Tech – for Everyone

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


Today I am going to take a little break, and reward myself with a little bit of this level of activity…

Cat on Guard Duty

A little R&R does a body good.. and I deserve it.

I hope y’all have a Gggrreeaatt!! day.

(If you simply must have some tech, how about: “According to a New York Times report, your iPhone, iPad, and iPod might be leaking like sieves, allowing apps to scavenge photos and location information, as well as address books.”)

Today’s quote:Things turn out best for the people who make the best out of the way things turn out.” ~ Art Linkletter

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 29, 2012 Posted by | Apple, blogging, mobile, security, tech | 2 Comments

Tuesday Tidbits

* Online dating services: Risking more than a broken heart

People looking for companionship are trusting online services more than ever. Is that trust misplaced? Michael Kassner looks for the privacy and security gaps in online dating.Read more..

* Hacking now responsible for most of exposed records

Until last year, lost and stolen laptops were to blame for the largest percentage of breach types. Now, hacking has claimed the top spot.Computer intrusion was responsible for 83 percent of the total reported exposed records in 2011 and a third of the total breaches, according to the year-end “Data Breach Intelligence” report from Risk Based Security, affiliated with the Open Security Foundation, which chronicles security incidents.

Last year saw nearly 368 million records breached, the highest ever, and the all-time tally sits at 1.3 billion, according to the report, released last week. The previous high was 191 million records in 2009.Read more..

And we trust these machines? (And the people running them?) Why should I try to protect my PII when some clown in a data center is going to cough it all up for me??
“Breached” is Geek for “stolen by a hacker”.

* Patient data available on Google, Yahoo due to security mishap

The health records of more than 30,000 patients at five California hospitals may have been publicly accessible via search engines due to improper server configurations.Read more..

“Mishap”? Is that what you’d call it?

* Why big business is dealing with big security concerns

Businesses are forced to implement specific security mandates even if they don’t support their actual security goals.Read more..

* Could the Internet collapse?

Here’s the good news — a total collapse of the Internet would be almost impossible. The Internet isn’t a magic box with an on/off switch. It’s not even a physical thing. It’s a collection of physical things and it’s constantly changing. The Internet isn’t the same entity from one moment to the next — machines are always joining or leaving the Internet.Read more..

(I guess whoever wrote that never heard of Conficker..)

* It Could Still Happen To You: 2011’s Top Android Malware Threats

Juniper’s Mobile Threats Report identifies more than a half-dozen of the more serious Android malware attacks in 2011.Read more..

Happy reading! (It’s not depressing. Really!)


What?? Salim?? Again?!

… AOL support …


Think they’re targeting a certain type of computer user?

Today’s quote:The unexamined life is not worth living.” ~ Socrates

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 28, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, News, tech | | 8 Comments

Most Common Question?

This past weekend I was put in a situation where a whole bunch of “average computer users” could ask me any computer question.

From this, I discovered a theme. Nobody understands Updates, and everybody is *very annoyed* by how frequently they are interrupted by various “an update is available” ‘pop opens’. (One guy said, “every single time I sit at the computer!” ¹)
A disturbingly large percentage were proud of the fact they they had “solved” this annoyance by learning how to turn off automatic updating.

No surprise: (roughly) that same large percentage admitted they had let their “Norton”/”McAfee” expire – and felt subscriptions were borderline extortion. (No.. they had not installed a free AV. They just close the pop open nag.)

If I have just described you, in any way, please read the “Real Life” story below. I wrote it back when I was new at this: before I discovered that people cannot read for content, and when they see too many words, or block paragraphs, they click away as fast as they can.

Here’s why I really, really hate digital evil doers. I received queries from some folks who discovered that some of their files had mysteriously vanished (in one case, all of their files) and they wanted to know what to do to get them back.
What had happened to them was they had visited (or been redirected to, in a type of attack similar to pharming) a malicious website. This website downloaded code that took advantage of an unpatched vulnerability in Windows and executed a script that deleted random files… and then emptied the Recycle bin. Files, gone.

How this profited the owner of the malicious website, or even gave him/her any joy or satisfaction, I simply cannot fathom. This attack doesn’t steal, nor does it turn your machine into a zombie in his botnet. It is spite, pure and simple. Unmitigated meanness.
There is a certain.. segment of geeks/hackers who feel that many people are too stupid to own computers, who haven’t a clue how to use or protect them, and that these folks deserve whatever bad things happen to their PCs. Vanity and arrogance!
That is why I do this six-days-a-week labor of love, and bring you the tips, advice, and information posted here. So far I have posted 80 1,650+ how-to’s with 60 100 topic ‘tags’. With God’s help, I will continue to help you combat these bad guys for many, many more days to come.

Tip(s) of the day: Don’t be vulnerable.
1) Make sure your machine has all the latest patches and Updates. Using exploits of known vulnerabilities is the main avenue Evil Doers use to do their mischief. The reason this works is that so many people are using old versions of Windows and/or not patching via Microsoft Update. Fortunately, it is easy to set Windows to automatically download Updates for you.

Click on Start >Control Panel >Security Center.

Click on Automatic Updates under “Manage security settings for:” (Or, right-click on My Computer (Computer in Vista), select (click) Properties and then the Automatic Updates tab.)


Make sure the top radio button is selected and set the times to “everyday” and an hour when you know your machine will be powered on. Finish by clicking on “Apply”.

2) Avoid malicious websites. Since the website warning tool built into IE 7 causes very slow performance, I recommend downloading a tool like McAfee’s SiteAdvisor, or the Netcraft toolbar. (Both work on Firefox, too.) These are primarily anti-phishing tools, and the bad guys are constantly posting new poisoned websites (one reliable sources says “An average of 11,906 total new malicious websites were detected daily in August.” {my italics}), so these warning tools are not foolproof — but are an excellent addition to your security arsenal: if they turn red and advise you not to continue to the website, don’t.

3) Use a firewall and make sure your antivirus and anti-spyware tools are up to date. I have posted many articles on these topics. Click on a word in my Tag Cloud to see just these articles.

4) Windows is not the only software/program that has exploitable vulnerabilities. Make sure you’re using the automatic update setting on every program that offers it to look for newer versions. Also use the online vulnerability assessor at Secunia to scan your system for out of date applications. The results will include links to the newer versions, should it find any, and tell you how to fix the vulnerabilities it finds.

I was able to help these folks recover their deleted files with common undelete programs. If you read my article on why deleted isn’t really deleted, recently reposted as a holiday edition, you are already aware of how to do this should this malicious and dastardly attack befall you. Keep reading for another free undelete tool.

Today’s free link: Pandora Recovery is a program for undeleting files on NTFS partitions. You should download this (or a similar) program before you actually need it, as installing it could very well happen on the area you’re trying to recover.
If you are in a situation such as the folks who triggered this article, and you don’t already have an undelete tool installed, use an online scanner/recovery tool such as Softperfect File Recovery.

Orig post: 09/10/07

¹ Of course. He was simply closing the pop open ‘notification’ balloon, and only delaying the prompt. Either install or dismiss (answer ‘no thanks’) or you will be nagged until you do.

You’re welcome and, have a great day everybody!

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 27, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, security | 2 Comments

Sunday Beauty #79


In this modern, “digital” world, in an age of too much to do and not enough hours, and everything moving at the speed of light… it occurred to me (again) today – sometimes, simple is best.

Here’s another pretty picture for your Sunday.

Click on image to see more by this artist

“Sunshine, Blue and Green” by scotbot, courtesy of Flickr Commons

Today’s quote:Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” ~ Socrates

Danger, Will Robinson:

What?! Salim again?!

hmm.. since there’s an official-looking ® there.. it must be true..
They don’t just issue those symbols to just any’ole body..
Oh. Wait.

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 26, 2012 Posted by | Digital Images | 3 Comments

From the Consumer Electronics Show..

CRN’s CES 2012 Coverage

CES 2012

CES 2012, the largest tech show in the U.S., highlights the consumerization of IT and is a hot bed for the introduction of new smartphones, notebooks and other tech gadgets. CES also serves up keynotes from a range of big name IT executives, with Steve Ballmer, Ursula Burns and Paul Otellini all speaking at this year’s event.

CRN is on hand at CES 2012, bringing up-to-the-minute coverage of the biggest keynotes and providing an exclusive look at our favorite tablet PCs, ultrabooks, new cloud technologies and everything else from the show floor.

CES 2012

15 Mind-Blowing HDTVs From The CES 2012 Show Floor

HDTVs are typically one of the most amazing parts about CES and this year was no exception, as all the usual suspects — Panasonic, LG and Samsung — were represented.

Solution Providers: Intel Smartphones, “Wintel” Here To Stay

Intel has announced an alliance with Motorola as it prepares to enter the smartphone and tablet space for the first time ever. Intel’s new mobile strategy doesn’t signify the demise of “Wintel,” though, solution providers said.

CES 2012

New Storage Devices Come To Light At CES 2012, Storage Visions

While the buzz in Las Vegas was focused on tablets, TVs, and smart mobile devices, there was plenty to see at CES 2012 for anyone looking for the latest storage innovations.

ViewSonic Undercuts Android Tablet Market With $170 ViewPad E70

ViewSonic also introduced two more 10-inch tablets: the ViewPad 10e and the ViewPad 10pi.

SAP CIO: It’s Always Bring Your Smartphone To Work Day

In an interview at CES, Oliver Bussman explains why SAP gave the green light to personal iPhones, iPads and Samsung Android-based devices in the corporate environment.

CES 2012

Ballmer Touts Windows 8, Phone In Microsoft’s CES Farewell

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, in the company’s CES farewell, sticks to his knitting by focusing on progress with key products like Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

CES: Cisco Says Videoscape Platform Still Top Priority

Despite Cisco’s struggles in 2011, its Videoscape digital television and social media platform is still an important strategic platform for service providers.

CES 2012

10 Hot Items From CES 2012 Opening Night

CRN provides a look at 10 items that caught our eye on opening night of CES 2012.

D-Link, Netgear Join CES Cloud Services Fray

Cloud services continued to dominate CES 2012, with home and SMB networking players D-Link and Netgear pledging allegiance to the cloud with new services.

CES: LG Set To Launch VMware-Equipped Smartphones

LG says its carrier partners are getting ready to launch the first smartphones loaded with Horizon Mobile, a VMware virtualization technology that tackles consumerization issues.

CES 2012

25 Must-See Products At CES 2012

It’s that time of year again. Here are 25 hot items on tap for the 2012 Consumer Electronics Show.

CES 2012

Seven Scintillating Ultrabooks From CES 2012

Las Vegas was full of Ultrabooks. Here’s a look at seven standout models from CES 2012.

It’s Personal: 10 CES 2012 Products That Showcase The Individual

CES isn’t just about gadgets: This year, there were many products that showcase individual style and the personalization trend. Here are 10 examples from the show floor.

Intel Signs Mobile Alliance With Motorola, Throws Support Behind Android

Intel’s alliance with Motorola shows the chip maker is throwing its weight behind Android — not Windows — in the smartphone and tablet markets.

CES 2012

CES: Seagate Teams With Verizon On 4G Wireless Mobile Hard Drive

Seagate and Verizon unveil what the two are calling the world’s first 4G mobile wireless storage device.

Report: Dell Plots Its Entry Into Consumer Tablet Space

Dell is reportedly making plans to launch a consumer-focused tablet later this year, according to reports.

CES: HP Unveils ENVY 14 Spectre ‘Premium Consumer’ Ultrabook

HP put its stake in the ground in the premium consumer Ultrabook market with the unveiling at CES of its HP ENVY 14 Spectre, which is slated to ship on February 8 with a starting list price of $1,399.

CES 2012

10 Weird, Wacky And Wonderful Things To See At CES 2012

CRN takes a look at the weirdest, wackiest, and intriguing products and events happening at this year’s CES.

Samsung Launches 7.7-Inch Tablet, Notebooks, Ultrabooks

Samsung is expanding its smartphone portfolio with the Galaxy Note, which features a 5.3-inch, high definition, Super AMOLED display and will run on AT&T’s LTE network.

CES 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga Combines Ultrabooks With Tablets

What do you get when you mix an Ultrabook with a Windows 8 tablet? Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga.

CES: Lenovo Brings New Tablet, Ultrabook, All-In-One Offerings

Lenovo gets busy at CES, rolling out the IdeaTab S2 10-inch tablet, IdeaPad U310 and U410 Ultrabooks and IdeaCentre B540 and B340 All-In-One PCs.

CES: Acer, Lenovo Vie For Piece Of The Cloud

Cloud services take center stage early at CES as Acer and Lenovo each come out swinging with new integrated cloud plays.

February 25, 2012 Posted by | News, tech | , , , | 3 Comments

Point for point (aka “Friday Fun”)

Today’s mail brought some chuckles..

Let’s start today’s fun by comparing/contrasting certain realities..

1) Nobody calls me “baby”, baby.

2) Viagra Cialis? Is that, like what, twice as strong as plain Cialis?

3) It is hard for me to say how many thousands of people I have met in my decades on Earth, but I am pretty sure not one of them had the name “Bmena”.. And what is a “sir/madam”?
Don’t answer that.

4) I must have ordered that Dell while sleepwalking.. ? (“Cosmic”!)

5) Mrs. Williams, if you would like me to handle large sums for you, YES!!! I am absolutely trustworthy!!!!!!!!!!

6) I don’t think this one is real.. there is no red exclamation point telling me how urgent this change to my account status is.
Oh. Nevermind. I don’t have an account at BofA.

7) Why does salim keep writing me?

Try this idea on for size, next time life has you feeling a little down in the dumps: think of how much worse it could be if you had been *naive* enough to have responded to something like these.
People do, you know.

Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!

* Have you ever wondered why – in some countries – they drive on the wrong side of the road? I found the answer. See, Which side of the road do they drive on? if you’re curious (scroll down a bit to “historical”).

* Are the movies Hollywood is releasing getting better lately? I haven’t seen a comic-book-brought-to-life title in a while..

* How about a fun video?

Thank you for sharing some time with me.. and, yes, the weekend is a bit closer.

Today’s quote:Advertisements contain the only truths to be relied on in a newspaper.” ~ Thomas Jefferson

One for the road: A website I mentioned the other day had some photographs that just tickled my fancy. Here’s one sample..

Click on image to see more by this artist (reco'd)

.. if that tickled your fancy, too, click on the image! (Explore the Galleries..)
Seth Casteel’s gave me that “warm fuzzy”.

Bonus (for reading this far): Log Into Your Box Account From Your Android Device and Get 50 GBs of FREE Online Storage

Box is an online file storage service that typically gives you for FREE, 5 GBs of online file storage. The 5 GB limit is the typical amount you see for most services in an effort to get you to try the service; HOWEVER, Box has an interesting offer that is hard to refuse (providing you […] Read more..

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 24, 2012 Posted by | cyber crime, Internet, News | , , , , | 2 Comments

Reader Asks How To Make Icons Bigger

A reader wrote in with a good question..

Q: Paul I hope you can provide a solution I have been unable to find elsewhere. I purchased a new Windows 7 computer from Dell. I find the notification area and the date/time display too small. I already have “Use Small Icons” unchecked, and I do not want to reduce my screen resolution, but would like the icons to be larger. Any suggestions? Thanks!

A: I am going to read between the lines a bit here, and assume from what you have written that you have already explored changing the various Display settings, and further, that you are referring specifically to the icons.

(But, if you haven’t, you can try scaling the DPI.
Right-click on your Desktop, choose Personalize (or, go to Start button > Control Panel > Display, and in left column select Custom DPI setting.) In the left column, click Adjust Font size – (DPI). Click on Large scale (120 DPI), and click Apply. Or, Click ‘Set custom text size (DPI)’ in the left pane to customize the text size with the slider.)

Other than that, to make the Date/Time text bigger, you might try a 3rd-party ‘tweak’ tool (I’m fairly sure there’s some out there..) but to make the icons themselves bigger, well, I am afraid my answer is you are (most likely going to be) out of luck.

(Most of) The Notification Area icons are created and installed during the installation of your various programs (usually “3rd-party”), and it has been long a standard that these “activity” icons be quite small. To the best of my current knowledge, that isn’t a Windows “setting”. And I know of no way to change them.

If this is really a problem for you, you might try placing a “stick on” (plastic sheet/”film”) magnifying “lens” down in that corner.. sorry I don’t have a better answer. Perhaps someone out there can provide a different (happier) answer?

Here is what Microsoft has on this subject: Change how icons appear in the notification area.

Today’s quote:Government exists to protect us from each other. Where government has gone beyond its limits is in deciding to protect us from ourselves.” ~ Ronald Reagan

Copyright 2007-2012 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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February 23, 2012 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, Microsoft, tweaks, Windows 7 | , , , , , | Leave a comment