Sunday, June 17, 2007

Screen Savers, Inexpensive Software and Laptop Parts.

I decided to go with a 3 part post this time since they are all rather short subjects.

1. Screen Savers. You may or may not be using one now. You may or may not know how to change them or even that you can change them. So here's some info. Your computer came with several different screen savers, they help to protect your monitor when you are away and not doing something on the computer by making a change to every pixel on the screen over time thereby preventing a pixel or pixels from heating up and burning an image to the backside of your monitor glass (which can not be cleaned or fixed). To choose a screen saver (or a different one then the one you are using) go to "Start" then "Settings" and then "Control Panel" (depending on your windows version you may be able to go from "start" to "control panel", or the control panel may be named something else like "preferences" or just "settings"). Double click on "Display". Single click on the screen saver tab. There you are. There should be a pull down menu with all the available options and a button you can click for a demo. Pick the one you want and click "ok" or "apply" to make your choice. You can also set how long before the screen saver starts up and a few other settings (depends on which screen saver you selected). Further down the window you can see a button for power settings, go there to change how long before your monitor turns off, or your hard drive, or if you want a password screen to come up, etc.

2. Inexpensive Software. Most stores will not allow software to be returned, this is because it is rather easy to take software home and then burn a copy of it. So once you buy it you own it. One place you can go to try out software before you buy it is at They have freeware and trialware and many useful things there. I don't stock much full product software any more since it becomes outdated so quickly and because I just can't find a decent price from a distributor anywhere anymore. Thus, I shop online for software! Here is a great place to find software at a great price... much better then wholesale in many cases. Check out NothingButSoftware's weekly overstock specials! You might even find something you didn't know was available.

3. Laptop Parts. Finding power packs, batteries, and other parts for Laptops and other handheld devices can be difficult and expensive. I don't stock very many parts for laptops because they are not generic, one part doesn't fit another device, not even from the same manufacturer. Find Over 700 Accessories for Mobile Products at Laptops For Less. I have purchased parts here myself rather then go to the manufacturers site, they seem to be less expensive and they usually have what I need... they probably have what you need as well.

Why am I sending you someplace else for stuff? Well, truth be told if you use the links above for NothingButSoftware and LaptopsForLess I will get paid a small commission. So I'm not exactly losing out, but the real reason is because you need it and I don't stock it. I'd rather offer you a chance to find what you are looking for at the best prices I've been able to find then to just ignore the situation entirely. So don't feel guilty about shopping at these places, I shop there and I would expect you to as well (if you know about them, and now you do).

Friday, June 8, 2007


Phishing is the new designation or electronic version of a swindle.

If you get an email from paypal saying that they are doing a security check and to log in... that is someone phishing for your paypal login. What will happen is you will be directed to a look-alike site (not paypal) and when you enter your information you just got swindled, because now someone else has it and can use it to pay for their orders. Usually this kind of email is sent to "undisclosed recipients" which PayPal would never do (neither would ebay). If you get an email to "undisclosed recipients" it's someone phishing for information 99% of the time.

You can get a pop-up while surfing that looks like a legitimate warning "you are infected, click here to remove the infection" (this same warning can come via email). When you click to have it removed, you just installed the infection that you never had. Again, swindled. Now the one phishing will legitimately say you are infected and that you will need to buy their product to have the infection removed. This is known as "ransomware"... but it still started with phishing and being swindled. The only legitimate warning of this nature will come from your anti-virus or anti-spyware software... you should know the name of it and only heed warnings from that or those products.

Sometimes your bank (or a bank you never heard of before) will say you need to click here and enter your login info... doing so will give your bank info to someone else because the email was a fake. If your bank really has a notice for you, it will present itself the next time you log in normally to your account. They don't send out emails asking you to log in. They might send an email telling you what will happen the next time you do log in, but that's not the same as providing a log-in link in the email. If you didn't go to your banks website yourself (not via email) then don't enter your info!

Then there's the ones that really snooker the kids. They go to download music, or a ring tone, or a movie, or a game, or whatever... usually that's fine. But some sites will pop up a window with an agreement you have to agree to in order to get the freebie. Problem is, no one reads this thing. It usually will state that by agreeing you will also be downloading a program that keeps tabs on where you go on the internet, and it will pop up ads from then on that relates to what you do on the internet. This is called adware or spyware. One or two of them isn't so bad... but when you end up (over time) with dozens or hundreds, it can slow your computer down to an absolute crawl.

I'd say 80% of the repairs I do are just in getting rid of these things. Some of them are next to impossible to find and remove... making it that much more difficult.

Another phishing move is someone from nigeria (or even a made up country) saying they want to give you money... just email them. What they will do is have you start a bank account with your own money to open it, then ask you for the routing number and account number to transfer their money to you... but instead will take your money and close the account. Or worse, talk you into helping them with bribes (by you sending them money) so they can free up their cash. Or any number of other scams. It's like this, no one you don't know is going to give you money, you didn't win an international lottery that you never entered (and that doesn't exist), and unless you used your favorites (or bookmarks) or typed in the URL yourself, you don't need to enter your log in information.... someone is out to take your money if you do not use some caution.

That being said, just ordering online is not nearly as risky, odds are you know the company you're dealing with and you went there because you wanted to and you plan to buy a real product. So don't stop internet banking or shopping, just use caution and don't get caught by those phishing.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Setting your computer clock to the right time.

On most windows computers there is a clock in the lower right hand corner. The time is maintained by the computer battery so that it won't lose time when your computer is off or unplugged. These batteries last 5 or so years and recharge every time you turn your computer on. If your clock is off it does not necessarily mean your battery is dying, it could be a sign of spyware or a virus (more on this problem in a later blog entry) or some other problem. Many times correcting the time once is all that is needed. Along with the clock is a calendar (it's hidden) that keeps track of the day, month and year.

To see what your computer is set at, just point at the clock with your mouse and double click. The date and time properties window will open. You can change the month, day, year, time and time zone easily from this window. Once finished click "apply" and verify all is correct (especially am/pm) then click "Ok" to close the window. Your clock in the corner should now present the proper time!

If the clock loses time while the computer is on (having not shut the computer off at all once the time was correct) there is a very good chance your system is infected with a bug or bugs of some kind. At the very least there are too many things running in memory. The battery has no control over the clock while the computer is on.

If your computer constantly loses track of the time (and the date) after having been turned off then the battery probably needs to be replaced. Replacing the battery sounds like a good subject for a different blog entry... preferably one that also covers the system BIOS, since that gets erased when the battery is removed. (This is not to be confused with your documents, pictures or programs, the BIOS controls the .... err, let's wait until the BIOS blog entry for all this). Your documents, programs and pictures are safe. (That is, as safe as anything can be on a computer... hmm, another good blog subject).

I would love to explain how to handle the clock on a Macintosh computer, but I really haven't a clue, so you'll have to google it or figure it out yourself (I haven't access to a Mac either to help you figure it out, sorry).


This is the first of many blog entries to help individuals such as yourself understand computers and the internet better. This blog will be updated several times a month, so be sure to check back often.