Tech – for Everyone

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

UPS Delivery Failure … Not

I regret to inform you that the good old “UPS scam” (phishing e-mail) is still alive and well (Sometimes it’s FedEx..) …


but the good news is that the spam filters are getting better at catching them.

Note the “paperclip”? Opening that e-mail would automatically put me on the Global Suckers List.. and maybe plant malware on my computer.

If I was expecting a delivery via UPS, and I was really worried there might be a problem, I would go directly to the UPS website.. or call them. Don’t be a sucker. Don’t open. Don’t click the link!

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

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March 5, 2010 Posted by | advice, Internet scam, security, spam and junk mail | , , , , , , , , | 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

Wouldn’t you know it?

Folks, a little while ago I heard a rather large “POP”, well.. it might have been more of a “bang!”, and our electricity went out. I was able to finish troubleshooting a remote client, and get this post published because I have taken the precaution of installing special devices; as I wrote about before. So I will let this event serve as a reminder to me to remind you that power outages happen and you can mitigate their effects on your digital devices– I am reposting:

A Power Outage Wake-up Call

This morning I experienced something that I haven’t had happen to me in a very long time — a total electricity outage that lasted for more than an hour. I do not want you to think I’m a complete wimp (in the days of my youth, “brownouts” and “blackouts” were fairly common and frequent), but it did serve to give me a reminder of just how electricity-dependent I am… the fact that I had a page of un-Saved work suddenly and irrevocably lost was my ‘bad’.

Tip of the day: Give yourself time to save your work, invest in a UPS.
I was made aware of my suddenly electricity-less state by a funny sound, and my screen shrinking to a single white dot… followed by black. This was all the evidence I needed: the house had no juice. (…no phone, no light, no motor-car. Not a single luxury… Ahem. Sorry.)

This told me two things; I have gotten lazy with my preventative, regular Save-ing (and Save As Draft-ing), and I need to get my sister an Uninteruptable Power Supply, or “UPS”.
I used to be as regular as clockwork. Start a new document and “Save As” it and give it a name/location. Every paragraph, a “Ctrl+S” (Save). This was a routine I developed not so much because of daily brownouts, but because in Windows 95 (through 98 SE) you simply never knew when the next BSOD would strike. Losing your work was a much more common frustration.

And if there had been a UPS between the wall outlet and my sister’s PC and the modem and the monitor, I would have had ten to fifteen minutes to complete and save my work, and get it published on the Web. That would’ve been nice. Would have saved me an “aaarrgg!!” Even nicer would have been an industrial strength portable generator, tied into the house’s grid… but those ain’t cheap.

 A UPS is, essentially, a battery. It draws current to charge itself  from the line, and then just sits there in case of an outage. When a major dip in the current, or complete failure occurs on the main line, the UPS switches to the charge it has stored in its battery. Because of this fact, a lot of people call a UPS a “battery backup”.  Dependant on the size (which affects the price) of the battery is how long a time you have to run before it runs out of juice. Typically, this is 10 minutes or so.

When you are shopping for a UPS, it is preferable to get one that is “line interactive” (also called “line conditioning”), as opposed to an “offline” type. This is because they will “even out” the ‘spikes’ and ‘dips’ which you get from municiple utilities.

There are several reputable UPS manufacturers, and some are even based here in the good ‘old US of A, APC and Tripplite being the best known, but there are others. You can get a very good unit for about a hundred dollars. If you work out of your home as a “telecommuter”, you seriously should have one (or more) of these devices.

Today’s free link:Today another file recovery program. This one works on both FAT32 and NTFS files. Recover Files 2.0. From site: “Recover Files is a small, fast, useful, practical and powerful. It has a clean, simple interface. Recover Files will work with Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, XP, 2003, Vista operating systems.

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


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June 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, tech | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment