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Monthly Archives: December 2009

Configure your Windows Services properly to your needs. For example, disable the ‘Print Spooler’ service if you don’t have a printer or don’t plan on printing from that computer more then once a month.

1 – Visit this site: BlackViper
2 – Under ‘Popular Content’ you can choose the OS that you’re using.
3 – Follow the instructions on the page to configure your services. Use the SAFE configuration if you aren’t sure what to do.

I can offer personal computer assistance to those who are hesitant to do these types of things themselves.

Just contact me via e-mail: darkwraith007 AT gmail DOT com

I can provide either phone assistance or in-person assistance (if you’re in the state of VA), and my fees are flat-rate and very reasonable, much better then paying an arm and a leg at other places.

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Prevent Identity Theft.
You can save the $30-$50 per month (which costs $360-$600 per year) bullshit that comes from ‘credit monitoring’ and other stuff. Its utter crap and is way overkill for the vast majority of people. Only if you’ve seriously got money to burn or if you have a very high net worth, then you can do whatever.

So how does one prevent identity theft? Its quite simple.

-Go paperless, you’ll thank me later.
If any of your credit card companies or banks or anyone offers paperless statements, take them up on it. You really don’t need the paper. In the event you do need an ‘official’ copy for legal purposes then you can request one. Often if you mention its for legal purposes they’ll send it to you at no charge if you ask nicely (it varies but it wouldn’t hurt to ask). And even so, you’re saving them money since they don’t have to send you a paper statement so they should be more then willing to help you out. If not, I’d suggest taking your business elsewhere.

-Don’t be afraid of the internet, just be smart.
This means don’t EVER do any online banking or shopping or anything involving financial transactions or sensitive information (SSN, birthdate, etc) from anything but your laptop or desktop computer. Mobiles don’t have antivirus so you can’t trust them. Yes its convenient, but at what cost? How do you know its really encrypted unless you’re tech-saavy enough to use an SSH VPN tunnel?
Also this means if you’re wireless on your laptop and using a public WiFi hotspot to connect to the internet, please don’t use that to do any financial stuff either.
If you assume that anything and everything is being recorded, ‘secure’ or not, then you’ll be fine.

-Secure isn’t really secure.
Some places only use the bare-minimum 128-bit encryption, while other stores use more modern 256-bit encryption. The higher, the better. Firefox tells you what strength and type of encryption is being used by a website. Check it! Often you’ll see a so-called ‘secure’ order form that isn’t 100% secure, its a page that ‘contains some unecrypted information’. Just leave it, and never look back. Getting a ‘good deal’ isn’t worth the risk.

-Keep track of things
That means keeping track of your purchases and finances very closely. That means using a good firewall and antivirus and making sure your desktop/laptop computer is completely clean of spyware/malware/crapware. That means backing up important data.

Happy Holidays to All!
Be safe and enjoy your shopping, online or offline!

This week’s tech tip is simple. Maintain your computer.
Clean up your computer. Uninstall and remove the crap you don’t use. If you have data you need but don’t access often, put that data on a backup hard drive. Defrag often and your computer will be happier for it. Disable unnecessary windows services and any of those ‘tray icons’ that you don’t need.
Better yet, pay me to do all this and I not only will spruce up old computers but I can have even newer computers running a lot faster, more stable, and better then before.
Its like an oil change for your car. You can do it yourself and muck around with it or you can pay someone to do it for you.

Enjoy your holidays, and use this indoor time to your advantage!

Invest in a UPS.
I personally use the Geek Squad 1285VA and it has woked well for me, especially the concept of hot-swappable batteries to make it not become a very heavy paperweight in the future.

This one is a simple tech tip that doesn’t require any special setup and can be done with minimal time and effort. Most UPS power supplies will have software for additonal features, but I rarely find that such features are worth having yet more stuff installed on a computer. Its more of a personal preference though, but for those who just wanna get up and running, know that the specific UPS I linked above has very quick setup in that you just plug everything into it, plug the UPS itself into the wall (directly into the wall not into a surge protector) and then turn it on and everything should be working fine.

There is a caveat though, due to the configuration of the outlets if you happen to have some of the newer adapters that are designed for wall outlets, you may end up blocking more then one outlet if you have to plug them in. In this case you may have to weigh what items you want to always have plugged in with battery backup and which ones you can get by with just surge protection.

I recently had moved and my new place seems to have somewhat unstable electricity that randomly fluctuates at least once a day around noon-ish. Having a UPS has been invaluable and more then worth its weight in gold. The prices may put off some people, but you can either buy stuff now or wait until the after-christmas clearance that they have for all the crap that got returned. Its your gamble.

Good luck, and protect your electronics!