Tuesday, February 14, 2017



It's Patch Tuesday, Valentine's Day, and a great day to make your computer safer to run. Maybe even speed it up and *gasp* protect anything you don't want to lose by backing it up!

Microsoft releases updates (patches) all the time, but the second Tuesday of the month brings the majority of them to us. Windows 10 will download and install the updates automatically, and you don't have much to say about that. I'm finding out that's probably a good thing, if the alternative is not installing the updates at all. Windows 8.1 gives you a bit more control, and Windows 7 leaves you mainly on your own - or at least makes you work harder for the updates.

Why do you want them? It's not all for the flashy new enhancements - it's to keep your computer safer from malware, hackers and scammers by fixing newly-discovered security problems. Yes, you do want them. Yes, sometimes an update is not quite right and some fixing needs to happen. So what - at least most of the time your computer, your data and your identity are safer with the latest updates than without. 

Which updates? All of them. Windows, Office, Adobe , Java, CCleaner, iTunes, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Mozilla products, Google products, QuickBooks, Quicken and any other software that may have been installed since your computer was new will put out updates. 

How? Aside from the Microsoft updates, each app or program will have its own way of installing updates. Many times you can simply open the program, then click Help - Check for updates or About. If you have the Ninite Updater - and you do if I've worked on your computer either hands-on or via remote - it's a very simple process to run it and be done with it. Otherwise, depending on the operating system on your computer and the application itself, you may need to go out to find, download and install the updates. **DANGER ZONE** Searching for updates via Google, Yahoo or other search engines can land you in very bad territory. If you don't know where to go to find the update you need please ask someone who does know. Ask here, ask on Facebook, ask a savvy friend or relative - just beware of following advice after Googling it!

It's time to update my step-by-step recommendations for regular updates and maintenance, and you'll find that in the next post. In the meantime, let the Windows updates install and restart your computer when prompted. Run Ninite if you have it, and check your backup system - external drive, online service such as Carbonite, or something you've devised yourself. 

Ask if you have questions! I'd rather prevent a problem than fix one. 
Text, Facebook message, email or call anytime. 

Cathy Contant   cathy@cathycom.com   315-573-4905

Wednesday, January 18, 2017



You've probably seen the prompt to update Java. If you have the Ninite Updater installed on your computer - and you do if I've worked on it - run that instead of worming your way through the Java prompts, trying to avoid 3rd-party software they'd like to shove onto your computer.
Current version of Java is now 8.0, version 121
If you're still unsure you can go to the Java check page and verify or update from there. Or ask for help.
NOTE: Use Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox to go to this link.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


You may have seen a message telling you CCleaner isn't compatible with your version of Windows. It results from a recent Windows update and isn't a big deal.
You can uninstall CCleaner and reinstall it, which actually is the best answer because Piriform (CCleaner's developer) released a new version of CCleaner today anyway.
Most of us only need the free version of CCleaner. None of us need anything more running in the background to slow things down, collect our data and report home.
CCleaner is a utility for cleaning out temporary files on your computer, among other uses. It is not an antivirus, malware remover or protector of any kind. However, running CCleaner regularly (at least weekly) might remove any malware lurking in your temporary files waiting to be triggered.
Some people complain that after running CCleaner they have to type in their saved user names and passwords on some web sites. Yes, that's one of the big benefits of CCleaner. Knowing your user names and passwords is a minimum basic skill necessary for using a computer online. You can configure CCleaner to not wipe your user names or passwords, but practicing logging in once in a while is a valuable skill. Don't be so lazy.
Remember - free version only, watch what you're clicking, follow the prompts and never allow 3rd-party software to come along for the ride if offered during the installation. No Google Toolbar, no McAfee or Norton Security scans. None.
Ask if you have questions.


Thursday, December 22, 2016


What is going on with MBAM (Malwarebytes AntiMalware)?
If you recently updated Malwarebytes you may have received the next-generation version, and wow – does it look different. And it installs the Premium Trial by default so you’ll be constantly nagged to “upgrade” (read: purchase). What do I do now?
MBAM 3.0 (or more precisely now, MB – since they dropped the “AntiMalware” part of the name) is now an antivirusantimalware security suite instead of just a malware removal tool. According to the MB web site, the new version is built to replace or run alongside your existing security software. However, if you’d like constant protection, as with most antivirus suites, you’ll need to pay for Malwarebytes. It’s your call, but I prefer using the built-in (on Windows 10 and 8/8.1) Defender for antivirus, and additional free tools when necessary to scan for and remove malware and potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). On Windows 7 I’m sticking with the free Microsoft Security Essentials and Malwarebytes and SuperAntiSpyware.
What to do about that MB Premium Trial, now that it’s on your computer? Don’t panic; a few clicks in the Settings and you’re back to Free, and a decent malware seeker and destroyer. Here’s how:

1.  Close this window.

2. Click Protection settings

3. Click the My Account tab, then click Deactivate Premium Trial

4. Click the Application tab. Deselect (uncheck) any boxes you like, but be sure to uncheck the last one. 

5. Click the Protection tab, then check Scan for rootkits.

6. Click Dashboard on the left, and let Malwarebytes update and run a scan. Remove anything it finds. 

You can update and run Malwarebytes anytime you like. It's a good idea to run monthly, anyway. 

Malwarebytes is still a great tool, but like most software the developers constantly strive to improve. At first glance it's now harder to configure, increases the demands for upgrades, and takes longer to scan. 

Malwarebytes now claims to protect against ransomware attacks (paid version only), which would be a great thing. However, their first ad compaign claims that 40% of businesses have already been attacked by ransomware and that seems like an outlandish claim with no obvious source. Skepticism isn't something a security company should want to invite upon itself. The first, best protection against ransomware is keeping current backups of any data you don't want to lose. 

If you have questions about configuring or using Malwarebytes as part of your computer security, please ask. 

Cathy Contant         315-573-4905     cathy@cathycom.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2016


Exaggerating a problem that's happening to some doesn't help. Be aware, protect yourself, but don't become an alarmist!

From the smart people at That's Nonsense. 


Monday, November 28, 2016


Don't condemn an entire community for lack of understanding. Most infections acquired by Facebook users are self-inflicted and it's good to inform yourself. 

That's Nonsense lays it out for us: 


Monday, November 7, 2016


Electronics disposal has become a bigger challenge and hassle than it should. Finding a convenient local collection spot or event is next-to-impossible. So I'm doing something about it, while hoping to regain the use of my garage for the winter.
If you're a client of mine and have electronics you no longer need, you can drop them off at my lab this week - and this week only. That's today, November 7 through Saturday, November 12.
Here are the details:
1. You'll do the lifting - I'm still on restriction.
2. I'm not wiping any computers of your personal data, unless you insist and then I have to charge you for the time it takes. However, EWASTE+ assures me they must wipe or shred "any data bearing device" to attain this standard.
3. Computer towers, laptops, printers, speakers, cables, keyboards, mice, routers are accepted free. "Microwaves accepted at $5 each, flat screen TV’s are no cost as well as Sony CRT’s. Any non-Sony CRT’s are at the 35 cents per pound rate." Since I don't have a scale and will not be weighing anything, if you want to drop off a CRT monitor or TV (non-flat-screen), I'll take them at $10 each.
4. If you have questions, let's discuss. If you need directions, please ask privately. I'm not interested in publishing the lab location on the Internet.
5. If you'd like to pick up a calendar at the same time, I have a few left. Always available here: www.cathycontant.com
6. Please let me know when you'd like to drop off so I can open the garage, making it easier for you to offload.