With all the choices in antivirus software, it is obvious that consumers wonder which one is best. The answer for the last five years or so has been: They're all good at protection, but some will interfere with benign activities on your PC more than others. I recommend Eset's NOD32, not because it's the best at protection, but instead because it is the least likely to 'gum up the works,' slow your PC down, or go off like an old radar detector or a nervous, bored dog who barks when a leaf blows.
In my testing, it is 10 times more important to keep your operating system, browsers, apps, and plugins up to date than it is to have the 'best' antivirus software.
How do I test for malware vulnerability? I create a dummy computer, put it on the Internet, and I visit Websites that are likely to (or are known to) infect computers with malware. Am I worried that the malware that I purposely expose my 'dummy' computer to will infect my other computers? No, because that's not how malware works anymore. Spreading to other PCs on a network is the behavior of older viruses, ones that were created more for vandalism and notoriety than to make money.
These are some of the things I learn from my malware testing:
-I find it more difficult to get my dummy computer infected than I thought it would be. The probable reason for this is that the dummy computer has not had time to collect the barnacles of spyware, adware, and browser hijacks that I end up finding on my customer's infected PCs.
-A PC with all legitimate updates applied, but no antivirus at all is much more secure than a PC with antivirus but no updates. Yes, even with top of the line antivirus, malware can get in.
The moral is: Malware defense is multi-faceted, and antivirus is typically not the most important facet. I would compare it to weight loss. Which is more important for losing weight, diet or exercise? Sadly, diet is typically more important for weight loss. In this analogy, I would compare diet to updates and exercise to antivirus.
In other words, regarding malware avoidance, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Above you see my Google Maps results when searching from my office in Minnetonka with the Epic browser. I did a local search for "computer repair near me" and the Epic browser is telling Google that I am in Singapore. If you are concerned about the ads you receive or the data that is collected about you when surfing the Web, then the Epic browser can help lessen these privacy concerns.
What Epic cannot do:
No browser alone can completely hide all of your surfing activity from (a) your ISP (e.g., Comcast, Centurylink) or (b) the government. There are cumbersome and complex ways to accomplish complete anonymity, but I'm not going to get into that here. It really is, for the most part, a situation where if you are innocent, you have nothing to fear (regarding your ISP and the government seeing your Internet use).
What Epic can do:
Using the Epic browser will make it much harder for entities like Facebook, Google, or any other advertising business that makes money from spying on your Internet use; harder to gear (possibly embarrassing) ads based on what you searched for in another browser tab, and harder to gather personal or impersonal data about you.
The main browsers (Edge, Firefox, Chrome) sell themselves as being able to offer a private browsing experience, but they typically fail to do so. Even add-ons for each of these browsers often fail to provide what the Epic browser offers as built-in features.
Some of us (myself included) have either a flippant or a 'head in the sand' attitude toward privacy concerns. But some of us are understandably a little paranoid about who is watching what we do on our computer. Using the Epic browser makes your attack surface smaller, regarding entities like Facebook or Google watching and collecting data on what we do online, and that is an important consideration with the Cambridge Analytica debacle.
Download the Epic browser here:
For most people, any one of these devices (SmartTV, Roku, or AppleTV) will be just fine. The exceptions would be:
-People who want to run a specific streaming service that is only available on certain streaming service devices, such as Amazon (until recently, when AppleTV added Amazon access) or iTunes.
-People who consume a lot of varied content, such as enjoying both YouTube and Crackle.
At this time, only the main paid channels (Netflix, Amazon, HBOGO) work reliably on all three devices. Things like YouTube, movie trailers, or viewing content on a network hard drive only work sporadically on any of these devices. For instance, the YouTube app works quite well on AppleTV, but is slow and cumbersome on a Roku. Many apps on older SmartTVs are utterly impossible to use, while newer SmartTVs do some things (YouTube and DLNA server access) better than either Roku or AppleTV.
I only mean for this to be confusing or daunting to those who (a) watch a lot of TV and (b) are picky about what they watch. Using these devices is an excellent way to increase the quantity and quality of the shows you watch, but at this time, there is no 'one size fits all' solution.
For the average person, the best choice is probably a SmartTV to start with, if for no other reason than to lessen the amount of remotes you have on the table. If a SmartTV isn't sufficient, then investigate which device will best serve your needs. This changes for the better and for the worse regularly. A current example of this is that Amazon's fire will no longer offer YouTube because of a recent battle with another tech giant, that being Google.
Feel free to ask me here or elsewhere which device is best for you.
Most inkjet printers are junk, pure and simple. The cheaper models tend to be worse, but even cost is not a reliable predictor of whether an inkjet printer will become a liability. Inkjet printer manufacturers do not put much 'love' into the design of these junkers, and most of the components are not feasible to fix if they go bad. Common problems you'll encounter with an inkjet printer are:
Disclaimer: This advice is for the home user and some small business owners. If you work in a corporate environment, consult you I.T. staff regarding password management methods.
It may seem old school or not-secure, but using an alphabetized address book may be the best way to manage your passwords. Let's look at the main options for password management:
-Using one or three passwords for all the different Websites you access
-A password management program, such as LastPass
-Password encryption schemes, such as using acronyms for phrases (e.g. IALTPSAS = I'm a little teapot short and stout) and maybe adding a number to the beginning or end (e.g. 22ialtpsas).
-Keeping passwords in a Microsoft Word document on the hard drive of your computer.
Except for the first and last options in the above list, all of these are viable and relatively secure options. The problem with them is that they may not be feasible for most computer users. You probably have at least a few passwords written down, but they may be scattered about. You may have your passwords written in a book or on a sheet of paper that has lots of other information, therefore making finding your passwords more difficult.
Until other methods of authentication are available, convenient, and widely accepted, password management is here to stay. The future may bring keyboards that can sense who is using them, widely applied thumbprint scanners, facial recognition and other authentication methods that may make keeping track of passwords a smaller burden.
You see, if you have shared resources (e.g., printers, network attached storage, etc...) on your network, you have to be on the same street (with different house numbers) in order to see and use network resources. If you have the same wireless network name (AKA 'SSID') and wireless password sprouting from both your gateway and Google WiFi, you probably won't have problems getting on the Internet, but you will likely have half your devices connecting to the gateway and half connecting to Google WiFi.
This is a problem because with home networking, you need to be on the same street to see each other on the network. Being on the same street on a network means that you have the same first three octets of your IP address the same. If you haven't changed or disabled the WiFi settings on your gateway before setting up Google Wifi, then half your devices may have an IP address that starts with 10 and half will have IP addresses that start with 192. If you have a wireless printer, it might end up with an IP address of 10.0.0.54 and if you're trying to print from a computer that has an IP address of 192.168.86.33, the computer will not 'see' the wireless printer, even though the wireless printer perceives itself to have a healthy connection to a network.
Possibly the most challenging part of this is locating your gateway's username and password combo. Don't forget to try the default of username: admin and password: password.
Setting up a wireless printer entails either (a) using a software 'wizard' from the manufacturer or (b) setting it up manually. If the software wizard fails, then you're left with having to set up your wireless printer manually.
To manually set up your wireless printer, you'll need to (a) use WPS, where you push the WPS button on the printer and then (within 2 minutes) push the WPS button on your router or (b) use the tiny LCD screen (shown above) and laboriously find the place to enter your wireless password so that your wireless printer joins your wireless network.
Once your wireless printer is successfully added to your network, then Macs, iPhones, iPads, and Droid phones should all be able to find it without any trouble. On the other hand, PCs often have trouble finding network printers, even when other devices are able to print without a problem.
If your PC can't easily find your wireless printer, you can add it manually. The first part of this process is to find out the IP address of your wireless printer. This can be done by (a) working within the tiny LCD screen or (b) logging into your router's administration page and looking for your printer in the 'attached devices' section.
After figuring out the IP address of your wireless printer, adding a wireless printer manually on a PC entails these steps: (a) Click on the gear icon after clicking the start button, (b) choose devices, (b) choose printers and scanners, (d) choose add printer or scanner, (e) if it fails to find your printer, choose 'the printer that I want isn't listed', then 'add printer by TCP/IP address or hostname' and type in the IP address of your printer and click next.
If you have trouble setting up your wireless printer, the two hardest parts of this process would be working with the tiny, clunky LCD interface on your wireless printer or logging into your router to find out the IP address of your wireless printer. Feel free to call me for assistance. I will give you 10 - 15 minutes of free support.
These Indian scammers are insidious, but most of them are not skilled hackers. If you let someone from India take over your computer, a malware scan is in order, but odds are that you do not have a new virus. There are exceptions, one of the most common being that the scammer got frustrated with your reluctance to give him or her a credit card or bank routing number and went ahead and deleted some of your personal files as an act of vandalism. Less likely (because it requires skill) would be to run some malware on your computer. The latter scenario is possible but not probable.
The primary goal of Indian scammers is to impress you with their ability to take over your computer and move the mouse around, showing you what are completely normal activities and logs (e.g., MSCONFIG, Event Viewer, CMD-TREE) and to falsely characterize them as indicating that your computer is infected or otherwise malfunctioning. It is like the scams that used to happen at oil change places, where they show naive car owners a very dirty air filter, making a case that the car owner's air filter needs replacement.
You know the saying "fool me once, shame on me...", well forget that, no shame on you. And don't let others shame you for allowing yourself to fall victim to this. Sadly, the world we live in includes this kind of victimization.
Repairing a slow computer is usually not an arduous process. PCs usually get slow because of junk accumulation and too many narcissistic 'helper' programs loading at startup. It is a fallacy that a full hard drive causes a slow PC. It is actually rare that having too many files on your computer causes it to be slow. The three main tools to start off with in attempting to repair a slow computer are MSCONFIG, Task Manager, and Ccleaner.
MSCONFIG and Task Manager are the primary tools you use to stop useless processes and services from loading at startup. Regarding your computer being slow, think of your operating system (Windows or Macintosh) as a teacher with a classroom full of children. Some of the children are well behaved and some of them are not, but as more children enter the classroom and begin begging for attention, the teacher gets distracted and cannot do his or her job as well. It can take experience to know which processes and services to turn off, so if you haven't worked with MSCONFIG or Task Manager before, I advise you to turn off one service at a time and then reboot your computer to make sure everything still works. You can accidentally turn off your video or the relationship with your printer if you're not careful turning off processes or services.
Ccleaner can be run before or after MSCONFIG and Task Manger. Ccleaner may not have as direct of an impact on repairing a slow computer, but it will most likely make your WWW browsers work faster and better.
I will optimize your PC or Macintosh computer with these three tools for $30. If that does not improve performance markedly, then other software-related steps can be taken or it might be necessary to upgrade hardware.
The main two hardware upgrades that can speed up a slow computer are increasing the amount of memory in your computer and switching to an SSD (solid state drive). Increasing the amount of memory in your computer is typically a quick and reasonably priced process ($80 total for parts and labor), whereas switching over to a solid state drive is not as quick or as cheap, but has better odds of improving the performance of your computer.
If you have a Macintosh, the same software-related or hardware-related steps are taken, except that you use Macintosh software tools first to attempt to repair a slow Macintosh computer. On a Macintosh, the parallel programs are System Preferences>>Users and Groups>>Login Items and a 3rd party program called Onyx. If taking those steps does not markedly speed up your Macintosh, then the exact same hardware-related steps could be taken (i.e., upgrading memory or to a solid state drive). Depending on the Macintosh you own, either of these steps could be quite arduous, due to many Macintoshes (iMacs and some Macbooks) being specifically designed to be difficult to upgrade.
Give us a call if your computer is slow. It is possible that we can do some quick fixes over the phone or that your wireless Internet speed is the culprit (especially on the Macintosh).
Gentle, no-nonsense advice and perspectives on technology.