Tech – for Everyone

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

A Daily Dose of Tech

It’s a fact: over time, things grow, and expand. The Internet itself is constantly growing, and every day thousands of new websites, blogs, and ‘online services’ appear.

I find it hard to keep up! (As, other things that are constantly growing are my business and my To Do List..) I simply do not have the time to explore them all.. and I bet you don’t either. (As a matter of fact, they say over 1,000 new ‘tech blogs’ are created each month. That’s the kind of market I am in!)

Fortunately, I know a guy.

WOMPC_logo

That “guy” is Rick Robinette, and for over two years now his What’s On My PC… website has been a daily read of mine — one of the half dozen (or less) remaining “daily reads”. I cannot say enough nice things about him; but the reason I am mentioning him to you, Dear Reader, is — he is reporting on the new ‘cloud computing’ developments as they happen, and bringing us the best of this new stuff. As you can see from his list of ‘pages’, below. (With a strong emphasis on free.. which I like!)

His writing is friendly, relaxed, fun, and yes, educational. He enjoys exploring fun and useful small utilities like desktop clocks and weather reports and sticky notes. For proof, here’s a few recent What’s On My PC… articles:

If you are at all interested in free software, useful tips, and/or want to get a feel for this “cloud computing”.. well, now you ‘know a guy’ too. Visit http://whatsonmypc.wordpress.com and find out why I cannot say enough good things about this great online resource.

I am pretty sure that if you do, Rick will become one of your “must reads” too!

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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January 18, 2011 Posted by | cloud computing, computers, Internet, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Winners named, Browsers & Add-ons, Friday Fun

I am posting a bit of a hodge-podge mixed bag for your Friday, which I hope you’ll enjoy. There’s pictures, so you may have to scroll..

First, I am frequently asked my opinion about web browsers: mainly, “which is best – Firefox or Chrome?” Yes, sometimes I am asked about IE or Opera too. Well.. what do you mean by “best”? And is your definition of “best” the same as mine? Fortunately, I don’t have to think too hard when I am asked, as web browsers all basically do the same thing –> show you websites.

I use Firefox as my “alternative” browser. And I have chosen it simply because of the many Add-ons available. If these “Add ons” were not available, I would not use Firefox. It’s that simple.

So, what Firefox Add-ons do I use? I’ll show you:

FF_addons

With the exception of the Vimeo video capture-to-blog plug in, I would recommend this configuration. Why? Well, what do these things do? Look at them, and you’ll see that they are defenses, and yes folks, your machine needs defenses on the Internet. (OK. The Java is not a defense. It’s a vulnerability.. see, Java, the new Adobe (+How To Protect Yourself).)

Adding Add-ons to Firefox is easy: click on the Tools menu, and then Add-ons. A window like the one pictured will open. In the upper left is the Get Add-ons button. Click it.
(If that seems like too many to you, I would say at a minimum you want NoScript, WOT, and Flashblock.)

*     *     *

Do you have a favorite TV show? Do you ever record movies?

I thought so. So I have a reading reco for you, a tutorial: How To Burn A Recorded TV Show in Windows Media Center

“Many people out there that have Windows Vista and Windows 7 based computers have never tapped into the Windows Media Center component that is right under their noses.”

*     *     *

The folks at TuneUp Utilities generously donated 3 licenses, to me, of their ‘hot off the press’ newest release of TuneUp Utilities (aka “TU 2011″). I sincerely thank them for that. I generously offered them as prizes to you, Dear Reader, in Wednesday’s giveaway. Here are the winners.

Congratulations to:

TUwinners

Again, my thanks to the folks at TuneUp Utilities for making the giveaway possible!
(Winners, check your Inbox [and maybe your Junk folder] for the Subject TU2011 Winner)

*     *     *

Loyal readers know that I sometimes post Nigerian 419 (and other) scam emails — as a warning.. and because they often amuse me.

Yesterday, I saw an email with the Subject DID YOU AUTHORIZE DR GEORGE JEFFLEY TO PICK UP YOUR ATM CARD FOR YOU?
A slightly different tack from the usual.. but the rest looks vaguely familiar.

DID YOU AUTHORIZE DR GEORGE JEFFLEY TO PICK UP YOUR ATM CARD FOR YOU?
Friday, November 12, 2010 6:19 AM
From: “ATM CARD PAYMENT OFFICE” < info_cbn41@yahoo.in > <— Ha! India..
To: undisclosed-recipients

OFFICE OF NEW APPIONTED EXECUTIVE
GOVERNOR CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA (CBN)
ZARIA STREET, GARKI 11, ABUJA NIGERIA
P.M.B 0187, GARKI, ABUJA .

ATM Card Beneficiary,

I wish to use this medium to inform you that your CONTRACT/INHERITANCE Part Payment of USD$2.3M (Two Million Three Hundred Thousand Dollars) from CENTRAL BANK OF NIGERIA have been RELEASED and APPROVED for onward transfer to you via an ATM CARD which you will use to withdraw all the USD$2.3M in any ATM SERVICE MACHINE in any part of the world, but the maximum you can withdraw in a day is USD$40,000.00 Only.

We have mandated Skye Bank Nigeria Plc, to send you the ATM CARD and PIN NUMBER which you will use to withdraw all your USD$2.3 Million Dollars in any ATM SERVICE MACHINE in any part of the world, but the maximum you can withdraw in a day is USD$40,000.00 Only.

However, we received an email now from one Dr George Jeffley, who told us that you send him to come and pick up your ATM CARD for you.

He has also submitted his account for us to transfer your funds to him. Dr George Jeffley account co-ordinate is as stated below:
Bank: Bank of America
1121 N 205th St, Shoreline, Wa 98133
Bank routing number: 167000024
Bank account number: 3619672201
Account Holders name Dr George Jeffley

We want to know if you are the one that send him,but if you are not the person that send him You are therefore advice to contact the Head of ATM CARD Department Contact Person:
DR.ANTHONY AKA
E-mail:dranthonyaka47@gmail.com

Tell DR.ANTHONY AKA that you received a message from office of the director of ATM CARD International Credt Card Settlement department Skye Bank Nigeria Plc,instructing him to send you the ATM CARD and PIN NUMBER which you will use to withdraw your USD$2.3Million Dollars in any ATM SERVICE MACHINE in any part of the world, also send him your,

1. FULL NAME
2. FULL ADDRESS
3. PHONE AND FAX #(P.O BOX NOT ACCEPTABLE)
4. YOUR AGE, SEX AND CURRENT OCCUPATION.
Please do keep this only to your self for now until the bank transfer your fund into your bank account.

Yours faithfully.
Lamido Sanusi.
Executive Governor,
Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)
(Reply to: dranthonyaka47@gmail.com

Yes, Mr. or Ms. info_cbn41, somewhere in India, I’ll get right on this. Check your Inbox.

The weekend is almost here…

and how about some action? You did say you like movies? Like stunts? Jackie’s the man.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cinemassacre’s Top 10 Jackie Chan Stunts, posted with vodpod

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.


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November 12, 2010 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, e-mail, Firefox, how to, tech | , , , | 16 Comments

WinPatrol PLUS Contest Winners

Bill Pytlovany generously donated five licenses for WinPatrol PLUS to me to award to my readers. I sincerely thank him for that.

scotty128

Scotty the Windows watchdog

WinPatrol consistently earns 5 stars and is a frequent “Editor’s Choice”.

WinPatrol’s Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. It continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.”

Startup   Programs Removing and Disabling Startup Programs
Active  Tasks Removing Active Tasks
IE   Helpers IE Helpers – Browser Helper Objects – Toolbars Expose Hidden  Files Expose Hidden Files
Scheduled Tasks Scheduled Tasks Cookies Cookie Management and Filtering
Services Services Manager File Types Monitoring and Restoring File Type Associations
Options Options – Host File/Start Page Monitoring Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7
32 and 64 -bit

WinPatrol is freeware, and a “portable version” is available for carrying on your ‘thumbdrive toolkit’. WinPatrol PLUS is a way of supporting Scotty, and includes important extra features. A comparison chart of the editions is here, and downloads here.

And the winners are…!

Winners have been sent an e-mail, containing their license keys, with the subject “WinPatrol PLUS License Winner”. (You may need to check your Junk folder.)

My thanks to all who participated in this contest.

Didn’t Win?

FYI – To help ‘kick off’ the new Version 18, BillP Studios is offering a limited time discount sale: HALF PRICE SPECIAL! (Folks, the “limited time” is expiring, so don’t delay.)
WinPatrol PLUS Lifetime License
Single User/Multiple Computers/No subscription
SALE Price $14.98
Upgrading provides high performance, real-time monitoring and access to our PLUS Info database. Your investment is a one-time cost. No hidden fees, advertisements or unwanted toolbars. Your support helps continue the development of new WinPatrol features.

Again, my thanks to Bill P. for making this drawing possible, and for creating this nifty “watchdog” & toolset.

Bonus FYI — Bill  has an interesting blog, “Bits from Bill“, here: http://billpstudios.blogspot.com/ (I particularly liked Can Facebook Be Trusted?)

Click  here to  view current Bits From  Bill posts Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of “Bill Pytlovany


Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 18, 2010 Posted by | computers, security, software | , , , , , , | 13 Comments

WinPatrol PLUS License Giveaway

Today It Brings Me Special Pleasure To Announce My Latest Software License Giveaway: WinPatrol 2010 PLUS

"Scotty" the Windows watchdog

You say you don’t know about Scotty and WinPatrol? I have recommended it here before, and I’ve used it for so long I can’t remember (I think, all the way back to when a certain “Y2K bug” was going to end civilization). I consider WinPatrol one of those essential programs to have around.
Short version:
I am a “Scotty fan”. Rrrrruff!

Much good has been said about WinPatrol (from BillP Studios) over the years.

“..I’ve got more to say, and it’s summed up in two words: WinPatrol Pro. The latest version, 9.8 Ɨ, is a must-have tool.” — Steve Bass, “Hassle-Free PC: Clean House on a Junk-Filled System Tray“, Feb 21, 2006.

CNet Editors currently give it 5 stars. (WinPatrol has won several “Editor’s Picks”, in different places, over the years.)

I would recommend the software to anyone who is looking for additional protections from Internet ‘bugs’ and ‘critters’.” — Ron Schenone. MVP on Lockergnome blog The Blade, 02/16/2007.

Softpedia’s Ionut Ilascu said, “It is definitely a must for your computer.” in a review in 2007. (click here to read entire review.)

Bill Mullins lists WinPatrol in his 10 Best, and has this review: WinPatrolToGo – A Great Addition to Your Geek Toolbox

From the publisher:

WinPatrol’s Host-based Intrusion Prevention System (HIPS) takes snapshot of your critical system resources and alerts you to any changes that may occur without your knowledge. WinPatrol was the pioneer in using a heuristic behavioral approach to detecting attacks and violations of your computing environment. It continues to be the most powerful system monitor for its small memory footprint.

WinPatrol’s easy tabbed interface allows you to explore deep inside your computer without having to be a computer expert. A one-time investment in WinPatrol PLUS provides a unique experience you won’t find in any other software.”

Features: (clickable. To find out more, just click!)

Startup   Programs Removing and Disabling Startup Programs
Active  Tasks Removing Active Tasks
IE   Helpers IE Helpers – Browser Helper Objects – Toolbars Expose Hidden  Files Expose Hidden Files
Scheduled Tasks Scheduled Tasks Cookies Cookie Management and Filtering
Services Services Manager File Types Monitoring and Restoring File Type Associations
Options Options – Host File/Start Page Monitoring Windows XP/Vista/Windows 7
32 and 64 -bit

I do not use WinPatrol in place of Anti-malware programs, but alongside them. (WinPatrol is not an antivirus; its purpose is more to prevent bad stuff from getting onboard in the first place. An ounce of prevention..!) I feel a lot better knowing Scotty is being my watchdog. You just install it and that’s it — each time something is about to be changed, Scotty’s bark (Rrrrruff! ) will let you know, and a window will pop up asking for permission for the process. I would use WinPatrol just for that Rrrrruff!, but I also use WinPatrol’s features to remove stubborn startup entries, identify processes  to look for malware, and generally see what’s hidden on a machine. WinPatrol can be used it to “optimize” your startup time by setting some programs to wait a while before launching – very cool! There are other tools for those things, sure, but WinPatrol has them all in one place, and presents the info in a way that’s very “user friendly”.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Okay. Okay. Okay! The contest!
Bill P. has generously donated five licenses for WinPatrol PLUS to me, to award to my readers. I sincerely thank him for that. So I am going to do a random drawing ¹ contest from folks who “enter”. The contest will end midnight Thursday, June 18th, and the winners announced Friday.
A PLUS license can be used on as many computers as you own.

How to enter? To enter the drawing, simply click on “comment”, and enter a name and a valid e-mail (so we can send you the key) in the form. Actually commenting is optional. And, I shouldn’t have to say this, but it seems I do — multiple entries will result in disqualification. (In this contest. Entry in prior contests doesn’t count against you.)


WinPatrol is freeware, and a “portable version” is available for carrying on your ‘thumbdrive toolkit’. WinPatrol PLUS is a way of supporting Scotty, and includes important extra features. A comparison chart of the editions is here, and downloads here.

FYI (I was not asked to put this here, btw) To help ‘kick off’ the new Version 18, BillP Studios is offering a limited time discount sale: HALF PRICE SPECIAL! (Folks, the “limited time” is expiring, so please read this special consideration from Bill P. himself – for T4E readers.)
WinPatrol PLUS Lifetime License
Single User/Multiple Computers/No subscription
SALE Price $14.98
Upgrading provides high performance, real-time monitoring and access to our PLUS Info database. Your investment is a one-time cost. No hidden fees, advertisements or unwanted toolbars. Your support helps continue the development of new WinPatrol features.

Again, my thanks to Bill P.  for making this drawing possible, and for creating this nifty “watchdog” & toolset.

Also FYIBill  has an interesting blog, “Bits from Bill“, here: http://billpstudios.blogspot.com/ (I particularly liked Can Facebook Be Trusted?)

Click here to view current Bits From  Bill posts Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of “Bill Pytlovany


¹ All entrants will be placed into Random.org’s “randomizer”, and the top 5 results will be the winners.
Ɨ Current version is 18.1

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


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June 14, 2010 Posted by | computers, Internet, Microsoft, PC, performance, security, software, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 155 Comments

Geek – the word. And some advice.

When I was a boy – many years ago now – ”geek” was a completely pejorative and insulting word. A “geek” was typically a socially inept, small, quiet, know-it-all (who usually wore glasses) kid who couldn’t connect his bat with the softest-thrown baseball or catch a football to save his life…and he used big words all the time. Perhaps in your day you referred to ‘him’ as Pointdexter, nerd, dork, or wimp. Back then there was no doubt or question about it – ”geek” was a put-down: a derogatory statement. Period.

Today, I proudly declare: I am a geek. When I do, I am not broadcasting my pride in my inability to catch a football. (I can catch; and, even throw a tight spiral.) When I say I am a Geek, I am saying that I’m “into” computers and electronic gadgets, and I know a little about how they work.

At some point and time our common usage of the word “geek” has changed. It is no longer used strictly as a ‘slam’ and a put-down (however, if that is your intent, I believe the other words I listed above are still 100% negative…although Bill Gates may have softened the word “nerd” some…).

If, in the course of reading this blog, you see me use the word “geek” – please rest assured that I am always using it with the nicest of meanings. I even use “geek” as a compliment. Really.

Tip of the day: spyware, if it gets onto and runs on your machine, they can cause it to (amongst other unpleasant things!) suffer performance degredation and make it run slower. I spend a fair amount of time discussing malware, and how you can combat and remove it. I will return to this topic in the future. But for today I just want to make this point: If you connect to the Web, you need to run anti-spyware programs. Notice I that I wrote programs. Plural.

The fact is, no one anti-spyware application is 100% effective at stopping and removing spyware. There are many anti-spyware programs available and some are more effective than others. Some are great at stopping keyloggers but fall down when it comes to Trojan Horses, and others are visa-versa…as an example. So I strongly recommend running two anti-spywares, in the hopes that one will catch what the other missed. (There are many free anti-spyware applications [and some are spyware disquised as anti-spyware] available. For my more detailed descriptions and fuller listing, click here.) I cannot stress to you strongly enough to install and run some kind of anti-spyware program…and preferably, two. In that vein, today I will provide not one, but two, Today’s free download links.

Today’s free downloads:
Ad-Aware Free Anti-Malware 8.2 from Lavasoft. “Millions of people use the Internet every day to shop, bank, make travel arrangements, download music and movies, and connect with friends and family. Cyber criminals and identity thieves take advantage of all of this information sharing, targeting you and your family with threats like viruses, spyware, blended malware, and much more. Protect your privacy with Lavasoft’s reliable and trusted online security products, optimized for home users.

SUPERAntiSpyware
Detect and Remove Spyware, Adware and Malware, Trojans, Dialers, Worms, KeyLoggers, HiJackers, Parasites, Rootkits, Rogue Security Products and many other types of threats.

Bonus: You should always run an up-to-date AV (antivirus), which is a separate thing from anti-Spywares. My current top choice of free AV tools is Avast!

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


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May 15, 2010 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, how to, Internet, security, software | , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

People Make The Difference

Just before this holiday weekend, I wrote a piece titled, I Answer A Common Question and it did rather well – for a pre-holiday Friday. In it I answered one of my most frequently asked questions: “which anti-spyware do you use, Paul?

Well folks, humor me and let me come at this another way – and let me ask you this:

What would you think of a software company that:balance-scale
1) Responded promptly and courteously to your enquiries, and 2) followed up that enquiry with one of their own – “did that get answered to your satisfaction?”

Would you consider that a “plus” or a “minus”?
It’s a “plus” in my book.

What would you think of a software company that also:
3) Strives to be highly regarded and respected in its area {and. in fact, is} and, 4) Is always working at constantly improving their product, issuing no-cost updates several times a month, or more?

Would you consider that a “plus” or a “minus”?
It’s a “plus” in my book.

What would you think of a software company that also:
5) Placed your computer’ security ahead of anything else and, 6) by doing so is making the Internet a safer place?

Would you consider that a “plus” or a “minus”?
It’s a “plus” in my book.

What would you think of a software company that also:
7) Is generous {Generous, as in “I’m encouraged to offer reduced license fees or to donate licenses to schools, churches, and non-profit organizations to make sure they are protected. In the past year alone we’ve donated thousands of licenses to those in need. For example, we work closely with the Red Cross regarding spyware protection and assist with fundraising, and we recently provided licenses and lent technical support to a reseller partner for an African goodwill mission to fix computers in schools and hospitals.”} and, 8) offered a “same strength” version of their product completely free?

Would you consider that a “plus” or a “minus”?
It’s a “plus” in my book.

[update: see also, SUPERAntiSpyware Announces Educational License Special
“SUPERAntiSpyware.com helps schools during difficult  economic times with FREE lifetime updates on educational licenses in addition to discounted student versions.”]

So, just before the holiday weekend, I wrote a piece titled, I Answer A Common Question and in it I answered one of my main FAQ’s: “which anti-spyware do you use, Paul?” (see? I did remember the topic.)

Short version: I would use a product from a company which has the “plusses” just like the plusses mentioned above, wouldn’t you? In fact, I do.

So why not click on the blue text (above) and read which one I’m referring to. (Because, I saw the numbers; and I think you may have missed it.)

Bonus Hint: read carefully – and be rewarded.

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

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September 8, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet, security | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Cure A Malware Infection

3 Easy Methods

What do you do when your PC is displaying all the signs of having been infected and/or hacked but your antivirus and anti-spyware scan reports come back clean.. or fail to remove the infection?

This was the case for a fella who called me for advice recently. He had done things ‘right’ — and by that I mean he has a firewall, he keeps his antivirus definitions up to date, sick and he runs a couple of anti-spyware applications — but suspected his machine had been hacked anyway.

He couldn’t do things he was used to doing (like deleting a file) and his machine was “really slow.” But according to his scanners, his machine is in perfect shape!
He was right, btw, he was infected.

Tip of the day: If you should find yourself in a similar situation there are several steps you can take to help resolve your questions and (hopefully) fix your machine without taking the drastic step of wiping your hard drive, formatting, and reinstalling Windows.

The first step is to use a scanner that isn’t installed on your machine. Here’s two ways to do that: one, if your antivirus allows it (and most of them do these days), follow its instructions and make an antivirus recovery disk. This is a bootable disk that scans your system before Windows loads.

[note: for a quick method to create an AV disc, keep reading..]

To use one, put it in your CD tray and restart your machine. A plain-text sentence will appear* telling you to “press any key to boot from CD…” When you see it, hit your spacebar or, well, any other key, and then follow the instructions. When it’s finished, remove the CD and restart your machine again. (* If you don’t get a “press any key” prompt, you need to set the boot order in your BIOS. For instructions, click here.)
[note: you may also use a properly prepared USB thumb drive. Click here to read my article on how to do that.]

A second method is to use an online scanner. I have a list, with links, of several good online scans on my website, here. (My reco is Housecall) Quite a few of the online scanning tools will try to sell you their full application, but you’re under no obligation to buy. The big advantage to these two methods lies in the fact that they have not been compromised, or altered, and the files and scanners on your machine may be– the modification being done by the virus or hacker specifically to thwart your removal attempts.
[note: most modern malware blocks access to these sites. If that happens, do the repair found here, Can’t Download? Reset IE, and then try.]

Another thing to do is scroll down to my “Today’s free download” and download HiJack This!. Run it and dump the result into a .txt file (there’s instructions for this) and then register on one of the HiJack This! forums (there’s instructions for this too) and post your results there. Before too long, an expert anti-malwareologist [don’t bother looking: I just now made that word up] will have looked over the intricacies, and will post their analysis and instructions. These folks are really, really good at what they do, and you can trust their answers. These volunteers get a big tip of my hat.

Hopefully these efforts will be rewarded with a rejuvenation of your machine, and you will be back in business again.  If not, you have my sympathy. You may have a rootkit and then your best solution is to re-format your hard drive and reinstall everything, or enlist the aid of a professional. There’s no shame in that last — the modern versions of viruses and worms are devilishly difficult to remove.

Today’s free downloads:
HijackThis™ is a free utility which quickly scans your Windows computer to find settings that may have been changed by spyware, malware or other unwanted programs. HijackThis does not clean infections, but creates a report, or log file, with the results of the scan. A large community of users participates in online forums, where experts help interpret the scan results to clean up infected computers.

Avira AntiVir Rescue System This is a small download that, when launched, will create a self-contained anti-virus disc with the latest definitions. All you have to do is insert a blank CD. (You may have to go to an un-infected machine to do this..) It will boot even if your machine won’t load Windows. Avira gets a big tip of my hat for offering this free tool, too!

Today’s recommended reading: How to Protect Your Child on the Internet

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

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January 27, 2009 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, how to, PC, rootkits, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments