Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Does it seem like you are getting more and more SPAM?

One question I constantly get is, "why does it seem like I am getting more and more junk mail (SPAM), what can I do about it?"

The first thing I do when I connect to a computer remotely, or deal with one on my bench, is make sure the programs we use to battle the SPAM/SPYWARE are up to date. Unfortunately about 8 out of 10 computers are not!

Please read my TIPS on OPTIMIZING your computer as this will explain just where the items of issue need to be dealt with. Such as the START UP folder (start menu/all programs/start up) this folder is where new programs that have just been installed will go in the case of starting when windows starts. In most cases you do not want these programs starting all the time. Then, you need to deal with the updating of the spyware programs. This does not just mean the definitions, but the actual program. For example, using Spybot Search & Destroy, the current version is 1.4 whereas version 1.3 will still work and the definitions will download and install, however you are not getting the best protection as certain areas of your computer will not be scanned to its fullest ability.

Programs I highly suggest each and every computer should have can be found highlighted in the red square on the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page. I do attempt to keep these up to date, but in many cases a new update is available, therefore be sure to click on the link to the product homepage and check to see if there is a newer version available. As with any program, you can find the version number, if it is not already displayed, by clicking on the HELP and then ABOUT.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

STOP SENDING SPAM... Yes, I mean YOU!

It seems each and everyone of us get email from friends and family at one time or another, that has a very meaningful message that is trying to be promoted by as many people that can and will read it, unfortunately most of these are nothing more then SPAM and essentially VIRUSES are formed from them. This message could be, like the one I just received from a friend, telling me to boycott a specific gas station on a specific day to get that oil company to be "forced to lower the fuel prices" due to the fact that nobody is using the pumps...


Come on people, do you really think that, even if a city of 1 million people that had half that many people driving their car on that specific day, that required fuel, that just so happens to use that specific Gas station is going to make a difference? Regardless of the few pennies or dollars you may have saved by thinking you are saving the world by this, you probably have given those infamous spammers a new loaded weapon.. Your continual forwarded email that has literally hundreds of "legitimate email addresses" attached!

Please read my TIP-THE CORRECT WAY TO SEND AND FORWARD EMAIL. And for the love of your computer, stop sending these stupid email posts to me!

You probably have noticed the phone company charges YOU to have an unlisted number, whereas it costs nothing to get it posted in the phone book. Ever wonder why? Because it costs money to keep these things from publication. Why do you think companies sell email address lists to other companies, because there is some serious money to be made by having "legitimate" email addresses. Do everyone a favour, if you get email sent to you incorrectly from someone you know, by this I mean that you see more then your own email address listed, READ MY TIP and then SEND THEM THE TIP!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Microsoft's Authentication tool is more of a problem then anything else.

So it would appear at this early stage of things that the latest "authentication tool" that Microsoft is providing when doing a manual windows update results in some computers coming back with negative results. From my early evaluations I am determining this as to be a problem due to the authentication or "registration" of the operating system as being "tampered with". Which essentially, it has! This is something that I would have personally done using the x-setup program. This is one more area that has basically been manually patched and now Microsoft has introduced their own version of the same thing. Only since this specific section of your operating system may have been "tampered with", the results come back with a negative outcome. When they first announced this, there were a number of "hacks" made available since apparently it was nothing more then a java script issue, however my early attempts at repair in the fashion that has been described as a cure, has not resulted positively as of yet. Therefore, for those that have not visited the Windows Update site manually, I suggest you continue to not do so.. Your windows operating system, if I have looked at it, would be set up for automatic updates which is good. Therefore you should not have to do this yourself. I have mentioned this before, whereas "if it aint broke, don't fix it". Although you may be experiencing some sort of problem whereas a device driver update may solve the problem, it is then that I would usually check the device drivers for update availablilty but I have found doing such hardware updates when you aren't witnessing any problems, usually ends up resulting in now having problems. Therefore, if it ain't broke--don't fix it. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't still be running through the routine spyware and antivirus scans. Review the TIPS on this and if you aren't sure if you have the latest programs you can visit the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT for these.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

New to Blogging? Points to learn from a fellow newbie.

I will quite often mention in my blogs the name Chris or Pirillo or Lockergnome or Gnomedex, all of which are now under new management... yes, Chris is getting married to this great person and so you could say Ponzi will be the "head office" of Pirillo.lockergnome. In any case, she gives those of us not familiar with the geek speak, a little understanding in to the world of blogging.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Even Stats can be wrong and it is the one time that hurts!

Just reviewing my stats on the Allexperts website where I do some volunteering work with answering peoples questions regarding tv and computer work. It is interesting to see how, out of the last handful, that one person did not like the response they got, it did not help them, or they simply didn't think what I was talking about had anything to do with their problem. As a result this is what my stats look like currently:
Numerical Ratings from Other Users of AllExpertsKnowl Clarity Time Polite Date 10 10 10 10 08/08/05 10 10 10 10 08/08/05 10 10 10 10 08/07/05 10 10 10 10 08/06/05 8 10 6 10 08/05/05

Without understanding exactly what the problem might be, it sometimes is quite difficult to determine exactly where the problem is and as a result you find yourself looking, quite possibly at an entirely different area, since this is what leads up to the problem area. Sometimes the program you are attempting to use unsuccessfully is because of some other program that is no longer running, but the processes of the program still are and as a result, causes a bottleneck in the memory area of the computer. Generally this is why a re-boot sometimes helps, however, be aware that if you haven't restarted your computer for some time, this could actually lead to other problems, since a lot of Spyware will place things in the "prefetch" area of windows and/or in the "startup" folder which you will not see any affect of the results until the computer is restarted. I have come across this on occasions where, for example, the grandchildren came over and were using your computer and that was two weekends ago, however since then you have not had to restart your computer for any other reason until now, when you are having some problems with some other program.

This is usually due to some "spyware" that will run as it has been set to, when the computer is restarted. The spyware was the direct result of one of the kids installing some game off the web that automatically installed icons on the desktop that were to "try out this new program" . This is what is called as "trialware" and is completely pushed in your direction in hopes you will use it. A good example of this would be "incredimail" which, seemingly harmless enough, places an icon on your desktop after installing a game from a cereal box. This icon simply says "get your free 3D email now" and so you click on the icon and viola, all your email from outlook express and your address book gets installed to this new, fancy looking email program, only you do not realize the repercussions of this until, probably a few days later, when more and more spam starts to roll in.

So, getting back to the original title of the stats causing pain.. Well it does hurt to see such low numbers simply because I could not help this one individual. Oh well, hopefully the "average" which I pride myself on, is very high and I like to hope I am helping more people then tormenting with my answers.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

I guess I should have seen this one coming

After commenting on the plane crash in Toronto story CP news released and that I had blogged about before, I guess I should have seen this one coming.
What is the world coming to when even a miracle requires someone to require compensation for ?... What? Being alive? The way I see this is quite simply.. If this "class action" actually succeeds then anyone who has ever flown in an airplane might as well sign up! Since when should the airline have to act like a ski hill where you purchase your ticket to ride the lifts on the mountain and resume all risks due to you riding? Because that is what you will see happening next!

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

History can be very helpful!

The last three computer I worked on, what I consider an "annual update", they all had one thing in common which at this point I am not sure whether it was by coincidence or if there are higher powers at work here, by means of Spyware? I guess this is the way I think when I see something peculiar with the workings of the computer. You see, I check the Internet Options (from Internet Explorer) for any settings, mostly in the security settings, however I do check all of them and the first one you see when you enter the options of the Internet Explorer settings is the "HISTORY" settings which allow you to set the amount of days to keep the page in history. Now I am not sure if these three people just decided they didn't like History in school so why should they like it on the Internet, but not usually the reason. Typically because they do not want others to know where they have been visiting. (at this point if you are feeling guilty for going some place that you shouldn't-DON'T!) We are all humans enjoying our freedoms and if that happens to take you down a road you have never been before, that doesn't make it wrong! The key is to simply know and realize where it is you are going. If you are male and reading this, I believe you know what I am referring to. If you are a female and just read my last sentence then I believe you know where I was referring to. Yes, there are accidents and there are many Spyware tools out there that can direct you by means of placing you right in the middle of some place you don't want to be.. This is referred to as "HIJACKING" and it is probably the most common element in Spyware.

There is nothing dumb about the people that are creating Spyware and you must understand the big business involved. These people have gone from being a nuisance to completely ruining peoples lives by cloning their identities. This shouldn't make you afraid of using the Internet however, since the Internet is merely a conduit to knowledge and information, pleasure, and yes... HISTORY. By turning this history button to 1 day, it makes your web browser only keep 24 hours worth of website url's (the address of the page you are currently viewing such as http:\\tpsconsulting.com\blog.htm). If you have ever used your FAVORITES then you will understand what the HISTORY is for, since this is the button you would use if you forgot to add the page to your favorites. You would want to be able to go back to that page and then probably add it to your favorites. At this point however, I am not finger pointing to any person in actually making this change, other then quite possible some Spyware that has made this change, although I would think from a Spyware point of view, they would want to keep this number higher, even though the Spyware has other ways of retrieving your "history of web pages visited" therefore I am telling you now, that you should NOT be changing this to 1. Strange part and the reason I say it is peculiar is that you can actually change it to zero days so I am not sure why, if you were worried about where you have been, why wouldn't you just turn it to zero so that you have no history? In any case, let me explain how I see this issue.

The HISTORY button is there to do as I just mentioned--go back to a page that you have visited in the past, once there (the second time) I would think you would be making it a favorite if you intend to go back to it yet a third time. Turning this to 1 or zero, pretty much means you just don't want to take advantage of a tool, even if it could help you. With the DAILY usage of the Spyware programs I make available on all existing clients computers, which would be, at the time that I write this (since this will change over time as these programs evolve with the Internet) Spyware Blaster, Spyware guard Live Update, Spybot Search and Destroy, and Ad-Aware. These are all available, usually the latest version (if I can keep up sometimes as they have been known to update every week at times) from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page, the 'history' that you would be worried about is completely gone. The one issue that you may be more interested in is the OPTIMIZING tip that can show you the areas to keep monitoring and cleaning as necessary. This is why people write software.. It is generally because they enjoy doing what it is they are doing and when they see that they can make it "easier" or "more productive" which basically means it does a lot more.. That is why there are Updates... This is also why there are constant debates over the cost of ownership of a computer, since some people seem to pay a lot more to get their computers cleaned then others.. When half of it deals with "hardware" and half deals with "software", it all depends on just how you use your computer. I still have family (my brother) that doesn't even have Internet in to their home.. Not even through dial up as they don't have an email account. Yes, they have computers but they don't have Internet.. It is completely their choice since their lifestyle has been to "get by" without it, and they have.. By keeping it at work. Sure my brother has email as he has it at work and even though I have said how he could get through all his morning mail while he is enjoying his bowl of cereal in his own home, he points out that : a: that would be doing work that I get paid when I am at work. This would be because he doesn't have Internet at home, therefore his only email is a work account. Not his problem, but what about when your buddy sends you that "special" joke email.. Not suited to be opened in the work environment, that is for sure. This sort of thing in many business won't happen because the mail is stripped of bad (or most) attachments, filtered down to TEXT ONLY or something like this. Nobody wants a virus or trojan horse, that is obvious, but then knowledge becomes something of necessity and so if they create a program that does everything for you.... Thus the computer programmer.. This is the sort of TIP that I hope to get across to my existing clients and for those that read my comments here. Education I have found, is the key to keeping MY VISITS only an annual thing, other then for the purposes of teaching!

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Reading the latest news on the Toronto plane crash and actually hearing good news!

Reading the latest news on the plane crash in Toronto through (CP) news.

It is wonderful to hear that there were no deaths in this news, and as I read the article I truly began to seem as though I was there, with the Live quotes from the passengers. It wasn't until near the end of the article, when the mother of small children were complaining because of the "bad service". No matter how much I want to understand her as she sees things but you truly do have to remember that there were no deaths. Regardless of what the staff did or didn't do, the bottom line is the emergency doors opened when they should, slides came out and people scrambled. Whether the flight attendants were the ones directing traffic or not, everyone got out and are now safe. This should mean the entire staff are heros. When in time of any emergency services, they have to prioritize people in order to save the lives of those that are require the most attention. It is unfortunate we have to have such a negative feeling after initially reading of the wonderful news that there were no deaths and very few casualties.