A great resource for Apple ID information from @erikeckel at @TechRepublic.  Your Apple ID controls much more than your iTunes account.

Get the answers concerning common questions about Apple IDs – TechRepublic.

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Tips for Safe Holiday Online Shopping

Be safe from scams, fraud and malware by following these tips from @BusinessWire and Dell SecureWorks @dellsecureworks  for safe internet browsing or shopping on Cyber Monday or any day of the year.

Tips for Safe Holiday Online Shopping from Dell SecureWorks | Business Wire.

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Kim Komando gives a breakdown of the various scams out there:

If you have money, valuables or even just good credit, you can bet that lots of crooks would love nothing more than to steal it right out of your hands. Thieves and scammers have been around since the beginning of time, but these days, their tools are more sophisticated than ever. The scammers literally have hundreds of ways to trick you online and offline, but there are three scams that scammers love the most.

via 3 scams that can fool anybody | One Page | Komando.com.

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Think twice before buying those shiny — yet extremely cheap — Ray Ban glasses advertised on Facebook. There’s a good chance they’re fake.

At least, that’s the conclusion of a new study by two cybersecurity researchers who studied more than a thousand Facebook ads and found that almost a quarter of them are for counterfeit items such as Ray Bay sunglasses, Louis Vuitton bags, and Ralph Lauren polo shirts.

Read more… 24% of Facebook ads are for counterfeit goods, study finds.

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There are times when a malware infection needs extensive work to remove it. Then there are other times when the fix can be pretty easy and a user can save themselves the hassle and money of taking their computer to The Computer Monkey or another technician for removal. As of now an infection of the ICE Cyber Crime Center ransomware is one of those times. A very intimidating screen comes up trying to scare you into thinking you are suspected of some sort of cyber crime and need to pay a fine to “unlock” your computer and avoid prosecution — and it claims you only have 48 hours to do it before the prosecution begins.  Here is a detailed article from Malwaretips.com demostrating 3 different ways to remove this infection.  It is from a June 2013 post, but a friend of mine had a computer with it yesterday, so it is obviously still out there.

The ICE Cyber Crime Center removal guide from Malwaretips.com

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In the article “4 Questions to Ask Before You Give a New App Access to Your Data“, Rob Pegoraro reminds readers how easy it can be to turn over personal information about you or your friends if you are not careful.   The questions are not really tech-related, but logical questions when you consider these app developers are in business to make a profit and they make that profit from us buying and using their apps.

My rule of thumb when answering an app’s privacy-related questions is to say no and set things up as tight as possible unless I am unable to use a feature that I want to use.  At that point, you have to consider the information that must be given up, how it may be used and whether you are willing to give it up for that feature.  Just remember, you cannot “unring” a bell.  If you allow an app to have access to your contacts it will probably access them immediately and use the information before you have a chance to disallow.  It is better to start off with very tight controls that you can loosen if you choose to later.  As long as the app doesn’t force you to allow something in order to use the app, you can go into the apps privacy settings area  of the device later and loosen the control.  These settings may be in the app itself or under settings on the device.  Since we are on the topic of privacy, location services is certainly another area to be considered.  Here is an apple knowledge base article that explains how locations services works and shows how to make changes to the settings.

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Parents Need to Know: App Watch

The following is a list of apps that parents might not want their kids using.  Information links are included so they can read about them and decided for themselves.  Click on the app name below to read more information about it.  Most of these links are from Thirdparent.com.

Some of these apps are worse than others.  Just because the app is on the list doesn’t necessarily mean that kids shouldn’t use it. It could be that there are simply features that parents need to be aware of so that they can modify settings or consider if it is age- appropriate.   Ultimately, it is up to the parent but parents need to know.                                                                   

 wingman  ask.fm  tumbler  facebook  pinterest
 yikyak  twitter  truth  whisper  vine
 snapchat    instagram  reddit  flickr  google+
 kik  myspace  4chan
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Message to Windows XP users: Relax!

If you still run Windows XP, and according to this article from PC World 30 percent of you do, you might have received ominous messages about the impending death of Windows XP support on April 8th, 2014.  They may come in an email vendor or in a pop-up message from a product you are running on your computer.  The messages sound very grave and can cause undue concern for users.  One of the messages a customer received from their software vendor almost made it sound like their software would cease to function properly.

Like the above referenced article states: “When Microsoft says it’s ending support for Windows XP, that means it will no longer produce security patches for critical vulnerabilities in the operating system.”  So, basically it is a security issue.  Your machine and software will continue to function.  Your actual risk to the security vulnerabilities will depend on your specific situation — how the computer is used and the other security software it runs.  Is it used primarily for email and internet browsing, word processing and printing documents or a point of sale machine?  Is the computer even connected to the internet?  These factors should all be considered when deciding your actual level of risk and if concern is warranted.

If the computer is used for internet browsing, it would be wise to avoid using Internet Explorer, but many users have already switched to Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox for security or performance reasons.   I often avoid security suite products (anti-virus & firewall) and instead favor a good anti-virus product coupled with the Windows firewall for performance reasons, especially on older machines.  However, I would definitely recommend a full-featured anti-virus & firewall product for computers running Windows XP  that are constantly accessing the internet.  Here is another article about securing your Windows XP computer that recommends the same.  The article also reminds users how important it is to back up your data.  As an authorized reseller of Carbonite online back up, The Computer Monkey can help you purchase and install Carbonite on your computer.

Last week we had a very thankful business customer who had a hard drive crash but because they had purchased Carbonite in January we were able to get all of their data back on their server and have them up and running again quickly.

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Slow Computer? It may be your desktop.

Slow performance certain ranks as one of the top computer user complaints of all time.  If your computer is slow here are some things to consider.

  1. Age of computer
  2. Malware/Virus infection
  3. Temporary Internet Files
  4. Too much Desktop Data

Age of computer

1.  If you have an old computer that doesn’t have any other performance related issues, it isn’t that the computer itself is slowing down but that technology may have passed it by.  You may be trying to use applications that are more powerful than your computer.  Many websites are more active and involved than they use to be which could involve using more memory and resources.

Many computers that are sold “off-the-shelf” do not come with the optimal amount of RAM (Random Access Memory).  Crucial.com has a Memory Adviser tool that can help you determine the options available for upgrading your computer’s RAM.  Upgrading your computer’s RAM is typically an easy and inexpensive way to prolong the life of your computer.

Malware/Virus infection

2.  Malware infections (viruses, adware, spyware, rootkits, browser hijackers etc.) are currently one of the most common frustrations of computer users.  Your computer can be “infected” without any obvious signs.  For serious infections you may want to contact The Computer Monkey, but minor infections can often be cleaned up pretty easily.  Here are links to some of the best products (free versions available) for removing minor malware infections:

Temporary Internet Files

3.  Temporary internet files build up as you browse the internet.  CCleaner is an easy and effective way to do basic system maintenance and take care of all of those files that build up over time.  There is a free version of CCleaner also.  The easiest way to run CCleaner is to right click your recycle bin and choose Run CCleaner after you have installed it.  Make sure you allow that choice during installation.

Desktop Data

4.  There are two schools of thought on the “desktop files” issue.  Some people insist that it doesn’t matter and then there are those of us who have seen anecdotal evidence for ourselves.  Many people, whether they mean to or not, will save files to their desktop.  Some downloads or program installations will default to the Desktop as a saving location.  The Desktop is really meant to be have shortcuts to programs and files.  While it doesn’t hurt to store a few files or small pictures on the desktop, storing large files can cause performance issues especially on computers that do not have good levels of RAM.  Move these files to the My Documents folder or the My Pictures folder instead of your desktop and you could see an improvement in performance.

And remember, The Computer Monkey can help you with your slow computer as well.  Contact us if the above tips do not take care of the problem or if you just do not want to do it yourself.  We can also give you advice and assistance in purchasing a new one if you decide that is the best option for you.

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“DIY” Computer Training

This humorous State Farm commercial reminds us that you cannot believe everything you read on the internet.  But, for the discerning user the internet can be a great source of information.  That fact is especially true in the area of computers and technology.  Even most manufacturers today have stopped providing printed manuals and instead give them to consumers via their websites.

Novice to advanced computer users can learn out about virtually any topic in which they have an interest.  Many people provide instructions in print or video formats via their own websites or You Tube channels.  One such You Tube channel is Instructor Gadget.  These websites can be found by using a search engine like Google or Yahoo.

Let’s say you would like to know how to move files from your computer to a flash drive.  You could search for “transfer files from flash drive to computer”.  To improve your search results you should know that putting words in quotation marks will give you results for that exact phrase.  That trick can be key in finding exactly what you need.   In this example, however, quotation marks are not necessary.  In my search the first result ends up being Inspector Gadget’s video called “How to Copy or Transfer Files from a USB Flash Drive to a Computer“.

Another great online training tool called Grovo teaches people how to use certain web applications like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr and many more.  A basic account is free and easy to set up, but if you need help there is a video on You Tube called “How to Use Grovo” to get you started.

If, however, you find that these methods don’t work for you or you can’t find the exact information that suits your need, The Computer Monkey can help.  Click here to request a remote training consultation.

 

 

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