Add Fancy Signature to iPhone

Ever wanted to have your iPhone email signature to match your fancy Outlook or other mail client signature? It’s actually pretty easy to do.

First, you’ll just need to have whatever mail program (Outlook, Thunderbird, etc) connected to the same email account that your phone is… then:

  • Go to Mail on your phone and click Mailboxes at the top left.

  • Go to the Sent folder for the account you want.

  • Find a message that you sent from Outlook, or whatever program has the fancy signature.
  • Tap and hold to select, then press Copy.

  • Now let’s go over to Settings –> Mail –> Signatures and paste into the desired account.

  • Viola! Fancy signature from your iPhone or iPad.

Posted in Computer Repair Austin, Computer Tips, Internet, Software, Tips, Uncategorized

Tech Support Phone Scams

Cyber criminals are figuring out new ways to trick unsuspecting victims into handing over their hard earned money. While Malware and Spyware are still coming through the normal routes (email phishing, pop-ups, exploiting outdated software), now we are starting to see the intrusion coming through your phone! Not literally, but that’s how they get their foot in the door.

The way it works is, the scammer gets your phone number from some un-reputable source; they call you up and say something like “Hello, sir/mam? We are monitoring your network and are seeing viruses all through your system. We need to gain control of your PC in order to fix the damage. And we’ll do it today for only $199”

At which point, if the person falls for it, they give the scammers remote access to their PC, allowing them to put on a smoke a mirrors show, “proving” how badly messed up their PC is. They’ll put on a fake anti-virus or fix-all program displaying all the errors and viruses it found. As if that’s not low enough, the program will pop back up after 6 – 12 months asking for more money.

Out of the hundreds of viruses I’ve removed for clients over the years, only a handful have ever bought into it. With hundreds of millions of people online out there, it’s more than worth the scammers while.

Most of them claim to be affiliated with Microsoft. Microsoft will never make an unsolicited phone call of this nature to anyone. Here are some of the names they’ll go by:

  • Windows Helpdesk
  • Windows Service Center
  • Microsoft Tech Support
  • Microsoft Support
  • Windows Technical Department Support Group
  • Microsoft Research and Development Team (Microsoft R & D Team)
Posted in Computer Repair Austin, Computer Tips, Internet, Security

At Last… LastPass

I finally decided to give LastPass a try, and I’m glad I did.

There are two types of users out there, as far as password management goes:  the “eh, I’ll just have one easy to remember password for everything”… and the “I’ve got 8 million difficult to remember passwords and have no idea what they are”.  The former being totally unsafe, and latter being stifling for productivity – or worse yet, having those tough passwords written down in a document on your desktop!

For those of you who’ve never heard of it, LastPass is a password management tool in the form of a browser plugin which works with all major web browsers.  You just set up an account, install the plugin and you’re on your way to password management bliss.

LastPass stores all of your passwords with 256bit AES encryption, done so on your local computer.  It also searches your computer for cookies and other “remember my password” locations, and encrypts those as well.  That helps protect against certain malware that can scan your computer to try and steal your passwords.

It’s also mobile now, too!  It’s available for PC, Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone.

The mobile version is for premium accounts only, but at $1 / mo., you can’t go wrong.

 

Posted in Computer Tips, Internet, Software Tagged with: , , ,

What To Do If Your Phone Gets Wet

It was a morning like any other. As a lot of couples do, I was using my phone as a light to get to the bathroom as to not wake up my wife. This time, for some reason when I got into the bathroom, I put my new iPhone 4s under my folded towel on the counter. After my shower, I yanked my towel off of the counter and along with it came my phone… right into the toilet. Ouch.

I had recently heard about the uncooked rice trick, so I though I’d put it to the test.

The most important move here, is to turn the device off as quickly as possible. The real water damage occurs when there is charge running through the device while wet.

On an iPhone that can sometimes be easier said than done. I kept holding the lock and home buttons down, the phone would shut down, but then turn itself back on again. So, I panicked and decided to open it up and remove the battery. It’s surprisingly easy to do with an iPhone. Just remove the two screws on the bottom and slide the back panel off. Then, just remove the battery plug and battery (there is some adhesive to pull apart).   So, it might be worth seeing if you can access the battery on your phone as a drill.

Once I got the battery out to ensure it would stay off, I just grabbed a bag of plain-old uncooked white rice and placed it into a bowl.  I then placed the phone into the middle of the rice in the bowl and waited for 48 hours.  You might get away with less, but it’s not worth the risk.

After 48 hours, I removed the phone, put the battery back in, crossed my fingers and viola!  Like I never foolishly dropped my $800 telephone in the filthy toilet!

 

Posted in Tips Tagged with: , ,

What To Do With That Old PC Collecting Dust

Have an old PC sitting around collecting dust and don’t know what to do with it?  You’re not alone.

The main reason most people procrastinate on this, beside not knowing where to take them, is fear of someone getting their hands on their personal data.  As a lot of you know, whether your operating system doesn’t boot, your motherboard is fried, or you video card is bad, the data on your hard drive is still very much in tact.  That can be a pretty vast amount of personal data that is really anyone’s for the taking once you get rid of it.

The simplest way to deal with that, really, is to pull the hard drive out before you get rid of it.  Now, I now what your thinking: “Easy for the computer repair guy to say!”.  But it’s really not that hard.  On a desktop PC, you (generally) just remove two thumbscrews from the back of the PC. Locate the hard drive, and unplug both cables going to it, and remove it.  Removing it can be as simple and pinching two clips and sliding out (most Dells), or removing a few screws that are attaching it.

On a laptop, it’s even easier.  You just need a small Philips head screwdriver.  Look for a little icon that looks like a small cylinder on the bottom of the laptop, remove the cover closest to that little icon, and you’re only a couple of screws away from peace of mind.

Now, what do you do with your recently anonymized computer?  Goodwill is always a good resource.  Not to mention it’s a write-off!  Other options are Craigslist, Freecycle, or a good old fashion garage sale.

Posted in PC Repair Tips, Tips Tagged with: , , , , ,

Tips To Dealing With Malware

Getting infected with malware can be a pretty scary experience.  Especially when it’s what they call Rogue Security Software.  Rather than just incessant pop-ups and loss of privacy, these programs actually run a fairly convincing fake anti-virus program on your computer, ushering you to purchase their bogus anti-virus software.  Okay, “ushering” wasn’t quite strong enough–they try to downright manhandle you into forking over your credit card information.

I’ve removed a ton of these malware programs from client’s PCs and have yet to hear of one actually forking over the ransom money, but it does happen.

The first dead give away is the horrible grammar used in their warnings… “vulnerables”?  Then, there’s the fact that all of them have similar names:  “Internet Security”, “Windows Police Pro”, “Antivirus XP”, and so on.  A lot of the time including the current year in the name.  If the warning doesn’t look familiar (i.e., doesn’t resemble your antivirus program), then you know you’re infected.

How to avoid getting infected by malicious software:

Knowledge is key here.  I’ve seen clients with Norton 360, and others with freeware like AVG Free both get infected with malware.  They can get through the best of them.

One way of getting infected is by clicking on a fake antivirus security warning that comes through your web browser.

They can be pretty tricky.  In some cases, even if  you click “No”, you’re still installing the malware.  They will even block you from using the “Back” button, attempting to force you into clicking.  If you feel trapped, just go to the Start menu and restart the machine.

Another way they can come in, is through social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace.  Be sure to only allow apps that you trust.

What to do if it’s too late and you’re already infected:

Your first line of defense should be Malwarebytes.  Some malware will block you from running programs like Malwarebytes.  If that’s the case, try rebooting into Safe Mode, then running the program.

If that doesn’t do the trick, I recommend contacting your nearest computer repair shop.

Posted in PC Repair Tips, Software, Tips

How To Speed Up a Slow Computer

Here are some tips to speed up a slow PC.

#1:  Remove Start-up Programs

This can be a life-saver on an older machine that has a lot of programs installed, and doesn’t have a lot of RAM (or memory).

First, go to ‘Start’ and click ‘Run’.  Then, type ‘msconfig’ in the box and hit the Enter key (Vista/7 users, just type ‘msconfig’ into the search bar in the Start Menu).  Navigate to the ‘Startup’ tab.

Every application in that list that has a check mark next to it is set to be started with Windows starts.  The idea behind this is that when you go to run Quicktime, for example, it will start slightly faster as it’s already sort of  “pre-fetched” for you.  Good idea on paper but in practice, it can really slow down a PC over time.  The main rule to keep in mind here is:  if you don’t know what it is, don’t remove it.  Beyond that (and of course, leave your anti-virus in there) you can really go to town with this.  I usually keep mine pretty clear, but since I’ve got a newer machine with 8gb of RAM, I’m not as strict about it.

#2:  Run CCleaner

CCleaner is a great, free application that basically cleans all the old junk from your PC (temp files, cookies, recycle bin, etc.).  I ran it for a client the other day who had a 20gb hard drive that was about 200mb from being completely full.  CCleaner removed 7gb of old junk!

The one thing to keep in mind is what browser data it’s going to delete.  Go to the Internet Explorer (or Mozilla for Firefox users) and customize that section a bit.  Uncheck them all except ‘Temporary Internet Files’.  That will remove larger files like cached images, but will leave your pre-filled passwords, cookies, recently typed URLs, etc.  I find it annoying when those get cleared out.

#3:  Run MalwareBytes – Anti-malware

Whether you have the dreaded “Windows Police Pro” malware (or sometimes called “Randsomware”), or you just want to clean out any spyware lurking on your PC, Malwarebytes does an excellent job.  Operation is pretty straightforward.  Just run the application, select ‘Perform a QuickScan’, let it do it’s thing, and when the results come back push the ‘Remove Selected’ button and that’s it!

 

Posted in PC Repair Tips, Tips Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Unknown Device Tool

This is a great tool for those times that, for whatever reason, Windows can’t produce a hardware ID in the Details tab of your hardware’s properties.  Most of the time, when you’re trying to find a driver for an unknown device, you simply find the device in your Device Manager, right-click and select Properties:

At which point you could go to Devid.info (a great site BTW) and punch in the DEV/VEN IDs. Devid.info will then produce a list of matching drivers with links directly to them… normally from the manufacturer’s website. If that site doesn’t come back with any results, you can also try PCIDatabse.com

But in rare cases, Windows isn’t able to produce that hardware ID and you’re left scratching your head. That’s where Unknown Device Tool comes in:

I didn’t have any unknown devices to screenshot as an example, but if I did it would show an entry followed by (UNKNOWN DEVICE). You would then drill down and viola, there are your DEV/VEN IDs.

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,
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