Technology Advisor Blog

Quick Way to Change Text Size in Internet Explorer

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/30/12 12:14 PM

Magnifying GlassIf you want to zoom in or zoom out of a web page to make the font bigger or smaller, a simple trick is to use the control key and the scroll on on your mouse:  Hold the control key (Ctrl) and then spin the scroll up or down.  The scroll wheel is located between the left and right buttons on the mouse.  Not every mouse has a scroll, so you can also use the control key with the plus sign and minus sign.  A third option is to hit the ALT key plus "P" to pull up the page menu and then select "zoom".

This is a good trick to remember if you find a small font size on your screen one day.  Since is possible to change the size by mistake, it's good to know how to change it back.

Tags: Internet Explorer, web page, font size

Compress Files to Send Large eMails

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/27/12 8:26 AM

Zipped FolderIf you need to send an email to someone with a large file or perhaps with many smaller files, you can compress the files to save space and also save the hassle of attaching several files one by one by selecting a compressed folder.  The process is easy, and it doesn't require any extra software since the function is built right into Windows.  Simply find the file or folder you want to compress, right click on the file or folder and select Send To and then click Compressed (zipped) Folder.  The new file folder has a zipper on it to show its "zipped", and you can rename it to anything you want.

Compressing files and folders makes it a lot easier to collaborate with multiple files, and helps keep the file size down so you don't need to break apart the communication into several emails.  The typical email size limit is 10M, so this is good to use with larger files.  Although you may have a bigger limit, you don't necessarily know what your recipient has for a limit so this is a good trick to know.

To extract the entire contents of the folder, right click on the folder and select Extract All

Tags: eMail, Compress, Extract

Clean up your Windows Desktop FAST!

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/26/12 8:14 AM

Show The DesktopWhen I'm working on my computer I like to open up a LOT of windows at the same time.  With so many windows open, if I need to go to the desktop to open a new program, there's a lot of clutter in the way. 

Quick Tip:  A very fast short cut to get back to the desktop is to right-click on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, and select "Show the desktop".  This will get you to a blank desktop without having to close the windows one by one. 

Tags: Windows, short cut, Show the desktop

Protect Yourself from "Fake" Antivirus Software

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/24/12 9:07 AM

AVG System StatusOne of the best ways to protect yourself from the common "fake" anti-virus malware that's all over the place is to spend a few moments getting to know your "real" anti-virus software.

Each anti-virus vendor handles things a bit differently, but it's basically "theme and variations".  The screen shot to the right is what the AVG system status looks like.  When you click on the AVG icon in the system tray (lower right of your screen), you'll see this screen.  What you're looking for is a recent scan date, your last update (should be with in a few hours time window), and your license expiration date.  You're also looking for green check marks for all the protection levels:  Anti-Virus, Anti-Spyware, LinkScanner, Anti-Rootkit, e-Mail Scanner, License, Online Shield, Resident Shield, and the Update Manager.  The goal is to recognize your system status when things are going well, so when if you get the dreaded "fake anti-virus" malware, you'll know it's fake.

If you get hit with the fake antivirus malware, here's what will happen.  A pop-up will appear on your screen saying somthing like a threat was found and do you want to do a scan.  In scome cases the pop up will ask you to purchase an anti-virus license.  Don't do it! A good strategy is to remember your Windows shortcuts and use "ALT+F4" to close the window.  Sometimes the pop-up looks like a Windows screen, but its actually a web page, and the "x" that would normally close the window is actually a link to do more harm.  Use "ALT+F4" instead.

Spend a few moments today to look at what your anti-virus system status screen looks like, and you'll be better prepared for future "fake" threats.

Tags: Security, Fake Antivirus malware

SOPA, PIPA, and What it Means for You

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/20/12 1:36 PM

Stop on-line Censorship!This week, Wikipedia went dark and Google blacked out its logo in protest over two controversial intellectual property bills being discussed in Congress:  Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA).  The intent of the new laws is to protect authors and creators of intellectual property from getting ripped off.  However both proposed laws are seriously flawed. 

Under SOPA, an entire web site could be shut down even if there is only some infringing content.  Imagine the implications for sites like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia.  All other content AND users would also be locked out!  If you wanted to visit one of these sites to view non-infringing material, you couldn't.  As Rodney Brown points out in Mass High Tech, that's sensoring us too!

In addition, the concept of "guilty until proven innocent" is wrong.  Any company that says another web site is using some of its content could get a court order from a judge to shut down the site without due process

Opposition to the proposed laws has been huge.  Over 2.4 million Tweets were posted on Wednesday!  On the same day, many web sites such as Google, Amazon, The ACLU, and several other protest sites posted links to tell Congress to fix the laws, and there must have been a flood of emails.

It looks like Congress is listening.  Today Senate leaders announced they will postpone the vote.  Harry Reid said: "In light of recent events, I have decided to postpone Tuesday's vote".  He also adds "There is no reason that the legitimate issues raised by many about this bill cannot be resolved". 

Stopping people from profiting from blatant piracy is a good thing, but these laws are seriously flawed, far too overreaching, and would do far more harm than good.

Tags: Internet, censorship, SOPA, PIPA

Think Twice Before you Travel Overseas with your Laptop

Posted by Ann Westerheim on 1/9/12 8:57 AM

Laptop SearchThe Boston Sunday Globe had some interesting reading yesterday:  "Laptop seizures at customs cause thorny legal dispute".  When David House, a former MIT researcher, returned from vacation in Mexico a little over a year ago, federal agents seized his laptop at customs during a connection in Chicago, and kept it for almost two months.  There was no search warrant, and he wasn't charged with a crime.  The article describes a "Consitution-free zone" where governement agents don't need probable cause or reasonable suspicion to seize property, as long as it's not "invasive". 

The Customs and Border Protection agency says the power to seize laptops is necessary to find information about terrorists, drug smugglers, and other criminals trying to enter the country.  However, how far does this go?  Apparently federal agents wanted to learn more about House's connection to Bradley Manning, the US Army private who leaked classified government information to the website WikiLeaks.  David had met Bradley at a hackers convention in the past.  In the two months that David's laptop was seized, government agents had access to his files, photos, bank account passwords... everything about him, without any specific charge against him.

The article cites a survey last month by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives which found that nearly half of the participating companies did not know customs agents could inspect, copy, or even seize travelers’ laptops.

If you travel outside of the US think twice about what you carry with you on your laptop, smart phone, iPad or anywhere else you store files and sensitive information.  People who travel with confidential corporate documents, trade secrets, or attorneys with confidential client information really need to be aware of the risks. 

Balancing national security with civil rights can be challenging, but when you consider how much personal information is stored on your electronic devices, many argue that seizing laptops crosses the line and is in fact "invasive". John Reinstein is the ACLU lawyer representing House and he summarizes the argument for changing the law:  "Given the role of computers in modern society and the extent of the information that people carry with them on electronic devices, we have asked the court to acknowledge that the search of a computer should be treated as an invasive and overly intrusive search.’’ He adds,  “Under existing rules, you shouldn’t take anything across the border that you don’t want to expose to another set of eyes.’’

Some corporations are now requiring that laptops be wiped clean of sensitive information before travelling overseas.  You can use your laptop to access files stored on a remote server ("in the cloud") or for secure remote access to another PC.  This is inconvenient because you will always need an Internet connection to work.  Some people also create encrypted volumes on their hard drive to hide sensitive files.  With the BYOD trend (Bring your Own Device to work), things get even more complicated.  Bottom line, if you don't want potentially ALL your information exposed, create a game plan in advance, (and make sure everything is backed up).

Tags: computer security, customs, seized laptop

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