Legit Sites

Knowing if a site is legit in order to keep your computer secure is a task that you need to be proactive with, regardless of whether you have anti-malware software installed.  Most malware software is only good after the first few people have gotten infected and reports it. Don’t let that be you.

Ensure that you are spelling the website correctly; going to http://www.gogle.com could send you somewhere else when you’re looking for http://www.google.com, (Google owns gogle.com for those who do make this mistake.) When viewing websites from an email, it is best to go to their web page and find the link from there. This is time consuming, but when you are unsure about the email it is safer.  Most spam that carry malware will send you an email that looks like it’s from a trusted site or have a name that is close to the site you seek.

Windows XP End of Life

It was arguably one of Microsoft best operating systems to date.  But like all good things they must come to an end.  Any support from Microsoft with Windows XP comes to an end April 8th 2014.

It is important to note how the following would affect you:

  • Computer will work, Windows XP will continue to function
  • No new service packs, any new major bugs that are found will not be address
  • No windows updates, drivers and minor bugs will cease to be worked on
  • No 3rd party updates, your favorite programs updates may not support the OS

Some computer labs and users still use Windows XP as their favorite program.  With the current versions of windows there have been a lot of changes so I would recommend that you take the time before the expiring date to get familiar with one and upgrade to it.  While Windows 8 is the most current OS, I would current recommend Windows 7 professional in multi user environments.

Other windows OS life cycles

Desktop Operating System 11/4/2013 Current Service Pack End of extended support
Windows Vista Service Pack 2 April 11, 2017
Windows 7 Service Pack 1 January 14, 2020
Windows 8 N/A January 10, 2023

Source: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/products/lifecycle

What to Look for in a Computer

Purchasing a new computer can sometimes be daunting.  The sales person at most local computer stores thinks of how to make the biggest commission, not about what would work best for you as a user.  It is better to know what you want before you go into a computer store.

Knowing if you want a laptop or desktop is important; most users today use laptops when they need to type a lot. A tablet or a desktop might be a cheaper option.  There are utilities available that allow you to transfer data on your devices, i.e., “drop box.”  Regardless of the type of system, pay attention to:

  1. RAM: how much?
  2. Hard drive: speed  (higher number than 7200 is better); size is normally not important today.
  3. USB access: most accessories today connect via USB or wireless.

Knowing what type of operating system you want is important. If you have old software, make sure it’s compatible. It may be better to not use the latest and greatest because of the number of bugs that are found. This happened when Microsoft brought out Windows ME and soon after came out with Windows XP.  The newer software was better, but Microsoft came out with Windows 8 only to have the world say Windows 7 is the most stable of the two.

  1. Windows 7 or 8:  (32 or 64 bit)
  2. Home or Professional version: Laptops and shared PC of more than 3 users should use professional.

With Microsoft and Google competing for you to use their free products, you may not need to purchase office applications.  When making the decision to buy software, think about this:

  • Is it more cost effective to just buy the application you need, i.e., Microsoft Word?
  • Most free online applications require Internet access.

Regardless of what you purchase, remember that the technology world is ever changing.  It will be better to spend less on your hardware or software knowing that in two or three years it may be obsolete.

TechTip: Password Management

If you’re like me, you have a password for this and a password for that. With most password security you’re forced to change your password once every 45 to 90 days, have eight characters or more with one being a symbol, one a number, and one being a capitalization. Today there are many password systems that you can use to store your passwords. Your main challenge, normally, is the ability wherever you are to access that password you desperately need.

Having a password format for yourself is helpful so that you can remember your password but others can’t.

Play with Words
If your favorite food is a banana, your password can be B@n@Na82013. This is a strong password and it’s hard for others to figure out but easy for you to remember. How?
You make sure the “B” and “N” in the word is always capitalized and your first two “a’s” are replaced with the “@” sign. Now the numbers is easy — just the current month and year. When it is time to change your password you only have to change the month and year to reflect the current month.
Doing this allows you to know you need to only change the month, if you forget.

To make this more complex you can use even months the word “B@n@Na” and odd months can you “@pPle” or something like that.

Another way you can have a strong password is by spelling the month out and the year at the end like @uguestBanana2013 and when you change it the next month or month after use $eptemberBanana2013. Now I know this is a long password but it helps keep your password strong, unique and most of all easy for you to remember.

Low Cost Internet

Getting low cost internet can be somewhat confusing at times.  Currently, if you qualify, you can receive discounted internet service from Comcast, CenturyLink, and Clearwire (Via Freedom POP or Mobile Citizen).  You may wonder what the difference is technically.

Comcast has the best speed both uploaded and down.  This service is normally available anywhere you have their TV or phone service.

CenturyLink would be the next best thing to get, since they are a DSL provider.  Even if you have phone service with CenturyLink, you may not be able to get service or fast speeds.

Clearwire: Working with both Freedom POP and Mobile Citizen, you’re able to get a broadband connection that works even if Comcast and CenturyLink cannot.  It is important to know that speeds and connectivity with wireless providers can be sporadic.

All three of the providers limit your speed if you sign up for their low cost internet but if you only need to browse the web checking email and such,  this is well worth it.

Free internet hookups

Free cable broadband Internet service is available for organizations providing technology training to community members. The free service is offered within the Seattle city limits, based on the City’s cable franchise agreements with Comcast and Broadstripe (Millennium). For more information and to download a short form to make application, go to our tech web. If you have questions, email Derrick Hall or call (206) 233-5061.

All in one systems

Today when you are deciding to purchase a desktop computer you have choices to make, like, how much RAM to get, how big of hard drive do I need, how fast of a computer do I want, even if I should buy a Mac or PC.

You may also be thinking about the physical size of your computer as well. Most manufactures are building systems today called “all in one”. These systems allow your computers, DVD Drive, Hard Drive, Monitor, and all other features to be crammed in a slightly bigger case than your monitor. This is useful if you’re trying to save space, however, it is important to note that you may end up sacrificing computing power and expandability.

If you plan to buy a computer to mostly surf the Internet and use it for educational purposes an all in one would be a great way to go. However, if you plan to use it for video or audio editing, I would suggest getting a standard computer.

Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.

Passwords: How to Remember Them

In today’s world, our passwords have gotten more complex requiring special characters, being long to very long. These changes all help our data to stay safe and secure. The problem? Remembering what goes where. I find myself often trying to use systems’ “forgot password option” to retrieve or create a new password because I don’t remember if the web site has some sort of password policy that changes once every ten minutes or what the password was.

Here are some tips to remembering your password:

Have a strong password in mind for places where you are not the administrator and their password systems don’t change. You will need to know their password policy before you use this password or simply start off with this password and if you’re prompted to change, then do one of the next items.

Have a strong password in mind for places where you are not the administrator and their password systems do change. In this, to remember your password use the same thing but change the beginning or end with a number/letter sequence such as “H@ppy0901.” Take the word “happy” and make the first letter capitalized, with the vowels being a special character. then at the end, put in the current month and first day of the month. This covers most strong password needs. You have a capital letter, special character, and numbers and when the password changes it will be a number within the last three months, making it easier to remember.

If you have a password need and you are the administrator, you can follow one of the two above options but make sure your password format is different for systems in which you have admin rights.

Every now and then you will have a system that requires a different style of password requirements, such as it does not support special characters. My suggestion is to use a program like Last Pass to help with remembering your passwords.

Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.

Multiple File Selection with Limited Hand Ability

With limited mobility, sometimes it can be hard to move files from one location to another. When you are not able to select multiple files at once due to not being able to hold down the CTRL or ALT key simultaneously, you can change your folder options to show check boxes instead. Just go to any folder and click Organize–> Folder and Search option –> View Tab –> “use check boxes to Select Items.”

Agree or disagree with me? Drop me a note: Derrick Hall.