Archive for February, 2010

Extend your wifi signal

28 February 2010

It is often the case that the wireless signal at home or office does not reach every nook and cranny.
Solutions to this are:

1. Upgrade your router to N+ version

Current favourite is the Belkin N+

Or for cable cutomers try this

2. Setup a wireless repeater

This is placed away from your router where is can still receive the signal and then repeat the signal e.g. the Edimax EW-7416APN

The problem with this is that it is quite tricky to setup.

3. Try homeplug technology

This will send a signal through your electricity (providing you only have one electrical circuit) and will then hard wire into another spot.

32 bit versus 64 bit

28 February 2010

Up until the release of Windows 7 in November 2009, most versions on Windows were 32-bit versions. This is now changing – 64-bit architecture is now becoming the common standard and that is a good thing.

64-bit can support more memory than 32 bit (which is typically limited to just 4 gigabytes of memory) – this is crucial since more computers of the future will roll-out with more memory. Also, 64-bit (given the right software) can perform more operations at the same time.

Although 64-bit computers could have been released more commonly with Windows XP, a lot of software did not support 64-bit so it was not practical. Fortunately this has changed and most popular software and devices (such as printers) will now support 64-bit. With the advent of Windows 7, a large number of computer / laptop manufacturers decided to roll out models with 64-bit and I generally recommend you try to go for this unless you are running some very bespoke software that will not support it.

Speed up your Laptop / PC

28 February 2010

Here are some quick tips to improving the speed of your computer:

1. Check disk space available

Click on Start (bottom left) and then “Computer” or “My Computer”
Click on C drive and see how much space is reported to be free
If you have less than 10 gigabytes free, it is already getting quite low. You will either need to delete stuff (see point 2 first) or upgrade the hard disk.

2. Run CC Cleaner

http://www.filehippo.com/download_ccleaner/

CC Cleaner will delete all temporary files on the system and can also perform a registry clean-up. Be careful what you choice to delete – you may not want to delete all your browser cache. This program will also help you monitor all the start-up programs and disable any that are not really needed.

3. Add more memory (RAM = random access memory)

Visit crucial memory (link at the bottom) and run a free online scan – if you have 1 Gigabyte or less in your computer it is probably worth upgrading to 2 or 3 or 4 gigabytes of RAM.

4. Run an external application like Reg Mechanic (see link near top)

I am usually wary about these types of applications but reg mechanic does seem to work well. It has a more thorough registry cleaner that cc cleaner and it can defragment the registry. It can also change the services your computer uses to optimal and minimal. This does cost £29.95 but with discount code Friedman15 the cost goes down to £25.46.

5. Run a disk defrag program once a month

My current favourite is defraggler.

It can take a few hours to run, so best to do this over night. If a computer has more than 10% defragmentation, it is worth running this.

6. Keep your computer virus and spyware free.

Although there is a direct trade-off between additional protection and speed (i.e. the more protection there is running in the background, the slower the computer is), having an infection can be a lot worse.

Anti virus

AVG is free – Antivir is free and Avast is free

Antispyware

Spyware doctor (see link on RHS) is  £29.95 per year, although it drops to £25.46 with discount code friedman15  and you can purchase registry mechanic for with it for an additional £19.95

Laptop charger gone missing!

28 February 2010

A client left his laptop charger on the train.
Usually these are easy to replace – just go to Amazon or similar, search for your laptop make and model and you can typically buy a non genuine charger for £15 – £25.

If you laptop is a non-standard make, getting a replacement charger is far more restrictive. Typically you will need to contact the original supplier if they are still around, or otherwise try a universal charger like this.

The morale of the story: If you travel a lot, it is sensible to get a spare charger when you first purchase you laptop. It can be dedicated to travel and then you have a backup if misplaced.

Anti-Spyware

28 February 2010

 
My new favourite in anti-spyware protection is spyware doctor (see link on RHS). It is very effective but be aware that they charge annually for it (you can probably change this option when purchasing).

I have setup a 15% discount link in partnership with them.
When purchasing, simply click here and then click the option for coupon code and type Friedman15

Yousendit.com

28 February 2010

Recently I noticed people trying to send MASSIVE attachments by email.

When I say massive, I mean 200 Megabyte emails!

On a normal broadband line, such an email would take hours to get sent and then inevitably will bounce back since the recipient mailbox will not accept it!

Anything above 10 megabytes in an email is pretty large. Some mailboxes will not be able to cope and it already clogs up both yours and the recipients’ email program for an unfair amount of time.

With photos, people have been using various photo sites like Kodak and social networking sites like Facebook to upload their photos and then share them. All you do is email the link and then they click it to view – this completely avoids clogging up emails with large attachments.

Another option it a service called yousendit which I have been recommending lately: http://www.yousendit.com/ – it is free to use for single attachments – you simply upload the file and it will generate a link (which is valid for 7 days) in an email to your recipient.

The advantages are:
1. Less clogging up in your sent items and in the recipient in box.
2. It won’t bounce if it is too large.
3. More user friendly to recipient who can download when they want to.

The main disadvantages I can think of: it might require some knowledge on the part of the recipient to know how to download from a link – but it if this is the case, it would not hurt to learn a new skill!

Google Chrome

28 February 2010
We all use web browsers to browse the Internet.  The most common is Internet Explorer.
Google Chrome is an alternative web browser to Internet Explorer.
Since it first came out I have tested Google it has pretty much always been in “Beta”  meaning it is a test version and rightly so – most times I tested Chrome it kept crashing.
The latest version however seems very stable and works well. you can download Chrome from here.
If you want to try something different – it is worth having a go!

UPS spam Emails

28 February 2010
In January 2010, two of my clients received an email from UPS a few days apart. They were both expecting a delivery and clicked the attachment to the email.
Sure enough, they infected their computer immediately.
Generally, UPS will not email clients unless they have signed up for such a service.  As a general rule, when receiving such emails please be exceptionally cautious about clicking the links or opening attachments.
If in doubt – don’t click on links or open attachments!
Even if the email says it is from UPS and it shows what looks to be like a genuine sender email address, most infected mails are not originating from the given sender address.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO PROTECT AGAINST INFECTION FROM EMAILS
(A) Protect yourself from these nasty emails by using a good spam filter in addition to the Outlook standard junk filter. I find that between Outlook 2007 junk mail filter and Cloudmark, I do not receive any junk in my inbox.
(B) Pay attention to links by moving the mouse over the link. Outlook 2007 will then show you the real link underneath it. If the link looks completely unrelated, it is probably a dangerous link.
(C) You can even copy and paste some of the text into google to see what comes up. If it is fake, there should be ample hits to show you this.
(D) Ensure you have adequate antivirus and anti spyware protection and ensure it is regularly updated!
Examples of anti virus programs are:
AVG is free
Antivir is free
Avast is free
Antispyware: Spyware doctor is  £29.95 per year, although it drops to £25.46 with discount code friedman15 and you can purchase registry mechanic for with it for an additional £19.95
(E) Finally, pay attention to detail. If the English does not look right, they do not have your full name spelt correctly, punctuation looks awful, layout of images look unprofessional – the is likely to be fake!
Below are ten examples of phishing / spam / virus emails that I have saw in Jan 2010:
1. HSBC Phishing email – I have not included the full link but when you hover over the link, it is clearly pointing to a completely different domain name.
This e-mail has been sent to you by Hsbc UK to inform you that we were unable to verify your account details. This might be due to either of the following reasons:
1. A recent change in your personal information. (eg: address, phone)
2. Submitting incorrect information during registration process.
Due to this, to ensure that your banking service is not interrupted, we request you to confirm and update your information today by following the link below
https://www.hsbc.co.uk/1/2/
If you have already confirmed your information then please disregard this message.
Regards,
Hsbc Uk member services
2. Amazon fake email – once again, if you hover over the link (not included here) it will show you a completely unrelated domain name.
Your Order s/n:20625309073130 Accepted.
Information
Thank you,
Amazon.com Support
3. Amazon – fake email with virus attachment – even the way it is worded it is clearly not genuine as with all these emails – layout, punctuation and use of language generally points to being fake.
Hi!
Thank you for shopping at Amazon.com
We have successfully received your payment.
Your order has been shipped to your billing address.
You have ordered ” Compaq CQ2009F “
You can find your tracking number in attached to the e-mail  document.
Print the postal label to get your package.
We hope you enjoy your order!
Amazon.com
4. UPS email example – with a fake zip attachment containing a Backdoor.Trojan
Dear customer!
Unfortunately we failed to deliver the postal package you have sent on the 28th of December in time because the recipient’s address is inexact.
Please print out the invoice copy attached and collect the package at our office.
United Parcel Service of America.
5. Random spam with a link sending you to a random webpage
hi!
Is this photo yours?
link
Issac Gilmore
6. Another example of a random spam email
hello!
Please tell me is this photo yours?!
link
Ronald Feliciano
7. Inland revenue spam email

Taxpayer ID: debil-00000344068277UK
Tax Type: INCOME TAX
Issue: Unreported/Underreported Income (Fraud Application)
Please review your tax statement on HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) website (click on the link below):
review tax statement for taxpayer id: debil-00000344068277UK
HM Revenue and Customs
8. Facebook fake email – It looks pretty genuine and even quotes the email address properly. However a google search of the text leads to many hits explaining that the link takes you to a page which tried to get you to download a virus.
Dear Facebook user,
In an effort to make your online experience safer and more enjoyable, Facebook will be implementing a new login system that will affect all Facebook users. These changes will offer new features and increased account security.
Before you are able to use the new login system, you will be required to update your account.
Click here to update your account online now.
If you have any questions, reference our New User Guide.
Thanks,
The Facebook Team
9. Another Fake Amazon email that looks quite authentic but hovering the mouse over shows a different domain name.
As a customer of Amazon.co.uk we require an update on your account information. Under the UK Data Protection Act 1998, we follow strict security procedures in the storage of information which you have given us. In order to prevent closure of your account, we request you validate your account information with us. This only has to be done once and will be verified within 24 hours. Please note that failure to comply with our request may result in a temporary suspension of your account.
The information you enter will be transferred to our Accounts Department for the purposes of processing by Amazon.co.uk. By submitting your information, you consent to this transfer.
10. Fake email regarding National Lottery -If you play the lottery with an online account I think the National Lottery would call you by telephone! The email address below is clearly nothing to do with National lottery and they are just trying to get some valuable details from you before they start a dialogue to get access to your bank accounts!
Congratulations, your email address have won the sum of 600,000.00 GBP in the just concluded United Kingdom
National Lottery Online program.
For detailed information on how to file your claim, kindly contact our Foreign Service Directorate Mr John Mark with the following information:
1. Name in full…2.Phone/Fax… 3.Occupation…4.Address in full…5.Nationality…6.Email Address…
Email: zonalclaimsdesk101@live.cn.com
Phone: +44 701-113- 6260

Archiving 2009 emails!

28 February 2010

It has been more than three months since my last blog post, so I have a lot to catch up on!

In the new year I typically recommend it is time to archive those 2009 so that your Outlook or other email client is not too bloated. I often see Outlook PST files above 2 gigabytes – recently I saw one close to 10 gigabytes and although Outlook 2007 will support this, it is not sensible to let it get to this size for various reasons:

1. The bigger your main outlook pst file, the slower it will become.

2. The bigger your main outlook pst file, the more challenging it will be to backup

3. The bigger your main outlook pst file, the more likely it will generate errors

So why not put the 2009 emails (both inbox and sent items) in their  own PST file that is still easily accessible but will take some bloat away from the main pst file.

Below I am copying and pasting instructions I emailed blogged about last year:

1. Create a new outlook file (known as a pst). Give it a name like “Archive 2009”.
2. Once you confirm the creation of this pst file, a new folder should appear on the left hand side.
3. Right click on the new folder and select the option for “New Folder”. Create two new folders called “Inbox 2009” and “Sent Items 2009”
4. Ensure all emails in your inbox are sorted in date order.
5. Select three months of emails from 2009 in your main inbox emails. Do this by using the SHIFT key – which will select all emails in between the first email you select and the last. e.g. select first email from 1 January 2009 and then while holding shift, click on an email dated 1 March 2009.
6. Right click on the selection of emails and drag them all to the new folder you just created called “Inbox 2009” which will be on the left hand side. Select the move option. Note that this can take some time.
7. Repeat this procedure for the next three months of emails and so on. You may want to leave the last three months of you 2009 emails in your inbox for ease of reference.
8. Repeat steps 5 -7 for 2009 sent emails.
9. Finally it is essential to compact the original Outlook pst. In Outlook, right click on “Personal Folders” on the left hand side of the screen, then click on “properties”, then “advanced” and finally click on “compact now” (note that this could take a few hours but you can always stop and start another time).

Note
that if compacting does not progress for some time, it may be necessary to run a scanpst.exe on your main pst file. Typically scanpst.exe can be found in a folder like C:\Program Files\Microsoft Office\Office12 and it can take some time to find and fix errors in your pst file. Just follow the process through. Typically, your outlook pst file will be stored in C:\Users\Gab\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Outlook  (for vista or Windows 7 users) and in documents and settings for Windows XP users. You may need to unhide hidden files and folders to see these locations!
This should keep your outlook pst file smaller in size, healthier and easier to backup!
Happy archiving!