Tech – for Everyone

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

Help for Updates, “Stuck” Printer Jobs

This week included the second Tuesday of the month; or, as we here at T4E Headquarters call it, “Patch Tuesday” – the day Microsoft releases the majority of its new Updates and “hotfixes”. This time around there were “critical” patches released, and a known attack was “plugged” (“patched”.. “fixed”). Folks, I repeat: you want updates, and having to reboot to apply them really is a trivial inconvenience. Please read, What’s With All These Updates?!

If you experienced trouble (or, ever do) after installing an Update, click the link below and scroll down to the bottom answer. See IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*


I came across a small, free utility which can help clear ‘stuck’ print jobs from your printer que. This tool is for when you have tried the proper method (see, The print job won’t stop printing) and you still cannot “delete” the file from the list. (Or, cannot “Cancel all documents”.)

The tool is called Stalled Printer Repair. It is “portable”, meaning it does not need to be installed, only “run”. You can get it here.

[note: If you should for some reason prefer (or need) the “manual method”, see How To Deal With Stuck Print Jobs]


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Bookmarks4Techs is the largest repository of listed tech sites currently available on the internet. If you have the desire to learn about computers and information technology, then Bookmarks4Techs is your place to start!“

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


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January 13, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, Microsoft, PC, software, tech, troubleshooting, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Java, the new Adobe (+How To Protect Yourself)

Sun’s Java Earns Unhappy Distinction — The Hackers’ Favorite Target

Cybercriminal exploit attacks on Java have multiplied tremendously in number and they are proving to be incredibly effective.Java_icon First reported by Krebs On Security last week, now the Microsoft Malware Protection Center has a notice about the wave of Java exploitation they found when reviewing their monitoring data.  In fact, the MMPC discovered that by the beginning of this year the number of exploits on Java code vulnerabilities well surpassed the number of Adobe exploits they monitored.

What I discovered was that some of our exploit “malware” families were telling a scary story – an unprecedented wave of Java exploitation.  In fact, by the beginning of this year, the number of Java exploits (and by that I mean attacks on vulnerable Java code, not attacks using JavaScript) had well surpassed the total number of Adobe-related exploits we monitored.”

Java is everywhere, but few people know what it is, or that it is even installed, as Java runs in the background. Java is used in a wide variety of computing platforms: from embedded devices and mobile phones on the low end, to enterprise servers and supercomputers on the high end.

What you should do: As I have mentioned here many times, the way these “exploits” get stopped is via vendor-released “patches” – better known as updates. Updates are your friend, and you want them.
(As a matter of fact, the Java patches have been out for some time..)

Keep your software up-to-date. Here’s the how to for Java.
1) Click the Start button then Control Panel.

2) Locate and click the Java icon

java_panel

3) The Java “control panel” will open. Click on the Update tab.

4) Click the Update Now button. Then, OK.

Did you notice how the “Check for Updates Automatically” description says that Java will check for patches and hacker fixes on the 14th of each month?
In today’s world, that’s ridiculous. Once a month? C’mon.
So let’ fix that.
5) Click the Advanced button…

when

.. and change the radio button to either Weekly, or better yet, Daily. Then click OK.

Then click Apply and then OK again.

Sadly, folks, you are not done. Java has a nasty habit of leaving old versions of itself behind when it updates (why is that, Sun? Huh? Huh?) and these need to be removed.

1) You should still be in Control Panel so click on Programs and Features (“Add/Remove Programs” in Windows XP/Older)
1a.) Click “Uninstall or change a program” if you have to.

2) A list of the installed programs will “populate”. Look for, and then remove (click Uninstall) all but the most recent version of Java you find in the list. That is, all but the highest numbered one. There may be several entries…

Okay. now you’re done.

I know, I know! Seems like a pain. Sun could do a much better job with this. But, listen, please. Safety and security measures are always a bit inconvenient and require extra attention and effort. Your computer is no different. Take the time. Make the effort.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT.

When you cross the street, you look both ways to make sure it’s safe. Staying safe on the Internet is similar. It takes some common sense steps — Stop. Think. Connect.

  • Stop: Before you use the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
  • Think: Take a moment to be certain the path is clear ahead. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, or your family’s.
  • Connect: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you’ve taken the right steps to safeguard yourself and your computer.

STOP. THINK. CONNECT. Protect yourself and help keep the web a safer place for everyone.

* My thanks to Bryce at Technibble for the great write up which brought this to my attention.

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


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October 19, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, security, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

No, You Were Not Hallucinating…

Nor did you have a power failure during the night.

I received several calls, at unfortunately hours, this morning from concerned clients. With very few exceptions, this proved to be “much ado about nothing”, as they were simply caught off guard (and alarmed) by finding their computers off when they awoke, when they left them running overnight.
(One had a spreadsheet open, and hadn’t Save-ed in a while.. ahem.)

Here’s why: Microsoft releases emergency patch for Windows flaw. This update takes a while to install, requires a reboot, and doesn’t always go smoothly.
(Microsoft provide tech support for all security-related issues for free, just call 1-866-PC-SAFETY. [includes Updates])

As you may have noticed, this “out of cycle” release of Updates is becoming a consistent and persistent occurrence, which prompted me to write What’s With All These Updates?!*

The fact is, “updates” are really ‘patches’ that plug holes in programming that Evil Doer’s can/do use to plant code on target machines (guess who’s a target? Yes! Your machine!) such as keystroke recorders or mailer bots.
The more attacks, the more patches. Do the math.

Patches (aka “updates”) are good, and you want them.

Today’s free link: Keeping your programs patched and up-to-date is the most effective method we have of keeping the “hackers” at bay. The best tool I have found for evaluating your currently installed programs, and helping you get them patched, is a ‘scan’ I have posted here before, but the Software Inspector at Secunia is just too important, too good, and too easy not to mention again.
You not only want to do that now, you want to visit regularly.

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


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August 3, 2010 Posted by | computers, cyber crime, Internet, Microsoft, security | , , , , , | 2 Comments

Do Not Want That Update? How To Stop A Nag

IE 8 is an “Important” Update, Yes, But I Don’t Want It

Sometimes we need to tell Windows Update to stop prompting us to install a particular Update.
Ups_avail

When Microsoft has released important and/or critical Updates (aka “patches”) for us, Windows has various ways of letting us know, including a System Tray icon. [note: The normal route for accessing Update choices is Start >Windows Update, or Start >Programs >Windows Update. Click “View available updates”.]

I am a big fan of Updates. I (almost) always install them the moment I become aware of them. I use Secunia’s Personal Software Inspector to keep an eye on all my installed programs’ update state.. and I recommend you do too. Updates are ‘good’ and you want them.

Tip of the day: Manage Windows Updates prompts.
Currently, Microsoft Update is annoying me by continuously nagging me that there are Updates available. And when I click on the icon to see just what these updates are…
Hide_Update

.. and I see that there is just one Update Microsoft wants me to install (the others only rate “optional”) — Internet Explorer 8.
Now, I understand why Microsoft wants us to be using a more secure browser (and I understand why it’s considered “important”) and I will upgrade from IE7 on most of my machines — but not all. Not yet.

So I right-click on the Update I don’t want to be nagged about and then click on “Hide update”.

That’s it. I’m done. Windows Update will no longer prompt me to install this (now) ‘hidden’ update. At a later date, to see Updates that I’ve hidden, I just click on “Show hidden updates”. I can undo my change.

Note: This technique can be used on troublesome Updates that cause incompatibility issues such as BSOD. If a Windows Update install causes you trouble, and you need to uninstall it, the “Hide” tip won’t help you (it’s too late). Please refer to the 3rd answer in this article, IE’s Menu bar, Taskbar icons, and bad Updates*, to see how to remove Updates.
After you get that Update uninstalled, (then) use the Hide feature to prevent Windows Update from re-Installing it on you again.

Today’s free link(s): Panda Cloud Antivirus – Free Cloud Protection
Panda Security has launched a brand new type of antivirus, and Security blogger Bill Mullins has this excellent write up. “FREE, antivirus thin-client service for consumers which is able to process and block malware more efficiently than locally installed signature-based products.” Click the link for more..
[update: For more, also see Panda Cloud Antivirus – Is it netbook ready?]

Today’s free download: Adeona is the first Open Source system for tracking the location of your lost or stolen laptop that does not rely on a proprietary, central service. This means that you can install Adeona on your laptop and go.

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

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April 30, 2009 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

Tips For Safe Online Shopping*

I think it is a pretty safe bet that quite a few of you are doing some last minute holiday shopping.. and that some of you are going to use the Internet to do some of that shopping.

I would like to remind you that there is a healthy, active, and well-financed underworld of cyber-criminals who are well-aware of the fact that the next few days are prime credit card and “identity” theft opportunities, and are going to be particularly active in trying to GET YOU.

You will see an increase in spam, and bogus pop-opens that tell you you are infected when you’re not. (Note: The phraudulent Skype alert is active again, too. see Skype — “Windows Requires Immediate Attention”.. Not! )

I am posting the following Basic Internet Shopping Tips in the hopes that Tech–for Everyone readers will not join the 9 million Americans who had their identities stolen last year.

  • Download Software Updates — Regularly!
  • Use Complex Passwords (include numerals and @#$%^&*[])
  • Use Onetime Credit Cards
  • Verify Secure Connections See that little padlock symbol at the bottom of your screen, and in the URL address bar?
  • Check Your Credit
  • Enter Your Shopping Site’s Web Address Manually (embedded links=no!)
  • Shop From Your Own computer (not a public ‘hotspot’)
  • Enable your browser’s phishing filter, or install a add-on. (such as the super-easy WOT toolbar)
  • Don’t Send Credit Card Information Over E-mail. Even if you think it’s secure. Don’t send it over IM either. If you feel uncomfortable about sending personal information online, call up the business.

I would like to direct your attention to the first bulletpoint. The programs on your computer need to be fully “patched” with the latest updates, as exploiting weaknesses is the primary method hackers use to infect your machines. (You visit a website that they’ve ‘poisoned’, and if you have an unpatched ‘hole’, bingo – you’re infected.)

How do you know if you have the latest updates? For all your installed programs? Do you think you are patched? Don’t guess. Be sure!

Today’s free link+download: Secunia offers a tool that I highly recommend. The online scanner (which you should bookmark, btw) will scan your machine for roughly 100 programs and tell you if there is a patch/update you need. If you go this route, you will need to visit once or twice a week.)
Better yet, they offer a download, a Personal Edition, which will scan your system against a database of over 7,000 programs.
Even better yet, it includes direct download links to the missing patches it finds.

I just ran it and it found an old ActiveX plug in, and told me that my Java Runtime Environment was out of date.. and I didn’t think I had installed JRE on this machine!
vulnerabilities1

Further reading:
Computer Security – Time to Think About It

A Teen Texting Trend All Parents Should Be Aware Of

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

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December 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, browsers, computers, cyber crime, hackers, how to, Internet scam, News, PC, Phishing, phraud, security, shopping for, software, tech | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Latest Flash Version Breaks Things

Folks–
No, you aren’t seeing things, and no, it’s (probably) not a new infection on your machine.
Adobe’s recent Flash Player update has caused a lot of trouble (particularly to Firefox users)  by failing to work with several web sites that rely heavily on Flash.

You may find it easiest to use IE until Adobe and Webmasters get the glitch squared away.

November 14, 2008 Posted by | browsers, computers, Firefox, IE 7, Internet, News, performance, software, tech, troubleshooting | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Windows Owners– Visit Update

Microsoft released yesterday an unscheduled or “out-of-cycle” patch for a highly critical vulnerability that affects all versions of Windows. Security bulletin MS08-067 (patch 958644) was posted to warn of a remote-code attack that could spread wildly across the Internet.

Folks, you want to install this one.

October 24, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, PC, tech, Windows | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment