recommend this case for anyone, but it’s especially good for those who travel, and families with children. These cases have excellent, tactile grip, so it’s much less likely to slip out of your hands (or your little one’s).  

 

LOGIIX Phantom Glass HD

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This one is a personal favourite of our staff. The Phantom Glass protector is made with anti-shatter tempered glass, meaning two things: it will never break, and it is exceptionally clear. The screen is almost invisible, making for a sleek look on any iPad. Plus, its outer layer of coating is designed to repel oil from skin to keep the screen looking clean.

 

AppleCare+ 

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We’ve never experienced a customer be disappointed that they purchased AppleCare+. For $99, Apple certified techs, like the Altair staff, will repair your damaged iPad for only $49. AppleCare+ covers accidental damage too. So if you ever accidentally drop your iPad in the pool, or run over it with the car, it’s still protected!

You can find all of these necessities at Altair Electronics in our Kingston and Belleville locations.