Thursday, November 19, 2009

AVG Free 9.0 - What To Do When The Upgrade Won't Download

AVG released version 9.0 and has been prompting users of earlier versions to upgrade. Some people are having trouble completing the upgrade when they click on the link to do so from within AVG.  Some people are trying to find the new version on AVG's web site and, not finding it, think the free version is no longer available.  Here's what to do.

  1. Click here to go to the direct download page at AVG:
  2. Click on the second link (not the Download Manager) to start the download; save the installer to your Desktop. 
  3. When the download finishes, double-click the installer file to install Version 9 over the top of your current version of AVG.  Be sure to pay attention to the questions you'll need to answer.  Say yes to everything EXCEPT the AVG Toolbar and agreeing to send anonymous information back to AVG.
  4. Have patience and allow the installation and update to finish.
All done. No more upgrade prompts, and still free. If you can't make it work - email me, text me or call me. Don't leave it undone!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

T'wether to Tweet?

Perhaps you've delved into Twitter -- the instantaneous 140-character synopsis of life as you know it at this second in time. Perhaps you've only heard about it or seen the ubiquitous logo  and catch-phrase - Follow me on Twitter. It's everywhere - on web sites, print media, tv shows, trucks and billboards.


If you've checked out Twitter and come away scratching your head, you're not alone. Unless you know the person "tweeting", or are following a breaking news story, most tweets may not seem to make much sense.  I still don't get the attraction, mostly.

Until late last week, when I was able to find up-to-the moment information, pictures and video about the storm lashing the Outer Banks and the Delmarva peninsula. Yes, I'm a storm geek, and my brother and his family live in Delaware, and I hope to spend a lot more time along the ocean on Delmarva in the very near future. Watching the dunes fall away into the sea was frightening and fascinating, and the waves mesmerizing.

That sort of information just isn't available on the Weather Channel or networks or in newspapers. It's changing by the moment, and it feels like you're right there watching another porch being ripped away, while you're wondering why we ever thought it was a good idea to build anything on the edge of an ocean in the first place.

If you're monitoring a certain bill working its way through the legislature, or the Yankees working over the Phillies, or need to know the absolute latest on the Droid - Twitter is pretty much cutting-edge.

And if you want to get rich quick, see my web cam (ok, not my web cam) or find religion, Twitter is your ticket.

And if you don't want to be bothered figuring out Twitter, it will go on without you and you will still have a full life. You see, that's the best part of Twitter, the Internet, and living in America.  It's still our choice.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

5 Insights Gleaned From Recent Jobs

It's been a very busy November in my office.  I thought I'd share a few things that recur along the way.

1. If your antivirus program has expired, renew it.  Or install a free one, after uninstalling any OTHER antivirus/security programs. Do not wait for a more convenient time.  Now is more convenient than dragging your computer back and forth to get cleaned out.

2. If you are tempted to click on something that pops up and says it's going to clean out the 127 viruses and trojans it just found on your computer, resist the urge. It is lying to you.  If you're really not sure, call me, email me or text me before clicking.

3. If you think 256 or 512 MB is enough to run Windows XP in a satisfactory way, you are wrong.  It was enough eight years ago. Today, with hundreds of Windows, Office, antivirus and security, Adobe and other updates your computer should have at least 1 GB of RAM.  RAM is cheap.  Your time (and mine) is not.

4. If you don't know how to back up your data, it's time to learn.  And then do it regularly. Your data include documents, emails, pictures, addresses, music - anything you aren't willing to lose in a blink of an eye.

5. If you don't want to install updates on your computer when they pop up and tell you it's time, click it off.  But do run the updates when you can, and within a couple days. Do not forget, and do not make excuses. Updates are usually not pretty new toys, they are fixing something that is wrong. Or something that makes your computer more vulnerable to that rogue antivirus program you so want to click on.

Important things bear repeating. And sometimes it takes a service job or two before we get the hang of the maintenance and self-defense routine. I'll leave the light on for you.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Rogue Antivirus Addendum

Here's an account of a typical rogue attack, and one person's struggle with McAfee and removal of the rogue.

Typically, antivirus programs don't stop or remove rogue programs, which is why we need and use more tools than just antivirus.

Rogue (Fake) Antivirus Malware is Everywhere

A new round of rogue antivirus programs is hitting my clients hard this month.  There are many different ones; some new, and some have been around for years.

If you see a pop-up window that looks like a security or antivirus program (maybe even looks like your antivirus program) and warns that your computer is infected - and offers to clean it - do NOT click on it. Clicking on anything in the pop-up window activates the trojan.

Here you'll find more information on rogue programs:

Names of some known rogue antivirus/spyware programs:
Internet Antivirus
WinAntivirus 2007 (2008, 2009)
Antivirus Pro 2010

What to do if your computer gets infected with a rogue program
Rogue programs can usually be removed with a combination of antispyware programs. It can be a long, detailed process if the rogue program has been allowed to run on the computer for some time. Worst-case results include damage to critical operating system files and/or your data, requiring data backup, cleaning of data, reinstalling Windows and restoring the cleaned data. 

If you see the pop-ups for these rogue antivirus programs, or porn popups, or your browser goes somewhere other than where you told it to go, stop what you're doing and take care of the problem before it goes too far.

Self-help includes running the Security Tango (thanks, Nick!)
Malwarebytes has saved many computers from further infection:

Or, if you don't want to dive into it, call me.

And stop clicking on things that look too good to be true!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Email Scams - IRS and others

A new round of scam emails are circulating. The one I got this morning says it's from the Internal Revenue Service with a subject of W-2 Form Update.

The IRS doesn't send unsolicited emails. Don't click on any links or open any attachments. Delete the message immediately and empty your Deleted Items folder.

Direct from the IRS web site about scam emails:,,id=213862,00.html?portlet=6

Friday, November 6, 2009

Mozilla Firefox update 3.5.5

In today with their weekly Firefox update (er, ok - almost weekly), the 3.5.5 version fixes some "security issues".  If for no other reason than to stop the annoying "Update Available" prompts, just do it and be done until next week.  ;)

You know the drill - open Firefox, and if it doesn't automatically start downloading the update, click Help - Check for Updates.  Follow the prompts - don't install anything additional like toolbars or security scans - and carry on with your day.

Or download fresh here:

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Recent Updates - iTunes, RealPlayer, Shockwave and Java

Several updates to necessary applications have been released in the past several days; here's a summary.

iTunes/QuickTime: Open iTunes and you may immediately be prompted to update to the current version of 9.0.2.  Or you can click Help - Check for Updates, and follow the prompts to complete the update.  If you're installing iTunes for the first time, be sure you get the correct version - 32-bit or 64-bit.  The easiest way to do this is to go to Apple's web site and let it detect the proper version for you:

RealPlayer: Open RealPlayer, click Tools - Check for updates and follow the prompts. Current version is RealPlayer SP 1.0.2

Shockwave: The easiest way to install the correct and current version of Shockwave is to go to the Adobe web site and click on the "Get Adobe Shockwave Player" link. Current version is

Java: If you have Java installed with automatic updates enabled, you'll be familiar with the prompts in your System Tray to update.  Do it.  Don't be afraid, and don't be lazy.  If you'd like to install fresh, go to the Java Downloads page and let them tell you what version you need. Follow the prompts and be done with it.  This is another application that comes in 32-bit and 64-bit.  If you have a 64-bit OS, you need both versions of Java. Read this and follow the instructions:

64-bit Vs. 32-bit Operating System (Windows Vista or 7)

You may be aware that Windows Vista and Windows 7 (and XP, though rare) are available in 32-bit or 64-bit versions. Why 64-bit?  Because it processes more information, more quickly if you have lots of RAM. Oh, and have the right software and drivers. If you're reading email and surfing the web you probably won't benefit from having a 64-bit operating system (OS). 

This is not an in-depth analysis of the architecture of operating systems - this is, after all, Computer Support for the Rest of Us. I'm just going to hit the highlights, and anyone interested can search out more information. Here's a good place to start:

The version of OS installed is important to know, because some applications and hardware must have the correct 32- or 64-bit version installed.  You may have an HP printer, and need to know whether you should be using the 32-bit software usually included on the installation cd or you need to go to the HP web site to download the 64-bit version.  Flash, Java and iTunes all have specific 32- or 64-bit versions (which is what prompted this discussion - more later).

To find out which version of operating system you have in Vista or Windows 7, right-click on My Computer, then click on Properties. Look in the window that pops up under System. Then go get the proper versions of your drivers and software - you might be surprised at the improvement in performance.

What about buying a new computer - which version should you get?  I've been ordering 32-bit Windows whenever possible, since most software and hardware default to 32-bit and you don't have to do anything magical to make your stuff work.  However, it's increasingly more difficult to find 32-bit, and Dell and HP are pretty much forcing us into 64-bit.

If you have a newer computer with 64-bit Vista, you probably already know that Flash isn't available in a 64-bit version, and probably won't be until mid-2010. Crazy.  And more sites are demanding Flash - which prompts an error. The temporary work-around is to use a 32-bit browser (that's progress).  Windows Vista 64-bit includes both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer - look at your Programs list to find them. Yes, Firefox lovers, you can use Firefox on a 64-bit OS and not have the Flash problem.  Because Firefox is a 32-bit browser, of course!  Mozilla is working on a 64-bit version.

So, back to choosing a new computer - 32- or 64- bit?  You might as well get the 64-bit if you're getting at least 4 GB RAM. If you're using or buying a 32-bit OS, don't bother with more than 3 GB RAM - 32-bit can't recognize or use more than 3.2 GB of RAM.

We're moving forward with technology, kicking and screaming sometimes. It's part of the process, and if we can handle some inconvenience (and having to learn a thing or two), we'll be better-equipped to enjoy what's next.