Friday, April 28, 2006

SPAM is on the uprise...

It appears that SPAM is truly starting to show a surge when even the spam filtered mail still has a number of items that seem to get through. There are few things you can do. Obviously you shouldn't be opening any email that doesn't appear from someone you know. Unfortunately there are many ways spammers are now attempting to trick you. One way is to make it appear as though the message was actually from yourself. Think about it, if this is the case, obviously you are not going to create a rule to block that since it is yourself... And since more and more spam filter programs look out for these sort of rules, it appears that not all work and that is when you start picking up a lot of new spam issues. Keeping up to date with the spam DEFINITIONS become important. For those using Microsoft Outlook, this is a good time to make sure you have the latest spam filter definitions, something you can always check through the microsoft office update site.

For those of you that are using highspeed connections, this probably means your internet provider also has a spam filtering service built in to the email and this is important that you are forwarding this sort of spam to them to add to the blacklist. Check your internet providers home page for information on email filtering as most now do offer this. It won't block all spam but any little bit helps.

Another way to filter your mail even further would be to open up a web based email account such as Hotmail or Yahoo mail where you can then forward all of your email from your internet providers email account to this new email account where it will be filtered once again. Since you don't have to tell anybody this email address, you can use it as your filtering system. Only problem is that your email is now web-based and not something that is being downloaded as it is when using outlook/express. All this forwarding and filtering, just where is this leading us to next? This is one reason why I see learning how to send and forward email the correct way must start from you and then be promoted from within, otherwise we will continue to not even have a chance against the spammers trickery.

Friday, April 14, 2006

NORTON SUCKS!

Okay so there are probably a number of techies out there that would already agree with me on this and I know it has taken me some time to completely agree, but when you have a choice between changing your operating system to something other then a Microsoft product which currently means either going out and buying a MAC or converting your current system to Linux, it appears the only option is to change Norton.


For those of you that are continuing to get error messages from Norton when doing a Live Update this is what I suggest:

Stop doing the live update!
Why? because you don't need to.. Basically if you have been recently updated by me (2006) then you will not be using norton's antivirus which is the number one reason for the updates. Bottom line is, that since the latest round of Microsoft security fixes, once again there are errors with Norton. This is the main reason why I have switched antivirus vendors and will continue to boycott Symantec until things change, which probably will not be until the Vista Operating system is out. If you do require me to help you with this, please remember the drill.. Visit my home page and click on the link to get your current IP address and send it along in an email with any other pertinent information regarding the issues you are having.

Other then that, did I mention how much I USED TO like Norton? Well, I still do like the utilities package and pcanywhere but other then that....

Happy Easter!

P.S. If this is the first time you are learning about this problem, you may want to read my other blogs on this here
as well as here.

Communication is the key!

As much as I believe in communication as being the key to.. Pretty much everything, including 'success', it seems that at times there are so many things, negative things, working against my theory.

Now, since I have started this blog and have tried to implement this as a truly positive business tool in the way of communicating to the masses, those masses being my clients, it seems pointless if they (my clients) are either unaware of this blog, or simply do not understand the need to visit the blog page, let alone attempt subscribing to it.

So I find myself currently out of town for both business (when am I not working since I always have my laptop with me and am usually only a day away from being connected to some highspeed connection which then allows me to connect remotely to help those in need), or for pleasure (yes, I do try to get away from the day to day 'repairing of' computers on occasion), and rely heavily on other means of communication, such as the telephone and email. Okay so email is still computer related but it certainly doesn't mean I can't keep in touch, even without a laptop there are so many places now where you can check your email. With the 'webmail' feature that most internet providers have available, it means you shouldn't have to miss any email by waiting to have it download to your computer through outlook/outlook express programs and can stay up to date. Now, I have gone a step further by utilizing my own server since I have my own domain (tpsconsulting.com) but then again, this may or may not be the best solution in my case, since I am then relying upon my server to function correctly, which means relying heavily on Microsoft and the Small Business Server software as well as the typical viruses/spam that continue to plague any and all email accounts we have. Sure, we can take advantage of the internet providers built in spam filters which I do as well, even through my own domain, but that doesn't help when bugs actually get in to the computer itself, and, being away from my home/server, I can't do the real heavy duty maintenance such as take the server offline to purge the account from any and all spyware/bugs that might have cause the initial disturbance. Pretty much the only thing I can do is restart the system and hope I can solve the problem through other means, such as utilizing a 'backdoor' system which I do. Again, this is only useful information for those technically inclined to actually still be reading this. Therefore without going too far off course to the initial title of this blog, I mentioned how I also rely on the telephone and of course voice mail! This is where things get even more problematic. Since I deal with a few cities where I live, and those cities of course have long distance between them when using the landline, however via cellular phone they are not long distance. This allows me to utilize two separate phone numbers which would then be a local call for the client and allow me to stay in touch via local calls, therefore by forwarding the one phone to the other, I should be all set. Now this is where I have found great problems when I do actually travel outside my home area and in this case, the United States. Maybe I can put some of the blame on the deregulation of the utilities themselves and the watering-down of the services by the simple fact that new cellular phone companies and phone plans are popping up as fast as the spam piles up on your computer when you do not run spyware scans, but when the communications don't get through, where does that leave the end user? Screwed and tattooed thank you very much! It seems that I have once again missed a number of calls on my cell phone and have no way of knowing just who called. I have contacted the phone company but they are useless since all they can do is purge my voicemail which is of course not what I want. Since they have then said the calls have come from an unlisted number or a cell phone as well, there is nothing they can do. Of course you can use the *69 feature but that only works if you call the last number received on your phone and it doesn't work if you have your phone forwarded, as I have found out!

So what is the solution? How is a person supposed to stay in complete contact with their friends, family and in my case, my clients, of whom quite often have a simple question to ask and have elected to make a phone call only to never get a response? In some cases, and usually this is the reason I know I have missed that call, is because they will then email me stating that they had called but I didn't answer. Well once again I find myself in this predicament where I ask that if any of you reading this now have called me and have not received a responding phone call, you now know why. Thing is, if you don't already subscribe to my blog or peruse my blog on occasional or attempt emailing me, how would you know that I am also dealing with technical issues (mostly out of my control)? This is actually one of the reasons I have redundant internet providers at my home, because as I typically updating and repairing computers, the need for the internet is quite obvious and if it were to go down for any length of time, my business pretty much comes to a screeching halt, just as it would if the power were to fail. Having both Broadband and DSL allow me to stay in the highspeed usually, unless there is a real breakdown such as a severed cable between my home and the hub, which might be a problem if the lines were still above ground, but now that most areas deal with underground cabling, this too is a thing of the past. Living in almost desert like conditions means the chances of flooding or other issues that can inhibit the lines of communication are much more unlikely therefore it is quite easy to say I am now redundant and internet ready about 96% of the time and 3% is probably due to my own server issues, leaving only 1% to the ISP's. Sure this deals with the internet problems, but once again I am also dealing with the phone company and in this case, I do not have redundant phones. This is something that I am truly considering, other then the fact that as far as I know in Canada, we still can not change phone providers and keep our existing phone number like you can in the USA. If I could then I am pretty sure Rogers would be getting some of my business, but currently Telus has it all!

To summarize, if you haven't figured it out, I am currently out of town but that shouldn't stop you from still letting me know of a current problem you may be having with your system. As all of my current clients have remote capabilities, and if you are still connected to the internet, then I should be able to help you out. If your computer is down and out, then I can still help you out by shuttling a service loaner to you courtesy of my father who has elected to help when help is needed. retirement life has him looking for things to do and therefore I always try to do my part in finding the odd job for him, not that he hasn't found enough odd jobs to do for himself, I am always a firm believer in keeping your brain active, as it definitely keeps you young at heart!

Finally, one problem that I have been seeing a lot while I respond to certain email that I have been receiving from clients are issues that you can and should be doing yourself, and that is UPDATES. Note that my SOFTWARE/SUPPORT page I do try to keep current with the latest version of spyware software as well as AVANT BROWSER download that you can always get here. Since I know most clients using Avant do like it, and the program itself does have the ability to notify you when there is a newer version available. I have found if you do not click "yes" when prompted that one time, it will not ask you again, therefore please remember you can always click on HELP from within the Avant Browser (or most programs for that matter) and you will find "check for new version/updates" and you will find it will immediately inform you if there is one available. If there is, you can click YES and it will direct you to the download page where you can then click on the link to download/install. This is where I suggest you simply choose RUN/OPEN and it will automatically install overtop of the old one. Doing this one task, I have found, solves about 50% of all problems I have seen lately. Now, why must you do this whereas with Internet Explorer you don't have to? Becuase Internet Explorer is part of Microsoft which means it will get done during the automatic updates, which your computer is probably set up to do... that being said, if you notice the small gold shield on your system tray (next to your clock) this is Microsoft's way of informing you that there are updates available and need to be installed. Most of the time, the automatic update feature will have already downloaded these, therefore all you are doing is accepting the update and allowing it to complete the install process at which time you will probably be prompted to restart your computer. Even if you aren't prompted to restart, I highly suggest you do it anyway! Quite often you will find at that point there are more updates that need to be installed BEFORE your system will even reboot. This again is Microsoft and the updates which need to be installed without other programs running therefore it will automatically shut down/re-boot your system once you have agreed to allow the updates to be installed. Keeping your system up to date doesn't have to be that difficult, especially if you are leaving your computer on (and online) all the time. It only becomes a real issue when you are turning it off and only using your computer when you need it. By using your computer in this fashion it is quite safe to say you will never be completely up to date since with all the spyware out there, systems pretty much need to be routinely optimized. Something you can learn how to do from reading my TIPS as well.. but then you already knew that right?

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

On Wednesday at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning...

On Wednesday at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00 in the morning..

the time and date will be 01:02:03 04/05/06!

That will never happen again!

You may now return to your normal stuff!

Like browse my TIPS and make sure you have the latest SOFTWARE/SUPPORT to keep your computer optimized and never hesitate to contact me if you questions. Don't wait until you know you have a problem, get to it when you think you may have a problem! My website is your resource!