One evening, while watching TV, your phone rings.  On the phone is a technician from Microsoft that needs to connect to your computer to remove a virus that is affecting some users. He asks for your email address and sends you a link to click on that will automatically install some software for him to connect to your computer. You follow his instructions and then all of a sudden, a window fills your screen. It has a message saying that your computer is infected, please call to have it removed. The technician on the phone sounds surprised that the infection has gotten so bad and gives you his fee to have it removed. You can’t open your pictures folder, or any of your document folders. So you give the technician your credit card information. The technician then says that the card didn’t work and if you can try a different one. Then, that one also doesn’t work. At this point he suggests buying an apple gift card in the amount of his fee and use that as payment. You again follow his instructions, purchase the gift card, and give him the gift card code. Without warning the phone line cuts off. The virus is still on your computer and you still cannot open any of your files. You call back the number and a different technician answers the phone and tells you if you want access to your computer and your files again you have to pay again. This may seem like fiction but it is all too real. This is one of many examples of Ransomware. Your computer is the hostage and to get back access to it, you have to fork over a never ending amount of cash. In some cases, the Ransomware just blocks access to your computer and in other cases, they encrypt all your files. In this real example, the customer lost $400 worth of gift cards and gave access to two credit cards that needed to be cancelled. Ransomware is more commonly installed on your PC by visiting suspicious websites, downloading fake drivers, or even clicking on an infected advertisement. But getting a phone call from a fake technician is becoming an increasing problem. These Phone Fraudsters tend to specifically target retirees and the elderly but anyone can receive a call. Unfortunately, this problem is not going away anytime soon. According to Norton these fraudsters can make up to $33,000 a day with one specific attack. We recommend that you have the following in place to protect your computer: Install a layered security software solution and keep it up to date Install a 3rd party pop-up blocker in your Internet browser Install a website reliability scanner in your Internet browser Install a reliable image backup to protect your data, applications and operating system We take a layered security approach in the security solutions we offer. Whether you are a large or small business or even a home user, we offer many options to fit our client’s budget and needs. Just as it is important to keep up with the maintenance of a vehicle, it is equally important to have regular maintenance on your computer to protect your data and keep your system running smoothly. Ransomware is just one of many threats that can compromise your system. It can be confusing to decide on what software to use and knowing what will actually work.  If you need help, feel free to contact us. Reference:  Norton: http://us.norton.com/ransomware/article
We all have cars and we know how hot it gets in the summer time.  This is a great time to get your car tinted by DRW Professional Glass Tinting.  Window tinting can help reduce heat and sun exposure to the car's interior making it more comfortable and safe.  I am a strong believer in window tinting and will be a customer for life. Mobile Tech Computer Services, LLC recently developed a new website for DRW Professional Glass Tinting in Chambersburg, PA.  The website address is www.drwglasstinting.com.  Donald Wilson is the owner of DRW Professional Glass Tinting and has been in the window tinting business for over 32 years.  He tinted my 2002 Jeep Liberty over 12 years ago and the window tint has lasted all these years.  I would recommend you contact Donnie Wilson at DRW Professional Glass Tinting and get the Carbon XP Film.  He is currently having a promotion so check out the coupons on his website. All the best, Erik Grewe
19.09.2015
Erik Grewe
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Unless you want to take a chance, I suggest all users wait before upgrading on any device.  Then, watch the news for any issues.  No one is immune to bugs including Apple.  Software is just too complicated and there are endless variables and scenarios.  I see it every time there is an upgrade to any operating system.  In any case, make sure you have a good backup before proceeding with the upgrade.  Here is a recent article describing events that occurred with an Apple upgrade: http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/09/18/us-apple-update-ios-idUSKCN0RI05P20150918 All the best, Erik Grewe Mobile Tech 301-739-7311
04.06.2015
Erik Grewe
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MS announces release date for Windows 10 By Tracey Capen It's official: Windows 10 will be formally released on July 29 — but not for everyone. Microsoft surprised many current Win7 and Win8 users with an on-screen message announcing the event and free upgrades. Pushing the Win10 upgrade where you live The message shows up as a new icon on the taskbar. Clicking the icon pops up the Win10 notification. We assumed that everyone had gotten the memo about Microsoft's latest Win10 marketing ploy, but apparently not. A few Windows Secrets readers — along with many others on the Web — wondered whether the icon and its message was legitimate or some sort of sophisticated malware. It's legit. Microsoft has certainly taken a different tack with the release of Windows 10. Years ago, if you asked MS reps when a new OS would be released, the standard answer was "When it's ready!" But the debacle of Windows 8 and its various updates launched a tidal wave of changes at Microsoft. Among them was a more transparent OS development process — at least by Microsoft's standards (and light-years ahead of Apple's, who might give the NSA lessons in secrecy). As all regular Windows Secrets readers know, we've been able to test preview versions of Windows 10 and give Microsoft our opinions on its development direction. (How much of the Windows Insider feedback was actually implemented is anyone's guess.) The official release-date announcement was delivered in a June 1 Blogging Windows post. The upgrade is free for those with a "genuine" version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 on PCs and tablets. Anyone who purchases a new Windows 8 system now will be able to upgrade on July 29. (Anyone who installed a version of Win10 Preview via the Windows Insiders program will also be automatically updated to the "final" release.) Who doesn't get the free upgrade? Corporate users, not surprisingly, who are running Win7/8 Enterprise editions; but Microsoft will also not release a retail version of Windows 10 on July 29. That will come sometime later. Those who build their own PCs will probably have to buy a genuine copy of Windows 8 and then download the Win10 upgrade. For more details on how the upgrade process will work, see the Windows 10 Q&A page — or one of the thousands of media reports about the July 29 event. As I quickly discovered, not everyone received the Get Windows 10 icon. Several WS contributors and readers did, but it never showed on any of my Win7 or Win8 machines. I've not seen a good breakdown of who was considered worthy and who wasn't, but apparently the icon was blocked on domain-attached systems such as my work ThinkPad. Moreover, my test system's Windows 8 was downloaded from the MSDN developers site, which might mean it's not considered "genuine." Those and other reasons are outlined in a recent Microsoft Community thread. How was the icon/popup message pushed onto our systems? It came through Windows Update as KB 3035583, a sort of stealth update whose title states only: "Update enables additional capabilities for Windows Update notifications in Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1." That would suggest more popup notifications to come. Along with the announcement of Win10's release date was an offer to reserve your free Win10 download. Usually, I'd write this off to Microsoft marketing, but there's actually more to the reservation process. According to the aforementioned Win10 Q&A, when you make a reservation, the system will check that your system is compatible with Windows 10. Microsoft will also send updates for Win7 and Win8 systems to make "the final installation go more quickly." Once a reservation is set, you should have a Get Windows 10 app on your machine. Unfortunately, based on posts in the related MS Community thread, the reservation process isn't going smoothly for everyone. A post notes that the Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser script can take up to 30 minutes to complete. It also states: "If the script is failing in an infinite loop, then you don't have the necessary prerequisite Windows Updates." It goes on to list other Windows updates that must be already installed. (Note: You can turn off the popup notifications by clicking the Show hidden icons triangle on the taskbar and then clicking Customize.) Taking a cue from past OS X upgrades Whenever Apple released a new version of OS X, there were many Mac users who jumped on the upgrade and then wished that they hadn't. Often the download servers became overwhelmed and the downloads took hours — or stopped altogether. And there were the infamous flaws that never showed up in the company's quality-control testing. So smart users typically wait for a few days or weeks before installing the new OS X — much as smart Windows users do with nonsecurity updates. According to the Win10 Q&A mentioned above, anyone who reserves a free copy of Windows 10 will be notified when the upgrade process is about to start. That's well and good, but I don't see any real upside to making a reservation now. The free upgrade offer extends to July 29, 2016. So there's no real hurry. And as I noted in my previous column, there will undoubtedly be many updates to Win10 soon after its release. But most important, be absolutely sure you have a full and working image of your current system before the Win10 upgrade process begins. I've heard of no official option for rolling back from Win10; but a full image will guarantee that you can fall back to Win7 or Win8.1 if you have problems with the new OS — or you find you simply don't like it. There are obviously many more questions about the Win10 upgrade process that still need answers. We'll discuss them in future WS stories. But you can also check out MS general manager Gabriel Aul's ongoing tweets.
04.06.2015
Erik Grewe
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Third time's the charm with Microsoft's Surface By Michael Lasky Is the Surface tablet best platform for Windows 8? Or is Win8.1 the ideal platform for a powerful and fully functional tablet? This chicken-or-egg question came to mind while I was reviewing the new Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3. And the answer to both questions is — yes! On the third try, MS gets its tablet right Anyone who has worked with Microsoft products for a long time knows the old saw: It takes the company three tries to get it right. That would certainly seem to apply to the Surface tablets, which got off to a very slow and rough start. If you still own an original Surface, my condolences. The second-generation Surface tablets were an improvement but still failed to gain widespread acceptance. But on its third try, Microsoft might have finally gotten a Windows-based tablet right. The Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 still have a few glitches, but they should please many Windows users. I found both devices to be fluid and functional — and I say that as an unrepentant Windows 8 critic of long standing. Microsoft boasts that the third-generation Surface is "the tablet that can replace your laptop." Both models make excellent tablets, but replacing a notebook is a harder sell — especially the Surface 3, which has only a 10.8-inch HD display and a maximum storage of 128GB. The Surface Pro 3 sports a 12-inch HD display and up to 512GB of storage. Starting prices for the Surface 3 are U.S. $499, and $799 for the Pro version. But a laptop replacement needs a physical keyboard. Adding Microsoft's optional Surface 3 Type Cover, which doubles as a keyboard and screen protector, will set you back another $129. Figure 1. Using either model of the Surface 3 as a laptop replacement requires purchasing an optional keyboard. One important note: Surface 3 effectively marks the end of Windows RT, the much-maligned OS that would not run classic Windows apps — causing no end of confusion for Windows-tablet buyers. The Surface 3 and Surface 3 Pro come with full editions of Windows 8.1. They'll also run Windows 10 (no surprise there) when it's released in late July. Previews of the new OS suggest that you'll get an even better tablet/laptop experience once you upgrade. Surface as tablet: More than iPad with Windows It could be argued that the overwhelming — and largely unexpected — success of Apple's iPad drove Microsoft's ill-fated development and release of Windows 8 — an OS that clearly had the touch-centric environment of a tablet in mind. But Microsoft made two strategic errors: it assumed that a tablet interface would be easily and willingly adopted on the desktop and that tablet hardware to compete with the iPad could be quickly developed. Desktop users who tried Win8.1 rebelled en masse, and potential tablet users were unimpressed with the first-generation Surface devices — likely in large part due to a lack of quality Metro apps. Microsoft obviously learned some hard lessons; the Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 are designed to be used primarily as tablets with no compromises. The Surface 3 weighs in at just 1.4 pounds, and the Pro 3 is just a few ounces more (1.8 pounds). Attaching the keyboard/cover adds, surprisingly, about another pound. The Surface 3s are better equipped than most tablets. They support all current versions of Wi-Fi (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.0, and USB 3.0. Ports include a microSD slot, one USB port, Mini DisplayPort, and keyboard port. Both models have excellent displays, both for static screens and video playback. The Surface 3's 10.8-inch screen supports 1920-by-1280-pixel resolution, while the Pro 3's 12-inch display generates a generous 2160 by 1440 pixels. The Surface 3s include front and back cameras, but whereas both cameras on the Pro 3 are 5 megapixels, the more basic Surface 3 has a 3.5-megapixel camera on the front and an 8-megapixel camera on the back. Both models have microphones, but the Pro 3's is stereo. I took pleasing photos and videos with the two tablets; I also made Skype calls using the built-in microphones. The Dolby-enhanced stereo speakers produced unexceptional sound but were certainly adequate for Skype. If you're using Skype for listening to music often, I recommend investing in some high-quality headphones or Bluetooth speakers. Microsoft states that the two tablets should get about nine to 10 hours of use on a full charge. In my informal tests running video, browsing the Web, using Office, and so on, the Surface 3 lasted about eight hours and the Pro a bit less. With continuous video playback, it was more like four or five hours. As mentioned above, both Surfaces run full versions of Windows, which means you can install and use almost any Windows-based application. But you still have the issue of the operating system's split personality. As was originally envisioned by Microsoft, Win8.1 Metro-style tiles are well suited to finger-based navigation. They're designed to be easily opened with a tap and managed with gestures. Unfortunately, the selection of useful Metro/Universal apps still leaves much to be desired. And trying to use touch-and-swipe for classic Windows apps — designed for mouse and keyboard — is still vexing. Microsoft's apparent solution to that problem is the Surface Pen, included with all but the base model Surface 3 (where it's $50 extra). The Pen is a Bluetooth-enabled digitizer that recognizes 256 pressure levels and works both as an input device and pointer. Its small tip makes tapping the small icons of classic Windows apps much easier than with fingers. You can also use it like a ballpoint pen to create, mark up, and edit documents. The one flaw is that there's no pen holder on the tablet, though there is one on the optional keyboard/cover. Working with Office apps in tablet mode is also somewhat problematic — mostly due to the intrusiveness of the on-screen keyboard. If you plan to do more than minor edits to Office documents, you'll want to purchase the Surface 3 Type Cover or a third-party Bluetooth keyboard. (Unlike a Bluetooth keyboard, the Surface keyboard/cover works only when it's attached to the tablet.) When in use, the keyboard has a slight angle that makes typing a bit more comfortable. Also, the tablet's kickstand lets you choose a comfortable display angle. I found the keyboard generally agreeable to use, though the built-in touchpad seemed too shallow for full effectiveness. Surface as laptop: Ultrathin and light Typically, the need for a laptop means you're doing some sort of productivity task. For this type of application, a keyboard is a virtual requirement — but so is a good suite of apps. Both the Surface 3 and the Pro 3 include a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal. That includes full versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook plus at least 1TB of online OneDrive storage for one user (along with free phone/chat technical support). Equipped with solid-state memory, the two Surface 3s boot up in seconds and switch between apps in a flash. However, the Surface 3, running a 1.6GHz Atom x7 processor, was noticeably slower than the Pro 3 running an Intel Core (i3, i5, or i7) processor. Still, the Surface 3 proved up to most tasks such as Web browsing, running Office, and viewing videos. (While watching movies, I did notice that the Surface's metal case became noticeably hot. I solved that problem by popping out the kickstand and resting the tablet on something other than myself. Some users of the Pro 3 report noticeable fan noise in some instances.) On a tablet with a super-slender chassis, a standard USB port is a luxury. But on a laptop replacement, one USB port can present a quandary solved only by adding a multiport hub. Adding the VisionTek USB 3.0 Seven Port Hub I reviewed in the Oct. 23, 2014, Best Hardware column allowed me to connect a USB external drive, a mouse, and a printer. Microsoft also offers an optional docking station for $200; it includes two USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, a gigabit Ethernet port, an audio input/output connection, a Mini DisplayPort, and power supply input. Bottom line: If you're looking for a laptop alternative, go with the Surface Pro 3. In my tests, it had the power to handle all the apps I used on my bulky Win7 laptop; moreover, the 12-inch screen also provides more desktop real estate than does the Surface 3. Still paying a premium for ultra-portability As mentioned earlier, you can purchase a Surface 3 for $500. But the keyboard/cover adds another $129, plus $50 for a pen. You're now up to $680. That's more than a low-end iPad — even adding a Bluetooth keyboard and free Office apps. It's more than many inexpensive, traditional laptops. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but the top-end model, with 512GB of storage and an Intel Core i7, will set you back a whopping $1949 — and you still need to add another $129 for the keyboard. Even some of the bundled packages offered by vendors such as Costco seem overpriced. At least for the Surface Pro 3, I think Microsoft should include the keyboard with the current prices. That said, the Surface 3 and Pro 3 offer the best and most convincing implementations of Windows 8.1. And they should be even better with Windows 10. If you're looking for a simple tablet, mostly for entertainment, look for an iPad or Android tablet. If you want to get real work done on a truly flexible and mobile device, the Surface should fit your needs. Portability and power have never been cheap.
04.06.2015
Erik Grewe
No comments
A Windows Secrets reader recently commented that he'd be more than willing to pay Microsoft a perpetual fee to continue supporting Windows XP. To gain significant traction, the subscription would have to be priced reasonably for the average PC user — perhaps U.S. $25 a year.It's an interesting concept. How much money could Microsoft rake in for ongoing XP support? Let's take a quick look at the math. There are roughly 300 to 500 million PCs in the world still running Windows XP; let's split the difference and say there are 400 million. Some portion of that figure includes government agencies and major corporations that are already paying Microsoft significant fees for extended XP support.So let's cut the number in half and say there are 200 million consumers still using the now unsupported Windows XP. Assuming most of those individuals are willing to pay $25 per year to avoid upgrading to a more modern operating system, Microsoft might see roughly $4 billion in annual revenue.That's hardly chump change, especially given that Microsoft's entire net income for the most recent fiscal quarter was $5.66 billion. And there would be almost no cost to Microsoft; it's already investigating flaws and developing patches for the supported versions of Windows. At face value, it seems like a win for both Microsoft and Windows XP users.It isn't — and Microsoft knows that. There's almost no chance that the company will implement any consumer-based, pay-for-support program for XP. And we should all be thankful for that fact. The issues with Windows XP run much deeper than just patching known vulnerabilities on the second Tuesday of each month. Moreover, Microsoft has motives and concerns that go beyond patching XP vulnerabilities and fighting off exploits.An OS that's now insecure by designNo, Windows XP wasn't built to be vulnerable; but its architecture has made it so over time. Back when the Internet was relatively new, XP was a great operating system. It's still a perfectly functional OS — for applications that do not require a network or Web connection.But from a security standpoint, XP is now simply too archaic. Connecting the OS to the Internet is like speeding down the highway in a car with no seat belts. It's not only dangerous for you; today's malware makes it hazardous for every other PC with a shared network or Internet connection.Patching XP won't provide the security tools introduced with Windows Vista and enhanced with Windows 7 and Windows 8. Security features such as Data Execution Prevention (DEP) and Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) can't be backported to XP without an extraordinary amount of coding effort. (DEP and ASLR aren't invulnerable, but they do provide additional layers of defense that significantly raise the time and effort an attacker must invest to develop a successful exploit.)More current versions of Windows also include User Account Control (UAC), which helps protect users running in administrator mode. (Many users are running in admin mode by default.) UAC helps enforce the concept of least privilege: it forces even admins to approve specific changes to Windows, such as installing or updating applications. Most Windows XP users run in an admin-level account, putting themselves at significant risk. It lets an attacker run malicious code with full administrator privileges.The upshot? All else being equal, Windows XP is almost always at significantly greater risk than newer versions of Windows — even when it's the same vulnerability across all versions. That fact can skew Microsoft's vulnerability ratings because any particular flaw's overall rating is based on the OS most threatened. So a vulnerability rated critical might be rated important or even moderate if Windows XP is removed from the equation.How XP holds third-party vendors hostageThe liabilities of XP are not limited solely to Microsoft. Third-party hardware and software vendors are also affected. As long as Microsoft supports a legacy operating system, hardware and software vendors typically feel obligated to do so, too. If Microsoft initiated a paid-support subscription for individual XP users, the makers of monitors, keyboards, webcams, and software would also have to continue investing resources to keep their products compatible with Windows XP.Tripwire security research manager Tyler Reguly recently told me, "No mainstream consumer OS has ever been supported as long as Windows XP. Look at server platforms; even Solaris 8 and AIX 5 [both released after XP] are past their end-of-life dates. Apple released OS X 10.6 [Snow Leopard] in 2009 and dropped support for the OS less than five years later — less than half of the 12 years Microsoft has supported XP."So our cost equation isn't limited just to Microsoft. Adding in the many hardware and software vendors tied to a PC makes the math far more complicated. If you factor in the entire Windows XP ecosystem, that $4 billion of revenue for Microsoft could be offset by many more billions spent by other vendors.Things change; it's past time to move onNot to be facetious, but there were probably people who would've paid for continued support of eight-track tapes — or 5.25-inch floppy drives. Technologies evolve, and so do threats to those technologies — and in most cases, the older the technology, the greater the hazard. Most of us are very happy that our cars have seat belts, crumple zones, airbags, and more cup holders.Windows XP users are still welcome to continue using the aged OS — just as there are those who will still get some use from their effectively obsolete 3.5-inch floppy drive. But all security experts strongly recommend limiting the use of XP to standalone applications. Don't connect it to the Internet, especially if it shares a network with other PCs. A successful infection on an XP system could easily spread to other machines.Regardless of whether and how you choose to continue using Windows XP, the concept of paying for support just doesn't add up. Not for users and not for vendors — not even for $4 billion a year.
Did you know that the FBI virus is one of the most destructive viruses you can get over the internet?  This malware type virus can sneak onto your system by going through security vulnerabilities on your computer. It is combined with something called the MoneyPak Virus which locks you completely out of your computer and forces you to pay money to unlock your files, music, pictures, and everything else on your computer. It does this by trying to trick you and saying that you have committed a federal crime and must pay a ransom to unlock your computer to be able to use it again. This is why it is always important to make sure you have good up-to-date security on your computers.  Norton, Kaspersky, Avast and Mcafee are only a few amazing securities to use to help prevent this virus. Even with this security though you may still be able to get infected. Depending on what sites you visit, the FBI virus might still be able to find security flaws and sneak onto your computer. To reduce your chance of infections, it is recommended to download programs directly from the software vendor.  For example, if you wanted to download Avast security, go to www.avast.com to obtain the download.  Also, stay away from ads that try to trick you such as “your drivers are out of date, click and download this to update them now” or “is your computer to slow, download/click on this to make your computer faster. These are fake offers and by clicking on them you are just downloading viruses and malware onto your computer and placing your computer at risk of getting infections.

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