Conficker Virus – due April 1 – Are You Prepared?

Well, if you haven’t heard by now, one of the worst computer worms in current history, Conficker, is spreading rapidly throughout the Internet and will deliver its payload on April 1st.

First off, Mac & Linux users can stop reading now (unless you want to help your friends using Windows PCs, Notebooks and Servers).

One Easy Test to see if you’re infected – Go to Symantec and Mcafee websites. If you cannot get to these sites via this blog, you may have the virus, as it blocks you from these sites.

Symptoms of Conficker

  • The worm resets System Restore points and disables a number of system services such as Windows Automatic Update, Windows Security Center, Windows Defender and Windows Error Reporting.
  • Account lockout policies being reset automatically.
  • Domain controllers responding slowly to client requests.
  • Unusual amounts of traffic on local area networks.

How can you protect your machine?

I know this will come as a great shock to all of my regular readers, but might be new to those of you reading for first time:

1) Run all your Windows and Microsoft Updates
2) Update and run your anti-virus software
3) Update and run your anti-spyware software
4) Run an on-line scan
5) Great Solution from Panda A vaccine for your computer and your USB hard drive/removable drives – a common way Conficker spreads.

I’ve created a security page with a whole mess of free security tools. Take your pick!

Microsoft explains Conficker. Wikipedia goes into even more details.

Top 10 Tech Support Sites for Mac Users

We do Windows – We do Macs. You can be either one – we’re computer operating system agnostic. They’re both computers and we’ll help you any time – day/night to fix them. When we’re not around – especially with your Mac/iPod and iPhone woes, here are a few sites to help you out during the few hours we sleep per night.

1. ITM Computing. Again: We. Are. So. There

2. Mac Hints and Tips. This site offers a really cool newsletter in pdf that is also a compilation of fellow Mac users’ most helpful and newest hints, that is usually pages long. Okay, they ask for a donation and true, they deserve it.

3. Google for Mac. That’s right. A Google just for you.

4. Mac Options. This one has a special section just for newbies. (We just love keyboard shortcuts!)

5. Official Apple Support Site. It might read like stereo instructions, but it’s all there.

6. Using Mac. Updated regularly and useful for the very and the less experienced.

7. iPodLounge. Nobody keeps their manuals anymore. But these folks have ’em all! You can download your iPod manuals or iTunes how-tos for FREE!
8. Ask Dave Taylor. You can ask this guy anything. Anything. Bizarre, simplistic,you name it.

9. Lost IPod. If you lost your precious music mini-robot, there’s a chance that someone picked it up and they are good person who believes that every iPod deserves its rightful parent. Just search for your music mini-robot’s serial number, and if someone found it and registered, you might just bring him back home…but you’ll take better care of him from now on, right?

10. Mac Tutorials, News and Reviews. Practical tips. Also offers “Daily Mac Tips” in iTunes or non-iTunes format (An homage to the old “Apple a Day” adage, just for your computer.)

Mozy – the Utlimate Backup Machine – Updated

Remember that day at the office, when the whole network just shut down and your financial documents, your invoices, your timecards, your client data, your drafts, the whole thing just went kablooie and then the experts said you have to replace your hard drive?

Or maybe you remember the time your nephew emailed a forward to everyone he knew, everyone they knew, and even more people you didn’t know–and before you knew you it, your computer caught the crazy superbug-virusworm of the year. Then you shelled out hundreds for a techie to back up the system, clean everything up, and then when you got your computer back it was never the same.

I hope this never happens to you. Unfortunately, these sad stories happen to lots of people every day (about 10% hard drives fail each year). Computers are vulnerable to hard drive crashes, virus attacks, theft and natural disasters, and other mean things erase everything in an instant.

It’s so important to backup, we stress this all the time. Now, we can backup our hard drives online at Windows-icon MozyHome for Windows orMac-icon-bw MozyHome for Mac.

Don’t stop there, after you’ve backed it up be sure that Mozy is working. Review history and also log in to site and check last date of backup.

If you’re already using Mozy, then good for you. You’ll enjoy the new enhancements, like “Mobile Network Awareness,” a file search feature, a graphic to help you find the newest set of backed up data, and a warning system when your running low on space. Customers who are using the service for free can upgrade to “Unlimited” via the configuration wizard. And they’ve fixed the bug that kept the status window from refreshing properly post-error (that’s right–it was them, not you!), the connection speed is improved, and the Restore button displays the new status after the files are backed up. You’ll enjoy the new key mappings, too!

Mozy has recently updated to new versions. The new versions: for Windows & for Mac.

What the Bleep? Blip.fm, the Musical Facebook

Blip. What more needs to be said.

It’s such a great use of Web 2.0 community. You start by finding your favorite music. You listen. You blip. Basically, blipping is a way to share a short message while sharing your favorite song.
You start blipping like crazy – and soon you attract a following. You give “props” to folks – telling them you like their style. They “prop” you. In addition to propping, you start adding your favorite DJs. As you start getting more and more DJs, you get quite a diverse, ecletic set of music. After a few days of blipping out, you can just rest – go to your Blip page, kick back and let the music begin. It plays song after song of your favorite folks – just like a radio station – except, no commercials!! You can buy the song your listening to and can often turn it into a ring tone. If you’re tired of listening to your favorite DJs, listed to your own playlist!
But, wait, there’s more. . . . you can hook up Blip to Twitter and Facebook (if you have Twitter enabled) and about 5 other social networking sites. So every time you Blip, your songs go to all you peeps. Speaking of peeps, like all other Social networking sites, you can import all of your email addresses via web-based or a list of addresses.
So, what are you waiting for? Get the Blip out of her and start Blipping!
PS Don’t forget to put the “.fm” at the end of blip, or it will be a funky experience.
PPS Speaking of Facebook, have you signed up for Clyde’s “Pump UP your Facebook Strategy” class on April 9th, yet? It will Pump UP your business and give you forward momentum to grow your business.

Improve Computer Performance: Mac & Windows

Don’t you just hate it when your hard drive fills up, thus sharply reducing the amount of space available for virtual memory?

If this is you, don’t panic. This hard drive bloat problem is fixable:

Space is so precious. But you can free some up on your computer by deleting large programs and archiving bigger files.

To archive those big files, clone your computer’s hard drive using Fog or Clonezilla for Windows or SuperDuper for Mac to a bigger hard drive. You can move your files from a smaller drive to a 500 Gigabytes or even 1 Terabyte (that’s 1,000 Gigabytes) drive and it will have all your files on it. (This is also necessary and helpful for backing-up all your files for peace of mind in case an ugly superbug ever finds it way into your system–heaven forbid!)

Here are two fine, free programs that will highlight those giant, yet hard-to-identify files so that you can delete them:

For Windows
Largest Files Finder

For Mac
Disk Inventory X

(Note: Consumers, beware! Recently I met someone that tried finallyfast.com for her computer’s woeful slowdowns. After running the diagnostics, she made the recommended purchases. Of course, this worked temporarily, but caused bigger issues in the long run as it automatically installed gi-normous programs that were even bigger than the original problem-causing programs. I do not recommend this website!)

Mac users can also use this alternative, which is free to use, but $15 to delete the files for the program OmniDiskSweeper

If that doesn’t work, re-install your computer
(Wipe out the drive, then reinstall all programs. Then put in all data)

Doing this will eliminate tons of unnecessary files. Make sure to do FULL back-up before you begin this process. But you will have to go through all those files before you put them back on the drive, or you will be right back to Square #1.

When all else fails–not even the techs can fix it, it’s time for Plan Z: Splurge on a new computer.