We are urging all consumers and businesses to pay close attention to a Cyber Security Advisory issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding a vulnerability in
Microsoft's Internet Explorer 8 browser (IE8) that could allow scammers to access and take over users' computers. The risk for all users - home, business and government - is high, and BBB is urging anyone with IE8 to follow the recommended steps to address the problem.
The problem was first announced yesterday, and last night Microsoft released a
temporary fix. Here is the original overview from the FBI:
"A vulnerability has been discovered in Microsoft's web browser, Internet Explorer,
which could allow an attacker to take complete control of an affected system. Exploitation may occur if a user visits or is redirected to a web page which is specifically crafted to take advantage of the vulnerability. Successful exploitation of this vulnerability could result in an attacker gaining the same privileges as the logged on user. Depending on the privileges associated with the user, an attacker could then install programs; view, change, or delete data; or create new accounts with full user rights. Failed exploit attempts may result
in a denial-of-service condition."
Today we are going to tackle printers. What printer is the one for you? I have visited companies that utilize inkjet printing, using over $200.00 of cartridges a month printing black and white invoice papers. The first thing I recommend to those businesses is; buying a laserprinter would save them hundreds of dollars a month. The same goes for home printing. If you are printing invoices or monochromatic printing is good enough for you, then switching to a laser would also save you money. Laser printer prices have dropped so much, you can purchase one for less then you can some inkjet printers. Let's talk about how you can save money as a business or home user. We are going to use the ISO standard of 5% per page printing coverage, a laser can print anywhere from, 1,500 to 5,000 pages versus and inkjet tipping at an average of 200-500 pages. The savings speak just from the that last sentence, if you print black and white at home or office, using a laser will give you an average of 6 times more pages printed per cartridge. There are some pros and cons to \laser and jet printing. Lasers can print more quickly, once warmed up they can print 40+ pages a minute; lasers can sit idle for months without having to worry about ink drying up, due to the fact that toner is a dry powder; expense of lasers have come down dramatically in the past few years; if you print lots of pictures and are looking for good quality picture prints, then an inkjet would be better for you, one of the drawbacks of a laser printer is the quality picture printing; inkjets do have a higher print quality and the color definition is better. The average 1,000 page a year printer user would not benefit from switching to a laser printer. Let's talk about what to look for when buying a printer in general. A rule of thumb is not to buy on price alone, you may end up losing your savings in toner costs. What to look for is your personal usage, look for ppm (pages printed per minute) if you want a fast printer, look for the replacement cartridges and cost, keep in mind that all printer companies place a test cartridge in the printer when purchased new. This cartridge is usually only a few pages of print before you have to replace it, same goes for laser printer. Most printer companies also have two different cartridges, a small and a large i.e. usually labeled as a regular or extra-large. They are the same size but are filled differently, depending on the product code and price. Duplex printing (printing on both sides of the paper), some printers have this option; if you do not need this feature, look for one that doesn't have it. The more complicated the printer, the more things can go wrong. Is it ok to purchase refilled cartridges? Sure, I refill my lasers at the office all the time. If you buy a kit, take the time to read the instructions and follow them, you cartridge should work just like the one you purchased at the store. You can also purchase refilled cartridge, just make sure that you don't try to save too much money on those, some companies cut corners to save money and end up selling lesser quality cartridges that may end up leaking in you printer. Some printer manufacturers try to circumvent this by updating firmware on their printers, making it difficult to use remanufactured cartridges, but it's a cat and mouse game, the savings are worth playing it. If you have any questions concerning the purchase of a printer or electronic equipment in general you can email us at AskMike@KansasTechs.com
or visit us at 714 E. Wall. Quote of the week: "Getting information off the Internet is like taking a drink from a fire hydrant."
With TV’s being offered over 82’ in size, when is big, big enough? As you stroll down the aisle at your local convenient store looking at TV’s, what should you be looking for? Plasma TV’s used to be the number one television to purchase; well they are now old, bring in the new LED televisions. The first thing I will mention when you are purchasing a television, don’t look at the screen at the store, it will not look the same in your home, this is due to a sensor on the front of the television, and it regulates picture brightness. This sensor can play tricks on your eyes; you would have to cover each televisions light sensor to see a true picture. What you should be looking at is LCD or LED, LED will give you more crisp blacks and an excellent sharpness. Next, “picture speed”, we will keep this one simple also. The smaller the Hz i.e. 60Hz, 120Hz, 240Hz the slower the picture motion is clearly reflected. The higher the number Hz is displayed on the television, the better. I always use Transformers as a good example, it is based mostly on digital animation, and most older TV’s will fall behind in the HD department once the action starts flowing on the screen. What size television is mostly your preference, I’m a man, and if it fits on the wall then it’s the Television I want, “kids move the family photos, the couches all the way to the other side of the room, our new television is here”. Let’s recap on what to look for; don’t choose the television because it had a good picture at the store, try to look for LED televisions, and lastly, the speed of the television i.e. 60Hz (Slow) 240Hz (Fast). Check the warranty on the television, there is actually a brand at our local Superstore that only provides a 90 Day warranty on their Televisions, I can’t mention the name, but check it before you purchase the television. Also, make sure you put a nice surge protector on your new television, treat them like a computer, some brands can be very sensitive to power fluctuations. And one last item to mention, everything that is plugged into your television can transmit a power surge; make sure to plug in your cable/Sat through a surge protector. A good surge protector will have Coax and phone line protection, use them, they are not for looks. If you have any questions or suggestions you can contact me at AskMike@kansastechs.com
or visit me at our new Location at 714 E. Wall. I do appreciate all my readers, and I thank you all for all the good comments online and through email.
“My Phone is smarter than me, that’s what scares me”, “I don’t even know what all features my phone has”, “How many Giggabiggles can my phone hold?” I myself don’t know what Giggabiggles are, but if your phone can hold them, it’s one tough cookie. Today we are going to tackle Smart Phones. What phone does what and why are some smart and some…not. A smart phone is not only a phone, but it also has features (applications) that in the past would have been found on computers and digital assistant devices. Basically in a nutshell, a smart phone gives you the ability to check your email, text, pictures, videos, Mp3 recording, radio, television and many more features. Do you need one? Imagine not having to purchase a camcorder, digital camera, or for business meetings, a voice recording device. The answer depends on what your needs are. There are many features a smart phone has that most people don’t use, such as voice activated assistant, voice/type language translator, and don’t forget, some phones actually can be used as an IR remote control for your television or any devices controlled by IR. Most all phones on the market today will provide the basics phone needs of an everyday cell phone users, such as Texting, Pictures, and let’s not forget, taking and making phone calls. The smart phone category is not needed for general use of a cell phone, nor do people realize that most carriers charge extra for certain features a smart phone might have. For instance, Sprint charges $10.00 extra a month if you have a smart phone, and some other carriers locally charge you for services we don’t even have in town, such as 4G service. Keep in mind also, that most carriers have a limit on data usage on a smart phone, most have a minimum of 1 Gigabyte that you will be charged for. To answer quite a few people’s questions, a standard phone at any cell company, most of the time is sufficient for regular everyday use, emergency calling and traveling. Smart phone costs can run anywhere from $50.00-$100.00 a month, versus a regular phone’s average cost ranges from $20.00-$50.00 a month. The question now is; can you resist the good looking phone salesman at the counter selling you that Smart Phone? If you have any questions concerning your smart phone, please feel free to email me at AskMike@kansasTechs.com.
If you push the “On” button and nothing happens, is it time to buy a new computer? Make sure it’s plugged in and you have power, is what most warranty companies will tell you over the phone. Now let’s say your computer is over 5 years old, running Windows XP, and has really slowed down. You turned it off last night and this morning, nothing. Let’s start by mentioning that Microsoft will be stopping support for Windows XP, Office 2003 on April 8th of 2014. Do you need to run out and buy a new computer? My suggestion would be “Yes”. Software since XP was released has become more and more sophisticated, hence your computer becoming sluggish and slower. Yes, a tad bit of cleaning some files and moving things here and there will bring up a bit better responsiveness, but as soon as the dreaded updates start hitting the system again, it will slow back down. Don’t spend money updating and cleaning an old computer, whatever you do, don’t purchase those dreaded one pill will fix all software online. You are wasting your money.
Now that you are in the market for a new computer, which one should you buy? There are really only two options. You can purchase a pre-built unit from manufacturers such as HP, Dell, Apple, Gateway or have a local IT company build you one. The upside of purchasing pre-built computers; they are found locally, and have many different models and price ranges. The downside includes having to deal with foreign tech support, having to send your computer to the manufacturer for repair, (unless you pay for onsite service separately) Fluff Software used to lower the price of the PC, and the lack of hardware specifications on the PC. For instance, one company in town learned that buying cheap computers at our local Supercenter, forced them to have to upgrade months later due to the fact that hardware specifications where lacking for the software that needed to be used in the office. Having your local computer company build you a computer has pros and cons also. Pros; You specify what goes into the computer, local support, more than likely this company will deliver and install your new computer, hardware will be out of the box, rather than stocked at a warehouse for months. The only bad thing I can think of is price, a custom built computers cost can be almost three times the price of a store purchased system, you get what you pay for is my motto. A local computer company can also be a bad bet, make sure they are a reputable company. If you have any questions, email me at email@example.com.
Computer and Electronic repair shops pop up and disappear at times monthly. Computer techs are becoming the equivalent of auto mechanics, honest ones can be rare to find. It seems, like me, if I don’t know how to repair or build something, listening to a person that knows a little makes them an expert to me. As I have learned, when I hired a guy that was an expert in installing doors, just because they sound like they know what they are talking about, doesn’t mean that they have the education/skill to perform the task, and since I have some experience, lots of schooling and certifications I will walk you through what to ask and look for in a technicians. Let’s start with these simple items; ask about education. Just because a person can hit a nail in a piece of wood, can he build a home from the ground up? Ask about certifications. The industry standards include at least, A+ Certification, CompTIA, Microsoft Certifications and several others. If your technician stumbles on A+, or CompTIA, kindly say goodbye. These are minor tests to take, even without a degree, and any serious computer professional would have no problem passing them. Use the internet to check out your technician or company, check to see if they are a BBB accredited business. Don’t go with big box computer repair companies such as BestBuy or Office Max, forums are filled with horror stories concerning overcharging and poor expertise. IT is one of those industries where staying local is, in the long run, cheaper. Take some time learning about the problem you are having before you call your technician. I have one client that called me, she had researched the problem on the internet, the parts, and asked how much I would charge to replace and repair it, made my job easy. This should be enough information, for a simple home computer repair, knowing that your technician has been educated, has certifications and lastly is insured. I did forget to mention that last bit, insurance. Make sure your technician has insurance to be able to work on your equipment and in your home. You will feel more secure knowing that someone that is working on your computer or any electronic item of yours is insured in case he/she makes a mistake and does more damage that they can repair. As mentioned above, ask your technician questions: “Do you have insurance?” I would also like to add, and this does not just apply to the IT field, but most every professional field. If you find a good technician, lock him down; use him for your repairs, if it’s for your car, computer, washer and dryer etc. The more often you’ll go to him/her, the more benefit he/she see in being honest and through with your repairs.
If you have found yourself being a victim of a spammer or phisher that has hacked your Yahoo email account, do not worry, this is a simple fix.
Log into your Yahoo email and go to:
You will be asked to give your password again. This is safe as long as you started from a proper Yahoo login, not a link from within a spam or other link.
From here you can change your password. However, you also want to look at the Contact Information.
You should find a Yahoo! Email that agrees with your account name. You may find a Home Email. This is an alternate contact address. There should not be one unless you entered one. If you find an unfamiliar one it could have been entered by the spammers. If they have inserted a home email under their control, they can report a "forgotten" password and collect the new password at that address.
Please use a secure password: Lower case, Upper case, a number and a Character is a good secure password i.e. Bob&smith13 would be a good password.
Make sure you do not click on emails that have links, do not give out your email or password to any online site that may request it. The only time you have to enter this information is when you are accessing that specific website.
I am receiving phone calls asking about Microsoft calling and telling people that their computers have been hacked and they need to have the technician connect remotely to have this problem fixed. To give an example of what happens if you agree to this, $55.00 dollars later at my office and cleaning up their mess of moving things around to the point that the computer will start again. Microsoft does not call your home; Microsoft does not care enough to take the time to call you to fix your computer. If a person on the phone pretends to be from Microsoft, just hang up. If you take the time to talk to the person that can barely speak English, you will find yourself handing out your credit card number at one point or another. How do these guys get your phone number? These guys sit in their warehouse out there in some country, searching for victims that may fall for their scam, if they find one, they stay in that general area and start calling any and every number available. Long story short, if anyone calls about your computer, hand up.
Email viruses are becoming smarter and smarter. If you are receiving emails from friends wanting you to click on a link to view a picture or a video, delete it. What happens, a victim ends up having a virus on their computer, and the virus uses that persons ISP and email client to send out emails to people on their contact list spreading itself. So another long story short, it’s not their fault, they have a virus and its sending you emails wanted to infect itself on your machine, delete it. So, even though it is from someone that you know, if it wants you to click on a link to access the internet for you to view something, don’t do it. I would name out the list of viruses that are currently doing this, but why, it doesn’t introduce itself when you get infected. A little humor doesn’t hurt anyone.
Again, I would like to remind everyone of all the things we covered these past few months: Use a surge protector for any new technology items you have purchased i.e. TV’s, Laptops, Computers. A good surge protector usually has a RG5/6 and a phone line surge suppressor attached. Most power strips that you buy for $5.00 are not surge protectors; they are just power strips and will not protect your expensive equipment. Make sure to check your Anti-Virus protection on your new computer/laptop, it will only give you free 30-60 activation. Have your local computer tech check your computer, there is no such thing as a magic fix it all software. If you have any questions please let us know, firstname.lastname@example.org
I sit on the couch watching Television, and I see one of those commercials telling me to download this free software that will fix everything on my computer. I always chuckle, and my wife turns to me knowing exactly what I am going to say. Well this time you will also know. Let’s think about what they are promising on this commercial, it is an all in one “Fix-It”, and it is “FREE”. I am not deterring you from downloading free software; I just wanted to make sure you know what most free software titles provide you. Your downloading software for free, that will scan your computer to let you know that you have thousands of problems, just to link you to a website to pay for the product. Not all software does this, but most “free” downloads at the end of the day request your credit card number. Why I chuckle, I always think about how I would feel if someone rang my doorbell, told me they were going to clean my house for free, walk through the house nitpicking how dirty it is, then wanting to charge me. That is exactly what most free downloads provide you. If your computer is running slow, or you are having issues with it, take it to a technician. There is no such software that will fix it all. All I ever recommend is a good Anti-Virus. Windows has a built in firewall, malware software and most everything you need. It is updated automatically if set up properly. It saddens me to see computers come to the shop with anti-viruses, anti- malware and five different “free” cleaners and optimization software installed, and the customer wondering why the computer is running so slow. First thing I do is un-install all the “free” stuff they though would fix the computer. Think of it like a flu shot, if you wait in line for the flu shot, would it matter if you received three flu shots in a row? I have seen people come in and have three different Anti-Virus software programs installed and the customer thinking that this would protect them three times better, it doesn’t work like that. In closing this week, there is no free lunch in computers. I know with the economy the way it is today, we cannot send the computer to a Technician once a week. Following these three simple steps will cut down on the doctor’s visits; Find a good technician, he/she will make sure to install the proper software to protect your computer, this software he/she installs will help keep your computer stay virus/malware free. Get a 6 month checkup and cleanup. Your local technician if trained properly and certified will take your laptop/desktop clean it, removing all dust and particles that may cause damage and overheating and will make sure all protection software/drivers are up to date. Well I was going to give you a third item, but following the previous two will suffice. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to email me at askmike@KansasTechs.com
One of the questions that I am asked all the time is “what is the best Anti-Virus”. My response always is the same; it depends who you talk to. Each technician believes his brand is the best; I personally use a free one on my home computers. This week I spend some time researching numerous Anti-Virus companies and their ranking in 2012. This is what I came up with, and yes, someone will probably not agree, but I am not providing a factual presentation more of a mixture of numerous publications, tests and opinions. We are going to start with the paid versions of Anti-Virus Software, please keep in mind that these may come pre-installed on your “NEW” computer but are trial versions that are only limited to 30-60 days of free service. “Norton Anti-Virus” we found its pricing range anywhere from $18.99 to $59.99 dollars. Norton came in with a 7.1 out of 10 rating scale as the number one rated Anti-Virus. Second, on the paid Anti-Virus software list is “Webroot Secure Anywhere Antivirus”, I personally have not heard of this one, with the purchase price ranging from $19.99 to $26.99 this is not too bad for a years’ worth of protection. Secure Anywhere Antivirus came in with a 6.9 out of 10 score. The third ranked paid Anti-Virus Software, “Bitdefender Anti-Virus Plus 2013”. This Anti-Virus is $39.99-$59.99 for a year of updates and anti-virus service. Its ranking was stated at 6.5 out of a 10 point scale.
After taking all this time reading about Anti-Virus that will take your hard earned money, let’s talk about the “FREE” ones. My choice, and the one that I place on most computers that I services is AVG Anti-Virus Free 2013. It is not only my choice; I found out this week that numerous technicians’ websites and Online PC publications give it a publisher’s number one editor’s choice. AVG Free rates in at 6.9 out of 10, and for a free Anti-Virus this is a good deal. This free version is available for personal home use, so if you run out of trial service and are looking for a free Anti-Virus, give them a try. Next thing I have to cover before I close for this week, what about all the other free Anti-Virus software out there. I did not find any of them mentioned other than how bad they did their job, and I did not want to list negative information, and let’s be honest, most only provided free trials not true service.