Category Archives: Skype

Free AntiMalware Software – And More – For Senior Computer Users

Looking at recent Internet usage statisticsimage, it seems obvious to me that older adults are now realizing that they don’t have to understand the “nitty gritty” of computer technology to send email-mail to friends and family, shop online, play games, make greeting cards, read book and film reviews, look into family genealogy, or find valuable health information on the Internet.

Here’s just one personal example of how older adults have jumped on the Internet bandwagon, and use it to great advantage.

Not too long ago, I ran into some older friends (in their 60s), who had recently gotten home after wintering in Florida. Throughout their time away (5 months, or so), they stayed in touch with their children, and grandchildren – virtually on a daily basis, using the free audio/video communication application, Skype. What a great use of technology!

Like the rest of us, Senior users are susceptible to cybercrime, and like the rest of us, need to protect their computers against the ever increasing exposure we all face to Trojans, Spyware, Viruses, Phishing Scams, and Identity Theft, while connected to the Internet.

Just for the record thought – statistically, it’s the deceptively named“tech savvy” generation, with their often misplaced confidence in their own abilities, who are more predisposed to malware infections and cyber criminal manipulation. Older users it seems, do know what they don’t know. My personal experience with a broad range of users, echoes these statistics.

For those that are members of this newly liberated group of Senior computer users, (who are not aggressive surfers), I’ve compiled a list of free anti-malware, and additional recommended applications, with simplicity of operation in mind – no manuals to digest, no tricky configuration to undertake; just install, and the applications will essentially do the rest.

But first:

Patch your operating system:

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Download and install all available patches, and service packs – if applicable, by connecting to Windows Update. Security Gurus will tell you that 50% of unpatched, and unprotected systems, will be infected with malicious code within 12 minutes of being connected to the Internet. Believe it!

Recommended Security Solutions:

PC Tools Firewall Plus 7:

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I’ve been running with this application for more than a year, and I must admit – I’m impressed with its performance. It installs easily, sets up quickly, and has not caused any conflicts despite my sometimes esoteric running requirements. The default settings are well thought out, and provide excellent protection for all users but particularly, less experience users.

Microsoft Security Essentials

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Easy to set up and run, particularly for new users. The interface is positively simple – offering Quick Scan, Full Scan, or Custom Scan. Provides full real time protection against viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Additionally, Microsoft Security Essentials is free for small businesses with up to 10 PCs.

Immunet Free Antivirus

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Companion Antivirus: a superior community driven cloud based security application, which continues to gain increasing popularity – and rightfully so. In real time, Immunet keeps track of the state of security in the collective community (network), and should a member of the network (the community), encounter malware, you (as a member of the protected community), are instantly protected against the threat.

ThreatFire

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ThreatFire blocks mal-ware, including zero-day threats, by analyzing program behavior and it does a stellar job. This is one of the security applications that forms part of my own front line defenses.

SpyShelter Personal Free:

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SpyShelter is free anti-keylogging, anti-spyware program that protects your data from Keylogging and spy programs: known, unknown, and under-development. It detects and blocks dangerous and malicious programs, to help ensure that your data cannot be stolen by cyber criminals.

Firefox 4.0.1

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While Firefox is not technically an anti-malware application per se, with the most effective security add-ons, including NoScript, Adblock Plus and BetterPrivacy installed, it effectively acts as one.

Firefox 4.0.1 includes hundreds of improvements over previous versions.

WOT

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Web of Trust, a browser add-on which offers Internet users active preventive protection against Web-based attacks, online scams, identify theft, and unreliable shopping sites.

WinPatrol 20.5.2

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With WinPatrol, in your system tray, you can monitor system areas that are often changed by malicious programs. You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

Keep in mind, malware itself is only part of the problem. The method used to deliver the malware – social engineering – is the most significant problem currently, for an average user. Social engineering, is a sure winner for the bad guys.

Cyber-criminals are increasingly relying on social engineering to create an opportunity designed to drop malicious code, including rootkits, password stealers, Trojan horses, and spam bots on our computers.

Overcoming the instinctive human response to social engineering (and we all have it), to just “click” while surfing the Internet, will prove to be challenging . This instinctive response, will pose one of the biggest risks to your online safety and security.

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Filed under Anti-Keyloggers, Anti-Malware Tools, Cyber Criminals, cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Firewalls, Freeware, Internet Safety for Seniors, Malware Protection, New Computer User Software Tools, PC Tools, Skype, Software, Spyware - Adware Protection, Windows Tips and Tools

Skype – Right for Your Life? Part Two

image As many of you know, last week Google announced free phone calls to “real phones”, not just PC to PC calls , using Gmail as the launch platform. After kicking the tires on this new Google service, I came away very impressed.

The buzz, all this week, on this new offering from Google, seemed to center around the (negative) impact on Skype, the granddaddy of “free” communication applications. Personally, I don’t buy into the negative impact view.

If the  installed application base means anything, and it does, then Skype, with its 560 million registered users, versus Gmail’s 200 million users (of which only a small percentage have signed up for the new service), would have to commit a series of critical blunders to lose market position.

We’ve seen market leaders stumble and fall in the past of course, but Skype has always been highly proactive to changing market conditions. In the past few days, for example, Skype has released version 5.0 Beta 2 for Windows which includes the following new features.

New in version 5.0 Beta 2:

10-way group video calling – Making a 10-way group video call requires a very fast computer, the minimum system requirements for is Intel Core2duo 2 GHz CPU or equivalent, the recommended CPU is Intel i7.

Skype Home experience – Skype Home is a new area in Skype which provides relevant updates for you, including information about your purchases, your friends’ mood message updates, and videos to help new users get started with Skype.

Offline instant messaging – You can send and receive messages from your friends who are offline at the moment. The messages will be delivered at the moment when the other party or you will sign in to Skype, even if your friend is not online anymore.

New contact search and add experience

Enhanced call experience under problematic conditions – Built in client messaging which informs you about potential issues with the call and what to do to improve your call quality.

Post call experience

General User Interface refresh – Numerous updates to Skype’s left side screen there is a new profile and mood message entrance area as part of Skype Home

Regular users are familiar with the following standard features.

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature invaluable.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

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Available Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

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System requirements:

Windows XP, Vista or 7

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

Note: beta versions are still a work in progress, so you might find the odd bug.

I’ll continue to use both Skype and Google Voice as complimentary applications (not competitive applications), since each applications excels in areas that are not necessarily crossovers.

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Filed under Communication, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Skype, Software, Video Calling, Web Cam Applications, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

Heading Back To School? Make Your Life Easier And Checkout These Free PC Applications

School is in and let’s face it, you’ll need to trim your expenses this year and software applications that cost hundreds of dollars are not going to be number one on your list of must haves. Well, they don’t really need to be.

There’s a ton of tried and tested free software out in the wild blue of the Internet, that will meet virtually every need you’re likely to have this school year.

Take a look at the following recommended free downloads that will help you communicate, get those assignments done, have some fun, and manage and protect your system while you’re surfing the Internet.

These applications have riding out the storm of new competitors, and have developed a strong, loyal following, based on their reliability and functionality.

Process those words:

OpenOffice

OpenOffice 3 is the leading open-source office software suite for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, graphics, databases and more. It is available in many languages and works on all common computers. It stores all your data in an international open standard format and can also read and write files from other common office software packages including Microsoft Word.

AbiWord:

AbiWord is a free light weight word processing program similar to Microsoft Word. It is suitable for a wide variety of word processing tasks.

WordWeb:

WordWeb is a one-click English thesaurus and dictionary for Windows that can look up words in almost any program. It works off-line, but can also look up words in web references such as the Wikipedia encyclopedia.

Manipulate and correct your pics – put them online:

FastStone Image Viewer:

This is one of my favorite photo applications, with good reason. It’s not just a viewer, but an image browser, converter, and an editor as well. You’ll find the interface intuitive and very easy to use. This program is loaded with features including, renaming, cropping, color adjustments, lossless JPEG transformation, drop shadow effects, image frames, scanner support, histogram and much more.

IrfanView:

With IrfanView you can fix and enhance digital photos including resizing, cropping, correcting red eye, flipping, and rotating. As well, you can perform a wide variety of image adjustments, including brightness, contrast, and applying special effects such as sharpen and blur. I’ve been using this neat little program (every day), for years and with each new release it just keeps getting better.

Google Picasa:

A free application that helps you locate and organize all the photos on your computer, edit and add effects with a few simple clicks, and share your photos with others through email, prints, and on the web.

Play those tunes:

Audacity:

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It’s available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems. Definitely the best of breed.

iTunes:

According to Apple, this is the world’s best digital music jukebox. Download music, TV shows, movies, and more.

Winamp:

A multimedia player that supports numerous audio and video formats. It also plays streamed video and audio content, live and recorded, authored worldwide.

Watch your fav videos:

Miro:

Miro is a free application for channels of internet video (also known as ‘video podcasts and video rss). Miro is designed to be easy to use and to give you an elegant full screen viewing experience.

VLC:

A highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

Free FLV Converter:

This free software let you search YouTube and dailyMotion videos without opening your browser and you can even watch the videos using the built-in video player.

Free Video To iPhone Converter:

Convert video files to Apple iPhone MP4 video format. Convert the whole movie or select a partition from the movie to convert (trim video).

iPod Video Converter:

Free iPod Video Converter provides an easy and completed way to convert all popular video formats to iPod video.

Better browsing:

Firefox:

Firefox includes tons of useful features such as tabbed browsing, built-in and customizable search bars, a built-in RSS reader and a huge library of extensions developed by thousand of developers.

Opera:

The fastest browser on Earth is even faster. But that is not all. Use Opera Turbo to double your page-download speed on slow connections. Download Opera now and get more from the Web.

Web of Trust (WOT):

WOT is a free Internet Browser add-on. WOT tests web sites you are visiting for spyware, spam, viruses, browser exploits, unreliable online shops, phishing, and online scams, helping you avoid unsafe web sites.

Protect your system:

Immunet Protect 2 – Free Cloud Based Antivirus Application:

Immunet Protect is a lightweight cloud based, community driven, antivirus application, (available in both a free, and a paid version), designed to add a layer of protection while working in partnership with the most popular antimalware solutions.

Microsoft Security Essentials:

Microsoft Security Essentials, which incorporates antivirus, antispyware and rootkit protection, all under one roof, was released by Microsoft as a free  replacement application for the late, and unlamented, Windows Live OneCare.

ThreatFire:

ThreatFire blocks malware (including zero-day threats) by analyzing program behavior, instead of relying only on a signature based database. ThreatFire works together with your signature based security applications, to increase the effectiveness of your total security arsenal.

SUPERAntiSpyware Free Edition

The free version of this award winning program, is used by millions of people worldwide to protect their computers. And why not? SUPERAntiSpyware is well known for its high malware detection rate. A simple, intuitive, and easy to use interface makes SUPERAntiSpyware straightforward to setup, customize, and run, for both less experienced and expert users alike.

Zone Alarm Firewall:

If you are a casual computer user, Zone Alarm Free is definitely worth considering as a new Firewall installation, or as a replacement for a current Firewall that is not meeting your expectations.

Staying in touch:

Windows Live messenger:

The next generation MSN Messenger. It comes with everything that were already available in Messenger, and a new IM Initiative that makes helping your favorite charity as easy as sending an instant message.

Pidgin:

A multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once. Pidgin can work with: AIM, Bonjour, Gadu-Gadu, Google Talk, ICQ, IRC, MSN, Yahoo!, MySpace IM and many more.

Trillian:

A fully featured, stand-alone, chat client that supports AIM, ICQ, MSN, Yahoo Messenger, and IRC.

Skype

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

System Tools:

WinPatrol:

You can monitor your startup programs and services, cookies and current tasks. Should you need to, WinPatrol allows you to terminate processes and enable, or disable, startup programs. There are additional features that make WinPatrol a very powerful addition to your security applications.

CCleaner:

CCleaner is a freeware system optimization, privacy and cleaning tool. It removes unused files from your system – allowing Windows to run faster and freeing up valuable hard disk space. It also cleans traces of your online activities such as your Internet history. Additionally it contains a fully featured registry cleaner. But the best part is that it’s fast; normally taking less than a second to run.

Autoruns:

You can configure Autoruns to show additional locations, including Explorer shell extensions, toolbars, browser helper objects, Winlogon notifications, auto-start services, and more. Autoruns goes considerably beyond the MSConfig utility bundled with Windows.

Glary Utilities:

Glary Utilities, a free all-in-one utility, is a terrific collection of system tools and utilities to fix, speed up, maintain and protect your PC. Personal experience with this application for the last 2 years has convinced me that a typical user can really benefit by having this application on their system. With this free program you can tweak, repair, optimize and improve your system’s performance; and its ease of operation makes it ideal for less experienced users.

Revo Uninstaller:

Revo Uninstaller is a superior program to uninstall programs from your computer. This free program with its advanced and fast algorithm scans before, and after you uninstall an application. After the program’s regular uninstaller runs, you can remove additional unnecessary files, folders and registry keys that are usually left over (those “orphaned” registry entries we talked about earlier), on your computer. This feature is a definite plus.

Have a great school year!

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Audio Applications, Browser add-ons, Browsers, Cell Phone Apps, Computer Maintenance, Don't Get Hacked, downloads, Firefox, Firefox Add-ons, Free Anti-malware Software, Free Firewalls, Free Office Suites, Free Photo Applications, Free Word Processors, Media Players, Microsoft, MS Word Alternatives, Open Office, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, System Security, System Utilities, Video Apps, Video Calling, Windows Tips and Tools

Google Pack Software Revisited – The Good, the Bad and the Useless

Google Pack 2 The applications offered in Google Pack are an interesting compilation of  freebies – some of them are quite useful and  worthwhile adding to your system. On the other hand, some of them are not only useless, but are potentially hazardous to your system security.

The good:

Google Chrome Web Browser:

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Google has developed an impressive browser with a focus on speed strong integrated search features. I’ll stick with Firefox though since I find Chrome just a little too simply for the type of work that I do. Some consider Chrome the safest browser available, but this conclusion is definitely subjective.

Google Apps:

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Cloud computing is where it’s at, or soon will be, according to the futurists. Personally, I think the jury is still out.

Google though, has tied its wagon to the concept of cloud computing, and  Google Apps reflects this direction. Using this collection of online (cloud based) applications you can plan (Calendar), stay in touch (Gmail), and collaborate (Docs). Since these are cloud based apps you can reach them from anywhere you have an Internet connection.

I should point out that Google Apps are available for business and education. Both are enhanced versions of the free personal version.

Note: Google recently released Google Wave, an additional online tool for real-time communication and collaboration. For more information on Wave, checkout Scoroncocolo TechPages.

Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus:

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The version of the highly regarded Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus included in Google Pack, does include full scan and remove capabilities, scheduled scans, database updates, but only limited real-time protection from both spyware and viruses.

I’ve reviewed this application a number of times, and consider it an outstanding secondary scanner. However, I do not recommend that you use this restricted version as a primary defense against malware, because of its limited real-time protection .

Picasa:

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Some might say that Picasa is the best free piece of photo managing and editing software you can find. Up to a point, I agree. As a basic photo manager and viewer, it’s pretty terrific.

Bonus features include a full complement of editing tools, supplemented with the ability to create photo CDs, photo collages, screensavers, and posters. Not bad for a free application!

Mozilla Firefox with Google Toolbar:

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If you’re looking for  a Browser that you can customize to your hearts content, then download Firefox. There are literally thousands of totally free ways to customize Firefox to meet all of your personal needs. The big advantage to Firefox, in my view, is the ability you have to customize this Browser with security add-ons that raise the security bar substantially.

P.S. Forget about the Google Toolbar.

Skype:

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Skype has become my preferred method of contact. I use the free Skype video calling feature, dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

Google Talk:

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Google Talk is a cool application that includes Instant messaging, PC-to-PC voice chat , the ability to send, receive and leave voicemails,  along with unlimited file transfers (no file size or bandwidth restrictions).

Maybe I’m just old fashioned, but I prefer single purpose applications, and I would choose Skype over Google Talk.

Google Earth 5:

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I couldn’t say it better than Google so, “Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings, from galaxies in outer space to the canyons of the ocean. You can explore rich geographical content, save your toured places, and share with others”.

This is truly an amazing piece of technology – I just never get tired of it!

The bad:

Google Toolbar for Internet Explorer:

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I have seen machines with more than 20+ installed toolbars, and this type of nonsensical download is one of the reasons why. Another toolbar? Lord help us!

Google Desktop:

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According to Google with desktop installed you can – “Find all your email, files, web history, and more. Get all your personalized info in one place with Sidebar”. So what could be wrong with that?

Well, if privacy and security is a concern – plenty. eSecurity Planet has a great article that exposes the major downside of installing this “spyware” on your computer. If you’re considering installing this program, I encourage you to checkout “Google Desktop: Next Big Thing or Dangerous Tool?”, first.

The Useless:

Adobe Reader:

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Without a doubt, one of the most hacked pieces of  software – ever! That’s bad enough, but Adobe, for all intents and purposes, seems not to care. On top of that, this application is the very definition of “bloatware”.

Don’t even consider this program. Instead, choose one of a number of much faster, more streamlined free application such as Foxit Reader, for Firefox, or Sumatra PDF Viewer for Windows.

RealPlayer:

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If you need a clunky, slow, ugly player, and you are the type of person who likes to be nagged constantly, then this application will give you what you want. If you think I’m being tough on this piece of crap, then read PC Mag’s “The 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time”.

VLC Media Player, on the other hand, an open source cross platform application, is a long recognized superior performer that gives you frame-by-frame advancement, granular speed controls allowing for on-the-fly slower or faster playback, and live recording of streaming video.VLC offers support for a wide range of video and audio formats, including OGG, MP2, MP3, MP4, DivX, HD codecs like AES3, Raw Dirac, and even support for playing back zipped files.

Google Apps System requirements: Windows XP, Vista Win 7

Google Pack

Download at: Google

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Filed under Anti-Malware Tools, Browsers, downloads, Firefox, Freeware, Google, Google Chrome, Image Editors, Skype, Software, Windows 7, Windows Tips and Tools, Windows Vista, Windows XP

I Don’t Care If You’re Naked – Stop Spamming Me!

image I’m a red blooded Canadian/American/Irishman, having spent some part of my life in all of these countries. So, just like most “red blooded’” guys, the word “naked” always gets my attention. But, enough is enough. Actually, enough is too much.

I’ve been on the Internet since its inception, so I’ve learned to tolerate Spam; well, more or less. Over the years, if I added up all my winnings from the contest I’ve supposedly won, I’d be a gazillionaire. If I’d taken all the pills offered to me by spammers, I’d be a walking bag of hormones. And, if I’d bought every faux watch pushed by spammers, I could open a jewelry store!

Overall, Spam doesn’t really trouble me. It is what it is. Incredibly stupid people seeking out other incredibly stupid people, to scam, or do business with. There is one form of Spam thought, that really tries my patience, and that’s Skype Spam.

Skype is a great convenience for me. It allows me to speak directly with the people I need to speak with, face to face, through Skype video calling; at a price that’s hard to beat – free!

Until recently, Skype Spam was not really an issue I had to deal with. Sure, occasionally I’d get an enticing offer from spammers like sweet_pamela.19,  camwithme40, or others, all offering the same thing. You know the drill – “let’s get down, let’s get dirty”, “watch me take my clothes off and get naked”, and in some cases, more.

Skype Spam 1

Lately, I’ve noticed, there has been a definite increase in this type of Spam aimed at my Skype account.

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Since Internet security is my “bread and butter”, and dangerous web surfing is part of the package, following these enticements back to the source, safely, is straightforward. In almost every case the trail leads to Russia, or to the land of the “horse sex” video business, the Ukraine.

No, I’m not making up the “horse sex” video reference. Since I occasionally write about the dangers of pornographic web sites, and use words that commonly describe such sites, the Google search strings used to reference these articles on my site, can certainly deviate from the norm. Video “horse sex”, is actually a fairly mild search term.

I’ve hardened my privacy settings on Skype as much as possible, without limiting overall functionality – but to no avail. Unfortunately, the impact of doing so has been limited.

So, listen up “betsylouwho.whoville.com”, or whatever moniker you’re using today – get lost, take a hike, vamoose…………….. I am not a mindless “sheeple”. I don’t want your invitations.

If I want to catch you get naked, I’ll call you!

Skype Spam is not limited to just this type of sexy come-on. To read more about  dangerous Skype malware, and how it can affect you, checkout TechPaul’s “Skype Phishing Returns” and “Skype – Windows Requires Immediate Attention.. Not!”.

Skype is a terrific application, and well worth checking out. Don’t be dissuaded by the spammers and scammers that take advantage of every aspect of the Internet. These people will never disappear.

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Filed under Communication, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Freeware, Internet Security Alerts, Peer to Peer, Phishing, pornography, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

I’m a Canadian and I Now Own a Piece of Skype!

image Like most working Canadians, I am required to contribute a percentage of my earnings to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), a government retirement plan, which will provide me with a monthly pension benefit on retirement. Well, that’s the promise.

This is a bit of a joke, since I have yet to meet a retired person who could survive on this benefit – although there may be some, somewhere.

Since most of my family are Americans, I’m reasonably familiar with that country’s Social Security program as well. So, the lack of adequate income upon retirement produced by Social Security, is also a familiar refrain.

It’s not startling news of course that government run plans such as these, are generally poorly managed; often producing a less than adequate return on investment, which naturally leads to a reduction in income stream at retirement, for those who have contributed over a working lifetime

I was surprised then (actually I was shocked), to learn this morning, that the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board has taken an investment position in Skype, my favorite Internet communication application. My first thought – maybe the Canada Pension Plan has decided to reassess its antiquated investment rules, and boldly step into the twenty first century.

It has long been rumored that eBay was looking for a buyer for its Skype internet phone service and today it appears it’s a “done deal”. eBay Inc. is spinning off Skype in a deal worth more than $2 billion US, to an investor group that includes the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. eBay however, will continue to hold a 35 per cent stake in Skype.

So, faithful reader, if you want to ensure my Canada Pension contributions add up to something more than a miserly sum when I retire, consider adding Skype to your list of must have applications.

You won’t regret it, and hopefully, neither will I since I’m sure to need the money on retirement.

All kidding aside, Skype is a terrific free application; an application I would be lost without. I use it through the day, every day, to communicate by video calling worldwide for free.

Take a look at my earlier review of Skype, and you might be surprised at the impact this application can have on your communications.

Skype – Right for Your Life?

Despite the fact that I’m an early adopter of most technology, surprisingly, it took me forever to give Skype a try. For communicating, I found the old fashioned telephone worked; and it does what it’s supposed to do with a minimum of fuss and bother. Just pick it up, dial and voila – instant communication. What could be simpler and easier than that?

As I found out, after giving Skype a test drive – maybe this free communication application! In fact, it has now become my preferred method of contact. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

Kudos to my good friend TechPaul, at Tech for Everyone, for finally convincing me to give Skype a test drive. I’m glad I did.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

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Fast facts:

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature fascinating.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

System requirements: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux. Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

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Filed under Communication, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Peer to Peer, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools

Skype – Right for Your Life?

Despite the fact that I’m an early adopter of most technology, surprisingly, it took me forever to give Skype a try. For communicating, I found the old fashioned telephone worked; and it does what it’s supposed to do with a minimum of fuss and bother. Just pick it up, dial and voila – instant communication. What could be simpler and easier than that?

As I found out, after giving Skype a test drive – maybe this free communication application! In fact, it has now become my preferred method of contact. I use the Skype video calling feature dozens of times a day to speak with contacts worldwide.

Kudos to my good friend TechPaul, at Tech for Everyone, for finally convincing me to give Skype a test drive. I’m glad I did.

In its basic form, Skype is a free communication package, using proprietary code, which allows users to make free computer to computer calls, including video calls, across the globe. As well, there are a bundle of additional features, that can be purchased at a low cost, which will expand the application’s functionality.

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(Credit: CNET)

Fast facts:

Improved sound quality over regular telephones.

Secure end-to-end encryption.

Uses peer-to-peer technology for even more enhanced security.

Video calling – I have to admit I find this feature fascinating.

Conference calling – a very cool feature.

Online status notification – online, away, do not disturb, invisible, offline.

Contact creation, including groups, and importation from MS Outlook and Outlook Express etc.

Screen sharing – I find a lot of uses for this feature.

Chat – I find this a great help for sharing URL’s which can then be opened during a video call to facilitate the sharing of information.

Upgrade features:

Call phones and mobiles

Receive calls from phones and mobiles with an online number

Voicemail – Send and receive voicemails

Forward calls to phones

Transfer calls to phones and mobiles

System requirements:

Windows, Mac OS X, Linux.

Sound input and output devices – microphone and speakers, or a headset. Of course, for video calling you’ll need a webcam.

Download at: Skype

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Filed under Audio Applications, Communication, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Living Life, Peer to Peer, Productivity Software, Skype, Software, Video Calling, VOIP, Windows Tips and Tools