CONFICKER PERSPECTIVE

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The press coverage of the Conficker malware has caused some fear and created the teensiest bit of an overreaction.

Here’s some common sense advice.

    dontpanic

  • You can use your computers on April 1. You can browse the Internet on April 1.
  • If your computer has been automatically installing Microsoft’s security updates, you are protected against the Conficker malware.
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R.I.P. ENCARTA

Microsoft announced today that it is discontinuing its Encarta encyclopedia in all of its various incarnations. The DVDs will be off the market by June, existing subscriptions will stop getting updates later this year, and the MSN Encarta web sites will be turned off on October 31.

Microsoft Student with Encarta For the last few years, Microsoft has been marketing Encarta with Microsoft Student, templates and learning guides aimed at middle and high school students. […] continued

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INTERNET SAFETY TIP

Here’s a tip in case you find yourself staring at a suspicious window.

Most malware is installed on a computer these days by luring you to a poisoned web site that brings up a window in front of your browser, suggesting that you agree to let something be installed. The bad guys are showing tremendous ingenuity in getting you to the malicious web sites, so you might be following a link in an email message, a link from a Google search, or perhaps even seeing something generated by a hijacked advertisement on a legitimate web site. […] continued

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DANGEROUS TIMES

When our first child was a year old, we had a childproofing company come to our house and give us a presentation about the threats that might endanger our baby. By the time it was finished, we had closed the college savings account because it seemed so unlikely that he would survive into his teens. […] continued

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SUBSCRIBE TO BRUCEB NEWS BY EMAIL

Click here to receive articles from the bruceb news page by email.

I’ve been writing short articles on this page for more than ten years. The bruceb news page has become a useful collection of computer tips and technology news and analysis.

  • Yesterday it was a short explanation of why older Windows XP computers should probably get a memory upgrade.
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BREAKFAST WITH BRUCEB & MIKE COOK

French Garden Restaurant

On Friday morning, March 27, from 7:30-9:00am, join Mike Cook and me at the French Garden restaurant in Sebastopol for continental breakfast and some bits of wisdom about technology – security, backups, online services, and more. There’s a fifteen dollar fee for the event, which is sponsored by the Sebastopol Area Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club, and seats have to be reserved today at (707) 823-3032. […] continued

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WINDOWS XP SLOWDOWNS

Why are our computers running so slowly?

windowsxpslow I began to notice it about six months ago. Everyone with a 3-5 year old Windows XP computer was complaining that their computers were running slowly. Occasionally I can still improve things by turning off unnecessary startup programs and services, but all too often there isn’t much that can be changed. […] continued

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NEVERENDING WIRELESS WOES

I have shared a bit of wisdom with many of you when we’ve talked about setting up 802.11 wireless networks:

People who depend on wireless networks call me about connection problems.

People with wires don’t.

Wireless technology is just swell. Millions of people use it every day.

But if you’re making a decision about how to set up your home or office network, think long and hard about hiring someone to run network cables between the locations where desktop computers are located. […] continued

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WORD 2007 CRASH

Some random troubleshooting notes.

I don’t know why Word 2007 got cranky. My poor computer is working hard these days as I load it up with programs and services, so maybe it was my fault. A couple of days ago, Word developed three symptoms: it stopped opening when I clicked on a .DOCX file in Explorer; it stopped responding to mouse clicks in a document, although I could still type and move around with arrow keys; and it started crashing every time I saved a file or closed it. […] continued

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ACROBAT SECURITY UPDATES

Adobe has now released all of the updates to fix the security vulnerability reported last month. Here’s my original post about the need for these fixes.

On my systems I had to open Acrobat/Acrobat Reader manually and click on Help / Check For Updates. Apparently Acrobat installs each update separately, one after the other, so it took several repetitions to bring everything up to date. […] continued

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THE HUNT FOR CONFICKER

Don’t miss the fascinating article in the New York Times today about the worldwide hunt for the authors of malicious software named “Conficker.”

An extraordinary behind-the-scenes struggle is taking place between computer security groups around the world and the brazen author of a malicious software program called Conficker.

The program grabbed global attention when it began spreading late last year and quickly infected millions of computers with software code that is intended to lash together the infected machines it controls into a powerful computer known as a botnet.

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INTERNET EXPLORER 8

At 9am PDT on Thursday, March 19, Microsoft is scheduled to release Internet Explorer 8, with a number of new features and under-the-hood security improvements. I’ll let you know if I find anything exciting in the next week or so, after I’ve had a chance to check it out. In the meantime, take a look at Walt Mossberg’s generally complimentary column in the Wall Street Journal. […] continued

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SENDING LARGE FILES WITH ACROBAT.COM

Adobe’s online service Acrobat.com has been available for almost a year as a place to store files and collaborate. I wrote some notes about it last summer. Now Adobe has introduced a plugin for Outlook that gives you a new reason to look into it.

If you use Outlook 2007 (not Outlook 2003!), you can attach a file of any size to an outgoing email message; if the attachment is oversized, the plugin will automatically upload the file to your Acrobat.com account and insert a link in the email message for the recipient to download it. […] continued

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BACKUPS – ONLINE BACKUPS

Previously:
BACKUPS – INTRODUCTION
BACKUPS – DATA vs. DRIVE IMAGE
BACKUPS – EXTERNAL HARD DRIVES
BACKUPS – SOFTWARE FOR DATA BACKUPS

Backup3-quickbooks There are dozens of services to help you back up your data online.

  • Some programs include built-in services for online backups of the program data. (Examples: Quicken & Quickbooks; Adobe Photoshop Elements.)
  • Services come and go like wildflowers to copy data to online servers, where it will be safe until the backup company goes out of business.
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ACROBAT SECURITY PATCHES

If your computer has Adobe Acrobat 9 or Acrobat Reader 9, you should have already installed an update to version 9.1, issued last week. Open the program and click on Help / About to check the version, or click on Help / Check for Updates to see if you’re up to date. […] continued

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