2014-11-22

10 ways mobile devices are changing society

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-11-19
Source of Article:  TechRepublic
Mobile technology is changing the way we live and interact with others and this article points out 10 of the ways it is doing so and some of the positives and negatives. 
W.C.

2014-11-21

A neverending story: PC users lose another $120M to tech support scams

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-??-??
Source of Article:  ars technica
Be warned my friends, these scams are out there and this action by the government has just hit the tip of the iceberg.  Four of those brand names in the next to last paragraph are familiar to me because I received their spam/scam offers.  I didn't answer their offer because I was sure they were scams and this article has confirmed it for me.  I hope they all get some real hard time and loose all their assets when the case is over.
What really makes me mad is I suspect that a significant part of that $120,000,000 these thieves acquired was paid by seniors living on a fixed income who just wanted to keep their PC running reliably to allow them to keep in contact with friends and family.    
W.C.

2014-11-06

How businesses fail to protect customer info

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-11-06
Source of Article:  Windows Secrets Top Story
This article points out how many of the companies that we do business with are equally to blame for consumer's losses due to identity theft and for loss of personal information.  Many companies ignore threats to their web sites and point-of-sale terminals even when companies operating similar sites of terminals are hit by data breaches.  I wonder if the law required them to take the loss they caused, would they still ignore these threats.  Read the article, it may wake you up.
W.C.

2014-11-02

Microsoft reveals audacious plans to tighten security with Windows 10

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-10-22
Source of Article:  ZDNet, The Ed Bott Report 
This is very good news in my opinion.  Security is often overlooked by members of the buying public when they go to get their new PC. Starting with an operating system that has more security features will make them safer.
W.C.

2014-08-07

The Best Laptops to Buy Now

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-08-05
Source of Article:  Wall Street Journal
One of our members sent a link to this article to me and if I was currently in the market for a new laptop I would find it very useful.  There are a few other brands that I also like but the article is still accurate and worth reading if you are in the market. 
W.C.

2014-07-09

Wzor predicts demise of Windows 8, Windows 9 to arrive in the fall

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-07-07
Source of Article:  InfoWorld 
Woody has long been one of my most trusted sources of where things are going in the Windows world and Wzor has been cited by him quite often and with the prediction coming true.  The last paragraph in the story is very interesting and if correct could make Windows 9 acceptance the norm, especially if it includes the desktop start menu. 
W.C.

2014-07-08

Microsoft fixes 29 Windows vulnerabilities

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-07-08
Source of Article:  ZDNet 
As I usually do, I will wait until next Monday (my regular weekly system update and backup day) to install these updates.  By then any problems should have surfaced and I can judge if I need to skip any of the patches.] 
W.C.

Microsoft warns of pending support deadlines for Windows 7, Office 2010 SP1, Windows Server 2003, and more

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-07-08
Source of Article:  ZDNet 
Thus the official countdown begins for Windows 7. IMO Microsoft really needs to get their version of the Start Menu back for Windows 8.1.  I already use an add-on one but there are several different versions out there and that makes life harder in some cases for software developers.  An official Start Menu would force the add-ons to make their products compatible with it.  I believe it would also speed up acceptance of Windows 8.1, especially among seniors.  A couple of days ago I saw a video demo of Microsoft's vision for the menu seemed to combine the best of the tiles with a traditional start menu.  It looked really promising.
W.C.

Scam: Funeral Announcement

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-07-??
Source of Article:  Snopes 
I started getting this one today.  I did a little research and found the article above on Snopes.  I found several other articles including two from the real Amos Family Funeral Home in Ks whose name was useed in the two emails I received.  If you receive one like this my advice is to not click on the link unless you like to have your machine infected.
W.C.

2014-07-07

10 tips for a more user-friendly Linux desktop

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-07-02
Source of Article:  TechRepublic 
Since several of our members have Linux laptops I thought this would be a good article to post.
Sorry I am so late posting this but I have been off line for almost five days due to a service outage. 
W.C.

2014-06-30

The top 10 Windows 8 questions everyone asks

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-06-27
Source of Article:  PCWorld 
Some good questions about Windows 8.  I remember asking some of them myself when I got myu first Windows 8 system. 
W.C.

2014-06-10

New iOS 7 lock screen flaw opens up iPhones, iPads in seconds

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-06-09
Source of Article:  ZDNet
I'm including this one because quite a few of our members use products effected by this flaw.  My advice if you use one of these products is to make the last app before entering the lockscreen something unimportant, i.e. a single user game which does not provide access to any user information until this flaw is fixed.  That way anyone with physical access to your device can not access its settings or any of your personal data or information.
W.C.

2014-05-21

Getting started tutorials for Windows

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-05-20
Source of Article:  Microsoft
For those of you who are getting to know that new Windows 8 or 8.1 machine Microsoft has a useful set of tutorial on the web for you.  I haven't read all of them but it appears that they are being updated on a regular basis and cover the basics. 
W.C.

2014-05-11

Start Menu Reviver 2 offers a better program manager for Windows 8.1

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-05-09
Source of Article:  Tech Republic
Another Start Menu for Windows 8.1 that the author highly recommends and it is free.  To use his words, "that if Microsoft had put something like this in Windows 8 from the get-go, they sure would have saved themselves a lot of grief."  Right now I am using Classic Start Menu and I am satisfied with it but if I get a chance I mi try this one out. 
W.C.

2014-05-04

Internet Explorer Security Flaw: 4 Ways to Protect Yourself

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-28
Source of Article:  Time
Good advice on how to be safe.  I prefer his first suggestion. 
W.C.

2014-04-28

US CERT and KB 2963983: Don't use drive-by-enabled Internet Explorer

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-28
Source of Article:  InfoWorld
I am going to do something I don't often do in this blog.  I am going to quote more than the title of the article.

This is the subtitle of the article:  "Department of Homeland Security recommends avoiding Microsoft browser until vulnerability in IE6 to IE11 is fixed"

And this is the line that makes the warning important:  "As Microsoft notes, this is a drive-by class security hole: Your machine can be compromised if you simply visit an infected site."

Based on the article I am going to advise paying attention to this warning and avoid using Internet Explorer Versions 6 through 11 until this is fixed. 
W.C.

2014-04-17

Your Heartbleed bug fix in three steps

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-10
Source of Article:  SlashGear
Some pretty good advice on how to handle the fallout from Heartbleed. 
W.C.

Windows 8.1 Update

Date of Comment:  2014-04-16 
Well my laptop is now running the Windows 8.1 Update but little thanks to Windows Update.  I tried using it three times over two days without ever getting to download the update so I decided to try an alternate though not overly user friendly method.
I went to the Windows download site and download the five files (not quite a GB worth) which makeup the update.  To be safe I also downloaded the prerequisite update but found that I had installed it last month.  I also downloaded an iso file which contained the five patch files for X86, X64, and ARM processors.  Three of the five patches required me to restart my system after installing them and then when the five were finished I  ran Windows Update to check the status found there were three more patches to install but Windows update handled them and required another restart.  All told it took the better part of a day to download and install all of it.
So far my system seems stable and all of the programs that I have run since the update are running normally.  If I spot any problems I will report them here.
PS I also installed an update to Java today but it did not take long and was necessary as I do visit a few sites where Java is required. 
W.C.

USPS Delivery Failure Notification

Link To Article
Source of Article:  Scam Trends Since I have received several of these over the last few days I think posting a warning about this one might be a good idea.  This scam if you follow their instructions most often installs malware on your machine. 
W.C.

2014-04-12

How to avoid the pileup malware exploit on Android

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-08
Source of Article:  TechRepublic
I don't normally cover smart phones here but many of our members use them and for those with Android phones this is a good article to check out. 
W.C.

Microsoft issues final Windows XP, Office 2003 patches

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-08
Source of Article:  ZDNet
Those still running XP or Office 2003 will want to get these patches and evaluate their options for the future.  Basically I see them as:
  1. Continue to run XP and make sure to keep good antivirus protection up to date.
  2. Select a Linux distribution and install it on your existing system if buying new hardware is not an option.  Some distributions provide a limited ability to run legacy Windows applications.  There is a bit of a learning curve but many open source programs that run on Windows are also available as Linux apps:  Open/Libre Office, Firefox, Chrome, and Thunderbird are good examples.
  3. Find a Windows 7 system and buy it.  If you still have the install disks or files many of the programs that you ran on XP can still run on Windows 7 and it has a very familiar interface. 
  4. Find a Windows 8.1 system and buy it.  If you do you might want to checkout Classic Shell which provides a very Windows 7 like start menu to W8 & 8.1.
W.C.

2014-04-03

Watch out for photos containing malware

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-27
Source of Article:  PC World
I have seen several "images" with multiple extensions as described in the article.  Often it is just a file naming convention but something with one like ".jpg.exe" is not something you want to open and that is not an example of a naming convention.  I've been having windows display the extensions for files in a directory listing as far back as I can remember.
Finding images with embedded code is very difficult to do.  Images already might contain quite a bit of embedded and innocent meta data, especially if they were taken with a digital camera.  The advice to keep your operating system, applications, and anti-virus software up to date is a good first line of defense. 
W.C.

Malwarebytes 2.0 Still Tough on Malware, Now with a Pretty Face

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-28
Source of Article:  PC Magazine
An old friend gets a new look.
I've downloaded this but will not install it until next Monday when I normally run mbam.  If I see anything requiring comment at that time on either my W7 or W8.1 systems I will update this post.
W.C.

2014-04-02

Microsoft to bring back Start menu, windowed apps to Windows

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-02
Source of Article:  ZDNet
I'm glad to see it coming but is it in Windows 8.1 or Windows 9?  If not in Windows 8.1 then we still have Classic Shell and other options. 
W.C.

Office for iPad proves that Office 365 is the best value

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-04-02
Source of Article:  Tech Republic
Interesting set of arguments in favor of renting Microsoft Office rather than buying it.  If you own an iPad you really should read this. 
W.C.

2014-03-30

Microsoft finally turns out a real touch app -- is Windows next?

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-28
Source of Article:  Infoworld
This is outside my area of expertise since the last Apple product I owned was an Apple ][e but since quite a few of our members do use iPads I will include this one.  The question at the end of the title is where my interest lies. 
W.C.

2014-03-27

Review: Windows 8.1 Update offers an olive branch for mouse users

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-19
Source of Article:  InfoWorld
This review of the changes introduced by the Windows 8.1 Update 1 give a little insight into where Windows may be headed for those of us who use a desktop or laptop PC. 
W.C.

2014-03-20

It's Official: OneNote is Now Free for Everyone

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-17   
Source of Article:  WinSuperSite.com.  
So now it is free for both Windows and Mac users.  The free version is OneNote 2013 and yes there is still a paid version of it too that is more business centric but for individuals and school use the free version is more than adequate.
I've used OneNote for years to keep track of information that I gather in classes and on the Internet.  I haven't tried this version as yet as I am contemplating an Office365 Home subscription for myself (driven by other Office applications) which would include the paid version and the 2010 version is handling my note taking needs for now.
W.C.

2014-03-19

How to edit a PDF document in Word 2013

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-17   
Source of Article:  Tech Republic.  
Susan Harkins gives us a good review of this new and welcome capability of Word 2013.  It's one of the things that has me considering a subscription.
Like her I suspect that importing PDFs into Word will improve with time.  A similar problem exists when converting from Word to Open/Libre Office's format or back.  This too has got better with time as will PDF conversion.  Back in the day when my company was split between Word, Word Perfect, and dedicated word processing machines this was a major problem and conversions were provided by fairly expensive programs that were also not perfect but better than nothing.
I also expect that the PDF format will eventually include a spec to provide an indication if a scanned document has been modified to support using it for document archival purposes.  It already has provisions for making a PDF read only with a password required to modify.
W.C.

2014-03-18

Microsoft will pay you to stop using Windows XP

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-14   
Source of Article:  GEEK.com.  
Interesting offer for those facing replacing/updating their XP machine.
W.C.

The Comprehensive Guide to Facebook Privacy Settings

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-17   
Source of Article:  Time.  
Good advice for Facebook users.
W.C.

2014-03-17

Account-hijacking Trojan spreads via Facebook messages

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-12   
Source of Article:  Help Net Security.  
Since quite a few of our members are on Facebook this article is of interest.  I don't get on there too often these days but I will keep this one in mind next time I visit.
W.C.

A new Windows 8.1 update tries to win back desktop diehards

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-10   
Source of Article:  ZDNet.  
I've been reading Ed's articles for a log time and his predictions are usually very accurate.  Right now I am as Ed said many are doing and relying on a third party utility, Classic Shell to give me the desktop that I want.  Hopefully this update won't break it.
W.C. 
Here's another article on the same subject by another guy who I also use for information.
  • Windows 8.1 Update 1 will arrive just in time to woo Windows XP holdouts
W.C.

2014-03-14

15 tips for staying safe online and preventing identity theft

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-03-11   
Source of Article:  ZDnet 
I find all of the advice in this article to be good.
I don't exactly do everything it recommends but in the exceptions I do something that is an equivalent.
IE I don't use a shredder, instead I burn paper containing sensitive data in an old smoker at my house.  When the burn is over I stir the ash to make sure there are no partially burned sheets remaining.  I started this practice shortly after moving in and my shredder failed.  I started the burning intending to get another shredder but found the burning to be effective so never got a new one.
My home wireless network uses an extremely long and complex WPA password which I only use for machines that I own.  For guests my router supports a special guest wireless network which uses a shorter password and guests do not have access to my main network or its clients.  This is a good feature to have if you have family and friends that you want to allow to use your internet access when they are visiting since it does not reveal your main network password.
When on public networks I never visit sites where my sensitive data could be exposed and I only use public netwotrks at locations that I am familiar with.
I never connect to the internet without my anti-virus and firewall programs up and running.
W.C.

2014-02-16

Abandon the sinking Office 2003 ship by jumping on board an alternative office suite

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-13   
Source of Article:  TechRepublic  
Another article on the upgrade options a user of Office 2003 has which includes the features and cost in its analysis.  April is getting close and I agree with the author that having access to
For those who use publisher I have made some limited use of Scribus but have done most of my desktop publishing using Word.  By the way, Scribus is available as both a standard installed application and as a PortableApp as is Libre Office.
I have used the Base database which comes with Libre Office and it is powerful but not as easy to use to develop applications as Access is.
I am not familiar with the Zimbra email app but intend to look into it.  I'm currently using Thunderbird and even if I migrated my email to Zimbra I would still have to  use Thunder for its RSS functionality.
Disclaimer:  I use Microsoft Office 2010, the latest versions of Libre & Open Office, and PortableApps.  I have no known financial interest in any of the companies that developed any of the products in the article.
W.C.

Stop using Internet Explorer 10

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-14   
Source of Article:  .  
This advice is from a source that I consider very reliable.  If you are using IE10 you need to either upgrade to 11 or switch to Chrome of Firefox until this is fixed.  I am currently using IE11, Chrome, and Firefox on both Windows 7 and 8.1 with no problems other than a rare occasional browser crash.
W.C.

2014-02-12

If we show you how to back up your PC for free, will you finally do it?

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-12  
Source of Article:  PC World.  
One problem I have seen time and time again is the loss of important data when either a hard disk crashes or a system becomes infected by malware.  The best way to prevent these losses is by having backups.  The best method of backing up your data varies by the volume of the data and personal preferences.  For me this involves having dedicated data disks and making mirrored backups of them on a weekly basis after a thorough scan of my systems for malware to validate the effectiveness of my continuous system security software.  My process takes several hours but I am willing to take the time after losing some data several years ago.  This article describes another method of backing up individual systems that is cost effective and not that hard to do.
W.C.

2014-02-06

Microsoft to patch Windows, Forefront this month

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-06   
Source of Article:  ZDNet.  
Patch Tuesday for February is approaching and there will be patches.  As usual I will wait until the next Monday before running updates on my systems to allow potential problem patches to be discovered and reported.  If you have not run the updates from the January Patch Tuesday this is a good time to get it done brfore the new patches come out.  This will be one of the last Patch Tuesdays for users of Windows XP before support ends in April.

W.C.

2014-02-05

Security updates available for Adobe Flash Player

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-04   
Source of Article:  Adobe.  
This security bulletin lists the available upgrade patches for Windows, Linux, and Macintosh to protect you from attacks that are actively being used on the Internet.  If your systerm is not up to date I highly recommend getting there.

W.C.

Does security matter to you? Ditch Windows XP for one of these upgrade options

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-05  
Source of Article:  TechRepublic.com.  
XP users have several options when it comes to upgrading from XP and from a security viewpoint they need to make a move.  This article examines some of the options and the advantages and costs of each.  It also mentions the main problem with staying with XP and depending on security software to protect you.

W.C.

2014-02-04

PSA: Missed Call From A Mystery Number? Be Careful.

Link To Article
Date of Article:  2014-02-03 
Source of Article:  techcrunch.com. 
I have noticed from checking the call logger on my home phone that I have been getting many more call from numbers unknown to me lately.  I don't know if any of them were single ring calls or not since the logger does not log the number of rings but some of the things like identifying valid human on the other end calls could easily be multi-ring calls from unknown numbers.  I suspect things like this are one reason that more people are using answering machines to screen their incoming calls.
I have also had several calls from unknown numbers that when checked out using 800notes.com that were from numbers that have been reported to be scams or questionable telemarketing.  Since I have been on the National Do Not Call list I should not be receiving these but crooks tend to ignore the list.  When I do identify a number as a telemarketer I do file a complaint with the FTC which could result in a fine for them since their call(s) to my number are a violation of the law.
BTW certain political and charity organizations were exempted from this law, something that I view as a major mistake.  Also any business that you have done business with has the right to call your number.  The rules governing cell phone calls are even more complicated.

W.C.