Archive for June 2012

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2010–$90

imageBest Buy has Microsoft Home and Student 2010 on sale for $89.99, a really good price – especially when you consider that the license lets you install it onto THREE computers!  That’s only $30 per copy per PC!

This version of Office includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.  It does NOT include Outlook so if you need Outlook for email, then this isn’t the version for you.

I don’t know when the deal is over, but you can order it online and the shipping is FREE, so follow the link and go get yourself a deal:  http://goo.gl/1gy0Y

3 Secrets to Avoiding Viruses and Malware

I posted this a year and a half ago – but by popular demand, here it is again:

 

Viruses, spyware, adware, worms, trojans, rootkits, bots… they are all terms referring to what is generically known as malware, software that does bad things.  It might log your keystrokes, then send those keystrokes (like when you log into your bank) to the bad guy, it might use your computer to send spam email, it could pop up on your screen telling you that you’re infected with all kinds of viruses and you need to buy their virus removal program, and it won’t go away until you do.  No matter what it does, you DON’T want it on your computer.

Unfortunately a lot of computer users think that since they have anti-virus software on their computer they can’t get viruses, so it’s ok to be somewhat reckless on the internet.  Well, thinking that you won’t get infected because you have anti-virus software is like thinking you can’t get killed in your car because it has airbags.  You drive your car 120 mph into an oncoming truck and see just how well that airbag protects you.

So, if your anti-virus software can’t completely protect you, what can you do?  Follow these three guidelines (I call them secrets because so many people don’t seem to be aware of them) and it will be very hard for your computer to get bit by a bug.

imageDON’T OPEN ATTACHMENTS AND DON’T CLICK ON LINKS IN EMAIL. Email and web pages are the primary avenue of attack for the bad guys.  Clicking on links in email is a easy way to download a virus or get taken to a web site full of malware looking for ways to get into your computer.  The same goes for attachments, opening an attachment is like playing Russian Roulette with your computer.  So how do we make this a practical guideline?

If you’re expecting the email, then of course it’s ok to open.  If you were at a family reunion last weekend, and someone in the family sends you an email with photos attached and in the email says “here are some photos from the reunion”, then of course, open them and enjoy.  But if you get a message from a friend of yours and all it says is “check out this video of you on the Internet!”, don’t click on the link!  In all likelihood your friend has a virus on his/her computer, and the VIRUS sent the email, not your friend.  This is a common way that a virus spreads.  It goes through your email address book and sends a generic message to everyone that appeals to our natural sense of curiosity.  You get that email and the first thing you think is “wow, what is this video that my friend is talking about?”  2 seconds later you find yourself clicking on the link because you’re curious.  At this point it’s too late and you’ve probably infected your system.

I know you’d like to look at that PowerPoint file of the cute kittens and puppies, or follow that link to read about the 3 headed baby, but just resist the urge and keep your system safe.  If you think the link is safe but you hear my words echoing in the back of your mind, just remember that the actual destination of the link can be hidden, so to be safe open your web browser and TYPE the address in yourself:

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KEEP YOUR COPY OF WINDOWS AND OTHER SOFTWARE UP TO DATE. The bad guys are always looking for a new way to get inside your computer.  The most important (and likely) targets are your operating system (Windows), your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome), Adobe Acrobat Reader (for viewing PDF files), Adobe Flash (used to view video on sites like YouTube and most animation) and Java (by Oracle.)  In fact Java is quickly becoming the bad guys’ favorite way to get into your pc.  Java is used to allow programmers to write a program that can run on different operating systems without having to customize it.  There aren’t a lot of programs out there that require Java, and probably the best thing you can do it just REMOVE Java from your computer.  Just go to your Control Panel and click on Add/Remove Programs (Windows XP) or Programs and Features (Vista and Windows 7) and select Java for removal.  If you later find out that you need it, you can go to Java.com and download the latest version.  If you have Java and you know you need it, be sure you have the latest version (as of this writing, version 6 update 22.)

For Adobe Acrobat Reader and Flash you can go to Adobe.com/downloads and make sure you have the latest versions.

Firefox and Safari are good about notifying you when you need to download and install an update, Google Chrome pretty much just does it for you in the background.  Internet Explorer will get updated the 2nd Tuesday of every month when the Windows Updates are pushed to your computer.

Microsoft updates Windows the 2nd Tuesday of every month, so it’s important that you have automatic updates turned on and you install them when you see the icon in your taskbar tray.

It’s very important that you update your computer as soon as you get a notification, be it for Acrobat Reader, Java or Windows.  The moment these updates are published, the bad guys are analyzing them to see how they can take advantage of people who DON’T update their computers.  Also, sometimes the bad guys find the flaws first, and already are exploiting computers before the fixed are published, so don’t put this off.

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USE MOZILLA FIREFOX WITH THE “NO-SCRIPT” ADD-ON. Each web browser has things to like about it: Internet Explorer for its integration with Windows, Google Chrome for its speed, Apple Safari for its speed and more “Mac-like” appearance (and I do like the “Top-Sites” feature.)  But I always recommend Firefox with no-script because it’s the absolute best way to avoid having a malicious web site get into your computer.

So what is “no-script”?  For that matter, what is a script?  Think of the word “prescription”.  A prescription is a set of instructions from your doctor to the pharmacist, you may be delivering it but you’re just the messenger – the pharmacist reads and follows the instructions.  In the world of the Internet, scripts are instructions from the web server (the computer at the other end delivering the web pages to you) to your computer.  Scripts themselves are not inherently evil.  Scripts are necessary just for you to read this page, in fact most sites you visit employ some scripts to automate how the page looks or what information you see.  Unfortunately web browsers are a little too quick to accommodate the instructions from web servers, and a site that has been set up by a bad guy (or compromised by one) can deliver all kinds of nasty stuff on your computer, just by going to a web page.

No script is what’s called an “add-on”.  Think of it like a mini-program that plugs into Firefox, like an accessory.  There are TONS of different add-ons you can use with Firefox, I use 3 or 4 but No-script is an absolute must.  No-script prevents ANY and ALL scripts from running on a web page without your approval.  What’s nice about no-script is that once you’ve approved a site, you don’t have to do it again.  For example, you trust Google and maybe use Gmail, so once you’ve approved Gmail, you won’t have to do it again.  So the first week or so you’ll be approving lots of web sites because it will be the first time No-script has seen them, but it will eventually calm down, and just intervene when you go to a new site for the first time.  The VALUE of no-script comes into play when you accidentally mis-type a web site, say Goggle.com instead of Google.com, or Foznews.com instead of Foxnews.com.  The bad guys purchase these names because they know every know and then people make mistakes, and they just wait for you to come to them.  They also design their web pages to show up high when you search on popular topics.  For example, back in February if you searched for Jessica Biel screensavers or maybe Jennifer Aniston screensavers, about HALF of the search results took you to sites with malicious software just waiting for you.

If you should happen to click on a search result that takes you to a web site that you’re sure is not what it’s supposed to be AND you’re running No-script, then the very worst thing that will happen is you’ll see some text and perhaps graphics/pictures – but that’s all.  NOTHING will be able to install itself onto your computer, all you have to do is click on the back button go back where you started and you can rest easy knowing your computer is safe.  For a DETAILED step-by-step walkthrough of installing Firefox and setting up NoScript, see my post in Apps/Tools or click here.

There you have it.  It seems like a lot at first, but it will save you aggravation and money in the long run if you’ll just convince yourself that it’s worth it (ask my clients who unfortunately had to pay over $200 to get their computer running again after picking up some nasty viruses.)  Follow the above steps, you’ll be glad you did.

Holy Moly! Core i7 Lenovo Laptop w/ 1TB Drive!!!

imageIf you’re ready for a new computer, and you want one that will keep up with future software for many years, here you go.  Lenovo has their Z580 laptop on sale for only $749.  That’s $650 off.  The processor is a current generation Intel Core i7 quad-core (that’s FOUR processors) running at 2.1 GHz but will pump up to 3.1 GHz if needed along with a 1 terabyte hard drive – that’s HUGE in a laptop!!!  It has a 15.6” screen, comes maxed out with 8GB of memory, Bluetooth and a DVD burner.  Be sure use the coupon code DADSNGRADS at checkout to get the price.

Here’s the link:  http://goo.gl/dY96p

DEAL: Dell 24” Monitor for $159 Today Only

imageJust for Father’s Day Newegg has this big 24” Dell monitor on sale for $159.  In addition, you get FREE SHIPPING and a 1-year extended warranty included.  Now that’s a deal!  Be sure to use coupon code EMCNDJE35 at checkout to get the deal.  It has full HD resolution of 1920×1080.  Go get it here: http://goo.gl/UHETj

If You’re on a Really Tight Budget, Here’s a Laptop

imageThis wouldn’t be my first choice for a laptop, but if your budget is really tight and you absolutely need to get one, then this is what I recommend:

Best Buy has this Asus laptop for only $309 with an Intel Core i3 processor.  It has a 320GB hard drive, 4GB of memory, a CD/DVD burner, high speed wireless, USB 3.0 inputs and a memory card reader.

Check it out online – you’ll have to order it as they don’t have it in store:  http://goo.gl/q1R7B

Do You Know What the 2nd Tuesday of Every Month Means?

imageIf you have a Windows machine you should.  If you’ve been a client of mine for more than a month you sure better know!  It’s the day Microsoft pushes out its’ updates for Windows and other Microsoft software.

So look for your little yellow (XP) or blue icons (Vista or 7) the next couple of days and get those updates installed.  Also, ALWAYS be on the lookout throughout the month for updates to Java, Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Flash.  Failure to install these updates could cost you money if you get infected by a virus that sneaks through the gaps.

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Linkdin Passwords Hacked

Many of you have accounts with the Linkdin social network. Yesterday they were hacked and approx 6 million passwords were published by the hackers. Linkdin says they will be notifying those who were comprised, just to be sure, you may want to change your password.  LastPass.com has a great little tool so you can check to see if your password has been compromised.  Just go to http://goo.gl/zPwsl to check.  LastPass is VERY safe and in fact they won’t actually see your password when checking (it’s technical but it’s safe.)

I used the LastPass tool and my password WAS one of those compromised.  I immediately changed it.  Don’t wait to get notified, I wasn’t.

Patch Your PC Now

imageThe Flame virus that has been found mainly in the middle east has been found to have components within it that “appears” to have been digitally signed by Microsoft.  What this means to you is that even though Flame really isn’t a threat to the average person, it’s technology is if other hackers take advantage of the same technology.  If your computer sees a file digitally signed by Microsoft, it will automatically assume it’s safe.  In addition, it might even be possible to download malware via Windows update.  So look for the yellow shield (if you’re running Windows XP) or the blue icon (if you’re using Windows Vista or Windows 7) and install the “Important” updates.

This will tell your computer that any files pretending to be signed by Microsoft are not, and hence you’ll be safe.  So look down in the corner of your taskbar and click on the update icon.  If you don’t see it, you can always manually run it by going to the Start menu, click on Programs and toward the top you should see “Windows Update”.

Is “Computer” Male or Female?

A language teacher was explaining to her class that in French, nouns unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as masculine or feminine.

"House" in French, is feminine -"la maison," "Pencil" in French, is masculine "le crayon."

One puzzled student asked, "What gender is computer?" The teacher did not know, and the word was not in her French dictionary.

So for fun she split the class into two groups appropriately enough, by gender and asked them to decide whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

Both groups were required to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The men’s group decided that computer should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer"), because

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic 
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else 
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later review 
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine "le computer") because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on. 
  2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves 
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem 
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer you could have gotten a better model.

Buy a New PC Now – Get Windows 8 for $15

The release of Windows 8 is getting closer (still not definite date), but if you buy a new PC now with Windows 7, then you can upgrade to Windows 8 Professional for only $15 as long as you redeem it before January 31st, 2013.  If you LIKE Windows 8, this is a great deal.  I’m still not sure most of you will like the difference Windows 8 brings.  The familiar Windows desktop is still there under the “Metro” interface but it will take you an extra click or two to open the apps you currently use until you figure out how to pin it to the Metro screen.

So the future is there and affordable for you if you buy a new computer in the next few months.  Get the upgrade for $15, just don’t INSTALL it until you’re sure you want to use Window 8.

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