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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

1387. Too many passwords. What can I do?

If you are working online you get asked for passwords alot. I've heard a lot of people tell me that I shouldn't use the same password on more than 1 site. Especially not the password I se for my email password. What's so important about using a different password on every site and for goodness sake how am I sppossed to come up with a different password for every site?

Protect your password. PLEASE. The importance of not using your email password for all of your accounts is becasue your email id is often used for your user/login name and everyone knows your email address so the bad people have 1/2 of your credentials.  

There have been a lot of hacker success in getting email lists from email providers recently. So if these people have your email address and password they can now get into all of your other accounts if you use your email credentials for all accounts.  

You do not want your online banking and credit card credentials to be available to people that know your email address and password.  

1. Change your passwords often. 
2 don;t use your email credentials for any other account.  
3. Use a password utility program to help you save your security data. 
4. Figure out an easy way to generate a password that you can remember.  I find using a common phrase and picking the letters from this phrase, but there are other good ways.  

Do a search to find other suggestions. Protect your passwords.

1386. New browser Toolbars. Why?

It seems like most support calls I ave received recently have been from people that have found new toolbars in their browser that they didn't install and they don't want them there. Where did they come from? How do you get rid of them? And how do you avoid getting these things installed in the first place?

This all come down to installing a new program like Acrobat PDF reader, or other utility programs that claim to make your life better. When you install these new programs, you will see a bunch of pop-up screens that ask yu to "accept" license agreements.  

Well you need to read the fine print. What you will see is these pop-ups are asking you to confirm the installation of a lot of this extra toolbar and other utility programs you never wanted. It is hidden in the install script for the program you do want.  

YOU MUST READ these pop-ups and only accept the install of what you do want. It is tricking you into thinking you have to say yes to everything. You don't. One of the biggest offender of this is CNET Download. They provide the FREE utility download service and get paid extra o install all of the extra stuff you don't want. This causes your computer to slow down, and in some cases will install virus and spyware. You will end up installing different search engine, task toolbars, and default browser, Default first page and more.  

Even after the first set of install screens, there are a second set that says "Express" vs "custom" If you select "Express" you will get the extras. When you select "Custom" you then need to uncheck the extras. They are Very sneaky. I hate them. There is a special place in the after life for these companies.

1385. What is new with Windows 8.1

You know I am using Windows 8 on a few of my computers and I actually kind of like it. I started hearing about a new version of Windows 8.1. Does it cost anything? When is it coming out? Can I use it now? What are some of the big new features?

Ken and I just came back from a Microsoft Conference in San Fransisco. Yes 6000 nerds at the Mosconie center. It announced the Windows 8.1 beta. The actual release will be available later this year and it will be free for users with the Windows 8.0 license.  

We were both impressed with the basic Windows 8 system and all of the new hardware that was being released this year to support the significant "touch features" that are supported by the new operating system. Release 8.1 is really fine tuning the 8.0 release but does add back some of the Start button functions and makes mobile devices easier to integrate. 

If you are considering a new Windows computer look at all of the new touch oriented hardware. Those along with Windows 8 and 8.1 will give you a new computer UI experience we think you will like. We strongly recommend all users with Windows 8 upgrade to the 8.1 upgrade. It is faster, has some additional features and the new applications that utilize these new features are very impressive. You will like it.

1384. Set up multiple accounts on my Mac.

I have my Mac set up with a personal account for me and I enter my password when I log in, but if I want to lend my computer for someone else to use is there some way I can let them use it without giving them my password? And can you do the same sort of thing with Windows machines?

I will never just lend my computer to anyone, even my friends. Not that I think they will steal sensitive information, I just don't want to risk accidental data loss and that can happen.  

Both Windows and Mac's have a "Guest" concept. You can allow your friend limited access on your computer but it will secure your sensitive information. In Windows go to your control panel and Manage User Access.Find the Guest Account and make the account active.  

Also add a password (make it different from your password). Now when your computer starts up there will be a choice to log in as yourself or as the guest. 

On the Mac you set up the guest account by going to Apple, System Preferences, Accounts, select the guest account and turn it on. .  

When your friend is done, you can turn the guest off if you don't want the extra icon at login time. If you decide to leave the guest feature on be sure to add a password to the Guest account. Read the details about using the Guest feature. It may take an extra couple of minutes allowing the user to be changed but it is well worth it This is especially true if your computer is also your company's computer. You do not want your friend to have any access to that information.

1383. Internet Explorer Toolbars are missing?

So I was using Internet Explorer recently and I don't use it very much and all of a sudden I noticed my toobars went away and I couldn't even see my URL bar until I moved my mouse to the top of the screen and it magically appeared again. How did I get into this mode and how do I get out of it.

There are many shortuts and keys that do special functions depending upon the program you are using. It can be very disconcerning why all of a sudden things change.  

Sadly the first thing that comes to my mind is VIRUS!. But this is not the case. The F11 keywill cause this to happen. It is very useful. There are so many features and toolbars that are displayed on the top of your browser that after some time you have very little space to display the actual content of the web page you are viewing. The F11 key is your friend.  

This will cause all of the toolbar information to go away and it hides the URL address information as well. If you slide your mouse to the top of the windows, things will appear temporarily. All you need to do to get the URL and toolbars back permanently is to click the F11 key. This is very handy as many other shortcuts keys are, but if you accidentally hit the key and don't know how to get things back to the way they were you of course think of the worse. 

Search the internet for Windows and Mac shortcut keys and read about them. You will find many useful keys that make your productivity improve.

1382. What can we do if we always lose power?

Barbara asked this question. At our house the power often goes down and I will be in the middle of working and I will loose the work I was doing at that moment. What can I do to keep that from happening.

I forget about this since for the most part I am always using a laptop and it isn't affected by the power outage. But with a desktop computer this can cause data loss and in some cases it can hurt the computer.  

So I recommend having a UPS (Uninterrupted Power Supply) device. For most desktop computers you can get one for under $100.00, that will give you 5-15 minutes of time to shutdown the computer and save your data. The UPS device will also protect you from surges and brown outs.  

So save your money and don't buy a surge protector, add some dollars and get a UPS device. Remember that you should include some other equipment on the UPS, like your Internet and wireless devices and of course your monitor. You may be connected to the internet when the power goes out and it will help to keep the power going to those devices so you can complete your work.  

You usually don't need to have your printer connected to the UPS and it uses a lot of power. when you buy the UPS there is usually a guide that allows you to determine how big of a UPS you need. It will included the equipment you need to power and the time you want to be able to shut down. That way you don't spend too much money for protection you don't need.

1381. Keeping browser information secure

Tom asked: When I'm done using my browser, it seems like anyone can walk up to my computer and see my browsing history, and can even log into sites I've just been to. I work in a busy office, and would like this information available when I'm browsing, but gone when I'm done. Do you have any suggestions?

Of course what our audiences can't hear is the chuckling  that occurred as we read this question, thinking about what sorts of sites Tom  was trying to hide from his coworkers  from seeing.  In any case the answer to the question is actually important and it depends on which browser you're using.  

If you're using Chrome you can use an incognito session. It's an option on the file menu. And when y session is over all the cookies and cache information from that session are removed from the browser.  It makes it really easy to clear out the cache when you're done.

Firefox as an option to automatically clear the cache and remove any cookies once you close the browser down.

In Internet explorer there are add-ins to do this for you but we couldn't find a built-in option to automatically not only clear cookies but also your browsing history as you shut down the browser.  Altough there might be such an option we didn't find it.  

In any case incognito browsing in Chrome, setting in Firefox, and Internet Explorer add-ins will make it possible to completely clear up your browsing history and your cache and your cookies once you're done with your browsing session.

Monday, July 22, 2013

1380. Beta phone operating system. Should I?

A friend offered to get me a copy of the iOS 7 beta to run on my iPhone 5. Is it safe to install a beta copy of the phone operating system?

Of course when I hear the question "is it safe",  all I can think about is a dentist drilling.  But in this case I'm guessing most of our listeners are too young to remember that movie so we will move on from there and just point out that it probably is not safe or a good idea to run a beta operating system on your phone. 

Because your phone is something you use daily you don't wanted it behaving poorly or acting strangely. Beta operating systems are not released for good reason because they're not ready to be released yet and they really are meant for people developing applications for that phone.  

Sure you might want to get the latest features for the iPhone but the fact is the operative system will be released when it's ready. 

Wait until the public release happens unless you really need to be running a beta version.  Believe me unless you're developing applications it's likely you will regret putting the beta version on your phone and it's very difficult to go back to release version once you do. 

Wait for the release version that our advise.

1379. Control Windows update time?

Sally wants to know:" How can I convince Windows to perform its updates at 10PM, when I know the computer is on but I'm not using it?

I agree it's awfully frustrating to be trying to work and suddenly windows starts performing updates. It really slows down your computer while performing those updates. 

The answer is to go to Control Panel in Windows 7 or Windows 8 and then search for in the little search box in the upper right-hand corner "windows update".  Once you get the windows update information showing choose change settings and there you'll find an option to set the time at which the automatic updates occur.

You can also set options for that you want the updates to automatically be installed or only give you a warning about the new updates.  Some people like to have the updates automatically installed and for most people that's probably the best option. You may decide to choose the option that allows you to control when the updates get applying and you have a chance to verify that these updates are something that you want to apply.  For most people automatic update option is best and you can select the time at which those updates will be applied. 

1378. Kindle books. Can I share them?

I use a Kindle, and have a bunch of books on the device. I'd like to be able to read these same books on my iPad. Is that possible? Do I have to pay for them?

Although I'm sure nothing would make Amazon happier then to have you purchase each of your books multiple times you don't have to.  When you create your Kindle account you can then use that same account on any other device that supports the Amazon Kindle software including your Mac, PC, Windows phone, IOS phone, or android phone. 

All you need to do is sign into the Kindle software on those devices with the same account and then download those same books you've already purchased to that device. Beware however that your location in the book is stored for each device so if you have multiple people trying to be the same book that's not quite as legal and you'll be sharing one location within the book. On the other hand you can what you like with your multiple devices. Just beware that there's only one current location for each book on the Amazon Kindle service.

1377. microsoft Paint problems.

Ralph sent in this question: I created images using Microsoft Paint. Now, when I load them back up to edit them, they're all pixelated. What did I do wrong?

This was a tricky one and it took a little bit of diagnosis. It turns out that Ralph is doing line drawings. Very complex line drawings using Microsoft Paint. Perhaps not the best product for his goal. 

In any case he had created the images and saved them as JPEG files with the JPG extension and then when he loaded them back up it looked really terrible. Then when I thought about a second I realized when you save the file as a JPEG file it gets compressed.  JPEG file format does some compression as it saves the file.

Then when you load it back up tries to redraw the image in Microsoft Paint and it doesn't have all the information.  It's thrown away some of the information is part of that compression The answer is save it in some other format. Either BMP format that's a bitmap format or PNG,  another file format that doesn't perform compression as it saves the file. This is a simple solution once we did the research.

1376. Credit Card info hacked. Help.

I have recently gotten an email from a company I bought stuff from, telling me that their credit card information has been hacked, and that I need to watch my credit card bill carefully for fraudulent charges. What's up? And what should I do?

This is unfortunately a fact of modern life, If you use a credit card your information is going into a database somewhere. And that database is likely available on the Internet for someone who knows how to hack into the server  where its stored.  

Of course every company that processes credit cards does their best to ensure that this doesn't happen. It is always a possibility. Your consumer - it's your job to ensure that your credit card bill doesn't have items on it that weren't charged by you.

All you have to do is let the credit card company know that there are fraudulent charges if they appear on your bill and they will take them off. If you have to you can change credit card numbers to avoid the problem in the future. Yes this is a serious hassle and I wish it didn't happen but in the last month alone I received four e-mails from different companies telling me that their database has been hacked. 

Clearly there are people out there who make it there lifes goal to break into various companies and steal credit card information from those companies databases. Your job is to insure that things don't show on your credit card that you didn't charge. Yes it's bad but you need to make sure that you're not getting charged for things that you didn't charge.