Tech – for Everyone

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

Some Timely Advice | Basics For A New PC

Both in my “real job” as a Support & Repair Tech, and as a World Renown Tech Blogger (Ahem), I am frequently asked about various programs you can use to help prevent computer infections, or clean up an infection up after “my teenage son/grandson downloaded something.”

Well, folks, Okay. I will tell you about a tool I use that I mentioned here before. It is an anti-malware scanner that I often use on the job, and on several of my own machines. I install it on the PC’s of my friends and family, and I’ll tell you why — it’s simple and it’s effective.

SAS_banner

If you connect a Windows computer to the Internet you should have:
1)
a firewall turned on (just one).
2) an up-to-date antivirus (just one).
3) One up-to-date anti-spyware with “active shielding” (aka “heuristics“).
4) One “passive”, up-to-date, anti-spyware that you run once a week to catch what the other one misses.
5) A healthy stock of “paranoid common sense”. (No. You did not just win the Irish E-mail Lottery.)

And to my clients and friends, I recommend that they purchase the Professional version so they can have the real-time (“active”) protection and auto-scheduling — set it and forget it. (Another reason I do this is because this tool “plays very nicely with others”, and won’ interfere with their existing protections.) And, folks, I would like you to consider this – I very rarely recommend paying for the “Full” (“Pro”) versions of anything. I reco’ the “lifetime” plan.

‘Tis the season for new computers. I refer those lucky folks to Top 10 things you should do to your computer and Basic Steps For Protecting Your PC.

Today’s free link: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan, a powerful new tool in the fight against the latest and particularly difficult malware infections.

Today’s free download: For those who would simply like to learn more about this great program, the SAS website is here. You can download a a fully functional trial of SUPERAntiSpyware Professional, or alternatively, you can download the free version.

I also want to say that I admire the people behind SAS, and they get a big tip of my geek hat. They are hard working and generous and they know their stuff. Their motto is “Remove ALL the Spyware, NOT just the easy ones” and I like that attitude!

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

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December 24, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, PC, security | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Travelers’ Tips for Maximum Laptop Battery Life

Tweak Your Laptop For Max Battery Life With The Windows Key

Travelers, the Windows Mobility Center gives you instant access to the most important “tweaks” you can make to your laptop to get the most amount of use from it before the battery dies (aka “between chargings”). Just hit the “Windows key” + X.

Here are my Top 5 Tips for Travelers and laptops:

1) Dim your screen – Laptops come with the ability to dim your screen.  Reducing the brightness down to the lowest level you can tolerate is the best way to maximize your laptop’s battery life.

Use the sliders and drop-down arrows

2) Turn off the WiFi – This and Tip #1 are the “two biggies”. You will save a lot of power (battery charge) by simply only turning PwrOpts_iconon the “radio” when you are using wireless to connect to the Internet. Off when you’re not.
Also, most laptops have a key combination, button, or slider switch to turn the wireless radio on/off.

3) Run off a hard drive, or thumb drive, rather than a CD/DVD – As power consuming as hard drives are, CD and DVD drives are worse. Wherever possible, try to “play” your movies from files saved to disk, or run them on virtual drives using programs like PowerISO, Daemon tools, and Virtual CD.
(See, Tech Tip for Travelers – Make Your Movies More Portable)

4) Cut down on external devices – USB devices, such as a mouse, also put a drain on your laptop battery.  Consider removing them or shutting them down when on battery power.  When maximum battery life is important, charging other devices with your laptop is a “no no”. Take the time to charge your devices before you leave as well.

5) Cut down on programs running in the background – “Always ready” programs, like your IM client, iTunes, Desktop Search, etc., add to the CPU load and cut down battery life.  Shut down everything that isn’t crucial when you’re on battery.
Typically, this is done by right-clicking their icons in the System Tray (by the clock) and choosing “Exit” (or “Close”, or “Quit”).) Also, open Task Manager (Ctrl+Alt+Del) and select the Processes tab — click on those you recognize and know you won’t be needing, and then click “End Process”. Repeat as necessary. (If you do not recognize it, and do not know – leave it be.)

6) Go easy on the PC demands – The more you demand from your PC, the quicker you will drain the battery.  Relatively passive activities like editing a Word .doc consumes much less power than graphics-intensive activities like 3D gaming or playing a DVD movie.

7) Encrypt your hard drive – Have you encrypted your My Documents folder yet? Especially on your laptop? If you have an address book, tax info, a resume, business docs? More than half of all identity theft victims resulted from the physical theft of unencrypted laptops and thumb drives… which contained personally identifying data.

Today’s free download: The easiest way to seamlessly encrypt your whole hard drive, folders, or just selected files, is to install the free TrueCrypt. Use this and even if your laptop is stolen, the thief won’t be able to read your files.
Be sure to set a good password!

[Note: alternatively, you can click Start > Control Panel > Power Options]

Okay, so that was seven tips. Consider it Tech Paul’s Holiday Bonus Gift.

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

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December 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, performance, Portable Computing, tweaks | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Laptop Batteries – Quick Tip

Tip of the day: Some of you may have gotten into the habit of occasionally removing your laptop’s battery and letting it drain completely. This was good practice, but that is no longer the case if your laptop (or replacement battery) is the newer Lithium Ion (LION) type. If your battery is a LION, it will do much better if constantly charged– leave it alone.
(Consult the documentation for your particular make/model to find the battery type.)

Today’s free link: (A Reader’s Comment reminded me of this site.) Hip. Cool. And a “visit daily” website, a “must” for those of you who appreciate a super-bargain, check out Woot. It will make you smile, even when the featured bargain doesn’t interest you.

Today’s free download: MS Word didn’t have the ability to create your documents as a PDF prior to the release of Office 2007. For those of you looking for this ability, or/and you’re using an older Office version, you can download the free PrimoPDF.

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

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December 22, 2009 Posted by | computers, Portable Computing, tech | 2 Comments

Tips For Choosing A Digital Camera*

General Advice for Purchasing a New Digital Camera

I understand perfectly why people seek advice when it comes to buying a digital camera. There are literally hundreds to choose from – an overwhelming variety – and when you start shopping, it’s easy to become confused by the jargon.

A “mega” pixel is better than an ordinary, everyday “pixel”.. right? (You bet it is. It contains more vitamins and minerals.)seasons greetings

A long, long, time ago I wrote a three-part advice series on buying a new computer, and today I am going to reiterate a bit of advice from there – when buying a digital camera, you have to hold it in your hands. The “right” camera for you will just, well, “feel right”. If you keep accidentally pushing a button, or put your thumb right on the viewer screen.. that’s not good.

Tip of the day: General advice for purchasing a new digital camera.

* Optical zoom is better than digital zoom. Make sure that the “zoom” feature of your camera is handled by a moving lens. Digital zooming is okay in very small amounts, but the way it works will cause funny-looking “pixilation” when really put to work.

* You want image stabilization. Image stabilization is in my opinion simply a “must have”; fortunately, almost every manufacturer provides it. I won’t spend time, here, describing the different types. If you’re curious, click the link.

* The Megapixel. Folks, there is a lot of confusion regarding the camera jargon word “megapixel”. A higher megapixel number does not necessarily equate with “sharper image” or “clearer picture“.. in fact, they usually have nothing to do with each other.

Megapixels refers to the image (data) size and determines how big an enlargement you can make before you start to experience distortions (think of it as being a bit like film sizes). If the largest prints you ever make are 5 x 7, a three-to-four Megapixel camera is all you need. A 10 Megapixel camera is overkill for the vast majority of uses, and it will simply fill your memory card faster, with fewer shots. (But, you could make poster-size prints.)

* LCD “viewfinder”. I think it is important to have a manual viewfinder, as well as the LCD screen.. but that is personal opinion. In terms of LCD, the factors to consider are brightness, placement, and size. It should be big enough that you can see what it is showing when you hold the camera away from your body, and, it should be positioned on the camera in such a way as to not cause you to hold your hand in a funny/odd way so that you can see it. The image should be bright enough to be seen when you are out in the sunlight.
(And I’d like to repeat, your camera should just feel right in your hand.)

* Don’t buy features you won’t use. If you are not a photography buff, and don’t want to memorize a 200-page owners manual, then you don’t want to buy a D-SLR; you want a “point-and-shoot”, and you don’t need 24 “settings” if you’re only going to use one. Right? Right.

Today’s free link: SUPERAntiSpyware Online Safe Scan, a powerful new tool in the fight against the latest and particularly difficult malware infections.

Today’s free download: NetSetMan is a network settings manager which can easily switch between 6 different profiles including IP address, subnet mask, default gateway, DNS server, Win server, computer name, printer, DNS domain, workgroup, and scripts. Great for mobile devices.

Orig Post: 5/12/08

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

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December 21, 2009 Posted by | advice, Digital camera, gadgets, hardware, shopping for, tech | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Internet Explorer – Manage Your Favorites

Internet “bookmarks” (called “Favorites” in Internet Explorer) make it easy for you to return to a particular Web page. And if you’re like me, you have collected a few, and maybe even come to rely on them. It is much, much easier to pick a name from a list than it is to remember and type in a Website’s address!

Loyal readers of this site know that I am a huge fan of making backups of your digital stuff. Making a copy before you need it, and keeping it off to the side, makes bouncing back from “glitches” so much easier. And it prevents the anguish and frustration of “data loss”. Backups are “good” and you want them.

Tip of the day: Today’s tip is a quick and simple action that “exports” a copy of your Internet “Favorites” (aka “bookmarks”) from Internet Explorer. You can then “import” the copy (copy back) at a later date, or transfer them into IE on a different machine. In short, it makes a copy of your list, and saves it as a file.

1) Internet Explorer calls Website bookmarks “Favorites” and you access your list by clicking the gold star icon (upper left), and you add websites to your list by clicking on the icon right next to it — the gold star overlaid with the green + sign.
That is also the icon that manages your Favorites, so click that.

Imp_Exp

2) click on “Import and Export”.

3) Now a “wizard” will open and tell us how helpful it can be to us. Click “Next” to get to the actually helpful page.

ExportWizard

4) Click on “Export Favorites”, and then click “Next” all the way through the wizard. Now you will have a file called “bookmark.htm” in your Documents folder — that is your backup copy.
[note: you can “browse” to a different Save location if you prefer.]

That’s it. You’re done. Now you can repeat this process but choose “Import” to copy it back into IE if you ever need to.. or transfer it to another machine’s Internet Explorer.

For more of my Internet Explorer tips, see Quick Tips for Internet Explorer.

Today’s free link: Firefox users interested in this type of ability will be interested to know that the process is almost identical to the steps above.. or they may be interested in a more comprehensive tool, The easy way to backup your Firefox profiles…

Today’s free download(s):
Today’s first free download is for Mozilla users and is contained in the link directly above.
For a truly comprehensive backup tool, see Backup, Backup, Backup With Free DriveImage XML

December 19, 2009 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, how to, IE 7, ie 8, PC, software, tech | Leave a comment

Cyber-Safe Resumes – cont.

Identity Thieves Targeting Job Seekers

On Wednesday, I posted a letter I received from a reader of this site. The letter described their experience with the risk of Identity Theft that goes along with job seeking online — and how they had created a “cyber-secure resume”, as well as gave links to some very good resources. (See Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed).

I was very pleased to see that Kay E.’s letter got a lot of reads, but I was even more pleased when Susan P. Joyce* responded with a note to me — which she has graciously allowed me to post here for my readers.

“Thanks for making this issue more visible. The article on creating a “cyber-safe resume” is one I first wrote and published in 2001. It has been updated since then, but the issue has only become more important over time.

Here’s a working link to that article: http://www.job-hunt.org/resumecybersafe.shtml

Another important issue, highlighted by this post, is the prevalence of bogus job postings. I’ve also written extensively about that. See this post: http://www.job-hunt.org/onlinejobsearchguide/job-search-scams.shtml

The recession has multiplied the scams, and people need to be very careful using any job board or even “employer” Website – not just when using Craigslist (which is often a good source of jobs).

Here’s a free e-booklet on Using Craigslist to Find a Job – http://www.job-hunt.org/guides/using-craigslist-to-find-a-job.pdf

There are many more articles on this topic on Job-Hunt.org.

Be careful out there, and good luck with your job search!”

Folks, if you are (or you know someone who is) in the process of seeking a new job/career, please click here, read, and learn how to “Put the “Safe” in your Cyber-SAFE Resume by modifying the content of your resume! Take control and create your own privacy protection this way, without depending on the Web job site to do it for you. Do this to protect your existing job, if you have one, and your privacy.

* Best of the Web/Top Site for Finding Work Job-Hunt.org is a “Top” or “Best” site for job hunting and careers according to US News & World Report, Forbes, and PC Magazine.

Job-Hunt is dedicated to the millions of people who have had their personal lives disrupted by the loss of a job.

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

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December 18, 2009 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, how to, Internet | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cyber-safe Resume Gets Noticed

Identity Thieves Targeting Job Seekers

As the joblessness rate climbs, scammers are setting up fake Websites to trick job seekers into giving up sensitive personal information. A lot of unemployed people are eager to divulge information they believe will land them a job, and so become the target of scams. (From: Identity Thieves Want Your Resume.)

Yesterday, a loyal reader wrote me a note which told me of their recent unemployment, and how an increased awareness of Identity Theft had caused them to alter their resume into what they referred to as a “cyber-secure resume” .. and how that alteration had paid a dividend. They have graciously allowed me to share the message with all of you.

“Hello Tech Paul,
First I would like to say how much I really enjoy and appreciate your newsletter. It is very helpful and informative.  You mention and instruct us about malware and online security tips.  Like many others, I have recently become unemployed and found that by posting my resume online, I had left myself vulnerable to identity theft.

It came to my attention through the job section of Craigslist. A friend had told me that he became recently employed through a job posting from Craigslist, so I thought I would give it a try. I replied to a posting by emailing my (non-cyber-secure) resume and cover letter. Now, of course, I do not have my SS No., birth date, drivers license number and other such details on my resume. However, I did have my real full name, home address, home phone, and email on it.

Next thing I receive is an email telling me that I am fully qualified for the position, but before they would consider me further I must click on the link and complete the application and click on another link to complete the online credit check.  Funny, the email said nothing about the company, mission statement, details about the position, who specifically was interested in me, their name, or telephone number, etc. But, I clicked on the link for the application anyway and noticed that WOT did not like the site and I clicked the back button immediately.  Then I noticed that the URL for the credit check website was flagged with the red dot from WOT too. Since I only recently installed WOT , based on your recommendation, I hadn’t really noticed the green and red circles that WOT uses to flag sites until that moment where I said to myself (duh) pay attention dummy.

Anyway, I have since created a cyber-safe resume and cover letter which does not include full name, address, home phone, work locations, and educational institutions. The resume states that this information is not provided for security purposes. I also include a statement in my resume that a more detailed resume will be provided at time of interview.  My Cyber-secure resume includes an overview of prior job responsibilities, job titles and educational degrees and relevant dates, but not locations. For contact information, I include my first initial and last name, my cell number (which cannot be traced to my address through google) and my gmail email address.

Yesterday, I had an appointment with the Workforce Connection representative (unemployment compensation authority). I am required to post my resume on their job site, which I did (my cyber-secure resume). During our meeting, she told me that prospective employers will find my cyber-secure resume suspicious because it leaves out certain details. I explained to her my reasons for posting it that way (experience with Craigslist, fear of Phishing, and ID Theft, etc.). Turns out she had her identity stolen a year ago by posting her resume and she finally concurred it may be a wise idea.  Later that evening when I returned home, I checked my email and found she had sent an email to her distribution list warning her clients about the importance of posting cyber-secure resumes. This is what she said: One of my customers caught my attention with her cyber-safe resume.

Here’s additional information, courtesy of http://www.rileyguide.com/scams.html, http://www.job-hunt.org, and http://www.worldprivacyforum.org/

Kay E.”

[update: The article on creating a “cyber-safe resume” is http://www.job-hunt.org/resumecybersafe.shtml]

Other related links:
In These Tough Times, Could You Use Some Extra $$$’s ?

Looking For Work? Caution

***Make $6,513 a day doing this***

A lot of good information here, people. Do yourself a favor, click some links. And thank you, Kay, for sharing this with us.

The byword for the rest of the year is use (Ultra-strength) paranoid common sense while online. The Internet is not Disneyland, folks.

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

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December 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, Internet, Internet scam, Phishing, phraud, privacy, security | , , , , , , | 6 Comments