Friday, September 30, 2005

Does it seem you are getting more and more junk mail?

I often get asked if there is something that can be done to the computer since it appears more and more junk mail is showing up in your inbox. Typically, you should be running the Spyware programs that I make available on the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page. Typical I mean, by running Ad-aware and Spybot Search and destroy DAILY! Yes, I mean DAILY, EVERY DAY, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. Why did I mention all the days in the week? Because you should be running these programs on each one of them!

I am quite tired of hearing "oh, it has been a while since I ran those", when I am sitting at the computer starting my diagnosis of the problems. I just returned from one client's home where I clicked on the Ad-aware program to be greeted with the prompt "it has been 256 days since your last update".. Hello! Does this mean it hasn't been run since then? Yes, it does.... Looking at my calendar I realize that this was run only once since I had last updated this specific computer! I am quite tired of this, simply because of the attitude that I get when I say how important it is, usually a snicker as to "oh, I have been quite bad about that haven't I?" Yes, you have!

Education, I have found is a truly worthy component in the battle of Spyware. This is quite honestly why I have placed these components such as Ad-aware and Spybot on my website, along with many TIPS and other software programs to help in the fight against these villains. But if you are going to forget doing them, then you shouldn't feel bad when someone like myself comes to your home and whisks your computer away to the bench for "deep cleaning and updating". The fact that almost 8 months had gone by and this computer has now managed to get to the point where the user has also had enough dealing with the pop ups and not able to operate other parts of the computer properly due to "too many error messages". I am actually quite surprised it lasted this long, but then again, I guess I am not that surprised since the new generation of Spyware and Ad-aware works in such a fashion that it usually does not block your access to the Internet, however you will notice a drastic reduction in your computers' performance. I am also quite surprised when I visit a home that has an outdated Spyware program running. The owner usually feels quite proud in stating that "they use it every day", only to find out that they are currently using version 1.04 and now currently it is at version 1.06. This means they have completely missed out on one update and are now two updates out. This may not seem like much but when you are dealing with Spyware which in my opinion is just like a virus, you can't afford to be using an outdated program. In the case of Spybot Search & Destroy however, if you are an existing client of mine for example, you may not know what version you are using because I have configured the program so that all you have to do is click on the icon and it will automatically update and download the latest definitions and start the scan and then remove whatever it finds, leaving you with the log of what it found. So you will not really know what version, that is, unless you check. At the end, when the log comes up, you can click on HELP and then ABOUT and it will reveal the version number.

If you are reading this, then you will also be told when a new version is released because I will blog about it.

The best thing you can do if you are unsure of something is ASK... A simple email stating your problem/question goes a long way when you send it to me because I will usually take the time to include links to the appropriate place where you can get the updates or quick fix solution. Not to mention the ongoing ability to connect to your computer and repair things remotely. Note that if you haven't had me connect to your computer lately, then there is a very good chance that you have a number of problems that could be repaired remotely, without the expense of having your computer visit my hospital for a few days! Ultimately it is up to you, how you use/abuse your computer, but without the knowledge of what to look for, you probably aren't doing it right. Therefore a lesson on this may not be such a bad idea, especially if you can then pass on your recent knowledge that you may have gained by the lesson to others in your family or friends that have been "emailing you junk jokes" all the time.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

One more reason for you to switch from Internet Explorer to Avant.

Microsoft probes report of IE flaw

One more reason for you to switch to AVANT BROWSER... Forget Firefox and the others. You can always get software that I mention through my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page.

It does go to show just how the big kid on the block is going to get hit a lot harder then the smaller guys when it comes to web browsers. Firefox, the number two choice by statistics, is now starting to also see the wrath of becoming a big player, by dealing with an increased security breaches.

If you are planning on giving a new web browser a try, whether it be Avant (which I would recommend) or Firefox, be sure to give it a fair trial, such as a month. Delete the Internet Explorer icons from the quick launch and/or desktop so that you don't accidentally choose that, and when prompted after installing the new browser whether "it should be the default browser", be sure to say YES, that way whenever you click on a link from within an email for example, it will open in the new browser. DO NOT try to uninstall Internet Explorer! This is something that belongs with your windows operating system and is what will be used for any and all "Internet updates" as this is what Windows uses as it's Internet browser.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

A common problem with all Computer consultants and the problems that we face

As written by Lockergnomes Sherman E. DeForest while helping a client with a small problem.

I see this quite often but then this is because I do try to "teach" while I repair some small issue such as this. It is very easy to get side tracked on to other issues as I see it and quite often computer settings are not set up the way "I" would use them, but knowing how everyone likes their computer options to be set up differently, unless you are willing to "teach" them a new way, you must be prepared for the answer, which more often then not, is that typical "I am used to it now" answer.

Just remember there is never a dumb question, only one that never gets asked!

There are other ways then to use Telus "E-Care"

Although I am never going to tell someone that contacts their internet provider for technical help when they are having troubles getting or staying connected to the internet, however I will say to think twice before simply installing whatever they tell you to. Learn more about these things by getting more information first. This is something you are doing right now, by reading this blog!

When things get very serious is when I usually get the call. It is in the "preventative maintenance" that I am trying to educate those that want to know. When I see how the internet providers are starting to help deal with spyware and spam by offering these, normally free,services I am usually all in favour of it. As is the case with the SPAM FILTERING that both the broadband (Shaw, in most cases in Canada) or ADSL which would be Telus or other telephone provider. Spam filtering on email is a must and I suggest using the "delete" from the server option as opposed to the "tag suspected spam". You can access this information by logging in to your account through the internet providers website. Note that you DO NOT have to install the "e-care" program that Telus recommends. Of course they will recommend something that allows them more access to pertinent information about your computer, usually to help learn more about where your problem may be happening. It is unfortunate however, that these "monitoring devices" end up causing more problems then they are worth. At least this would be the case with most clients that I deal with. This would be because these programs in most cases, are constantly in communication with the external server which is monitoring your computer. In the case of Shaw's "secure" package, (read more about this in a previous blog here), don't always believe you are more "secure" and in most cases you are worse off. Think about this.. When they say you must remove the antivirus program from your computer (because it will interfere with the monitoring of their equipment and could quite possibly be blocked due to the antivirus program believing there is a "worm" or "trojan horse" virus installed on your computer). This is because the monitoring software acts like a trojan horse, sending specific information, such as your current ip address, how long you have been connected, the ports that are in use, etc.......

I am constantly referring to the "KISS" rule of "keep it simple stupid" since this usually ends up becoming the means of diagnosing a problem. You quite often have to go back to the beginning and start from one end of the problem to find out where the problem starts. When you are dealing with not being able to get connected, this is where the internet provider would utilize this software to see if they can "see" their modem at your end of the computer. This is the first thing they will encounter, however if you have installed the "ecare" software for example, they can then read other information on your computer, such as the ip address settings and even your files that are being shared on the network. This is something that you are basically allowing when you install this software, therefore think about this before you simply install it. I always highly suggest contacting your local computer guru that helps you with the routine maintenance and upkeep of your computer. As always, this is something that I hope I am doing by providing you with TIPS and SOFTWARE/SUPPORT, not to mention the remote services I offer by becoming a TPS Client. Contact me if you have any questions. You can always ask through here.

Friday, September 09, 2005

Protect Yourself from Fraudulent Emails

I recently responded to a number of similar emails from clients that are concerned about the safety of their computer and its use when loggin in to 'online banking' for example.

PayPal has this to say which helps understand the issues but once this is understood, you should feel more in control and should not feel it is time to stop using such services. It is still the safest way to do your banking!

Always remember to keep your spyware programs up to date. You can check the latest versions via my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Kazaa is finally getting what it deserves

The latest court order will hopefully put an end to what I consider THE WORST file sharing program on the internet. From computers that I have had to repair, if I have found Kazaa installed on it, it usually has at least one major virus (trojan horse) that essentially shuts down the computer over time. Since the internet and this technology is constantly changing with so many new laws being created, it is only a matter of time before the bad sources have been completely blocked. Learn about legitimate means of file sharing by using Bit Torrent.