Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New CryptoLocker virus is EXTREMELY destructive

I don't usually send out warnings about computer viruses -- but "CryptoLocker" (first released last month) is extremely destructive.  Please inform your friends and co-workers to be ESPECIALLY WARY of email attachments of ANY kind (not just EXE but also JPG or PDF), unless you were explicitly expecting them!  Google search "cryptolocker" for many recent news and technical articles about this.

CryptoLocker will silently encrypt ALL of your data (including photos and videos!) not just on your main disk drive, but also on any additional system/network drive letters, and possibly on certain cloud drives you may have.  It will then present a ransom demand for $100-$700 which must be paid within 4 days, or the decryption key will be erased.

As you'd be dealing with crooks, it's NOT recommended to pay the ransom as there's insufficient evidence that paying ransom actually works (is there honor among thieves?).   The alternative is after removing the virus, you have to restore EVERYTHING from backups, making CryptoLocker MUCH more destructive than previous "fake FBI" viruses.

If you've already been 'encrypted', disconnect the computer from the internet, unplug any attached backup disk drives, and contact Professional Nerds right away.

Reference link

Monday, October 14, 2013

Holiday Tablets

Almost all of the vendor fall 2013 tablet announcements are complete, with the exception of Apple (expected to announce 10/22 & ship 11/1).

While tablets are fine for casual, light typing, even tho you can use a keyboard with a tablet, do NOT expect (yet) a tablet w/keyboard to fully replace a laptop, especially if you use it for creating information (Word, Excel, Powerpoint).
1) There's no mouse equivalent on a smartphone or tablet
2) Fat fingers on a small touchscreen device can't match the precision of a mouse pointer on a PC/Laptop/Mac
3) There's a reason programs on a smartphone or tablet are called "apps" not "applications" or "programs" (think lightweight!)
4) Full-blown applications (such as Microsoft Office) are still not available for Android & iOS devices


This attached link shows us that competition has produced fine technology from a variety of vendors, but "feeds and speeds" don't tell the whole story, such as how many "compromises does a $59 7" (or $129 10") no-name tablet have ?  Make your own prioritized list of how you'd like to use a tablet:
a) Email & Internet (including Facebook, browsing, etc)
b) Video conferencing (Skype, Facetime) with friends
c) Reading books (you don't need an Amazon Kindle tablet in order to read Kindle books)
d) Streaming internet movies & TV shows (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Instant Video, Comcast/xFinity, HBO, etc)
e) Replacing a camera for taking pictures / video (beware, those around you will hate the distraction, especially when you raise up your tablet to expose the camera lens!)

As it'll be easy to get confused and lost, browsing among this year's Tablet offerings, here are some considerations:
1) Beware no-name items which are really cheap; 7" tablet (2013 models) range $139-$229.
2) Avoid display resolutions lower than 1024x768, RAM less than 512MB, storage less than 8GB; check attached table and READ REVIEWS!
3) Already have or are considering an iPhone?  Get an iPad or iPad Mini because they can share iOS apps, and device configuration & use is similar.
4) NOT the same advice for Android; due to 'vendor fragmentation' and product differentiation.  This reminds me of PC fragmentation 30 years ago among IBM-compatible vendors -- many of whom did not survive!).

PS - Ignore Microsoft's witty commercials about Surface vs iPad, they're just closing out last year's Windows RT model which didn't sell!

As always, contact Professional Nerds (1.877.468.3737) if you have any questions.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

iOS 7 iMessages stuck at "Sending Message"?

Are you seeing your iOS 7 iMessages stuck at "Sending Message"?  This means the messages have NOT been delivered!  Apple has promised a new (7.03) patch (as early as this week) to fix the issue; meanwhile, here's what you can do right now:

a) Reboot your iOS 7 device by simultaneously holding down the "On/Off" and "Home" buttons at least 10 seconds until your phone shuts off AND the Apple logo appears (signifying a restart).  This will force all the "Sending Messages" to at least show a "Not Delivered" notice; at this point you can choose to re-send (or not resend) the message.

b) Another change from iOS6 to iOS7 changed a default setting which would re-route iMessages via standard SMS text message (where sent message 'balloons' appear in a different color than the more secure iMessages).  With iOS 7 this is turned OFF -- good for folks who have a limited number of text messages/month.  If you have unlimited texting, you should turn this back on:  SETTINGS - MESSAGES - Send as SMS=ON.   Note:  Just turning SMS Texting back on as a 'fallback' to iMessage doesn't fix the basic "Sending Message" problem.

Having Trouble Sending iOS 7 Messages? Apple has a Fix on the Way

Finally, certain articles are advocating that certain users also need to "Reset network settings".

Do NOT do this unless you're fully aware of its SIDE EFFECTS !  According to Apple, "This will clear your current cellular and Wi-Fi network settings, including saved networks, Wi-Fi passwords, and VPN settings."

This means you will ALSO need to re-enter ALL Wi-Fi passwords you use (home, office, other frequent locations) before you again can use AirPrint printers, and until re-entered, you'll also use up more of your expensive cellular data plan instead of free WiFi.  "Reset network settings" will also erase any office VPN settings, and MAY erase any Bluetooth pairings you've setup -- meaning they too have to be re-setup.

Because of these side effects, I haven't yet resorted to "Reset network settings" or any other tips.  My recommendation is to again use the above iDevice restart procedure until Apple releases an iOS 7 update to fix the problem.

Friday, October 4, 2013

DON'T be hasty trading in your old smartphone...!

Have you ever thought your smartphone is perhaps doing TOO many things?  Rather than trading in your old smartphone when you get a new, more powerful one, you might want to consider keeping your older "handheld computer" and dedicating it to certain useful tasks, rather than trading it in.

For example, although it won't have a cellular voice/data access, when connected to WiFi it still has data connections so you can browse the internet, check Facebook/Twitter/etc., send/receive email, and even use Skype or Facetime for phone calls!  An 'old' smartphone makes a great remote control for streaming internet video (YouTube, NetFlix, Hulu Plus) from your ($35) Google Chromecast-equipped HD-TV.

Plus, the camera still takes photos, your old device still plays music, and of course, you (and other family members) can still play your favorite games!

Kim Komando has (as usual) some great tips on what to do with your old one.


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Can't wait for iOS v7? You MAY want to....!

Today Apple is releasing v7 of iOS to upgrade your iDevices (except the original iPad 1 and iPhones older than the iPhone 4).  Should you upgrade right away -- or should you wait a bit?

Forbes - Mark Rogowsky - "With iOS 7, Should You Wait To Upgrade?"

When Apple upgraded iOS from v5 to v6, some apps 'broke', and the same may happen after your iOS v7 upgrade.  Let me repeat that upgrading immediately may crash some non-Apple apps you DEPEND on -- you HAVE been WARNED !   When iOS v7 is automatically available to you for wireless install, the SETTINGS icons will sport a red "badge" with '1'.  If you can't WAIT (you've got to have it NOW), 'tether' your iDevice to your PC/Mac, and via iTunes, download and install the update.

The APP STORE icon will also be sporting a red "badge" with a much larger number, indicating all your iOS apps which need updating -- you might want to upgrade these apps FIRST before you upgrade to iOS v7!

Finally, before updating (especially older iDevices like the iPhone 4), you might want to close all running apps first and reboot your device.  See my article "#13 Thawing your iDevice"...
...because what you think is the POWER button is only a SLEEP button, and a clean restart (with no apps running) will make your iOS upgrade go MUCH smoother !

Here are some additional articles to read about this change, but remember that whatever you read is usually the OPINION of what matters to the writer -- not necessarily what matters to YOU!

ABC News:  iOS 7: The 7 Things to Know About Your Brand New iPhone Software (nice video & interactive icons)
     (click on the interactive icons for the pros and cons of each and/or view a complete video)

Forbes - Mark Rogowsky
     - 7 Misses In iOS 7
        (remember, these are the author's opinions which may not be the same as yours)
     - A Guide To What's Great In iOS 7
        (same caution about opinions)

Questions or problems?  Call Professional Nerds at 1.877.486.3737

PS - If you're getting a NEW iPhone 5C or 5S, make sure your existing device is fully backed up via iTunes or iCloud BEFORE you go to the store -- you'll be back up and running much quicker.  But this is a subject for ANOTHER article!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Non-GMail users can use Gmail's new, free inbox sorting to separate out Commercial & Social Media emails

Net-Net:  Even if you don't use a GMail address, you can use GMail's new InBox sorting, which separates out Promotional & Social Media emails from your other correspondence, and has online marketers worried!   http://goo.gl/NXAB1G

Google has long had great anti-spam filters, no "in your face" advertising, and now GMail pulls Promotional (Commercial) emails & Social Media emails (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) out of your primary inbox and place them in their own separate inboxes.

If your email service allows POP (Post Office Protocol) email access (like Outlook or Windows Mail), you can use GMail's new sorting views to separate Promotional and Social emails from your primary inbox -- WITHOUT having to change your email address!  Your free GMail Account (you MAY already have one if you have an Android phone!) allows you to ADD your other email account(s) AND make it the default.   See my white paper: "POP goes your GMAIL!" at http://goo.gl/EdtgYD.

Additional Advantages:
1) Allowing Gmail to POP your existing email gets rid of all that 'in your face' advertising you see on free webmail pages (Gmail only uses text advertising).   2) If you were drooling at Samsung's $249 2.4lb Chromebook (http://goo.gl/iwEct) but were shut-out because you didn't want to change your email address to Gmail, here's your chance get one -- no email address change required!

By the way, for those of you who disliked GMail because of it's "conversation" view of your emails (all send/receive emails on the same subject are grouped together), TechRepublic tells you how to make it appear like other email systems (the usual discombobulated mess):  http://goo.gl/Y9n7dx

You'll find other "Moving Into The 21st Century" white papers at http://www.professionalnerds.com/links.htm Current items are at both http://professionalnerds.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/ProfessionalNerds.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Thieves sell your smartphone for $65 to $300 !!!

Smartphone theft is becoming more common than purse snatchings as the phones themselves are worth more fenced ($65-$300) than the cash in your wallet.  http://my.chicagotribune.com/#section/-1/article/p2p-76742086/

Smartphone prices may seem low because a big part of the handset cost is spread over a 2-year contract.  But don't kid yourself -- if your iPhone 5 is stolen within that first two years, a replacement handset will cost as much as $675 -- that's why thieves can fence them for so much!  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/13/smartphone-black-market_n_3510341.html

Stolen phones are a GLOBAL market.  The $675 paid in the USA is just plain unaffordable.  That's why http://www.gazelle.com offers $65-$70 to buy your older iPhone 4 in good condition, but for an iPhone5 will pay three Benjamins -- three $100 bills! -- and resell it for even more!

Vendors like Apple and Samsung ARE trying to help via new anti-theft features... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/18/apple-samsung-antitheft-features-tested_n_3613415.html

...but you still need to protect the access to YOUR data that your smartphone represents.

A) Make sure you have a LOCK code on your device.  It may be inconvenient, but it's better than having someone else with control of your email account and other smartphone apps you've authorized!  B) Turn ON the provision to wipe the smartphone clean following 10 failed passcode attempts.
C) Install a "find my phone/remote erase" application to ensure no one uses a lost/stolen phone for identity theft.
D) Finally, ensure your device is wirelessly backed up online so that when you get a replacement device your apps & info can be quickly restored.

Most of these features are built into iPhone; Android users should get an app such as LOOKOUT which provides similar capabilities.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The sky hasn't fallen....yet !

The flap over the NSA gathering Verizon metadata is way overblown.  Metadata shows tendencies and trends, which is nowhere near as much privacy detail as what your smartphone is gathering or your internet postings contain.  In other words:  "The sky hasn't fallen....yet" ! Your smartphone (combined with internet postings) contain much more detailed information than you realize. While much can be made of its analysis (see the article below), it's not being tracked "real time" as depicted in 2008's film "Eagle Eye".


Eagle Eye: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1059786

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Now you see it, now you don't!

Sometimes you see things which aren't there, or don't see other things which ARE!  Here are over 100 optical illusions and other visual phenomena illustrating ways your eyes can be tricked.   Enjoy!     


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Microsoft TAX has gone UP again!

Someone asked me if they should purchase Office 2010 or Office 2013 for a new machine. Well, Office 2013 is a bit more touch-screen friendly, aligns with Windows 8's new 'blocky' interface (sized for fingers instead of mouse pointers), and integrates with Microsoft's SkyDrive via your Windows Live ID (if you have one). 

But Microsoft CHANGED the licensing terms so you must purchase a new copy of Office each time you purchase a new PC, whereas with Office 2010, you could transfer your old Microsoft Office license to the new machine. Office 2013 becomes licensed to ONE MACHINE ONLY, and therefore becomes MORE EXPENSIVE than Office 2010.

What Microsoft really wants you to do is instead of purchasing an Office license, is to SUBSCRIBE (aka 'rent') their new Office 365 for $100 per YEAR for up to 5 machines. Online sources such as Amazon.com no longer have downloadable key cards or downloads of Office 2010 available; downloads are only available for Office 2013. 

Bottom line, Office 2013 or Office 365 will cost you MORE, as the "Microsoft Tax" has gone UP.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Duplicate messages on family iPhones

Duplicate messages on family iPhones
Families with multiple iPhones may be sharing their AppleID to leverage app purchases on up to 5 devices.  But you may be accidentally sharing an iMessage ID as well, which means 'text' messages sent to a parent are duplicated on the child's phone and vice versa.  Traditional cellular phone text messages appear in green on iPhone, while newer Apple iMessages appear in blue.  What's happening is that both phones are set to use the same email address for Apple's iMessage service.   Here's how to fix it:    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4409745?start=0&tstart=0

Monday, February 4, 2013

Compared to other free email accounts (Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail, etc.), I think free GMAIL from Google has always been a terrific value, but it keeps getting better!  Other free email clients have distracting "in-your-face" graphic ads; GMAIL only uses text ads.  Others charge for "premium" features such as POP or IMAP access; these are included with free GMAIL.  Plus you have 10GB of free online email space.

Even better, GMAIL is working to become the Outlook of the 21st Century's "always-connected BYOD" (bring your own device) set.  By using IMAP instead of POP, you'll have the same view of your email/contacts/calendar whether using Outlook / Windows Mail, or any smartphone/tablet/web browser.  And it can do this not only with your email, but also your contacts and calendar items - free!

Best of all, a free GMAIL account can also consolidate email from multiple accounts and allow you to either reply from the same account or set any of the accounts to be the default email account.   This means you never again need to send out email change of address notifications -- you can keep the old account by consolidating it into a single InBox with free GMAIL.

Some setup is required to fully leverage these capabilities, but the KEY is in GMAIL - SETTINGS - "Accounts and Import":

For certain email accounts such as @comcast.net, you'll want to go to its settings and forward all email to your GMAIL account.   However for most others, just use the three subsections of "Account and Import":  a) "Import Mail and Contacts", b) "Send Mail As", and c) "Check Mail from other accounts" (only works with InBox, not other Sent Mail or Saved email folders, but never fear, Professional Nerds can help you with this!).

Once your email and contacts are consolidated into GMAIL, just use your GMAIL account.  For example, from a web browser, if you use http://www.google.com as your home page, there'll also be a login in the upper right corner, as well as a built-in link for GMAIL and free Google Calendar.   For iPhone/iPad, there's a special email account type just for Google's free GMAIL; after adding it for Email & Contacts, all you have to do is add a second account for Calendar called "CalDAV", to link your online Google Calendar to your smartphone or tablet.

Of course, if you have additional questions or need some help setting this up to fit YOUR situation, just call Professional Nerds® at 1-877-496-3737.
You may have seen warnings similar to the attached image while using Google Search, News, etc. HEED THESE WARNINGS; they're part of Google's efforts to ensure you have a safe browsing experience on the internet.

As in this case, warnings can be posted about ANY legitimate website, as malware writers can hack ANY legitimate site and add malicious code.      Warning details (as of Feb 4, 2013):
The Website Ahead Contains Malware!

Google Chrome has blocked access to articles.latimes.com for now. Even if you have visited this website safely in the past, visiting it now is very likely to infect your computer with malware.
Malware is malicious software that causes things like identity theft, financial loss, and permanent file deletion.

What is the current listing status for articles.latimes.com?
Site is listed as suspicious - visiting this web site may harm your computer.

What happened when Google visited this site?
Of the 4288 pages we tested on the site over the past 90 days, 336 page(s) resulted in malicious software being downloaded and installed without user consent. The last time Google visited this site was on 2013-02-04, and the last time suspicious content was found on this site was on 2013-02-03. Malicious software is hosted on 3 domain(s), including ads.zitaholdings.com/, openx.org/, d1.rumbaypelo.com/.

Has this site acted as an intermediary resulting in further distribution of malware?
Over the past 90 days, articles.latimes.com appeared to function as an intermediary for the infection of 25 site(s) including lat.ms/, t.co/, perfectmarket.com/.

Has this site hosted malware?
No, this site has not hosted malicious software over the past 90 days.

How did this happen?
In some cases, third parties can add malicious code to legitimate sites, which would cause us to show the warning message.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

6 immediate tasks for new iPhone/iPad owners

See the linked article below for illustrations of the SIX immediate tasks for new iPhone/iPad owners:


1.  Enable Find My iPad
2.  Get the AppleCare+ Protection Plan
3.  Keep your iPad in a case
4.  Disable ad tracking in iOS 6
5.  Turn on Passcode Lock and Auto-Lock
6.  Opt out of interest-based ads from the iAd network

Ransomware's latest

The newest "ransomware" claims to reformat your hard drive if anyone else tampers with it. NOT TRUE says Symantec/Norton. But, it's a very good reason to not only improve your security software, but also be current on your backups !