Posts Tagged ‘email’

Are You STILL Using Your Local ISP for Email?

Here in Austin, you have two major ISP’s (Internet Service Provider), you have either Time Warner Cable or AT&T.  Time Warner Cable outsources their email to Road Runner.  AT&T outsources their email to Yahoo.  In the area you live, you probably have two choices for accessing the Internet, either the cable company or the phone company.  They may handle your email or maybe they outsource.  Either way, I promise you’re getting the lowest possible service at the lowest possible cost.  Your ISP provides email only to be competitive and NOTHING more.

What happens if you’re so frustrated with your current ISP that you switch to the other?  What happens if you move to a new area and your old ISP isn’t available where you now live?  If your email address was tied to your email address (as in [email protected]) then you’ll have to get a new one with your new ISP.  Then you have to tell all your friends, change your address with all the businesses you have accounts with, etc..  Who needs that?

You need an email account with a 3rd party to ensure that no matter who provides you access to the Internet, your email can be accessed anywhere and is not dependent on the ISP.

Right now your best two options are Google and Microsoft.  Google offers, and Microsoft has (formally known as Hotmail.)  Both are very good and once you have an account with them, you won’t have to change it again, ever.

I recommend you get an account with one or the other (don’t get bent out of shape about them scanning your email – they all do if only to check for spam,) then take a few months to check with both.  During that time, tell your friends and your business accounts of your new address.  Then at a certain time, cut off the old address and you’ll be free of bondage to your old ISP and all the spam that came with that account – just walk away from it.

I myself have an email account with my ISP (currently Time-Warner Cable) but I couldn’t even tell you what my email address is with them – I don’t know and I don’t care.  I can walk away from them anytime and my email will continue without a blip.

So free yourself from bondage.  Get a new email address for life and be done with it.

Yahoo Hacked (Surprise, Surprise) If You MUST Use Yahoo Email, at Least LOCK IT DOWN!

Yahoo email has always been pretty easy pickins’ for hackers.  Yesterday Yahoo admitted they had been under a coordinated attack by hackers using login information obtained from hacks of other web sites (that’s why it’s important to use different passwords – particularly at critical sites like financial and email.)  Yahoo does allow you to receive a text message code as part of logging in from unfamiliar computers and devices.  Ready about it hear.  If you use the Yahoo email app or other Yahoo services on portable device, you will need to create a one-time password for that, but the article explains that also – it’s worth the trouble.

Have You EVER Changed Your Email Password? (Do You Even Know What it Is?)

imageChances are you’ve had your email account for a long time.  Chances are you are using the same weak password you originally set it up with, and if you’re using Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Thunderbird, Apple Mail or some other program on your computer, chances are you don’t even KNOW what your password is.

Back in June I wrote an article titled “Why You MUST Protect Your Email Account”, because if someone gets into your email account they know a LOT more about you than you may think.  Now, a hacker might get into your account and use it to spam your friends, but then you’ll start seeing messages from your friends asking you about the message “you sent”.

But suppose they don’t use your email account for spam, maybe for some reason they just read your eamil and leave it at that.  Maybe they’re stalkers, maybe they are trying to learn more about you.  All this time you wouldn’t even know that someone else was in your email.

So here we are in the holiday season – approaching the new year.  So let’s all just change our email password to keep what we hope is private – private.  Don’t just add a “1”, that’s so obvious you’ll be compromised for another year.  Review my article from earlier this year ( and make sure your email is secure.

Own Your Name on the Internet

imageRight now, your identity is probably at the mercy of your ISP (Internet service provider) in that you use them for your email.  Here in Austin you might be known as [email protected]” or [email protected]”. Neither is very good and only lasts as long as you keep paying your ISP for the “privilege” of accessing the Internet through their wires (or cables.) 

Did you know that you can OWN your own email address for only $10 a year?   That’s right, you could be “” for the rest of your life for $10 a year (ok, the price may go up in the future but I don’t have anything to do with it.)  You don’t have to be a business to own a domain, ANYONE can own a domain. 

Now, it take a little but of technical persitence, but if you’re patient and can read simple instructions, you can do this.  Google makes it really simple. 

It’s called “Google Apps”.  Though it gives you a lot more, let’s start by saying it give you up to 50 email addresses for free within your own domain.  A domain is the top level name used on the Internet.  For example, is a top-level domain.  No one else can own 

Now let’s say your family name is Smith (trust me – it’s been taken), you might want to own “”.  OK, so it’s been taken, try, or “The”.  Use whatever you wish, but if it’s available you can OWN it for $10 a year.  So let’s say you now own “” domain – now ANYTHING in front of the @ symbol is owned by you.  Google Apps gives you 50 free accounts in fronts of the @ symbol.  If your family is bigger than that, well then you need a professional helping you with your email. 

Using Google Apps gives you (when it comes to email) the advantages of the Gmail engine, the spam filtering and the ability to import from your OLD email address(es) like or or so over time you can get all your email sent to your old address WHILE you get them used to using your NEW email address.

You will NEVER have to change your email address again!  You will always be able to access your email on any computer by just logging on to your Google account.  If you use Outlook, Thunderbird or some other email client on your Windows desktop, you just set it up to go get your email from Google.  Mac mail works pretty much the same way.  It’s quick and easy. 

As for me, I use Time-Warner Cable for my Internet access.  Time-Warner Cable was kind enough to give me an email account.  I have NO IDEA what that is.  I OWN my domain and all the email accounts within it (like [email protected]) and if someday I want to change WHO provides me access to the Internet, I don’t have to worry about people sending email to me at a new address.

All this really is easy.  Contact me if you need help coming up with a unique name that hasn’t been used yet or just need help getting it all set up.  The great thing is that this is a one-time setup and you don’t have to bother with it again. 

You will LOVE owning your own domain and the freedom it give you – so go get it.  Follow this link to start setting your own domain name with Google:

Walgreens Customer Email Addresses Stolen

imageReuters reported today that Walgreens is warning its customers that apparently there has been “unauthorized access” to a list of email addresses.  So if you’re a customer of Walgreens and do business online with them (like for photos or the pharmacy), be suspicious if you get an email that looks like it comes from Walgreens.  It may be an attempt by the bad guys to get your login and password information.

Here’s the link to the Reuters article:

3 Secrets to Avoiding Viruses and Malware

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:


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 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 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.


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 instead of, or instead of  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.

Computer repair in Austin, computer service in Austin, Windows help in Austin, computer repair in Steiner Ranch, computer repair in Lakeway, pc repair in Austin, pc service in Steiner Ranch, pc service in Lakeway.