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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

1279. Tech Support Call Scam

Our friend Patti called and said someone called her and said they were from Microsoft Tech support. And they had heard that she was having trouble with her installation of Windows. She started to give them personal information and then thought - What's up?  Is this for real?
This is scary. And it happens all the time. Rather than spending any more time with the crooks on the phone, Patti hung up and gave Doug a call. He spent some time with her computer to verify that they hadn’t added anything inappropriate to her computer, but their scam is to convince you that they know something about your you and/or your computer, and then charge you money to fix the “problem”. In a worst-case scenario, you might be convinced to allow them to make a remote connection to your computer (this always requires some effort on your part, so they have to convince you that they’re genuinely trying to help) and once that happens, you’ve lost control over what happens.
Let’s make this clear: No reputable software company will ever contact you, for any reason, with the intent of providing technical support. If you get a call offering to provide technical services, it’s a scam and you should immediately hang up.
Their operation was interesting: They asked Patti to go through some steps that made it look like they knew what they were doing—they had her dig around in her settings, and found a long string of numbers she was to read them, indicating that they had the correct computer. The only catch was that the numbers are the same for every installation of Windows! Luckily, Patti caught on before giving them money or allowing them to connect to her computer remotely.
If something like this has happened to you, or if you think your computer may have been infected with some sort of malware, you’re best off contacting a local computer professional for help. Nevada County provides a number of qualified technicians—we, of course, suggest that you contact Malibu Software Group at, or call 855-478-0500 x2. In any case, don’t fight it out alone—get professional help.
But most importantly, don’t fall for the scammers who call you offering technical support, and don’t ever allow a stranger, who calls you, to connect to your computer remotely.

1278. Mac Dock icons

I am new to using the Mac and the fact that the icons expand as I move my mouse over them in the dock makes me crazy. I would also like my dock to appear on the left hand side of my screen like I had it in Windows. How can I do these things?

This is easy to do.

Go to the Apple Icon at the top of your screen and click on it.  You will see the Dock menu.  If you expand the options you will see the "Turn Magnification Off / or On.

You can also choose the location of the dock to the left, right, or bottom.  Gee no option for the top?  I wonder why.  I can do that with Windows.

Well actually you can and are the instructions on how to do this.  Thanks to

  1. Open up the Terminal 
  2. Type defaults write orientation top 
  3. Restart the Dock process. You can either log out then back log in again, use ProcessViewer (in /Applications -> Utilities), or using "ps" and "kill" if you know how to do such things.
To change it back:
  1. Open up the Terminal 
  2. Type 'defaults delete orientation' 
  3. Restart the Dock process as above.
Be warned though: If you have auto-hide on, it is very tricky to get the dock to appear; you need to hover just below the bottom edge of the top menu. If you have troubles, just use the Apple menu to make it visible again (Command-Option-D). 

You can also hide the dock so you can get more space on your desktop.  Then you can hover your mouse over the area you have set and the dock will appear.

1277. Disable Cap Lock's Key.

I hate the Cap Locks Key. It gets in my way all of the time. I have not needed caps lock since 1912. Is there some way to just turn it off without physically removing the key from my keyboard?

Ken - for once we agree. I can remember the many times I have looked at my typed sentence only to find the first character in lower case and the rest of the sentence in upper case - and no easy way to correct it.

The answer is yes you can disable the key. It is easy but it does require you to edit the Windows registry - and this is something you want to do only if you are experienced.

Below are links to sites that describe how to make this modification to disable the Cap Lock Key.

You can also search for "disable cap lock" and you will find many other articles on how to do this safely.

You can also ask a friend with more experience, or your local technical support stores in the area will be glad to help.  They will probably chanrge you but it is well worth it.

Here are some links:

You can also Go to or call their toll-free technical support line 855-478-0500 x 2.

Remember making changes to the Windows registry can make your computer unusable! So do this at your own risk.

1276. Wireless coverage is bad.

Susan complained that she has a large house and as a result her wireless coverage does not work over the entire house. Is there something she can do to make it work better in every room?

As it turns out depending on the size of the house there may be multiple solutions, but the best for Susan was the cheapest.  

You can:

  1. Purchase a new router for more money but there is no guarantee that this will expand the coverage. 
  2. Another option is to have a second or third router installed and we discussed this before, but it would require having Ethernet wire or other devices to connect the routers.
  3. There are wireless range extenders but they may also be limited by wall construction.

Your house contruction may make some areas simply poor coverage areas.  

For DSL and cable internet connections there are usually multiple locations for your phone/TV. You can usually locate the modem at any one of the phone/TV locations.  

So try to move the modem/router to another location more centralized to your internet needs.  

Sometime the cheapest solution is the best solution.

1275. What is search engine optimization (SEO) and why do I care?

OK Doug - you know all about these things. I have been hearing about SEO and I don't know what it is. What is it and why do I care?

SEO stands for "Search Engine Optimizer". In the simplist terms it is "the science and techniques used to improve the visibility of a website or page". You want your website to appear higher in the results when people search the internet. By utilizing SEO technology your site will get a higher ranking. At least that is what you hope for.

When you go to your favorite search engine (Yahoo, Google, Bing, or whatever) and type in what you want to find you are exersizing a very complex algorithim that each search engine thinks will list the best results matching your search criteria.

If you try the same search message at different search engines you will most likely get a different result. That is because each search engine uses a different algorithm.  

At most search engine sites they will break down the search results into three areas:

  1. The top left is reserved for websites that pay the search engine for listing their websites.
  2. The right side for websites that pay a little less for a listing.
  3. The rest of the left side for the SEO search results that are not paid for.

Usually the Top and right have nothing to do with SEO optimization, just how much the website is willing to pay to get listed higher.

If you have a website that you want to have listed with better results, your can pay the search engine companies or utilize the SEO techniques. These are always changing. So you have to keep up with the technoilogy or hire a company to do this for you.

If your are just searching for information it is good to understand generally how this works so you can evaluate the results.

1274. How can I start my own blog?

Fred called and wants to start his own blog. He has seen lots of other blogs online and he has got a lot to say. How can he create his own blog and not create a lot of work or spend much money?

There are tons of "free" blog sites. This is a great way to get more involved in expanding a hobby or starting a new one. You can start a blog in less than 5 minutes. Some suggested sites include,,, and

They are all free and provide you with all of the tools to start a professional looking blog. Many give you the tools to expand the blog site to become a complete web site with all of the formats to make your site stand out.  

The key to any site is to get traffic Most of these hosting blog sites have built in "Search Engine Optimizer" (SEO) features. This is the key to any web site. You want people to find you by just typing in key words.  

You also may want you own domain name so instead of your site having the name "" your visiters would enter "" to get to your blog. This of course will cost money but you don't need to spend this untill you find that this is something that you want to do.  

A new hobby.  Go to your favorite search engine and type "How do I start my own blog". And Have fun!

1273. New icon on her desktop.

Connie called and complained that she saw a new icon on her desktop that she didn't put there. How can this happen?

The reason for many of these "new/extra" icons that I have seen are the usually the result of installing un-related software from other internet sites. Maybe you decided to try some new antivirus software you heard about. You probably were asked questions during the install. Well you need to pay very close attention to these questions. 

Many of them ask if you would also like the "best spyware" or "greatest performance testing" or "a new special toolbar".  

The default answer is always set to install the new software and usually you just answer with the default. 

DO NOT do that. Read these questions very carefully. Our recommendation is to always refuse to have the great "can't do without" software installed. Make sure your response will result in not installing this special product

I would also think twice about installing the original software. Any legitimate software site will usually not try to be sneaky and install extra software.

Connie was lucky and the "extra" software was benign, but sometimes you could get a virus or spyware and you don't want that.

So be carefull and read the "fine" print, it is important!

1272. Music Streaming

Rick asked: I've heard about this music service called Spotify. What is it? What can it do for me? Is it worth paying for?

One things for sure those recorded CD's, those plastic discs, are on their last legs. They are going the way of the VCR and the cassette. These days if you want new music the place to get it his online and there are number of different music services that provide radio like streaming services for online music.

One of them is and actually happens to be the one I am using most often. You can use the free version of Spotify but it's ad supported and somewhat irritating.  

If you give them a little bit of money per month you can listen to almost any song or CD that's ever been recorded as far as I can tell. They have millions and millions of tracks available for listing for a small monthly fee.Based on the level of service you pay for it may be able to store tracks locally see you can listen to music off-line as well. You might also investigate another competitor to Spotify. In any case this is the future of online music.

1269. Start Menu - Windows 8

Paul asked: There's no Start Menu in Windows 8! How am I supposed to launch applications?

Yes Virginia there is no start menu Windows 8,  but there is a start screen and all you have to do is get used to moving back to the start screen to launch applications.

It's actually easier than you think. If you press the Windows key that takes you back to the start screen and then you can start typing the name of any application you want to run. You can also choose the application from the tiles available on the windows start screen. You can rearrange those tiles, and if you right-click on any of them you'll have options to re-size them and you also the option to move them around or just remove them from the start screen.

You have lots of options!

Monday, September 10, 2012

1282. Mobile phone magnify.

How can I magnify my iPhone and iPad screen?

You can magnify the iPhone’s screen, for ease in reading tiny type, by double-tapping with three fingers. Then pan around by dragging with three fingers.

To turn this feature on  - Go to Settings, General, Accessibility, Zoom then On/Off. You’ll find an option to make the text bigger in iPhone programs.

Double-tap with three fingers to restore the screen magnification to normal.

All Cellphones

When your phone starts ringing, you can silence it quickly by pressing any key on the sides. Internally it is still ringing(you haven't answered it) - you can either answer it or let it go to voicemail.  But thankfully you can stop it from ringing at the wrong time.