Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hard drive jumpers

Answer Man

I need to replace the hard drive in my computer. I heard that I have to set the jumpers on the drive. What the devil does that mean?

Older hard drives known as PATA (parallel ATA) drives, used jumpers (tiny plastic and metal sleeves) to connect pins on the drive so that the drives could be identified as a Master or Slave drives. The Master is the one you want to boot first. Newer SATA drives do not require the use of jumpers. They automatically select Master or Slave.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Internet Explorer vunerability

See Microsoft Security Advisory 2963983 for information on the Internet Explorer hack. It is also recommended that by turning off Adobe "Flash Plug In", you should be safe from malware.

Blogmaster edit: You can read all about this issue at the Security TechCenter of Microsoft's website by clicking > HERE.

Is my hard drive bad?

Answer Man

I think my hard drive is failing. The S.M.A.R.T. monitor built in to the hard drive shows that there are a bunch of bad sectors. Is this the end?

It could be. Immediately back up all of your information to an external hard drive or flash drive. Bad sectors can be a sign of imminent hard drive failure, but they might just be software errors. I would overwrite the drive with a utility such as Wipe Disk. It will insure that there are no software errors. Then you will have to re partition and re-format the drive and install a new operating system.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Windows 8 reviews

Answer Man

I have been reading terrible reviews of Windows 8, but I need a new computer. Will I make a mistake by purchasing a new Windows 8.1 machine?

Don't believe everything you read. I have been using 8.1 for a long time, and I think it's great. Like all operating systems, it takes some time to learn. People have become so used to the old Windows formats that 8 is a radical change for them. All operating systems have some pluses and minuses. You learn to work around what you consider disadvantages. One of the big pluses of Windows 8 is that it is 14% faster than Windows 7.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Windows 8 updates

Answer Man

I heard that if you don't update Windows 8 with the latest update by May that you will not be able to receive any more updates. Can that possibly be true?

Consumers running Windows 8.1 will still need to upgrade to Windows 8.1 Update by May 13, or they’ll no longer receive security updates. The company will still provide Windows 8 users with security updates, but those who have upgraded to Windows 8.1 will need to update to the latest version of Windows 8.1 to continue receiving support.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

What is a proxy server?

Answer Man

What is a proxy server?

A proxy server is an intermediary between the user's computer and the Internet. It can be used to block access to a website, serve as a firewall, or cache web pages for faster access. Most corporations use proxy servers to provide better security.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Flash drive not recognized

Answer Man

I put a flash drive in the USB, but the computer doesn't see the drive.

Select “My Computer”. Right click and choose “Manage” from the contextual menu. This will open a window called “Computer Management”. Select “Disk Management”, which is under “Storage” on the bottom right side of the window, you’ll see a list of all of the storage devices currently attached to the computer. If your flash drive is listed there, that’s great - you can fix the problem. Right click on the drive listed in that window. This will bring up a contextual menu. Choose “Change Drive Letter and Paths”. This will bring up yet another window, which will show your “missing” drive. Choose “Change” at the bottom.

Another window will pop up. This one will have a drop down menu on the right hand side. Choose a letter “higher” than the one currently assigned to the drive. If it’s “E”, for example, choose a letter between “F” and “Z.” Its probably best to pick one toward the end of the alphabet. Once you’ve selected a drive letter, a warning message will come up saying that “Changing The Drive Letter of a Volume Might Cause Programs No Longer To run”. That’s OK. It’s likely that all you’ve got on the drive is data. Click on Yes. That will return you to the Computer Management Window.

Your drive now should function properly.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

New computer speed

Answer Man

I am going to purchase a new computer. I'd like it to be very fast, but I don't want to spend a fortune. How can I accomplish that goal?

A few of the best ways to speed up a computer are: purchase a faster better processor, increase the computer memory, add a solid-state hard drive or use a 7200 rpm drive vs. a 5200. The least expensive of those methods is to add memory. It figures out to about $11.60 per Gigabyte. Solid state drives are still much more expensive than their mechanical counterparts. Installing a better CPU is probably the least cost effective way of increasing speed.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Old hard drives

Answer Man

I just replaced my old computer. I'm worried that the data on the old hard drive may fall into the wrong hands. What do you suggest I do?

Fire up the old computer and use a program such as "Wipe Drive" or "Eraser" to make the drive information unrecoverable. You could also smash the drive with a sledge hammer.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hard Drive Failures

Answer Man

I have heard you talk about hard drive failures. I don't know anyone who has ever experienced one. Do You?

I certainly do. I have had several fail during my experience with computers. I have never had a relatively new drive fail, but, when a computer is several years old, the chances of failure greatly increase. I just had a 400 GB drive fail in a 5 year old computer. The S.M.A.R.T. monitoring system, built into the computer, predicted failure, and about 4 months after the prediction, the drive failed. A blue screen of death appeared, the computer wouldn't boot, and everything just froze. As soon as I put a replacement drive in, the computer worked again.

Monday, April 21, 2014

iPad set-up for Wi-Fi

Answer Man

I'm having trouble setting up my iPad to work with the Internet. What is the right procedure?

Using the iPad, click on Settings, General, Wi-Fi. When prompted for the name and password of your router, enter that information (For example, you might enter Netgear and the password you created). If you don't remember the password, you will have to re-set the router and use the default name and password (that info differs for each router).

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What is streaming?

Answer Man

I keep hearing the term "streaming". What does the term mean?

I can explain it best by giving you an example. Let's suppose that you would like to watch the movie Casablanca, and that the movie is available from some on-line subscription service such as Netflix or Hulu. You wouldn't want to copy the entire movie and save it to your computer, that might take hours. So, you purchase a device such as Tivo, Google TV, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, etc. that will receive a compressed version of the movie and run it through something called a buffer, so that as you are watching a small segment of the movie, the next segment is loaded into the buffer or streamed. The movie is seen uninterrupted.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Browser stores passwords

Answer Man

I heard that all browsers store passwords and that anybody can see them. Is that true?

Unfortunately, it is. Click on the link below to see how you can find what's in your browser, and what you can do about it.


Friday, April 18, 2014

VOIP Phones

Answer Man

I was considering purchasing a VOIP phone. What's your opinion of such phones?

I had Magicjack for a couple of years, and it worked reasonably well. Then suddenly all calls were very choppy. I spent hours on their help chat line, and they couldn't resolve the issue. I know of others who had Vonnage and other VOIP services. They are experiencing the same kinds of problems. I suspect, as others have, that the VOIP providers have oversold subscriptions so that available bandwidth is too little to adequately support the phone services.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Re-name a photo

Answer Man

When I download photos from my camera, they all have obscure numbers rather than names. Is there an easy way to name the pictures?

Right click on the picture, click on re-name, type a new name and press the enter key on the keyboard. The picture might have a number such as 310903656524_SAM_0001.JPG. That doesn't tell you much about the picture. You might re-name it with a name such as: Beijing, Temple of Heaven.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Small Form Factor

Answer Man

What is a small form factor computer?

It means that the physical size of the computer is relatively tiny. The HP slimline is an example of such computers. It measures about 4" x 13" x 10.5 inches. It is one of the larger small form factor computers. Desktops come in large towers, mid-size towers, mini-towers and small form factor computers. Some, such as the Raspberry Pi will fit in the palm of your hand.

Heartbleed Bug

An encryption flaw called the Heartbleed Bug is already being called one of the biggest security threats the Internet has ever seen. You need to protect yourself. Click on the link below to see which sites are involved, and what you can do to protect yourself.

Heartbleed bug

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Re-Install an operating system

Answer Man

How do I re-install Windows 7?

Before you re-install, be certain that your files are backed up. During recovery, you will lose all of your personal files and probably some drivers (such as printer drivers).

When most computers are started, a screen appears that contains a message such as: Press F11 to start system recovery. As soon as you see the message, press the corresponding key. The computer will then wipe out all of your files and re-install the operating system.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Toolbars

Answer Man

My computer has a bunch of toolbars. One particularly annoying one is Ask.com. Do you know a good way to get rid of it?

Navigate to http://toolbarcleaner.com/. Download and install the program. When you run the program, carefully select the toolbars you'd like to remove.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Executive Board Minutes - April 11, 2014

Alan Marcus, President, called the meeting to order at 9:00 AM. Members in attendance: Bill Balch, Richard Bambridge, Elliott Bogart, Frazer Crane, Ron Kenyon, Bob Norton, Linda Tingley, and Carol Norton.

Secretary’s report read by Carol Norton. No corrections or additions necessary.

Bob Norton gave the treasurer's report. The current balance is $1,959.56.

Upcoming Programs: April 16 – Nick Burke from Oak Run will discuss Freeware; May 21 – Capt. James Pogue, Public Information Officer of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, will give a presentation on Today’s Use of Computers and Social Media To Investigate, Solve and Prevent Crime; June 18 - Don Zenn, Manager of Ocala Staples, will be available to discuss Comfort with Windows 8. Future programs are being researched.

The meeting adjourned at 9:45 AM.

Respectfully submitted,

Carol H. Norton
Secretary

Best computer for a snowbird

Answer Man

I'm a snowbird. I travel from Green Bay to Oak Run. I need some sort of device to get on the Internet. Should I buy a laptop or a tablet?

The choice has mainly to do with how you use computing. If you do a lot of writing or other content creation, a laptop is a better choice. If you simply check your e-mail and do an occasional Internet search, the tablet is a better choice. It's lighter, more portable and less expensive.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Security Bug That Affects Most Of The Internet

You trust your banking or Web mail sites to protect your communications when you see the little lock icon in your Web browser. This is why you're OK with typing passwords into Hotmail or your credit card numbers into Amazon.

A popular piece of software called OpenSSL is used by Internet companies to provide this kind of security. On March 14, 2012, someone introduced a bug that would allow an attacker to get the "crown jewels," the encryption keys used to protect your communications directly from the companies themselves.

With those keys, an attacker could eavesdrop on your communications with that company and/or impersonate that company, making it possible for them to harvest things like credit card numbers or passwords with relative ease.

Why is this so devastating? It's devastating for several reasons. First, OpenSSL is used very broadly, from big companies like Yahoo to small companies and mom-and-pop shops with shopping carts provided by a vendor. And it's hard for you to tell who's affected or when they've fixed it because companies don't broadcast which versions of OpenSSL they're running to people like you and me.

Second, in order to fix the bug and guarantee secure communications with you, each company has to update OpenSSL on every Internet-facing computer that they own. Worse, they also ought to revoke their SSL certificates — the "crown jewels" mentioned above — and generate new ones, based on the assumption that they could have been stolen at any point since March of 2012. This process could take a company days or even weeks to do.

Finally, since the bug in OpenSSL has existed since March 14, 2012, there are more than two years of your communications that could have been intercepted by an attacker. Anything you've done — shopping at online stores, logging into your bank or your Web mail — could possibly have been compromised in the past. Because of the nature of the attack, you wouldn't know anything about it.

What can I do about it? Sadly, you're at the mercy of the individual Internet companies to get their software patched and their SSL keys revoked and regenerated. Once you feel certain this has been done at a particular company, you really ought to change your password, since this could easily have been fished out of your communications at any point in the last two years.

Additionally, it would be best to avoid things like shared Wi-Fi networks whenever possible as well, since attackers have their best access to your communications when you're sharing a network with them.

But generally, the burden is on Internet companies and not you. That's what makes this so frustrating.

Credit: npr.org

   You can test the vulnerability of any website by using this link:
ssllabs.com/ssltest
   This link is also available at the top of the left sidebar.

What is a Chrome box?

Answer Man

I see a computer called a Chrome Box that appears awfully cheap, and I'm wondering why it is much less costly than some other alternative computers.

The Chrome Box is produced by Google. Most of the software is in the cloud (not on your computer), so you must be on the Internet to perform most computer functions. The system is very fast, but may not have the functionality you are used to.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Latest Windows 8.1 update

Microsoft has made a great effort to make Windows 8.1 more user friendly. The latest update is now available and provides many new features. Here are some of them:
  • Power and Search buttons are now on the Start screen (upper right hand corner by name)
  • All open and pinned apps appear in the taskbar
  • The Minimize button, Close button, and taskbar are easily available with your mouse
  • Close and Minimize buttons in any app (upper right corner)
  • Right-click an app tile to see more options
  • The Windows Store is pinned to Start

Local Internet Service Providers

Answer Man

I'm new to Oak Run.  I want to access the Internet. What are my options?

You can get Wi-Fi free at many local shops such as McDonalds and Starbucks. If you want an Internet Service Provider (ISP) for your home, you have just two choices: Decca Cable or Century Link. The costs are comparable between the two providers. You could also pay for wireless broadband from companies like Verison (They sell a jetpack and monthly service). Wireless services, however, tend to be slower and can be more costly if you download lots of data.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Do I need a router?

Answer Man

I keep hearing about a router. What are routers, and do I need one?

Routers connect to broadband modems and broadcast a wireless signal. You need one if you want to operate a computer or tablet without a wired connection. This is commonly referred to as Wi-Fi. If you have just one computer that isn't going to be moved, you can wire directly from the modem to the computer and won't need a router.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Windows 8 pros and cons

Answer Man

I have heard a lot of negative comments regarding Windows 8. What are the pros and cons in your opinion?

The pros include great searching ability, access to many apps, and a faster system (It is 14% faster than Windows 7). The cons include having to learn a few things about a new operating system. I would not shun new computers because they have Windows 8 or 8.1. With an hour or so of practice, you will find that the operating system is not that much different than previous Windows versions.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Can't close tabs

Answer Man

I have a Galaxy Tab 2 tablet. It has tabbed browsing. Every time I do a search it opens a new tab. I try to close the tabs, but every time I press on the X in the corner of a tab, a new tab opens. Help!

I have experienced the same problem. If you have very pointy fingers, you might be successful. If you hit the X just right, it changes color and the tab closes. I think the only solution is to buy a stylus for your tablet. If you try to close tabs with fat fingers like mine, it will only work about 2 % of the time.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shut down computer or not

Answer Man

Should I shut down my computer when I'm not using it?

This is an age old question that I have been asked many times. You save a little bit of electricity by shutting down your computer, but, as to the life of the computer, it really doesn't matter. My main computer is nearly 6 years old. I turn it on in the morning after I get up and turn it off when I go to bed. I have never had a problem with the computer. Some people like to put the computer in sleep mode so it starts up more quickly, but I'm not in that big a rush, so I turn it on in the morning and wait for it to boot.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Wireless Adapter

Answer Man

How do you install and use a wireless adapter?

Install the software first. It normally comes in DVD format. Once it is installed, insert the adapter in a USB port. Click on the connection icon on the task bar to view the available networks. You should see the name of the router. Type in the router password, and everything should be good to go.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Make laptop run faster

Answer Man

I know adding memory to my laptop will make it run faster. Can you suggest any other ways to increase speed?

One new way most people haven't considered is to put in a solid state drive in place of the mechanical drive that came with your computer. The SSDs have come down greatly in price, and replacement is very easy.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Back-up solution

Answer Man

I have never backed-up my computer. I don't want to spend a lot of money for a fancy back-up drive. I have about 75 documents and 1000 pictures. Can you suggest a simple back-up solution.

Backing-up to a fairly high capacity flash drive is as simple as you can get. I just purchased a 32GB flash drive at Office Depot for $12.99. A drive that size will easily hold 6000 photos and all the documents of a typical computer user. You can simply copy and paste to the drive.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Router default settings

Answer Man

I have been told that each router has default settings. What does that mean?

Each router manufacturer sets up a login name and password for the router when it is shipped from the factory or if the router is ever re-set. Many routers use default settings such as Admin for the login name and password for the password. If you have forgotten what you changed those to for security reasons, you can re-set the router, put in the defaults and then change to settings of your choice.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Administrative Rights

Answer Man

I ran Spybot Search and Destroy. When the program finished its scan, there was a message saying that some dangerous items couldn't be removed unless I had administrative rights. How do I get administrative rights in Spybot?

Right click on the Spybot icon. Then click Run as Administrator.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Disable excess toolbars

Answer Man

I don't know how it happened, but I have toolbars for Bing, Ask, AVG, Bookmarks, Groove, Blekko, Naver and IXquick. Is there an easy way to stop them from appearing.?

The easiest way is to right click on one of the toolbars to see a list of those toolbars. Each time you uncheck one, that toolbar will disappear. You can also remove them from the browser, but the method to do that differs from one browser to another.

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