Tech – for Everyone

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

Make Outlook open when Windows starts

Do you have a favorite program that you’d like to start as soon as Windows does — perhaps your email client? I have told you in previous articles about stopping programs from loading at boot, and today I’ll tell you how to reverse the process, and gain further control your computer’s behavior.

Tip of the day: It seems a lot of you have been interested in how to remove unwanted programs from your Startup Folder, and if you’ve done so, you already know how to navigate to and open it. For today’s tip I’m going to use as an example adding Outlook Express, so that it will automatically open for you when you turn on your machine and start your day (simply substitute the program you use). Because if you’re like me, one of the first things you do is check your email…and you like to save steps and time. I will also show you a different way of navigating to the folder.

In the previous articles I told you that when you deleted programs from your Startup Folder you we not deleting the programs — merely shortcuts to the program. Today we’re going to add a shortcut.
In Windows XP, start by opening My Computer, either by Start >My Computer, or double-clicking the My Computer icon on your desktop. Now double-click the Local Drive (C:) icon, [you may get a window saying “these files and folders are hidden”. Just click on the “view these now” link.] and then locate and double-click the Documents and Settings folder.

docsett.jpg

If you wanted to make a change for all the users of your machine you would open the All Users folder. Since we are customizing the start-up behavior just for ourselves, we open the folder that matches our User Name — in this machine’s case, the folder named “Terry” (sharp-eyed, security-conscious types will notice that the Administrator account hasn’t been renamed on this machine — a “no no”.). Now we look for and open the Start Menu Folder. Open it and then open the Program folder, and finally, Startup.

DeskTp

As you can see, this User Account has no programs at all listed in its Startup folder. That doesn’t mean that no programs launch at boot. The programs I do want, (antivirus, firewall, etc.) I want to have run no matter who is using the machine, so they’re listed in the “All User’s” Startup folder.

In Vista, it is a little different: the Startup folder is listed in Programs, accessed from the Start button. Click Start >Programs and scroll down until you see the folder labeled Startup. Double-click it to open its contents window and drag your shortcuts into there.

Adding a program shortcut is easy, and it’s easiest if there is already an icon on the desktop (which is also a shortcut, btw). Simply right-click on the icon and drag it into the open Startup window, and let go. A menu will open: select “Create shortcut here”. And that’s it. You’re done.
If there isn’t a desktop icon, hover your mouse over the Start button, and then Programs. Now the list of all your programs appears. Again, simply right-click and drag the ones you want, as outlined immediately above. Now the next time you boot Windows, those programs will open for you automatically. A neat little trick.

Today’s free link: Trillion. For those of us who use Instant Messaging. This tool lets you combine your various IMs into a single “control panel”. From Website: “Trillian™ is a fully featured, stand-alone, skinnable chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC. It provides capabilities not possible with original network clients, while supporting standard features such as audio chat, file transfers, group chats, chat rooms, buddy icons, multiple simultaneous connections to the same network, server-side contact importing, typing notification, direct connection (AIM), proxy support, encrypted messaging (AIM/ICQ), SMS support, and privacy settings.”

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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May 22, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, PC, tech, tweaks, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Your computer is spamming me*

“Spam” did not always mean “unsolicited (junk) e-mail”. Spam is, in reality, a processed and canned meat.. for, like.. when you go camping in the woods.. or something.
cannaspam.jpgI cannot recall ever having eaten SPAM — though I’m fairly certain I have — and so I cannot say whether this item is a tasty treat, or whether it deserved its (in my recall, anyway) reputation as being.. not so good. I think it’s supposed to be similar to ham.

I do recall watching a lot of the British comedy group Monty Python’s Flying Circus on television. One of their more well-known and popular skits was about SPAM.. and vikings.
The song seemed to catch on.

One of the character’s lines is “I don’t like spam!”
And, we don’t like unsolicited (junk) e-mail!
Hence the birth of an expression/joke that’s turned into an actual dictionary definition of common, accepted, everyday usage.

(from Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary)
Main Entry: 1spam Listen to the pronunciation of 1spam
Pronunciation: \ˈspam\
Function: noun
Etymology: from a skit on the British television series Monty Python’s Flying Circus in which chanting of the word Spam overrides the other dialogue
Date: 1994
: unsolicited usually commercial e-mail sent to a large number of addresses

Yes. I don’t like spam!
Not terrribly surprisingly, the spammers are at it again, using their botnets (our infected computers) to send e-mails offering discount drugs.. out of Russia. At the end of January, I wrote about the “Spam blocked” counter on the side column of this site (which shows you how many such solicitations are being posted as Comments) and, the psychology of these spammers… There’s been an extraordinary barrage of spam comments here at Tech–for Everyone these last several days (automated spambots in action).
Will spam ever go away? Not until not one human being EVER clicks the link. (Please stop clicking links in e-mails!)
Humph.

Until spamming doesn’t work and the spammers move on to some other technique to try to rip you off, you can learn how to manage the amount of junk e-mail you receive by reading (or reviewing) these two articles.
https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/08/25/managing-your-email-eliminating-the-junk/
https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2007/08/27/managing-junk-mail-in-outlookthunderbird/

To read my article on botnets — and how your computer might be a bot (and what to do about it), click here.

The sun is out, and I got things to do.. so, until next time, “spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam..”

*Original post date: March 15th

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix 

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April 19, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, e-mail, how to, PC, security, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to encrypt your e-mail, the easy way

Great! You have exchanged e-mails with Comodo, and completed the free certificate installation {and so has the person(s) with whom you want to exchange private messages} as I described in the proceeding article. That was easier than you thought, right? You are now mere clicks away from simple-and-easy private exchanges.
All we have to do is associate the new certificate with the (appropriate) e-mail account. Once that is done, the encryption will be virtually transparent.. as in “automatic”.

1) Verify install (Optional): Open an instance of Internet Explorer (if it isn’t already) and click on the “Tools” menu item in the upper-right. Select “Internet Options” from the Context Menu. Now click on the “Content” tab. Look to the middle for the “Certificates” button, as shown below.
IOs 
Now you should see your new Certificate listed…
Certs 
As shown here. If you don’t see this, it means that Windows did not complete the certificate installation. You will need to re-open the Comodo e-mail, and revisit the link, and repeat the Install process.
But, that’s thinking negative, so let’s proceed as if everything (so far) looks right.

2) Associate Cert with e-mail: Close IE and open your e-mail client. In my screenshots I am using Live Mail, but the process steps apply to Mail, Outlook, and OE as well. (Thunderbird and AppleMail are slightly different menu choices, but the principle is the same.) Click on “Tools”, and then select “Accounts”.
This will list your configured e-mail accounts.
Accts 
Select the account you requested the Certificate for by clicking (once) on it, {For demonstration purposes, I am associating the Cert with this site’s e-mail account.} and then click on the “Properties” button. Select the “Security” tab.
AcctProps 
Start by clicking the “Select” button for the “Signing certificate”..
SetCert 
And click on the certificate shown (if you have more than one personal Certificate showing, use the dates issued to choose the correct one) and then “OK”. Repeat this for the “Encrypting preferences” “Select” button.
Your e-mail account is now “Certified”! And you are ready for…

3) Send a “Signed” e-mail to your friend: Address a “New” e-mail to the person(s) you want to exchange encrypted messages with, and click the “Sign” button, then “Send”. By “signing” your e-mail, you are sending them your “Digital ID” and a copy of your “public key”.
image
4) Have the other party do #3 to you: Having the other party send a “signed” e-mail to you, gives you a copy of their DID and their public key. Now you both have the keys you need to exchange secure, private, encrypted e-mails to each other.

5) Click the “Encrypt” button before you click “Send”: That’s it.. it is now that simple. Your e-mail will appear in their Inbox like this..
Enc1 
And when they open it (no special actions needed) they will see this…
Enc2

.. and visa versa. From now on, it will be so smooth and easy, you might begin to wonder if your mail really is being scrambled/unscrambled. (It is.)

To read the How to on getting the free e-mail Certificate (part 1 of this article), click here.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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March 21, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, e-mail, how to, PC, privacy, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Wow! + Securing your e-mail, Part 5

Folks, I am just not sure that I have it in me to write today — I’m still staggered by yesterday’s Super Bowl. I’m reeling. Stunned. And.. chagrined.
At the very start of the season I predicted (to anyone who would listen) that the New England Patriots would win the Super Bowl. I repeated this prediction — with growing assurance — each week.
(“But what about the Colts?” was the main objection/reaction I received.)

The omniscience of my prediction was bolstered by an undefeated season, and the Pats went into yesterday’s game something like 12-point favorites. They were playing (against) a wildcard team (only once before has a wildcard team made it all the way to Super Bowl victory) led by a young and untested QB.
I think you can figure where I placed my bet. Who could not say that the Patriots were the best team this year?
Wow. The reality was like a Disney movie. I expect the scientists to announce that the Earth’s magnetic poles have flipped positions any day now.

Now, back to work:
Now that we have WinPT installed and configured, it is time to start using GPG to encrypt our e-mails. Our public and private keys have been generated, and our public key is has been made into a transferable file (“Export”).

But first, lets review:
a: You will have downloaded and Installed WinPT, as I described in Part 3 of this series. (Those of you using a e-mail client other than Outlook Express will also need to download+Install the appropriate “plug-in”.)
b: And you will have configured the encryption program (GPG) and generated your keypair, as described in Part 4.
c: Those of you using Outlook Express (as I am for this demonstration) also need to launch the OE plug in (GPGOEInit). Simply click on it in the WinPT folder of your Programs list. Start >All Programs >Windows Privacy Tools >GPGOEInit. (also, please note the “Documentation” option.)
gpgoe.jpg

If you have played along, you should see two icons in your System Tray (by the clock), the WinPT “key”, and the OE plug-in’s “padlock”.
icons.jpg
d: You will also have “Exported” your private key, and sent your key to the person(s) you want to exchange encrypted e-mail with. (The documentation, and my previous articles, discuss key exchange methods.) They will use your key to encrypt the e-mails they send to you.

Congratulations! You have come far. But, it should be fairly clear that for encryption to work, both ends of the transaction need to have the encoding/decoding tools– in short, the person you are exchanging encrypted messages with also needs to have GPG installed, and they will have needed to send you their public key (which you will have “Import”-ed onto your keyring).
If they have not (yet) installed WinPT/GPG, you can point them to this series by copy>pasting this URL https://techpaul.wordpress.com/2008/01/28/whos-reading-your-e-mail-part-1/ and sending it to them.

If these thing are in place, open OE and create a new message.

send.jpg

When using GPG, the appropriate method to encrypt the message is to issue a hotkey command: when your e-mail is typed and ready to go out, hit Ctrl+Alt+E. You will see a WinPT window tell you that the encryption was successful. Now click Send.
When you receive an encrypted message, open it and hit the Ctrl+Alt+D key.

The screenshot below shows the sample e-mail (encrypted) as viewed by a machine which does not have GPG capability. This is how it looks to anyone who might intercept it.
scrambled.jpg

Clearly, this “after” picture is quite a bit different than the “before” picture, and my e-mail is unreadable by unwanted eyes.
Now you can safely and securely exchange sensitive, private, e-mail with only the intended recipient.

I will continue this series with more ways to use WinPT/GPG, and describe other tools/methods for encrypting e-mail, but will take a bit of a break before doing so — there is much in news I want to discuss first.

[Please note: the e-mail accounts and keys shown were temporary and have already been deleted.]

Today’s free link: For many people, the best part of any Super Bowl is the commercials. If you would like to view this year’s ads again, click here. You can even vote for your favorite.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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February 4, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, encrypting files, IE 7, PC, privacy, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Encrypt your e-mail for privacy+security, Part 2

While e-mail is wonderfully efficient and fast (not to mention, free), it is not a terribly private nor secure communications medium. As I mentioned in the introduction to this series, Who’s reading your e-mail?, e-mail is transmitted in very-easy-to-open plain text (or HTML), travels through many different devices, and sometimes gets mis-delivered, or lost.. or ‘stolen’.

There are times when the material we need to communicate to someone else could really hurt us if the wrong eyes saw it. Some things should remain “confidential” (For Your Eyes Only) or/and private (Top Secret). These subjects may be your account numbers, business plans, bids or cost-estimates, love letters, travel plans, and whatnot. Unencrypted e-mail is really not the way to transmit these things.

Tip of the day: Encrypt your private communications. This series of articles will tell you how to implement a free method of encrypting your e-mail messages using GPG.
(For those readers who took my advice in yesterday’s article and looked at the description of Public-key cryptography on Wikipedia, this next will be review…) GPG uses “keys” to encrypt and decrypt files, as do most such tools. The problem with encrypting communications is — how do you give a copy of the key (so they can ‘unlock’ the file you have ‘locked’) to the person you’re sending to?
This dilemma is solved with the concept of key pairs– we are going to use GPG to generate a key pair: a “public” key, which we can send to anyone we like (or publish, for all to see), and one “private” (aka “secret”) key. It will take both keys for the system to work. (As the name implies, it is rather important to keep your private key to yourself… and to store a copy in a safe location.)

The way it works is:
1) you will encrypt your file/letter using your private key. Which you then Send to your intended recipient.
2) Your recipient uses you public key to decrypt and read your letter/file.

When your correspondent wants to send you a reply:
1) they encrypt it using your public key, and..
2) you decrypt the reply with your private key.
It takes both keys to work, and only you will have the private key.

The tool we are going to use, GPG (as part of WinPT [Windows Privacy Tools]), is quite flexible and adept, but works best (at encrypting e-mail) as a “plug-in” for your e-mail client (Outlook, Thunderbird, Outlook Express, ie.)
and your ‘private’ e-mail accounts.. such as the account your are provided with by your ISP.
(I will, also, demonstrate how it can used with browser accessed “web mail” accounts, such as the free services like Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail.)

Those of you already using a client to access and mange your e-mail accounts will simply have to download GPG (Apple) or WinPT (and the appropriate plug-in) and install it, generate a key pair, and send your public key to those folks you want private correspondence with. Once that’s done you will be able to either automatically encrypt your e-mails (and their attachments), or right-click >encrypt.
WinPT comes with a built-in Outlook Express plug-in; and GPG offers plug-ins for the popular e-mail clients, and some of the less-popular clients too, such as Apple Mail and Eudora. For a complete list of compatible e-mail clients, click here.

For those of you who typically log into your e-mail via a web browser (IE, Firefox, etc.), I believe that in the long run — if you want to encrypt your mail — you will find it easier to get into the habit of using a client instead. I will be using Outlook Express for my demonstration (since all Windows machines come with it), but for everyday use I recommend using today’s free link.

To skip to Part 3, click here.

Today’s free link: I have posted this free tool before, but since it is so in-step with our topic (and it’s a darned-good program to boot) I will repost it. Thunderbird 2, from Mozilla. Access and manage various accounts from one place, and get great spam filtering.

Copyright © 2007-8 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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January 30, 2008 Posted by | advice, Apple, computers, encrypting files, how to, PC, security, tech, Windows | , , , , , , | 3 Comments