Don’t Let Windows 8 Make You Anxious

May 20th, 2013

Don’t Let Windows 8 Make You Anxious

You realize you need a new computer.  So, you then go to the store (or the internet) to begin researching what you can purchase only to find that most newer computers have the Windows 8 operating system on them.

My opinion – Windows 8 is a good operating system.  Of course, as with anything new – there is a learning curve to be able to use all the functions.  Once someone gets used to how it works, it is actually faster and better than previous operating systems.

For the person who is used to Windows XP, I customize their new computer – and would put in a menu bar.

Windows never put in a menu bar.  PC users need a menu bar.  Thus, I download “classic shell”.  Classic Shell is a collection of usability enhancements for Windows. The main features is a highly customizable Start menu which has multiple styles and skins.

Using the classic shell cuts in half the learning curve for this new operating system.  With the classic shell, the screen goes straight to the desktop “look” and not to the tiles.

However, it is wise to note that becoming used to the tiles is a big part of Windows 8 and should be explored as well.  My concern is for the User to become comfortable first by starting with the “desktop look”, and then they can learn about the tiles at their own rate.

Bottom line, computers are a rapidly changing industry.  Computer Care Associates is your ally and we can help you adapt and begin to enjoy your new computer!  Call us at 508-370-8080.  We work remotely or on location.

JONATHAN SHAPIRO, Computer Care Associates

PATIENCE ~ EXPERIENCE ~ SOLUTIONS


Fake Security Warnings

July 27th, 2010

Fake AntiVirus (FakeAV), also known as a “Rogue AntiVirus”, Rogues, or ScareWare, is a class of malware that displays false alert messages to the User concerning threats that do not really exist. These alerts will prompt Users to visit a website where they will be asked to pay for these non-existent threats to be cleaned up. 

The FakeAV will continue to send these annoying and intrusive alerts until a payment is made or …..when professionals like Computer Care Associates get rid of the problem. 

During the last year, the number of FakeAVs has mushroomed. We have seen evidence of this by the number of customers who call us to help them extricate their computer from the clutches of this culprit.

This huge rise in popularity among this type of malware is primarily due to the direct revenue source that FakeAV provides. Compared to other classes of malware  such as backdoor Trojans, downloaders and password stealers, FakeAV draws the User into handing money over directly to the malware author.  FakeAV is also associated with a thriving affiliate network community that makes large amounts of money by  driving traffic toward the stores of their partners.

The more someone tries to escape from the Fake AV Security Messages, the more problems occur.  Users who think they can escape, can’t. It makes it worse.  It is like being tied up, the more you struggle….the tighter the knot becomes.

Those Users who recognize they have a Fake Alert problem are on the right track.

The best action is turn off your computer. Let the professionals clean up the mess!

Call Computer Care Associates (508-370-8080) and we will rid your computer of the FakeAV.


Reliable Computer Software & Products

June 22nd, 2009

One of the best ways to make sure your protection is what you want is to request a 30-day evaluation.   This can also be a problem because “rogue” (phony) software can pretend to give you a “free” scan.  These “free” scans will put viruses and spyware in your computer and blackmail you into purchasing their poor software

Computer Care Associates has personally tested various software applications and recommends certain products.  Check out our LINKS page on our website for recommendations. 

Our own personal experience with certain software products may differ from yours.  Before downloading any of the protections listed, review (or add comments) our BLOG or contact us at 508-370-8080.  Feel free to comment if you have an opinion about certain software products.

For an explanation of our SERVICES, please explore our new website.  We have also included TESTIMONIALS from customers, past and present.  Thank you for your personal referrals and continued associations. 

Computer Care Associates has updated and improved their website.  We encourage your comments and have worked to make our website user-friendly.  Please stop off to visit the new website.  The address is:  www.help4computers.com.


MS Office 2007 & Office 2003 – Compatibility

May 24th, 2009

Many people use MS Office, which is a suite of products (such as Word, Excel, and Powerpoint).  In MS Office, the word processing program is MS Word.  The newest version, Word 2007, saves documents with the extension .docx and these documents (if saved this way) are only able to be read by other computer users who also have the 2007 version.

A study shows that 50% users have Office 2007, while 50% have Office 2003.  When a 2007 user sends a word, excel, or powerpoint document to someone who has Office 2003, the default formats in Office 2007 cannot be read from Office 2003.  To resolve this problem, the Office 2007 user needs to change the default to a format that Lower versions of Office can read.

for MS Word 2007 USERS:

1.      Open Microsoft Word 2007

2.     Click the “Office Button” (top left of your screen), then on the bottom of the list click “Word Options

3.      The “Word Options” window will open.  Now click on “Save” in the left panel
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4.    Change the top option (in the right panel) “save files in this format“ from “Word Document (*.docx)” to “Word 97-2003 Document (*.doc)”

5.    Click “OK” and you’re all done!

for MS Word 2003 USERS:

If you have Office 2003, then you should click on this link and download the following “compatibility pack”

Click Here

This will allow Users with Word 2003 to be able to read and save documents sent to them that were originally created by someone using Word 2007.

Following the above steps will give you the ability to save all your documents as *.doc files, and will save a lot of compatibility headaches!

If you have Word 2007 and still want to save a document in the new *.docx format, just select the new format when saving individual documents.


Internet Websites Can Get “Hacked”

April 15th, 2009

Several legitimate websites have come under attack from hackers who have modified the programming code of these websites.  The hackers do this to distribute malware to unsuspecting users who visit the site. When a user visits an infected site, an invisible connection is established to a remote server, which can then attempt to install malware on the user’s computer. The intention could be to generate spam, or possibly something more sinister, such as stealing personal information e.g. bank account or credit card details.

In 2008, several high-profile websites were targeted, including USA Today, ABC News, Target and Wal-Mart.  Many popular travel and recreational websites have also been compromised. Visiting one of these infected websites could have resulted in the user’s computer being infected.

We suggest installing software called AVAST which has proven over the past months to detect the infections.  AVAST is free for the personal user, and AVAST has recently detected compromised websites for a number of Government sites in the US, including the United States Forest Service, the US International Trade Commission and the websites of several embassies around the world.

AVAST! antivirus will detect and block access to any website that is infected by this threat and will display a warning that a virus has been detected. If Avast! displays this warning, you should discontinue your attempt to connect to that particular website.

Call Computer Care Associates (508-370-8080) to either review your computer if you suspect a virus or malware infection problem, and/or to work with you to install crucial protection for your particular circumstances. No matter what software you use on your computer system, it is essential that your computer has antivirus protection

Be prepared before your computer is infected.  It may never happen, but it is better to put some safeguards in place – think of it as “your assurance that your computer is insured” from an attack from possible internet hackers.


Don’t Try To “Do It Yourself” !

March 1st, 2009

We are all worried about the economic climate.

At Computer Care Associates, we are sensitive to different changes in circumstances.

With our help you don’t need to let your computer frustrate you, and you won’t be frustrated by your computer!

Call COMPUTER CARE ASSOCIATES at the First Sign of a Problem

When it comes to keeping your computer working well and running smoothly, you can’t ignore maintenance, backups, improving skills and basically keeping your computer up-to-date.

In this economy, people are taking longer to decide to clean and service their computer.  Unfortunately, the longer you wait, the more corrupt your computer becomes.

At Computer Care Associates, we have made an effort to charge reasonable flat rates, discount labor charges and provide free diagnostics.

That’s right – the initial diagnostic service on your computer is free!  After we complete the diagnosis (usually in the first hour), we will call you and let you know what the results are.  We will tell you the cost to repair your computer, and if it is too expensive – we will honestly let you know that it might not be worth the expense.  In fact, we may help you with a purchase instead that is more cost effective in the long run.

If you need our services for repairs or to get rid of extensive virus infections – we charge a flat rate of $195.00 (no matter how long it takes to be virus free).

BACK UP YOUR DATA

An organized computer makes backing up the data much easier and more efficient.  You won’t be able to back up applications, only data and pictures.

Applications are the software programs that either came with the computer or programs you have purchased.  They often are CD’s, and you should try to keep them all in one place.  This is partly because if you ever need to re-install a program you have it, but also – if you had a virus or your hard drive crashed, you might have to re-do your computer.  You would have to then reinstall all the programs and data that you (hopefully) had saved back into the computer.

Before backing up any data, you will need to know the SIZE requirements of your BACKUP:  You will need to find out how much memory (in terms of Gigabytes) the backup will need.  That will let us know what size of a backup you will require – flash drive, external hard drive, server, off-site/remote (like Carbonite or Mozy), etc.


How did I get that Virus (or Spyware)?

February 1st, 2009

After diagnosing computers that come into the office with Viruses and Spyware —–  the question is always “how did I get these in my computer?”  The answer is never exact, because the problems are masked and it is difficult to determine exactly where the malware came from.

However there are actions that bring in the culprits.  What follows is a quick list of what can and should be avoided.

1.        However much your children or you want free music, never download files from Limewire, Kazza, Frostwire or any other free downloading service called “Peer-to-Peer” Networks.  These are frought with malware and are easily (and invisibly) passed from one computer to the next.

2.       Downloading Programs that haven’t been carefully reviewed.  I’m referring to “free anti-virus scanners”, toolbars, smileys, games etc.  I test products first before referring them to others.  You can call me up (508-370-8080) to ask me about a product before downloading something you suspect may be bogus.

3.       Don’t open an email attachment if it is from someone you don’t know, or if it contains strange attachments.  Don’t accept strange messages from others using a messenger program.  Even links can be dangerous to click on.  Be cautious!

4.       Finally, don’t visit adult-oriented sites!

Many Internet Providers such as Verizon, Comcast, RCN, etc. offer anti-virus protection for their customers.  For example, I have a customer whose computer has 256MB of memory.  In this particular case, the Internet Provider all but forced the customer to install a “Suite” of Protection.  An Anti-Virus Suite, needs (at the minimum) 1-2 GB of memory in order to run.

SYSTEM RESTORE

Never use SYSTEM RESTORE in an attempt to remove malware.  It will not do any good as System Restore only monitors and restores certain Windows files.  In addition, attempting System Restore on an infected computer will bury the bad files deeper in the Registry making them more difficult (or impossible) to remove.  It may appear that System Restore removed the infection, but it is still there, just flying further under the radar.

Internet Providers

Does their Anti-virus Protection work?

In my experience, I have seen many computers whose systems are running McAfee antivirus, Norton Antivirus, even Trend Micro Antivirus without first determining the amount of memory in that computer.

Lo and behold, these popular anti-virus products are not effective.  I have found many viruses in a computer even with retail antivirus products.

Also, do not use registry cleaners/optimizers. They will not help and have the potential to do great harm.


Your Computer’s Resources

December 1st, 2008

Your computer uses RAM (random-access memory) for quick, short-term storage.

Programs store their instructions in RAM when they run, so RAM determines how many programs you can open at once, the size of the files you can open in programs, and, to some extent, how fast a program executes its instructions.

Where do I Find the Information about My Computer’s Resources

STEP 1
Start your computer and locate the My Computer icon.

STEP 2
Right-click on your mouse when you touch it to the My Computer icon, and select Properties from the menu that appears.

STEP 3
Look under the General tab.  This is where you can find out information about the size of your hard drive, what operating system your computer has, and the amount of RAM in megabytes (MB) or Gigabytes (GB).

STEP 4

If you just [left] clicked on the My Computer icon with your mouse, you will need to follow this STEP 4.

Next, click on View System Information. Write down this information (your Computer’s hard drive size; OS; and RAM in MB or GB).

What Might Cause My Computer to Run Slowly

After you download some new software program, have you noticed your computer is running more slowly or is quite sluggish?

These days, computers require more memory to run faster and more efficiently because the newer and more recent computer programs use more memory (and more of your computer’s resources).

As an example, two drains on the resources of your computer are:

(1) Some Anti-virus protections

(2) AOL

Memory

If you have installed either Norton AntiVirus or McAfee on your computer, your computer should have at least 1 GB of memory.

Most memory is inexpensive, so upgrading your computer’s memory doesn’t have to be a costly proposition.  Depending on the make and model of your computer, prices vary, but now is a good time to increase the memory your computer has to run the anti-virus programs and other software (such as AOL).

Computer Care Associates will order the correct memory for your computer, and install it for a mimimal labor charge.


With Appreciation

November 1st, 2008

It’s the time of year when we’re reminded to give thanks.

Instead of waiting until next year to be reminded, we are thankful every day. May you and yours have a safe and memorable Thanksgiving.

It tends to sound like a cliche, but based on the economic trends and the time of year, loyal (and new) customers are always welcome!

We at Computer Care Associates wanted to THANK our customers and clients for using our computer services.

When you call us with a computer issue, if it requires an on-site visit (to a home or office setting) – we try to fit it into the schedule within 4 hours if a crisis and within a day or two if not as urgent.

Although not every problem can be easily solved, we work diligently on your behalf to clean out even the most pesky and dangerous of viruses and spyware.

AWARENESS & SWIFT ACTION ARE CRUCIAL

This time of year, there are more sneaky and dangerous malware and viruses that can come into your computer.

If your computer is acting funny or you’ve noticed a recent change, that could be a sign that your computer is infected with something. CALL 508-370- 8080!

Basic common sense should prevail.

  1. Don’t click on an attachment from someone you don’t know.
  2. Be wary of prices and software or hardware for sale that comes unsolicited and that sounds ‘too good to be true.’

Keep your anti-virus protection up-to-date.  Call the office (508-370-8080) for product information.

Remote Access – Saves Time & Money

Computer Care Associates can connect remotely to your computer to repair and provide support services. All you need is an internet connection (cable, not dial- up) for this to occur.

We can log into your home or business, a hotel suite while telecommuting, or even through local wireless ‘hotspots’.

Our friendly online technicians can remotely solve your computer repair and support needs wherever you happen to be. Just sit back and watch as our technician remotely controls your mouse and keyboard to diagnose and fix your computer problems or to demonstrate an application.

If it turns out that the issue cannot be fixed remotely, we will arrange for one of our technicians to come to your location and provide on-site computer repair.

Remote access is not available for dial-up connections. The cost is $65 per incident.

Please note that server-related problems have a different pricing structure.

Prices are subject to change.

Instruction

Individual instruction or small classes offered at Framingham office location.

Sample areas covered are:

  • Beginning Excel
  • MS Word
  • Outlook email program
  • Internet surfing and research for the beginner
  • Optimizing Your Computer.

Each meeting session is 1-2 hours (depending on the number of students and the subject matter). Minimum is 2 meetings (2-4 hours instruction).

Off- site instruction for groups or individuals can be arranged for a separate fee structure.

Please be sure to inquire about what current courses our technicians may be teaching through a local continuing education program. Prices are subject to change.

CUSTOMER APPRECIATION

So, in closing – Thank you again for your referrals, continued loyalty and call-backs.

Your testimonials are heartwarming, and your feedback is invaluable.


“Fake Alerts” Are A Sign Of Trojan Viruses

October 1st, 2008

Recently our office has been servicing many computers that come in with Fake Security Alerts.  These attempt to trick people into purchasing “rogue” anti-spyware.

The definition of “rogue” is: Rogue security software is software that uses malware (malicious software) or malicious tools to advertise or install itself or to force computer users to pay for removal of nonexistent malware. Rogue software will often install a trojan horse to download a trial version of software.

Unfortunately, the hackers who do this will use several methods to lure you into buying this phoney security software.

The longer you wait, the worse it gets.  If the “rogue” software sends you one trojan virus, they multiply and infest your computer.

The trick used is the program uploads trojan viruses into your computer, then gives you a warning that “there are viruses that need to be fixed”.  The problem is if you become a victim of this scam and you purchase their software, you are not better off at all!

If you see this happening to your computer call us at 508-370-8080.  Hesitation to act in many cases makes the matter worse.