Free Norton Anti-virus from Comcast

target audience: home users

Lately, I have had an increase in clients complaining about slow computers. Oddly enough, these most recent customers have all had one program in common. Sure there were some useless toolbars, and unnecessary start-up items, but the biggest culprit lately has been the Norton Security Suite that Comcast is offering its subscribers for free. Now before you go bashing a certain product’s name, or uninstalling your Anti-virus altogether, I’d like to remind you that running a quality anti-virus program is very important.

photo used under creative commons from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/baldiri/4343864282

Slooooooow

It is, however, also very important to qualify the customer. What Comcast is offering is a full security suite (a group of many programs wrapped together) which can be a real burden on older computer systems. This is why you should contact your friendly, local, computer technician to get a solution that is right for you. (If that’s not an option check out Kaspersky AV (not the whole suite) and Super Anti-Spyware.

Want a second opinion? Read this blog:

http://www.callthatgirl.biz/comcast-users-should-avoid-installing-nortonsymantec/

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Post Malware Clean-up: Disable Proxy Settings

Often times a piece of Malware will change your Proxy Settings to intercept all communications from your Computer. If you have cleaned an infection, and are still experiencing trouble loading web pages your Proxy Settings may have been changed. To check these settings do the following (Pictures taken from Windows 7, other versions have similar steps):

  1. In the Control Panel click “Network and Internet.”Control Panel
  2. On the subsequent menu select “Internet Options.” This will open the  Internet Properties menu. (This is the same menu as the one accessed through Internet Explorer.  I feel safer with this method though, as not opening IE will prevent a browser misdirect. Also note, these settings can affect all browsers)
  3. Click on the Connections tab.Change Windows Proxy Settings
  4. Click the LAN settings Button. You can now see the Proxy Settings
  5. Most home users will simply want to un-check the box next to “Use a proxy server…” If you connecting through a legitimate proxy you will instead need to contact your network administrator for the actual address to enter here.
  6. Click okay
  7. Click okay

You may also want check out my article from a few days ago on how to reset TCP/IP settings. Enjoy!




Firefox Add-on of the Week

So you’ve Googled for that latest song, software, screen saver, whatever, and you’ve got a long list of search results. But which of those websites are safe? Enter WoT.

WoT stands for Web of Trust, and it is a community-based rating system for websites. These ratings are then used to place a color coded dot on the WoT tool bar indicating whether or not a website is safe. WoT also intrigrates with many search engines and other websites as you can see here:

Colored dots on WoT

look at all the pretty colors......

Websites are ranked on 4 criteria as seen here:

Site rankings

Site Rankings

The little silhouettes indicate how many people have voted on the site (0-5). Furthermore community members can leave comments about a site such as “spam” or “contains Malicious ads.”

My recommendation is to stay away form websites with red, yellow, or gray (unknown) ratings… in fact, WoT will block the “poor” sites for you. Note that this “poor” website is grayed out (a la UAC). At this point you can not interact with elements of the site and should just close the tab/window.

WoT blocks sites with a poor rating.

Blocked Website

To install WoT simply download and install the add-on from their website. Please note that it is available for Internet Explorer too. Once you restart your browser you’ll be presented with a screen to configure your settings. I recommend the basic setting. If you want to provide ratings to the community you should also create a profile now. From this point on WoT will be providing you with rating information for the websites you visit. To get more info on a site (such as comments) , and to provide your own feedback, just click on the corresponding WoT dot. (For more information see this video tutorial.) I think this is a particularly useful add-on for “grandma” as it greatly reduces  the need for web savvy and paranoia while surfing. So, what are you waiting for? Try out WoT today.


Why?

How much?

What speed?

When can I get one?

Why?…. “why?”

Why: it is a very important question. While is is not quantitative, not scientific, not always even tangible,  it cuts directly to the point, reveals motives, and adds the human element. It is a question seldom asked in the world of computers and technology. But, it is because we the soft, squishy, irrational, emotional humans, who are the end users that “why” becomes a very pertinent question indeed. Why do we like technology, and gadgets and gizmos? Because they are fun, or keep us organized, or otherwise make life easier…. or help us escape from life a bit. There are perhaps as many reasons as there are people.

So why am I writing this blog? Why am I part of this industry? Why should you care? I guess the short answer is because I’m one of the good guys. There’s a load of malicious software out there, there are a number of poorly designed products, there is hardware that succumbing to the rigors of time, and there are a number of entities that want you charge you, the home consumer, way too much to fix these problems. And finally, there is you the user, who probably doesn’t want to deal with any of it. You just want to enjoy technology.

That’s where I come in. I fix stuff. I use my knowledge and time to save you time and headaches. But it doesn’t stop there. There are just too many threats and problems out there. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure. I want to educate people how to avoid problems, so that they can just sit back and enjoy technology. Often I will focus on tools that will help you identify and stop things like:

  • Ad-ware
  • Viruses
  • Cross-Site Scripting Attacks
  • Phishing
  • Rogue anti-virus
  • Spam
  • and other such nasty things

That’s a rather glum list. I don’t want to make everyone hopelessly paranoid, but it is critical that everyday users are aware of the cyber-world around them. I feel that this blog post clearly explains the state of affairs. And, not wanting to dwell on negatives, I’ll also share:

  • Productivity Apps
  • Shortcuts
  • Tips & Tricks
  • Free Alternatives to your Favorite Software
  • Noteworthy gadgets and gizmos
  • Other ramblings about the world we live in

So, check back regularly, or even subscribe, as we explore the world of modern technology together.

Firefox Add-on of the Week

“Safer and more productive browsing. See where links actually link to.”
“Why are all these pop-ups on my screen?” Perhaps its because you went to a malicious website. No? You’re always careful about where you go? What about those shortened links you see on Twitter, and else where. Things like bit.ly and tinyURL? Where do those go? Wonder no longer with this handy add-on: Long URL Please.

As in real life, awareness is very important on the internet. Pay attention to where you are going, and hopefully you will avoid trouble. Its a dangerous world out there, and now its all connected. (Its also full of wonder and great, worthwhile things 🙂 )