Malware and Spyware

How To Protect Your Computer Against Malware and Spyware

What is Malware and Spyware?

The first step in knowing how to protect your computer from unwanted visitors such as malware and spyware is knowing what these harmful programs are. Malware is a software that works to damage computers, often targeting the hard drive and preventing the computer from functioning properly. Spyware is similar in its destructive nature, it allows another user to hack into your computer from their own computer, and obtain personal information that you have stored within your hard drive. The information they have access to could range from search history to important identification details (social security number, address, legal files, and photos).

How do I know if my computer is infected?

  1. Unwanted or unexpected pop-ups – if opening a browser unleashes a fury of new windows opening rapidly then you have a security issue.
  2. If there are new toolbars or bookmarks that you did not download/create, then it is possible a program has done that for you.
  3. Slow or noticeable decreases in internet connectivity – if your ability to search and use the internet is reduced to a crawl because pages are not loading as quickly as they used to, then there could be a bigger problem at work.
  4. If programs start running automatically or unprompted this could mean your hard drive has been infiltrated.
  5. If your computer starts to crash frequently, then there could be destructive software that has corrupted your operating system.

How do I protect my computer?

Natural Defenses:

Your computer is equipped with internal software that is essential to the prevention of both malware and spyware.

  1. The first line of defense are pop-up blockers. It is essential to your computer’s safety that you ensure your pop-up blockers are enabled. These will prevent additional windows that could potentially contain harmful information from being opened when you are browsing the Internet.
  2. The next line of defense is your computer’s firewalls. It is important to make sure that within your settings, your firewalls are enabled. This program acts as a barrier between the harmful software and your hard drive. While you are browsing the Internet, it prevents outside sources from downloading packets of information to your computer.
  3. In addition to this, it is important to keep your system up to date. This means downloading and installing your system’s updates as they become available. The companies behind your computer’s software (Windows, Apple, etc…) provide these new security components periodically for a reason. As time goes on, the programs initially installed within your computer go out of date, which means they will fail to thoroughly protect your hard drive against both malware and spyware. By downloading the newest update, you are making sure that your computer continues to be equipped with the proper tools to prevent attacks from these outside threats.

Being Aware:

After you ensure that all of the programs that your computer is equipped with are up and running effectively, you can further help improve your computer’s defenses by looking out for suspicious activity.

  1. Do not open emails or messages from sources that you do not know.
  2. Do not visit any odd or unidentifiable websites.
  3. Do not allow websites to download any data directly to your computer unless you know it is 100% safe.
  4. Always make sure to keep important information password protected.

In order to prevent malware and spyware attacks, it is important to follow all of the tips and steps listed above. The health of your computer is a direct result of how well you take care of it, and how well you take advantage of the programs that are provided to you. Be a responsible computer owner, use your pop-up blockers, firewalls and keep your systems up to date.

Fire up the grill!

How To Cook the Perfect Steak

With summer coming it’s time to dust off the old barbecue that has been sitting in the garage and get down to some serious grilling. One of the biggest favorites is of course steak, but a lot of people have trouble getting it just right and end up with a steak that’s good, but could be better. Let’s take a look at how to cook the perfect steak.

 

Preparing a good steak starts way before you even set eyes on the barbecue: in the store. You have several options to choose from depending on what you like and what you’re willing to spend. Those with a bigger budget can opt for a cut of prime meat, while others can choose to have skirt and hanger steaks; as long as you cook it well, you’ll be hard-pressed to tell the difference.

 

Once you’ve bought the steak you want and have taken it home, make sure your grill is good and clean: a dirty grill will make even the best piece of meat taste like ash, a real waste. Clean the grill, then set a hot fire on it: don’t let the steak anywhere near the grill until it’s as hot as it can be. This will char the meat instantly, sealing in the flavor and making it taste all the better when it comes off.

 

Meanwhile, as the grill heats up, take the meat out of the fridge and let it warm up for a while: a cold steak right out of the fridge won’t cook as evenly as a room-temperature one will. A good chef controls whatever he is cooking by both checking the temperature of the meat as well as that of the grill or pan. This way, you won’t get any nasty surprises in the form of under- or over-cooked meat.

 

With the grill hot and the steak at room temperature, you’re ready to start the actual cooking. Do not use oil on a grill: it causes flare-ups, which can burn the meat or cook it unevenly; in either case the flavor is not as good as it could be. A good steak will have enough fat that it won’t stick to a hot grill, which is why you’re making it so hot.

 

As the steak cooks, make sure to not only turn it, but rotate it as well: grills aren’t the same temperature everywhere so make sure your steak cooks evenly by moving it around a little. The object is to ensure that the meat cooks evenly and that it’s the same flavor no matter what part you eat.

 

Last but not least, and this really is the hardest part, when you’re done, when the steak is cooked to perfection and you’re ready to tear into it, let it rest for a few minutes. It’s painful, but letting it rest seals in the flavor, making for a better experience overall. Patience is rewarded – bon appetit!

streaming movie services

Best Streaming Movie Services

At this moment, an entire generation of movie watchers has no idea what a Blockbuster is or what it is like to take a trip through the rows of movies in a Hollywood Video. Now, we can stream movies with the click of a button or a controller toggle. We do not have to wait weeks for someone to return the hot releases, and we definitely do not have to pay a fee forgetting to rewind the movie before returning it to the store. It’s no wonder why we have switched from video stores to streaming. Many companies now allow user to rent and stream movies, but which services are the best? We have a few suggestions.

Understanding the Best Streaming Services

The streaming service you select depends on a few factors: how often you watch movies, the type of device you use for streaming, and the types of movies you seek (new releases, classics, or foreign titles). The list does not include Apple or Google Play services.

  1. Netflix

Netflix is the number-one streaming choice for consumers. Movie junkies who love documentaries, Indie films and hard-to-get titles often choose to Netflix. However, the $7.99 a month is often only worth it if you binge watch Netflix-exclusive shows and other television series. Netflix isn’t known for having new releases, and some titles are still only available on DVD, which you have to pay more for to have the titles delivered to your home. The cult following Netflix has acquired in a short amount of time certainly should change the way business is done and how often new titles are released.

  1. Vudu and M-GO

Vudu is a movie streaming service that does not require a monthly fee. The service is ideal for users who do not watch movies all the time. At $2.99 to $4.99 a pop, the benefits of rent-as-you-go are not as attractive as monthly subscriptions. M-GO is a similar service. Many times, if you cannot find a recent movie on any other service, you can find it on M-GO. M-GO even has a section titled ‘Favorites Not on Netflix.’ Ouch. Users can rent a movie from $4.99 and can buy from $13.99.

  1. Amazon

Amazon prides itself on having the new titles Netflix does not carry. Amazon has over 150,000 videos, and 40,000 titles are available with an Amazon Prime subscription. Netflix offers 75,000 bonus titles. An Amazon Prime membership costs $99 a year, and it cannot be billed monthly. Amazon Prime is one of the only services that also allows individual title rentals with Amazon Instant Video. If you do not want all the benefits of prime, a-la-carte rentals start at $4.99 and purchases start at $14.99

       4. Hulu

Hulu Plus is $7.99 a month. Hulu is ideal for viewers, who want to be caught up their favorite television shows or news stations, but the verdict is still out about the movie streaming service, and Hulu is one of the only services that makes viewers sit through ads. Chances are you will not recognize many of the movie titles listed on the site.

byod

What Everyone Needs to Know About BYOD

Today, virtually everyone is connected to the World Wide Web via some type of electronic device. Whether it’s a Smartphone, a laptop a tablet or some other device, the wealth of knowledge available on the Internet is readily available.

Given that so many people are connected, a new practice has surfaced in the business world – Bring Your Own Device, or BYOD, as it is affectionately called. With this trend, businesses allow their employees to bring their own devices to work in order to conduct work-related tasks. This practice can greatly cut overhead costs, as business owners don’t need to invest in devices or software for their employees, which naturally boosts the bottom line.

However, before you jump on the BYOD bandwagon, there are some things that are pretty important for you to know.

Not For Everyone

What works well for one business may not work well for another. That goes with all aspects of business, including BYOD. Just because one business has great success utilizing this program in one way doesn’t mean that all businesses will have success using the same method. BYOD is definitely not a cookie cutter model. You’ll need to assess your business and adjust your standards and practices regarding BYOD according to your needs.

The Productivity Debate

There’s no denying that BYOD can increase productivity. It makes sense that workers will be able to perform more tasks with ease when they are using their own devices, which they are already familiar with. However, use of their personal devices can also become counterproductive. For example, employees may be tempted to use their devices in ways that are not related to work, which could definitely impact levels of productivity.

In order to keep productivity in check, you may want to limit the types of apps that your employees are able to download to their devices. For example, you may want to ban the installation of Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Potential Security Issues

There is the possibility that security could become an issue. Vital data can become lost or stolen. In order to limit the risk of such issues, certain policies can be implanted that will protect information. For example, you could limit the use of data that involves sensitive information to be used in the office only, or you could have all business data removed should an employee no longer work with the company.

Training is Necessary

Though your employees will already know how to use their devices, that doesn’t mean that training isn’t necessary; you’re employees need to be trained on how they are supposed to use their devices at work. They also need to know how to implement the best security practices so that valuable information is not compromised. This training should be comprehensive and on-going so that employees can stay abreast of BYOD.

If executed properly BYOD can certainly enhance the success of your business.

spam filtering

Benefits of Spam Filtering for Office Email

We have seen big corporations fall like Ozymandias with just one click on a corrupted email link. Criminals are experts at disguising spam email as legitimate correspondence. Once an unsuspecting user clicks on an outside link or responds to the infected message, the entire company becomes the target of malicious and devastating activity. A virus or a hacker can worm through a company, often undetected, and cause great harm to the company, its employees, its partners, and the clients or customers who place their trust in the business. Everything can fall after one email. Companies must consider spam filtering to protect the integrity of the institution.

Four Benefits of Spam Filtering

On March 6, the Associated Press reported that hackers stole over 1 billion email addresses from marketing companies in a spam email scheme. The criminals were not only successful in gaining access to the computer systems via malicious spam emails, but the hack was successful in tricking the marketing companies own system in sending out the hacked emails to employees. The criminals made $2 million in commissions for software and products sold by the websites in the infected emails. Companies must consider spam filtering for a number of important reasons.

1. Ensures emails you do want make it through

When spam inundates a mailbox, the real mail can find itself being dumped out with the trash. Spam prevents important and legitimate correspondence from reaching the intended audience. Spam filtering blocks the junk and prevents it from hitting the inbox in the first place. Instead of the user having to take time out of his/her work day to shuffle through numerous emails, trying to decide which ones are legitimate and which ones are phony, the employee can get back to work and focus on the business. Blocking spam also keeps networks and servers running smoothly and efficiently.

2. Complies with data security and email regulations

Many companies and businesses are held to strict privacy standards and regulations for their computer systems and correspondence. Spam filtering assists companies with remaining compliant and up-to-date on security.

3. Virus filters prevent and block threats

The spam filter’s sole purpose is to prevent and block threats. An individual user alone is not equipped with the sophisticated software and technology needed to identify properly spam email and threatening messages. Often, dangerous emails appear innocent and legitimate, but when a user is asked to click on an outside link, chaos ensues. Sometimes the effects are immediately noticed or visible and other times, the lingering effects or the intrusion go on for days, weeks, or even months undetected. A sophisticated spam filtering system has the ability to remove completely the risk and likelihood of intrusion.

4. Preserves the company’s image and reputation

The company’s image and reputation depend on the effectiveness of the above-mentioned points. A company that fails to protect client data, infects its uses with viruses, and suffers embarrassing data disasters struggle to recover from such events. Not only can companies face financial losses, fines, public embarrassment, and lawsuits, but the future success of the company is compromised as well.

Texas Charity

Texas Charity Roundup

Giving to charity feels good. Knowing that the charities you support are truly making a difference feels great. How do you find the good ones? Below is a list of some local Texas charities, some with national ties.

Whether it’s your money, your time or your hand-me-downs, you can help the less fortunate members of your community. First, we’ll showcase a few worthwhile causes that are currently accepting monetary donations directly or via a fundraiser.

Double-Click Computer Project

The Double-Click project increases independence for people with disabilities by giving them access to reasonably priced, refurbished computers for personal finances, and communicating online. The project is a multi-organizational initiative to aid Texans with disabilities. Easter Seals Central Texas partners with the Texas Technology Access Program and Goodwill Central Texas to provide the computer and basic technical assistance.

Double Click Project offers a loan program for those who have no other resources to attain a refurbished computer. A person with a disability living in Texas may contact the ESCT-CHS offices for the opportunity.

Project MEND, a Pass It On Center

Project MEND, Medical Equipment Network for those with Disabilities provides medical equipment and assistive technology to low-income people in Texas.

Assistive technology (AT) is any item that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of disabled individuals.

Types of AT:

  • communication boards
  • special computers
  • prosthetics, walkers, braces, wheel chairs
  • special keyboards
  • screen readers, telephone communication software
  • electronic devices, educational software, mobile power lifts

The Pass It On Center: National Collaboration for the Reutilization and Coordination of Assistive Technology. This is a concept that was born out of need. From humble beginnings as a grassroot campaign, Pass It On has grown to providing Assistive Technology nationwide to those people who would otherwise go without.

Volunteer Opportunities

Time is a valuable commodity as well. There are many volunteer opportunities in Texas, and many more nationwide.

Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children

Being a sick kid is no fun, but being a sick kid stuck in the hospital is worse. Volunteers at TSRCH have programs for Adults and Juniors to help bring some normalcy to kids that are in the hospital. From helping in the kitchen to playing games with the kids, volunteers really make a difference in making a difficult time a little happier.

For more information, or to apply: http://www.tsrhc.org/volunteer

North Texas Food Bank

Volunteers are critical to keeping this organization up and running. As a distribution center, the NTFB sorts and packs food for 250 partner agencies -serving over a hundred thousand Texans. Some of the 250 partners could also use a hand; grocery delivery to seniors, stocking school pantries, and even working in the community gardens.

http://web.ntfb.org/page.aspx?pid=273

In-Kind Donations

While gathering the charities for this list, I located several web pages dedicated to accepting in kind donations all over Texas. There are so many worthwhile ones, that I found it too difficult to narrow it down to just two or three. In every city, there are non-profits looking to feel a need.

kitchen technology

The Future of Kitchen Technology

Move over Rosie the maid, the future of the house chef is nothing like we saw on the Jetsons. Amazing new kitchen technology already exists, and with many more innovations on the horizon. Take a look at what we have in store for us to make our culinary lives easier, more efficient, healthier, and visually dazzling. Science and art are intermingling with the brightest minds, resulting in culinary quarters like nothing you’ve ever imagined.

Nutrima by Electrolux

This gadget is still in the developmental stages, but it will change the way you eat and what you choose to put in your mouth, forever. The idea is a scale that charges by bending it. It’s constructed of the latest material in flexible technologies, combined with piezoelectricity. Nutrima will be able to analyze the food’s quality including: weight, freshness level, amount of toxins it carries, and it’s nutritional value and makeup.

3D in the Kitchen

Miele has a concept in the works, which is a range that will scan your hand to gather personal data. Next, 3D technology lets the scanner calculate our nutritional needs by easily putting a palm down on the range. Once the information is collected, which includes real-time analytics, we will know what our body requires at the time for calories and nutrients. Even better, it provides the user with recipes on a display screen that are appropriate to meet their dietary needs. Miele assures us that as far fetched as this idea sounds, it will be a common fixture on day.

Pantelligent Smart Frying Pan

This handy appliance is currently available and will make sure you never overcook anything again. Synced with an iPhone app, Pantelligent oversees the cooking of your chicken, fish, steak, or whatever you’re frying up. The app allows you to check the temperature at any time, without having to prod it with a fork, and it lets you know when its ready.

Seafood Walls

It has been predicted that in the future, you won’t have to go to the market to get your shrimp. This is because sea plant life and edible fish will be grown right in your kitchen. The wall will be stocked with a tank, much like an aquarium. Instead of keeping this marine life as a pet, you’ll be growing it and harvesting it for consumption.

Solar Powered Kitchens

Another concept for future kitchens is one that runs on total solar power. The idea is that solar bricks that are glass-like will make up the roof and external walls of the kitchen. Renewable solar energy will be harnessed to power the appliances, grow plants, and make your kitchen self-sufficient.

work lunches

5 Healthy Lunch Ideas for Work

Opting for a greasy fast food for lunch will leave you sluggish, and negatively affect your productivity in the workplace. Not to mention it gets costly to eat out all the time. Our own Charlene at Just Call the IT Guy loves to explore the latest kitchen gadgets to compliment her passion for cooking. This passion has helped us compile a list of healthy lunch ideas for work that won’t break the bank, and taste good too. The trick is to keep your meal balanced with low-fat protein and carbohydrates that will keep you going for the remainder of your day.

 Let’s Get Cookin’ With Char

Here are 5 delicious and healthy lunch ideas for work:

  1. Hummus Wrap: Use a whole-wheat tortilla, instead of flour. Inside it, include your favorite hummus flavor, sliced tomatoes, romaine lettuce, black olives and feta cheese. This way you get a good balance that includes healthy fats with your protein and carbs.

 

  1. Mediterranean Shrimp and Pasta: Those who follow a Mediterranean diet tend to live longer. Prepare this pasta dish ahead of time and you can get a few meals out of it. Cook 16 oz angel hair pasta, and add to it 1 cup kalamata olives, ½ cup capers, and 4 oz feta cheese for the Mediterranean flavor. Put in 1 lb peeled and cooked shrimp, and 1 cup of chopped tomatoes for antioxidants and lean protein. For immunity during the flu season, add garlic to your liking.

 

  1. Black Bean and Barley Salad: For added fiber in your diet, this salad is perfect. Start with a cup of uncooked pearl barley, and prepare according to directions. Combine with a 15-oz can of black beans, pint of halved cherry tomatoes, ½ cup of green pepper, 2 oz of Monterrey jack cheese chopped in ¼ inch cubes, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 2 T olive oil, 1 t of salt.

 

  1. Salmon Salad Sandwich: You don’t have to give up your sandwiches to stay healthy. This recipe gives you plenty of omega-3 fatty acids, and it will fill you up. Drain two 6- to 7-oz cans of skinless, boneless wild Alaskan salmon. Combine it with 2 T of lemon juice, ¼ cup minced red onion, and 1 T olive oil. Take 4 slices of reduced calories bread, preferably pumpernickel, and spread 1 T of low-fat cream cheese over each slice. Spread the salmon mixture and top with a piece of lettuce and tomato slices. Make into two sandwiches to be enjoyed by you and a family member, or even for a quick dinner later.

 

  1. Goat Cheese, Red Pepper and Fresh Mint Wraps: The office will be curious and envious of this creation. Goat cheese is lower fat than most cheeses and with a nice bite to it, and the peppers provide beta carotene for cardiovascular health. Use a wheat or spinach wrap for added fiber. To make, take 4oz of goat cheese and combine with 4 T of fresh mint in a bowl. Spread the mixture evenly over 4 tortillas, then divide ½ cup of chopped roasted red bell peppers evenly over the tortillas. Roll up and chill for an hour before cutting each wrap into 4 pieces. You will have enough to share with your family or favorite co workers.
printer ink

7 Tips for Using Less Printer Ink

You would think something that costs so much would go a little farther, but that is not happening anytime soon. Ink and toner are budget busters. If you consume a lot of ink at home or work, you can adopt a few habits to help you cut costs and ink use. There are seven ways you can reduce your ink consumption.

1. Utilize the print preview icon

Review your documents before you decide to print. Look for excess spacing, banners, pictures, and fonts. Eliminate blank areas, reduce the font, delete banners and advertisements from the page, and delete any redundant information. Select the ‘shrink to fit’ option so that everything fits on the least amount of pages.

2. Print in black and white

Stop printing in color unless you absolutely have too, which you probably will not. Go in to the printer’s properties and select the ‘black and white’ feature.

3. Think twice before you print

One of the most effective ways to reduce your ink use is to ask yourself if printing is necessary every time you scroll over the icon. As yourself the following: do I really need to print this; for how long will I need this document; can I email the page instead; is there any information that I can jot down by hand or text instead?; does anyone else need this copy?

4. Don’t take the cartridge out until you absolutely have to

The low ink warnings can be a little temperamental and anxious. At times, the warning alert goes off long before you actually need to replace the ink. Keep the new ink cartridge close by, but push the current cartridge as far as you can. You paid for it; use it up.

5. Change the print format

According to the EPA, changing your font, margins, and spacing on a page can dramatically affect how much paper you use, and ultimately reduce your ink use in the meantime. Reduce margins to 0.75” on all sides; adopt single-spacing; change font to Century Gothic, Size 11, but Times New Roman 12 works well, too.

6. Consider fax-to-email solutions

Instead of using the old faxing system, adopt a fax-to-email system. Instead of papers printing at the machine, correspondence can be sent to a computer or mobile device.

7. Share online

Share data, reports, emails, faxes, messages, and all other information on the cloud. Instead of printing out pages, permitted users can collaborate via the cloud, accessing all the documents that would have normally been printed.

technology kitchen gadgets

Six Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

Your kitchen is a special place in your home. You and your family spend time together, you craft masterpiece dishes, mix drinks for your friends, and sometimes you just hang out at the counter and chat. Kitchens are no longer the places where you slave away with mixing bowls and whisks or sweat over a hot stove. Technology has infused the modern kitchen with style and flair, all while making cooking, baking, entertaining and serving more efficient. Boost your productivity with these six must-have kitchen gadgets.

  1. Food Prep Pad

The Prep Pad is a digital food scale that helps you determine the best portion size. In addition to weighing your food, the gadget provides nutritional data for your food choice. Input the food you are weighing, or scan the barcode, and review all of the information on your iPad.

  1. Air fryer

You can fry your favorite treats without having to dunk them in colossal amounts of oil. The air fryer has a drawer for your favorite vegetables, fries, and other fry-worthy foods. Once the food is in the drawer, you simply drizzle a little olive oil over the top for the crisp taste you crave.

  1. iGrill

iGrill is a thermometer that remains it the food while it is cooking. The cord extends out of the oven to a digital display screen. Instead of popping open the oven a dozen times, you can glance at the screen or get temperature readings sent to your smartphone.

  1. Wi-Fi Crockpot

Crockpots are awesome, but using one can be stressful. Not too long ago, you could only wish you were able to turn the crockpot on while you were at work. Now you can. The Belkin Crock-Pot WeMo Slow Cooker allows you to turn it on or off, adjust the temperature, and receive reminders with your smartphone.

  1. Ravi Instant Wine Chiller

If you are a wine drinker, you have probably been in a situation when the wine is flowing just as much as the conversation, but when you need a new bottle, it is not at the right temperature. Being the savvy wine drinker you are, you either waited or suffered through, but those days are gone. The Ravi Instant Wine Chiller is a tube that attaches to the top of the bottle and instantly chills the wine as it is being poured.

  1. Whirlpool interactive Cooktop

Okay, it’s a concept that was revealed at CES 2014, but it is awesome! The interactive stovetop accommodates your pots and your Pinterest account. The stovetop allows users to access recipes, social media pages, and email all while they are cooking; the interactive screen is right on the stovetop.