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Nov 23
P's & Q's Computing is a Microsoft Certified Partner

We are a Microsoft Certified Partner and have been for several years.

What is a Microsoft Certified Partner?

Microsoft Certified Partner is an independent company that provides Microsoft related products or services.

Microsoft Certified Partners are independent companies who can help customers with a range of IT projects and specific IT solutions. Whilst not as accredited to provide support to the same level as a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner for Support Services, many Microsoft Certified Partners offer support as part of their portfolio of offerings.

Microsoft Certified Partners provide Microsoft services on behalf of Microsoft worldwide spanning many fields including OEM Education, Software providers and Technical Support. Microsoft partners also have 24-hour access to Microsoft Support, which enables them to give better customer relations and support to a customer. Every Microsoft Certified Partner has been in business for at least 5 years, has passed several tests, and has proven skills in their particular field. Microsoft rewards these partners with discounts in tools that are applicable to their activities. For example, in the educational field this might take the form of licenses to Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office.

In return for participation in the program, partners gain support services and tools from Microsoft, often at a significant discount to their face value. However, over the lifetime of the contract some risk is transferred from Microsoft to the MCP in return for the benefits of the association with Microsoft and the ability to sell the support services.

Nov 23
Windows Updates, Do I need them?
Nov 23
What is Spyware?

What is spyware?

With so many types of malicious software being spread around the Internet, it is important to be aware of what spyware is and what spyware does. Spyware is a general term used to describe software that performs certain behaviors, generally without appropriately obtaining your consent first, such as:

  • Advertising

  • Collecting personal information

  • Changing the configuration of your computer

Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information.

Trading tracking for services

That does not mean all software that provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but you "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

What does spyware do

Knowing what spyware does can be a very difficult process because most spyware is designed to be difficult to remove. Other kinds of spyware make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer slow down or crash.

These programs can change your web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. They also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you had them.

How to prevent spyware

The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer) understand what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.

A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you want such as a music or video file sharing program.

Whenever you install something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it might appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.

There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your computer. To learn more about spyware, readHow to help prevent spyware.

Article from Microsoft Safety and Security Center

You will also find links within this article to Microsoft for more information.

Nov 23
What is Malware?

What is malware?

Malware is short for "malicious software." Malware is any kind of unwanted software that is installed without your adequate consent. Viruses, worms, and Trojan horses are examples of malicious software that are often grouped together and referred to as malware.

How to help protect your computer from malware

There are several free ways to help protect your computer against malware:

Warning: Cybercriminals sometimes try to trick you into downloading rogue (fake) security software that claims to protect you against malware. This rogue security software might ask you to pay for a fake product, install malware on your computer, or steal your personal information.

Don't click links in email messages and avoid websites that offer free software—especially free antivirus software. For more information, see Watch out for fake virus alerts.

Article from Microsoft Safety and Security Center

You will also find links within this article to Microsoft for more information.

Nov 23
What is a virus?

What is a computer virus?

Computer viruses are small software programs that are designed to spread from one computer to another and to interfere with computer operation.

What do computer viruses do?

Through the course of using the Internet and your computer, you may have come in to contact with computer viruses. Many computer viruses are stopped before they can start, but there is still an ever growing concern as to what do computer viruses do and the list of common computer virus symptoms. A computer virus might corrupt or delete data on your computer, use your email program to spread itself to other computers, or even erase everything on your hard disk.

Computer viruses are often spread by attachments in email messages or instant messaging messages. That is why it is essential that you never open email attachments unless you know who it's from and you are expecting it.

Viruses can be disguised as attachments of funny images, greeting cards, or audio and video files.

Computer viruses also spread through downloads on the Internet. They can be hidden in illicit software or other files or programs you might download.

To help avoid computer viruses, it's essential that you keep your computer current with the latest updates and antivirus tools, stay informed about recent threats, run your computer as a standard user (not as administrator), and that you follow a few basic rules when you surf the Internet, download files, and open attachments.

Once a virus is on your computer, its type or the method it used to get there is not as important as removing it and preventing further infection.

Article from Microsoft Safety and Security Center

You will also find links within this article to Microsoft for more information.

Nov 23
What is Java and Why do I need it?

Article by:  Java technology

 

What is Java technology and why do I need it?

Java is a programming language and computing platform first released by Sun Microsystems in 1995. There are lots of applications and websites that will not work unless you have Java installed, and more are created every day. Java is fast, secure, and reliable. From laptops to datacenters, game consoles to scientific supercomputers, cell phones to the Internet, Java is everywhere!

Is Java free to download?

Yes, Java is free to download. Get the latest version at java.com.

If you are building an embedded or consumer device and would like to include Java, please contact Oracle for more information on including Java in your device.

Why should I upgrade to the latest Java version?

The latest Java version contains important enhancements to improve performance, stability and security of the Java applications that run on your machine. Installing this free update will ensure that your Java applications continue to run safely and efficiently.


MORE TECHNICAL INFORMATION

What will I get when I download Java software?

The Java Runtime Environment (JRE) is what you get when you download Java software. The JRE consists of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), Java platform core classes, and supporting Java platform libraries. The JRE is the runtime portion of Java software, which is all you need to run it in your Web browser. When you download Java software, you only get what you need - no spyware, and no viruses.

What is Java Plug-in software?

The Java Plug-in software is a component of the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). The JRE allows applets written in the Java programming language to run inside various browsers. The Java Plug-in software is not a standalone program and cannot be installed separately.

I have heard the terms Java Virtual Machine and JVM. Is this Java software?

The Java Virtual Machine is only one aspect of Java software that is involved in web interaction. The Java Virtual Machine is built right into your Java software download, and helps run Java applications.

» Learn more about Java Technology

Nov 23
Keeping Your Children Safe Online: Why ‘Stranger Danger’ Doesn’t Work

Article By the Geek Mom
 

Keeping Your Children Safe Online: Why ‘Stranger Danger’ Doesn’t Work

If you grew up in the United States, or if you grew up in Canada and had access to American television networks, you may remember the “Stranger Danger” PSAs. If you are unfamiliar with this campaign, watch:

The “Stranger Danger” campaign was a huge failure. Why? One of the reasons it failed is because if you ask a child to define a stranger, it will be a different definition than that given by an adult. Unless the adult clearly defines what they mean by “stranger”, the child is probably imagining something quite different. However, the biggest reason this campaign failed is because most of the abuses this campaign was trying to protect children against are not perpetrated by strangers. They are perpetrated by the people known and trusted by both the parents and the children, such as family members, teachers, ministers, and community leaders.

Now, this same failure is happening in regards to protecting children from online predators. “Stranger Danger” didn’t work for our generation, so why do we think it will work for the online generation?

We’ve all heard the stories of the stranger paedophile who tries to lure the child in some online chatroom. We’ve all heard the stories of people who have met a stranger for a date, only to be raped or kidnapped. We’ve been told to tell our children to never speak to a stranger online or give them any personal information. It is the same thing my mother told me regarding strangers in the park, or if a stranger knocks on the door or if they telephone. As adults, we’ve been told that if you are going to meet a stranger whom you’ve met online, bring a buddy, tell a friend where you are going, have an escape route, etc.

We are failing our children. A lot of parents are not educating their children about the predators who are part of what we consider to be “safe” online communities. These “safe” online communities feel just like school, church, scout groups, sport teams, sleepovers at friends and family.

Recently, one of these “safe” online communities, one that I’m heavily involved with, has been rocked by the news of allegations that one of its very trusted members is under FBI investigation for exchanging naked photographs with his underage fans, soliciting them for sex, and participating with them in video cybersex via Skype. The accused is a well-known YouTube “celebrity” who has performed with a number of more well-known geek “celebrities”. The accused has a very public life, including having a very public relationship with another well-known YouTube “celebrity”. He was not only trusted by the community members, but also by the parents of the teenagers who are members of this community. Many parents met him and shook his hand after becoming acquainted with him through various online mediums.

When my children go online, it is the person who not only gains their trust, but also gains my trust, that I’m most concerned about. It is those interaction that I monitor the most and talk with my children about.

I think I am one of the few people who is no more shaken by this news than I would be if I heard the news that a teacher at my child’s school was sexually abusing or exploiting students. The reason I am not shaken is because I have knowledge that this sort of this is possible, in any situation. It is because I have knowledge that most cases of abuse, rape and kidnapping are perpetrated by people we know and trust, and I apply the same rules I would apply “in real life” to online, that I am not shocked.

The rules parents are told to put in place, such as checking your child’s browsing history, reading their chat logs, blocking certain websites, reading the message boards they are posting on, creating a phantom account and spying on their child as they are talking in an online chatroom, do not work in this situation. Also, warning your children about what information they give online, etc., does not work in this situation. Why? Because parents are encouraging their children to be a part of these “safe” online communities in the same way they encourage their children to participate in “real life” communities. Parents are facilitating it in the same way parents facilitate their children attending school, sport, extra-curricular activities, etc. The parents are active in these communities as well.

Photo by Christina Welsh (Rin). (CC BY-ND 2.0)

So how do you protect your child from predators who may prey in “safe” online communities? You protect them the same way you do when you send them school, the babysitter, scouts, sport, etc. You give them knowledge. You let your child know that there are people who will make them feel special and loved. You let your child know that there are people who will build up trust and then ask to do things that you wouldn’t do with a stranger, like exchange naked photos. You teach your children to ask themselves, “If my teacher, Uncle Bob, sport coach, scout leader, etc., asked me to do this, would it be okay?” You also tell your child that sometimes it does feel okay because the person who is trying to take advantage makes them feel special; the abuser makes believe that there is a real relationship.

It is easier to protect your child from this sort of abuse before they enter puberty. It becomes a little more difficult once the raging hormones hit. I know. I’ve had someone who was in a position of authority take advantage when I was a teenager. They made me feel special and loved. They made it feel right and okay. But it wasn’t okay. Because they were an adult and I was a teenager, even if I was consenting. They knew they had authority over me and they broke the inherent trust that comes with that position.

It is one thing for teens to send explicit text messages to each other or naked photos. It is another issue all together when one of the people participating is an adult and the other person is underage. We are not talking about statutory rape. We are not talking about sex between two consenting people of age. We are talking about the abuse of power, trust and authority; something that is very easily manipulated no matter how educated someone is, and regardless of their level of self-esteem. It doesn’t matter how sure someone is of their self and their identity, it feels damn good when someone makes you feel special. Especially if that someone is a person who is admired and celebrated.

And this is where you need to tell your child that if that trust is broken, that if someone takes advantage of their position of authority, your child is not to blame. You may not have a personal understanding, but you need to reassure your child that if anything like this were to happen, it is safe for them to talk about it. You need to tell your child that if they are afraid to tell you, regardless of the reason, that they need to tell another teacher, or counsellor, or police officer; someone else who is in a position of authority. Your child is probably already blaming themselves. They probably already feel stupid and ashamed for believing they were special. They probably feel dirty because they think they allowed someone to manipulate and bend their boundaries, instead of realising that the adult is the one who is at fault. And as more victims come forward, this shame and self-blame will grow. They will think, “How could I have been so stupid!?”

It doesn’t matter how old you are, you are at risk for having trust broken. But at least when we become adults, hopefully, we are more psychologically equipped to deal with it. We have life experience behind us that has taught us trust can always be broken. Regardless of risking a broken trust, we still have to trust at some point. Children are still learning this. Having your trust broken when you are a child or a teenager is much more difficult to recover from. Your child needs to know that no matter what the circumstance, in the event that trust is broken, they have multiple avenues and people in whom they can confide.

You can never completely protect your children from online predators, anymore than you can completely protect them from predators who they will meet in real life. After all, regardless of how or where you meet someone, you only know what they choose to let you know. We all have public faces and private realities. The person you work with can be very nice and pleasant, but when they go home, they could be abusing their spouse or they could be the victims of spousal abuse, just as one example.

You do not want your child to be paranoid of online communities any more than you want your child to be paranoid about attending school or a sleepover at a relative’s home. But you do need to educate your child that the abuses happen most often at the hands of people who are trusted, and not by strangers. You need to educate your child regarding what to do if they know of someone who is being abused online or if they are being abused by someone online. And you need to educate them in the same manner that you would when you educate them regarding abuses in their “real life”.

Remember, regardless if you are chatting up a stranger in the grocery store or a stranger online, or if it is a trusted online community or trusted “real life” community, they carry the same risks and the same safety rules apply.

Nov 23
Infected Android App Runs Up Big Texting Bills

This article is not by anyone at P's & Q's Computing.  Author Below.

Infected Android App Runs Up Big Texting Bills

A rogue Android app that's been tweaked by hackers can hijack a smartphone and run up big texting bills before the owner knows it, Symantec said today.

The newest in a line of compromised Android apps, said Vikram Thakur, a principle security response manager at Symantec, is Steamy Window , a free program that Chinese hackers have modified, then re-released into the wild.

[Read: How to Avoid Being The Victim of an Android Trojan]

The cyber criminals grabbed a copy of Steamy Windows, then added a backdoor Trojan horse--"Android.Pjapps" by Symantec's label -- to the app's code. The reworked app is then placed on unsanctioned third-party "app stores" where unsuspecting or careless Android smartphones find it, download it and install it.

"This one stands out," said Thakur on Monday. "It's pretty comprehensive in what it's doing."

The Trojan planted by the malware-infected Steamy Windows can install other applications, monkey with the phone's browser bookmarks, surreptitiously navigate to Web sites and silently send text messages, said Thakur.

The last is how the criminals make money.

"The Trojan lets them send SMS [short message service] messages to premium rate numbers," said Thakur, for which the hackers are paid commissions.

Android.Pjapps also has a built-in filter that blocks incoming texts from the user's carrier, a trick it uses to keep victims in the dark about the invisible texting.

"It monitors inbound SMS texts, and blocks alerts telling you that you've already exceeded your quota," Thakur said. Smartphone owners then wouldn't be aware of the charges they've racked up texting premium services until they receive their next statement.

Symantec found the cloned Steamy Windows app on a Web site hosted by Chinese servers.

Not The First Time

The practice of altering legitimate Android apps to carry malware isn't new -- earlier this year, security experts warned that Monkey Jump was being cloned by criminals for the same purpose -- but the bogus Steamy Window app shows that hackers are getting better at reworking mobile software.

"The code inside [Steamy Windows] can be easily added to other apps," said Thakur today. "For someone who knows what they're doing--and it seems these people have a good understanding of how apps are coded--I'd put this in the 'trivial to do' category. The last few months, it seems to be ramping up."

Android smartphones are an attractive target for hackers, Thakur continued, because of their increasing popularity and because, unlike Apple's iOS, users can install apps downloaded from third-party distribution sites.

"Where there's honey, there's bees," said Thakur.

Smartphone owners should be wary of unauthorized app stores, Thakur said. "Downloading an app from one of these [third-party] sites is like downloading a Windows app from a 'warez' site," he said, referring to sites that post illegally-obtained content, which often is malware infected.

"And if you're hell-bent on using them, look at the permissions the app requests when it installs. A [rogue] app will request more permissions than the legitimate version," he said.

Symantec published an analysis of Android.Pjapps on its Web site Monday.

The legitimate Steamy Window app for Android can be downloaded from Google's Android Market.

Nov 23
How to Use Sticky Notes in Windows 7

How to Use Sticky Notes in Windows 7

The Sticky Notes accessory enables you to plaster the electronic equivalent of good old-fashioned Post-It notes all over your Windows 7 desktop. You can use Sticky Notes in Windows 7 as onscreen reminders: you can even color code them to help you stay organized.

They remain securely wherever you put them on the desktop until you delete them!

1

To create a Sticky Note, click Start?All Programs?Accessories?Sticky Notes.

Windows opens a new blank note on the desktop, positioning the cursor at the beginning of the note.

2

Type the text of the note.

3

You can also format the note text if you want.

Just select the desired text and then press the appropriate shortcut key: Ctrl+B for bold text, Ctrl+I for italics, and Ctrl+U for underlining.

You’ll notice that the text automatically wraps to a new line, and if your text doesn’t fit on the note, Windows automatically expands the height of the note to accommodate the length of your note.

4

When you finish entering the note text, simply click somewhere on the desktop outside the sticky note itself.

Alternatively, you can click the New Note button (the one with the plus sign) to start a new sticky note. The note you create will stay on the desktop.

If you use sticky notes, you’ll want to get acquainted with the Sticky Notes Quick Launch button on the taskbar. Click it once to temporarily hide all the sticky notes on your desktop. To bring all of your sticky notes back to the desktop or to the top of the windows on the desktop, click it again.

5

To color-code a sticky note, right-click the note and then click the color you want.

Your choices here are Blue, Green, Pink, Purple, White, or Yellow.

6

To delete a note that you no longer need, click its Delete button in the upper-right corner.

The first time you delete a note, Windows asks you to confirm the deletion. If you don’t want to see this alert again, select the Don’t Display This Message Again check box before you click Yes.

When you open an Explorer window that overlaps a note, you can bring the sticky note to the top of the pile by clicking any visible part of the sticky note. If nothing is visible, click the Sticky Notes Quick Launch button on the taskbar.


 

Article is not written by P's & Q's Computing

Nov 23
What is spyware?

Spyware is a general term used for software that performs certain behaviors such as advertising, collecting personal information, or changing the configuration of your computer, generally without obtaining your consent. You might have spyware or other unwanted software on your computer if:

You see pop-up advertisements even when you're not on the Web.

Your Web browser home page (the page your browser first opens to) or your browser search settings have changed without your knowledge.

You notice a new toolbar in your browser that you didn't want, and you find it difficult to get rid of.

Your computer takes longer than usual to complete certain tasks.

You experience a sudden rise in computer crashes

Spyware is often associated with software that displays advertisements (called adware) or software that tracks personal or sensitive information. That does not mean all software which provides ads or tracks your online activities is bad. For example, you might sign up for a free music service, but "pay" for the service by agreeing to receive targeted ads. If you understand the terms and agree to them, you may have decided that it is a fair tradeoff. You might also agree to let the company track your online activities to determine which ads to show you.

 

Other kinds of unwanted software will make changes to your computer that can be annoying and can cause your computer to slow down or crash. These programs have the ability to change your Web browser's home page or search page, or add additional components to your browser you don't need or want. These programs also make it very difficult for you to change your settings back to the way you originally had them. These types of unwanted programs are also often called spyware.

The key in all cases is whether or not you (or someone who uses your computer) understands what the software will do and have agreed to install the software on your computer.

There are a number of ways spyware or other unwanted software can get on your system. A common trick is to covertly install the software during the installation of other software you do want, such as a music or video file sharing program. Whenever you install something on your computer, make sure you carefully read all disclosures, including the license agreement and privacy statement. Sometimes the inclusion of unwanted software in a given software installation is documented, but it may appear at the end of a license agreement or privacy statement.

 

 

More often than not you do not notice this until it is too late and your need a Computer Technician.

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