Apps/Tools

Oh Sure, PC Matic Works Miracles! NOT!

UPDATE TO MY UPDATE:….

A client contacted me this evening to say that after they read my article they uninstalled PC Matic from their computer and guess what?  Now they can’t get their previous anti-virus to work.  I’ll get them fixed up this weekend (I’m not even going to charge them lest someone thinks this is just an attempt by me to make extra money.)

I just want all of you, my clients to be protected, and when something doesn’t smell right to me, I’m going to tell you.  You’re all big boys and girls and can make your own decisions – I’m just giving you my professional “geeky” opinion. 

UPDATE:

Within about 30 minutes of posting this I received a response from PC Matic urging me to read “their response” to the Virus Bulletin results, the same results they boast about.  I wasn’t interested in hearing their spin on the results, nor am I interested in how they try to make bad numbers look good. 

I have approx. 500 clients, and probably 10% of you read my blog.  Hey, if you want to give PC Matic a try, just go to PCMatic.com, but that is NOT my recommendation.  I’m not saying they are crooked, I’m not saying they are evil, I’m just saying that with a little knowledge (that I try to provide you here on my website) you have no reason to pay them.  AND… if you subscribe to my Preventive Monthly Service (PMS) I check things that no automated system can, because you have to THINK before keeping or deleting something, and that’s what you need a person for.

 

 

imagePC Matic spends lots of money advertising on TV telling you how great the product is, and how for around $100 you can protect multiple computers forever.  What really caught my eye in their commercial was when they claimed that the Virus Bulletin had shown them to record “the highest proactive virus detection rate.”

Let me explain what “the highest proactive virus detection rate” means.  First, it’s not a term used by the Virus Bulletin, that’s the term used by PC Matic.  The keyword here is “proactive.”  PC Matic makes it sound like a good thing.  Well in August 2014 on Windows 8, the Virus Bulletin checked 49 anti-virus programs, and didn’t even give PC Matic a result because of false positives (that’s when it tells you there is a virus found when there really is no virus at all.)  Of the 49 programs tested, only 5 had false positives.  Two products had ONE false positive.  One product had 4 and another product had 12.  How many did PC Matic have?  345!!!  That’s right, 345 false positives.  The problems that creates for you is 1) you wonder what did you do to get infected (when you’re really not), 2) it misleads you into thinking the program is really doing a great job and 3) if it removes those false positives from your system, it could break your computer since they are files a program uses.

Oh, and if you need support?  There is no phone number to call.  They recommend you go to their forums to seek the help of other users.  I think they probably have some sort of email support, but they really push the forums.  They also accept advertising, which since you’re already paying for the product I wouldn’t expect to see.

So save your money folks.  Everything you need to know to stay clean is right here in my web site, and it’s free.

Backups Aren’t Expensive – Losing Your Data IS!!!

imageOh, you don’t think you need a backup do you?  Let me ask ONE question….

Is there a single file on your computer that can’t be replaced that you would absolutely pay anything to get back?

Think about it, do you keep your finances on it?  Do you have photos of trips or family that would really hurt to lose?

What about documents you’ve created?  Whatever it is, all it takes is one power surge or hard drive meltdown to make you desperate to get it back, and that’s when it gets expensive.

If your hard drive totally fails, in MOST cases it is possible to recover you data, but that will require a company that specializes in data recovery using “clean rooms” (much cleaner than hospital operating rooms) and that can build a temporary hard drive using your platters to recover the data.  When I say expensive, I mean $1,500 or more.

An external hard drive for your computer will run you between $50 and $80.  An online service like Carbonite is $59.99 a year and protects you from a fire in your home melting your computer AND the backup drive or a robbery that will again take everything, including your backup (full disclosure, I am a reseller for Carbonite, but they really are the best, and I was a customer before becoming a reseller.)

So let me say it again… Backup!  Backup!  Backup!  Contact me if you need help figuring out what’s best for you.

Now I Can Help ANYWHERE You Live!

I now have an affordable method of keeping your computer (Mac or PC) clean, secure and fast (at least as fast as it can be) and doing it remotely no matter where you live.  Click HERE for more information, but this WILL save you money in the long run unless you or your spouse is already a geek, and if they are, you’re probably not reading this anyway.  I can keep your computer running fast, efficiently and hopefully let you know of expensive impending problems that can be avoided.  If you have more than one computer, you can save even more money.

Read more about it HERE and call me with any questions at 512-981-7835

Foxit Reader is a No-No, It Has Become a Weed

imageFirst, let me say I’m not talking Firefox, the web browser.  I’m referring to the alternative to Adobe Reader for viewing PDF files, the two companies are not related.

For years I’ve been recommending Foxit Reader as a more secure alternative to Adobe Acrobat Reader.  However, I’ve discovered that during the installation (and I’m assuming updating) process, that the “express” installation includes additional software from the folks at Conduit.  Their software will replace your preferred search engine with their own, and also a “Search Protect” program so prevent it being changed back.  These programs often lead to a bunch of additional adware getting installed, pop-ups slowing your computer down.

Technically, these programs are not viruses, they don’t do anything destructive to your computer but they can get in the way of you enjoying your system, so that’s why I call them “weeds.”  A virus is like a bad guy breaking into your home, these other programs are like weeds in your yard.  You didn’t ask for them, you don’t like them in your yard, but they aren’t really threatening your home or family.

Adobe has done a much better job recently of keeping their software up to date, and they are now “sandboxing” the file so it’s harder for a pdf to do anything bad to your computer.

So if you’ve been using Foxit Reader, I would remove it before it updates next time, and get the latest version of Adobe reader at get.adobe.com/reader.

Hate Windows 8? Here’s How to LOVE it for $5.00

I’ll admit it – Windows 8 is a BIG departure from previous versions of Windows.  For those who love to be on the cutting edge and try out everything new, then that’s great.  But for most of you who read my blog, you just want your computer to work – and you DON’T want to spend a lot of time figuring out how to use it or even just shut it down.  You just want it to work.

Well, I found a solution SO GOOD I actually forgot I was using Windows 8!  Say hello to Stardock!  Stardock is a company that realized that a lot of people weren’t going to like the change in Windows 8.  With the Stardock app called “Start8” you can make your Windows 8 machine look and run just like Windows 7 (and if you’re upgrading from Windows XP or Vista to a new PC, this will be MUCH easier that jumping into Window 8.)

Up until a couple of days ago, Windows 7 was my primary operating system.  I had Windows 8 and Mac Mountain Lion at my disposal, but I always deferred to Windows 7 when I just wanted to get stuff done.  Well, now I’m totally going to take advantage of the “under the hood” improvements in Windows 8 without the clunky interface.

There’s lots of customizations you can do with Start8, but just the default settings with make you happier.  So give it a try.  They give you a 30 day trial for free, but trust me, you’ll like it if you’re not happy with Windows 8.  Hey, it’s $5.00 – go out on a limb!

If you need some help (or just plain want me to set it up for you) of course I’ll be happy to.  I absolutely LOVE it and think you will too.  Here’s where to get it:  http://goo.gl/F7VnK

If You Don’t Have Dropbox, Get It

imageDropbox is a great way to not only synchronize files between two computers, but it also give you online backup (you don’t have to use it with two computers.)  Dropbox installs as a folder on you computer and you use it just like any other folder, except that any file you put in the Dropbox folder gets backed up to the cloud (and any other computer also using the same account.)  Dropbox gives you 2GB for free, use this link and you’ll get an extra 250MB: http://bit.ly/extradropboxspace

Tell your friends about it and get up to 16GB of free storage!

Free Alternative to Microsoft Office

imageIf you need the capabilities of Microsoft Office but don’t want to spend the money, check out LibreOffice.  LibreOffice is a fork off of Open Office (which has become a bit stagnant) that is compatible with all your favorite Office apps, and it works on Windows, Mac and even Linux.  With LibreOffice you can read AND write files in Microsoft Office format (including .docx, .xlsx and pptx.) 

LibreOffice is totally free and can be a great product for that 2nd computer or just for those on a budget.  Check it out at http://www.libreoffice.org/

If You Can’t Afford Photoshop – Try Pixelmator

imageDigital photography has made it possible to take lots and lots of photos without the expense of film or processing.  If you have a Mac you have iPhoto for tweaking photos, but if you need more and Adobe’s Photoshop is out of reach, you should check out Pixelmator 2.0.  It’s only $30 in the Mac apps store and has all the tools you need to clean up those not-so-perfect photos.  Their web site has lots of tutorials on adding effects, removing things you don’t want and more.  Here’s the link to their site:  http://goo.gl/FS1MN

Intuit Rolling Out Mobile Apps for Your Phone

imageIntuit, the company that brought you Quicken and QuickBooks is now expanding its offerings to your mobile phone.  Taking a “mobile first” approach, the apps (available for iPhone and Android phones) also allow you to sync with QuickBooks on your PC or QuickBooks online. 

QuickBooks Mobile is designed specifically for QuickBooks, but Intuit is also introducing Online Payroll, GoPayment (a credit-card reader for your smartphone) and Mobile Banking for Intuit Financial Services customers. 

PC World Business has a full rundown here:  http://bit.ly/TekChic0407

Get PrinterShare for Android Free Today

imageIf you have an Android phone and would like to be able to print to your printer at home, then today is the day to get PrinterShare.  With PrinterShare you can print to many wi-fi or Bluetooth printers directly when you’re nearby by (as in at home and connected to your home network) but you can also download their software onto your PC or Mac and then you can print from anywhere over the Internet through your computer at home onto your printer (of course your computer will need to be turned on.)  This is normally a $13 app, but today you can get it FREE at the Amazon App Store.  If you have the Amazon app on your phone already, just open it up and download PrinterShare.  If you don’t have the Amazon App Store app yet (and why don’t you?) then go to Amazon.com and get it.

Photo Apps for Your Phone

imageTaking pictures with your phone on the 4th of July can be a challenge, especially if you want to try to capture the fireworks displays, but there are apps for your Android phone or iPhone.  Apps like Camera+ and ProCamera can make your iPhone both easier to use as a camera and the capabilities of a high-end digital SLR.  For your Android phone

If you have an iPhone, check out ThePhotoArgus’ article on the 10 best iPhone camera apps here: http://bit.ly/TekChic0372.  Android phone users can check out apps like Camera 360, Adobe Photoshop Express and AndroPan to add features and effects not possible with the software that came with your camera.  Lifehacker has a review of their favorite Android camera apps at http://lifehac.kr/TekChic0373.

Most of the apps have a free version, and if you like it enough and want additional features you can upgrade to the “pro” version for a couple of dollars, so give them a try and start having more fun with the camera you have with you all the time.

Free Facebook Apps Warns You of Malware & Spam

imageMyPageKeeper is a free app you can add to Facebook to warn you if spam or a malicious post has been added to your page.  Often a friend’s account may be compromised and a post may show up on your page that links to a malicious page.  MyPageKeeper will let you know about it and allow you to remove it.

If you use Facebook, this would be one of the apps to use.  Here’s the link to their web where you can add it to your Facebook account: http://bit.ly/TekChic0369

Students – Get Windows 7 Professional for $29

imageIf you’re a student with a .edu email address, you can get Windows 7 Professional for only $29.  Probably the single biggest difference between the Home Premium version that comes on most computers and the Professional version is that you also get what is called “XP-Mode”.  XP-Mode lets you run an actual Windows XP machine in a window within your Windows 7 installation, allowing you to run any older programs that don’t run well or at all in Windows 7.  It’s like having a computer within a computer.  The professional version also does a better job knowing when you’re at home vs. school and which printer you should be using (automatically), and it also has “Remote Desktop” which lets you connect remotely to your computer as if you’re sitting in front of it.

You can use XP-Mode to protect you from viruses, how?  Do all of your email and web-surfing with the XP-Mode window.  If you do get a virus, it will be contained within the virtual machine window and won’t infect your Windows 7 installation.  Then you can just delete the XP-Mode machine (it’s just a big file), and create a new one.

Upgrading from Vista is rather simple, upgrading from Windows XP is a little trickier, be sure your XP machine can run Windows 7 before upgrading.

So if you have a .edu address, go here to get it from Microsoft: http://bit.ly/TekChic0321

5GB of Free File Storage with Amazon

Updated 3/30:  In addition to the 5GB of storage, any songs you purchase through Amazon can be stored in your Cloud Drive for FREE.  Meaning none of your Amazon purchased music will count against your 5GB.  Go ahead, buy all the music you want.  You’ll have it backed up for free in your Cloud Drive and you can download it as often as you like and use it wherever you wish.

 

3/29:  imageAmazon is offering 5 Gigabytes of free storage with no strings attached.  Most of you probably already have an Amazon account, if you don’t go set one up.  It’s real simple to use, no download necessary, just sign up and using their web interface you choose the files you want to upload and what folder to upload to (documents, photos, music, etc.) and bam, you’re done.

Now, you need to know that this is NOT secure storage, so don’t upload the file that contains all your passwords, or those photos of your naked girlfriend while your wife was out of town (ok – to be fair, or your naked boyfriend while your husband was out of town.)  But maybe those FAMILY photos you treasure so much, or certainly those important term papers you’re working on at the end of each semester.

5GB is quite a bit of space, so especially if you have NO backup system (and shame on you if you don’t) at least put some of your data here for the eventual rainy day.  Of course, if you NEED more space Amazon will be more than happy to sell it to you, but if that’s the case then just contact me and get Carbonite with UNLIMITED storage for $55 a year AND it will be completely secure.

New Android App Store at Amazon, Get a Free App Every Day

imageNow in addition to the Android Marketplace (and other various 3rd party locations) Android phone users now can go to Amazon for apps.  In addition, Amazon is giving away a paid app for free each and every day.  Right now it appears most of the apps are the same ones you’ll find in the Marketplace, but of course the free apps are what will keep you coming back.

To get the Amazon Appstore on your Android phone, go to this link on your computer http://amzn.to/TekChic0319 or just point your phone’s barcode scanner at the QR code below.  Enter your phone’s number and a text message with a link will be sent to your phone.  Click on it and the Appstore will download onto your phone.  In addition to the free daily app, Amazon is also giving Angry Birds Rio for free (for a limited time I imagine.)  So get out your Droid, Evo, Incredible or other Android phone and add the Amazon Appstore to your phone.

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