24/09/17

Permalink 04:11:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles

I've been asked to link to
https://www.cloudwards.net/online-privacy-guide/

It seems like a concise guide worth the read of anyone with concerns in this area.

28/06/17

Permalink 09:59:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, Articles

This type virus du jour has been in the news a lot lately.  Hence the following suggestions for preventing you becoming a victim are opportune.

 

  • Backup.  You need this to be automated and with versioning enabled, retain backups for longer than 6 months.
  • Do not even think about running Windows versions earlier than 10, and make sure that it is up-to-date.  It does this automatically mostly  but you need to check periodically.
  • Do not rely on free anti-virus programs, you need to run an updated copy of one of the better Internet Security suites.
  • If you are tempted to click a hyperlink, whether in an email or on a web page, think twice.  Safest to right click the link, copy it, paste it into a browser window then look at it to confirm that it is not patently bad. Remember that even 'good' websites and the adverts they host can be infected with bad links.  If you're unsure run in a sandboxed environment.
  • Turn off Flash (it is off by default in Chrome) and be circumspect about running Office macros. 
  • Backup. Remember to do a test restore every so often to confirm that important things are being copied and you know how to recover them.

 

If you do get infected disconnect from the Internet immediately then call on professional help.

03/06/17

Permalink 09:21:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Articles

Cleaning the printer maintains the quality and resolves problems.  The most common issue is white lines or the wrong colour and a partially blocked nozzle in the print head will cause both of those.  The first step must be the printer's own inbuilt (in firmware) cleaning cycle; try this a couple of times but no more as if the dried ink and paper dust are too solidly baked on more ink will just exacerbate the problem.

The next/other step would be to get some isopropyl alcohol based cleaning solution, kitchen towels, a syringe, a torch, and a pair of Marigolds.  The problem will be in the print head most likely - this is built into the cartridge housing in cheap printers, a separate fixed component in moderate printers, and detachable in the expensive ones.  If you can detach the print head then soaking it in a bath of the cleaning fluid would be the easy way to proceed.  For a fixed print head try moving the head to the centre of the platen and place a folded kitchen towel underneath.  Now inject 2ml of fluid up the pipes and leave it to soak for 15 minutes.  Putting the cleaning fluid container in a glass of hot water first will help this work its magic.  

There is a cheat?s way to avoid the time and trouble: Refillable Cleaning Cartridges.  Replace the ink cartridges with them, ?print? a few pages, replace the ink, Bob?s your uncle.

Maintaining.  Simples, just make sure you print at least a page every three days and never let the ink run dry.  Run the light cleaning cycle when you do your computer housekeeping every few months.  Also remember to power off using the switch rather than simply cutting the power.  

Buying.  Yes you can buy a new printer for £30 but not only will you not be able to maintaining it to prolong its life, but you will probably have all colour inks in one cartridge, so when the first runs out you have to throw the rest away.  This rather leads into the other and main issue:  the cost of a printer is more than the initial purchase price, it's the running costs that accumulate over its lifetime too.  So cost of ink and efficiency of printing are significant factors.  In a recent comparison between several common printers from different manufacturers PC Pro magazine found that whereas the cost of an HP Envy 7640 was £138 new, after factoring in a lifetime's printing - they used a figure of 7,500 pages - the lifetime cost was £501.   In comparison an Epson ET-2600 costing £224 new had, after printing 7,500 pages, a lifetime cost of just £229.

Bonus tidbit.  Printing wirelessly is convenient but slow.  Using a USB cable is relatively fast but to print from your tablet you need to print via the computer.  More expensive (circa £120) printers are networked using an Ethernet connection to the router to give you the best of both worlds.  But if one method fails don't think you can/should just switch to another - cheaper printers can't handle multiple concurrent connections; in case of failure an uninstall/reinstall is the solution.

13/05/17

Permalink 07:47:00 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, General

Today the news is full of thousands of computers, especially NHS owned, that have been infected with a variant of the WannaCrypt ransomware.  I am asked how to protect against this type of attack and the answer is simple.

  • Run the latest version of Windows (that's 10)
  • Manually confirm that it is updated frequently (Settings > Update & security)
  • Ensure other programs have latest security patches installed (Ninite)
  • Maintain a third party paid for malware protection program e.g. BitDefender 
  • Backup your files and retain the backup for a few months at least (e.g. File History program)
  • Regularly confirm that backup is working and test recover to confirm so and cement the procedure in your memory
  • Do not click links in emails or open executable attachments [this applies to the more comon trojan viruses rather than worms such as WannaCrypt but the advice bears recording here]

If you do get infected unplug the computer from the mains until professional help arrives and do not pay the ransom or phone the number given by the bad software.

Please pass a link to this on to those you care about.

Details on this specific infection are at
https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/mmpc/2017/05/12/wannacrypt-ransomware-worm-targets-out-of-date-systems/

06/05/17

Permalink 10:47:00 am by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Security, 1ComputerCare related, Articles

When the time comes to move away from an internet service provider that is hosting a client's email I always suggest consideration of a private domain.  So in the email address Eugene@1Computercare.co.uk  the  1Computercare.co.uk  is my private domain and it costs me less than £10 a year to maintain. What are the benefits of using this address ?

  • It means that I can hide my email repository from correspondents. So if I feel like changing to another I can do so without informing anyone and no email is lost.

  • It adds a certain kudos to private addresses and professionalism to business related ones.

  • It is can be more memorable and easier to type than whatever is allocated by one of the large providers.

  • Finally, and what prompts me to write this now,  it enables me to trace where a sender got my email address from.  I am free to put absolutely any string in front of @1Computercare.co.uk so I could have a separate address for other family members, indeed the pets can all have their own address.  So when I sign up for an account with any of the myriad websites that require it I can incorporate the website address in the email.  This policy comes into its own when (not if) one of the sites is the subject of a security breach. 

 As previously advised in this blog I subscribe to automated warnings from the wonderful https://haveibeenpwned.com and this morning I received the following message from them

 
Well you can bet your bottom dollar that the first thing I did was to visit all those sites and change my passwords to something that was long, strong, and unique.  

27/04/17

Permalink 08:48:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: General, Articles
  1. Operating system.  Windows is so common that others may not be given sufficient thought.  Apples OSX is good but unless you are used to it some familiarisation training time should be allowed for, and the implied cost is much more than Windows.  Chrome is fine at the cheaper end of the market where most things can be done over the internet. Linux comes in many distributions and being open source is free, but some relearning will probably be required.
  2. The screen.  Bigger is better but the larger the screen the more weight and higher the cost. A low resolution (under 1920 x 1080) gives less desktop space and on a big screen translates to low pixel density and poor quality images. Aim for a brightness no less than 300cd/m² and contrast ratio better than 700 (the blackest black is 700 times as dark as the brightest whites).  Matte finish is usually better than gloss unless reflections will never be a problem for you.
  3. Power.  Where possible mains trumps battery but if portability is your goal then it?s worth paying extra to get an easily replaceable battery ? they all deteriorate with age, and being able to whip out a replacement can be handy.  Although remember the weight penalty. Pay little heed to the watt or milliamp hour ratings as different computers drain at different rates.
  4. Storage.  Even in the most modest system these days solid state drives are almost a necessity; the only caveat is where two drive bays are available and huge storage space is needed.  On a Chrome computer 120GB is generous but if data is to be held locally then double that may be the minimum to tolerate.  And for volatile memory a.k.a. RAM 4GB will do but 8GB is better.  16GB is a waste under normal circumstances.
  5. Peripherals.  Check that you have sufficient connections: Bluetooth for a wireless mouse, HDMI for any multimedia perhaps, sufficient USB (at least one blue version 3 socket), a card reader for your camera?s SD card, Wi-Fi at 11.802ac standard, RJ45 internet socket.
  6. Processor.  Probably the largest effect on cost but unless you run multiple concurrent or compute heavy programs you can get away with something modest. But the graphics will probably be incorporated so don?t hit the bottom of the bargain basement ? unlike most other components this can?t be upgraded later.
  7. The supplier.  Much greater flexibility of component choice comes with a custom built system and there?s no price premium usually.  Off?the-shelf models typically lose 10% of available horse power to the bundled in programs that manufacturers add on.  Note that second user computers are perhaps 60% of the cost of an equivalent new and both come with a 12 month warranty usually.

24/03/17

Permalink 07:16:00 pm by Eugene Gardner, Categories: Technical Tips

Here's a handy tip for those times when your phone rings and it's someone claiming to be "Microsoft", "Your virus protection company", "BT Openreach" or any other scammer looking to thrive by fleecing good natured folks.

Get a whistle just like the referees have and keep it by the phone.  When you receive the call rather than hanging up immediately as I have previously suggested, say a few words back in a soft and gentle voice; so soft that the caller has to turn the volume up full.  Now reach for the whistle and fill your lungs to greatest capacity before giving it your all.  

Now you can hang up after a job well done.  Now if everyone did that we may save some poor wretch from losing their shirt.  Please pass a link to this blog post on to a friend. 

http://www.1computercare.co.uk/blog/index.php/2017/03/24/unsolicited-scam-callers?blog=5


:: Next >>

Click here to return to the 1ComputerCare home page.

This is designed to supersede the newsletters that I just don't have time to produce to the standard I would want any more. Please register so that you may read and leave comments and subscribe to have posts automatically e-mailed to you.

Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

User tools

Search

October 2017
Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun
 << <   > >>
            1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31          

Contents

XML Feeds

blog soft