Top 8 Things to Avoid Getting Scammed, Lose your Security, Cash and more

It all starts with a phone call from someone or company you do not know claiming there is a problem with your computer. They claim they they are from a legitimate company, that they can prove the problems with your computer (and that it may be affecting the internet or your security of your computer) and they have called to inform you of this and to help you. Wrong! Wrong! Wrong! HANG UP!

This could already have happened to you and you don’t even realize it but the threat to your computer, privacy, security, bank and investment accounts, credit cards, any websites you visit, passwords, emails, contacts in your emails are all VERY REAL and costly. Please don not dismiss reading this as this scam is reaching EPIDEMIC proportions and the tips in this article can you save time, money, embarrassment and many headaches. Even if you discover after reading this that you have fallen victim of this scam there is information within here about what to do about it.

The SCAM is someone calling claiming to be from Microsoft or some other computer tech company (may be telling you they are from a name you recognize or something you’ve never heard before.) They *con* you into believing they really are from a legitimate company and even seem to be able to *prove* it by giving you bits of information that seem like they really know something true about you or your computer that may start to have you thinking they *must* be legitimate. (They are NOT.)

They will then attempt to convince you to follow their instructions (DO NOT) to type in various commands to various Microsoft tools already in your computer will ‘prove’ to you that there is evidence of malware, viruses, infections on your computer *right this very minute*, and even claim your license to Microsoft has expired. These are all lies!

They will tell you (lie to you) that what you see are evidence of serious errors and security issues and that your Microsoft (or other) ‘license’ has ‘expired’ and you need to have these problems fixed and also have your ‘license’ renewed.

The approach they take next varies but they all end up trying to convincing you go to their website or download some software of there’s so they can “help you”. What they are doing is setting up your computer so they can gain remote control access to your computer (and everything on it.) They may say it’s to their ‘help desk’ or ‘technician’s desk’ and it’s to help you and ‘fix’ these issues but it all is a LIE! Usually they will say that they can also ‘renew’ your license for lifetime vs. having it expired – all for a for a one-time ‘reasonable’ fee. All of these are LIES and CONS! Your Microsoft license has NOT expired!!! There is no such thing!

The worst cases I have seen and helped people get out of are cases where these SCAM operations have gained enough of your confidence about who they say they are and convinced you that they are there to help you and they get you to follow their instructions to provide them remote access to your computer, eventually get you to pay money to them and much worse. (Note the word “CON” comes from the word ‘confidence’. They are working to trick you to gain your ‘confidence’ that they are doing good for you. AKA ‘con man’, etc.). Once you give them remote control of your computer the complete security of your computer and all information about you and how you use your computer has now been completely compromised.

The information above and tips below should help you avoid getting into this mess in the first place and also provide tips for what to do if you realize you have been SCAM’ed:

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Your computer – total cost of ownership

Prices of computers have gone down over the past 5-10 years. It’s common to see advertisements for $399.99 computers. However is it really this simple and inexpensive? What are you getting (or not getting) for $399.99? What are the hidden costs? And how has this affected people confronted with needing to repair their current computer or deciding to make a switch to a new computer?

This can throw many people for a loop when they have a computer that is in need of repair, has becomes infected with malware or has slowed to a crawl over the years and could use a serious ‘cleanup/speedup’ service call.

Why? What catches people off guard?

Well if you call for repair, speedup, disinfection of malware or even fresh reinstall of your Operating System — or even dealing with printer setup issues — you may find the bill for such services approaching (or even greater than) these advertised low cost cost computers. What’s going on here? Well a few things.

First, just because your computer was low cost (or maybe even free if someone bought it for you) doesn’t mean that the technician providing services adjusts his/her fees based on what you paid for it. Just like taking your car in for service. The cost for the technician’s time and effort is the same regardless of the cost of the car.

Also … extending the car analogy a bit more … if you take your car in for service on a regular basis your car is probably going to run better, last longer and you are probably going to enjoy it more. Putting off service may seem like your *saving* money … but when and if the day comes that you need really do have a problem – foregoing regular service may end up costing you much more in repairs. Damage may have occurred to parts that may have lasted longer if they had the benefit of regular maintenance.

If you have a computer (network, router, printer as well) then you should most

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Install Windows 7 on a Toshiba Laptop that currently has Windows XP or Vista on it.

Many Toshiba laptops built since 2007 are able to have their XP or Vista operating system upgraded or replaced with Windows 7. What’s really nice about Toshiba is they have very clear information about how to determine if this can be done for your laptop, what the process is and what’s very cool is they have two different programs to support the process (though you will need to purchase Windows 7!) For many Vista users they will be able to do an upgrade and one of the Toshiba utilities supports that process. For XP users and some Vista users you will need to follow Toshiba ‘Clean Install’ process and Toshiba provides a utility to help there as well. Importantly (and extremely useful) these utilities contain all the drivers and utilities that are specific and necessary for your Toshiba laptop result in a successful upgrade (or clean install) to Windows 7 as well as the smarts to handle the upgrade process smoothly.

If your having trouble and would like help with this or any other computer issue then feel free to contact me. I’m in the business providing help in all areas of computer use, repair, etc. I provide services locally to the Rochester, New York area, but also connect remotely to clients located thousands of miles away. Don’t hesitate to call if you need hired help.

The rest of this article provides more information about Toshiba’s utilities to help, things you probably want to consider to help you can decide whether you want to do this and some general tips and caveats.

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Configuring Barnes & Noble Nook Color and Linksys WRT320N Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router

Today I had the opportunity to work on getting a Barnes & Noble Nook Color to ‘see’ and connect to a Linksys WRT320N Dual-Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router.

nook-color1 nook-color2nook-color3       WRT320N

The Nook Color is an Android based tablet sold by Barnes & Noble.

The Nook Color offers a list of features but the feature we care about in this article is the Nook Color’s “Wi-Fi” capability and getting it hooked up to your wireless router. My goal here is not just to get the Nook Color connected to your wireless network (which some people seem to have problems accomplishing) but more specifically have the Nook Color connect using it’s Wireless-N capability so you might benefit from faster Wireless-N connection speeds vs. the Nook’s ability to also use slower G or B wireless speeds.

A key assumption is that you have a router or access point capable of supporting Wireless-N. However, if you have a Wireless-G network and you are having problems getting your Nook Color to connect to your Wireless-G network then this article may still provide help to you. [Note: References to ‘router’ in this article can generally be meant to apply to a wireless ‘access point’ as well.]

While your Nook Color may very easily connect to your wireless router, some people have experienced difficulty doing so. Some people have reported they cannot connect at all. Some have reported that they once could connect but now they can’t and vice versa. Some people may find that their Nook Color may not be using Wireless-N due to their router’s configuration. Some may find they are connected via Wireless-N but are not getting the connection strength or speed they might be able to get if they configure their router differently. Most of the issues more really have to do with your router configuration than the Nook Color however in some cases it may be necessary to have your Nook Color rescan for wireless devices so that it picks up on changed router settings even though it might seem to you that you haven’t made any significant changes to your router.

A key thing to know, at least for the Nook Color I was working with, is that it only operates within the 2.4 GHz wireless band. This was not the easiest information for me to find but knowing what band it operates on can turn out to be rather important.

So this article will cover how I got my Nook Color operating with Wireless-N on the 2.4 GHz band with pretty good router settings for my situation.

Although this article is written about my experiences with the Nook Color, it really could apply to many different “Wireless-N” devices that only use the 2.4 GHz band.

If your having trouble and would like help with this or a similar scenario then feel free to contact me. I’m in the business providing help in all areas of computer use, repair, etc. I provide services locally to the Rochester, New York area, but also connect remotely to clients located thousands of miles away. Don’t hesitate to call if you need hired help.

Ok – so on to the nitty-gritty details …

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Creating an Apple iPad App Store account for your children without a credit card

The Correct Way! The not so right way. How to correct things if you got stuck.

I have an Apple iPad that I use for business and to support clients that have iPads. To get additional ‘apps’ for your iPad you need an Apple App Store account. This is easy and there are a number of ways to get an account set up. A few of the current methods however require you to provide Apple a credit card for any purchases you might make. There are however a few other methods where Apple provides you an option to specify ‘None’ for credit card payment options. This can be particularly desirable for cases where you want to allow others to use your iPad but not have them end up making purchases that end up on your credit card.

This article is about how to correctly deal with letting other users use your iPad (other Apple devices may also apply) and how those users (or even yourself) can have an Apple Apps Store account that does not have a credit card associated with it … or if one is already associated with it how to remove it … or if you find that your forced to supply a credit card to use the account, one option for how to get beyond that point. Continue reading

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Regular Computer Maintenance – Cost effective and worthwhile

One of the best ways to keep your computer consistently secure and performing at its best is through regular planned maintenance. Especially when that maintenance is provided by a computer professional. Continue reading

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How to Change your Screen Resolution in Windows 7 for easy reading and viewing

Does the text on your Windows 7 monitor seem too small to read easily even though you have a large monitor?

Does it seem strange (or even annoying) that you have a really nice large LCD monitor (say 22” inches or larger) but the text to is too small and hard to read?

The good news … if you have a good computer with a really good graphics card, or built-in graphics capability, is that you can likely change the screen resolution to make it easier to read and use your computer. Continue reading

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Whole Drive Backup – Your best friend!

Not only should you have a backup. Having a complete backup image of your hard drive and having multiple ‘snapshots’ of your hard drive going back over time provides you with ability to do anything from recovering a single file to fast recovery of your whole hard drive from a few days ago before some nasty virus or malware infection got a hold of your system. And if your main hard drive fails … just a quick call to your computer technician and you can have a new hard drive and the image of your system recovered on it in a matter of an hour or so. The longest part of the recovery process will likely be your technician driving to your location and perhaps them stopping off at the computer parts store to get you a new hard drive!

Peace of mind! Continue reading

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