Monday, November 27, 2006

IE7 Do you really want to install it?

If you are reading this then odds are you already have, and are currently using the AVANT Browser... why? Because I have blogged about the AVANT BROWSER to death! IE 7 on the other hand, is a relatively new program and one that is becoming more and more of a problem then a solution to Microsoft's current security issues. So the question is, do you really want to install this program? With your windows updates happening automatically, if you allow them to, this program will eventually get installed on your computer. This is because you are allowing it to install through the automatic updates since Microsoft figured they would throw it in with all the other crap that clutters up your computer! I say this because I am typically the one that ends up either rolling back some failed security update or dealing with a number of problems as a direct result of those of you that continue to use the Internet Explorer. Yes, even though the newer version (IE7) is touted as being a much more secure browser, it seems inevitable that your computer will end up having it installed and in theory this is not a bad thing, since many of the built in Internet applications of the windows operating system utilize the 'explorer' which is the graphical user interface of windows. Since the latest version of IE includes an anti-phishing filter, this can be considered a good investment, to go ahead and install. The problem is, this 'filter' I have found, will make adjustments to the global settings of your Internet connectivity resulting in potential problems with other browsers and/or connecting to the Internet, depending a lot on what your current home page is. On this note, many of my existing clients will probably have a little application called spyware gaurd that will block the change of the current home page as in previous versions of the Internet explorer, this could be 'hijacked' without your knowledge, resulting in you clicking on your web browser only to find it opening to some pornographic or other damaging web site that essentially makes your computer an Internet zombie, unable to do anything at all. I have seen it happen and it is not something I enjoy cleaning up so this is why I donate so much of my time to helping those with computer related problems and hope to help my existing clients from falling in to these sort of traps.

Do yourself a favor, the next time you get that gold shield icon on your system tray telling you that there are available windows updates, DON'T just automatically click OK to install since you see the "recommended" in brackets... DO click on the CUSTOM choice so that you get to see just what exactly is going to be installed when you do click OK. Then, if you are unsure of this, DO NOT continue with this download/installation and DO EMAIL ME with the question of what should you do next. In the end, it can save you a lot of time (and that relates to money)!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Web Browsers are your choice!

As much as I like to promote and push the AVANT BROWSER on everyone that reads my blogs and for all of my existing clients, I do realize as with anything on the Internet and your computer, it is completely up to you to decide what you want to use as your web browser while surfing the web. The main reason I have found the AVANT BROWSER as my choice and what I believe should be yours as well, is the simple fact that it is NOT the number one browser being used and for this reason alone, it means you are going to run a lot lower risk of hacking issues which directly result in security problems. As I write this, it is quite apparent that the number two browser in the world is Mozilla's Firefox which I am happy to report, has a new "version 2.0" available. If you are wanting to live on the edge and actually give yourself a new workout in computer know-how, then go ahead and download it and give it a try! My opinion hasn't changed however and I still feel the Avant Browser is the better choice. For my clients especially, since I see many of them struggling with spyware issues, the nice feature of FireFox is the simplicity of the toolbar, however in my opinion it is too simple.. to the point that you are going to end up adding many things. The next thing are the 'plug-ins' that are required to have it function properly. Again, this could be seen as a good feature since you may or may not require certain things and therefore if it isn't installed, then it can't be running, further helping the problems of security issues. But unfortunately it isn't quite that simple, since most people want things to simply work and be able to see everything, it then becomes an issue with the tabbed windows. To this point I still haven't found the option to have it so that when I do open a new tab, that it will open to a web page of my choice. It is for this type of issue that I remain true to my browser of choice, the Avant Browser. Simple is sometimes better and in this case I will agree with that statement! Regardless of what I may say here, I hope you will at least believe me when I say that the Internet Explorer is Bad, Bad, Bad and you should stop using it completely. By doing this, I can almost guarantee you will have less spyware problems, less malware problems and less chance of potential windows disasters, since this remains the worlds number one choice of web browsing mostly due to the simple fact that it comes included with your windows operating system and most people are just too lazy to go and install something else when as far as they are concerned, it gets them to the website and that is what they are after in the first place. That my friend, is the attitude I hope to be able to change with this blog!

Monday, November 20, 2006

Maximize your windows-TIP

I've discovered that many of you are having troubles with windows simply because you aren't reading the entire screen information. This is because when you do click on something and a new window pops up, you attempt to read what is on this new window WITHOUT MAXIMIZING! Do yourself a favour.. a big favour and that would be to click on the MAXIMIZE button and read what information is there for you the way it was intended to be read.

I don't know how many times I see my Mother opening a new window and then trying to read the information and when I tell her to maximize the window, she does and almost immediately knows where to click next. Unfortunately within only a few minutes I see once again, a new window pops open and immediately she is trying to read it, again, without maximizing.

Consider this another TIP to improve your knowledge and efficiency while surfing the web and playing with your windows computer. Many more TIPS from my TIPS page as well.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blogging from Google Docs & Spreadsheets

As I posted my last blog about GMAIL and how wonderful it is, I notice that I can now also post a new blog directly from the Google Docs & Spreadsheets.. So I thought I would give it a try!

Now about the title-subject line where does that go?

OK well after creating and posting the blog, I see that yes, although in a pinch it will work, it just doesn't quite have what it takes (yet) to make me want to start using that method for posting, especially since Google (Blogger) has already made it so simple. (this was edited and re posted all in one easy step).

Experimenting with Email options

Owning a Gmail account has been a wonderful thing and it seems it is only getting better. What is GMAIL? Google Mail and having it has most definitely increased my productivity. The more I play around with the settings, the more I am finding ways to make my life a little bit easier. Currently I have had a number of email messages go -- somewhere within my Small Business Server (SBS) system which basically uses Microsoft Exchange. Yes although it may be true that no messages have been actually lost, it seems quite apparent though, that they will not surface any time soon. I have therefore been left with a few alternative methods of handling my email when I use multiple computers, from multiple locations and also require immediate access to other files/documents. This is where Google is really starting to shine in my opinion! Now with the ability to use the online documents/forms I have been able to access many useful tools that I have posted to my own account. This includes the google calendar and of course the email. The great part about the email is not only that I can use the P.O.P features, but I can utilize mail forwarding and still have it appear that my email is coming from the appropriate email account.

Unfortunately however, for the first few email messages I have received from some clients, I have responded to but using my 'gmail' account and in the past, quite possibly a 'yahoo' account. I should at this point out that my email address is and always will be one email address always! This is my own domain ( and therefore will always be my email address. It is at this time that I ask you to check your address books and make sure you have removed any and all other email addresses. I say this because as much as I am trying to centralize my email, I want to confirm that when I receive a phone call from someone stating that their email message got returned or that I had never responded to it, that I have something to fall back on and that would be my own fault if my domain should not be working but other then that, there should be no excuse from the Microsoft small business server eating up the email messages. I have had enough of this exchange bull&*^T!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Arlene Kynnersley please contact me

With hopes that you manage to get back online and can read this. I got your phone message but deleted it before getting the phone number. I have attempted to email you using what I thought was your Snowbird email address but it came back. Or if anyone happens to know the current email address or snowbird phone number, please contact me.

As much as I try to help my clients remotely, even when they are south of the border, it is rather impossible to do it without an ip address, let alone not having the phone number or email to contact you back. Boy do I feel blind! Hope to hear from you!

Google Reader Rocks!

My verdict is in, Google Reader has become my RSS reader of choice. By far, the ease of scrolling through the entries makes it a time saver if nothing else. And, since I tend to have a subscription list that is continually growing, it is nice to be able to 'star' the ones that I have found to be more relevant to what I am wanting to read. At that point I can easily add them to my favorites or simply move them to an order that makes sense to me. I must admit that I have been giving it a pretty fair trial, right next to the Newsgator online reader that I had been using. For those of you that haven't found RSS in your current computer niche as of yet, give it time but I suggest using Google Reader as your news aggregator as it does seem to be winning the hearts of the true blogging community and when guys like Robert Scoble, Dave Winer, and Chris Pirillo just to name a few, are avid fans, you know you are doing something right when it comes to RSS feeds! Consider this a friendly TIP just like the others you may find of some interest available at my website.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Reading English is hard work!

Currently helping a friend by reading the rough draft proposal of a Ph.D dissertation can take a lot out of you. Reading and reading and reading, looking for any errors, and this because I am a 'native speaker of the English language' that I can be of some help on a paper about Englisht as a second language! Problem is, it makes for tired eyes and as a result my own time helping those in need of some computer assistance remotely must be put on hold for the night. Yes, even though the computer is a machine, I am not! I realize how important health is and working for myself, I must always take those early warning signs (in this case, the inability to keep my eyes open), as time to stop what I am currently doing and get some rest! As with all of my work, I do have to prioritize with the work on my bench which always comes first, and then those computers I will connect to remotely for checking up on things, and doing whatever is necessary to keep the computer performing at its peak performance. I do apologize if that may seem like your computer is not getting the attention it deserves and remind you that I do have service loaners for those that would rather work on a computer that isn't sick, which would then allow me to go full tilt on the repairs on the bench! As I do try and attempt to make most of my remote connections later in the evening, after most have finished using it for the day, it just so happens that I am not always capable of staying up and performing all-nighters all the time! And don't go telling me to get a life either, cause I enjoy the one I have.. helping those that can't help themselves fix their little babies (computers).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Receiving email from one account on more then one computer

It is not that uncommon today to have a home network in your house whereas you are sharing the Internet with your desktop computer and a laptop as well. If you haven't already set it up so that you can receive email from each computer, you can! This is actually a simple click of a few check boxes within the account options (if using outlook express or outlook).. However the key to remember here is to also include the rules of when to delete. Depending on how often you check your mail and just how much mail you receive on a daily basis may have you changing these options, especially if you start receiving notices from your Internet provider that your mailbox is full!

Since there is also so many unwanted emails (spam) that will arrive in your inbox, it isn't a bad idea to log in to the 'webmail' access which almost all Internet providers now provide (for shaw customers it is (for telus customers it is I think you get the idea.

Once you log in to your webmail you are connected directly to the mailbox, which means anything you delete here will be gone! This means when you connect using Outlook/Outlook express it will find nothing. This is a good thing, especially if you have had troubles receiving some or all of your mail. In fact, many people actually find using the web-based email faster and easier since no email is actually being downloaded to your computer (other then any attachments you may decide to save), so for that reason it is actually a lot more safe as you run less chance of downloading a virus.

The key to having this 'multiple email account access' work properly is to make sure you use the same rules on each computer that you plan to receive email from. To walk you through it:

Open outlook express and click on TOOLS then on ACCOUNTS now click to highlight your email account and choose PROPERTIES. Now click on the ADVANCED tab and now place a check mark in the DELIVERY check box "leave a copy on the server". Now directly below this are the rules I was referring to earlier. Here is where you will want to first choose how many days before they are deleted. Note that this timer starts the first time the email account accesses that particular email message so if computer 1 connects on Monday and it is set to 5 days, then on Saturday it would be removed. If you are using this rule, which of course you should be otherwise your inbox on your web server will just fill up, you should probably use the other rule as well, since this works as an 'and/or' statement. If the message is 5 days old "or" it is deleted from the deleted items. This means you may have 20 new messages that computer 1 picks up on Monday. Computer 2 connects on Thursday and will also receive all 20 messages (plus anything new of course). But if computer 2 were to have connected Saturday instead of before that, those messages would be gone. But if computer1 had deleted, say 5 messages from those initial 20, and then computer 2 connected, there would only be 15 messages downloaded.

Now, the final point to get across here is this deleting rule takes place when your email program first connects to the mail server, therefore in order for the mail server to know that you have just deleted those 5 messages, you would have to perform a new 'send/receive' at which point the server recognizes that you have removed those 5 (before the 5 day time frame or whatever you had set for rule number 1),then they would be removed. I think this is the part most people do not realize since they will connect from computer 1, receive the 20 messages and then go and receive them on computer 2 as well. Now, they would delete 5 messages from computer 1 and perform a send/receive but realize they are still on computer 2.. that is because they have been DOWNLOADED to that computer. The only way computer 2 would not get those 5 messages is if it had not yet connected (before computer 1 had deleted and performed a send/receive).

Now for those of you using Outlook, in the advanced options of your email, you have the option to 'perform a send/receive upon exiting' which would solve this problem of forgetting to do the send/receive to remove the mail you just deleted (before computer 2 connected).

Again, this is where using webmail can eliminate this, by simply using the webmail log in on all computers since you can delete it and it is gone, no matter who connects to it.

One final trick that I suggest you use if you do plan on setting up this multi-computer access to your email account, using outlook/outlook express, is to go in to the MAINTENANCE option and turn on the option to EMPTY MAIL FROM DELETED ITEMS WHEN EXITING. This will also help eliminate mail from hanging around that you have been planning on deleting. When I say this is a good thing, I actually have people tell me that they don't want that because they might actually need that mail. This is where I explain that if I delete something, then it goes to the deleted items.. I can still get it back .. SO LONG AS I DON'T CLOSE THE EMAIL PROGRAM! This shouldn't be too much to remember, if you aren't in the habit of doing a glance in your deleted items before you close your program then you obviously don't care what is deleted. For me, I am SURE when I delete that I don't want it.. on the other hand I have been known to 'double click' or drag the file to the wrong place and it ends up going to the deleted items folder, but no problem since I just made the 'oops' I would retrieve it from the deleted items folder. For no unforsaken reason should you be using the deleted items folder as a 'temporary folder'.. CREATE A NEW FOLDER if that is what you are wanting to accomplish! Worst case scenario I say is, hey if you accidentally deleted a friends email they sent to you, you can probably email them back and get them to re-send it.. because every email program also comes equipped with the SENT ITEMS folder which is where all of your mail will go (unless you are playing with the options in which case you may choose not to save a copy but that if you are at that point, then you probably don't need to be reading this tip in the first place).

Be sure to read my TIPS page on the CORRECT WAY TO SEND AND FORWARD email if you haven't already since that one tip alone may eventually save the world from SPAM.. if only everyone that we know would follow that rule we may actually win the war on spam, or at least have a fighting chance!

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Spyware Scanning--the how and when to run them

I figure it was about time to do a little updating to my TIPS page regarding the act of performing the spyware scans. As you will find, from the SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page, you can download and install any of the programs I make mention of. In this case, Spybot Search and Destroy, AVG Antispyware and Ad-Aware. As well, CCleaner and SpywareBlaster which are not spyware scanners but spyware gaurds and removal tools. First of all, on any typical computer I am setting up, I will place these 5 program icons in a row from left to right as "ccleaner", "spyware blaster", spybot s & d, AVG antispyware, and finally Ad-aware. I do this because this is the order in which I suggest you run the programs and note that this entire process will take less then 3 minutes and possibly less then 1 minute, depending on the speed of your computer. Note that this will START the process of scanning but the actual job will take much longer, more like 2 to 3 hours in most cases. This is why I suggest performing this task at the end of your computing day. Personally, on my way to bed I'll start them up. So, to start with CCleaner. This program will scan and remove all the temporary Internet files, cookies and history that we are always so worried about. Quite simply you click on the icon to start the program, then you click on RUN CLEANER button on the bottom right corner. Note the first time you do this you will get a prompt asking if you are sure you want to remove whatever it finds. You can click on the small check box to 'not ask me this in the future'. As well, if there was an updated version available, this will typically remind you when you first start the program. Also note if this does happen, you will be prompted "do you want to get this new version now?" Of course you do want it, but to say yes will take you to their website which you will then be directed to another download site, where you will wait for their sponsorship to kick in before spitting the file at you. You can avoid this by getting the latest version from my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page by simply clicking on the file and choosing RUN and it will install over top of the old version. Once the scan is done you are done.. there are two other levels but for the most part that is all you have to do.. If you want to do a more thorough cleaning read on, otherwise skip down to the next program "SPYWAREBLASTER"; The second level of cleaning using CCLeaner is to clean the Applications. Typically this will either find nothing or very few files as this is where it removes any temporary files from other installs such as adobe acrobat reader or java updates. So all you do is click on the APPLICATION tab and then run the CLEANER button again. Finally the last step and this one I would recommend only for ADVANCED USERS: This is cleaning out registry entries that are of no use anymore. To run this you click on the ISSUES button on the left hand menu, then click on the ANALYZE button. This will scan your system and will leave you with some sort of results. Of course no results is perfect but anything else you will want to clean. So clicking on FIX SELECTED ISSUES button will now prompt you if you want to create a backup of your registry in which case you will most definitely want to say YES to this. I suggest creating a 'registry backups' folder within MY DOCUMENTS. Once you have done this, simply save it and it will save as a file name that includes the date and time.. no need to change the file name here. Now you can click on FIX ALL SELECTED ISSUES and say yes to the prompt are "are you sure". Click on Close when you are done. Then run it again by clicking on ANALYZE. Complete the entire step again only this time when you choose to save the file, if you are prompted to overwrite the file, simply add the letter a to the end of the file name (this way you are saving it as a new file name and not overwriting the first registry clean). I suggest running this until you have removed all of the problems. If you find that there are still one or two remaining after a few scans, leave it at that and move on.. it may be something more serious that will hopefully be removed with one of the other program scanners.Now you are ready for SPYWAREBLASTER. (final note on CCLEANER is that there are other tools that you can use however I highly suggest you leave these for your computer technician or get direct instruction as in step by step on removing anything else to prevent deleting system files required to run windows) SPYWARE BLASTER. Clicking on this, you will notice 0 items have been disabled. If you see any number other then 0 here then click on ENABLE ALL PROTECTION button near the bottom. Note the first time you install and run this, you will need to enable all and complete an update. Now click on DOWNLOAD LATEST PROTECTION UPDATES button at the bottom and follow the steps. If there are updates, it will automatically download and end by stating how many new definitions are not protected and by clicking on the blue link line will complete the task. That's it. Note if you forget to click on this link and you go back to the beginning of this program (by either closing it or clicking on STATUS) you will see the number is not 0 in which case you can click on ENABLE ALL PROTECTION. SPYBOT Search & Destroy. Note if you have never run Spybot before, then you will want to go through a setup to make scanning very easy. Do this by using the following settings. Start the program and when prompted about legal issues, click on the check box to not show you this again. Now once the program opens choose the MODE button and change it to ADVANCED. You will be prompted about this but say OK and move on. In advanced mode you can now click on the SETTINGS button and then you will see the SETTINGS in the list and click on this. Now in the body of the program you will see all the settings that can be adjusted. This is where you can select and de-select whatever you choose. Personally I have it set to the following: Advanced mode desktop icon no icon quick launch advanced mode start menu item main settings first item unchecked and the rest checked except 'display confirmation and display compatibility' leaving the rest, move down to AUTOMATION and PROGRAM START Select the first two 'run check on program start' and 'fix all programs on program start' rerun is NOT checked IMMUNIZED on programs is checked DON'T ASK for fixing confirmation is checked. Move down to WEB UPDATE and select the first two only. Now move down to EXPERT SETTINGS (leaving everything in between as is) De-select the first two "use shredders" Select the last two "show expert buttons" and now close the program and click on the spybot icon to start it.. it should now completely do everything from download and install the updates to starting the scan, to removing whatever it finds and finally leaving it at a results log whereas all you will be doing is closing it (or making note if you see the same items that it is removing or having troubles with) One final note on this program. Once you have made these settings changes, if you need to get back in to the settings, simply CANCEL the scan and wait until it completes and now you can click on SETTINGS and make the necessary changes. At this point, you can read my original TIP on using spybot and adaware which may be a little redundant but hey-you have read this much so what's a little more reading right? :-) AVG Antispyware I put in between Spybot S & D and Adaware simply because I am suggesting you start Spybot as this will first go and check for updates and download whatever is available. ONCE SPYBOT S & D HAS STARTED SCANNING you can then start both AVG and AdAware and 'check for updates'.. Note that since Spybot is now scanning your system may be a little sluggish. Once you have updated the definitions (for both AVG and AdAware) you can click on SCANNER and do a full scan. AdAware you can start and click on CHECK FOR UPDATES and perform all updates while AVG is also getting updates. Note Adaware once you click on Start to start the scan, be sure the selection is set to PERFORM FULL SYSTEM SCAN and have BOTH check boxes checked at the bottom "Search for negligible... " and "Search for low-risk" are checked. Now click NEXT and the scan will start. At this point I am usually on my way to bed as everything is scanning and will continue until it is completed.. whenever that is... so when I get back to the computer in the morning I will complete the tasks which will be to remove (delete) any items found. So I know this was a lot of reading, but believe me, if you perform this DAILY, you are almost sure to keep yourself free and clear of the spyware/malware that causes slowdowns and freezing. Happy surfing!

Getting ME connected to YOU-what is involved?

This is directly related to any and all clients that have at one time, had me take a look at their computer:

There are many way in which connection from computer to computer can be made over the Internet and typically I install two methods. What I require however, is your current IP address as we are all on a 'dynamic ip address' which means your Internet provider provides your Internet modem with an address which can change at the servers will.

I have made this VERY SIMPLE to provide for me. From my HOMEPAGE located at you click on the link reads "Get your current ip address" This link will then open a new window which will have the number that I require.

Now some of you will simply write this number down on a piece of paper, open a new email message and then type it in--nice idea, but please don't do this. As I am quite dyslexic, it appears that many of you are as well and as a result I get the numbers backwards.

Another way is to copy and paste this number in to a new email message. Although this way is better, it still can be wrong, in the fact that when you copy, you may add too much of the line (and incur spaces where there shouldn't be) as well, not all the information that I may require is provided as you will notice when you do click on the link, besides the ip address is other information such as browser type, time, etc. This can be very useful in helping me determine what may be wrong with your computer.

So, what is the best method, the method that I hope you will all do now after reading this?

When you click on that link and you get that new window, from within your AVANT BROWSER (not using AVANT? Well whatever browser you are using should also have the email icon on the toolbar) this email icon on the toolbar will have a 'send page' option. By choosing this option, it will take the page you are currently viewing and place it in to a new composed email, complete with the subject header and all you have to do is ADDRESS IT TO ME.

Note that this email icon on the toolbar may not be there and if you don't see it, simply RIGHT CLICK on a blank space next to the other icons on the toolbar and choose CUSTOMIZE. This will now allow you to add the EMAIL icon. For those of you not using Outlook Express (as this is typically the default email program of windows), you will have to go in to the AVANT (or other browser) options and change the EMAIL CLIENT option to whatever it is you are using.

For example if you are using Outlook and you are using AVANT as your browser, then you would click on TOOLS then AVANT BROWSER OPTIONS. Now from the menu on the left, click on EMAIL CLIENT and on the right, choose the 'OTHER PROGRAM' check box and now browse to the .exe (executable file) the case of outlook it may be found in c:\program files\Microsoft office\office 11\outlook.exe (this is if you are using office 2003) Office 10 is what office XP is so that would be where the outlook.exe file is locate. If this sounds too difficult to find the file, you can always do a search for the file. Again, this is only necessary if you ARE NOT using the Outlook Express email program.

Because I have created this simple method, (yes, believe me once you have tried it you will see just how easy it is) to send me your current ip address. I suggest you start using it each and every time you send me an email regarding some computer related question as in most cases I find it much easier to connect to your computer, take a look at just what it is you are having issues with and either correct it on the fly, or at least be able to respond with a little knowledge of what problems you are having and can then give you some idea as to how I will go about fixing it. As I am strictly dealing with a time management issue here, I have found that by responding to each and every email I receive with a lengthy "try this and go here and do that" sort of answer, may take anywhere from 5 to 35 minutes to compose, then as a result of this lengthy answer (much like this blog entry), people will then have this glazed over look in their eye, realizing that it just looks a little bit too complicated for them to do on their own and respond back to my answer with "could you please take a look at it for me?"... now, as you can see, that is a complete waste of my time when I could have simply connected, fixed the problem(s) and then responded to the email by saying "it's fixed"... I have found that about 70percent of the time, this entire process is done in less then 15 minutes.... best part is for you--you aren't going to get charged for that! Yes, you heard it right... I have basically found that as important as time is money, quality time is by far more important. This is why if I can find a method to fixing not only your problem, but two or three other client problems, all by connecting remotely AT THE SAME TIME, then what is 10 minutes here and there? I have learned that my time spent fixing some problem on a computer must be billed by the actual amount of time spent looking at that particular monitor feed. Therefore if I were to connect and spend 4 hours one evening, updating and cleaning your computer, odds are that I spent no more then 1 full hour of time actually looking at the computer screen connected to your computer since the computer was off running tasks (spyware/virus scanning or updating for example). So why wait until your computer is completely crashed or running like a slug! Contact me on any little problem.. why not, all the people that ask me a question at do and to date I have that total number of questions answered is 1655 ! (all voluntary I might add)