Tech – for Everyone

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

You have received an eCard.. WOT?

Have you installed the safer surfing WOT (Web Of Trust) toolbar yet? I install it on all my friend’s and family’s machines because its red – yellow – green “traffic signal” warning system is simple enough even for young children.

In this screenshot, it’s warning of a dangerous hyperlink embedded in a phishing email that’s attempting to get me to open what it says is an “eCard” (hoping I won’t look at the odd URL or “.zip” file type, as most people don’t). This screenshot shows a Hotmail account.


..and should you be so foolish as to ignore (or.. simply not notice) the red circle, and click on the link anyway, and try to go to the website..


A warning ‘curtain’ (overlay) intervenes. It tells you why the website has “earned” the very bad red rating. You must click “Go to site” to proceed to the website itself.  [note: sample shown is not a download-able eCard, but a virus!]

These ratings are determined by you, me, and other Internet surfers… not some faceless giant corporation or government agency. It is “people driven”, and you get a vote. I urge you to check it out. Visit today. Gain another layer of protection from online scams, “phraud”, “phishing”, and “rogue antivirus” programs .. like TotalProtect2009.
(See, Is that anti-spyware program really spyware?)

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

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April 22, 2010 Posted by | cyber crime, Internet, Phishing, phraud, security | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

10 Ways To Dodge The Latest Online Scams

Folks, a quick reading reco today. This article reiterates some very sound advice for you to be aware of while online, and offers advice on how to protect yourself and avoid becoming a victim. Here are some highlights…

“The internet is a big part of our everyday lives—and the con artists know it. Cyber crooks are coming up with more and more ways to use the web to run their scams and cheat unsuspecting people out of their money.

Fortunately, with just a few easy steps, you can fight back and keep your hard-earned cash out of the hands of these criminals. To follow are the latest online frauds making the rounds, along with some advice on how you can protect yourself.

Social networking frauds
Thieves are devising increasingly clever ways to use these popular sites to run their cons. They’ll hack into an account, pass themselves off as your friend, and then trick you into downloading malicious software….or they’ll make a desperate, emergency plea for you to send them cash to a mail box…or they’ll lead you to a fake web site that asks you for your private banking information.

Another ploy are the quizzes and games that ask for your cell phone number so that the results can be sent to you—and you don’t know you’ve been conned until you see mysterious charges on your next phone bill.

Online charity hoaxes
… Most hoaxes are designed to take advantage of people’s desire to help, and online charity fraud is a perfect example of this tactic. The National White Collar Crime Center reports that in 2009 alone, more than $122 million was lost in donations to fraudulent internet charities.

Scareware scams
Here’s how it works: you’re surfing the web and a pop-up window says your computer has a virus. You download the scanning tool—it’s free, after all—and you’re alarmed to see the long list of dangerous files found on your computer. But luckily all can be fixed with a simple purchase,”

To read the entire article, and see the 10 tips for How To avoid these risks, please click here. I highly recommend you do.. even if you think you already know the answers. It’s a quick read, and the advice is 100% valid.

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

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March 29, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, security, social networking, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Computer Safety + "Most Overlooked"

Well here it is, Monday again. I hope you all you were able to enjoy the weekend… and did better on your football picks than I did. hardhat area

This morning I looked over this site’s ‘stats’ and noticed that – yet again – some chucklehead left a spam comment on one of my articles. There have been over 45,500 such geniuses so far.. so nothing unusual there.

The reason I mention that, is that the comment was left on an article I had all but forgotten I had written; and so the spammer has inadvertently done us a service, Dear Reader, as the article discusses one of the most overlooked ways of protecting the investment which is your electronic devices. Which I now re-post.

First Line Of Defense – The Lowly Powerstrip*

Every now and then, something comes along and upsets our daily routine. This causes us to make adjustments and adapt. I am a fairly typical example of human nature in that I find upsets to my routine (sense of normalcy), well, upsetting. I get things set to the way I like them, and I want them to stay that way… and I get cranky when they’re not.

Yesterday, the hard drive on one of my testbed machines gave up the ghost and died: one machine down. Then last night we had a storm and some funny things happen to our electricity — all of my lights got really bright and then ‘poof’ darkness; then, quickly, about three times in a row, the power tried to come back on, but failed. A couple of minutes later, it was on and stayed on.. long enough to develop a false sense of relief. Then it was out for an hour. Basically, a “surge”, followed by “line recycling”.

Now I don’t want you to think I’m snivelling. I’m not. But I did need to “set the stage” for this — another of my machines was plugged into a cheap, old, powerstrip pstrip.jpgwhich did not react to the surge. So, that machine experienced the full roller-coaster ride of a surge in power, sudden outage, rebooting, outage, full reboot+full outage.. which, apparently, it didn’t like very much.
I have yet to determine if it just the Windows installation that was damaged, if the reported RAM memory module errors are temporary, or if a component on the motherboard is now “fried”. Second machine down. [it was Windows.]

Due to these things, and the fact that I simply cannot live without a computer, a trip to my local electronics store was my first act of the day– and because there is a moral to this story (actually, a couple of them) I will share with you my purchases.
Moral #1: the devices I had plugged into modern, rated, and “not cheap” powerstrips suffered no ill effects. (I had used the old powerstrip because it had happened to be handy.) There is a difference in the quality of powerstrips, and their protective abilities. I made a conscientious inventory and have replaced all my old powerstrips with ones specifically designed belkin.jpgand rated for sensitive electronics. (If you are in an area that has lightning [and who isn’t?] it is a good idea to protect your phone line and coaxial cable lines too.) Such as with this “media center” one from Belkin.

Moral #2: My machines attached to a UPS (aka “battery backup”) also were unaffected by the surge and recyclings. However, I never got around to attaching my DSL modem and router to a UPS, as they are somewhat distant from my work area. And so, while I was able to have a computer running, the network, and the Internet was unavailable. I remedied that as well.
I wrote an article on Uninterruptible Power Supplies (UPS), which you can read by clicking here.

Moral #3: Hard drives do fail. Fortunately, replacing them is not a very difficult task. And restoring the first machine I mentioned was not all that difficult or time-consuming either.. in fact, I had a side-benefit as the new drive is quite a bit larger than the now-dead drive was.
But I must point out, I can make the statement I made (immediately above) because I had a full system backup stored on another drive. If I did not have that full backup, I would still be reinstalling programs and reconfiguring settings and updating my software and… well, anyone who’s done it can tell you, it’s a royal pain.
So I remind you, again, that it is very important to make backups of your computer.. and to store those backups on two different storage media types. To read my article on setting your computer to make backups automatically, click here.

Today’s free link: Many people have taken particular note of my article on Processes, and what should (or should not) be showing in the list in Task Manager. A resource for figuring out those strange looking entries that I have not mentioned before is the Process Library, which will help you determine if a process is “good” or “bad”.

* Orig post: 12/7/07

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

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January 11, 2010 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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.


If you connect a Windows computer to the Internet you should have:
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

The REAL News From Microsoft

Once again, the mainstream media has things all wrong. From reading the news, one would get the impression that the Big News out of Seattle is two items:
* Microsoft has opened a store
* Windows 7 is now officially released

While those two items are interesting, I admit, they aren’t the really important ones. The mainstream media always misses the really important things it seems to me.

The really important news from Microsoft is:
Microsoft has released a Top-Tier anti-malware program and made it available to everyone – FREE. Lifetime.Win7RC.jpg

It is called Security Essentials, and it is a free alternative to One Care.

Microsoft Security Essentials provides real-time protection for your home PC that guards against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software.

Microsoft Security Essentials is a free download from Microsoft that is simple to install, easy to use, and always kept up to date so you can be assured your PC is protected by the latest technology. It’s easy to tell if your PC is secure — when you’re green, you’re good. It’s that simple.

Microsoft Security Essentials runs quietly and efficiently in the background so that you are free to use your Windows-based PC the way you want—without interruptions or long computer wait times.

Yes. It will run just dandy on your brand new Windows 7.

This release from Microsoft has Industry experts saying that the “antivirus game has changed.” And nobody’s laughing.
For once, the winners are us — the average folk.

When your anti-malware license expires, I can recommend that you consider this alternative.

Microsoft, you get a big tip of my Geek hat!

Today’s free download: Microsoft Security Essentials
Proven antivirus protection for free.

[a brief aside: I understand that a few of you have been downloading Win7. I welcome folks (who have) to leave a comment describing their first impressions.]

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

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October 23, 2009 Posted by | advice, antivirus, computers, free software, how to, Microsoft, News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Security Alert — 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”.)

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.

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 download: WOT (Web Of Trust) is a free Internet security add-on for your browser. It will 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

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

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April 16, 2009 Posted by | advice, antivirus, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, PC, phraud, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

RC Meets RL (RoboCop Meets Real Life)

Forget Dashboard Cameras. Today It’s Headcams

From Wired
“Officers: Are you sick and tired of excessive force lawsuits? Well cheer up. Taser has a plan to give your police department its own CYA reality TV show.

The less-lethal weapons company has launched a wearable computer, called Axon, that will let cops record every minute of their day and upload it to a secure website. From there, they can share their favorite memories with friends, family, and jurors.

The camera is head-mounted, so it will record everything the user lays his eyes on. Each

Part Man - Part Machine - All Cop

Part Man - Part Machine - All Cop

headset plugs into a Linux-powered computer that looks curiously similar to a PlayStation Portable, which has an LCD  screen so that officers can watch instant replays of their favorite tackles and shakedowns.”

Um … everywhere they go? The unit also features a “One-Touch ‘Privacy Mode'” which “temporarily suspends recording.”

When I read this.. a line started running through my head — “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

I have said here before, if you want to see  future tech, just watch Star Trek.

Today’s free link: Expand your Star Trek awareness, and better understand my reference, see What are “the Borg”?

You can read the whole article here.

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

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March 12, 2009 Posted by | News, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments