Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Webmail Link Protection | Survey Results

One of the greatest dangers on the Internet today is links sent in e-mail — called “embedded links”. A click on a link sent by a cyber-criminal can infect your machine, direct you to a bogus website which infects your machine and/or asks you to enter your private information (ID Theft) in a scheme known as “phishing”.
It is reported that cyber-criminals duped 9 million Americans last year (we’re so trusting and.. naive.).

I have advised my readers, never click the link. But .. people still do. So, I advise enabling a phishing filter. Currently, it is my humble opinion that the free tool from Web Of Trust (WOT) is the simplest to understand and easiest to use.

Today, the good folks at WOT alerted me that they are now integrated with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and Hotmail– better protection for us. Here’s a short video showing how it works.

And if video is not your thing, Fellow blogger Bill Mullins has an excellent write up on the new WOT, here.

Change of subject dept: (aka Survey Results!)
Earlier this week I posted a six question survey. I regret to confess that there were “trick” questions in there where more than one answer was ‘right’… and nobody (I don’t think) picked it up.

For just one example, I asked “What does 11101 equate to?” and the answers 29, eleven thousand one hundred and one, and Zip code were ‘correct’. (Albany, NY.) Yes. All three answers.
This being a “tech” site, I’m glad to report that 29 was by far and away the most popular answer. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_numeral_system)

I also asked two questions about Microsoft Word, and I must say the answers I got fit pretty well with my preconceived notions and inherent prejudices.
Only one person though Office 2007 brought “much needed improvements”; the majority said Word was required for work/school (and they would stick w/Word 2003); and that in today’s day and age, Word is largely irrelevant.. I think it is the younger set that is picking up on this fact, and the older you are, the more likely you were to reply “must have”. I could be wrong, of course. But I think it is the way we were ‘trained’. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloatware)

I won’t go through the reader responses line for line, but I will say that the general tone showed much more tech-savvy than it would have ten years ago. And it was clear that (my readers, anyway) people are spending a lot of time online.. and making an effort to stay “hip” (to use some California lingo).

That makes sense. Broadband and mobile devices have made the Internet pretty much available to everyone, everywhere, any time. And so I would like to remind you that the Internet is a dangerous place, and not some well-policed Disneyland.

Be alert. Be wary. Be protected. And get WOT.

(Hey, pretty good how I tied that together, eh?)

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 21, 2008 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, hackers, how to, Internet, Internet scam, News, PC, Phishing, phraud, Portable Computing, privacy, security, software, spam and junk mail, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The "Live" Line*

Microsoft’s *New* Product Family

In my ongoing, relentless effort to be simply the Best Tech Writer on the Web, big changes are happening. HUGE changes. Gi-normous changes. (I mean.. really big.) These changes will alter the way I do everything. I am undergoing a metamorphosis of epic proportions. I am going to have to unlearn the ways I have been doing things for.. well, forever. Which isn’t easy. I’m too old to be learning new tricks without a grumble.

One change is that Tech–for Everyone is now being co-hosted on *another* blogging site. This is due to my research into the GigantiCorp known as Google, and my exploration of their ever-expanding array of services, some of which I have reported here.

(What this means for you, Dear Reader, is.. well.. not much– except, if you have grown tired of the “look” and layout of this site, you can read my articles at the other site, which uses a different “template”.)
When you acquire a ‘G-identity’, you gain access to much more than just a Gmail account (which, IMHO, is the best free Webmail service going right now), and one of those things is access to Blogger. Google is continuing to grow even as we speak… who knows what service they’ll be offering next.
I want to have a good relationship with Google, as it is my primary way of advertising my online Help & Support business.

[Addenda: for those of you whose favorite feature of this series is the daily download, you will definitely want to be aware of the “Google Pack” of free downloads — Spyware Doctor being of special note — and you can find out more here https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/11/21/googles-pack-is-a-winner/, in case you missed it]

What this means for me is, I now have to publish twice (six times a week!) each day– once here, and once there. Yuk. Fortunately for me, I have been doing intensive, in-depth explorations of the other GigantiCorp known as Microsoft.. specifically their competing array of services offered under the title “Live”.
(Have you noticed? Everything is “Live” now. It’s not “Hotmail”, it’s “Live Hotmail”; “Messenger” is now “Live Messenger”, and the security tools are “Live One Care”..)

I am now writing this article in a completely different way.. one that makes it easy to write-once, post-twice. I have downloaded and Installed a MS program called “Live Writer“, which is a tool for bloggers. The way I had been doing things (all this time) was through my web browser. I would navigate to here, login, access the writing tool, and when finished, hit the “Publish” button.

The other Big Change to my routine is caused by “Live Mail“, which is also freshly downloaded and installed. This is a program very much like Outlook Express and Vista’s Mail, only it allows you to access webmail accounts.. such as ‘Live Hotmail’. (Why don’t the other Microsoft mail clients??? Hmmm?)

It’s about time they did this. My usual routine was to open my web browser and open a tab for each webmail account. It is the way I’ve been doing it for.. well, forever. I have several webmail accounts (as you may have as well) and so this made for several open tabs and much clicking back-and-forth. Live Mail allows me to combine them (sorta) into one collection of folders.
A big plus– it handles encryption certificates well (see, Simple E-mail Encryption).

If you use, or have ever used, an e-mail client (Thunderbird, Outlook, Outlook Express, etc.), then you will have a zero learning-curve with Live Mail, as it’s basically the same.. with one vital exception: it allows you to access all your mailboxes.

As you can imagine, my web browser had reached the point where I simply had too many tabs open (three Inboxes, WordPress, and now Blogger, plus a few of my favorite blogs..) and so I have “gone Live”. I am breaking my browser habit. I am trying New Things. No longer will I launch Avant and start Ctrl+T-ing. No! From here on out, I’ll launch a “Live” something-or-other.
Wish me luck. I think I feel the withdrawal symptoms beginning…

Today’s free download(s) and link(s): Well, gee, Folks… I count five of them sprinkled throughout this one little article.. ain’t that enough for one day? But, if you’d like to see the *other* version of this website, click here.
And if you write a blog (or, for a blog, or.. are thinking about starting your own blog) see what a new comer to the blogging game has to say about the free Windows Live Writer (or, “WLW”) as well as the new Live services here.

* Originally published 3/18/08

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, blogging, computers, e-mail, encrypting files, how to, PC, software, tech, Web 2.0, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Ad Block Your Way To A Happier You

What is real? What is ‘hype’?

Percentage-wise.

Why is everyone trying to sell me something? All the time.

I have had it up to my eyeballs.. and I think I’m going to rebel. I think I’ll declare a new Personal Policy.. which goes like this: If I know about this product because of advertising and/or the media, I ain’t gonna buy it.

Wait. That won’t work. I can’t think of a single thing that isn’t being hyped.

Hmmm… maybe I’ll have to modify that some. How about: When forced to choose between two products.. I buy the one that advertises less.

Yes.. that might work.

TechPaul’s Plan to Improve the World #347.

Hey, do me a favor, will you? I need more input for my data set. If you haven’t taken my (quick and easy) Tech poll, please take 60 seconds, and click here. Thanks!
[ It won’t take you the full minute.. I promise.]

**Look for the results Friday.

Today’s free download(s): The Sophos Endpoint Assessment Test (an “endpoint” is IT- speak for “computer”) is a single scan checks that:

  • your Microsoft service pack is the current one for your operating system
  • your Microsoft patches are all up to date
  • anti-virus protection is installed, running and current
  • a personal firewall is installed and running

The Endpoint Assessment Test checks for over 600 patches, 28 anti-virus applications, and 22 firewall applications.

Need some ad blockers?
For Internet Explorer: try SelectView
For Firefox: get the plug-in “Add ons” AdBlock Plus, Flashblock, and NoScript.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 19, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, security, tech | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Latest Windows – 7

For those of you who have been writing in to tell me that there’s a new Windows coming, and “I might want to write about it”.. please stop. I heard about it before you did, (dollar to a doughnut) and it is still a pre– beta.
(That’s like mixing water and flour together in a bowl, and calling it a “Christmas cookie”.)

However, if you must read something about what you can expect from the new OS, Ed Bott at ZDNet has a very thorough and very well-done “first look” article, titled “A deep dive into Windows 7“. Here’s the link.

Please feel free to make other (helpful) comments, or suggestions, though.

November 18, 2008 Posted by | computers, PC, tech, Windows | 1 Comment

Gathering A Dataset…

Folks, because the field of computers and digital tech is constantly growing and evolving (aka ‘changing’), and because it is so vast that “specialization” is almost mandatory, I am constantly learning, and taking courses, and earning new Industry Certificates.

For one small example, I have grown tired of being ignorant about the intricacies of computer programming, and so I am enrolled in a introductory C++ class at my local Junior College. But I’m not telling you that for any reason other than to segue into the fact that I have recently completed my midterm exams.

Yuck.

Since pop quizzes are so fun, I thought it would be terrific if today we had one here at Tech–for Everyone.. but don’t ‘freak out’; this one’s short, and I promise you won’t have to think.
[note: most of these allow multiple answers.]

See? That wasn’t so bad. And, I thank you.

You will note that you cannot see the results. That’s because I’m doing what is known as “gathering a data set”. In a few days, I will take your responses and “interpret” them, come to an honest, but arbitrary “conclusion” (no doubt matching my prejudices exactly) and then I will “publish” them in an article.

I can’t wait to see how it comes out!

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

November 18, 2008 Posted by | computers, tech | 5 Comments

Rural Areas Stuck With Dial-up?

The other day I was helping a client via my remote desktop tool (over the Internet) and I thought this person really had a problem, but they weren’t talking about that — they were talking about Outlook.

It was like they were ignoring the elephant in the room.

So, finally, I asked. Er.. um.. pardon me, but.. don’t you think there’s a problem with your Internet?

“What do you mean?” they replied.

Huh? So I said, “Well, no offense but, it’s slower than molasses in January.” (I suspected a hefty spyware infection..)

Fortunately, my client laughed, and told me that where they lived, all they could get was dial-up Internet. And it was running “pretty good” lately at 28 Kbps.

Kilobits? That’s so.. early-to-mid-1990’s!

Tip of the day: If you live in a “rural area” and neither cable nor DSL service is available (yet), and you would like to join the world of “Mega” (aka “broadband”), you do have some options you may not be aware of.

Option 1: Satellite.
Satellite providers, such as HughesNet and WildBlue, can provide up to 1.5 Mbps (equal to basic DSL) for residences, and faster for (pricier) “Business” plans.

Option 2: Microwave.
This is also know as ‘fixed wireless’ and ‘wireless broadband’, and has a range of about 25 miles from the transmitter. (It works kind of like a radio station). Often, these are set up by small, independent ISP’s, and finding them is done by geography. KeyOn is one that covers the area my client was in, and you might try an indexing service like this one, to locate a provider near you. This will give you speeds “up to 50x’s faster than dial-up”.

Option 3: (The wave of the future?) WiMax.
WiMax is also a microwave technology, capable (I have read) of speeds of up to 70 Mbps. US residents will have to wait for this technology to become ubiquitous, but if this sounds appealing, take a look here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WiMAX.

Today’s free link: http://www.broadbandreports.com/ is the place to go to find a high-speed service near you (the “Find Service” tab). But it is much more than just that; you can find reviews of ISP’s, and there’s tools for testing and tweaking your speed, and much more.

* hidden bonus for those of you who read all the way through: Free ZoneAlarm Pro – One Day Only!

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 17, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, performance, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Which Is Better, Ethernet Or Wireless?

This networking question was submitted by a reader recently, and I think it may be of interest to “everyone”.

Q: Paul, I am hoping for some guidance. I will soon be moving, and will have to set up a new network. I have three computers, a laser jet printer and a photo printer. My old network was wired and homenetworking worked well, but I have heard that the new wireless is faster.

Which is better these days, wired or wireless?

A: I hate ambiguous answers, but in this situation I really must answer, “that depends”. And I must also say that it really isn’t a case of one being “better” than the other.
In my experience, a “blended” network (both wired and wireless) is the most common.

Consideration #1: Mega-bits-per-second:
1) Wire “speed” is typically either 10/100, or 1,000(Gigabit).
2) Wireless “speed” is either 54 (g) or 270 (n).
… and your Internet is coming into your home at.. 1.5? 3? 6 Mbps?
(My point here is that, as far as sharing your Internet is concerned, even a very old 10 Mbps network is “fast” enough.)

Consideration #2: Stringing cable:
Most newer homes are built with Ethernet wiring, and so your network is already there (to a large degree), but for older homes a very real concern — should you choose to go Gigabit wired — is WirelessHomeNetwork where will the wires go? How will you get them upstairs?

This is not an insurmountable issue (and, you could hire a professional) but it may be that wireless is the best for you.

General advice:
* Networking gear defaults to the speed of the slowest component.
What that means is, let’s say you go and buy a brand-new Wireless -N router (technically, a “WAP”) that runs at 270 Mbps, and the adaptor on your 2 year-old laptop is a “G”, your connection will be at 54 Mbps.
And if the port on your Desktop is Gigabit, and your cable is Cat 5e or better (Gigabit capable), but there’s no Gigabit port on your router.. your LAN is running at 100 Mbps.

The trick is to make sure everything ‘matches’. For instance, in the first example (laptop), buying a Wireless-N PCMCIA card, or USB dongle, will now give you the 270 you bought the fast router for. And for the Gigabit example, a new router that has Gigabit ports will make things ‘match’ and give you a Gigabit LAN.

Last bit of advice: Buy the fastest gear you can afford. You may not get full advantage of it today, but it won’t be a bottleneck tomorrow.

Today’s free link: In today’s article I mentioned that there are alternatives to drilling holes in your wall/floor/ceiling, and one method is EoP (Ethernet over Power lines). This uses the electrical wires already in your home to send your 1’s and 0’s from device to device. Fellow Tech Blogger Bill Mullins has an informative article on this topic here, http://billmullins.wordpress.com/2008/06/16/easy-computer-networking-use-your-electric-wiring/

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

November 16, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, gadgets, hardware, how to, Internet, networking, PC, performance, routers, routers and WAPs, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments