Tech – for Everyone

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

Two items of (possible) interest..

Loyal friends and true of this site have seen me mention a certain other Tech website quite frequently. Bill Mullins posts (in addition to his top-drawer articles, and sometimes articles submitted by Guest Authors) a daily feature he calls “Daily Net News” which is sort of a ’round up’ of news items, other items of interest, terrific downloads, and a section called “off topic”.

I visit his site each and every day, and I make sure to at least scan all the items in his Net News. I am fairly well informed and ‘keep my finger on the pulse’, but I always find something I hadn’t seen elsewhere (or, otherwise didn’t know about).

I invite you to take a look at two items that caught my fancy, and I think you – Dear Reader – might like/find interesting too.
First, click here (it will open a new window) and scroll down to the link titled, “The Top 10 Things We’re Glad The Recession Killed“.
(It is supposed to be humorous, but durned if it isn’t spot-on)

And then click here and scroll (and you will have to scroll a bit, as there are many entries in each Daily Net News) until you come to the entry titled, “60 Selected Best Famous Quotes II“.

Of course, you’re welcome to click on any other item that catches your interest… and, I’m perfectly willing to wager a shiny new copper penny you will find several!

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, tech | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Infection Has Been Detected!

Online crime is bigger than the global drugs trade¹. The Internet shadow economy is worth over $105 billion. No country, no person, no business and no government is immune from cybercrime.

Currently there is an epidemic of fake anti-malware software on the Internet– which is collectively called “rogue anti-malware“ and/or “scareware“. Marketed under hundreds of different names, such as VirusRemover 2008 and Antivirus XP 2009, this type of rogue software scares people by giving false alarms, and then tries to deceive them into paying for removal of non-existing malware. [update: some of the newer ones are now encrypting your files, and requiring a ‘ransom’ for the key. Don’t pay. There is help online.]

This video shows what happens when a legitimate Website gets infected and redirected to one of these bogus anti-malware scams.
Yes, folks, legitimate websites are being ‘hacked’. (It’s called “poisoned”.)

Please watch, and see what these things looks like (how “real looking”). I repeat, there are thousands of these, being planted on tens-of-thousands of sites.

The people behind this scourge use many different ways to try to entice you to click – realistic looking pop-up windows appear, offers of “free trials” arrive in e-mail, and “free scan” buttons on legit-looking ‘fight malware’ websites.. the means are quite varied!

As this video shows, the user is tricked into (scared into, really) providing their credit card # to clean infections that weren’t there before they clicked and aren’t really there now.
* The ‘false positives’ are not “cleaned” BUT, more adware and spyware is installed.
* A good percentage of my calls at Aplus Computer Aid are folks needing help with getting rid of these rogues. Because these clever programs use the latest techniques to combat removal, and it can be quite tough — if not impossible — to truly remove them.. without formatting your hard-drive.
* For more, please read Is that anti-spyware program really spyware?
* One Website dedicated to combating this epidemic is Spyware Warrior. It has a pretty good list of known rogues, and much more detailed information. Another excellent resource is Bleeping Computer.
* I have written several How-To’s on protecting yourself from malware, and how to clean your machines as well. Click here to see those titles. But I really cannot advise you strongly enough – should you get one of these nasties – to enlist the aid of a Pro. I would tell you that even if I wasn’t one myself!

¹ From a recent MessageLabs whitepaper. (This eye-opening report provides a disturbing look into the ‘dark’ world of cyber-crime. This link is the online version.. you need to scroll a bit..)

Today’s free link(s): Spammers seeking “volunteers” to DDoS White House.
Cybercriminals have begun to capitalize on the vehement debate in the country over health care reform, sending spam targeted at opponents of President Obama.”

Also, it just so happens that Bill Mullins posted a close look at one these, named “Total Security 2009” on his site today. Please see, Total Security 2009 Scareware – Panda Security Takes a Look.

Today’s free download: WOT (Web Of Trust) is a free Internet security add-on for your browser. It’s community-based ratings can help keep you safer from online scams, identity theft, spyware, spam, viruses and unreliable shopping sites. WOT warns you before you interact with a risky Website. It’s easy and it’s free.

  • Ratings for over 22 million websites
  • Downloaded over 4 million times
  • The WOT browser addon is light and updates automatically
  • WOT rating icons appear beside search results in Google, Yahoo!, Wikipedia, Gmail, etc.
  • Settings can be customized to better protect your family (new “Parental Control” setting blocks access to Web sites with a poor child safety rating and no rating at all)
  • WOT Security Scorecard shows rating details and user comments

Orig post: 4/16/09

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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August 22, 2009 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New Paint Job On A Clunker

By now we have all seen a “Nigerian” 419 scam e-mail. They have been around for ever.

These e-mails are usually filled with typos (thus my frequent game of LET’S COUNT THE TYPO’S! articles), and are asking for our assistance to “transfer funds“. Sometimes they play on our generous good nature and/or Christian Faith, as in the classic I am a dying woman, shown below, but usually just invoke Greed by mentioning millions of dollars.
christian.jpg

But some items have come to my attention that would indicate that the *folks* who mass-mail these formulas are finally starting to realize – like. oh.. fifteen years late, bright bulbs that they are – that these are not getting results. Unless you count laughter.

So a new tack appeared the other day. Short, direct, and to the point.
paul_gomez1

That surprised me a bit, as the standard “form” is several rambling paragraphs…

An alert reader (thank you Mr. C.) sent in this one,
africans1

.. which tries to say, “I am different from the others.”
(And since it is there in black & white, it must be true. Right?)
But really, it is just a new paint job on an old clunker.

Today’s free link(s): Folks, I think you might like to read, Nigerian 419 scammers: What you didn’t know. If you have ever wondered about where these come from, or what kind of person sends these…
In good months, Banjo said, he has made $60,000. But in these tough times, the scammers said, they are relying more on a crucial tool: voodoo. At times, Banjo said, he has traveled six hours to the forest, where a magician sells scam-boosters. A $300 powder supposedly helps scammers “speak with authority” when demanding payment. A powder, rubbed on the face, reportedly makes victims viewing the scammer through webcams powerless to say no.

“No matter what, they will pay,” said Olumide, a college student, adding that he is boosting his romance scams by wearing a magical, live tortoise hanging from a cord around his neck.

As well, this is an excellent related article, How to Conduct Online Banking Safely

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 21, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, Internet scam, spam and junk mail | Leave a comment

Creepy Electronic Toys

This Little Guy Creeps Me Out

I came across an ad for this “electronic toy”, and it caught my eye because it said “erector set” (which to this dinosaur does not equate with ‘electronics’) .. and it said “spy” (which to this dinosaur does not equate with ‘toy’).

Spykye the spy robotSpykee The Spy Robot takes interactive Erector sets beyond the limits of kids’ imagination. This latest build-your-own Erector set from Nikko America does everything from play digital music to guard a home or business.

Spy from Anywhere
Recommended for ages eight and up, Spykee is far more than your ordinary toy robot. Perfect for audio-visual surveillance, Spykee has the ability to
move, watch, speak, and hear. With a built-in video camera and microphone, the robot takes real-time pictures with video and with sound effects. When motion is detected, Spykee activates an alarm or sends a picture by email. Compatible with Skype 3.0 (PC) technology, Spykee can also be used as a VoIP phone and web camera. Best of all, this motorized robot is equipped with a WiFi card, which means kids can access and control Spykee via the Internet from anywhere in the world.

3-in-1 Robot Fun
But there’s more fun than just spying! Combining a classic robot design with the latest technology, kids can use Spykee to construct three different robot models from this same set. Downloading their favorite songs to Spykee, this spy robot even acts as a digital music player with its own loudspeakers. Compatible with most Erector sets, it features lights and optical fibers, and an IR auto-parking recharging system automatically sends Spykee back to the power station for a recharge.

Spykee has its own website, and you can find out more – and watch a video of Spykee in action – by clicking here. The video is worth the click.

When I look at this, I am reminded of Robo Cop (I can see a man-sized version of this); and, I get a bit pessimistic about Man’s future…

It’s a phone? It’s an MP3 player? Anywhere in the world?

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 20, 2009 Posted by | tech | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

He Died Victoriously

Once Again It’s Time To Play LET’S COUNT THE TYPOS!

(Re: Transfer of $25,000,000.00)
(Twenty Five Million USD)
Email:
hamzamusa2009@hotmail.com
Good Day ,
I am Mr hamza musa, the Senior & Auditor General of a Bank, during the course of our auditing, I discovered a floating fund in an accountopened in the bank in 2000 and since 2003 nobody has operated on this account again.

After going through some old files in the records I discovered that the owner of the account died without a [heir] hence the money is floating and if I do not remit this money out urgently it will be forfeited for nothing. The owner of this account is a foreigner, a miner and an industrialist. He made millions of dollars before he died victoriously .Since DEC 26 2003 website details as follow: <http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/africa/12/26/benin.crash/>
and no other person knows about this account or any thing concerning it.

My investigation proved to me that the account has no other beneficiary and that until his death he was the manager director of aluminium & steel industries (PTY). SA. We will
start the transfer with the total sum involved {twenty Five million dollars [$25,000,000.00 only, into your account, as a safe foreigners bank account abroad, but I don’t know any foreigner abroad that’s why I have contacted you to bear the legal sole beneficiary of the fund.

I am revealing this to you with believe in God that you will never let me down in this business. Also send your private telephone number and fax number including the full details of the account to be used for the deposit. I need your strong a
surance that you will never let me down in this business proposition.

With my influence and the position in the bank, as an official whom is working in our favour we can transfer this money to any foreigner’s reliable account which you can provide with assurance that this money will be intact pending my physical arrival in your country for sharing.

The bank official will destroy all documents of transaction immediately you receive this fund leaving and they will be no trace to any place and to build confidence
you can wrote immediately to discurs with me the modalities,after I will make this remittance in your presented account and fix my resign date, to fly down to your country at least 7 days ahead of the fund transferred and confirm into the account.

At the conclusion of this business, you will be given 50% of the total amount, 50% will be for me, while 5% will be for Your expenses might have incurred during the process of transferring. Reply to my private mail, hamzamusa2009@hotmail.com
I am waiting for your reply.
Best Regards,
Mr HAMZA MUSA

August 19, 2009 Posted by | cyber crime, e-mail, Internet, Internet scam, spam and junk mail | 2 Comments

Top Tech Tip #2: Leave Registry Cleaners Alone

A few weeks ago I was asked by a reader what my one piece of advice for a non-techie was (Click here to read). That was a good question. A challenging question. Limiting myself to one answer was what I found so difficult.

So today I am going to offer you, Dear Reader, my “Probably The Second Most Important Piece Of Geek Advice For Non-Techies“.

* Leave Registry “Cleaners” Alone *

What happens is this: older computers get slower, and so the owner enters “slow PC” (or, “my computer is slow”, or sumsuch) into a search engine — where they get sold a computer “optimizer”. What this is – usually – is a “Registry Cleaner”, which promises to “find errors” and fix them.

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

WOT warnings on "speed up your PC" sites

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here’s the real deal — there are two cases (IMHO) when you actually need a reliable Registry cleaner:
1) You’re an experimental sort and you uninstall a lot of 3rd-party (non-Microsoft) programs; like.. you try every new program that comes along. (And you forgot to use Revo to uninstall them when you’re done.)

2) You have just completed a manual malware removal.

That doesn’t describe you? Leave the Registry “cleaner” alone!

Now, my regular readers will remember my mentioning this before, but for the rest of you, here’s why you want to avoid messing with the Registry: and this happens a lot actually, it can kill your machine.

What?!

Yup. Read the user forums. The odds of this increase if you have more than one User Account on your system. Ask yourself this: do you know what the Windows Registry is? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_registry)

Even if a “cleaning” does not kill your machine, no one can convince me that any Registry cleaner – over the years – has ever actually sped up their PC. And I am certainly not alone in this opinion.

So what should you do to speed up a machine that has slowed down over time? Well, you already have the tools you need to “optimize” and rejuvenate your PC. Please read Four Vital Tools You Already Have… But Might Not Know About. There you will find the answers! And, guess what? They’re free. (Probably why they’re not advertised, eh?)

… and if you’re the type who is not going to click the link and actually read more, and are just itching to download something, well, the safe and effective CCleaner will do this for you for free. As will the free Glary Utilities, or the free Advanced Windows Care, … and you won’t find user forums filled with complains of wrecked systems, if you should use one of those.
Fair enough?

Related: to learn more about speeding up your computer,see Computing 101*

[note: BEFORE making any changes to the Registry, please read (and follow) this Microsoft article: How to back up and restore the registry in Windows]

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, file system, how to, Microsoft, PC, performance, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 30 Comments

How Do People Get Someone’s E-mail Address?

A reader sends in a question

Q: My question to you; for as dumb as this may sound is, how do people get someone’s email address?

A: Dear Reader, your question is not at all “dumb”. Not only that, to answer it fully would take all day!
I mean, are you asking because you want to find someone’s e-mail? Or, trying to keep yours private?

I will try to answer and also be brief.. wish me luck.
* There are directories.. much like a telephone book.
* They simply guess it; sending out all the different combinations in a ‘mass mailing’.
* They simply Google the person’s name. Quite a bit of info about us is available.
* Your e-mail viewer told them, see https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/how-did-they-get-my-e-mail/
* Unscrupulous businesses and orgs (and websites) sell their customer lists. Spammers sell theirs to other spammers.
* Someone you know (and have given your e-mail to) has given your name out/been infected with malware/signed up for a social networking site/forwarded a rigged e-mail to all their friends and family as a “warning”… perhaps an “alert” about a super-virus.
* You opened a spam.
* A database containing your info has been hacked. You remember TJ Max?
* Your doctor left his laptop – which contains all his patient records – somewhere… maybe on the bus. Your accountant’s laptop was stolen.
* Perhaps another 50 – 100 ways… more?

The facts of the matter are:
1) The Internet was not designed with privacy and/or security in mind, but for making information available.
2) Absolute Anonymity Isn’t Practical In Real Life Or On The Web (Immutable Security Law #9¹)
Let me quote Jesper M. Johansson from a recent TechNet article: “When I think about this Law, I find it difficult not to crack some joke about how our governments and large corporations make sure we have very little anonymity. The United States government and TJX Companies together have made sure that personal information on about half the US population has entered into the portfolio of the criminal underground.”

[addenda: for managing the stuff that gets into your Inbox: For webmail, see Managing your email: eliminating the junk, and in a mail client see, Managing junk mail in Outlook/Thunderbird .
If you are interested in encrypting your e-mails, see Simple E-mail Encryption]

¹ 10 Immutable Laws of Security
Law #1: If a bad guy can persuade you to run his program on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore
Law #2: If a bad guy can alter the operating system on your computer, it’s not your computer anymore
Law #3: If a bad guy has unrestricted physical access to your computer, it’s not your computer anymore
Law #4: If you allow a bad guy to upload programs to your website, it’s not your website any more
Law #5: Weak passwords trump strong security
Law #6: A computer is only as secure as the administrator is trustworthy
Law #7: Encrypted data is only as secure as the decryption key
Law #8: An out of date virus scanner is only marginally better than no virus scanner at all
Law #9: Absolute anonymity isn’t practical, in real life or on the Web
Law #10: Technology is not a panacea

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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August 18, 2009 Posted by | e-mail, Internet, security | , , , , , | Leave a comment