Archive for May 2011

Watch Out for Fake Google Email Verifications

imageI’m starting to hear about a Gmail phishing scam and I got an email today about it as well.

It’s a standard email that looks like it comes from Google, but it asks you to “authorize” the account by clicking on a link that starts by going somewhere within Google but it’s pointing YouTube and I don’t know where else it may go from there, I’ll probably set up a safe environment to see exactly what is going on with it, but it’s definitely not legit.  So don’t go and “authenticate” an account you own that already works (that means it’s already authenticated) or a request for an account you didn’t actually request be created.  The bad guys are always looking for new angles, they may have found a new one we haven’t thought of before.

Plants vs. Zombies for Android – Free Today Only

imageIf you haven’t set up your Android phone or tablet to use the Amazon App Store yet, here’s a really great way to kill time with your phone – PLANTS VS. ZOMBIES!  This is a silly yet fun game that just has a way of making minutes turn into hours.  Normally it’s $2.99 but today it’s the free app of the day at the Amazon App Store.  I’m guessing that because of its size the download is wi-fi only, and apparently it doesn’t work on the original Droid, but it you have a Droid-2 or Droid-X you should be good, as well as most other Android phones.  If you have the Amazon app on your phone, then just launch it and get the game, if you don’t have the app yet, go here to Amazon’s site to get the Amazon App Store app on your phone or tablet:

DEAL: Lenovo 15.6” Laptop – $369

imageYesterday I posted a deal on a low-power but CHEAP Toshiba laptop at Fry’s for $288.  But if you need a REAL laptop to do more of what you like to do and not be too pokey about it.  Office Depot has a Lenovo 15.6” laptop (I really like Lenovos, right up there with Dells as far as build quality) with an Intel dual-core processor for only $369.  This same computer used to be $399 on sale, and Office Depot’s regular price right now is $549 (but I would NEVER expect you to pay full price for any technology when you can find a deal on it if you look hard enough.)   It has a 320GB hard drive, 4GB of fast memory, a webcam and for you closet geeks – you can use facial recognition to log in if you wish (but you don’t have to so don’t be scared.)  3 USB ports, numeric keyboard, wireless-n, DVD burner and Windows 7 round out the features.  So here’s the link to their page if you’re interested.  I recommend you go to the store, check it out – make sure you like it and then walk right out of the store with it:

DEAL: Toshiba Laptop–Not Real Fast but Real Cheap

imageNormally I wouldn’t even post about a low-power laptop but if you’re on a serious budget and just needs a basic laptop for checking email, browsing the web and basic Word and Excel, this may be for you.  Fry’s has this Toshiba laptop for only $288!  It doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but it does have a 15.6” LED backlit screen, numeric keypad, 2GB of memory, a 250GB hard drive, DVD burner, wireless-n for good range and fast speed online, Windows 7 and probably the real value is Microsoft Office 2010 STARTER Edition – which is a lite version of Word and Excel and is free.

Again, this won’t be a speed demon with its 1.5 GHz AMD processor, but hey, we’re talking only $288 for a full-size laptop with a full warranty!  You can order it online or as of the time of this post, I know it’s available at the Austin store as well.  Here’s the link to Fry’s page and you can check to see if it is in-stock in your area:

I Beg You Please —- Don’t Click!!!

imageI still to this day have clients of mine getting infected because they clicked on a link in an email or opened an attachment.  DON’T!!!!   How many times do I have to say this.  I’ve seen church members get infected because they trusted email from their pastor (who got infected and the VIRUS sent email to his entire contact list.)  I have clients who got email from their very best friends and got infected because they clicked on the link in the email.  So I’ll say it again…  DON’T CLICK THE LINK OR OPEN THE ATTACHEMENT.

My rules are very simple, don’t click on a link or open an attachment in email unless ONE) you know the person and MOST IMPORTANTLY TWO) you are expecting it.

If the email doesn’t meet both requirements, don’t click.  If you do, you may end up calling me for an expensive repair.  I DON’T want you calling me for that reason.  I just want you to tell your friends how good I am at saving you money.

PLEASE don’t make me preach at you again.  Keep up with the latest news and security issues at my blog here:   I update it every day or two so take a minute each day to be sure you’re up to date on what you need to know about your computer.

It’s Geek Pride Day

So by all means, be sure to give a hug to the geek in your life!image

A Star Trek Resort Where? Yep, Jordan of all Places

imageSomewhere, someone thought this would be a good idea.  But Paramount and Rubicon think that Aqaba, Jordan is the right place to put a $1 billion themed resort based on Star Trek.  Details at this time seem to be a little thin, but they are looking at a 2014 opening (good luck with that.)  Here’s the link to the story:

DEAL: Dell 24” Monitor only $189

imageIf you’re getting tired of squinting at that tiny monitor, Dell has a great deal on their 24” monitor for only $189.  It has a full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080, and even has a HDMI input so if you want you can connect a Blu-Ray or DVD player directly to it.  This monitor does NOT have built-in speakers, so if you are using the built-in speakers in your current monitor, then you’ll need to get some inexpensive speakers to add to your computer or you can order the optional “Sound-Bar” for the monitor from the Dell site.  Here’s the link to Dell:

Vacuum Form Project for the Summer

imageHere’s a project for you to kill some time with the kids this summer.  How about vacuum forming all kinds of different shapes with nothing much more than your oven.  Here’s a cool way how to do it:

DEAL: Microsoft Wireless Mouse for $9.99

imageBest Buy has this wireless mobile mouse for only $9.99.  If you’re looking for a full-size mouse this may not be for you, but if you 1) have small hands or 2) are looking for a good mouse to travel with then this may be for you.  I checked and they don’t seem to have any in stock at the local stores here in Austin, but you can order one online and have it shipped to your home or to the store for free.

Here’s the link to Best Buy’s page:

Android Goes “Oops”

imageWell, it had to happen, but a HUGE flaw has been found with the Android operating system that only affects about 99% of the Android devices currently out there.  The bad news is that the flaw can allow someone who is watching the data traffic from your phone can capture the login tokens to sites you may visit and be able to impersonate you online.  The good news is that this can only happen if you connect your phone to an open, unsecured wireless network.  As long as you’re using your phone’s data connection (3G or 4G) or a secure wireless connection like your home network, you’re fine. 

The flaw has been fixed in the latest version of Android (2.3.4), but unlike Windows where you can just go out and get the fix (or Microsoft pushes it to you), you’ll have to wait for your cell carrier to provide it, which if history is any indication may take months for current phones and possibly never for older phones.  So my advice to you is to just not connect to unsecure wireless network, use your phone’s data network and you’ll be fine.   By the way, this advice goes for you laptop as well, don’t connect to unsecure wireless networks.  Why, because they are UNSECURE!

DEAL: Canon Wireless Printer/Scanner/FAX $80

imageThis Wednesday (5/18) only Staples will have this Canon MX870 WIRELESS multifunction printer on sale for $80.  Right now it’s on sale for $130, but at $80 it’s a real deal.  Canon makes great printers and great scanners.  So you can count on getting nice printer/scanner that you can print to from anywhere in your home as long as you wait until Wednesday.  Here’s the link to the page, but just wait until Wednesday before you pull the trigger:

DEAL: Lenovo 15.6” Laptop for $369

image Office Depot has a Lenovo laptop with an Intel dual-core processor for only $369.  It’s not the latest processor but that would cost another $100 if you’re lucky.  It DOES come fully loaded though, with a fast 4GB of memory, a 320GB hard drive, web-cam, DVD burner, wireless-n and a numeric keypad.  About the only thing it doesn’t have is a media card reader (not a big deal as you can always buy a USB reader online for around $10.)  $369 is a great price for a Lenovo laptop, if you’re in the market for a good, everyday laptop then here you go.  Here’s the link:

Don’t Ask Why, Just Go Change Your Facebook Password Now, Really! All of You!

imageI changed mine before writing this post.  This is so far the most UNDERREPORTED security issue in the last several weeks, and if your reading this then you want to know why.  It’s technical and you’ll probably be sorry you asked, but as simply as I can put it, there was a flaw in Facebook’s old API (application programming interface) that is used by 3rd party applications in authenticating your Facebook credentials.  The problem is that the tokens used by the 3rd parties exposes your login token in the URL sent to advertisers, and is stored in their referrer logs (webs sites know how you got to them, what browser you use, what operating system you use, etc.)  These logs are easy for hackers to obtain and with the logs they can then impersonate you on Facebook, creating posts that can invite your friends to visit web sites filled with malware.  Changing your password will invalidate the old tokens, and will prevent someone gaining access to your account.  Facebook has fixed the problem so it won’t occur going forward, but those referrer logs sitting on advertisers’ servers last forever, never expire and if you don’t change your password that is all a bad guy needs to access your account.

That’s as simple and non-technical as I can make it.  It you’re a glutton for punishment, then you can go to Symantec’s Security Response blog page with a full description of the leak:

Woo Hoo! It’s the 2nd Tuesday of the Month! (you know what that means don’t you?)

imageThat’s right boys and girls, that day we look forward to each month arrives tomorrow, the 2nd Tuesday of the month!  If you’re asking yourself “what’s the big deal about the 2nd Tuesday of the month?” then I’ll hope you’re new to my site.

The 2nd Tuesday of the month is when Microsoft pushes updates to its Windows operating system.  So look for the icon in your task tray, also look for updates from Adobe as well as Sun (for Java.)  The others don’t necessarily follow the 2nd Tuesday model, but Microsoft is very reliable.

And as a reminder, these updates FIX FLAWS in Windows that that bad guys will be exploiting on web sites by Thursday, so don’t put it off.  I still hear way too often from people how they are afraid to install the update.  You should be afraid of NOT installing the updates.  If you want you can always go to to check for the latest version of Flash and Reader if you don’t trust the warning when you get it.

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