Archive for March 2014

Be “Web Aware” While on the Internet


I’m not saying these are bad guys, but the companies you use for free information (which is most sites) need to make money.  They have a variety of business models.  The more legitimate sites at least give you a hint, as does Yahoo news.

I use Yahoo news as ONE of my news sources.  Here are a couple of “headlines” I saw in the newsfeed… 

Homeowners Get a Bailout This Year, f you own a home and pay for a mortgage, you could reduce your payments by as much as $3,000 a year. Here is how it works.

New Site Grants Access to Anyone’s Public Record,  Did you know that your record in online and anyone can see it? Search through millions of public records and see what you can find.

Those weren’t actual news articles, those were ads placed right in the middle among the actual news articles.  It doesn’t happen just in Facebook.  Just be aware that all that FREE stuff you look at has to cost someone some money, and they are trying to make a profit.  That’s not evil, that’s just business.   On television it’s easy to tell a difference between the program and the ads.  On the Internet it’s a little harder to tell them apart at some sites.

Be a smart surfer and pay attention to what you click on.  It’s not evil, but it IS business.

Need a Deal to Replace That Windows XP Computer?

imageI had a client recently upgrade to a new computer, and they just gave their old computer to me.  So I’ve totally wiped the hard drive clean, ran maintenance software on it to make sure it was in good overall health, then installed Windows 7 along with Microsoft Office.

This Dell computer is a quad-core Intel processor (same one I recently used as my main system), along with 6GB of memory, a 500GB hard drive with a CD/DVD burner.

Those of you reading this are getting first chance to pick up this computer for the cost of getting it ready – $250.  The computer itself without my setup is easily worth $200.  And in addition, I’ll transfer your data to the new computer for free!  This is a really good computer that will last you for years – if it will make you feel better, I’ll add a 1-year warranty on it for another $50.

Next week I’ll open this up to my clients on a budget that I know need a replacement computer, but if you’re following my blog, I’d like to reward you first.

Now, if you’re NOT in the Austin area, you’ll need to pay the shipping costs to get it to you, but I’ll still remotely handle the data transfer for you.  I probably won’t get another system this good to recycle, so get it now or go buy a new computer (figure $500 for a new PC plus another $150 for the setup/data-transfer.)

Contact me if you want it – it’s ready to go!

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

Don’t Call Just ANYBODY in a Computer Emergency!, in most cases, a computer “emergency” really isn’t an emergency.  A heart attack is an emergency.  A horrible car accident is an emergency.

None the less, I get calls from folks who term it “an emergency”.  In fairness, many times it involves business and I can understand how it can feel like an emergency.

Last night I had a call from a client whose husband was desperately trying to get an email out to a group in his contact list yet it didn’t seem to work.  What did he do?  He called the cable company that owns his email address.  They were of no help, and referred him to Microsoft.  He called Microsoft and for reasons I’m not clear on, they put him in touch with a 3rd party support company.  For “only” $269, they were willing to help him with his problems for the next year.

Unfortunately, after 4 hours online with people he didn’t know, they couldn’t solve his problem.  They told him he had all these “corrupted” files, blah, blah, blah but still no solution.  His wife called me later concerned (rightfully so) about what these 3rd party folks might have don’t to their brand new computer.

What they left behind was a credit card bill for $269, no solution and remote access software on their computer.

I was able to go to them today, remove any remote access software and of course, the email system worked perfectly (took my 2 minutes to do it.)

I beg you!  PLEASE don’t just go online looking for support.  There are lots of scammers out there, and marginally legit companies who might try to help but they’ll charge you an arm and a leg.  Y’all have my phone number (it’s right here on the web site), so call me first.  I really hate to see my clients and friends get ripped off.

Something New to Spend Time Doing on Your PC

imageFound a new way to kill time on your computer.  Apparently Google has gotten scans of old newspapers from all over.  You might find a paper close to you among them.

I found one that goes back to 1794, here’s a sample of a “letter to the editor” of the Ottawa Times on June 25th, 1794:

“Sir, If you think the following merits a place in your paper, you have permission to insert it, from the author, who declines affixing his name to it, as a personal communication and interview gives you a sufficient knowledge and access to him.”   “When the convulsion of Empires, destructive or order and subversive of Government, agitate the Councils of State, the human mind is naturally urged to reflection’ the powers of man are necessarily impelled to action”

People certainly don’t talk like that anymore!  Here’s where to go look for a paper near you…

T – Minus 29 and Counting (Windows XP That Is)

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock.  Tuesday, April 8th is the LAST day Microsoft will update/patch/fix Windows XP.  If you are STILL running this old operating system, you should know by know that it’s not safe after April 8th you use a Windows XP computer on the Internet. 

The bad guys have been drooling just waiting for that day, because they know some of you just won’t upgrade you current computer or buy a new one.  The day after the 8th, the bad guys will be all over the Internet with their hacks for you to go online.

I wish I could say “everything will be ok”, but you’ll at the least get infected with a virus and at the worst get infected with something that will steal your confidential logins, passwords, etc.

Hey, I grew up as a procrastinator, but you don’t want to hold out on this.  It could get very expensive if you think “everything will be ok”.  Well, it won’t.

If you still don’t know what to do by now, then you need to call me this week.  Your time is running out.  Let’s keep your data safe.  Tick-Tock, Tick,Tock.

Another Great Travel Tip from Johnny Jet

Johnny Jet LogoWe’re approaching travel season, and if you haven’t bookmarked Johnny Jet’s website, you should.  He has a great tip for those who after a long trip, find that their room at the hotel isn’t ready yet but really would like to take a shower.  Many hotels can accommodate you.  Follow the link for his tip:

DEAL – Lenovo Desktop w/ Core i5 for $410

imageThese are factory refurbished (probably just returned to the store because they wanted something else) Lenovo H520 desktops.  It comes with a quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of memory, a HUGE 2 TB hard drive, DVD burner, built-in wi-fi, and a 1 year ON-SITE warranty.  Now THAT’S a great deal!  As of the time I’m writing this, there are only 23 left in stock so don’t spend too much time thinking about it because these deals move fast. 

If you’re still running Windows XP (you’ve only got a month left), here’s one of your best chances to move to a safe operating system.  Here’s the link to Lenovo’s site:

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