Thursday, December 16, 2010


Microsoft's December release of Office and Windows updates, of which there are many, may have broken Internet Explorer for some people. If you suddenly can't open Internet Explorer, go to Control Panel - Internet Options - Advanced, then click the button for Restore advanced settings.  When done, click the button for Reset.  Close Internet Explorer, then open and try to connect.  You'll need to set your Home Page and configure Internet Explorer 8 options again, but you should now have a working browser.

Version update was released late last night. Open iTunes and follow the prompts to update.

Mozilla Firefox (can't we please just shorten it to "Firefox"? When I say Firefox, why would anyone look for it under "M"?) updated last Friday. Open Firefox, click Tools - Check for updates and follow the prompts.

Released last week. If you're using a 64-bit version of Windows, be sure to install BOTH 32- and 64-bit versions of Java. It's easy to find at File Hippo; here's the link for 32-bit, and you can find the 64-bit version link under "Related Downloads". Download both to your Desktop, then double-click each, one at a time, to install.

SUPERAntiSpyware, Skype, and uh, AVG 2011 also updated yesterday. Please, if you're still using AVG, either Version 9 or the new 2011, remove it and install Avast or Avira. Speak up if you want help.

If you have problems with an update or just have a question, let me know and we'll find the answer.

Friday, November 19, 2010


There are many programs out there that provide tools to edit your pictures. Some come with your camera or  printer/scanner (HP and Canon, for example), and they are usually full-featured and easy to use; plus, you've already paid for them.

Then, there are the free-download combination photo editor/photo manager programs such as Picasa and Kodak EasyShare. These are also easy, and help you sort your collection into albums. The problem with the managers has been moving your albums to a new computer or hard drive - a gamble, at best.

The most basic way of managing your photos is through Windows itself, using Windows Explorer and creating your own folders, moving your pictures where you want. There's no third-party involved to put things where you can't find them.  You can connect your camera or phone or insert the memory card, then manually copy the pictures to your folders. That way, YOU know where you put them and that they are there. Be sure to back up your pictures. Three ways, if they're important to you.

Many good software programs provide tools to edit your pictures - crop, resize, remove red eye and tweak colors, brightness and contrast. The gold-standard is Adobe Photoshop - but at $699 it's probably overkill for most of us. The more basic Adobe Photoshop Elements is also excellent, and at $80 it's easier to justify. However - here are two really good open-source programs that do just about everything the big ones do.

The GIMP - (the GNU Image Manipulation Program). Free to download and use under the open-source philosophy; donations gladly accepted but not required. Find out more here, including the download link:

Paint.NET - Another free open-source product, equally as powerful, maybe a bit easier to learn. Find it here:

Install some of these programs and try them out. Ultimately, find the one you like best, learn it well, and get rid of the rest.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


You're surfing along, Facebooking or emailing or building a new playlist for your iPod. Suddenly, a window pops up telling you your computer is infected, but this product can clean it for you. The pop-up looks legitimate, like AVG or other another antivirus program, or even Windows. You think "yes, please do clean my computer" and click the link to start. Oops. You've just opened the front door for the trojans.

Rogue antivirus and security programs like Security Tool are popping up again. Where and how we get them is a lengthy explanation. The thing to remember is, it's usually one of the last things you clicked on.

If this happens to you, stop what you're doing immediately and reboot the computer into Safe Mode (usually pressing F8 on and off during startup will do it).  Then try a System Restore to a previous date before the infection. Then run CCleaner and the free Malwarebytes; remove all found.  Subsequent scans with SUPERAntiSpyware, SpyBot and a few other good scanners may clean it out. If not, give me a call.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


Firefox version 3.6.12 was released this morning to fix a critical security issue in last week's version. Annoying though these frequent updates may be, you're better off with the security fixes than without. Update when prompted, or open Firefox, click Help - Check for Updates, then follow the prompts.

My favorite utility updated to version 3.00.1303 today. As always, CCleaner only updates by installing the new version. You'll need to download here, then install.  Remember to download first - THEN install. Don't simply click Run during the download. If you want to know why, re-read my earlier post:
Another great free utility to remove spyware. Used along with Malwarebytes and Spybot, you can clean out most infections.  Download here, or update your installed version.
Thunderbird is an open-source email client - a good alternative to Microsoft's Outlook Express, Windows or Live Mail. Download from and install it after download:

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Grisoft's AVG 2011 version of probably the most-used antivirus software on the planet has fallen short. AVG is a free (and pay) antivirus program, with paid versions that add firewall, identity and spyware protection.

A few years ago it was one of the fastest, more compact and accurate antivirus programs available, free or pay. As with most successful products, we insist on *improvements*.  Improvements lead to larger, more invasive programs. In the quest to protect almost everybody from almost everything including ourselves, Grisoft seems to have joined ranks with Norton and McAfee in putting out a product that's almost unusable on anything but the latest high-powered computers.

I haven't broken up with AVG completely; we're just taking a break. In the meantime, I'm using the free version of Avast, found here: Avast will prompt you to register within the first 30 days; it's still free and all you have to give up is your name and email address. The current version is much easier to register than before.

We'll be watching, Grisoft. Make us and AVG proud again.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Microsoft released a number of Windows and Office updates on Tuesday. If you're using Automatic Update, be sure to allow the updates to install. You'll need to reboot, and installation will finish on startup.  If you update manually, in Windows XP open Internet Explorer, go to Tools - Windows Update and follow the prompts. In Vista and Windows 7, click Start - Windows Update.

A Java update was released this morning ( You can install when prompted if Auto Update for Java is on. Or you can download and install from here: or go to the Java Downloads page:   If you have Vista or Windows 7 and use both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of your browser be sure to install both 32- and 64-bit versions of Java.

Version 9.4 of Adobe Reader was released last week. Follow the prompts when the update indicator appears, or open Adobe Reader, click Help - Check for updates, then follow the prompts. 
There've been some problems updating Adobe Reader, with several different resolutions. If you see an Error Code while trying to update, copy it down and type it into a search engine (Google, Yahoo, BING, etc.) for suggestions to fix.  Or ask here.

Grisoft put out an update to the new version of AVG last week, so at least they know something's not quite right. Don't change over to 2011 just yet - let them fix it all. While you'll see prompts to upgrade it's not necessary at this time, and following the prompts from inside the program will only take you to the pay version.  There is still a free version available.  Ask if you have questions - I have suggestions.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Computer Scams - "Clean and Speed Up Your Computer"

Offers to speed up our computers are coming at us from all sides - TV, Internet ads, email, regular mail and by telephone. The old saw applies here - if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Here's an article from ZDNet Blogs by Scott Raymond about Computer Security. Certainly read the whole thing if you like, but the most important paragraph is here:

"Another trap to avoid are the TV commercials promoting a faster computer free of viruses and spyware. These are actually ransomware scams where the program doesn’t actually clean anything, but keeps demanding money to keep your computer safe. The parent company also theatens anyone that reviews them in a negative light, which is why I have not named them directly in this article. Not surprising, considering their reputation. There are many malware programs pretending to protect your security; research them first before using any of them.

That's important enough to stand alone, but I'll just add one more thought: please back up anything that's important to you. If you don't know how, look it up or ask.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Adobe Reader Update 9.3.4, PDF Readers and File Conversion

Adobe Reader Update 9.3.4
When Flash and Shockwave have updates, Adobe Reader can't be far behind. Yesterday we began seeing prompts to update Reader. The simplest way to update is to click on the prompt and follow the instructions. It's fast and easy, and when done it will stop prompting you to update.

If you'd like to download the update patch alone and install on several machines, here's the link to the Patch page:

Therer are alternatives to Adobe Reader for viewing PDF documents, all with their own fans. Foxit Reader is probably the best-known; you can download it here free:  Foxit does the job, with a smaller application; but when you start installing the addons it becomes quite confusing and nightmarish to me.

PDF Document Conversion
Foxit also allows you to convert documents to PDF, which is increasingly valuable. I use CutePDF Writer, and another free PDF utility is PDF995. has long included a PDF converter.

When you save or print a document to PDF (Portable Document Format), that document becomes readable by any PDF reader utility, such as Adobe Reader or Foxit. As these utilities are free and widely available online, most people will have a PDF reader installed on their computer. That means the end to conversion issues, which happens when someone sends you a Word or Works document, for example, and you don't have the program or the right version to read the document.

To create a PDF from your document or picture, with a PDF converter installed, simply print the document to the PDF converter program. Click File - Print, then select CutePDF Writer or whatever you have installed.

Microsoft Office File Converters
Another way around the conversion issue ("Somebody sent me this file, but I can't open it") is for the originator to save the document in a more universal format. In other words, if she's using Word from Microsoft Office 2010, and you're still on Office 2003, you may not be able to open the .docx file she sends to you. She can fix that by saving the document as a lower version of Word or as RTF (Rich Text Format). Or, she can simply print the 2010 document to a PDF printer (CutePDF Writer, Foxit, etc.). Then she sends to you the RTF or PDF or DOC in a version more people can open and read.

Of course, Microsoft also makes it possible for users of Office XP or 2003 to open and create documents in the new "x" format (Open XML) that began with Office 2007.  Go here to download the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack. As per the Microsoft instructions, be SURE to download and install all Microsoft High Priority Updates prior to installing the Compatibility Pack. (In XP, open Internet Explorer, go to Tools - Windows Update and follow the prompts to download the High Priority Updates. In Vista or Window 7, click Start - Windows Update.)

Remember This
The documents you create can be saved in many formats, and you should consider the recipient's probable resources when sending the document. Does he have Office 2010, or just Microsoft Works, or WordPerfect?  PDF almost always works, converting to RTF also always works.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Updates for August 11 - Windows, Office, lots of Adobe

Yesterday was Microsoft's Patch Tuesday, and a record number of updates were released. When you see the prompt in your System Tray (lower right corner), click on it and install the updates. Or, go to Windows Update on your Start Menu (Vista and Windows 7) and follow the prompts. Libraries with Deep Freeze Enterprise installed, be sure to leave those specific machines on overnight to get the latest updates. Check Staff machines to update manually.

Adobe just released updates for AIR, Flash for Internet Explorer and Flash for Firefox. Install when you see the prompts, or go to to install manually. You'll need to visit with both IE and Firefox to get the proper plugins installed.

CCleaner updated earlier this month - download and install the update and clean out your temporary files now.

And while you're at it, why not back up your files? Getting your computer updated and protecting your stuff can be pretty satisfying!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

HP/Compaq - Just Say No. Acer, eMachines Not Far Behind

I've been venting on Facebook, Twitter, here and anywhere within ear- or eyeshot about my battles with HP Tech Support and their consistent failures. I'm sick of it, you're sick of it, and these should be my last words on the subject for now.

Gaining experience from my recent interactions with HP/Compaq Tech Support, I can only advise you not to purchase an HP consumer product, unless you consider it disposable. You can do the research - a simple Google or Yahoo search on "HP support rankings" or something similar will reveal plenty.  The corporate products do not seem to have this trouble... so far. I'm sitting here right now looking at ten new HP desktops with trepidation.

Tech Support from HP/Compaq for me has been incomptent, unreponsive and has failed to resolve the last 4 issues I've brought to them - three of them under warranty, all within the last 15 months. 

No one wants to bring up a problem without a solution, so my recommended solution is to research the computer and the manufacturer before you buy. If you go for the inexpensive, instant fix from WalMart or OfficeMax, that's what you'll be using daily until it doesn't work. When you take it back for repairs, be prepared to wait and spend money.

Acer has its share of hardware and support problems, and I've been along for the ride more than I care to. I'll spare you the details; this is a summary of my experience. Also, if you value your sanity and mine, do not buy anything that says eMachines on it.

That's it. Back to help and support from here. You've been asking for this information, I've put it out there, and that's it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Firefox 3.6 8 - What, Another Update in Five Days?

If you love Firefox, you'll love updating it yet again, for the third time in less than two weeks. Mozilla released version 3.6.8 today, after pushing out 3.6.7 on Tuesday night and 3.6 6 shortly before that.

Mozilla's Release Notes indicate 3.6.8 was necessary to "Fix a single stability issue affecting some pages containing plugins." Ok, I'll buy that. I can't believe they'd send out another version so quickly if it wasn't pretty important.

So - rev up Firefox and get the latest update.  You know how, or check back here for a refresher.

How much do we love Firefox? I don't use Firefox all the time, (IE is just faster for me) so when I do want to open it, I have time to open the mail while I'm waiting. Firefox seems to always be checking for new add-ons, and I use very few. I don't like having to address several popup windows asking about add-ons before getting to type in an address. IE doesn't do that. Lately, IE just works, without bothering me all the time.

So why install Firefox at all?  Because next to Internet Explorer (IE), Firefox is the best choice of the rest. I've used Opera, Chrome and a few real unknowns; and I'd still go to Firefox second. 

The second browser is heplful in many ways. Some web pages render better on Firefox than Internet Explorer - and vice versa. Sometimes IE can become corrupt and you can use Firefox to find a fix. And I still want to check Microsoft Updates on XP with IE - not the FF plugin. 

Be sure to have two browser options installed on your computer. But don't go crazy and install Chrome and Opera and AOL Browser and a bunch of others. It's sort of painful when you're in one browser and the bookmark you want is in another. Find a couple you can get comfortable with and learn how to use them. From there, it's up to you which experience you prefer first.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Firefox Critical Updates - Install 3.6.7 Today

Mozilla released Firefox version 3.6.7 today to combat a number of security risks. With the volume of infected computers I've dealt with lately in mind, I urge you to install this update as soon as possible.

If you have a recent version of Firefox (3.6.*) you can update by opening Firefox and allowing the update to automatically download, then you agree to install.  Or you can click Help - Check for Updates and follow the prompts.

If you have an earlier version of Firefox, or don't have it installed yet, download and install the complete version at

Details on the fix can be found here

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Latest Updates: Windows and Office, iTunes and Java

Last Tuesday (July 13) was Microsoft Patch Tuesday, and there were quite a few updates for Office. Your computer should be checking for and installing Office updates whenever it does Windows updates.  If you don't know how to turn it on for your version of Windows, post a message or email and I'll send you the steps to set it up.

Apple released version 9.2.1 of iTunes today. Update your copy by opening iTunes, then clicking the prompt to update and following the prompts.  If you don't see a prompt to update, click Help - Check for Updates.  Or go to and let the web site determine the correct version of iTunes for your computer, then download and install.

iTunes is offered in 32-bit and 64-bit versions; you'll need the correct version for your installation of Windows. Find out which you have by right-clicking on My Computer (Computer) - Properties, then look for the description of your operating system.

Java also has a new update - version 6 update 21.  While Java is also offered in 32- and 64-bit versions, if you're using a 64-bit operating system you'll need to download BOTH versions of Java.  Oracle makes it easy by determining and offering the correct version for the browser you're using here:

If you're using Vista or Windows 7, and are using Internet Explorer 8, you have both 32- and 64-bit versions of Internet Explorer. Click the Start button, then look at the top of the list of programs - you'll see Internet Explorer AND Internet Explorer (64-bit).  Visit the Java download site with each browser version to get 32- and 64-bit versions of Java.  Or, you can download both versions independently from the web site above.

Java can also be updated from the annoying orange prompt that keeps showing up in your System Tray. Go ahead and install the update and it won't bother you anymore!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

AV Security - Rogue Antivirus

AV Security is the latest rogue antivirus program to invade and intimidate people into believing they're infected, and that buying the product is the only way to clean the computer. If this pops up on your computer, do NOT click on it, and do NOT buy it. Stop and clean it now before it goes further, requiring a complete reinstallation of the computer.

How to Clean
A quick Google search will reveal much advice on how to clean out AV Security. There is no one sure way to completely remove all traces of it and the others it's brought in short of a complete wipe and reinstallation. However - if you're lucky - running a few cleaners will get you back in business.

The Security Tango procedure (thanks, Nick Francesco) at will go a long way to cleaning out the bad stuff. It's long and detailed, and will take up most of your weekend. If you skip steps you will regret it sooner rather than later.

A quick way to regain use of the computer (NOT a full fix) is to boot into Safe Mode with Networking, then update and run CCleaner, Malwarebytes and SUPERAntiSpyware. Find them all at or

How Did I Get This?
There are many ways to trigger this rogue antivirus. It can come through email, particularly forwarded email when you click on a link to go see the pretty picture or read the joke. It can happen when you visit a web site with an infected banner ad.

How Do I Keep From Getting It Again?
The best protection against rogue malware is to be aware and to keep your antivirus/antispyware protection up-to-date. If you see a popup from a program you don't recognize, stop what you're doing and investigate. Put it into a Google or Yahoo search box and see what others are saying about it.

The best thing you can do for yourself and friends and family is to not forward chain letters/forwards/petitions/jokes/screensavers/pretty pictures. Write an original email yourself, and put multiple recipients in the BCC line so their email addresses cannot be harvested by scammers.  More on this next time.

More help

I would not advise installing any repair programs other than the ones I've mentioned above. There are many programs puporting to help you, when in fact, they're the problem in the first place - just like AV Security.

Monday, June 28, 2010

SD Cards - What Type, Capacity and Speed Do I Want?

If you use a camera, phone or mp3 player that takes SD memory cards, you'll probably find this web site useful. The storage form is evolving, and there are more types of cards available all the time. Here's where you can sort it all out:

And a good article to help if you're still confused:

No, I don't write this stuff. I share what I find when I stumble across it and wish I'd found it sooner!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Firefox, CCleaner, and Other Updates

Firefox has updated twice in the last week along with CCleaner and iTunes. Here's what we need to know and do.

If you have any version of Firefox over 3.5 installed already, open Firefox, go to Help - Updates, then follow the prompts to update to 3.6.6. 
Or, download new here: 

CCLEANER 2.33.1184
Piriform has not yet built an automatic updater into CCleaner, so the process - as usual - is to download and install the current version.
Find it here:

Be sure to click on one of the download links, unless you want to purchase CCleaner:

Save the installer file to your Desktop, or some place you can find it easily. Then, double-click the installer when the download completes, and follow the prompts to install. Then run CCleaner.

If you use iTunes frequently, you may have already been prompted to update to 9.2. If you'd like to check, open iTunes, click Help - Check for updates, and follow the prompts to finish.
If you'd like to install iTunes for the first time, you'll need to download the right version for your operating system - 32-bit or 64-bit.  Apple will offer the correct version for your computer if you go here:

Check the Flash version installed by opening Control Panel - Add and Remove Programs (XP) or Uninstall a Program (Vista and 7) - Adobe Flash. Look for the version number - XP shows this in a separate column. In Vista and Windows 7, click Organize-Layout-Details Pane, then you'll see a new panel that reveals the version.

If you have Mozilla Firefox and Internet Explorer installed, you should have two versions of Flash. To insure you have the current version installed for each, visit the Adobe Flash download page with each browser, then click the Get Adobe Flash Player button, and follow the prompts to install.  Be sure to uncheck the box when asked to install any security scans or toolbars.

After updating these programs, why not check the Windows Update site to see if there are any critical updates waiting to be installed?  Then - go have some fun!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Hewlett-Packard (HP) Sytem Updates

If you use an HP computer or printer, as I do, you're undoubtedly familiar with its regular prompts to check for HP updates. Annoying as this may be, HP Tech Support tells me it's very important to install any HP updates.

In fact, under warranty, they've told me to ONLY check updates through the HP process, rather than through Microsoft Updates. I disagree, and suggest you check and install both.

The HP Advisor will rear its ugly head and ask to check for updates - that is, if you haven't already killed the Advisor process. You can still check and install HP updates by clicking Start - HP - HP Update and following the prompts.  Do this monthly when you check for other updates such as Adobe Reader, Flash and Java.

HP releases fairly regular updates for its software and hardware products (printers, scanners, cameras). I do know that after installing some HP patches, things worked better.

From the Voice of Experience Corner (meaning, it's my opinion, as is this whole blog): HP products are hugely popular, and most of us have at least one. They've done an incredible job of marketing, and their products are available everywhere, at a price we want to pay. However - to use most HP equipment, you must install (or endure what's already installed) their software.

HP software is huge. It takes up lots of disk space and lots of time and patience to install. Then it must be updated, after the installation. If you're installing new HP software, try going the Custom route, and uncheck anything you don't think you'll use.

HP software and hardware are often buggy. And the software does NOT uninstall easily or completely, most of the time. You may need HP's Tech Support help to completely rid yourself of HP software.

Point to Remember: When changing printers be sure to completely uninstall the previous printer and its software, then empty the temporary files (best to restart the computer) BEFORE installing a new printer and its software.
And install the updates.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

CCleaner 2.32 Released - Download and Run Now

Piriform just released a new version of CCleaner - 2.32.1165. As regular users of CCleaner know, there's no internal updater, so you'll need to download the new version, then install it over your current version.

Some of the changes in this version include:
  • Support for Office 2010
  • Opera Search Field History cleaning
  • RealPlayer SP cleaning
You can read more about CCleaner here:
CCleaner is freeware; you do not have to pay to download or use it, but if you do use and like it, the developers would be glad to have a donation via PayPal. If you've landed somewhere that forces you to pay before downloading, get out FAST.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Finding Help Online

We've had a short reprieve from constant program updates, so I've been able to chase down some troubleshooting issues. For instance, I couldn't send email over RoadRunner from my iPod, I couldn't send email from my Droid phone unless I was on my RoadRunner network, and I hadn't yet created a connection from my laptop to the Droid, to use it wirelessly outside my own network.

This isn't about how to do those things; rather, it's to tell you how to find the information you need to solve a problem. (If you do want to know how to do any of those things, send me an email.)

When faced with an email problem, the first place to go would logically be the provider's web site - you know, the people you pay for the privilege of using their service. So, off I clicked to the VerizonWireless FAQs page... the Support page... the Contacts page (closed after 11 PM, which is about the time I can check these things out). Not finding any useful information, I went to Google. Remember, your two best friends are CCleaner and Google.

I entered "email configuration Verizon Droid" and immediately had thousands of hits. The important part here is to click on a "good" link, not something that will download trojans to your computer. Look carefully at the web site address the link wants to take you to - if it's Microsoft, or CNet, or some other popular tech site, it's probably safe to click the link.

I found my answer almost immediately, and flush with success, moved on to attempt fixing the email problem on the iPod. Bottom line, your RoadRunner email won't send unless you're on your RoadRunner network, so you'll need a workaround. Incredibly simple when someone who's slaved over the problem just puts it out there and Google picks it up. RoadRuner's web site Help? Not so much.

If you can't put your hands on the owner's manual for something you'd like to use, try searching for the model number plus the word "manual". It's a lot faster than digging around your files (or boxes, in my case) for something you haven't seen it, oh, forever.

Every time the lawn mower needs an adjustment, I open the manual I've saved on my computer, because the one that came with it is "some place safe". (Then, I just call Blazey's, which is why I bought it there in the first place. Like I'm going to adjust something on a lawn mower. But it's nice to know how to fold down the handle without pinching a cable).

Google (and most top search engines) are incredibly powerful and useful. Half the battle is knowing the search words or term to enter, the other half is picking the right link to follow. Go ahead - put something into Google, or Bing, or Yahoo Search and see how much pain and time you save yourself.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

iTunes, CCleaner and Other Updates

Apple released iTunes version 9.1.1 today (April 27, 2010). Update when prompted, or open iTunes, click Help - check for updates, then follow the prompts to download and install the update. Uncheck the boxes to update Safari and MobileMe, unless you actually use them. iTunes is hoggish enough without adding more overhead!

CCleaner updated to 2.31.1153 yesterday. CCleaner doesn't include an internal updater, so go here to download the current version. Click on the green "Download Latest Version" button, save it to your Desktop, then double-click the downloaded file to install. DO NOT just click Run when prompted to Run or Save - we've had that conversation. If you'd like a refresher, check previous posts.

Other recent updates include
FastStone Image Viewer:
and HiJack This:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Firefox Updates... Again 3.6.3

Mere moments after releasing 3.6.2, Mozilla has pushed out 3.6.3 to fix a critical security flaw. Here's their explanation:    I detest updating Firefox. But it's necessary and needs to be done now. Update from within. Ask if you don't know how.

Foxit Reader has also updated; do this from within the program, or download here if not already installed:

While you're at it, you may be interested in some of the tools found in Process Explorer. It will provide a ton of information about what's running on your computer - now it would great if somebody added on a simple translation of what it all means and what to do with all that information.  Get it here:

Thursday, April 1, 2010

iTunes 9.1, QuickTime Updates

Keeping pace with other popular applications, on March 31 Apple released updates for both iTunes and QuickTime. 

If you use iTunes frequently, you've probably already been prompted to update. If not, open iTunes, click Tools - Check for Updates and you'll soon be presented with a box offering to download and install updates to not only iTunes, but also Quicktime, Safari and MobileMe.  Choose whatever you like, reboot and go on with your day.

iTunes is a big piece of sofware, and it takes some time to download, install and reboot. Get it started and go do something else for 15 minutes or so. It's probably time to stretch your legs and let your eyes refocus, anyway.

If you'd like to download the complete version from Apple, go here:

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Update Roundup March 2010

A number of applications have updated recently. If you haven't installed the free FileHippo Update Checker, why not give it a try now?  Here's the link:

Noteable updates over the last week include Opera, Firefox, Thunderbird, RealPlayer, Yahoo! Messenger, Picasa, Avira Antivirus, Malwarebytes, SUPERAntiSpyware and my favorite, CCleaner.  Click on each for the link to download the installer, or update from within the program, if available.

Microsoft has also released a critical update or two outside the normal schedule of the second Tuesday of the month. Install them when you see the prompt (lower right corner of your screen) or run Microsoft Update and install all the critical updates. Be sure to check the Optional Updates for Office updates and other necessary items.

I've been told by Hewlett Packard Tech Support engineers (HP/Compaq) that they prefer all updates be done through the HP Advisor. You should check HP for hardware driver updates, but Windows and Office updates still need to be done through Microsoft.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Run or Save?

When you download a file from the Internet, you usually get a prompt asking to to Run, Save or Cancel the download. What's the best answer?  

Most of the time, you should choose to save the file to your Desktop or Downloads folder - and make sure you look to see where it's being saved so you can find it. When you save an installer file, or picture or document to your computer before opening it, your antivirus/antispyware program will scan it and let you know if it's infected. Otherwise, if you choose to just Run it from the Internet, you take the chance of setting loose an unwanted piece of malware that's hitching a ride with the file you DO want.

Here's more information from Microsoft on the subject:

I've spent many, many hours lately cleaning up rogue antivirus/antispyware programs that wouldn't have had the chance to run if the user had simply taken an extra minute to save the file before running it. That's not the only way to get a rogue infection, but it's a good one.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

CCleaner Updated to 2.29.111

CCleaner is my favorite utility, free or otherwise. The update released today promises faster load time, among other benefits. Faster is always better!

Here's a link to download the program, which is the only way to update it:

If you missed my original comments about CCleaner, you can read them here:

Here's a list of the changes in version 2.29.111:
- Improved speed when loading Cleaner screen.

- Improved Registry Cleaner speed when displaying issues.
- Improved Registry Cleaner performance when fixing issues.
- Changed Wipe MFT Free Space to run before Wipe Disk Free Space.
- Improved Include and Exclude screen when browsing for folders and files.
- Added Recursive support to Custom folders in Include screen.
- Added support to specify multiple file types for Custom folders in Include screen and INI files.
- Improved how Language Resource DLLs are loaded into memory.
- Improved application detection algorithm.
- Improved internal communication between process threads.
- Improved file scanning when scanning system folders.
- Improved Windows 7 and IE8 support.
- Minor GUI text changes.

Update and run CCleaner today - in all profiles!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010 3.2 Released is a Microsoft Office look-a-like suite of applications that performs better than the original. (My blog - my opinion). It is an open source application that is freely available for use and distribution. Compatible with Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Access, there's no justifiable reason to purchase Microsoft Office in place of using for these applications. If you buy Office because you need Outlook, that's a different discussion.

Open Source: More information on open source software and its philosophy and definitions are widely available; here's a good article at Wikipedia:

HOW TO UPDATE: If is already installed on your computer (if I've worked on it, it probably is), it can be updated by clicking Help - Check for updates, and following the prompts. If the update fails, as it may during peak downloads, you can download the full installer and and install it over the top of the current installation.

HOW TO DOWNLOAD NEW: Go here and follow the prompts:

NEW FEATURES IN 3.2:  Summary available here:
To sum up the summary, the best New Feature would be the improved start-up time. Always a welcome improvement!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flash and AIR, Avast Updates Feb. 12

New updates from Adobe for Flash player (both Internet Explorer and Firefox versions) and AIR are available this morning.

How To Update: If you see a message to update, click it and follow the prompts. Otherwise, you can update manually by going to and clicking on Flash or AIR to install.

Flash updates to version
AIR updates to version
To find the version you have installed, go to Control Panel - Programs (however you get there in your version of Windows). Click on Flash (or AIR) - More information.

Avast has also released a new version today (5.0.418), which should be installed when the daily update is installed, if you're already using Avast.

As always, if you have questions feel free to email, text or call!

Cathy Contant

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update Tuesday - Install Latest Microsoft Updates Now

Microsoft releases necessary updates on the second Tuesday of the month. Your computer can be configured to update completely automatically, or to notify you before downloading or installing updates, or to not check updates at all. I like to know what's being updated, so I choose to be notified before downloading or installing updates.

If your computer updates itself automatically, you may not even notice. Possibly, you'll need to restart your computer and allow the updates to install and configure themselves. You'll see the message on the screen about not shutting off your computer - and it means it. Bad things come to computers that are powered off too soon during updates.

Even if your computer updates automatically, it's a good idea to go to the Microsoft Update web site occasionally to check for further updates. In Windows XP, an easy way to get there is to open Internet Explorer, then click Tools - Windows Update. Windows Vista and 7 users can check for updates by clicking on Start - Windows Update. Follow the prompts to install any new components necessary.  Then click the Custom button, and let Microsoft check to see which updates your computer is missing. Look under High Priority and Optional updates (on the left side of the window after list is shown), and check to install any you think you'll need.

Don't know what to check? Don't check it without further investigation.  In general, all High Priority updates should be installed as soon as possible.

Here's a link to the Microsoft Update site for information on this month's updates:

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Rogue Programs - Lavasoft's Information

Here's some good information about rogue programs - those popup windows that scare us into thinking we've just gotten a virus. There's also a nice collection of known rogue programs. Be sure to check out any program that pops up and insists you buy it!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

iTunes Updated Feb 1 - version 9.0.3

Do you use iTunes?  Here's how to get the update.

If you configured iTunes to check for updates automatically (default), you'll be prompted to download and install the update the next time you open iTunes.  Or, you can open the program, then click Help - Check for updates. Follow the prompts to finish the installation.

Here's a link to download the current version of iTunes, bundled with QuickTime. If you're using a 64-bit operating system, be sure you install the 64-bit version of iTunes.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

CCleaner updated Jan. 28

CCleaner is updated by downloading and installing the current version. You want the current version. Download and run it today!

What's New[28th Jan 2010]

CCleaner v2.28

- Added support for custom locations for applications. 
e.g. CustomLocation1=FIREFOX

- Improved detection algorithm for new releases of Mozilla based browsers.

- Added news tasks to W7 jumplist.

- Added new parameters: /CLEANER, /REGISTRY, /TOOLS and /OPTIONS.

- Improved MUI cache cleaning for Vista and Windows 7.

- Added drive information to Wipe Free space status.

- Improved Wipe MFT free space routines.

- Improved W7 toolbar feedback.

- Improved several core processes and routines.

- Improved file search algorithm when recursing.

- Added support for cleaning Paint Shop Pro 12.

- Improved support for IZarc and Axialis IconWorkshop.

- Minor GUI tweaks.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Firefox 3.5.7 Released - Update Today

HOW TO UPDATE: If you're using a current version of Firefox (3 or higher), just open Firefox and click on Help - Check for updates. Follow the prompts to download and install the current version.

HOW TO DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL: If you don't have Firefox installed, or have a really old version (prior to version 3.0), you'll want to download and run the current installer file, found here: