StackEdit

stackedit verticalSo funny! I thought the name was, “Stacked IT!” – but I see now it is, “stack edit” – so the laugh’s on me.

I’m always happy to make you laugh, even at my expense. Here’s the thing, though. This product has a free version, which I’ve connected to Google Drive.

All I needed was some simple way to back up some WordPress code for the new Save A Pet Website. What I found was so much more! This wonderful tool is a full featured HTML editor that can connect to your website, save your files in Google Drive and/or DropBox, and publish the same document to a bunch of other sites, including Blogger pages and WordPress. Pretty cool, huh?

Yes, I could go on about this, but you’ll just have to see it for yourself. If you need some help getting it set up for yourself, come on into my website, call me and we’ll set an appointment for computer support. I’m always happy to make things work for you.

 

IE Exploit and Windows XP

Here’s my grateful shout out to Dominique Fruchtman, of Desert Cow Computers, for alerting me to this new exploit!

Take your pick of sources on this report. It is, as the title suggests, a major security hole in Microsoft’s web browser, made worse by their discontinuing support for XP.exploit IE

So long ago, I wrote an article where I recommend a simple solution: Stop using IE. Standards based browsers (Chrome or Firefox) are simply better for users and programmers. Recently one of my clients showed me an online application they use that will not run in other browsers. This application will only run in IE 10, with compatibility enabled! Why anyone would program anything to run with IE in the first place is a mystery to me.

Back to the subject problem…. Using IE on Windows XP is not enough to cause you to get infected or hacked; you have to actually go to a website that hosts the malicious code, or open an email attachment or link that produces the same result. The problem is; you won’t know something is wrong until it’s too late! The same rules apply as always, don’t talk to strangers, know who sends you email, and watch for obvious signs of spam and scam email messages. Here’s something I wrote four years ago now, about how easy it is to get a virus. A brief update to that piece would be; don’t allow anyone from “Windows Support” to remotely access your computer.

One last word: You really should be leaving XP and moving on to Windows 7 (or 8, if you must), so you can get Windows Updates from Microsoft. The majority of their updates are created to plug security holes. Without their updates, you are left to wonder and worry about the vulnerability of your computer. Also, switch to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox, avoid IE as a rule.

Call your local computer support professional and upgrade to a new computer.

OK, seriously, the last word: Here’s a link to a cheeky article from the register, with a catchy title and a dire warning.

Avoiding Scams

Talk to someone you trust. MouseHelp_BC_300If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft (or “Windows”), ask yourself one question: “What is the likelihood of Microsoft ever calling you for any reason?” Then call someone you trust to check your computer for malware. The image below is from Malwarebytes.org, where they’ve posted several articles that do a much better job of illustrating my point. This one is really good!

If you’d like to do the research yourself, here are links to pages from Microsoft, the FTC, and the Better Business Bureau. Each will tell you this is a scam.

Orange Man Telemarketing or Phone Support

The bottom line is this; nobody will call you from Microsoft, or from “Windows”, to help you with your computer. They want your money and they want you to give them access to your computer, so they can install their malware on it, which will allow them to further extort money from you.

You’ve heard it said before; “Just say no!” Save yourself the grief, the money, the aggravation, and the potential for digital disaster. Call me and I’ll help you by cleaning up your computer and by providing a bit of training, so you can keep it clean yourself.

The End Of Windows XP

banner[1]Echoing the description of this page from Insurance Journal (Article By Laird Rixford | March 10, 2014 in Insurance Journal), I’m tempted to make some snide remark about Ostriches hiding their heads in the sand. “If you feel surprised by this news, you should know Microsoft actually announced in 2007 they were planning to end support of Windows XP.”

But, I won’t make that comment. Simply note that you can probably find thousands of sources for this information, – actually, About 8,510,000 results – written by many authors in many industries. Why? Because Windows XP was probably one of the best operating systems devised by Microsoft and is still running on millions of desktops and laptops all over the world.

I’ve deliberated on the best way to get this information out to my clients, but now I’ve waited too long and the end is near. Yesterday was “patch Tuesday” and this batch of fixes issued by Microsoft is reported to be the last you’ll get for XP. The next “patch Tuesday” is actually on April 8th – the date they’ve chosen to end support of XP.
It seems to me they should issue one more set of updates, as a parting gift.  But, enough about what I think.

Here is another article, by Kim Komando. I’m not sure she isn’t being facetious with this statement: “If you have an XP computer and just browse the Internet occasionally, without the use of passwords for anything ever, you’re probably fine as well.”

My thinking is a bit more extreme – it goes like this: If you disconnect your XP computer from the Internet and never use it again for any online activity, you’ll be safe from security vulnerabilities. I’m only half-kidding here, because you might run some piece of software that actually has no need for a connection to anything. If all you do is work that is stored on your local computer, you can disconnect and continue merrily on your way.

Call me if you need help with this transition. Windows 7 is two steps up from XP and worth every penny of the upgrade cost. You may need a bit of assistance with learning many of the new features in Windows 7, but for the most part, it is every bit as good and much improved, when compared to XP.

Call me anyway, for any help you need with computing and communications.

Google Rules

Finally, something a bit more useful from Kim Komando! She sends email to millions, so I should defer, but I don’t. Also, I nearly cried while listening to one of her on-air calls.

In one of her latest messages, she sends a link to the Google Chrome blog:

Clean up your hijacked settings

In it, you’ll find details on how Google provides a one-click “reset” feature. Use it to set your setting back to defaults, if you should find some added toolbar or other software installed on your computer. You get this stuff when things are updated, or when you download that “free” utility or viewer, and it is laden with other junk-ware that gets installed with it. We can go on about how many things are not free, but that opens up a whole other conversation about the time you spend updating these free things. If your time is worth anything at all, nothing is free.

Let me just mention this one thing before I go – Ninite. Search it out, and you’ll find one of the best things that has ever been shared with me – the facility to allow you to install and update all kinds of free stuff with the click of one link downloaded to your computer. You can read the details on their page in about two minutes, and you might forever change how you deal with the need to update things.  Specifically, I will not update JAVA through any other means, likewise, Adobe Reader and a few other things are just so much better, when updated using this tool.

Enjoy!

BR

Time Warner Outage – Update

81bcixH0KxL._SL1500_[1]Today, I had to take off my shirt, as I worked up a sweat installing a new cable modem for my client. After a solid week of trying different things to get TWC Internet “service” up and running, I finally resigned to buying a new cable modem from Best Buy (funny, I almost said Fry’s!). Working with Tier 2 support at TWC, we got it provisioned properly and brought up wireless service in this very large home.

There is no way to justify this expense. My client has paid hundreds of dollars. I have spent many, many hours in support of this effort. In the end, TWC support did little to resolve the issue for their customer. If anything, the problem was made worse by their inability to replace the modem by sending a competent technician with said replacement at no cost to their customer.

I’m not sure how I feel about the whole thing. As much as I need to be paid to provide computer and network support to my clients, my position on this one is that Time Warner should have been able to produce the same result, without my help.

It’s kind of sad to think that making money would end in frustration for me. In future cases, I may simply advise my client to scream as loudly as possible on calls to support and to persist in being the squeaky wheel, until they get resolution from the company they pay for their service. If I were a TWC technician, I would be ashamed. As it is, I feel bad enough that it took so long and so much effort to resolve this problem.

I’m done, but I’m not happy about it. In fact, if this client loses Internet service again, there is nothing more I can do to effect a cure. This is a sad state of affairs, indeed!