Bye Bye Intel Motherboards – Discontinued – What is Intel thinking?

As an IT guy and hardware reseller, I guess I should have been paying better attention to what Intel has been doing. But a few years ago, we had a falling out as an Intel Channel Partner and no longer participate. The dispute was over Intel’s refusal to give us credit towards our yearly quota unless we purchased from one of their “approved” vendors.

Newegg isn’t, or at least wasn’t, on that list; and quite frankly, I grew tired of paying higher prices and navigating the more cumbersome websites of those other vendors. As the channel partner program became less personable and more outsourced, I saw no value in trying to comply with the program.

Fast forward to February 2014. A lot of people have been buying custom made PCs lately. The biggest reasons are XP is becoming obsolete and it’s hard to walk into a big box store and purchase something other than Windows 8.x- no need to elaborate. However, custom computers can still be built with Windows 7.

I recently noticed that Newegg began to experience Intel branded motherboard shortages. I had been able to substitute a mATX for an ATX board or select a more expensive one, but that became a problem too. Soon, I was scrambling for an alternative manufacturer using the same Intel chipsets. The whole time, I was thinking this was just a blip on the radar and supply would catch up with my demand for Intel motherboards.

But when that didn’t happen, I reached out to Newegg on both Facebook and Twitter. That’s when I was given the bad news. Newegg’s twitter response was:

“Intel announced in 2013 that they’ll transition out of the MB business by 2014. You can try ASUS or Gigabyte as an alternative.”

Say it ain’t so, Intel. Say it ain’t so! Intel may not be known for the best gaming boards in the industry, but their workstation motherboards have been rock solid for over a decade, barring a few unfortunate firmware issues. I’m no fan of Gigabyte and while I used ASUS exclusively 15 years ago, I became troubled by their hit and miss quality at various price points.

I’d love to hear from other techs, who’ve had to switch from Intel boards and find out what they are using now. I’m using Asrock and hoping for the best. If Intel replies to my Twitter post, I’ll add it later. But for now, all I can say is Why Why Why?

Facebook Spyware Threats

Over and over I see customers having their Facebook accounts hijacked and falling prey to spyware spawned from social networking.  Hopefully the information provided will help someone avoid these common internet pitfalls.

In this scenario, you log into Facebook and you receive a notification alert.  It could be something like “Johnny posted a link…” or “Jenny tagged you in this photo”.  You click on the link and the next thing you know, your computer is now sending all your friends random bogus messages and repeating the process that just occurred to you.  This kind of spyware can be easily removed with programs like Malwarebytes.

The more insidious infection will lead you to believe that you have been logged out of Facebook and request that you log back in.  The login page will look just like the legitimate one.  Once you have “logged in”, the hackers will now own your account because you just gave them your username and password.

This form of identity theft has far reaching effects.  Hackers can then solicit your friends for money with stories of being on vacation and the losing one’s wallet.  Even worse, they can login to your email account (if you use the same password) and start resetting passwords for other accounts you have (eg. Ebay, Paypal, online banking, etc.).  You may even find that the person who controls your accounts has also changed the answers to security questions, making them extremely difficult to reclaim.

If this has happened to you, immediately take the following action:  First, call your bank and immediately suspend any credit/debit cards that have been used or are tied to ANY online entities.  Next, change the passwords for EVERYTHING that used the same password as your Facebook account.  Create a new email address that you can use in the interim to contact any friends or business that may be affected by the security breach.  Contact places like Ebay by phone and make sure “You” aren’t selling or buying anything.  Finally, created a temporary Facebook account and tell all your friends to report your hijacked account as being stolen under “Report/Block this Person” ->  “Report this Person” -> “Fake Profile” -> “This profile is Hacked”.  Then try to reclaim your Facebook account by contacting Facebook directly.

If that sounds like a real painful online experience, may I suggest taking the following preemptive action: Go create a new email address with Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail or similar.  Do NOT use this account for anything except Facebook.  Do NOT use the same password for this account as you do for any other accounts.  Update your email address and password on Facebook, so it now corresponds with this newly created email address.  Lastly, if you are ever asked to log back into Facebook, don’t assume your login expired or it somehow doesn’t think you are logged in anymore.  If in doubt, simply go back to the address bar and type in http://facebook.com and safely log back in there.

If you have been the victim of a Facebook related hack or have other useful advice, feel free to share your experience.