Tag Archives: support

Save Your Sanity – Let Teach Parents Tech.Org Handle Those “Help Me Out” Calls

imageHigh level computer users are often seen as built in tech support by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers; the good looking chick you’re chatting up at a party – the list goes on.

So, a “help me out” call, during the Christmas Season, is not at all an uncommon occurrence – if, you’re a high level computer user. But, you know that – which is why you’re going to change your telephone number to “unlisted”, or move out of the country.

From a personal perspective, I’ve learned over the years, that a verbal “solve my computer problem” walkthrough is a non-starter – in most instances. It’s a virtual certainty that some/most/all of the instructions, will have to be repeated – any number of times.

If you’re the type of “helpful friend” who has extraordinary patience, you’ll probably buy into this awkward arrangement. But, you will need prodigious patience – and, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to test it.

Rather than trudge down this twisty winding path, you might be better off directing your “client” to a terrific free resource  “TeachParentsTech.org”; a site developed by a group of Google employees which is, as they put it “ designed to help “kids” teach their parents about computer basics.” The group has developed a series of 50 plus instructional videos, dealing with computer basics – the type of basic issues that often confuse new users.

The following screen captures will give you some idea of what’s available on the site, and just how easy it is to link up with the correct instructional video. Click on a graphic to expand it to its original size.

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This graphic illustrates how easy it is to select a video, choose the email message and get it ready to go.

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Note: Make it clear that you expect active participation. In fact, insist on it. Unless you do, I can assure you that you will be the one doing all the heavy lifting. And, it’s this heavy lifting that, over time, sours many tech savvy users on staying in the “I’m a helpful tech savvy kind of person” game.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

If you sometimes think that you have a sign painted on your back, that calls out to the world – “I’m the go-to guy for all your computer woes”, you might just find this site invaluable.

Check it out here: Teach Parents Tech.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

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2 Comments

Filed under Education, Help, Recommended Web Sites, Windows Tips and Tools

Support Your Friends Tech Needs The Right Way

imageLet’s assume for a moment, that you just got a call from ———– (fill in the blank), who wants you to walk him through transferring files from one computer to another. Not so difficult for you, but often difficult for typical users.

A “help me out” call such as this, is not at all an uncommon occurrence if you’re a high level user. But you know that – which is why you’re going to change your telephone number to “unlisted”, or move out of the country.   Smile

From a personal perspective, I’ve learned, over the years, that a verbal “solve my computer problem” walkthrough is a non-starter – in most instances. Here’s why.

It’s a virtual certainty that some/most/all of your instructions, will have to be repeated – any number of times. If you’re the type of “helpful friend” who has extraordinary patience, you’ll probably buy into this awkward arrangement. But, you will need prodigious patience – and, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to test it.

It would be more appropriate (but far from perfect), to take the time (lots of time!), to set out the needed instructions in an email. But, there’s not much point in reinventing the wheel when a Google search string (continuing with this illustration) – how to transfer a file from one computer to another – will pop up more than 8 Million references.

For example, the most complete article I could find using a Google search string – how to transfer a file from one computer to another – contained just under 500 words. It’s possible of course, that you might be able to transfer the same set of instructions verbally using fewer words – but, I doubt it. And, even if that was possible – you’re back to some/most/all of the instructions needing to be repeated.

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Courtesy dilbert.com

And that brings me to that dreaded question which, it seems to me, many high level users – the default neighborhood tech support gurus – are too shy to ask the “you’ve just gotta help me” friend – have you Googled the problem? The most common answer is of course – no.

If you’re still of a mind to go into rescue mode, then you must be the person to find an article you feel should solve the problem. Then, after working together through this article with the not so tech savvy “friend”, hopefully the problem can be resolved.

Make it clear that you expect active participation. In fact, insist on it. Unless you do, I can assure you that you will be the one doing all the heavy lifting. And, it’s this heavy lifting that, over time, sours many tech savvy users on staying in the “I’m a helpful tech savvy kind of guy” game.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

There are many ways to provide tech support to family and friends – hard experience though, has taught me to rely on this one.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under computer repair, Help, Interconnectivity, Point of View, Windows Tips and Tools

Breadcrumbs Privacy Software 1.1.3.1 (Beta) Updated – Now With 64 Bit Support

Earlier this month, I ran a short test on Breadcrumbs Privacy Software (Beta) – Free Breadcrumbs Beta – Slaps Down Data Miners – which, according to the developer “……. automatically creates a Bogus Identity for you, thus preventing trackers from analyzing your real browsing information, leaving them with useless data.”

So, is this fair – is it OK to screw with so called “data miners”? Undoubtedly, you’ll make up your own mind on this – but, I won’t hesitate to state my opinion – “You’re damn right it is!”

Data miners, in an attempt to camouflage broad scale privacy intrusions, conveniently refer to their activities as predictive analytics, customer profiling, customer segmentation, predictive modeling, lifestyle clustering – yeah, right.

While predictive analytics, predictive modeling, etc. (you have to love how these guys paint privacy intrusions), may well be allowed under existing legislation – from a moral and ethical perspective, it’s reprehensible in my view.

Consider this – you’re cruising the Net and a tracker, or trackers, records every action you take, every motion you make –recording the type of sites you visit and revisit, time spent on sites, your shopping and spending habits, your political views, your marital status, and much more. All of this builds a profile of your browsing habits so that the data (your personal data), can be sold, bartered, and traded.

But don’t look for any sweeping legislative changes which will rein in these parasites any time soon. By and large, regulatory authorities have neither the moral courage, or the technical acumen (they simple fail to grasp the essence of the technology) necessary to enact appropriate consumer protection laws.

If you object to this type of intrusion into your privacy, then consider installing Breadcrumbs Privacy Software, and give these intrusive jerks the heave-ho. It may not be a perfect solution but, it’s a definite step in the right direction.

Fast facts:

Create your bogus identity – Breadcrumbs bogus Identity feature automatically creates a Bogus Identity for you, thus preventing trackers from analyzing your real browsing information, leaving them with useless data. Read more

The Do Not Track Me stamp – Once enabled, the Do Not Track Me stamp identifies you as a Breadcrumbs Protected User. It tells trackers that you do not wish to be tracked, and also lets them know that they will be fooled by your Bogus Identity in case they decide to track you anyway. Read more

Watchers Analytics – Breadcrumbs Watchers Analytics feature enables you to see who is watching you online. It’s an easy way to block ads and prevent trackers from tracking you across the Internet. Read more

Installation is simple and the application settings are limited, but effective. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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The dashboard will give you the opportunity to “watch the watchers” and block selectively. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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The most interesting feature of Breadcrumbs is the promise that it will build a “‘bogus identity” which will mislead watchers. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

According to the developer –

“In order for the feature to work it first needs to “learn the user” then it will synthesize what bogus data should be added in order to mask your real data and identity (so give it a few more hours/days). All of the learning process is encrypted and is done on the client-side, hence no one can see or use it but the software (and in the future you).”

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In the following screen capture the expandable “Page Watcher” panel is shown – (shown expanded). This feature is selectable under “settings”. Click on the graphic to expand to original.

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Current Version: 1.1.3.1 (Beta) – release date: May 24, 2011.

Changes in this version:

Bug fixes.

Better performance (CPU + RAM)

64 bit support.

Enhanced security to the automated Bogus browser.

Tray notifier which notifies when privacy protection analysis ended, and when a new software version is available.

Added the option to turn watchers blocking on and off through the Watchers Analytics Panel in your browser, this feature is very helpful in cases you are not sure if the page is not loaded correctly because a watcher is blocked (so you can just turn blocking off and see if that is the problem) – the panel appears in red in case blocking is turned off.

System Requirements: Windows XP, Vista and Win 7. Microsoft .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 or above. (Breadcrumbs installer will alert you in case .NET Framework installation is needed)

Supported Web Browsers: Internet Explorer 7 or above. (including IE9). Firefox 3.6 or above. (including FF4). Google Chrome.

Download at: Developer’s site (Breadcrumb Solutions)

Breadcrumbs Usage and Demo: Video 2:26

I often hear from people who feel that since the information being mined is anonymous, no real invasion of privacy is taking place. While that may have been the case previously, that’s not the case currently.

Consider readingPrivacy: reidentification a growing risk.

Browser fingerprinting (a method used to identify you specifically) – Consider taking the Panopticlick test which analyses  your browser to see how unique it is based on the information it will share with sites it visits.

My test results:

Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 1,546,722 tested so far. Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 20.56 bits of identifying information.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

8 Comments

Filed under 64 Bit Software, Beta Software, Browsers, downloads, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Privacy, Software, Surveillance, Windows Tips and Tools

How Do I Select The Right Company To Host My Website If I Live In Australia?

Guest article: If you want a website online, there are a number of reasons why you want all your support in your region. This is not just because they will speak your language. You are making contractual arrangements with suppliers, and therefore, you need them to be in your region for legal issues. Here is a deeper look at this issue when setting up a website.

imageDespite it being the World Wide Web, we want to make sure we know where our website is being hosted. This will also depend on the type of website you are building. Locality is always an issue. For example, if you live in Brisbane, you want IT services Brisbane.

In this article, we look at the right type of services, and other server needs you must think about. You could have put a lot of effort into your website, and you want to make sure you have complete control. There are some very local issues to understand even though you could view your website from anywhere in the world

  • Getting Started. When we think about setting up a simple website, we think about getting online and buying a host program – the hosting program is where your site will go. On these websites, we can buy domain names and buy the space and location for our website. We build our site ourselves, or we build it online through one of these sites. When everything is running smoothly there will be no problem. What happens if that company that you bought your domain name and hosting location goes out of business? What happens if something goes wrong or there are legal problems and the hosting company you bought space from is in another country? While we will buy a simple hosting package online, we still need to make sure that company is in our locality, city, state or country. It could be very hard to deal with them if they were in some lawless country on the other side of the planet. You know you are safe when the supplier is in your country, and they have a physical location. Get your hosting program from a company in your locality.
  • Computer Support. The hosting company will give you a limited amount of IT support in relation to how their servers work. This support is normally in the form of emails and other online interaction. You still need to maintain your own computers repairs, service and security. Even simple sites can have very confidential information, and so you will need to know how to handle this. If you are in Brisbane, for example, having a local computer repairs is essential. You might need to get face-to-face support by people who understand you and speak your language. Having support locally is always essential.
  • Going a Bit More Professional. When you buy your hosting program online, you are normally buying space that is shared with other people. The hosting company has a room of servers where everyone’s website and web space is shared. If you are looking for a more secure and professional setting, you will need to look for a more professional dedicated servers provider. Dedicated servers are individual computers for each client. This will mean you will have your own computer in a secure location with your own super-high speed internet connection and support. If you are intending to earn income from your website, this will be essential. It will mean your data, and information is more secure, your website’s speed will not be influenced by anyone else’s internet use, and you will have professionals who will keep an eye on it for you. You could set up your own server in your own location if you have that knowledge. You would need to make sure you have backup power and a range of other security issues (both online and offline) solved. Dedicated servers are often in a very secure location, and you want this location to be in your locality, city, state or country. Again there are legal issues you need to think about. Just like your hosting program, domain name and IT services, you want them from someone who understands you and resides locally.

Guest article by Sachin.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

4 Comments

Filed under Guest Writers, Interconnectivity, Networking, Tech Net News, Web Development, Web Hosting, Web Site Design, Website Builders

Blog Basics for Brisbanites: How to Set Up a Blog with Your Own Domain Name

Blogging can be used to support your image professionally, or just like a diary of your life for purely personal reasons. This article looks at setting up your own blog, choosing domain names, and then changing your blog over to your very own web address. Your blog can be up and running in no time, and you will be surprised at how professional it will look.

  • Get Started With WordPress. WordPress is by far the easiest. Go to their main website and set up your account. WordPress has many additional features which you can explore as you get used to manipulating your site. You could host your site yourself with their software but the best way is just to let them handle everything. You will choose the easiest option in the beginning. This will mean the whole thing is for free. The reason why they can do this is because they will get the revenue from any adverts on your page.
  • Getting Your Own URL. After you have set up your account, you will see that the web address of your blog starts with WordPress in the name followed by your account. It is always better to have the URL of your own choice. All you need to do is look for a domain hosting company on the internet. There you can see if the domain name is available that you want. Once you have purchased the domain name, which normally costs around $10-12 a year, you will need to proceed to domain mapping.
  • Mapping to WordPress. WordPress has full instructions, which are not very difficult to follow. Essentially they give you a few lines of text to update your information stored on the servers of your domain name. Your company that supplied you with the domain name will give you a log-in location where you can update your information. Once this has been completed, you return to WordPress.
  • Adding URL in WordPress. Inside your WordPress account, you will see a tab in the settings section of your account. Go to the domain names setting, and enter in your new domain name. This will update instantly and now if you type in your domain name, or your original WordPress domain name, you will see your blog.
  • Take it Step by Step. This is not as complicated as it sounds. Many people get a little lost or confused when they are trying something new on their computer, and the internet, because they don’t stop to read what is on the screen in front of them.
  • If You Are Having Trouble. Never panic, help is only a few minutes away. There are plenty of online IT services Brisbane, that can help you walk through any of these steps. If you think you don’t need that kind of help, you can always start with the help guide on WordPress.

This whole process should take about 15 minutes. Just remember to pay for your domain name and any support service with secure payment systems. Never give any supplier your full credit or debit card details.

Guest article from Sachin.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

1 Comment

Filed under blogging, Blogging Tips, Freeware, Interconnectivity, Social Blogging, WordPress

How To Be A Tech Hero Using Teach Parents Tech.org

imageMany of the regular readers of this site are very sophisticated computer users, and I’m sure, this sophistication can be something of a two edged sword. High level users are often seen as built in tech support by family, friends, neighbors, co-workers; the good looking chick you’re chatting up at a party – the list goes on.

Personally, I have no problem with the quick answer solution, and I do mean quick – but troubleshooting a system –  forget about it. When asked to jump in to save a system, I make it clear that I’m not the designated go-to guy, and that the Geek Squad, or the like, would be happy to help.

I do however, make an exception for one specific group; older adults – the so called “silver generation”. I have a soft spot for older people who are willing to take a bite out of the technology apple, and it’s a small way that I can contribute to my community.

It’s been my experience, that an older computer user is generally not too much different from any new user – it’s the simply things (simple to you and me, that is), that often trip them up.

Recently, I came across a a terrific free resource (which I’m now using as an assist with the “silver generation”),  “TeachParentsTech.org”; a site developed by a group of Google employees which is, as they put it “ designed to help “kids” teach their parents about computer basics.”

The group has developed a series of 50 plus instructional videos, dealing with computer basics – the type of basic issues that often confuse new users.

The following screen captures will give you some idea of what’s available on the site, and just how easy it is to link up with the correct instructional video. Click on a graphic to expand it to its original size.

image

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This graphic illustrates how easy it is to select a video, choose the email message and get it ready to go.

image

If you sometimes think that you have a sign painted on your back, that calls out to the world – “I’m the go-to guy for all your computer woes”, you might just find this site invaluable.

Check it out here: Teach Parents Tech.

If you found this article useful, why not subscribe to this Blog via RSS, or email? It’s easy; just click on this link and you’ll never miss another Tech Thoughts article.

11 Comments

Filed under Google, Instructional Videos, Interconnectivity, Older Adult Computer Users, Recommended Web Sites, Tech Net News

News From Symantec Hosted Services

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We know, only too well, that cyber criminals take advantage of every opportunity that new and emerging technologies provide to expand their trade – data theft.

So, with the huge adoption rate in smart mobile devices, and our increased reliance on these devices (which are literally powerful computers), there is a more pronounced sense of urgency to protect the data stored on these sophisticated mobile devices from the threat of cybercrime.

Symantec Hosted Services, recognizing this need, recently announced enhancements to its MessageLabs Web Security Service roaming support options, that will allow organizations to further support the security needs of their mobile workforce.

According to Symantec – “The new enhancements will monitor and secure the online activity of a highly distributed workforce.  Drawing on findings from the recent MessageLabs Intelligence report highlighting the inappropriate web usage of mobile workers, SmartConnect and RemoteConnect for MessageLabs Hosted Web Security protect against malware, and enforces Web acceptable use policies for teleworkers, or employees, at remote offices.”

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If you’ve noticed a significant drop in Spam in your inboxes lately, like I have, there’s good reason – according to Symantec Hosted Services.

On Sunday, October 3, Symantec Hosted Services noticed that global spam levels dropped to their lowest in a while. Symantec Hosted Services believes this drop was due to a decrease in output by the Rustock and Cutwail botnets.

For additional insight on how Symantec Hosted Services tracked last weekend’s spam drop via sophisticated botnet intelligence, what contribution to global spam each of the major botnets makes, and what factors influence botnet output, check out the MessageLabs  Intelligence blog report here.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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2 Comments

Filed under bots, cell phone, Connected Devices, Email, Enterprise Applications, Malware Reports, MessageLabs, Software, spam, Symantec, System Security, Windows Tips and Tools