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Migrated to Twitter (Edit – “facebook”) June 1, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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I’ve found it easier to use Twitter facebook for my blogging instead of WordPress. Short, more frequent postings seem to be more in demand than larger, less frequent blog posts and facebook seems to be a more logical place to communicate with my audience

You can follow me here: http://twitter.com/computertrainer http://www.facebook.com/HomeOfficeComputerTraining

-Edited/Revised June 2, 2010


More Updates… March 6, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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It’s becoming so common it may get overlooked, but keep an eye out for another update for your operating system. In this case, Microsoft will be releasing three patches, one of which is critical.

Thanks to The Channel Web for blogging about it. The full article can be found here: http://www.crn.com/security/215800860

Microsoft plans to release a total of three security updates for Windows Tuesday, repairing at least one critical vulnerability that enables remote hackers to execute malicious code on users’ PCs.
One of the patches included in Microsoft’s March security bulletin, set for release Tuesday, addresses a critical Windows error that allows attackers to execute arbitrary code, usually without any user intervention, according to the software company’s advanced notification posting.

Working on the road February 24, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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I recently had to bring my car in for some well overdue service. In the past, one would find themselves in that dreaded waiting room consisting of a TV stuck on one channel and no volume, a table filled with outdated magazines that you don’t have any interest in anyway,  and a coffee pot that hasn’t been washed since Reagan left office. 

Fortunately things were completely different for me at Morristown Mini. Their waiting room has work desks, and most importantly a secure wifi connection!! OK, so it’s not the fastest connection, and there could be more outlets, but although I was there for over 6 hours, I was able to finish an eZine article, write a blog article, catch up on some research for an upcoming project and even get some networking done! In addition, comfortable cushion chairs & the flatscreen TV on the wall were there if I wanted to watch almost anything I wanted. Although they will be moving to a new location soon, it was a very pleasant & productive experience for me. I can’t wait to see what the new place is like! Good luck Mike, Fred & Vinny.

So what does one need to be productive on the road? It really depends on what you do, but in my case the most important item was an internet connection (wifi). My macbook pro has a built in wireless network card, as do most computers sold today. The dealer gives you a temporary login & password, good for 24 hours. To connect, you choose the appropriate wifi carrier (MINI-Wifi) and simply open your browser. It will reroute you from your default home page to a greeting page provided by the carrier. From there, you enter the assigned login & password you were assigned. Within a click of your mouse, you’re connected to the internet, just as you would be from your home or office and can be just as productive.

Take virus warnings serious! February 8, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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Back on January 22nd I blogged about the downadup virus. I came across another article from www.telegraph.co.uk that really caught my attention and made me wonder how many OTHER situations went unpublished?

Take the virus warnings serious folks, especially all of you with fighter planes!

French fighter planes grounded by computer virus: French fighter planes were unable to take off after military computers were infected by a computer virus, an intelligence magazine claims. The aircraft were unable to download their flight plans after databases were infected by a Microsoft virus they had already been warned about several months beforehand.

At one point French naval staff were also instructed not to even open their computers.

Microsoft had warned that the “Conficker” virus, transmitted through Windows, was attacking computer systems in October last year, but according to reports the French military ignored the warning and failed to install the necessary security measures.

The French newspaper Ouest France said the virus had hit the internal computer network at the French Navy.

Thank you to http://www.telegraph.co.uk for the story.

Microsoft Smartphone?? February 6, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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Backup your data online? January 27, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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In our first issue of Plugged In,  I wrote about “Cloud Computing”, the up & coming practice of using software online vs. installed on your computer.

Today, I’m going to touch on another form of Cloud Computing in the sense of backing up your data online vs. using local external harddrives or thumbdrives.

I’ll admit that I’m probably as guilty as most people, in that it’s rare for me to run consistent backups. What’s on my machine that’s most important to me?

  • documents
  • iTunes library
  • Photos

If something were to happen to my harddrive & those three catagories of data were lost, I’d be a pretty unhappy person.  I’ve already learned my lesson with email, which is why I use Gmail now (over 3,500 messages & I’m barely scratching the surface of my allotted space)

Ones choices to backup their data are either an online service or external hard drive. Let’s take a quick look at each option.


This is an online, fee based service from Apptix. For as low as $6.50 /month (5GB of data) you can have your data backed up & stored online. How does it work? Upon registration, you install a simple application, tell it what directories you want backed up & when, then go about your business. At the designated time, your data is uploaded & stored, encrypted & completely safe.  To restore your data, you select what you want restored & it’s downloaded back onto your computer.

Local devices (USB thumbdrive, external harddrive)

I’ll call this the more conventional method. Flash drives, also referred to as thumbdrives,  are very inexpensive. You can pick up a 16gb drive at Buy.com for less than $35.00. On the high end, a 1 terabyte external hard drive would set you back about $130.00. How much data is 1TB? It’s about the equivalent of 50,000 trees made into paper & printed.

Pros & Cons

I’m going to remain neutral & say that, in my opinion both options are fine & your situation & personal level of comfort should dictate which one to go with. The worst thing you can do is neither.

Here are some things to consider when deciding:

  • How much data do you have? If you have less than 5 gigabytes of data, is it worth $6.50 a month? After the initial installtion, the service will run as scheduled & you never need to worry about it. However for large amounts of data, it might not be feasible to upload that much data because it would take too long.
  • Are there legal reasons you need to store your data locally?
  • What if the online service goes under? How would you get your data back?
  • External harddrives crash just like internal ones, thumb drives get lost or accidentally run through the laundry (no comment) – what do you do then?

I hope you enjoyed this article & found it helpful. Backup your data today!

Be careful of the Downadup virus January 22, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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Yes, there’s another virus out there. 

January 21, 2009 (Computerworld) The computer worm responsible for the biggest attack in years has infected at least one out of every 16 PCs worldwide, a security company said today, and it may have managed to compromise as many as nearly one in three.

According to Panda Security, almost 6% of the Windows systems scanned with its antivirus technology were found to be infected with “Downadup,” a worm that began aggressive attacks just over a week ago.


Some quick facts about the virus:

A computer can be infected by possible three means:
1) if not patched with the latest security updates (in this case if MS08-67 vulnerability is not patched), by an already infected computer in the local network
2) if the administrator account of the computer has a weak password (brute force dictionary attack against administrator password is used)
3) if the computer has the Autoplay feature enabled and an infected mapped/removable drive stick is attached.

Once gained execution this worm does the following actions:
* hooks NtQueryInformationProcess from ntdll.dll inside the running process
* creates a named Mutex based on the computer name
* injects intself into one of the following processes:
          * explorer.exe
          * svchost.exe

Here’s the full story from http://www.computerworld.com/action/article.do?command=viewArticleBasic&articleId=9126482&intsrc=hm_list

Can’t make it to the inauguration? January 19, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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I thought this might be helpful to those who can’t make it to DC or who won’t be in front of a TV. 

Thanks to CNN.com for the story:

More than 2 million Americans lost their jobs last year, the stock market fell by almost 45 percent from its peak, and comparisons with the Great Depression are becoming disturbingly commonplace.

But that isn’t stopping Washington from throwing a $160 million party, the most lavish ever, for Barack Obama’s presidential inauguration on Tuesday.

Technology companies are joining the festivities by hosting a number of inaugural parties, and a collection of news and other Web sites are aiming to let anyone who can’t be in the nation’s capital–or who doesn’t want to brave probably-freezing temperatures–follow along online.


Windows 7?? January 17, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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First off, what is Windows 7?

As defined by it’s Wikipedia site: 

Windows 7 (formerly codenamed Blackcomb and Vienna) is the next release of Microsoft Windows, an operating system produced by Microsoft for use on personal computers, including home and business desktopslaptopsTablet PCsnetbooks and media centerPCs.[1]

Microsoft stated in 2007 that it is planning Windows 7 development for a three-year time frame starting after the release of its predecessor, Windows Vista, but that the final release date will be determined by product quality.[2]

Unlike its predecessor, Windows 7 is intended to be an incremental upgrade, to Vista, with the goal of being fully compatible with device drivers, applications, and hardware which Windows Vista is already compatible with.[3] Presentations given by the company in 2008 have focused on multi-touch support, a redesigned Windows Shell with a new taskbar, a home networking system called HomeGroup,[4] and performance improvements. Some applications that have been included with prior releases of Microsoft Windows, most notably Windows MailWindows Calendar,[citation needed] Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery, are no longer included with the operating system; they are instead offered separately (free of charge) as part of the Windows Live Essentialssuite.[5] 

I came across a blog from a person who tried the recently released beta version here, http://htmlfixit.com/?p=1108

I’d like to hear from you… January 17, 2009

Posted by Mike in End User Computing.
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Having an interactive blog is a lot more fun, and I can cater future subjects to items you want to know about.

That being said: