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.