Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Windows 8, Part I

Helpful Hints, News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis December 2nd, 2012

I’ve already had a lot of customers asking about the new version of Windows.  This will be a series of posts about the new operating system from Microsoft, and some details you should know both before and after buying.  First of all, this is really just a cosmetic build On TOP of Windows 7.  Unfortunately it is only an advantage FOR TOUCHSCREEN DEVICES.  If it doesn’t have a touchscreen, DON’T BUY IT with Windows 8.  For a normal desktop PC, it’s much more trouble than it’s worth.  Not only does it FORCE the large “Metro” screen on users, but they have disabled some of the handy desktop features that we’ve all grown accustomed to.  I’ll elaborate on that later.  Another thing to beware of before purchasing is that there is a second version for tablets called Windows 8 RT.  For the first time ever, this is based on architecture other than x86 (ARM-based).  The bottom line:  it won’t run any of your old PC apps!  You must get all new apps from the Microsoft store to run on this version.  I started to buy one of the new Surface tablets from Microsoft (see photo), but found out that the x86 version won’t be out until Spring.  Currently they only have the Windows 8 RT version for sale.

FBI Scareware ALERT

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis August 21st, 2012

FBI LogoThere’s a new, very scary “Ransomware” attack spreading like wildfire across the USA in the last few weeks.  It poses as the FBI, and states that you have downloaded illegal material (movies, music, child porn, etc.)  They use VERY sophisticated means to convince you that you should pay money to them.  The FBI is aware of the problem, as well as digital security pros everywhere.  It’s been dubbed “Reveton Ransomware” and it’s a complete hoax, designed to get your money and/or steal your passwords.  It’s not easy to remove, and if you catch it the first thing you should do is CHANGE ALL YOUR ONLINE PASSWORDS from a different PC.  Then, follow these instructions  for removal.  Finally, update ALL software, including Windows, Java, Adobe products, etc.  Better yet, call your favorite IT Pro.  :-).  You can read full details of the attacks  and the “bot” network that is spreading it here.  (Thanks to Krebson Security!).  IMHO the most concerning thing about this attack is the method of payment.  They try to get you to go to a local store and buy a “MoneyPak” for electronic transfer!  This will help them cover their tracks, and helps them skirt around blocks by credit card companies. 

JAVA Warning

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 12th, 2012

UPDATE YOUR JAVA.  I’ve cleaned up two very nasty PC infections this week that were Java-based viruses.  BOTH had current anti-virus protection, which didn’t stop the attack.  When Java updates, it’s usually to patch some security hole or other issue.  The hackers and Bad Guys know this, and will exploit any software to take over your computer.  If you’re not sure if you’ve got the latest, click here to get the most recent version.  WARNING: this install will try to get you to add the Ask Toolbar.  Watch for the option and uncheck the box if you don’t want it. 

Final (FBI) Warning

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis July 6th, 2012

The DomainChanger (AKA DNS Changer) virus that I warned you about will “expire” this weekend.  I’m getting lots of phone calls about the hubub, so I wanted to give some explaination.  First of all, THE VIRUS IS IMPOTENT thanks to the FBI.  They shut down the crooks that set it up, and replaced the bad server computers with some of their own (ours… the taxpayers).  But if you ARE infected, the servers will be shut down soon.  What’s that mean?  You won’t get internet access on the infected PC.  You’ll have to remove the bug before you can surf.  Here’s a link to the site that will clean it up for you.  Interestingly, the daily “new IP’s” (or new computer addresses) to the FBI servers is still quite high: 300,000+ as of about a month ago.  That tells me there’s still a BUNCH of folks out there that are infected.  If you have friends or family whose internet suddenly stops working this weekend, this is probably why.

HD revisited

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis June 15th, 2012

High definition, right?  Nope, in this case I’m talkin’ about Hard Drives.  I’ve written posts about the drive shortage, backing up, and solid state drives.  But there’s a whole new fleet of External USB (or networked) drives that deserve a closer look.  Several companies are making drives that you plug in and can access from all over the planet.  Others create their own WiFi network that you can log into from smartphones or your PC.  There are also some very stylish drives that are much smaller these days.  I have clients that will buy several pocket-sized drives and rotate them for offsite backup.   They also have some really tough built HD’s that can withstand a lot of abuse.  This would be perfect for industrial sites or college students :-)    Here’s an article  that shows them in detail (thanks to Marc Saltzman at Digital Crave).

LinkedIn Data Breach

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis June 8th, 2012

I noticed a lot of spam in the last few days that was making it to my Inbox.  This is unusual; most of the time my spam filters catch this junk and remove it.  It turns out that LinkedIn got hacked recently, along with eHarmony and Lastfm.com.  If anyone on those sites had your email address, you may have gotten the same deluge of crap mail.  Most of those were “phishing” mails, trying to get credit card or other financial info so they could steal from you.  What to do?  First of all DO NOT CLICK LINKS IN ANY EMAILS you receive.  Go straight to the sites, if you have an account, and CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.  Make sure you follow rules for strong passwords; 8 characters or more with a mix of letters, numbers, and special characters.  This is a storm of data theft that probably isn’t over yet.  Stay Tuned!   (Thanks to the Agence France-Presse for the great article)

Presidential Dilemma

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis June 6th, 2012

Well, the cat is OUT of the bag.  A while back there was a worm called Stuxnet that was discovered to be hiding on PC’s across the planet, apparently doing, well… NOTHING.  It had very sophisticated code, but no one could tell exactly what its purpose was.  Finally it was revealed that this critter had been released to slow down Iran’s nuclear program.  60 Minutes on CBS featured an article about it, revealing that it worked on industrial controls, and targeted the centrifuges that Iran uses to purify Uranium and Plutonium.  Now it has come to light that the US was, indeed, the source of that bug.  It started with Bush in 2006, and continued with President Obama.  It took guts for both of them to authorize this –  the implications are staggering.  We have officially entered a world where digital warfare is reality.  Although it saved lives in terms of immediate human casualties, these presidents opened a virtual Pandora’s Box in authorizing this attack.  See, the worm has a blueprint for taking over and altering controls in facilities like the Iranian Enrichment plants.  But these are the same controls that are used EXTENSIVELY across the US.  So the weapon could give our enemies the ability to attack critical infrastructure like power plants and water facilities.  Was it worth it?  Well it seemed to work, so it bought them a little time.  But the decision to use it could very well turn out to be more detrimental to the USA than any benefits that were gleened.  Time will tell.  Kudos to Symantec for isolating this critter, and the New York Times for covering a great story about war in the next millennium.  You can find the full article here. 

Tulsa Traffic

Helpful Hints, News | Posted by Dennis May 31st, 2012

This is off the usual subject(s) but I just gotta say:  we’re VERY lucky in Tulsa –   our traffic is a BREEZE compared to the rest of the country.  I pondered this as I sat in traffic, bumper-to-bumper, for 30 minutes tonight.  It was at a complete standstill for a while (bad wreck… hope they’re ok!).  This is a record for me in Tulsa.  I have NEVER before had to sit this long and wait.  How great is that?  I mean, for nearly 15 years I’ve been ALL OVER this city, every day, and yet the longest I’ve ever been stuck in it was 30 minutes.  People in L.A., Dallas, D.C., etc etc would probably KILL for that.  The last time I drove in Dallas it was a nightmare.  So for all of us around Green Country… despite the contruction, we’ve really got it good.  Enjoy!  (oh, DRIVERS?  Now THAT’S a different story…)

Scam Alert

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 25th, 2012

WATCH out folks, and check on your elderly…. there’s a phone scam going on that’s worrisome.  A guy with an Indian accent is calling people, telling them their computer is infected and they need to take care of it.  He’ll make it sound like he represents Microsoft.  DO NOT listen, instead ask for company information, write it down, and report it to your state’s office of consumer affairs.  For Oklahoma, here’s a link These crooks are calling old people and scamming them out of money for junk software (and stolen licenses).  The information they give points to a site called Micro PC PCare, and it all APPEARS to be legitimate, but it’s not.  My poor client got scammed out of $60 when there was nothing wrong with her PC.  Her credit card wouldn’t stop the charge because she agreed to let them do it!   SHAME ON YOU VULTURES.  The name he gave was Victor Lamb.  The phone number listed was 877-753-5167.  Warn your friends and family! 

Facebook Implosion

News, Warnings | Posted by Dennis May 24th, 2012

Remember how I warned against buying Facebook stock during its IPO?  If you listened to me, you sold short right afterwards, and MADE A FORTUNE.  It’s been in a downward spiral since the initial offering, and I don’t think that’s the end of it.  For some reason, Wall Street and the gang think that just because something is popular and “technological”, it can make money.  You would think that some lessons would be learned after the dot-com bubble burst in 2001, but alas…. they just don’t get it.  I just read a great analysis by Michael Wolff of the Technology Review that concurred, for different reasons.  I solve puzzles all day, and the thing that I always come back to is REMEMBER THE BASICS.  Yes, the advertising and the information they hold about their users is an issue, but the biggest, simplest reason they will continue to drop is POPULARITY.  People are already drifting away.  They’re tired of Joe Studly posting every move he makes, including brushing his teeth.  They’ve been scalded by having TOO MUCH information available when their best friend stops talking to them because of some awkward post on FB.  So it’s become a place where only the die-hard fans continue to post, and others just sit back and watch (or stop using it for weeks at a time).  As FB tries to capitalize on the information they have, and shove more advertising in people’s faces, they’ll lose even more users.  If you want to invest in technology, look for truly high-tech solutions to terrible problems.  Cancer research is a fine example.  Or at least buy something that has a tangible service to the users, like Google’s search engine, or Amazon’s online store.  Ok, I’ll climb down off the soap-box now.  :-)