Computer Repair Tips for everyday users

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Thursday, December 30, 2004


Caught in a web, free is the price you pay 10 times over.
Revisiting an old subject.
The reason I am going over this again is I see so much of this it is not even funny. I spend hours cleaning up after spyware, adware and malware. Funny enough, viruses have taken a back seat to this epidemic. No matter how much I preach and teach you still seem to come back to me contaminated.

So what do I mean, “free is the price you pay 10 times over?� It goes with the saying that free has no value. If you don’t pay, you surely will later on. Most of us seem to take advantage of that free game or screensaver that you can get anywhere on the web now days. FREE this and FREE that=FREE SPYWARE and COSTLY HEADACHES. Warning, they are loaded with spyware, FOR FREEEEEEEEEE…………
Spyware usually comes with free software applications that you download. It performs some useful purpose, but the price you pay for this "freeware" is having your online behavior (e.g., which Web sites you visit) recorded and that information is transmitted back to the company that provided the free software that you downloaded. This is how you become targeted for advertising, based on the data you inadvertently provided about your interests and habits.
How many of you actually read the licensing agreement that you agree to when you install free software? Often, when you click "I accept," you're agreeing to the spyware installation, monitoring and use of the information collected, DO’H. Though some companies promise not to disseminate the information to third parties you generally have no way of proving whether they do or not.
BEWARE, for there is a plethora of spyware out there, eagerly waiting to get its hooks into your computer. Gator was one of the first to gain notoriety, I am sure you remember that one…GAIN. Of course, not all programs bad. Take Windows XP operating system, it communicates with Microsoft to find updates and report program crashes to better the software and your performance. Other applications send information back to the "mothership". The better ones, such as the Google toolbar, allow you to choose whether to turn that feature on or off while others don't even tell you they're doing it.
MOST IMPORTANTLY, unwanted spyware wastes valuable bandwidth and system resources besides invading your privacy. If you are loaded with it, it can slow your system and/or Internet connection down to a crawl and you will find it impossible to get anything done. Some spyware can even crash your system or cause quirky behavior. The interactive nature of the Internet is what allows it to be so useful.

The federal government is working on making Spyware illegal. This summer, a U.S. House subcommittee approved the SPY ACT (Securely Protect Yourself Against Cyber Trespass). This law would require a conspicuous warning on programs that gather and transmit information. Keystroke logging would be prohibited. Time will tell if legislation can stop the problem. Just like the increasing amount of unwanted e-mails since the CAN SPAM act was passed last year, the only thing we have notice is there is MORE OF IT. Seems that they have passed an act but are not ACTING UPON IT.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Web Bugs, ahhhhhh.....

I now have WEB BUGS? As if viruses weren’t enough, GeeZ!

Definition of Web bugs:Special links in web pages that collect much more detailed information about your online activities than a simple cookie can. The bugs then feed all this information about YOU directly into a database containing tons of other information about you that has been gathered and stored by other Web bugs.
The reason many web sites use web bugs is that it helps track how many people have visited a particular web site or to track what kinds of browsers are being used. Advertisers use them to collect information — about you! — such as what sites you're visiting, the contents of the pages you read, and how long you looked at that page before clicking to another page.

For more detailed information on web bugs visit:

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Email Headers

Who is that email really from? Not always who you think.
First thing to do is never reply or unsubscribe to spam for if not careful you may end up with tons more because they have just verified that the email they are sending to is a valid email address.

Okay, you will need to determine if the message originated from the actual sender before replying to an email you don’t recognize in the event that they were not actually sent from the indicated party. Simply looking at the address in the "From:" line is not always an accurate indication of the sender. You will need to look at the full or extended header of the message. To do this you must first determine what you use for email then click on the link below and it will give you a play by play on how to read the header information for your specific email program.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Microsoft Service Pack 2

It's Out There, but be prepared.
Service Pack 2 for XP was released last month and many of you installed it - and some of you have had bad experiences. Lots of you had no problems at all, but others weren't so lucky.
Some of you have had problems with DOS-based games and online games while others are having problems with peer-to-peer software. So of you are experiencing timeouts with ftp type software. Others have crashed and could not function at all. Others it was unclear for there was not enough information given to ascertain probability.
SP2 limits connections per port to 10 (this is to help slow the spread of viruses and worms such as Sasser), so programs that open connections to a lot of different destinations, are slowed down, too.
A few users are reporting some slowdowns, although many others say they haven't noticed any change in performance. New OS installs have not problems if everything has been installed after the SP2. A few others say XP is faster after the installation. Many say the boot up process takes slightly longer. Lots of people have complained about the time required to install SP2, typically from half an hour to an hour, depending on your machine (some of this is download time and due to the high demand for the patch).
I have also heard that SP2 can slow down FireWire (IEEE 1394) 800 devices, but can be fixed by reinstalling the SP2 FireWire drivers after you install SP2.
I, along with others have found conflicts with ZoneAlarm. This is probably because SP2 turns on the Windows Firewall by default. If you use a third party firewall product, you need to turn off the Windows Firewall.
SP2 may affect users of Outlook Web Access (OWA).
Some large companies, including IBM, are telling their employees not to download and install SP2 until they've had more time to test it. If you are using your computer for business I suggest you do the same unless you want to be one of the many that have to fiddle, restore or uninstall to function again.
Besides the problems that some of you have had the pop-up blocker that SP2 adds to Internet Explorer is getting a big Kudos. Another new well liked feature is the Add-ons manager. This feature is added to the Tools menu and it shows you what has been added to IE and lets you disable them. This is great for turning off those bothersome spyware toolbars that get installed "accidentally."
Let us know if you've had problems after installing SP2 or post any new data that you have found.
Good Luck!

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Monday, September 13, 2004

The Best Kept Secret to Researching The Web

Secrets to Researching the WWW way.
Web Rings! That’s right, you heard me correctly. One of the best-kept secrets about conducting research on the Internet is the Web ring. A Web ring is a group of linked Web sites devoted to a similar topic, an instant gold mine of relevant information. This is how you do it.
  1. Find a Web ring related to your interests by going to and typing in the information you are looking for.
  2. (For example) Say you're looking for information on how to stop smoking. Type stop smoking into the search form and presto, it finds 7 different rings that offer hundreds of pages on how to quit smoking, all of which you will see are relevant to the topic you are looking for. It’s your one stop searching on the web.
If you have a site that is relevant to the topic they you can join the ring and be a part of the team.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Monday, August 23, 2004

Firewalls, Hard and Soft

<>If you have internet Access then this pertains to you.

Just because you are behind a NAT, you are still susceptible to attacks. Don't let a phone gut tell you any different. As a user you are bound to open something you shouldn't have and give it access. This is where your software firewall comes into play. Better safe than REALLY sorry later.
No matter how you protect the Internet/LAN border, you may need to add another layer of security by using a software personal firewall. These programs must be run on each computer on your LAN that you want to be protected. They monitor network activity and protect against unauthorized use of the Internet by programs that manage to get onto your LAN's computers.
You should consider adding this additional layer of security if:
  • You are opening/forwarding/mapping ports to any LAN computers
  • You have a computer running in DMZ (outside your NAT firewall)
  • You have been a victim of an email attachment virus attack, i.e. "I Love You", Kournakova, etc.
These programs can be a bit of a pain to get correctly configured, but when they reveal something going on in your network that you didn't know about, you'll be glad you installed them!
There are several different firewall software's out there; such as ZoneAlarm , McAfee Personal Firewall,and BlackIce Defender
. Zone Alarm Pro is my choice and ranked highest in the PC magazines that I have read.
Remember, you do have to configure and continually teach these firewalls the rules. You control what comes and what goes, or you get someone like me to come out and help you.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Sunday, August 22, 2004

"Phishing" Scams

How to Recognize "Phishing" Scams
Citibank/CitiCards is working with law enforcement, industry organizations and governments overseas to help shut down "phishing" scams - emails that purport to be from a bank or other trusted institution in an attempt to fool people into entering their personal account information on a Web site that belongs to the scammer. Here are some tips they've provided to help you recognize "phishers" and protect yourself from their scams:
  • Look for your "personal header" on all emails. For your protection, effective immediately every email Citi sends will include your first name, last name and the last 4 digits of your account number at the top of the email in a "Security Zone". Be suspicious of emails claiming to be from Citi that do not include this information.
  • Never type account information into a pop-up window, even if it looks legitimate. Legitimate companies don't request account information through pop-up windows.
  • Don't respond to emails asking you to verify information. Most financial institutions do not ever send email asking you to verify information. If they have an issue with your records, they contact you another way.
  • Be suspicious of grammatical or spelling errors. These are usually indications of a fraudulent message.
*From the WinXP News Archives

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

The Spam Jam

The Spam Jam on Your Hourglass
Although spammers love to say "Just hit the Delete key," it totally misses the point.
By the time the spam hits the fan (well, when it hits all our mailboxes), so many costs have been incurred by so many people other than the spammer that it is either naïve or an utter act of denial to pretend that those costs can be undone with the pressing of one key.

Spam is about the numbers, so go figure: Here's why hitting the Delete key isn't really a workable solution. The U.S. Small Business Administration estimates that the United States has approximately 25 million businesses. If only 1 percent of those 25 million decides to send you just one single unsolicited e-mail per year, you average 685 spams per day in your inbox. If it takes an average of 10 seconds per message to open a message, determine that it is spam, and hit Delete, you spend two hours per day disposing of e-mailyou never asked to receive.
*Brought to you by Etips for Dummies

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Computer Repair, Networking IT Consulting My Computer Girl

Computer Repair, Networking IT Consulting My Computer Girl

Computers are what I do. I love computers and have made it my career.

You can find my services and other information on my web site.

I hope these post help you to better understand your computer and the issues we all face with them.


Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Friday, June 18, 2004

What is Bright House Networks Digital Phone?

Digital Phone is a multi-feature, residential phone service available from Bright House Networks. Bright House Networks Digital Phone service is as simple and easy to use as your existing phone service in your home.

Even better, when you subscribe to Digital Phone, you get all the benefits of the Bright House Networks Digital Phone calling plan - including unlimited local and long distance calls anywhere in Florida, the U.S. (including Alaska and Hawaii), Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and N. Marianna Islands for one simple monthly price - as low as $39.95 (plus taxes and fees). Plus, there are no local toll charges (For example, you can call from area code (727) to area code (813) at no extra charge).

Check out Bright House's web page for more in depth information.

Post your opinion on this service or let us know your experience.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL


What is it?
Definition of “Malware�; googled.

A generic term increasingly being used to describe any form of malicious software, sometimes referred to as rogue programs.; eg, viruses, Trojan horses, malicious active content, Denial of Service and other such attacks. etc.

Not only is malware attacking our PC’s, it is also made its way into some of our mobile phones. Read this article for more information on the matter.

What is it?
Definition of “Spyware�; googled.

A general term for a program that surreptitiously monitors your actions. While they are sometimes sinister, like a remote control program used by a hacker, software companies have been known to use spyware to gather data about customers. The practice is generally frowned upon.

A technology that assists in gathering information about a person or organization without their knowledge. On the Internet, "spyware is programming that is put in someone's computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties." As such, spyware is cause for public concern about privacy on the Internet.

This is also known as "adware". It is a hidden software program that transmits user information via the Internet to advertisers in exchange for free downloaded software. The Specialty Alliance Corporationâ„¢ does NOT use Spyware in any form or fashion, or will do business with companies that do.

There are concerns that some Web sites and commercial organizations track users' online activity through the use of what is called ‘spyware'. Usually coming in the form of ‘cookies' - these enable the cookie writer to build-up information about what you do and where you go on the Web. Software is available that checks for and removes spyware.

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL

Email Spoofing

What is it?

Definition of “Spoofing� from

“Email spoofing may occur in different forms, but all have a similar result: a user receives email that appears to have originated from one source when it actually was sent from another source. Email spoofing is often an attempt to trick the user into making a damaging statement or releasing sensitive information (such as passwords).�

Some common types of “Spoofing�:
Personal reputation/credibility damage – one of the more serious implications for activists is having their identity hijacked to undo or sabotage their work.

Identity theft – spoofers will often attempt to get your login and password information for your bank, eBay, AOL and other accounts.

Virus/worm propagation – recently, the swen worm disguised itself as a software update from Microsoft. Users who ran the executable attachment would have their antivirus and firewall software disabled.

Self-sending is unsolicited e-mail that looks like you sent it to yourself: your name appears on the "from" line as well as the "to" line. For example, Bob Thing might receive a message addressed to "" that purports to be from "" In some cases a message may appear to be sent from your exact e-mail address. More about It by

How can I tell if I have been spoofed?

Not too long ago, it was relatively easy to spot spoofs if you knew what to look for, This has begun to change as graphic elements and language from the “spoofee� are appropriated to make email seem more authentic.

Updated antivirus software, in this case, is not enough if you don’t know that Microsoft never sends software updates as attachments. Basic “email hygiene� also tells us not to open email attachments indiscriminately.

"Spoofing emails - best practices." 18 Jun 2004. Tech Support Announcement. AIU Online. 18 Jun 2004 .

Computer Repair Lakeland, FL


Welcome to my BLOG...


Welcome to My Computer Girl's Blogger page, or simply put, Journal.

You can share your computer savvy here by replying to post that I have started. Please take care in what you say and show a little class here.

What is a blog?(weB LOG)~ A blog is basically a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging" and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily using software that allows people with little or no technical background to update and maintain the blog. Postings on a blog are almost always arranged in chronological order with the most recent additions featured most prominently.(Googled Web Definition)

So you see, this is easy.

Thanks for posting,

My Computer Girl
Computer Repair Lakeland, FL