Tech – for Everyone

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

Tomorrow’s Tax Deadline – File Free (and on time)

IRS Program Lets Taxpayers Use Popular Tax Preparation Software Free, and e-File For Free

(* Reposting) I am like many Americans in that I have become somewhat reliant on my computer to help me do my Federal taxes. It all started with a CD I received in the mail — a free copy of H&R Block’s TaxCut. I tried it. And I found it just a wee bit easier to use and figure out than the 1040A user manual our government provides.

Nowadays to access the free version of TaxCut (or TurboTax), I have to first go to to the IRS website.

IRS banner

On the IRS site, there is a page called “FreeFile”, and here you will find the “partnership links” to the free versions of 19 accepted tax prep programs — of which TaxCut (and also TurboTax) is one.
To qualify, you must have an Adjusted Gross Income of $56,000 or less.

Today’s free link: FreeFile at the IRS
Note: there’s two buttons on the page; “I will choose” and “help me choose”. Though all of the programs there are accepted by the IRS, I would recommend clicking the “I will choose”, and then selecting either TaxCut or TurboTax.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 14, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Security Products Should I Use?

Finding The Best For You

I am constantly asked for my recommendation on what is the “best” antivirus, or “most effective” anti-Spyware, and, “which security suite should I buy?” Who has the best firewall? Makes sense: I am a Tech, as well as a World Renown Tech Blogger. (ahem)

I have posted my advice here several times (use the “Search” tool) over the course of 1,000+ Tech – for Everyone articles. I also have published a list, including links, of free AV’s (click here) and AS’s (click here).

But my advice has been pretty general.

There’s a reason for that –> you. I don’t know you. I do not know your Geek skilz level. I do not know if you are a pirating/Bit Torrenting maniac. I don’t know if you’re still on Windows ME and all you do is e-mail, or if you are on Windows 7 64-bit and you have a Run as command prompt shortcut in your QuickLaunch… or are somewhere in between.
Do you watch porn?

Needless to say, different people have different security needs. How you answer the questions above will have a huge impact on how I would advise you. Fortunately, I have found an answer —  Gizmo’s Security Advice Wizard. And I have added it to my Blogroll.

Gizmo’s Security Advice Wizard asks you a series of questions, analyzes your answers, and then provides you with a customized, personal recommendation — a complete recommendation — including download links. Bottom line? I have run through the Wizard several times, as various types of users, and each time the recommendations the Wizard provided was spot on with how I would answer. Great minds really do think alike.

gizmo's logo I enthusiastically endorse Gizmo’s Security Advice Wizard and encourage you to go there and give it a try. Odds are good you will learn something. The folks there at Gizmo’s freeeware get a tip of my geek hat, and my thanks for going through the effort of creating this wonderful advisor “wizard”.

Today’s free link: Gizmo’s Security Advice Wizard
This Wizard has been designed to help you select the best free security software for your PC based on the version of Windows that you use, your technical computer skills and your general level of security risk.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 13, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

"Free", "Cash Back", "Rebate", and Alarm Bells

When you see the words “free”, “cash back”, and “rebate” on a website, alarm bells should ring in your head.”

The Subscription Trap

188640-cash-back-offer_originalIf you’ve ever opened your credit card bill to find that you’ve inadvertently joined a club you’ve never heard of, at a cost of $10 or more a month, you’re not alone. Millions of Web consumers have been snared by similar tactics. Our tips will help you fight back.

How can companies make more than a billion dollars selling a service that almost no one wants? By signing up millions of members who don’t know that they’re becoming members.

Folks, if you ever do any online shopping at sites like Orbitz, Priceline, Shutterfly, FTD, Hotwire, Buy.com, Classmates.com, Intellius, 1-800-Flowers, MovieTickets.com, Avon, Barnes & Noble, Budget, GMAC Mortgage, Staples, US Airways and Ticketmaster, etc., you need to be aware of certain facts…

Getting your money back isn’t easy. According to some angry consumers, getting a full refund required writing a letter (the old fashion way) and waiting months to receive a credit card chargeback…

Tom Spring has a “must read” article, published in this month’s PCWorld. Please, click here and read about this scandalous outrage, and the steps you can take to avoid getting snared into a “subscription trap”.
This information is so important, I not only encourage you to read it, but also to forward it on to all your friends and family.

Today’s free download: Microsoft Security Essentials
Free, effective, lifetime antivirus/anti-Spyware. 64-bit. It’s one I use, and recommend.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, Internet scam | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dear Valued Customer

Once Again It’s Time To Play Let’s Count The Typos!

from: Deborah White <wumgcontact@aol.com >
reply-to: wumgcontact@aol.com
to:
date: Thu, Apr 8, 2010 at 2:06 PM
subject: FROM: WESTERN UNION/MONEYGRAM

Dear Valued Customer

We are pleased to inform you of the results from our just concluded Western Union Money Transfer/MoneyGram lottery draws. The draws were conducted from an exclusive list of over 3,000,000 details of individuals that have used any of Western Union Money Transfer or MoneyGram products in the past either by sending money, receiving money or paying other bills through WU/MoneyGram as a means of appreciation and also to encourage new customers.  In all this number, only 20 winners emerged from around the world. No lottery ticket was sold in this lottery, but data of qualified persons were collated from all WU/MoneyGram outlets worldwide.

After the automated computerized ballot, we are pleased to inform you that you emerged as one of our lucky winners in the 3rd category. Though there are some people in 1st category to 5th category. You are to receive a cash prize of US$950, 000.00 (Nine Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars) only. Your prize award is covered under an insurance bond policy in your name and will be transferred to you upon final verifications of your winning status by our appointed paying bank. And to ensure credibility in this, we have appointed a bank in the UK in paying all winners.

So to get your winning prize you by our appointed bank, you should get in touch with the paymaster of the bank, Mr. Mark immediately via email with your winning Reference number:  WU-MG/9357.12/US

Name:  Mr.  Mark Giles

Email: mkgiles.hsbcbankplc@yahoo.co.uk

Sincerely,

Ms. Deborah White.
For: Western Union/MoneyGram Promo. USA

Natl Tel/Fax:  440-860-9527

Intl. Tel/Fax: +1-440-860-9527

NOTE: Your winning reference number should not be in anyway disclosed to any one until you have successfully claimed your prize. Any irregular, suspected or multiple claims submitted to the bank shall be cancelled by the paying bank.

It’s in all bold.. and there is an International telephone number.. must be the real deal.. even if I never, ever, not once so much as thought about using Western Union.. right?

Bonus!

Huh?

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 11, 2010 Posted by | cyber crime, Internet scam, Phishing, phraud, spam and junk mail | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Not So Kewel Science?

It was only Monday that I told you about a scientific development – researchers in Australia had developed a “bionic eye” (See, Kewel Science) which essentially is a camera attached to the retina. Yesterday, I saw this headline: Engineers develop enhanced vision; GPS tracking tech for your brain.

Oops. Did that say “GPS tracking” and ” in your brain”? Yikes!

A team of researchers from Vienna have unveiled cutting-edge technology that combines the Internet, global positioning satellite tracking technology and biofeedback to augment and enhance your natural vision.

“Augment” and “enhance”. Hmmm. This sounds a bit more Steve Austin than Monday’s article.. and a lot scarier!

In an example of a real-life application, a person who bumps into an old friend on the street could recall their name and the date of their most recent encounter.

This is a story well-worth reading in its entirety. The full article is here. There’s a neat video there too…
Kinda gives me the willies… big time.

Today’s free link: Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?
Lots of companies offer software that’s supposed to stop worms, viruses, and other malware for free. We tested nine such security programs to find the ones you can really depend on.” – Erik Larkin, PC World.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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Can You Trust Free Antivirus Software?

Lots of companies offer software that’s supposed to stop worms, viruses, and other malware for free. We tested nine such security programs to find the ones you can really depend on.

April 10, 2010 Posted by | News, tech | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Microsoft Office 2010 Technology Guarantee

Buy Office 2007 Today, Get Office 2010 Free

Today I received notice, via Amazon, that for a limited time Microsoft is offering a free upgrade deal. Purchase, install, and activate a qualifying Office 2007 product between March 5, 2010, Office 2010 logoand September 30, 2010, and you’ll be eligible to download Office 2010 at no additional cost. The Microsoft details page is here.

I noted, also, that Amazon’s price for Home and Student Edition is very competitive, and I was pleased to see that the option to have it on disc was free too. The Amazon page is here.

Some thoughts on Office 2007/2010:
I have been using “the new Office” since the beta of Office 2007, and am currently running the beta of 2010. I find the modest improvements in 2010 quite nice, but since I am not doing a lot of “online collaboration”, nor in a true business environment (no cubicle for me), I am not able to leverage all of its advanced features.

I have no trouble with the “new” Ribbon menu bars, and I love being able to preview, and then apply, formatting ‘dynamically’. But – and this is a pretty big ‘but’ here – longtime users of Office (97 – 2003) do not always find the transition to the new menus so… pleasant. Fortunately, Microsoft provides many aids for easing the transition to the newer way, such as the Office 2010 menu to ribbon reference workbooks. There is a learning curve going from Office 2003/older, yes.

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 9, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, Microsoft, MS Word, News, shopping for, software, tech, word processors | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Continuing Adventures In Computerized Cars… Tech News

Item 1: Hacker Disables More Than 100 Cars Remotely

“The real problem started with a disgruntled employee that managed to walk out the door with a password from a co-worker that allowed him access to 1,100 Auto Center customers online. These vehicles were equipped with Webtech Plus, a system that allows remote access over wireless networks to allow dealers to disable vehicles from nonpaying customers. Read article here.

Item 2: Some experts say computer at fault in Toyota recall hubbub

“Toyota boss Akio Toyoda recently appeared before a Congressional panel to answer questions about his company’s behavior during the scandal. Critics allege that faulty accelerators caused several deaths in unexpected runaway vehicles.” Read article here.

Item 3: Identity Theft Cases Skyrocket As Thieves Exploit New Wi-Fi Vulnerability In Vehicles

Okay.. that last one isn’t a real headline.. yet. But it will be. With people increasingly connecting their personal lives to their cars via smart phones and wi-fi, the threat of cybercrime has taken to the road. Our cars are becoming mobile computing devices, and “rolling hotspots”. Kewel, eh?

But does your new car have an antivirus or firewall? Two items you wouldn’t think of not having on your laptop?

A while ago, I received a PR notice from Ford, which declares that at least one automobile manufacturer is aware of the convergence of Internet-connected computing and cars and – more importantly – is considering the security implications:

Item 4: Ford offers security features to protect owners’ personal information as cars, Internet converge

DEARBORN, Mich., March 5, 2010 –
With the rapid convergence of in-car technology and the Internet, Ford Motor Company said today it is offering a suite of security features to protect the personal information of millions of Ford owners from the threat of computer hackers and viruses.” For more information regarding Ford’s products, please visit www.ford.com.

Related: Blogroll member Bill Mullins has written a more detailed look at Ford’s newest SYNC technology, here.

Further reading: Researchers expose complex cyber espionage network
A newly released report “Shadows in the Cloud”, details the the inner workings of complex cyber espionage network, that was systematically stealing sensitive documents/correspondence from the Indian government, the United Nations, as well as Dalai Lama’s offices. By Dancho Danchev

Copyright 2007-2010 © Tech Paul. All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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April 8, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, mobile, News, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments