Monday, September 3, 2012

Java Exploit Patched

If you haven't uninstalled Java you don't need to, but you do need to make sure you are up-to-date.  If you uninstalled it you can safely reinstall now (Click here to reinstall).  For more details on the fix you can click here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Updated Java Link

The link posted in the Java Article was moved.  Here is a new link.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Java Security Risk affects both PCs and Macs

Security experts have discovered a flaw in Java (click here to learn about Java) that allows a remote computer to silently take control of your computer without your knowledge by visiting a website that contains malicious code.  The experts that discovered the problem are suggesting that you remove Java from your computer until such time as Java is fixed.  It is important to note that the problem affects both PCs and Macs!  You can read more about the issue and get instructions to remove Java at this link. I would probably not remove Java if you have version 6, but you need to decide that for yourself.  Some of you may have applications that require Java to run so check before uninstalling it.

As always, be sure you have good mal-ware protection and that it is up to date.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Picking a New Laptop

I am often asked for recommendations on computers.  Here are my thoughts on laptops as of today (tomorrow may bring something different). Remember, this is my opinion, and other computer experts will sometimes disagree (okay, maybe often).
  • Stay away from the extremes in pricing, avoid the sub $500 class.  Remember, you get what you pay for.  If it’s selling for $300 there is a reason.  And on the high end you may get a great computer but not great value.  This is true for all brands including the ones below.
  • Get a Toshiba or an ASUS.  Dell is also very good, particularly for their service, but you have to select the correct service during checkout.  Select “North American Support.”  Dell and Toshiba have the best accessory selection.
  • Be sure to check the warranty.  Consider an extended warranty from if the manufacturer's warranty is only a year.  Laptops are particularly expensive to repair so I like having a three year warranty.
  • Get an Intel processor (not an AMD).  Others really like AMD but I have not been impressed.
  • Get Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit or Professional 64-bit.  This makes migration from an older computer more of a project, but 64-bit is important for the future.  And in a business environment Professional is very important.
  • At least 4GB of RAM (Random Access Memory).
  • Don't confuse RAM with hard drive capacity.  In most cases the hard drive provided will be sufficient, but the bigger the better.
  • Never buy “refurbished” or “re-manufactured” electronics! (Just trust me on this.)
  • Compare processors at and get the fastest processor you can afford (Passmark CPU mark column).
  • Find the model you like and then compare at Just enter the laptop model number in the search box. There are some vendors to avoid so pay attention to the star ratings.
  • Generally October and November offer the best deals as vendors want to move inventory before Christmas.
Happy Hunting!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spam (not the stuff from Hormel)

Click here to visit the folks that make the food-stuff that the email we will discuss is named after.

Have you noticed an increase in spam in your inbox? Last September Microsoft and Kaspersky managed to temporarily disable a botnet comprised of an estimated 45,000 computers. A botnet is a collection of compromised computers connected to the Internet (each compromised computer is known as a 'bot'). They could have removed the malicious software from the infected computers but apparently that is illegal. This botnet is called Kelihos.

Well, the bad guys have managed to reestablish control of Kelihos, and with 45,000 computers it sends an estimated 4 billion spam messages a day. It seems like most of it is directed to email servers I manage. You can get more details by clicking here.

So what can you do to block spam? There isn't a silver bullet, but here are some programs that can help.



As always, be aware of piggyback programs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Piggyback Programs

A piggyback program is a program that you don't want that gets installed when you install another program that you want. Usually you are asked if you want to install the piggyback program and given an opportunity to skip the install. I find these programs on computers everyday. Often they are toolbars and present themselves in Internet Explorer as shown below.

These programs slow down your computer and are generally a nuisance. There is a good posting on how to avoid and remove these piggyback programs, click here.

Friday, January 27, 2012


I had a customer that fell for a scam yesterday. Someone called him claiming they were from Microsoft and stated his computer was infected with a virus. They wanted to help him remove the virus and convinced him to install a program that gave the caller complete control of his computer. Bottom line: SCAM!!! If someone calls with such a claim HANG UP THE PHONE. Let me just say that Microsoft is not going to call you if your computer has a virus. They don't have a way to correlate your phone number to your computer (at least right now).

Click here to read what Microsoft suggests you do if you've fallen for something like this. If you are unsure you should call a computer expert.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Keep Your Keys Secure!

No, I'm not talking about your car or house keys. There are lots of things about your computer that no one tells you. Like when your hard drive crashes you will most like need some information on the bottom of your laptop. I'm referring to the Windows License Key, one of Microsoft's methods to prevent piracy. I have had several laptops come in lately and the Window License Key is worn off. The sticker used to be almost invincible, but not anymore. And when you need to reinstall Windows you need that key. My suggestion is that you either write down the 25 character key, or walk your laptop to the copier and make a copy. This isn't near the problem on stationary computers, the label doesn't tend to fade. Take a minute and do it now.

Here are a few examples of what Microsoft refers to as a CD Key, Product ID, Certificate of Authenticity, and License Key.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

iPhone 4s Siri Doubles Data Usage

I came across an interesting article on data usage for the new iPhone 4s with Siri. Siri is the impressive voice recognition software introduced on the 4s. Basically the article states that the use of Siri doubles your data usage. If you have an iPhone 4s and use Siri you should keep an eye on your monthly data usage to avoid an overage.