Author Archives: Blue Salamander Solutions, LLC

About Blue Salamander Solutions, LLC

www.bluesalamandersolutions.com

Website Checklist

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Website checklistTake moment and look at your personal website.  Are you making any of these common mistakes?

  • Flash in a Pan:  1997 called.  It wants its Flash animation back.  Flash will not show up on many smartphones and tablets, so that cool video that takes up your entire home page looks like a big, empty, black space to some people.   Take out the flash, guys.  Please.
  • Men at Work   If you have pages that are “Under Construction,” do us all a favor and take them down.  Don’t keep an unfinished page with an animated .gif file of a cartoon construction worker.  It looks unfinished and ridiculous.
  • Lost in Space Is your website easy to navigate?  Your website should be easy for an inexperienced computer user to navigate.  The point of a website is to make it easy for your audience, not to dazzle them with your knowledge of complicated web tricks.
  • Digits, Please  Is your phone number prominently displayed on your home page?  This sounds like a no-brainer, but a surprising number of websites should come equipped with a treasure map.   Put your contact number on your home page.  In BIG font.  Period.
  • Road to Nowhere Are all of your links and pages working?  Nothing is more frustrating to a user than clicking on a link, photo, or video that is not working.  Fix it or delete it.
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So you think you have a virus….

Computer viruses can not only disable internet access, they can redirect your browser, shut down Windows Internet Security and Firewall (leaving you vulnerable to more attacks), leave you unable to execute programs, and ultimately shut down your system.   Here are a few tips for identifying and repairing viruses:

How to spot a virus

How can you tell if you have a virus? If your virus software is outdated, you might not know from a scan if your computer is infected, but these symptoms suggest a virus:

  • You are unable to go online or run virus programs
  • Your Windows Security and Firewall are disabled
  • If you are able to go online, you can’t click links to Microsoft, AVG, or other legitimate sites
  • You are unable to execute programs
  • You cannot start Task Manager by hitting “CTRL+ALT+ DEL”

So what do you do if you have a virus and can’t get online, let alone run a virus program? Here  are some simple things that you can do.  Try these before you take it to the repair shop:

  • Kill the Virus in Safe Mode     To reboot in Safe Mode, restart your computer, then hit “F8.”  Select “Safe Mode with Networking.”
  • Try to get online in Safe Mode     If you can get online, download AVG  and install.  If you cannot get online in Safe Mode, use a different computer to download SuperAntiSpyware on a thumb drive, then install and run on your computer (Google “SuperAntiSpyware” for link) The ultimate goal is to run AVG or an equivalent program, but sometimes you have to start disabling the virus before you can kill it.  For some reason, this particular malware program slips past the goalie and runs when bigger and better programs are disabled.
  • Check your internet settings.   Go to Internet Options, then  LAN Settings.  If “use a proxy server” is checked, then uncheck it!  Redirect viruses often use a proxy server, which is why you can’t get online.
  • If this is a pervasive virus, you might have to run a few different programs to get rid of it.  My favorite free programs are Malwarebytes, SuperAntiSpyware, and AVG.  And did I mention–they’re free!

If you have questions or comments, feel free to email me at laura@bluesalamandersolutions.com

So you think you have a virus…

Internet Blasts from the Past

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Sea Monkeys

If you thought that Sea Monkeys, candy cigarettes, and that creepy H.R. Pufnstuf were things of the past, think again.  Thanks to the internet, you can enjoy those guilty pleasures that you thought went the way of your Little Lotto comic books.  Check out these sites for some retro entertainment:

Sea Monkeys  Yes, folks there is now a sea monkey website.  The makers of sea monkeys no longer boast that “They’re so eager to please, they can even be trained,” but sea monkeys  still have the three-pronged heads that we know and love.  To visit or order sea monkeys, go to the official website at http://www.sea-monkey.com/.

Ancient Chinese Secret, huh!  We all remember the classic television commercials, such as the Mean Joe Green Coca Cola commercial.  Of course we do, there was only one other station to turn to during an ad, plus we didn’t have remotes then.  To watch your favorite commercial classics, visit Retro Cafe–it might make you want to rush out and squeeze the Charmin.

http://www.retro-cafe.com/70s/70scommercials.htm

Necco Wafers…Yum  Remember the candy we had growing up?  You can still get it all at Hometown Favorites Nostalgic Candy Store.  After you fill up on Wax Lips, Necco Wafers, and Pixy Stix, you can step outside and enjoy a candy cigarette, because, believe it or not, they still sell those.

http://www.hometownfavorites.com/nostalgic-candy/

Who’s Your Friend When Things Get Rough?  H.R. Pufnstuf, that’s who.  You can watch episodes of all your favorite shows, such Adam12, The Archies, and I Dream of Jeannie.  It’s all on Hulu and it’s free–so go ahead and spend the rest of the afternoon catching up on all the episodes you might have missed. Your boss won’t mind.  http://www.hulu.com

 

Five Things You Might Not Have Known About Steve Jobs

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We all know that Steve Jobs was an innovative thinker, a wearer of black turtlenecks, and a purveyor of cool, but here are a few Steve Jobs facts that you might not have known:

He took Timothy Leary’s words to heart. He turned on, tuned in, and dropped out

Jobs, who claimed that LSD was one of the three most important thing he had done in his life, was also  a college dropout.  Jobs graduated from Homestead High School in Cupertino, California and enrolled in Reed College in Oregon.  He dropped out one semester later.

He did not know his biological father until later in life

 Jobs was born out of wedlock to graduate students  Joanne Carole Schiebleand Syrian-born Abdulfattiah Jandali.  He was adopted by Clara and Paul Jobs, a middle-class American couple.

He didn’t play well with others 

Jobs was a perfectionist with a legendary bad temper.  Imagine a mushroom cloud.  Now imagine a bigger mushroom cloud.  Jobs was a relentless taskmaster, who reportedly made people cry with his tantrums. 

He was a Buddhist 

Jobs went to India in 1973 in search of spiritual enlightenment.  He returned with a shaved head, and adopted the Buddhist philosophy.  Not only did he practice the Zen way, he also used the Dalai Lama in Apple’s ad campaign: “Think Different”

He made $1 a year (in salary

In 2010, his compensation package was a whopping $1 per year.  This does not include, of course, his shares of Apple.

Five things you do to put your computer at risk

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1.  You store your passwords on a shared computer 

Your stored password is safe, right?  It’s hidden behind those dots or asterisks.  Wrong! There’s a simple snippet of javascript code that, if typed into your browser, produces  a box that displays your password.  It might as well have wrapping paper and a  pretty bow–it’s like a gift to someone trying to break into your email!   Don’t store passwords on shared computers.

2.  You use an easy-to-guess password

The top list of “worst passwords” (according to splashdata) includes passwords with sequential numbers and easy-to-guess words, such as–you guessed it: passwordSuffice to say:  password12345 isn’t a good choice for a password. To be safe, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

3.  You allow yourself to become a victim of phishing scams

Phishing is attempting to obtain personal information by sending a fake login form to an unsuspecting mark.  A good example of this is a phisher sending you a link to reset your bank password.  As a rule, don’t click email links asking you to reset your password or validate any account information.

4.  You use universal passwords for all of your accounts  

Don’t use the same passwords for all of your accounts.  If someone is determined to break into all of your accounts, at least make it difficult.

5.  You click on links or open attachments without considering the source 

Don’t click on a link unless you know it’s from a trusted source…and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Top Five Live Webcam Sites

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  1. Earthcam: Want to get out of town, but don’t have the time?  Take a mini vacation on Earthcam, and you can visit Times Square, Tokyo, Amsterdam, and more with the click of a mouse.  http://www.earthcam.com/
  2. Monterey Bay Aquarium: You’ll be mesmerized by the underwater beauty at Monterey Bay Aquarium.  This great site not only has a live webcam, but has podcasts, a video library, and live webcasts of otters at feeding time. http://www.montereybayaquarium.org
  3. Sportsman’s Paradise Online: If you’ve ever wanted to observe a bald eagle in its natural habitat, you won’t want to miss Sportsman’s Paradise online.  If you go online now, you’ll get a treat–there are two new hatchlings..  http://sportsmansparadiseonline.com/Decorah_Bald_Eagle_Nest.html
  4. Miami and Beaches: This is the cheapest way to see Miami, by far.  You can visit Coconut Grove, take a stroll down Ocean Drive, then hop over to Lincoln Road–all from your computer screen. http://www.miamiandbeaches.com/visitors/beachcam.asp
  5. Africam:  Enjoy a mini safari with Africam, where you can watch elephants and other wildlife from a safe distance.    http://www.africam.com/wildlife/index.php

Hacked, Hijacked, Spoofed, and Spammed: What to do if your email account has been compromised.

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You check your e-mail one morning and realize that there are dozens of bounced messages and e-mails from contacts asking you if the link that you sent them is legitimate.  You didn’t send a link to anyone, so what happened and how do you fix it?

What is spamming? Spamming is the distribution of unsolicited bulk e-mail.  Intentional spam is delivered by individuals who are soliciting a product or business, while unintentional spam is bulk e-mail distribution from within an infected or compromised computer. This can be generated from a virus or worm that activates e-mail distribution, or from someone actually hacking into your account, effectively hijacking your e-mail account.

What is spoofing?  E-mail spoofing is the forgery of an e-mail  header so that the message appears to have originated from someone or somewhere other than the actual source.  To find out if the e-mail in question originated from your account, check your Sent Mail folder.

What to do if your email account has been compromised:

  1. Change the password to your email account and any accounts linked to it, such as Facebook or Paypal.  It’s best to use a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, and don’t keep a universal password for all of your accounts.
  2. Create a sign-in seal.  This is linked to your computer, not your email account, so someone attempting to access your email account through a different computer will need to answer security questions.
  3. Change your security settings.  Log in to your account settings, and change your password hints, reset information, and linked accounts.
  4.  Make sure that your virus scan program is up-to-date.  AVG is my personal favorite.  Not only should you run a virus scan on a regular basis, you should also have a malware program, such as Malwarebytes to scan for malicious adware.
  5. Create a second email account and use it for online registration and ordering.  Don’t use your personal e-mail account for online registrations or purchases, forms, or mailing lists.  Keep a spam account solely for this purpose.