Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas

My best wishes to you all for a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2013.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday, December 14, 2012

A very, very sad day for humankind.

RIP innocents, and may your families, somehow, find some strength to get them through to tomorrow.

U.S. banks warned of cyberattack on accounts

Ain't this just grand? What a wonderful state of affairs. Perhaps totally unrelated, very annoying nonetheless, my bank doesn't even allow special characters in account passwords. As I say, perhaps unrelated to the topic at hand, PLEASE do use the most complex password for your important accounts, like your bank and credit card accounts. Use a mixture of lower and upper case letters, numbers, AND special characters, and do it now.

Also, check your own security suite. If you are not well-protected, go ahead and review my recommendations, and whatever else you do, before running any anti-malware tool be sure it is updated to include all known malware. My recommendations can be found here: Security Baseline Revisited
So here's the subject story:

"The U.S. financial services industry has issued a warning that a Russian cyber-gangster is preparing to rob American banks and their customers of millions of dollars.

In addition, the computer security firm McAfee has reported that the cyber-criminal, who calls himself “Thief-in-Law,” already has infected the hundreds of computers of unwitting American customers in preparation to steal their bank account data."

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December Updates

I just downloaded and installed 12 Microsoft updates. That is not too bad for a once a month update, considering all of the software I have on this Windows 7 machine. I really love my new ZT (from Costco) desktop computer.

While downloading the 12 updates I noticed the 12th one was Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT or MRT as it is known).

So after rebooing I did a START/RUN/MRT OK and chose the full scan, as I do every month. It is running now as I write this. I don't think MRT has ever found a problem on any of my machines, but I still run it every month.

An ounce of prevention, I guess.

Enjoy this Christmas season as best as one can under the circumstances of our national condition.

Friday, December 7, 2012

December MVPS HOSTS file now available

December's MVPS HOSTS file is now available for downloading. Be sure to get yours!

"winhelp2002 has made a new post at Hosts News

MVPS HOSTS File Update December-07-2012

The MVPS HOSTS file was recently updated [December-07-2012]

Download: (143 kb)

How To: Download and Extract the HOSTS file

HOSTS File - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: the "text" version makes a great resource for determining
 possible unwanted connections ... (584 kb)

Get notified when the MVPS HOSTS file is updated"

Thursday, December 6, 2012

For PC Virus Victims, Pay or Else

Here is yet another new word for us. It's "ransomware". We have been haunted by fake viruses that are, for the most part, harmless, but which have attempted to extort money from us. The ploy with "scareware" that we have become accustomed to is that a fake anti-virus program will run on your machine, tell you that your machine is infected with lots of viruses, and demand a rather small payment to buy an anti-virus program purported to be able to fix your machine. These rogue scareware attacks were mostly rather harmless, and usually could be removed with good anti-malware utility programs. Perhaps some of you reading this hired me to do just that, clean up your machine after you had been attacked by one of these rogue programs.

But now the game has changed. The newer ransomware programs will lock up your machine demanding a rather stiff fine be paid to unlock your machine. However, even if one pays the exorbitant ransom fee, this NY Times article says the thieves rarely will unlock your machine.

It's all rather scary. I have not yet seen one of these attacks "in the wild", and I hope that YOU are not the first one I hear from with a plea for help. Refer to my recommended baseline security suite of programs and be careful out there.

From the NY Times article:

"Kidnappers used to make ransom notes with letters cut out of magazines. Now, notes simply pop up on your computer screen, except the hostage is your PC.

In the past year, hundreds of thousands of people across the world have switched on their computers to find distressing messages alerting them that they no longer have access to their PCs or any of the files on them.

The messages claim to be from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some 20 other law enforcement agencies across the globe or, most recently, Anonymous, a shadowy group of hackers. The computer users are told that the only way to get their machines back is to pay a steep fine.

And, curiously, it’s working. The scheme is making more than $5 million a year, according to computer security experts who are tracking them."

Friday, November 30, 2012

Laptop Buyers Should Pay Some Attention to the Chromebook

From David Pogue of the NYT, this enlightening article is well worth reading. When I first heard of the concept of the Chromebook I was very excited and thought I would like it. That was a few years ago and I guess something, maybe the original model's price, turned me off. Now there are two new models, one at $250 & the other at $199 made, respectively, by Samsung and Acer.

I have lots of experience with Acer, I am typing this now on my Acer laptop. However, after reading David's article, I think I would spend $50 more for the Samsung.

If you are thinking laptop or tablet, take a look at these machines after reading David's article.

Be sure to read it twice before deciding. Note that there is no hard drive, but that's okay (maybe even better) because of the cloud space Google includes in the offering price.

Laptop Buyers Should Pay Some Attention to the Chromebook

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Microsoft: 40M Windows 8 licenses 'in line' with early Win 7 sales

This is mind-boggling to me. I realize this number must include all new PCs, but still, do the PC sellers really believe they will sell 40 million PCs over the Christmas season or shortly thereafter? I guess the answer must be "yes, they do".

Well, dear readers, it looks like your old PC Doc will be falling behind. I jumped right on the Windows 7 bandwagon in its infancy, but I will not be one of those who can't wait to get his hands on Windows 8. My brand new ZT desktop PC came with W7 but also with an option to buy Windows 8 for around $15. I am not ready, however, to take a chance on messing up my new machine, and I am 99% certain my sole surviving laptop, running XP, won't be able to run Windows 8. Besides, it's a matter of pride with me to make my Windows XP installation and machine last to at least April 2014, the month when XP support is withdrawn by Microsoft.

The title of this post is of an article on today, but I won't bother to include a link to it. It's self-explanatory. It's also unbelievable to me!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Windows XP countdown clock ticks under 500 days

Windows XP is still going strong on my Acer TravelMate 4220 laptop. It is so reliable and fast, it's just amazing. So here we go into the final countdown to April 2014. The 11-year-old operating system will exit support April 8, 2014, when Microsoft serves users with their final security updates. That does not mean that XP will up and die on or soon after that date, it means just what that last sentence said, there will be no more security updates after that date.

For me, and probably also for many of you, the real issue is whether or not this old laptop will make it to then or after. I recently had to replace my IBM ThinkCenter (or a name something like that - how quickly we forget!) with a wonderful ZT machine (see if unfamiliar with that name). The new machine has Windows 7 and I admit that the newer operating sytem is doing just fine. Of course it is running on a very fast and well-configured brand new PC. (See 10 reasons why the desktop PC will live forever).

So the subject article appears today on Let it serve as a reminder to all of us that the end is getting closer!

Windows XP countdown clock ticks under 500 day

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

MIT Online Classes For Free


"How much do you think a typical four-year education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT for short) would cost you? $228,040 (and that doesn’t even count books or Mt. Dew money!)

But how would you feel if I told you that you can take online courses from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology free of charge?

This amazing program is called MIT OpenCourseWare, and contains courses feature video lessons, power point presentations assignments, reading material and related course work. The project was announced in 2001 and has developed into a catalog of over 2,100 courses, covering nearly all subjects taught at the prestigious school. These are not brief overviews or simple summaries, but the actual course material and information taught to MIT students."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

PC Matic by PC Pitstop

Have you seen the PC Matic ads on TV? Bottom line is they suggest they will tune and clean your machine, even removing viruses. They pitch a FREE DOWNLOAD of PC Matic. They never mention a charge of any kind, leading, I would guess, many people to think that they could get a free tuning and cleanup with this free tool.

Well, the download of their program is free, but then who would ever charge one for a download? The charge comes after the free download for any program, but the catch is the program won't work until/unless you pay up front.

And so it is with PC Matic. To me it's a scam. Fortunately, at least in my experience, it is a clean scam in the sense that yes, you have to pay to get it to fix any of the many problems it finds, but once you realize that you have to pay you can quit the program and uninstall it through the control panel and by deleting one folder under Program Files.

I was curious enough to download and run it on both of my computers. After the download and execution of the program you will get a screen that looks like this (click to enlarge):

I ran this on my very clean and new desktop which has Windows 7. You can see that PC Matic found 20 problems that needed fixing and it came up with 2 advice items.

Notice in the lower right hand corner the tab that says "FIX ALL". On both systems on which I ran this I got variations of the above screen, and on both systems I clicked on "FIX ALL".

When I clicked on Fix All, the screen below popped up (click to enlarge):

Uh-oh! The free download of PC Matic has turned into a $49.99 ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION! That's right. If you pay the money you will be asked to pay it again after a year, and I don't have a clue about the quality of the product once you pay. This is very similar in appearance to the many rogue programs that plague us PC users these days. With the rogue programs they take your money, leave your system all messed up, and don't fix a darn thing.

I am guessing PC Matic may actually be a good product, but I don't know that since it did nothing for me.

So much for all the excitement about PC Matic as is displayed by the pretty young girl in the TV ads.

I was able to uninstall it on both machines (one XP and the other a W7) easily through the Control Panel. After doing that I found they left a folder under Program Files named Pitstop (that is the company name). I got rid of the folder with a simple delete.

So, net is no harm done, and no money spent, and no "problems" fixed.

If you want to keep your system clean and trouble-free, check out my recommended Security Baseline. It consists of programs that are really free!

If your system has problems and needs personal attention, call or write me for a fee-based, remote, online complete tuning and cleaning. As many of you know, I also make housecalls. PC Doctor contact information can be found here.

Friday, November 16, 2012

TuneUp Utilities 2013

I believe in this product. I use it on my 3 home computers. I recommend it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Is a 4G Network?

From David Pogue of the New York Times.

" November 7, 2012, 6:01 pm

From today’s mailbag:
Dear Mr. Pogue,
What is the difference between 4G and 4G LTE?
And my reply:
Well, 4G is supposed to mean 4G LTE.
But AT&T has come up with a network type that’s halfway in between 3G and LTE — something it calls 4G. It’s faster than 3G, but nowhere near as good as LTE. So all the other companies, like Verizon, use the term “4G LTE” to emphasize that they have real 4G — the super fast type. This explains why AT&T can advertise “the biggest 4G network” — because none of its competitors even count 4G area! For them, and for you, LTE is the really desirable network type."

Friday, November 9, 2012

How to Devise Passwords That Drive Hackers Away

This has always been a pet peeve of mine ever since I was IS Security Manager at a local hospital, I was amazed when I ran a password cracking program and saw the results. Many of you would probably not be surprised.

This comes from the New York Times.

"Not long after I began writing about cybersecurity, I became a paranoid caricature of my former self. It’s hard to maintain peace of mind when hackers remind me every day, all day, just how easy it is to steal my personal data.

Within weeks, I set up unique, complex passwords for every Web site, enabled two-step authentication for my e-mail accounts, and even covered up my computer’s Web camera with a piece of masking tape — a precaution that invited ridicule from friends and co-workers who suggested it was time to get my head checked."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Down the Shore

I spent many of my pre-teen & teen summer vacations "down the shore:", in the little town of Lavallette, NJ. Today Lavallette, like so many other places along the Northeast Atlantic coast,  lies devastated by hurricane Sandy.

This poem helps me think back to some of my earlier years and the wonderful memories of those halcyon days. I spent many, many hours at the Cozy Nooke. You see they had a pinball machine there!

by Arthur J. Maglionico

I remember as a child the beaches soft, the ocean wild,
Friends who shared a dream back then, per chance that we would meet again.
I recall each suntanned face, each pretty girl, each hiding place,
The new Hellos, the sad Goodbyes,
The soft wind, and the starlit skies.
The families huddled in the sand, their hearts were warm, their spirit grand,
Stretching out beneath the sun, barefoot and with hair undone.
I can hear the ocean roar as waves caress the sunny shore,
With fishermen waiting patiently for a gift surrendered by the sea.
I remember distant sails, skimming over the salty trails,
I'd watch them slowly disappear, toward the open sea somewhere.
The Main Street always thrilled me so, with its Cozy Nooke and Movie Show,
And folks would drive from all around to gaze at this enchanted town.
Nowhere can there ever be a place like this one by the sea.
I'm much older now, and yet, my dreams are there Dear Lavallette.
May God's grace ever shine on you,
May your skies be clear and ocean blue,
Let it remain as soft and mild as I remember as a child.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Apple iPad mini first impressions

First time I have posted something from the Boy Genius Report web site, This new product has been given some rave reviews lately, and while it is still my position that I would like to have one, I am still not willing to spend money on yet another "computer". I do admit it would be a fun device to own, and if money were not a concern I'd probably buy one.

"Almost from the beginning, Apple (AAPL) has been rumored to have been looking at manufacturing a smaller iPad. While the company delivered in form factor, finish, materials, and quality, there has been one thing most industry watchers have wanted… a smaller price. Well, too bad. I have been wanting a smaller iPad for a long time, especially since the 3rd-generation iPad was thicker and heavier instead of thinner and lighter. It’s taken me a while to figure out Apple’s strategy here, but it’s actually quite simple."

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Windows 8 Review

"Microsoft straps a tablet operating system to Windows 8. Should enthusiasts make the big upgrade? 

Windows 8 is not a want, it’s a necessity. Not for you, the consumer. For Microsoft.
We’d like to think that somewhere, somehow, a group of user interface experts like to meet up for lunch in one of Microsoft’s (likely) sprawling Redmond cafeterias. They talk about their days, their families, and how horrified they are at Microsoft’s decision—and need—to unify a single user experience across its entire product line."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

New MVPS HOSTS File Available Today

Get yours. Remember, before installing it, run your monthly Spybot scan.

MVPS HOSTS File Update October-18-2012

The MVPS HOSTS file was recently updated [October-18-2012]
Download: (144 kb)
How To: Download and Extract the HOSTS file
HOSTS File - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: the "text" version makes a great resource for determining possible unwanted connections ... (586 kb)
Get notified when the MVPS HOSTS file is updated

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Finding a Simple Computer

From the New York Times.

Question: "I am trying to find the easiest computer for my elderly mother to use. She has never used one before and only needs e-mail and the Web, so it needs to be really basic. What’s out there?"

Answer: "The Telikin is one such specialized system that is promoted as an “easy to use” machine for anyone seeking a basic computer. The system has a touch-screen interface with large icons and includes built-in applications using Web and e-mail. Several reviews of the Telikin can be found around the Web and more information is on the Telikin site. Enablemart also sells computers for those with limited or specific needs."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

10 reasons why the desktop PC will live forever

Those of you who know me, whether customer, student, or friend or family, know that I am a big fan of desktop computers. I am such a big fan that I just bought a new one. I got this from Costco: ZT Intel® Core™ i7-3770 Desktop PC with Wireless Keyboard & Mouse. I have it installed next to my old IBM desktop PC that is running fine, even though it is literally in pieces and I start it with a chopstick (don't ask). My IBM has been a real workhorse and has been extremely reliable. Also, it has Windows XP, and I hate to give that up. The new one of course has W7. I WILL get to like W7, I keep telling myself. I do still have my Acer TravelMate 4220 laptop, and it runs XP, so I will keep my hand in on XP, the good Lord willing and it (the Acer) doesn't fail!

So today I found this article on the PCWorld web site, and it is both timely and may help some of you make a buying decision if you are wondering about the futire of desktops.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

What to do if the power cord for your laptop stops working

This has happened to me in the past. This is a good blog post from Call That Girl for any laptop owners.

"Drat, that power cord. Always causing problems! Most clients call us for a few reasons in regards to power issues with their laptop. Sometimes we can fix it, sometimes we cannot. Most of the time, we can fix it, but the cost is roughly $150 (it’s a hardware repair, done inside the computer and very labor intensive). If the hardware, also known as a DC jack, is fine, then the problem is most likely a dead power supply (cord).

How to figure out if it’s your power cord:
Unfortunately, there’s not always a clear cut sign as to which is your problem. One thing you can try, if you have another that fits, is to plug in a different power supply and see if your computer gets a full charge. If it does, then your power cord is most likely the cause. If this still doesn’t work or you don’t have an extra cord, you can drop off your computer for a free diagnosis and let us figure out what exactly is going on!

What to do if it’s your power cord:
  • Purchase a new power adapter from the manufacturer = spendy, but probably best if your laptop is under 3 years old.
  • Purchase one from Best Buy or Microcenter = also spendy, but convenient.
  • Purchase a generic adapter set online = Most folks do this, but…the adapter can be a problem later. They will either stop working or fail before a manufactured one will."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

White House confirms 'spearphishing' intrusion

"Spearphishing means an attacker is targeting a specific person or group, typically by sending fake e-mail that masquerades as legitimate correspondence."

Monday, October 1, 2012

I use SOS Online Backup services to protect my valuable data

Every morning I find an e-mail in my Inbox that informs me of the results of last night's online backup. I use SOS Online Backup, an affordable and reliable backup service to automatically backup all of my important data (pictures, music, videos, etc.) to The Cloud. I found that I needed a little help at the start, but the SOS online help team seemed to be always available, no matter the day or the hour, to provide me the help I needed.

One of these days my old IBM desktop PC will fail. If it does so in such a way that I lose data, I feel comfortable knowing that I will be able to restore the backed up data from SOS

This is what he body of the e-mail looks like (with apologies for cutting off the right side of the message, but you see the most important data and, I hope, get the idea):

SOS Online Backup - Backup Report for Friday, April 20, 2012
This email is from the SOS Online Backup system to report to you on a backup that you setup. Note that these backup reports are sent to you by default upon installation and setup of a scheduled backup in the SOS Online Backup software. You can disable getting these reports by going to the "Settings" tab in SOS Online Backup, then clicking "Options", and then clicking "Email Backup Reports".
Machine NameIBM8195E9U
Backup Date4/20/2012 10:05:05 PM
Files that were not changed44075
Files that were backed up35
Files that were not backed up0
Total Number of files processed35
Total Data transferred132.88 MB

This email report is auto-generated from the SOS Online Backup system upon the successful completion of your backup session.

Making backup simple, easy and affordable.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Can a tablet replace your laptop?

This is from Kim Komando's web site, This is extracted from Kim's Daily Tip of 9/27/2012. I have deleted references to the questioner who posed the subject question in order to protect her privacy.

"........You heard correctly that tablets are becoming more like laptops. However, the two gadgets still have different areas of focus.

They're both big investments as far as money is concerned, so you want to make sure you buy the one that works best for you.

Despite all the advances in hardware and software, tablets are still geared toward content consumption. It's easy to watch streaming video, play games, read e-books, listen to music and do light Web browsing.

Creating content isn't so easy. Also, remember that tablets don't run Windows, so any must-have Windows-based programs you own won't work. You'll have to find apps to replace them.

On the plus side, tablets are a bit more portable than laptops. You can easily use one while sitting on the couch watching TV, in bed or when you're out and about.

If that's the kind of use you want, then a tablet is a good choice. Learn more about buying a tablet in my buying guide.

Laptops still have the edge over tablets in content creation thanks to the physical keyboard, a larger screen and more-powerful productivity software.

If you want to write a book, edit photos, create slideshows or do serious Internet browsing, a laptop is the better choice. Read my laptop buying guide to learn more about choosing a good laptop.

Before you make your final decision, xxxxxxxxxx, I'd head out to the store to try out some tablets.

Pay special attention to the on-screen keyboard. Some people can use it just fine while others need a physical keyboard to be happy. You can buy physical keyboards for tablets, but at that point it would probably be better to buy a laptop.

I'd also do some research on apps to make sure you can find ones that do what you need. There's no sense buying a tablet if it is missing a key software feature........................."

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Security Baseline Revisited

This was last posted in April of this year. There are no changes. This package had helped me keep my PCs trouble-free.

I think every few months or so I should publish this post, especially for those of you who may be new viewers. For those of you who are familiar with my security baseline, I continue to use the same portfolio of free products I used months ago. There are no changes.

I hope you are using these programs. Keep them updated before running!

From time to time I refer to my security baseline. My security baseline is merely a list of programs I use (all free) and recommend for anyone to use to keep their systems secure. This applies to YOU if you use Windows XP, Vista, or Windows 7.

Remember, all of these products are FREE, but will do as good a job as any fee products you may use. I make that statement and stand by it based on 44 years of experience with computers.
1. Microsoft Security Essentials. This is a very impressive anti-virus program and can replace any you have now. DOWNLOAD HERE
2. Windows Firewall (Standard part of your operating system. Check the Security Center to be sure it is on.)
3. MVPS HOSTS File - download the current month's version and update monthly DOWNLOAD HERE
4. CCleaner - check for newer version than you may already have. Run weekly. DOWNLOAD HERE by clicking on Download Latest Version in the upper right hand corner of the page.
5. Malwarebytes' Anti-Malware - run bi-weekly. DOWNLOAD HERE
6. SuperAntiSpyware Free Edition - run bi-weekly in the off week after #5. DOWNLOAD HERE
7. Spybot Search & Destroy - run monthly just before downloading new HOSTS file.  I recommend, for now, downloading Version 1.6.2 under "old versions". DOWNLOAD HERE

I will be happy to assist you with any or all of the above installations. This can be done remotely.

Questions?  Comment below or write me, pcdoc at brpcdoc dot com

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Nice feedback

I received this e-mail yesterday. It is always nice to receive good, positive feedback like this from a blog reader.

"Thank you, thank you, for your very clear instructions!  After too many frustrating attempts, I found your instructions on the web and was done in minutes.  I, too, like Outlook Express; have bought a new computer and will install the new Outlook program -- any problems changing from Outlook Express to Outlook?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rogue Microsoft Services Agreement emails lead to latest Java exploit

As always, be careful, be very careful out there!

"IDG News Service - Hackers are distributing rogue email notifications about changes in Microsoft's Services Agreement to trick people into visiting malicious pages that use a recently circulated Java exploit to infect their computers with malware."

Friday, August 24, 2012

"Are you ready for Windows 8? I’m not and here’s why…"

I am eminently unqualified to even comment on Windows 8, so I am happy to post another item from the Call That Girl Blog that covers the topic of Windows 8. It's early yet, but those of you who are buying a new computer this summer are being given coupons that will allow you to obtain a copy of Windows 8 for $14.99  or some low price like that when it becomes generally available. Before you jump into something new, I urge you to read the latest here or elsewhere on Windows 8.

Here is how the post starts:

"For those of you that are just now finally getting out of Windows Vista and moving to Windows 7, you are probably very happy consumers. Windows Vista (the operating system that was a problem for many folks) is done with, finished..over! We are all happy! Right? Well, you could see Vista’s annoying little brother coming up soon, aka…Windows 8. The technical people in my circles have all been doing previews and giving Windows 8 only bad reviews. What they are saying is that the “next” version after Windows 8 will be the best, like Windows 7 (ok, what year? 2013? haha!)"

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Why you should wait for the iPad Mini

Interesting. From

"Amazon and Google have opened the market to a whole new class of tablet customer with their 7-inch tablets priced affordably at $200. But the attractive price tag is only one reason to like these mini-tablets.

In this edition of Ask Maggie, I explain why I like smaller tablets and why I think readers interested in buying a tablet should wait to see if Apple also introduces a tiny, affordable iPad.

I also explain the ins and outs of buying a new iPhone directly from Apple or from your wireless carrier."

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Windows 8 Release to Manufacturing review

So here it comes - the future as Microsoft sees it. Everything looks good but the learning curve! This is from

"The good: Windows 8 embraces the future wholeheartedly. Log-in and boot times are fast, the apps look gorgeous, and the Sync feature brings seamless transition between devices.

The bad: The learning curve is steep and in-app navigation isn't obvious. There are just too many known unknowns here.

The bottom line: Microsoft makes an aggressive, forward-thinking and bold statement statement for the future of PCs with Windows 8, and vast security and speed improvements more than justify the $40 upgrade price."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Browser Wars: Chrome vs. IE9 vs. Firefox

I usually look forward to this kind of annual review, but this time I don't see much new. I post this for those of you who may have trouble deciding which to make your default browser. I still do not like IE9 and I still do not like Chrome because they, for whatever crazy reason, will not include a left sidebar for bookmarks.This review is from

Browser Wars: Chrome vs. IE9 vs. Firefox

Thursday, August 9, 2012

7 hidden costs of a new computer

This is good! It comes from Call That Girl Blog.

Let’s say you bought your computer a few years ago and it’s not playing nice right now. So many things are going wrong that you decide it’s not worth fixing and just buy new. For some people, it’s an easy choice. Pay $150 or more to try to fix the old clunker or invest a few hundred bucks and get a brand spanking new computer! Seems like a logical choice? New is just a few bucks more so why not? For the average home user, all they need to do is just plug it in and go. Or not? Not so much lately. With all the technology advances, getting a new computer can cost you a few bucks if you need us to help you after new software purchases. Here is a list I have outlined. I have started with home users, but most businesses will need all of the items in the list done. Our costs are listed in parenthesis. Of course, when we help you we just knock out each issue and it’s billed per hour. The average new computer set up is approximately 2 hours for a home user at $198 or a business at $297. 

Home users
  1. Printers, if your old one is so old…the regular software may not work on a new Windows 7 computer. You may need to buy a new printer or have us help find the right software for you ($39 to $79)
  2. Itunes (special help with getting your iPhone/iPod set up $39-79)
  3. Transferring your data (documents, music, internet favorites and pictures) from old to new computer ($39-$59)
  4. Antivirus. If you already are paying a service from a Big Box company, you should be able to call them and get it reinstalled on your new computer. You may need to buy a new license.
  5. Software for word, spreadsheets, etc. Find those old installations disks!
  6. Replacing any software that you “borrowed” from a friend, usually cannot be replaced at this point. You will need to borrow that CD again to install it and it may not be compatable. You may need to buy a version that works with Windows. Many old software programs just do not work at all with newer computers.
  7. Getting your computer on the network and sharing with other computers in the home/office
Business. Same list as above, but add on
  • Quickbooks/Peachtree/ACT set up
  • Outlook PST file set up and email configuration
  • Online back up solutions or external hard drive computer back up configuration
  • File sharing solutions (such as Dropbox)
  • Smartphone synchronizing wth Outlook and computer

Monday, July 16, 2012

Symantec antivirus software update crashes some PCs

"A recent update to Symantec's antivirus software rendered some Windows-based PCs inoperable, the security software maker disclosed Friday.

An update earlier this week to Symantec Endpoint Protection 12.1 antivirus software for businesses caused some Windows XP-based computers to crash repeatedly with a "blue screen of death," the company revealed on its Web site.

"On July 11th, 2012 Symantec Security Response started receiving reports of customers experiencing blue screens after applying the July 11th revision 18 definitions," Orla Cox, of Symantec Security Response, wrote in the post. "Machines may continue to blue screen after they reboot. This problem only appears to occur on Windows XP machines.""

Friday, July 6, 2012

Will your internet work on Monday? Take the test to find out if you have malware

The following text has been copied from the Call That Girl blog.

"Although the FBI has been urging consumers for months to check if their systems have been affected by DNSChanger, about 275,000 computers are still at risk of not having Internet access on Monday, July 9.

The good news is that it’s easy to see if your system has been infected and fix it if needed. The DNS Changer Working Group (DCWG) launched a check tool (Click on the link below to test your internet)

— if you click on the link and the box is green, your computer is clean (If the box is red, your Internet will be dead)."

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

New MVPS HOSTS File Available

MVPS HOSTS File Update July-03-2012

The MVPS HOSTS file was recently updated [July-03-2012]
Download: (145 kb)
How To: Download and Extract the HOSTS file
HOSTS File - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: the "text" version makes a great resource for determining possible unwanted connections ... (588 kb)
Get notified when the MVPS HOSTS file is updated

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Fraud Ring In Hacking Attack On 60 Banks

All I can say is I m glad I am not a high-roller!

"Sixty million euro has been stolen from bank accounts in a massive cyber bank raid after fraudsters raided dozens of financial institutions around the world.
According to a joint report by software security firm McAfee and Guardian Analytics, more than 60 firms have suffered from what it has called an "insider level of understanding".
"The fraudsters' objective in these attacks is to siphon large amounts from high balance accounts, hence the name chosen for this research - Operation High Roller," the report said.
"If all of the attempted fraud campaigns were as successful as the Netherlands example we describe in this report, the total attempted fraud could be as high as 2bn euro (£1.6bn).""

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Microsoft Surface tablet hands-on

Microsoft Surface Hands On
Microsoft’s mystery event is finally over and considering the flurry of leaks that piled up ahead of this evening’s press conference, we can’t say were entirely surprised by the announcement of the company’s first own-brand tablet. BGR was on hand reporting live as Microsoft took the wraps off the Surface tablet, a 9.3 millimeter-thick magnesium slate intended to set the stage for Windows 8 and Windows RT. We managed to fight our way through the crowd for a quick hands-on look, and Microsoft’s new tablet shows some serious promise. Hit the jump for more and be sure to check out our hands-on photo gallery linked below.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

MSRT for June 2012 available now

This is a repost of last month's MSRT availability.

Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) became available with this week's Microsoft Automatic Updates. If you received this week's updates and installed them all you have MSRT. Microsoft updates this tool every month, and we have all just installed the May version.

I encourage you all to do as I do. Once installed, run a full scan on your computer. It'll take a while, but I view this as free insurance. The MSRT tool has never found a problem on any of my machines, and I am glad of that!

Be sure you have installed this week's updates and then do the following: Click on START then RUN and then key in MRT and click on OK. On the second screen click on FULL SCAN and let it run.

Note: in the above paragraph, MRT is not a typo. I don't know why Microsoft didn't set this up so we would run MSRT, but they chose to name the program simply MRT!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Time Out

Summer, and I realize it is not even here yet, has already gotten the best of me. I need some time off. I am not sure how long. I hope you understand.

I will, from time to time, post items of general interest here.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seniors connecting with Internet technology

Hooray for us! And Seniors don't forget if you need help you can get it right here from your PC Doc, whether an in-house call or over the internet, the chances are pretty good I can help you out.

This article comes from the Washington Times.

"It’s the ultimate challenge in Internet dating - getting senior citizens hooked up with the Web. Connected Living is one company trying to teach seniors, many with limited Internet experience, how to log on, use social media and connect to families and the outside world.

The Massachusetts-based firm is going into senior group homes across the country to teach residents how to surf the Internet, send emails, share photos and videos, and play games online.

These basic computer tasks - second nature for many who have grown up with smartphones - can be life-altering for senior citizens who have never used a mouse or even logged on to a computer."

Monday, June 4, 2012

Scams on Craigslist

If you ever get to selling an item on Craigslist, be very careful.

Craigslist will always warn you of the dangers with something like this:

** Avoid:  wiring money, cross-border deals, work-at-home
** Beware: cashier checks, money orders, escrow, shipping
** More Info:

The part about dealing locally is quite important. I finally sold my MacBook to a buyer in my home town. However, prior to that I had at lease 10 inquiries from THIEVES (scammers), all of whom wanted me to ship the MacBook  and after that I would get my money. Each and every one of them wanted me to ship the machine to Nigeria. These two items: ship before being paid, and ship the item to Nigeria are two very definite indications that you are dealing with a THIEF!

In addition, note in my final note to a scammer and his/her final note to me, his/her grammar leaves a lot to be desired. I am sure that over time their English will improve, but there are just so many telltale signs that this person is a crook.

I marked their e-mail inquiries as scams to Craigslist and also wrote to PayPal is the phony method the "buyer" says they want used for them to pay you.

Don't you just love the last sentence of the thief's note: "Thank you and God Bless."

My last note to the thief after receiving the one in red below:

"This note of yours and all the others you have sent have been forwarded to I hope they can put a stop to you and your ilk.


"On Thu, May 17, 2012 at 2:21 PM, xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx wrote:

Hey ..I am not happy at all to hear all this from you..because i have
already told you that the item is urgently needed and i told my son
that the item will get to him are telling me another story
now.I think i have to inform FBI and my lawyer about the and they will
also need to inform the police...And you will get arrested for
scamming people online the internet..So i will wait to hear back from
you with the tracking number of your shipment as soon as you get the item ship out but if you don't...i think u will need to go to jail because you are trying to scam me.i have paid for the item and the money has been deducted from my account..I will stay on my computer to read back from you..Thank you and God Bless..."

I never heard another word!

Friday, June 1, 2012

MacBook Pro Sold

I have sold my MacBook Pro 17", a beautiful and powerful machine. I bought it thinking I would branch out in my PCDoc business to support Macs once I learned more about these different machines. Between moving from Vermont to Massachusetts and spending less time in Maine in the summers, that part of my business never really took off, and I was left hanging on to this very expensive MacBook that generated no income. I never got to use it much. The bottom line is that it simply wasn't running Windows, and hate Windows if you will, I was used to it, could keep it up and running, and it was where my PCDoc business was. I just could not get myself to like OS/X or Leopard or Lion enough to commit to the MacBook, so it sat mostly gathering dust, and it just made no sense for me to keep it.

So I listed it for sale on Craigslist, and boy did I learn something and quickly at that. I had so many inquiries from scammers who wanted the machine, sight unseen, to be shipped to Nigeria. That was one issue, but the real issue was that they wanted me to ship it and only THEN receive payment! Something is basically wrong with this business model of theirs. I just feel so bad for people who are taken in by these scammers and lose their valuable assets in the process.

I finally sold it to a family in my new hometown, and am happy about this, and particularly happy that the new owner tried out my machine for a day and found it was just what they needed for their business. They already had a lot of Mac experience, and that is what this machine needed. I would not have wanted to sell it to someone with no Mac experience.

I have to say, speaking as an experienced Windows user, the Mac is NOT as user-friendly as the Mac users world would have you believe. I can see a youngster cutting his or her teeth on a Mac and getting to love it and swear by it, but it simply is not a lot of fun for a Windows user to make the transition.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

MVPS HOSTS File Available online now

I hope you are using this valuable tool. You can now download the new version as of today.

winhelp2002 has made a new post at Hosts News
MVPS HOSTS File Update May-23-2012

The MVPS HOSTS file was recently updated [May-23-2012]
Download: (145 kb)
How To: Download and Extract the HOSTS file
HOSTS File - Frequently Asked Questions
Note: the "text" version makes a great resource for determining possible unwanted connections ... (590 kb)
Get notified when the MVPS HOSTS file is updated

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Shredding a hard drive?

I recently experienced one of those "now I have seen everything" moments. The town of Acton, MA has just implemented a program to shred hard drives. Yes, you read that right. I have been in the computer business for 44 years and did not know that such a thing as a Hard Drive Shredder existed!

A company named SEM in Westboro, MA makes several devices for this purpose, but the Town of Acton decided upon the SEM 0300. I have seen it, touched it, and used it to shred several of my own old hard drives.

Why would someone want to shred a hard drive, and what does that mean? Well, first of all if you think of all of the possible Government uses for such devices, the list would be endless. And how about us, the residents of the Town of Acton (and elsewhere)? The answer becomes more obvious every day if you read the papers or listen to the news or browse the web. Privacy. Security. Identity Theft. These probably ring a few bells.

Before you toss out that old computer, and the Town of Acton makes this easy to do at the Town's Transfer Station, think about the data that might still be on your hard drive, and if you have the least amount of concern about this, as I think most of us do or should, then shredding your hard drive is the answer.

The Model 300 will easily and quickly devour your hard drive and turn it into lots of unusable and very small pieces (see attached photo). It really is quite amazing and so easy to do, and works for 2.5 inch (laptop PC) and 3.5 inch (desktop PC) hard drives. I would encourage all residents of Acton to take advantage of this new Town service. Where, you might ask?

The answer is at the gate house at the entrance to the Town of Acton Transfer Station, just off Route 2. Stop at the gate house, complete a brief Hard Drive Destruction Release Form, and pay the attendant $10 for the service (these machines are VERY expensive as you can see from the SEM web site and the Town wishes to have the machine pay for itself). Please note: as I write this the form is not yet online. If, when it goes online, it is located in a different web location, I will update the link. My thanks to John Bailey at the Transfer Station (pictured below) who is holding a handful of shreds (former hard drives) and posing next to the SEM 0300 (yes, it is a small machine and surprisingly quiet too!).

For any technical questions regarding how to remove your hard drive from your computer, please contact me at 781-898-4060 or

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Comparing Intel Core i5 vs i7

This pcmag article is of great interest to me, and perhaps for a few of you as well. I am very interested in the Core i7 processors that can be found in many new desktops, and I guess even some laptops. I believe the Intel Core i7 processors to be the fastest available.

"For many consumers shopping around for a new desktop or laptop PC, one of the biggest considerations is the type of processor, and two of the two processors most often in contentio are the Intel Core i5 and Core i7. Discounting Core i3 (mainly found in budget systems) and AMD processors (another article entirely), the difference between Intel Core i5 and Core i7 can seem daunting, especially when the prices seem so close together once they're in completed systems. We break down the differences for you."

Monday, May 21, 2012

I received 2 e-mails from Google, warning me that someone in JAPAN had tried to access my e-mail account. At first I thought I had received a phishing e-mail from someone who would want me to divulge my password (NEVER do that!). Upon further reflection and upon receiving the second warning (below) that included the Japan reference, I figured maybe someone had my password already and had tried to sign in. Even if they didn't have my password, I decided that I would change my password, and I did. This is a very nice Google Mail (GMAIL) feature. I am impressed. By the way, I changed my password in the traditional manner by signing into Gmail and then selecting the CHANGE MY PASSWORD option. I would not recommend following any links in e-mails such as these. They could be fakes, phishing for my password and sending me to one of their own sites! Geez, who can you trust these days online?

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Microsoft Gives Windows a Clean Sweep

This is really good news. If/when I sell my Apple Macbook Pro 17, I think this is how I shall buy a replacement laptop. This comes from Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal.

"For a long time, some Microsoft officials have privately griped that PC makers don’t present Windows in its best light. They clutter desktops with icons that are often little more than ads for third-party products; include confusing utilities that duplicate functions already in Windows; require lengthy setup; and configure PCs in ways that slow them down.

One consequence, in the eyes of these Microsoft executives, is to confer an advantage on the company’s main operating-system rival, Apple."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

DISH Introduces Commercial-Free TV With "Auto Hop"

I wanted to call this post "It's about time:, but I didn't want to steal any of the thunder from Dish Networks. For the same reason I am including the entire article from

I can only speak for myself when I say that I sure get annoyed at all the commercials on TV these days, and since I use a multi-roon DVR for most programs I am interested in, this article sure hit home!  So, IMHO it's about time and I am very glad to see Dish take the lead on this. I have had experience with Comcast, Verizon FIOS, and Time-Warner. None of these has such a feature and it is my hope that these will follow with their own "Auto Hop" feature.

"ENGLEWOOD, CO--(Marketwire - May 10, 2012) - DISH (NASDAQ: DISH) satellite subscribers will now get the feature viewers have been waiting for since the beginning of television -- the choice to automatically skip over commercials. The new "Auto Hop" capability for the Hopper whole-home HD DVR system is being activated today, and it allows customers to skip all commercials for most recorded primetime HD programs shown on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC when viewed the day after airing.
"Viewers love to skip commercials," said Vivek Khemka, vice president of DISH Product Management. "With the Auto Hop capability of the Hopper, watching your favorite shows commercial-free is easier than ever before. It's a revolutionary development that no other company offers and it's something that sets Hopper above the competition."

DISH is the nation's third-largest pay-TV provider, delivering TV service to millions of families nationwide. DISH launched the Hopper whole-home HD DVR system in mid-March, giving viewers the ability to record up to six shows at once while playing back HD content in up to four rooms.
"Auto Hop" is an extension of the Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime™ capability, the exclusive feature that allows viewers, with one click, to record all of the primetime TV programming on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC in HD -- the networks that deliver some of the most popular shows during primetime.
The Hopper automatically stores these shows for eight days after they have aired, creating an on-demand library of approximately 100 hours of primetime TV shows, and making it easy to access episodes from last night, or last week.

"The magic of PrimeTime Anytime is that it allows DISH subscribers to catch up on all primetime shows, including episodes recorded over the past week and recommended by friends, family, and co-workers after they've already been broadcast," said Khemka. "With Hopper, you have access to all primetime HD programs broadcast by the four major networks. Now you can watch many of those shows commercial-free, with Auto Hop."
Auto Hop, using patented technology, works with most shows recorded using PrimeTime Anytime (patent pending). A viewer can watch a show with the Auto Hop option commercial-free starting at 1 a.m. ET, after a show has been recorded to the Hopper's PrimeTime Anytime library. Prior to that, The Hopper's 30-second "hop forward" feature continues to work for same-day viewing.
Auto Hop does not work on live broadcasts.

Lauded by reviewers as the best whole-home DVR for its intuitive user interface, never-before-seen features and reasonable pricing, the Hopper whole-home HD DVR system makes it easy to enjoy HD programs in multiple rooms. PCMagazine named the Hopper an "Editor's Choice" among DVR products and calls the award-winning and innovative Hopper "one of the best DVRs we've ever seen."
ENGADGET has similar praise for the Hopper and the PrimeTime Anytime feature "because it allows us to discover shows anytime after they first aired, so if you learn of a great new show while wasting time at the water cooler, it isn't too late to go home and watch it or choose to save it for a later viewing. It's a step towards a future where we can watch whatever we want without having to plan in advance or consult a list to make sure our shows will be recorded. What else can we say? It just works."

For more information about the award-winning Hopper and Joey by DISH, including technical specifications, please visit
Hopper and Joey images are available at

About DISH Network
DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH), through its subsidiary DISH Network L.L.C., provides more than 14 million satellite TV customers with the highest quality programming and technology with the most choices at the best value, including HD Free for Life. Subscribers enjoy the largest high definition line-up with more than 200 national HD channels, the most international channels, and award-winning HD and DVR technology. DISH Network Corporation's subsidiary, Blockbuster L.L.C., delivers family entertainment to millions of customers around the world. DISH Network Corporation is a Fortune 200 company. Visit"

Friday, May 11, 2012

Phishing scams


I see a lot of spam these days, more and more it seems. Much of it comes in to my small business e-mails, like my PC Doc e-mail or my BRFRBO e-mail. Many of these are "PHISHING" e-mails, meaning someone is trying to fool me into making a payment when no payment is due, and of course the payment will go to the criminal and not the legitimate business. I posted an example of a fine looking e-mail from Verizon on this web site just a few weeks ago. Today I got one from a "PAYPAL" address. It was clear to me that it was a phishing attempt, and for Paypal I know that they have an address,, where one can forward suspected phishing attempts. I did that and got the following reply:

"Hello pcdoc,

Thanks for forwarding that suspicious-looking email. You're right - it
was a phishing attempt, and we're working on stopping the fraud. By
reporting the problem, you've made a difference!

Identity thieves try to trick you into revealing your password or other
personal information through phishing emails and fake websites. To learn
more about online safety, click "Security Center" on any PayPal webpage.

Every email counts. When you forward suspicious-looking emails to, you help keep yourself and others safe from identity

Your account security is very important to us, so we appreciate your
extra effort.



Thursday, May 10, 2012


Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT) became available with this week's Microsoft Automatic Updates. If you received this week's updates and installed them all you have MSRT. Microsoft updates this tool every month, and we have all just installed the May version.

I encourage you all to do as I do. Once installed, run a full scan on your computer. It'll take a while, but I view this as free insurance. The MSRT tool has never found a problem on any of my machines, and I am glad of that!

Be sure you have installed this week's updates and then do the following: Click on START then RUN and then key in MRT and click on OK. On the second screen click on FULL SCAN and let it run.

Note: in the above paragraph, MRT is not a typo. I don't know why Microsoft didn't set this up so we would run MSRT, but they chose to name the program simply MRT!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

What To Do If Your Laptop Is Plugged In But Not Charging

This is a very common problem, unfortunately, especially for those of us who try to get the most out of our investments nowadays. The author does a very thorough job of identifying all of the problems that might cause this phenomenon. I have experienced this at least 20 or 30 times, sad to say sometimes on my own laptops, and the problem, also unfortunately, is most often caused by item # 4 in this article from Yes, you need to check out all the possibilities, and if you are lucky you may find the cause of your problem is simple to fix.

If you eliminate all but # 4, you will need to take your laptop in to a hardware shop that can take the laptop apart and re-solder or replace the power connector, the place where what you plug into your laptop comes into contact with the innards of the machine.

The last time I had this done, it cost me about $100, but that was 10 or so years ago. The tab may be higher these days. However, I happen to be in possession of a laptop with the problem described in item # 4, and intend to drop it off at a local shop for an estimate. I will follow up with what I find out.

The article is definitely worth a read, You'll find it here.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

I accidentally came upon a new web site I hadn't known existed until today. It is Tech Tips Geek or

Check it out and see what you think. I will be doing the same and will likely post some of their tips if the site is as good as I think it might be.

Friday, May 4, 2012

MacBook Pro 17 inch for sale

At least for the next few days, the listing of my MacBook Pro 17" can be found at Craigslist here: The listing will expire in 2 or 3 days, I think. If I can, I will update it online to reflect a drop in the price. New reduced asking price is $1600. In addition to it being a super machine and its like-new condition, it also has Microsoft Office 2011 for Mac installed and included. That alone is a $200 item.

If you are at all interested in a MacBook Pro 17", please give this one a look on Craigslist, and write me if you have any questions, either thru the Craigslist ad if it is still there, or at Thanks.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dell Launches Ivy Bridge-powered Desktops, Laptops

I publish this mostly for myself! What? Yes, it's true, and it's true because I would love one of these machines. I think Dell is a good name, and I think the new Intel Ivy Bridge technology is the cat's meow. So, if I could just find a buyer for my Apple MacBook Pro 17" laptop, fully loaded, I would be a very happy man with a new Dell desktop PC powered by the new Intel technology. Sigh. If only.

This comes from

"Having begun the week with the launch of Ivy Bridge-powered Alienware gaming notebooks, Dell on Wednesday added four more Ivy Bridge systems to its portfolio. Among these new PCs are the vendor’s first desktops with 3rd generation Intel Core i processors. Hit the jump for more.

The XPS 8500 and Vostro 470 mini-tower desktops are now available with 3rd generation Intel Core i processors, the company announced on Wednesday. The most basic XPS 8500 model features a Core i5-3450 (3.10GHz to 3.50GHz) processor and has a price tag of $749. All the other models contain the much more capable Core i7-3770 (3.40GHz to 3.90GHz) chip. Other key specs include Windows 7 Home Premium, up to 16GB RAM, a maximum of 2TB HDD with 256GB SSD, and up to AMD Radeon HD 7770 graphics with 2GB GDDR5 video memory."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Source Says Documents Reveal “Something Big Is About to Happen” With Apple

Okay, I don't usually post rumors, and I don't think I ever have, but,'s one!

"An administrative assistant at a top U.S. brokerage firm that handles Intel and Apple’s ocean/air accounts has informed the iPhone 5 News Blog that “something big is about to happen.” The source provided me with the address and telephone number of where she works, and I was able to call and verify her employment at the brokerage firm.
“Recently my team and I have been getting A LOT of protocol from Apple lately, and I can tell you there is something big getting ready to happen. Whether or not it’s the iPhone I’m not at liberty to say, but the paperwork has definately beefed up, and I’m positive it’s not MacBooks or iPads. Nothing has been flown out, but they are definately getting everything in order for customs and the FCC, I can tell you that.”"
I found this (and much more here):

The comments are fun to read!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Flashback malware exposes big gaps in Apple security response

I agree with the title of this post, "Flashback malware exposes big gaps in Apple security response". I was not impressed with Apple's response. The good news is, however, that Avast has come forward with a quality anti-virus for Mac, and it's free. I have already installed this on my MacBook Pro laptop.


"Summary: A pair of high-profile malware attacks have given Apple a crash course in security response. Based on recent actions, 70 million current Mac owners have a right to expect much more from Apple than they’re getting today."

Monday, April 30, 2012

Free Antivirus You Can Trust

I just had to post this article! How could I not when it's about free anti-virus programs?

The writer, Nick Mediati, PCWorld, doesn't rank my recommended anti-virus (Microsoft Security Essentials - MSE) very high, but it is on his list of the best programs. Besides, the differences that make MSE # 5 on his list are so small that there isn't all that much difference as you go down the list.

I manage just fine with MSE, and have not had an issue with it ever. Do keep in mind that my recommended security suite includes several other free programs. See to see what the other programs are. I run this suite of programs on all of my PCs, but of course not on my MacBook Pro. Good news for Mac owners is that Avast, also ranked in the subject article, now has a free anti-virus program for Macs.

So here is today's feature article. I hope all of you are using one of the top-rated free anti-virus programs ranked herein!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Avast Offers Free Security for Mac OS X

Good news for Mac users. a free anti-virus program from a company known for its quality PC anti-virus. Avast has always been right up there with the best.

Best part of this - did I say FREE? :-) This article comes from

"Mac users have been forced to face a cold reality lately—the days of security through obscurity are over. Macs have traditionally been off the radar, and relatively safe just by virtue of being Macs. Now that malicious attacks are targeting Macs, users need to defend themselves. Avast is stepping up to offer its popular free antimalware software for Mac OS X.

No, malware is nowhere near the scourge for Mac OS X as it is for Windows. I am not saying the “sky is falling”, and I’m not declaring a “Macpocalypse”. But, the reality is that malicious attacks exist, and the threat will continue to grow. Macs have been gaining in market share, and the growth rate of Mac is outpacing the growth rate for Windows-based PCs, so the operating system has captured the attention of malicious developers. It’s time to recognize that, and implement security tools to defend against attacks."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Free Tools to Wipe Your Drives Securely

Free is good. I have not used any of these tools, but I think it is a good idea for all of us to have one. I use Eraser, also free, and I have been happy with that. But here are some more and they are all free, so evaluate and pick your choice and try it on for size.

This comes from

"Your PC's hard drive is packed with your personal data. So when you want to get rid of your system or drive, you should permanently erase your storage device drives before you get rid of them. If your drives are encrypted and you trust the encryption protocol (full disk encryption is pretty safe), all you have to do is delete your encryption keys. If you want to safeguard your privacy further--and prevent data theft down the road--here are a few cheap and simple tools designed to wipe your hard drive, solid-state drive, or USB flash drive thoroughly before you dispose of it."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

CNET picks this Spring's Hottest Tech

I have admired CNET ever since I discovered, one of their web sites. I have used that site many, many times over those years to SAFELY download (free) software programs. Since then I have discovered, another excellent web site where one can do the same - safely download (free) software programs. It is extremely important these days to know that there are some web sites you can trust. You need not worry about downloading malware or worse from either of these sites. Add them to your Bookmarks.

So when I see an e-mail from CNET, I read and listen. Their own description of themselves is this (from Google): "CNET is the premier destination for tech product reviews, news, price comparisons, free software downloads, daily videos, and podcasts." Okay, a bit too much, I'd agree, but I do believe they are way up there.

I recommend their web site CNET picks this spring's hottest tech. It covers the tech waterfront of tech devices. I recommend it highly.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How HP Recycles Its Ink Cartridges

This is an interesting article. I found it on

"Over the last couple of decades it’s become easier to recycle almost everything. But even if you’re fastidious about sorting your paper, cans, and bottles, you might not have thought too much about what happens to them or other recyclable products once they leave your hands. You can probably imagine without too much trouble what happens to some of them, such as those made of glass or metal, but others might be more difficult to picture.

Take, for example, printer ink cartridges. If you own an inkjet printer, you're undoubtedly aware of how many you go through, and thus what's necessary to dispose of them. Sure, you can just throw them away, but there are potentially more attractive options for both you and the environment. An increasing number of wholesale and office supply stores are providing ways for you to return your empty cartridges to both help out the environment and get in-store discounts. But once you turn over your cartridge, isn’t the process of turning it into another one probably pretty complex?"

Monday, April 23, 2012

Survey: Cobol noose tightening

Hey, maybe I can get a job after all! I happen to know COBOL (Common Business Oriented Language). In the late 60s and early 70s, my early years with IBM, I was contracted out to several IBM customers to write some COBOL programs. COBOL was to most computer shops exactly what its name implies. It was the most common business programming language used in "mainframe" data processing installations. Back then a "mainframe" usually meant an IBM System 360. The 360 was a line of processors that came with lots of flavors, bells and whistles, and assorted necessary features. These were large systems, most of which would fill up a small bedroom, but that would not include the disk drives, tape drives, and printers, so most "DP" installations were huge rooms with raised flooring and A/C.

It turns out that I got pretty good at COBOL programming and even taught the language at Rutgers University in the evenings. So let the world know that, although I am a bit rusty, I could be quickly up and maintaining COBOL code for the next several years (God willing) while the programs get replaced!

I found this article at, and you'll find it here:

Survey: Cobol noose tightening

Saturday, April 21, 2012

I use SOS Online Backup services to protect my valuable data

Every morning I find an e-mail in my Inbox that informs me of the results of last night's online backup. I use SOS Online Backup, an affordable and reliable backup service to automatically backup all of my important data (pictures, music, videos, etc.) to The Cloud. I found that I needed a little help at the start, but the SOS online help team seemed to be always available, no matter the day or the hour, to provide me the help I needed.

One of these days my old IBM desktop PC will fail. If it does so in such a way that I lose data, I feel comfortable knowing that I will be able to restore the backed up data from SOS

This is what he body of the e-mail looks like (with apologies for cutting off the right side of the message, but you see the most important data and, I hope, get the idea):

SOS Online Backup - Backup Report for Friday, April 20, 2012
This email is from the SOS Online Backup system to report to you on a backup that you setup. Note that these backup reports are sent to you by default upon installation and setup of a scheduled backup in the SOS Online Backup software. You can disable getting these reports by going to the "Settings" tab in SOS Online Backup, then clicking "Options", and then clicking "Email Backup Reports".
Machine NameIBM8195E9U
Backup Date4/20/2012 10:05:05 PM
Files that were not changed44075
Files that were backed up35
Files that were not backed up0
Total Number of files processed35
Total Data transferred132.88 MB

This email report is auto-generated from the SOS Online Backup system upon the successful completion of your backup session.

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