Author Archive

JAVA Problem Update
Sunday, January 27th, 2013 | Author:
JAVA Problem – Update

I have been eagerly following the JAVA problem and waiting for a solution. I apologize for not getting right back to you on this, but I did not want to jump the gun before I was sure there was a solution.

Even though there has been an update, from my research I am not satisfied from that JAVA is safe or even needed at this point. I have personally removed/uninstalled JAVA from my system and I have not had any website or program problems from not having it installed.

JAVA is not used as much as it used to be, and most people don’t need it.

Here is how to remove JAVA

XP – Go to control Panel, Add Remove programs and remove

Vista/Win 7 – Go to Control Panel>Programs & Features and Remove

FBI Fake Virus Warning
Monday, September 24th, 2012 | Author:

A good friend and fellow repair guy from MN emailed me with this one, then Dawn told me that a customer of ours got this virus and is bringing it in today. So this one is hitting a lot of people right now.

This is a bad one, and we are working on the removal process.

It looks like an FBI warning, claims you have done illegal things with your computer, and you are violation of laws and you hate puppies (ok, not really puppies). It also turns on the webcam if you have one, and shows your picture on the screen. It is freaky and scary because it looks like they are monitoring you, but it is only a virus. Below is what it looks like on a screen.

The page goes on to tell you to go to one of the companies listed, buy a money card, then enter it in to pay for your fines. PLEASE do not do anything like this. If you get this virus, you computer will be locked up and you will need to bring it in so we can remove it.

If you have this virus and this screen,  it is too late and Control+alt+Del will not work.

However if you get a suspicious page or pop up, you can try using Control+Alt+Delete to close the window and it may help prevent getting the virus. We are not positive how this one is getting on the computer.

Just a reminder, here is the good ol’ technique to get rid of suspicious windows Hit Control+Alt+Delete, then choose task manager, then highlight the task and click on end task.

If you get a weird window, and do this process, reboot your computer and run a full Virus scan.

Category: Uncategorized  | 2 Comments
Bad Adobe Update Messes up Internet Explorer
Friday, September 14th, 2012 | Author:

The good thing is, this is not a security issue, as much as a problem and your browser will not work correctly.

I know I always tell you to do Adobe updates, they do have important security issues that get fixed. But in this case, you may have gotten a bad update.

Well, this time, there was a bad Adobe update, and it really messes up Internet Explorer. It acts like a virus or hijack, but it is NOT that bad. It is just a problem (as far as I know)
How do you know you have the bad one?

If you are having seriously slow pages loading, or other problems displaying a page, but some pages work, then you need to download the latest Adobe Flash, which will fix it.
Basically Internet Explorer will just act strange and not like normal. Just using another browser is not the answer, you need to get this fixed.

All you need to do, is go to the Adobe Website and download the latest Flash player. Because your browser is slow, it may take a while, be patient. Make sure you download the latest Flash player. Currently the version is 11.4.402.265.

When you click on this link to download the latest play, make sure you UNcheck the added junk they are trying to put on your computer, like Chrome browser, etc. Then say RUN when it asks.

Here is the link. http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

If you have any questions on this, just email or call us.

http://us1.campaign-archive2.com/?u=7c073d806bfbd148adbc37513&id=44197fdd6f&e=49ca48e0d5

Verizon Wireless email bill Phising Scam
Wednesday, September 05th, 2012 | Author:

Here is another phishing scam that almost caught me clicking on it quickly.

 

I thought it was my Verizon bill coming in my email, like it does monthly. Being the first part of the month, I figured it was the bill.

When I looked at the $2700 bill, I freaked and almost clicked on it. Thankfully I took a deep breath and did not.

This is a fake email, made to look just like Verizon. The link goes to a bogus website and they will have you put in all kinds of personal info, and then steal your identity.

Another Creepy FaceBook Feature – Spy Cam
Monday, August 13th, 2012 | Author:

Facebook has developed a camera so it can detect users when they go into a store. All under the guise of providing targeted information.

Yeah, right….

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2187801/Were-watching-The-camera-recognise-Facebook-picture-time-walk-shop.html

Have you ever clicked on a link, and Internet Explorer opens up full screen, or small and in a weird spot on your desktop?

It happens to me sometimes. The reason it happens is that you closed the window and left it at that particular size. Windows remembers that and the next time you open IE, it opens to the last saved size.

Here is a problem. If you open a saved link or favorite, it will open to the weird size, and you cannot change that permanently through that link.

The way you have to change this is to open IE to your home page, for example, click on the blue e just to open Internet Explorer. Once you do, size and place the window where you want it to be. Once you are done, click on the X, and it will save the size and position.

Now next time when you open a link or your home page, the window will be in the same place, same size that you last left it.

If you try to re-size, and close when you opened a link, and not just IE with your home page, it will not work. It will keep going back to that last saved size until you change it by opening IE from the Icon (like above). Then you can size, position and close, and your results will be saved.

I hope this helps those like me who like Windows they way they want Windows to look and act!

Windows 8 Review – Not Your Mother’s Windows
Monday, March 26th, 2012 | Author:

I have spent some time installing and using Windows 8, Consumer Preview. After working with Windows 8, the bottom line is that Windows 8 is irrelevant to most PC users.

It is by far the worst user interface I have ever used, and I have used many of them including Windows 2, 3, 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, ME, XP, Vista, 7, Apple and even the GEM desktop.

Here are some of my highlights, or really low-lights.

Once you install Win8, you come up to a desktop called “Metro” that looks like this

Not your mothers Windows...

 It took me at least 10 minutes to try to find the start button. Then once you find it, (not really a start button per se) then you see a window pop up, you move the mouse to the little window to click on it, and it disappears. No, the huge Letters that Spell out S T A R T do not do anything, they are just pretty.

I tried this numerous times, getting madder by the minute. Then I figured out that you move your mouse down in the left bottom corner, nothing shows, then suddenly a mini window like above shows up. But you just click where your mouse is, you don’t move it onto the graphic, which is what you would think.

It is nearly impossible to figure out what the dorks were thinking that came up with this interface. Everything is so oddly placed and many things hidden with no clue on how to access it. I was lost, and frustrated within the first few minutes of using it.

I clicked on several of the child like blocks on the page, and many of them bring up a login to Windows services. Ah, now it is starting to make sense. Microsoft is trying to make your computer a “cloud” computer and everything stored on their servers (mail, photos, documents.)

This is something Microsoft has been trying to push for a while now and not everyone likes it.

From the hands on and all the reading I have done on Win8, it appears that this operating system is meant to move people away from PCs and get them into Windows oriented tablet devices.

As a computer support person, I hate the way they are doing this, and I think it is a big mistake for Microsoft. They are making an Operating System that is geared towards tablets, but I am sure Dell, HP and others will slap it on thier latest towers and laptops and will freak people out.

Check out this video of a dad trying to use the Windows 8 interface. This is exactly what I experienced myself.

I have done hands on tech support with customers since 1995, and have been teaching seniors basic computer skills in Adult Ed classes at the local college. I have first hand knowledge on how the average user thinks and uses a computer, and I promise, it is nothing like this. 

I am very open minded to change, and here is the point. One can pick up an Apple iPad and in minutes be surfing the Internet, looking at photos with very little direction. It is easy, simple, and really makes sense once you do a few taps here and there.

Apple created this device from scratch and all of their devices work the same, so you pick up an iPhone, iPod or iPad, and they all work the same and if you can use one, you can switch to any and use it just as easy.

That in contrast to Microsoft who has a pretty darn good operating system with Windows 7, decides to completely redesign the look and feel of their main product. People, including myself have raved about how well 7 works, and how it looks.

So, change it up. Confuse people, make them look for things that used to be there. Also make it so it is not really for a PC, but for a tablet, which not everyone wants.

The biggest flaw I see in this design is the fact that there is this “metro” interface and you cannot eaisly switch back to a Windows 7 menu interface, which would make complete sense. My thought is, when you install it, you should have to answer a question, “would you like the Windows 7, or the new metro interface? You can change it at any time”

But no, you are stuck with the Metro/Win 7 hybrid, which oddly switches back and forth, and neither work like you would expect.

Bottom line, I would not recommend Windows 8 to any of my customers, and unless they do some really nice changes and user friendly updates, I will not be installing this on any computers.

Free at LastIt was not easy, in fact it took a lot of work to copy all of the information that I wanted from my blogs, Picasa photo account, and other places, and put them on my own website and domain.

After all that work, I finally hit the delete my account button, and I would love to say my information is gone. But I have a sneaking suspicion that Google will keep my information for a while. That is how they do business.

If you are reading this, you are reading my blog on the new site of Paul’s Computer Repair, controlled by us, not Google.

If you are not a believer and think this is all Google scare, just think about how much information, private information is in the hands of one company.

Here are the accounts I had information on:

Blogger (3 blogs, and the wife has 2), Google checkout (now wallet), YouTube, Google Adwords, Picasa Web Albums, Gmail, Google Analytics (website statistics), talk (Google chat), docs, igoogle home page, and every time I did a search on Google.

That is a lot of info, and that is not all of it. There are many other “products” that they collect information from. One of the latest is Google + which I have stayed away from, that is the FaceBook challenger, and of course, collecting lots of information ab0ut every user and their friends.

There have been a lot of articles and stories about the lack of fair privacy policies that users can understand. There have also been many incidents showing the power and amount of information that Google is amassing.

Here is a recent example article about the combining of data from CNN

So of course Google decides to help us out, and combine all of our accounts into one. Making the privacy so much easier for us. This combining of all of your Google related accounts will happen on March 1st, whether or not you like it.

Anyone with any brain knows when a company touts how it is going to help you, the first thing is, what is the company getting out of it?

Well, Google is a huge advertising company, they are not a search engine company, which is what everyone thinks of. They sell advertising and data on people’s habits. They have too much of it, and are becoming very scary.

Another thing that is scary, adding to their list of info they keep is the Android operating system they own. Every phone that has it is run by this company, who has every bit of information that goes through your phone. And if that is not enough, Google has been found to have recently bypassed security in Apple’s Safari and IE9 browsers.

I am done with Google. I really like their search engine and I have used it for years, but they have gone too far.

There is an alternative, using Startpage.org. This site uses results from Google, but the info that goes to Google is from them, and your privacy is never breached. Pretty cool idea, check it out at startpage.com

We all know we should back up the information on our computers. We think about it, we wonder about it, then eventually plan to do it later.

The problem is, later may be too late. I am not trying to be overly dramatic, but backups are critical if your information is important.

There are 3 main things that people need to backup, Documents, Pictures and business information. There are a lot of other important things people need, but those are the most critical that are hard if not impossible to recreate.

Here is my reason for doing this Blog Entry

We had a computer come in the shop for serious virus infestation. We were scanning the hard drive, and it died in the middle of scanning. Every attempt was made to get the drive working, but it failed big time.

There was no way to recover the data because it was a hardware failure which is very common in hard drives. The person’s extensive business information was on there, and there was no backup at all.

If you do not have your information backed up and it is important to you, you have a pretty good chance of losing it all.

It’s a Hard Life!

Did you know that many hard drives only have a year or two warranty, does that tell you something?

Hard drives are little metal disks that typically spin around at 7,200 RPM. They do this continuously and they do have an expected service life. That is why the warranty is so short, and you pay more money for a hard drive that has a longer life.

I see hard drives in both laptops and towers die all the time. I probably have 2 or 3 a month that come into the shop. They can mechanically die and the electronics can also go out. One common factor I see in many bad hard drive cases is a very dirty computer inside.

Also laptops do get banged around and moved while they are on, and that little hard drive is spinning it’s little life away as you move it.

You absolutely cannot trust a single hard drive to store very important information, chances are it will fail at some point in time.

Here are the options along with advantages and disadvantages of each method

Floppy Disks (ok, that was a joke. You can not even fit a single 10 megapixel digital photo on a floppy disk)

1. External Hard Drive – This is quickly becoming the norm and most economical method of backing up data. The hard drives can store more and more data and they are getting cheaper. You hook it up with a USB connector and set up the schedule and that is about it.

There are a couple of negatives. First of all it is a hard drive, and it is sitting on the desk or wherever, and it can get dropped. So it can die on it’s own, and you or the kids can help it die by knocking it over, which can happen.

The other negative is that some of the software is really junk that comes with the hard drives. The good thing is that Windows 7 does have a really nice and easy backup built into Home Premium.

2. CDs & DVDs – This is probably one of the safest and best way to back up your information, especially archivally. CDs will hold around 700 megbytes of data and a DVD will hold about 4.2 Gigabytes.

The DVD will hold a lot more and is really the one to use to back up a lot of stuff. You can also get dual layer DVDs that hold even more, and Blue Ray can hold up to 25 GB of data.

The main disadvantage is it is a bit more manual, you do need to insert a disk each time, then put them somewhere. The advantage for seriously critical data is you can keep a copy of the information at another location in case of fire, flood or ????

Even if you choose another method of backup, creating a backup DVD once in a while is not a bad idea, just to be on the safe side.

3. Online Service – There are numerous online services out there to back your information such as Carbonite, Mozy, iDrive and many of the Anti-Virus companies are offering online backup services.

This is not a bad way to go. They back up your data when your computer is not being used and they have multiple data sites that store your information so if disaster hits they have your data.

The negative is that they have your data. They have privacy policies and they also encrypt your data so only you are supposed to be able to access it, but I still feel a bit weird about trusting a company with my personal or business information.

Also, when you back up at first, it can take up to a month to get all your data backed up, then after that it is much faster. Also if you have to recover the data it takes a long time. I am not a fan of online services, but for some they work ok.

4. Network Attached Storage – This option is a little more advanced and not quite as easy to setup, but in my opinion it is a very good option and much better than a single external hard drive. The other really cool thing is that you can backup other computers on your network.

This is a very good option for a small business with a couple of computers.

A NAS can also act as a media server, which will allow you to view computer media files (movies & Photos) on newer TVs & Blu Ray Players, but that is a bit more advanced and a whole other topic!

The NAS looks like a little toaster or mini computer. It has multiple hard drives, usually 2 or more. The drives are set up so information is put on both drives and if one fails, the other one has the info also. It is a redundancy that the external drive does not have.

You can just set the software to backup automatically and even have it back up a file right after you save and close it, so your backup is constantly monitoring your files. I have this for my business and I have to tell you, it is one of the best investments I have made.

The down side is that they start at around $300 and go up from there depending on how much storage and the quality of the unit. The other thing that is tough for many people is the software and installation is not always straight forward and can be hard to set up.

5. USB Memory Stick/Flash Drive – Many people want to use this to backup data, but I would not recommend it. These drives are made for temporary storage and you can erase them. I know people use them, but I would not recommend them for long term storage.

Final Thoughts
Every person and business have different needs and finances so there is not one answer to which method is best for each person.

Whatever method you choose, you need to make a decision, create a backup plan and stick to it. That way you won’t have to hear, “I hate to tell you this, but your hard drive is dead, and we cannot recover your information…”

Category: Uncategorized  | 25 Comments

I have to admit I was a bit surprised at such forward thinking at Microsoft, but they have released codecs, which are essentially drivers or software to be able to view RAW camera files in Windows Explorer and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

RAW format is really taking off, and for serious photographers, it is the way to go. This format is generally only available in the more advanced cameras such as DSLRs and higher end point and shoots.

What is the difference between RAW and a .JPG file?

When you take a photo with a digital camera, and save it as a .jpg in the camera, the camera and it’s electronics make assumptions about the photo and make a bunch of exposure and other important decisions about the photo when saved.

With a RAW file, it is almost like going back to the scene and able to retake the photo. You have a lot more control over exposure and thus your lighting and photos can look much better.

I won’t get too technical, but a .jpg file is an 8 bit file which will store about 256 levels of brightness in your photo.

A RAW file is usually a 12 bit size file which can handle about 4,096 levels of brightness for each and every pixel. It does vary by manufacturer and camera model.

So if I have a choice of 256 brightness levels, or 4096, I would take the bigger one any day. What that does is give you a much larger latitude of exposure to work with.

Ever have a photo where the sky is just all washed out, or the shade under the tree is too dark? More exposure levels is what allows you to pull out detail in those areas you would not be able to with only 256 levels.

Here is some more technical information on RAW files if you are interested

Disadvantages?

There are a few things to consider and they are not necessarily disadvantages with shooting photos in RAW.

They do take up a lot of space, the RAW file sizes can be around 25 megabytes vs. around 3 mb for the same photo saved in .jpg.

Also, you do need to process the files a bit differently with software that will edit the RAW files. JPG files are pretty much ready to go unless they need some minor adjusting.

Different Formats for brands of Cameras

The one big problem is there are a lot of RAW formats out there. Each camera manufacturer can have their own, Canon uses .CR2 and Nikon uses .NEF, and there are a bunch more.

Here is a good listing of the different formats for each brand of camera

The nice thing about the ability to view RAW files is that without the codecs, you just see a blank document in thumbnail view. But the the codecs, the RAW files act just like a .jpg or other photo. You can see the little thumbnail, and you can click on it, and see the RAW file in the file preview window. You can enlarge the view, just like all other image files.

Here is a link to download the Microsoft Codecs for RAW viewing.

The codecs work in Windows 7 or Vista with Service Pack 2 installed. Just download, and install, quick and easy. Then go into your Pictures folder where you have some RAW files, and check it out.

If you have a camera capable of shooting RAW, many times you can set it to shoot a .jpg and RAW photo at the same time. This way you can make sure you have a .jpg like you are used to. In addition, you will get a RAW file that you can start to learn how to edit. The main thing you can do with RAW is exposure type changes.