Tuesday, June 23, 2020

EXCEPTION: One thing "poltical"

If you came here from Facebook then you'll find Larry Elder's video here.

Thank you for your interest.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

New REMOTE SUPPORT program and service


For many years now I have used the Canada based company Instant Housecall and their program of the same name to give remote support to my customers.


Since a few months I can not log in to that service anymore, they do not accept my password and their password reset mechanism does not solve the problem for me. So I looked for an alternative and naturally for an alternative that would not entail cost for my customers. And I have found a solution.
As of immediately (June 1st 2020) I use a new company and their program to give remote support.

Their name is Any Desk. I install this program on all new computers and on any computer that I upgrade or work on directly.


If you want (or need) remote support all my many existing customers currently have only one option and PLEASE do this only when we speak with each other on the phone!

  • Click this link to download AnyDesk.exe.
  • When the download has finished open your Downloads folder,
  • find file AnyDesk.exe and 
  • double click this file name.
AnyDesk will open; here is what it will look like:
Start screen AnyDesk
In this example your AnyDesk address is 272 709 277.  

I will ask you for these numbers and then connect to your computer.

Trust me, it is not half as complicated as it may seem now.

Stay safe.



Friday, May 15, 2020

Backup - Pulling it All Together

Again I ran into into a question that I get asked quite often. I believe it is worth another one of the instances where I quote my email reply to the customer:  
Backup and Restore likely are for the non-technical home computer user the most misunderstood area of handling a computer. I have learned the hard way that discussing that over the phone usually is fruitless, mostly because a non-technical home computer user lacks basic background knowledge.
I am very reluctant to  advise about that area without the customer having a decent understanding of the terminology involved. Additionally a solid understanding of the different Pro and Cons of available technologies is requires.
If you want to read up about Backup/Restore than I can give you a few links to articles that expound on the basics.
  1. TechTerms' basic explanation of Backup
  2. PC Magazine's Beginner's Guide to PC-Backup
  3. How-To Geek's How to Use All of Windows 10’s Backup and Recovery Tools
And here are some of my own musings from my blog related to Backup; these links are  in no particular order!
I trust that you will find or take the time to digest all this reading. I will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have.
It may happen that you run into problems with single terms or technical words; please do an internet search yourself before you ask me, I would only to have to send you links to Wikipedia...
I know, all this may sound like I try to avoid a direct answer to your suggestion but, sorry, you will have to "do your homework".
After reading through above text I have to add one more article to the first group of links:

For the average home computer user who is not a computer geek and does not plan for his house burning down my recommendations are
Re. SSDs:
Whether you  use an old fashioned HDD for backups or an SSD, you need a drive with USB 3 connection. USB 3 is much faster than USB 2. 
If your current computer does not have USB 3 then your next computer will for sure.
Laptops can generally not be upgraded from USB 2 to USB 3.
Desktop computers generally can be upgraded to USB 3 for reasonably low cost.

Re. Macrium Reflect:
Even if you upgrade to the paid version of the program I want to remind you that I DO NOT get any kickbacks or other hidden compensation!


Well, that was it for today. Stay safe, computer and health wise.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

New Computer?

As to be expected the number 1 question I get asked most often is something in the veins of
      If I buy a new computer what should I look for?
Here is my reply, verbatim and as I have saved it as a template:
Hi xxx,
Thanks for asking.
It may be best to look for a new computer during sales events. For computers I recommend to look at Newegg.com or Amazon.com. Both definitely have a MUCH larger selection than any brick-and-mortar store can possibly offer.
Any new computer IMHO should go through my Set-Up job to be safe and protected on the Internet and to be free of unwanted, unneeded and sometimes outright malicious programs.

Here are some of the important technical details to currently look for:
  • 8GB or more of RAM (main memory)
  • Windows 10 Professional or Windows 10 Home
    (Pro is in some aspects more flexible than Home)
  • Buy only a computer(s) with a SSD! SSDs are MUCH faster than HDDs!
    Storage capacity of the SSD is okay if it is about three to four times of the
    amount of space currently used on your C: drive.
    Classic HDDs are in many cheap offers but it's clearly an outdated technology.
Currently I have the best experiences with computers from Dell and/or HP. And here are two warnings on what NOT to do:
  • Do NOT buy any additional warranties or similar!
  • Do NOT buy Microsoft Office!
    MS really sells you a subscription with yearly payments; good for MS but bad for you!
Feel free to call me at xxx-yyy-zzzz with any questions you may have.
That's it.
Stay safe.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Amazon Prime member? WARNING!


I have an Amazon account AND an Amazon Prime membership.
I received an email and I want to show it in a screen shot:


On first glance nothing really alarming, right?
BUT:
The sender email address (labeled From:) looks to me totally wacky and the Reply-To address (labeled To:) IMHO is equally unlikely.
The warning bells in my mind started to ring loud and clear.
 
My wife and I use the same Amazon account all the time and thus I know that the payment method is correct and that it works.

Even saving the attached PDF document to my computer and then scanning it with Malwarebytes did not show any alarms or warnings.

So I opened the file in my PDF reader to check it out in more detail.

The PDF document contains a link and a BIG button to supposedly go to Amazon's account and payment method web page.

BUT this is what the link and the button actually would have sent my web browser to:
https://t.umblr.com/redirect?z=https%3A%2F%2Fam1zn-updtaeinfmtaonsupdtee-verifyconfimationss76757855.com%2F%3Fsigninn-&t=NmVmZTU1YjdlNTBkODkzYjc0NTg1NzM0MTI2YWNhNWJkOGNiZGRjZSxjYTVkNGQyNzY5ZjI4OGQ2OGFiZjQ2ZDJmOTg3NjZlMTZkNTI5M2Y3

What a crazy nightmare - and for me a clear indicator that something was VERY WRONG!

I went to Amazon.com and checked in my account settings and voila, my Prime membership is paid for until September and the payment information is correct.

Naturally I will report this to Amazon.

MY conclusion as far it concerns you? 
 
Be super vigilant, never trust an email and do NOT be complacent!

Yes, IMHO it is complacent to "just click" on the big button or the link in the PDF file rather than verifying the claim made in the PDF file independent of the email and it's attachment!

Stay safe, stay vigilant and pay attention to the details!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

About Trackers


General information about Trackers and Tracking Cookies:

The Guardian has some interesting reading about trackers and tracking cookies.

Yes, the Guardian article is from 2012 and these technologies have evolved and become more sinister and secretive.

HowToGeek.com is a very reliable web site with all sorts of good how-to advice. Their article from 2016 The Many Ways Websites Track You Online is worth your time.

But if you want a shortcut without the background knowledge then go and install in your Firefox web browser the extension named DuckDuckGo Privacy Essentials.

Here are four more articles from well reputed sources about this extension:

Stay safe!


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Windows 7 - RIP

As you surely can imagine recently I have quite often gotten the question  
What should I get if I buy a new computer?
Here is verbatim the reply that I sent to all such requests if the question came via email:
Thanks for asking.

It may be best to look for a new computer during special sales events.

For computers I recommend to look at Newegg.com or Amazon.com. Both definitely have a MUCH larger selection than any brick-and-mortar store can possibly offer.


Any new computer IMHO should go through my Set-Up job to be safe and protected on the Internet and to be free of unwanted, unneeded and sometimes outright malicious programs.

Here are some of the IMHO important technical details to currently look for:

  • 8GB or more of RAM (main memory)

  • Windows 10 Professional or Windows 10 Home
    (Pro is in some technical settings more flexible than Home)
  • Buy only a computer(s) with a SSD! SSDs are MUCH faster than HDDs!
    Storage capacity of the SSD is okay if it is about three to four times of the
    amount of space currently used on your C: drive or larger.

    Classic HDDs are in many cheap offers but it's clearly an outdated technology.
Currently I have the best experiences with computers from Dell and/or HP. And here are two warnings on what NOT to do:

  • If you are looking at new machines do NOT buy any additional warranties or similar!
  • Do NOT buy Microsoft Office!
    MS sells you a subscription with yearly payments; good for MS but bad for you!
Feel free to contact me directly with any questions you may have.