Decrapifying your computer

Your computer is slow, your productivity is down, and as a result of this, you have a greater inclination to kick a puppy.  (Can’t wait for the animal rights advocates to light me up on this one.)  The answer is, you need to decrapify your machine.  We are going to outline how you do this.

First of all, why is your computer all “crapped up” in the first place?  There are many answers to this, but the most common reason is that your computer accumulates lots of temporary files that over time just take up space, can contain errors, or you might have picked up some malware or spyware that is hogging all your memory and processing power.  This will cause all sorts off things to start happening such as slow web pages loading, slow computer startup, or you may start to get a slew of popups while browsing.  Below are some recommended tools to help you get the crud out of your machine.

First, clear out your browser cache.  This is a space on your computer where images of webpages get stored to help them load faster the next time you visit.  There are many browsers that are out there so I recommend using something like CCleaner.  You can also simply use the tools that are built in your browser.  Usually they are located under “settings.”.

Second, most computers come with a ton of “bloatware”.  These are program extras that the manufacturer of your machine put on your computer.  If you are not using these programs, why keep them?  Head over to the internet and download PC Decrapifier.  This is a program that will scan for common bloatware programs and in one swoop, deletes them from your PC.  This frees up more hard drive space, which gives you some more speed.

Another thing that will help is to defragment your hard drive.  What is hard drive fragmentation?  Well, I am not going to cover that, because most people just want their computer running faster.  Suffice to say, it slows your computer way down.  Download Defraggler which is an excellent program for defragmenting your hard drive.  Be warned that this is something that you do not want to run while you are using your computer for something else.  This can take a long time and ties up a lot of your computer’s processing power.  This is something you may only run once or twice a year.  If you have a solid state hard drive, which you can find out from your computer manufacturer, you will not want to run this.

Finally, if your computer is creeping along, you may have malware/adware.  These are programs that gather information about you, or could just be there to make your life miserable.  A great program to clear all that stuff out is Malwarebytes.  This program will find malware and other things causing issues, even trojans and viruses, and delete them off your machine.

If you follow these simple steps, you can “decrapify” your PC and be back up and running faster than ever before.

Computer Security – Convenience can cost you.

This is part 1 in a series on Computer Security

Computer security.  I can almost sense that just from the title of this article people’s eyes are glazing over with the familiar, “Do we have to discuss this stuff again?”  The answer is yes, and the reason why is that you are likely to be the one at fault if your data is compromised.  Read on, because I know I’ve already enraged you by implicating you as the source of trouble.


Data security is not something that consumers and businesses can simply try to address in a cavalier manner.  It is a serious topic that in today’s digital age can have serious ramifications not only on your business, but in your own personal life.  Yet despite the fact that we do everything online from paying our bills, to telling people what type of salsa we are eating at the next FourSquare check-in, securing ones data is sadly handled in a lackadaisical way.


Take for instance the very basic of security levels; Passwords.  Passwords are those secret codes that unless someone has that item, they will never get past that login screen.  But is your password secure?  Most likely it is not.  Rather, it is probably something very easy for a hacker to guess, and probably without a great deal of effort.  Is your password “Password” or your date of birth?  If I just guessed your password here in this article, I’ve got some news for you.  Your password stinks, and you might as well not have one at all with a password like that.  That was cutting I know, but it’s because I care enough to tell you the truth!


Passwords should be complex and difficult to guess.  They should never be something that is personally identifiable with you, such as date of birth, last 4 of Social Security Number, or anything like that.  Also, passwords should not be recycled, meaning, that you shouldn’t use the same password on different sites.  I’ve been guilty of this in the past so I am preaching as much to myself as I am anyone.  They should be a combination of letters, numbers, and characters.  The more you have, the better off you are.


If you are in need of a program or tool to help you generate strong passwords, there are a plethora of choices out on the web.  A quick Google search will pull up several options, many of which are free, that will generate passwords that are random characters that will be very difficult to figure out.  If you go with the pay for services, you can actually just have to remember one password to access all your randomly generated ones.  I highly recommend seeking out services like these, because as recent news stories about hackers stealing people’s login information shows us, the name of your favorite pet for your password is not good enough.


Keeping your passwords secure is good.  What is not good is writing down your passwords!  I see this all the time both in homes and especially in businesses.  It is just a major NO NO!  Now there will be those who will say that they have to do this because they will not be able to remember all those passwords.  I will again point them to the options I mentioned earlier. 


The main reason why people continue to still write down passwords, which again, is careless and dangerous, is simply due to laziness.  Yeah I said it!  It is a simple matter of them not taking the time to properly secure their information because convenience trumps security in their minds.  Here are some things to consider for those who feel that Post It Notes are a great way of storing passwords.


Imagine you have someone over to your home.  Could be a repairman, could be even a friend.  They walk by and see these colorful, eye catching sticky notes all over your computer screen.  You leave the room for just a few moments, and in those few moments, they capture your passwords that you have written down on a sticky that says, “Bank Login”, or, “Brokerage Account.”  A day or so later you check your bank account and see a massive withdrawal.  What happened?  You happened is what happened.


How about for business owners?  Take a walk around the office and you will soon find out that more employees than not have passwords out in plain sight.  Is this the impression you want to leave with your existing and perspective new customers?  To have passwords out in the open sends a message to them of, “We do not care enough to secure your data.”  They will take their business elsewhere, believe me.


Some will say that traditional passwords are on the way out, and we are heading more towards biometrics.  That may be, but for now, it’s still usernames and passwords.  Therefore, make your passwords secure, and difficult for someone else to guess.  You will be better off, and it sure beats dealing with an identity theft issues down the line.

Charter Communications Internet Outage – My thoughts

If you are a Charter Communications Internet subscriber, then likely on Saturday your internet service was spotty at best, and most likely, completely down like everyone else.  As of this morning, Charter has officially stated on their Facebook page that there was an outage, and that services have been restored and they are continuing to monitor.  There is still no word yet as to what the root cause of the issue was.  Here are some thoughts I have about what happened.

First, even ISP’s are going to have outages.  It’s not a matter of if, but when and the sooner that people understand that the better.  However, what happened Saturday was so severe that even if you called their tech support phone number, you got a busy signal.  No automated phone system, or anything like that.  So lets keep things in perspective that whatever happened was major when the phones do not even work.

Having said that, the way Charter has handled this outage in terms of communications with it’s customers was without a doubt, terrible.  Several hours into it, there was nothing posted to their Twitter or Facebook accounts.  In fact it was not until 16 hours ago that they finally posted something to their Facebook page acknowledging an issue, though again, root cause has still not been posted.  Having worked in support for many years, nothing ticks off the public than the internet being down.  What will definitely make it worse is when there is no communication with the public to at least say, “Hey Houston, we have a problem.”

Even though they were having an internet outage, someone could have early on jumped onto their smartphone and posted just a quick blurb acknowledging a problem to at least let people know they are aware of it.  Instead we heard silence only interrupted by the constant busy signal that lasted, by my experience, for well over 10 hours this past Saturday.  This is not how you run a business.  Outages come and go and that’s the nature of IT.  However, closing off the lines of communications is never a good idea.  Social media outlets proved that with postings like, “Charter you suck!” type comments.

As stated already, Charter finally reported to the media that, “there were intermittent outages..”  This was, frankly, understating the issue, and thus, a lie.  Yes, I said it.  A lie.  Understating the situation for the purposes of damage control was and will forever be a form of lying, because it deceives people into thinking that the situation is not that bad, when in fact, it was a royal disaster Saturday.  Charter quite honestly should issue a credit to it’s customers simply due to the fact they did not communicate at all with those who pay their bills.

Finally I will say this about this outage, and any other outage of internet service.  While it can be incredibly frustrating, I am always amazed at the vitriol that I see come out of people, in the way of comments on social media, in such harsh fashion.  At the end of the day people, if the internet goes down for several hours, it’s not the end of humanity as we know it, so stop acting or reacting like it.  Go do something else like, I don’t know, talk to a real person instead of liking every status update from people you are barely friends with in real life, and people you probably cannot stand or will rarely, if ever, meet.

Why those who say Windows 7 going “bye bye” are likely wrong.

I know I’m sticking my neck out there when I say this, but Windows 7 is the “XP” of this next generation.  Remember these words, because either I will be dancing a jig saying “I told you so”, or I will be eating crow.  Why am I addressing this?  It’s because of the following article on PCWorld.

Why Microsoft needs to reveal Windows 9 sooner than later: The end of Windows 7

Look at that last part.  “The end of Windows 7.”  When I first read that, I nearly spat out my Sprite.  Now that I am fully back within my faculties, I can comment better.  First of all, this was a well written article by Brad Chacos.  In fact, 90 percent of the article is not only true, but I totally agree with, especially that Windows 9 needs to come out soon, and it better be something special.  That new OS better have a Start Menu, or you are going to see a mass exodus to Apple and or people just hoarding their current Windows 7 machines even more.

The problem that I had with this article is that while the information was factually correct, contextually and historically, it could never have been more wrong.  In fact this is fear mongering reporting, and it only took a couple of lines buried in a well drafted article.  You can get an idea of what I mean by reading the comments from other readers.  Here is most likely what will happen, and I based this on years of experience and history of Microsoft.

Windows 9 may come out in September and it may not.  Regardless of when it comes out, Windows 7 is not going bye bye.  In fact, it’s going to be around, as you can see, until 2020.  That’s still 6 years from now.  If you look at the past, when Vista came out, people hated it and DEMANDED Windows XP be a choice to downgrade to on new PC purchases.  And sorry Mr. Chacos, you are wrong about it just being business machines that will have that option, as most likely the consumer PC market will demand that as a downgrade option.

So to my subscribers I will say this.  A lot of articles in the next 30-60 days will be similar to this and you need to take it with a grain of salt.  I do reserve the right to be totally wrong on that downgrade option, but I don’t think I will be.  The only way I see that there is no downgrade option to Windows 7 is if Windows 9 is so amazing, like Windows 7 amazing, then maybe then, you are looking at people flocking to Windows 9 like they did with 7.  Time will tell.  Best advice is to “Keep Calm and Windows 7”

If you are looking for alternatives on Windows 8, I recently had an article published for the technology company GSATi Inc.  Check it out here.   Alternatives to Windows 8

Security Alert – Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash issue identified

Sorry for so many blogposts in one day, but this one is important.  If you use Adobe Reader and Adobe Flash Player, which you likely do, there is a vulnerability that has been found.  In a nutshell, hackers have found a way to exploit the software to run virus code on your computer.


Open Adobe Reader, goto Help/Check For Updates.  If a message comes back and says no updates available, but the version installed is 11.0.08 then you have the patched version of the software.  Relax, you are good.


For the Flash Player, goto Check My Version


Just trying to keep everyone safe.  Thanks!

StartMail – I begin beta testing today.

Just a few hours ago, I received my invite to StartMail.  StartMail is a new email service for those who are concerned about privacy of their communications.  This service was developed by the same people who designed StartPage, the private search engine that does not store your search results.

I plan on putting this through the ringer and getting back to you, my subscribers, with a full review.  Thanks for subscribing and stay tuned!