Some FAQs about PCs you wish you knew before you bought it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

An example of a phishing e-mail, disguised as ...
An example of a phishing e-mail, disguised as an official e-mail from a (fictional) bank. The sender is attempting to trick the recipient into revealing confidential information by "confirming" it at the phisher's website. Note the misspelling of the words received and discrepancy. Also note that although the URL of the bank's webpage appears to be legitimate, the hyperlink would actually be pointed at the phisher's webpage. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Q: This e-mail I got looks suspicious. What should I do?

A: It is good to be skeptical, as there are a lot of Phishing scams out there, hoping that you're gullible enough to randomly click on bogus e-mails, which takes you to a fake website that copies a real website, hoping that you'll enter your real login into this fake site, thus giving them access to your account.

In general, if you get an e-mail that says they need you to click a link to process a return, verify some info, claimed that your account was accessed fraudulently... ANYTHING regarding your account ANYWHERE, you should NOT click on the link, but instead, open a new browser window and go to that website directly, then login and see if there is a way to perform the action.

Most people would suggest you simply DELETE the suspect e-mail. However, I'd ask you to do two things:

1) Go to PhishTank.com, which is a crowd-sourced Phish-trap. Enter that web link you got from the Phish e-mail, (right-click, then copy Link URL) into the website, and see if it's an known Phish.

2) If this involves a bank, go to that bank's website and see if they have a place that involves reporting Phishing email.

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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Q: So now that iPhone 4S is launched... what do you think?

A: I was right back in January 2011 predicting it'll be iPhone 4S, not iPhone 5. 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Q: I have Zemanta the blog helper but lately it just disappeared. I have the Chrome plug-in installed but somehow it no longer appears. Do you have any idea what's going on?
A: Did you by any chance have the extension "Ghostery" installed? If you had enabled "bug blocking" (optional feature) it would have blocked off Zemanta, which is one of those on the default list. You can go into the list and uncheck the Zemanta line, thus allowing its "bugs" to come through, and then the blogging extension will show up.

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Saturday, August 06, 2011

Quick Review of Machinarium, an indie adventure / puzzle game. 

Machinarium is a quirky little click-adventure puzzle where you are this little robot trying to make its way across this weird landscape. Each screen features a puzzle where you need to perform multiple steps in a row to progress. The fun is figuring out what parts are available.

One example: you're trying to go through this door which opens too fast for you to go through. You search around, and found this "handle" which allow you to trigger the "release lever" by remote. You also found a control panel which lets you lower the arm which lets you jump to grab a "derailer". You used the derailer to derail the next cart, and take its wheels, and set it on the track, and you hit the remote, and voila, you got pushed by the next cart through the door.

There are 30 puzzles (30 locations) each with its own objective / puzzle. (The demo has 3 levels)

The look is VERY unique and zany / cute.

Play the online demo at http://machinarium.net/demo/

In the meanwhile, there is still a day or two left to get the Indie Bundle 3... Donate some money to a good cause, and get plenty of indie games for less than $10.

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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Image representing Logitech as depicted in Cru...Image via CrunchBaseQ: Is there a TV remote that can work with just about ANY device? 

A: Logitech's Harmony remote control is the best, bar none. They have a whole slew of them, from $30 to HUNDREDS of dollars.

The simplest one, the Harmony 300, is programmable through your PC. Just get the exact make and model of the devices you want to control (the 300 controls 4 devices, usually TV, DVD, DVR, and Satellite, but you can choose which ones) Just go to MyHarmony.com, download the programmer (Firefox and IE only, sorry Chrome!) choose your devices, hit "sync", and voila, that's it.

It's the best $10 I've ever spent. You can get cheap "universal" remotes but why? This one is painless to program (just go to a PC, link the cable, and click a few buttons) and so far everything seem to work! ( a few buttons are not quite working as expected, but that's minor)

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ultimate Boot CD for WindowsImage via WikipediaQ: Any tips on how to restore a Win XP system that crashed?

A: It'll take DAYS to get things back to working, but your system should run much better... if there are no other problems. No real tips, no shortcuts.

If the hard drive still boots, but files are corrupted, save all the data you can with an external hard drive, then just reformat and reinstall Windows. You may as well upgrade to Windows 7 while you're at it.

To save the data, try this: http://www.fbackup.com/  There's an app in UBCD4WIN called Fab's Backup, but that app's pretty much un-updated (but still works). You will need a separate PC to create the UBCD4WIN though. You cannot download a pre-made one (unless you find an illegal one).

If the hard drive no longer boots, you will need to fix that first before you can even THINK about reinstalling Windows (any version).

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Q: Why do I sometimes see on the file sharing sites or postings that a certain game (let's say, Diablo 3, as of June 2011) is already out in beta or something? I downloaded the file, but it's got a RAR password that no one seem to know. 

A: You got a decoy or "bait". If you read the README file that came with the decoy, you'll see that you're requested to go to a certain website (probably porn or warez) and watch a video or something and if you watch enough of it you will find the password. In reality, there is no password. The file has nothing useful in it. Its sole purpose is to drive traffic to that website and make money for the website owner that way.

Originally this used to be a scavenger hunt, as the jokers would leave one clue after another leading you on a wild goose chase, and finally leave you with a "Ha-ha, got you!" message. It's no different than people uploading gay porn to P2P under tantalizing titles like "Natalie Portman's secret sex video!" (There is no such thing. Get over it!) Basically it's a joke at your expense.

When internet advertising came along people started doing it intentionally to drive up traffic, or worse, install a bunch of crap spyware, toolbars, and other apps that gets the distributor a small amount per install, no questions asked. So they put the stuff in bait packages and you... took the bait.

See below for one such example.

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

Q: I messed up my fonts in my Windows Vista install. I had too many fonts installed, and I tried getting rid of them. Now my apps are completely messed up, things not displaying, and stuff like that. Any help?

A: Simplest way is install Font Frenzy, and let it "DeFrenzy" your font install.


Thermal compound / grease / pasteThermal paste, Image via WikipediaQ: Can I use di-electric grease instead of thermal paste when I apply my heatsink

A: Dear God, no! Dielectric grease is the EXACT OPPOSITE of thermal paste when it comes to heat conduction! Instead of passing heat, it actually insulates heat! Dielectric grease are used in engine compartments to insulate spark plugs and some wiring connectors!

What does thermal paste do any way? Thermal paste is a thermal-conductive compound, sometimes called thermal grease. You put a little between the heatsink, and the CPU, and let the pressure spread it out to an ever coverage, filling in any 'gaps' between the two solid surfaces, so the heat transfer from the hot CPU surface to the heatsink is optimal.

Di-electric grease does NOT conduct heat. Thus, no heat will transfer to the heatsink, and the CPU will overheat.

So don't do that, even though they look similar.

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Thursday, June 02, 2011

Q: What is spear phishing?

A: Regular "phishing" (pronounced just like "fishing") is basically spam e-mail spent indiscriminately to people hoping that some of them are dumb enough to click on the link and therefore enter their "real" information to be given away to scammers. It's spam technique combined with "fake login" technique. However, this is easily filtered. For example, if my bank account is at Chase, I will surely ignore all phishing attempts that wants me to reset my account at Wells Fargo or Citibank, as I don't have accounts there.

Spear phishing is a little different. Spear phishing is targeted at specific individuals in a specific organization and/or people in his/her social circle. It's still phishing, but this is highly targeted by gathering more information about the individual(s) in question. It is personalized phishing. In the example above, if the spear phishing wants to target the theoretical me, he will sent a fake login page in the name of Chase bank instead of banks I don't use.

If you know that the individual banks at a certain bank, and shops at a certain supermarket, you can sent fake logins to that individual request him/her to reset password at the bank website and/or supermarket website. This way, the fake logins are less likely to be ignored. It is "targeted" phishing, by taking advantage of 'social engineering'.

Spear phishing had been identified several months ago, but became popularized when Google pointed finger at China as origin of many spear phishing attacks aimed at Gmail users. China denies the allegations.

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