Friday, October 22, 2004

Fahrenheit 911 and Yahoo!

Ok so a friend of mine just watched Fahrenheit 911, the latest movie released by Michael Moore, whom personally I have to say, is a pretty good writer/producer. Granted I have only seen a few things, the latest being Bowling for columbine, but I am waiting for my DVDFLIX movie to arrive. It has been at the top of my list since it was released on DVD however I understand there is quite a waiting list but I am hopeful I will receive it soon.

Anyway, on to the title and issue. Apparently, for whatever reason, maybe someone can fill me in on the answer, but Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911 is not on the movie listing of Yahoo! anymore. After watching the movie, doing what all good moviegowers should do, is rate the movie at Yahoo! But for some reason it doesn't exist. Sure an ad pops up along side of the findings on Yahoo! but not even when you check Michael Moore's filmography does this movie show up. To me it looks like some sort of conspiracy but I haven't seen it yet, and I do understand the controversy but this is nothing different then the X rated or Graphic violence issues the video game industry is faced with is it? Freedom of speech and expression shouldn't be filtered as it appears to have been from Yahoo!

I just found this very interesting, not to mention intriguing to the point that I really do want to watch it now. I mean how can one movie have such an impact? And if it does, then isn't that a good thing? The fact that someone is willing to bring such a controversial issue to the front of public debate?

Anyway.. just an observation... I'm off to search Google now, maybe I"ll find my answer over there :-)

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Nothing wrong with being a newbie right?

As I sit here trying to catch up on all my RSS feeds that I get through my newsgator reader I sometimes feel overwhelmed with what I have been missing all these years. Yeah sure I knew what a blog was and I just never looked at it as something I would want to do... sit and write down my thoughts and feelings of the moment, or actually air my dirty laundry to the world to read. After all, what could they find interesting about what I have to say unless it has to do with my profession which is nothing but technical stuff.

You can imagine how it has been, working for the cable company and then going to someone's house and having them say "Hey, I am having troubles with my signal, do you think you could help?", or "I don't know how to set my clock to record through this new converter".

Now it is my turn to feel strangely unknown to this world of blogging. I must say, this past Gnomedex really did open my eyes to the necessity of blogging and how it can be a great tool in the communication field of technology. No matter how you use your blog, the simple fact that people can choose to read it one time, or read it all the time, is totally up to the individual. All you do is make it available and if someone finds your topic of interest, they will read it and quite possibly link to your blog. At this point I don't see this happening to my blog since I haven't started to truly publish things, nor have I made the time to get it going full tilt.

All I can say is I like my job and the fact that I get to PLAY with technology, new and old, each and every day. It is true that every day holds a new set of ideas and issues and to find a way to integrate all to make the day go smoothly is a real challenge, but one that I look forward to.

Enough of my bantering.. There are more blogs to read... Oh, and I guess I should sleep at some point too!

Saturday, October 16, 2004

What your computer does at night while you are sleeping

A client of mine came across this little animated spoof. Ironically as it may seem, this is essentially what may happen in the case of a virus intrusion. I know because I have witnessed many times, a computer that seems to be working just fine, but upon reboot, it doesn't see the drive at all. When I get this to my bench, sure enough, there is virtually nothing left. But how can this happen? Quite simple when there are so many "active scripts" running on the computer. This is why the need for such spyware programs as Ad-Aware and Spybot Search and Destroy (also available from my website HERE). As well, I have complimented my arsenal with Spyware guard and Spyware Blaster which do a good job in disallowing certain spyware elements to get on your computer period!

Another thing that should be done is a random "reboot" of your computer. Since I have pretty much educated my clientele to "leave the computer running so that it can do the scheduled maintenance in the middle of the night". This is all well and good, but then because the computer is running so well, there appears to be no need to reboot and this might be the case for weeks on end. However, then for whatever reason, possibly installation of a new program that tells you the computer must be rebooted, you go ahead and do the reboot only to find a black screen with a flashing cursor and nothing else. Now it gets on my bench and, although it is very rare, there is nothing left! Running such programs as Emergency Recover Pro can find the resulting files from a partition that has been dismounted. How does this happen? Active scripting from those script kings that we call Hammers!

This doesn't mean we should be turning off the computer after we are finished using it either, since that would eliminate the ongoing updates and maintenance schedule. The solution is quite simple. Be aware of what is going on on your computer. Know when the scheduled tasks are to take place and monitor their activity. For example, if you are running the spyware scans as your last command before heading off to bed, be aware of the day. If it is Thursday night, then realize that you will probably be getting a full virus scan at 3:30 or 4am in which case you should check your antivirus status in the morning making sure that the "full virus scan" was completed successfully. Any time you see something that appears not right, contact your tech. If you are reading this, then there is a good chance that would be me! In this case I would, if possible, connect via remote control and see if everything is doing what it is supposed to. It is called PREVENTIVELY MAINTENANCE... and if you are a client of mine, you will be happy to know that this is a FREE* service. Why the *? Because I do have caviates to this. Obviously if I find a problem I am going to attempt repair. This problem, depending on the severity of it, means I may be connecting to your computer for a few nights in order to get it done, however if the problem is quite serious and requires immediate attention, and the fact that I have been able to connect and fix the problem remotely, of course I am going to do this for you. This does mean however, that I am now turning all of my attention to this problem, and all computers on my work bench that I have been working on, will not get any attention. This means you are getting 1:1 work ratio and that requires payment.. how much? Well lets just say, since I have not had to remove your computer and I can get the job done, it will not work out to a 1:1 payment and in most cases is more like 3:1, of course this depends on the length of time it takes to fix. As with all of my existing clients, they know that I never would charge more then 7 hours to fix anything because quite simply, I can built and entirely new computer from scratch in that amount of time!

Best thing you can do is keep yourself educated on things like this.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Watch out for unwanted REAL PLAYER subscriptions

I just got off the phone from a customer service rep in order to reverse a charge on my credit card for a subscription that I never had! Be aware of these "recurring charges" that can and usually will be automatic when you sign up for any online service including magazine subscriptions.

This is now the 5th year in a row that this has happened, and like clock work, pretty much exactly 3 months from the day I signed up.

What happened is I subscribed to the CBS reality game show feed of Big Brother, which is done by visiting the CBS website and then clicking on the link to "sign up now". Unfortunately this then redirects you to the Real Audio Player "gold pass subscription". Even though you click on the boxes stating that you do not want the "super pass", this is issued to you for a "free trial period". Note that if you do not do as I had to, you will continue to be paying for something that you only signed up for once. The Big Brother series is now over, and has been for about a month, however that doesn't stop Real Media from taking money from your credit card. You see, they expect you to go back to their website and click on CUSTOMER SERVICE and then CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION. By the way, don't do this, because sure it will cancel your subscription but you see, they have already taken the $29.95 off your credit card for another 3 months. If you don't phone and talk to a customer service rep, you will not get reimbursed for this latest amount taken from your credit card.

To top things off, trying to stay calm while talking to this lady, I was shocked when she tried to tell me that I can "keep the subscription active and get 1 month free super pass".. Hello.. did you hear me, I do not want REAL PLAYER anymore. I have uninstalled it from all of my computers (as this is also a source of spam/spyware). Why would I be phoning to get my money credited back to my credit card and then turn around and go for another 1 month free trial, only to end up getting charged when I don't go and choose to "unsubscribe" before the 1 month free trial is over?

Funny thing is, she says in closing "this will not happen again next year".. boy I sure wish I recorded the message so that I could play it back for them next year! Yes, I will admit, I like the CBS Big Brother feed as I always find it interesting to watch other human beings locked in a cage for 3 months, to see how their mental stability slowly falls apart-very interesting psychology experiment, now if only CBS would get together with Microsoft and offer Windows Media Player as an alternative option from REAL Media!

Doing a quick search for other incidents of this, I came across another website where this fellow had a very bad experience with credit cards in general. It is worth the read, especially if you are weary of giving out such information online.

Friday, October 08, 2004

Ok I'll admit it.. I"m a geek!

After another successful and fun time by all at the recent gnomedex and now sitting here fixing clients computer problems remotely while supposedly on some R & R time, visiting friends and enjoying "being outdoors", I have come to the realization that I really am a geek! Maybe I always knew this but after sitting here for the past few hours, getting through another 60-or-so emails then reading Pirillo's most recent blog about getting caught up and taking a break after 18 straight hours of catching up. I had to chuckle to myself realizing what I had just done today. I woke up, spent 3 hours catching up on the days email and continued repairs of client computers remotely. Then "taking a break" and going for a drive. Where to? Where else but Frys! About 5 hours later I am back at my laptop going through mail (and writing my next blog). I count myself lucky in not buying more once I noted that the Canadian Loonie is now worth 80 cents on the Yankee buck. It is just so darned hard not spending all afternoon in a place like Frys where you can buy everything from gummie bears to remote garage door openers to the latest gameboy games...well you get the idea. You don't have to be a total geek to enjoy your time in a place like this. It is just too bad there aren't more of them in the nation. But then again maybe if there were, the pricing wouldn't be as good since the competition would be less. How do I figure that? Well, because if there were more Frys around the world, small electronic stores would sure to be pushed out of business, much like some would say the Walmart Supercenters are doing around the U.S. Personally, without opening up a can-o-worms on this topic, I will just say that I am thankful there are supercenters because it is not that uncommon for me to pull an 18hour shift and then want a break where I can wander the isles looking for anything from frozen yogurt to a new camp stove at 3 o'clock in the morning! Oh, did I mention the fact that I am Canadian, and so far, I have not been able to enjoy the all-night shopping, until I come visit friends in the U.S. I can however, browse the isles of the nearest 7-11 and get my 52oz. 7-11 coffee cup filled for $1.38 (Canadian!)

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

You still need to run the updates!

To all of my existing clients out there that wonder why the computer is all of a sudden running slowly or why it seems there is more and more junk mail every time you check. It is because you are not doing the scans and updates most likely. As one of the many services I do offer to my existing clients, that is, to connect remotely to their computer and diagnose any problem they might have. Usually (9 out of 10 times) when I connect and start by running the "norton live update" then moving on to running the AD-AWARE and SPYBOT SEARCH AND DESTROY scans, as well as updating the SPYWARE GAURD LIVE UPDATE and SPYWARE BLASTER updates, I end up finding each of these programs have updates available as well, when the scan is complete there ends up being quite a number of malicious files found. I can always tell from the results just how often or not the scans are being done. Please remember that these should be run DAILY! If you are unsure of how to do these scans then drop me a line. Along with my TIPS I do usually explain things, or if you still are not sure, or would rather not have to remember these things yourself, just let me know this and I can arrange to do this on a scheduled basis. The first step in fixing things is preventing the bad things from getting a chance to become a great disaster on your computer.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Gnomedex and the first blog

Since I am sitting listening to blogging and how to and how it should be used and how it can be used, I feel pretty silly not even having set up a blog. So here goes. Using and the free service I think I have just set it up. Knowing that I am really missing the boat on communication with blogging I hope to be able to post useful information for my existing clients and those newcomers to my site.