BRY'S DESIGN STUDIO - FLASH AND VIDEO

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Bry's Computer Newsletter
  October, 2011 - Issue 17

Anyone who knows me even a little, knows that I hate to be late.  And here it is almost mid-November, and I am just getting out the October newsletter.  Last month's newsletter was late too. Embarrassing! 

I have been very busy to say the least. And as I have stated several times, the newsletter is a work of love and has to come after work-work. However, my parents taught me that being late was extremely rude and selfish. So even though it was impossible to get everything else done these last couple of months AND write and publish a monthly newsletter, I still feel guilty.

It has mostly been a typical month of website work and computer repairs. But I am surprised at getting so many calls to work on Apples (Mac computers).  I guess the word is just now getting out that I fix Macs, but even so, I am amazed at the number of calls to fix Apples.

And even though I don't normally work on phones, I have set up 4 different Apple iPhones in the last 4 weeks. The iPhone 4s is very nice!!!  I love the talking assistant.  Just ask a question and get an answer.  I can see all kinds of "situations" with people hiding in small closets, under the covers, etc. - talking to their phones - not to another person but to their phone. I'm just kidding around a little here but the phone is amazing and right out of the box it can understand what you ask, and unbelievably, is able to provide accurate information much of the time.

I'm a bit of a gadget person as you might imagine. I don't really like that about myself but it seems to come with the job. And there are three gadgets that are being released this next week that have me wishing that I were a rich man. I know that isn't right and so I must "get over it" but I do have to mention them since they would make a great gift for your husband or wife or child (and maybe a grandchild).  They are a bit too much to give to other relationships (in my tightwad opinion).

First (in order of desire :-), is Amazon's Kindle FIRE.  It is a small tablet and a reader (like Kindle) AND it is tied to Amazon's great cloud.  For those who don't know, a cloud is basically just an online service and/or storage.  So the Kindle Fire allows you access to Amazon's world-class cloud storage and services.

The real excitement comes because this beautiful puppy is only $200!!!  Compare that to an iPad which is at least $500. And the Fire, unlike the iPad, can view flash websites!!  A Kindle Fire like most tablets  is only WI-FI capable.  So you have to be in a WI-FI area to connect to the internet to surf or to download your email. Of course, like any device, once you have downloaded the media, you can read or view it anywhere. They will be available this week from Amazon and I will give the first person/owner that calls a one-hour lesson for free.

Here is a link to check out the Kindle FIRE.

The next device is The Nook.  It is very similar to the Fire but it has a bit more speed and storage.  Normally more speed and storage would make it my first choice. But it is $50 more than the Fire and most importantly, it doesn't have integration with the Amazon system. It is sold by Barnes & Noble and is their contender in the tablet market.  The price is $250.

Here is the link to check out The Nook.

For all of you who have not bought the iPad, here is what I recommend instead - the ASUS Transformer Prime.  The keyboard is a real seller here.  This gives you a tablet with all of the convenience of a tablet, but ALSO WITH THE OPTION OF A KEYBOARD which really rocks the iPad boat big time! This gadget is a real beauty!!!  In my opinion, it beats iPad by a nice margin but it is just as expensive!

Click here to read more!

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Every week I receive at least one email with major headlines screaming that it is an emergency alert about some virus that will erase your computer and virtually destroy it.  They promise that the alert has been checked out by some computer expert and verified by Snopes (or one of the other hoax services). I know my client/friends mean well by forwarding me these alerts. They just don't realize that they have been conned.

At a glance, I can tell that these emails are a hoax or at best a huge exaggeration.  I have seen most of them many times.  I used to respond to each of these emails telling the sender the same thing I am going to tell you now.  BY THE TIME YOU GET AN EMAIL ALERT, IT IS VERY, VERY OLD.  THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN FIXED. 

Of course, many of those alerts are pure hoax.  There isn't a shred of truth to them.  There are tons of people out there who get their jollies by scaring people and getting them to forward the email to their entire contact list.  Don't get me wrong!  There are many, many bad guys out there trying to infect your computer. But you won't get a timely warning via email by one of your contacts.  Even worse, these warnings circulate round and round forever.

There are lots of bad guys for whom you need to be alert.  Hopefully, by now, you know not to respond to an email claiming that your friend is in trouble (or jail) and needs money wired to the included link. In fact, there are so many cons going on these days that you have to be skeptical of everything!!!

In fact, there are more cons than I have room to cover in this newsletter. In the last month, I have seen two email cons that looked very real.  Both pretended that they were from shipping companies DHL and UPS.  They both had the correct logos and although I saw a tale-tell sign that they were bogus (bad English grammar indicating that they were translated poorly), most people would not catch the single flaw on each. 

The one that said it was from UPS looked particularly real.  But they both had the same message.  They said they had tried to deliver a package but it was returned.  Check the attachment for details.  Do that and you are infected! Do not click on that email! And you should not have the preview pane open or if you look at that email you will be infected.

In addition to cons, emails are being hacked at an ever increasing rate.  If you use a simple password for your email, you should change it now.

For instance, here is a simple password that is very similar to a password that was hacked just this last week - > harry12.   I have changed it to protect the identity of the owner.  But you see that it is too short (only 7 characters) and even though it includes numbers, they are sequential.  And there are no capital letters or symbols in the password.

Things have gotten so bad that you now need to use at least 10 characters and have numbers, capital letters, small letters and also symbols (like, $,#,@ &, ^, etc).  Unfortunately, ATT only allows - and _.  But you should use them if nothing else.  A ten character password with symbols and as described makes it difficult to hack.  Do not use any name associated with the account. Do not use your birth date or your address in the password. Do not use anything that anyone would know from public records.

But not all cons are technical or even related to computers or other technical devices.  Get this!  Some cons are being carried out by your grocery stores.  Take honey for instance.  Much of the honey that is sold in the grocery stores is not real honey.  There is no pollen in it and it is NOT honey.  Oh, it may taste enough like honey to fool the ignorant.  But the danger is very real that it could have been produced by China. You never know what they put in their food products (and that is NOT a joke!).

I am not going to get into food products although I will go as far as telling you that you NEVER want to buy frozen imported fish! (Or eat at a restaurant that serves anything other than locally caught fish.)

Anyway, back to honey.  Read this - 

And read this -

And read this so that you can always buy honey from local people who have bee hives.  You are keeping your money in the area and you are protecting your health.

Speaking of keeping our money in our area, there is a great suggest circulating for Christmas buying ideas. Basically, give a gift certificate for services by local talent or to local restaurants.  I have decided to furnish one hour gift certificates if anyone wants to buy one as a gift.

Here is a page of ideas for Christmas suggestions.


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In addition to reading many security sites for the latest discoveries, I am on the front lines simply by working on computers 6 days a week. I was just reading a report that spoofing and similar con games have increased 4000 percent in the last 6 months.  That corresponds with what I have experienced on the front lines of computer repair.

As I pointed out in my last newsletter, cons are going on everywhere and using every technology.  The con artists of technology often refer to themselves as social engineers.  I have written this before but it is becoming so prevalent that there is need to be skeptical to the point of paranoia.  Paranoia is a healthy attitude when dealing with emails and calls.

Simply put, "Do not trust any stranger."
NEVER post anything on Facebook or Twitter (or other) that you would not want every crook or bureaucrat to know.  Crooks study those rich sources of info known as social networks in order to steal your identity and more.  They can use that info to steal medical services in your name in addition to obtaining many other goods and services. Try telling your insurance company that you don't owe them because it wasn't you.  The phone service company will just disconnect you if you don't pay.

Bureaucrats study those sources of info for various different reasons.  Employers are looking for reasons to have information that allows them to choose between various people should they have to let someone go.  Insurance companies are looking for evidence of pre-existing diseases.  And believe it or not, even the CIA is studying the info to gain first-hand accounts that might provide extremely useful info for many reasons.

In short, THINK long and hard before you write anything online.  It is there forever.  There is no erasing it once it is online.  And with "fast-as-lightening" search engines to shift through the tons of info, anyone can find out more than you could possibly believe about you.  But the sad truth is that most people are so naive that they give away all that a crook needs to steal your identity.  Most people give employers good reasons for dismissal.  Or they give insurance companies good reason to cancel your insurance.  People write without thinking of the consequences.

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Here is a gift idea for yourself! >  Want to reduce your phone costs but keep your current phone number? Check with Maria at our local Radio Shack (next to Winn-Dixie) and ask about Magic Jack Pro.  It does not require that the computer be on.  It does use a broadband connection (either cable or dsl) for your phone calls.

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Remember, calls  to me are still free.  It is best to call me before you update anything.  Just remind me of your computer make and model (written on it - usually on the front or top) and your operating system and I will tell you what I suggest.  You can find out your operating system by clicking on Start, Control Panel, and System. By far the largest number of problems are self-inflicted - usually while trying to download something that should NEVER have been downloaded.

If you have an idea, suggestion or question for this newsletter, please call me (242-2175) or email (computerguy.bry@gmail.com).  Also, please forward this email to your list of friends.  I am right at 1000 subscribers and if I go over that, it costs twice what it currently does.  So by forwarding, you are saving me money and hopefully helping your friends keep their computers clean and in top condition. That is the purpose of this newsletter and the more people I can help avoid a major maintenance call, the happier I will be.
Thanks,


~ bry <><


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