Monthly Archives: November 2009

NASA and Microsoft want YOU to help research Mars

NASA wants you to do its busywork. But NASA’s busywork is just about the coolest work out there.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Microsoft partnered up to create a Web site that, through crowdsourcing, will help NASA research Mars. On the “Be a Martian” site, anyone can play two simple games to give NASA valuable data about Mars’ landscape.

Plus, there’s a ton of Continue reading

GO Computer – technology for the senior set!

You see them everywhere – technology devices developed for the “senior set” in a form that enables our elder family members to utilize today’s technology. Everything from easy to use cell phones featuring oversized buttons and screens to those gigantic remote controls with back lights for controlling your TV.

Now there’s an easy to use computer designed specifically for today’s seniors and aging baby boomers. It’s called the Go Computer complete with a 19” LCD monitor, an oversized keyboard featuring large, easy to see, colorful keys and an easy to use trackball that replaces the customary mouse.

Everything about this computer is easy.  There’s a large “GO” button that appears at the top of the screen, and a simple click transports the user to a variety of sites and applications, including a number that are especially useful to the older user such as Web sites for news or medical information, as well as games and other entertaining and brain-stimulating resources. 

If a user gets confused while navigating around the system, there are green directional aids along the way, and the “GO” button is always the safe harbor—easily re-accessible so that a user need not experience the sensation of being hopelessly lost that sometimes comes, for all generations, with traditional computers.

The problems of maintenance, spam, viruses and lost work—other familiar plagues of the computer age—have been resolved by having safety, storage and repair issues handled remotely at MyGait, which monitors these computers 24/7. The user never has to worry about keeping the computer in tip-top condition because that is all handled at the remote site, as are any threats to security or safety.

 The Go Computer is priced in line with today’s basic PC @ $879.00 and for an additional $19.95 a month, their extended service plan includes:

Unlimited U.S.-based customer service for any questions you may have available Monday – Friday 7:00am – 7:00pm

Help at the touch of a button, online or over the phone

No fuss replacement for hardware issues – send it back, and they’ll replace it and have you ready to GO

Worry free updates for the GO computer interface
– Introducing new features
– Improving existing features
– Maintaining up to the minute security protection

With the holidays fast approaching, this might be the perfect gift for the Grandparents, enabling them to easily access the internet, email and a host of online resources. It might also get YOU off the “computer support” call list.

Here’s a link to a newscast video:

New Tech Support Scam On The Rise

They claim to be Internet security watchdogs offering help with a computer virus you mistakenly downloaded. Their real intention: to get remote access to your files.

It’s the “tech support scam,” a ruse that has made headlines overseas and now is quietly targeting computer users in this country.

It starts with a phone call from someone claiming to be from a software provider such as Microsoft, Norton or McAfee, or your computer’s manufacturer. (Other callers say they represent Support on Click, a firm based in India.) You are told that your computer has a virus and may be in danger of losing all stored data, but the caller can help avoid that—if you follow his instructions.

Don’t take the bait.

What they usually try to do is get you to download software that they say will fix the virus. What that software really does is give them remote access to your computer and everything on it—your passwords, online banking accounts, everything.”

In some cases, users are directed to the website, which gives the hackers remote access to your computer, allegedly to “fix the problem.” Or they may ask you to provide your user name and password.

How are users targeted? Their names and phone numbers can be accessed from online telephone directories. Some calls may be made with an auto-dialer that calls numbers in sequence.

Be on the alert for signs of trouble:

• The warning that you have a computer virus comes to you by telephone or e-mail. If a real virus is ever detected, you’re likely to receive a security update or warning directly on your computer.

• Callers try to sell subscriptions for “computer monitoring” or “security services.” Giving hackers your credit card information creates an added danger.

• When you answer the call, you hear a ringing tone. That indicates a callback system that could result in expensive long-distance charges to you, since these posers often call from Europe or Asia.

If you believe you’ve already fallen for a phony tech support scam, contact a computer repair company to disable the hackers’ remote access. Also notify your bank and credit card companies, and monitor your statements for any unauthorized charges.

A question we’re often asked is: How often should I scan my computer with antivirus software, and can I do it on the cheap?

Experts recommend that your computer get a full scan at least once a week, but some suggest scanning every day or so. This is not as tough as it sounds, because many antivirus programs can be scheduled to automatically scan your computer and install the necessary security updates.

If for some reason you don’t subscribe to one of the major antivirus programs, there are many free scanning products, and PC World recently tested several and listed its favorites. There are also offerings by Norton and McAfee.

Whatever product you choose, be sure to read the terms and conditions to ensure you’re not installing a limited-time free trial that could later start generating unexpected costs later. You may also try calling your Internet Service provider as some provide customers with antivirus software for free.

It’s usually recommended that computer users stick with one antivirus program. Although it’s possible to install more, they may conflict with each other, actually weakening your protection. So if you go double-duty, make sure that at least one product is set to scan “on demand” and is not active all the time.

Windows 7 Upgrade Gotcha’s!


There’s seems to be a bit of an uproar over what can and can’t be done with a Windows 7 upgrade disk.  In an effort to help explain the Microsoft policy, let’s see if we can answer a few nagging questions.

The upgrade version of Windows 7 (as opposed to the higher-priced full version) lets one move from any properly licensed version of Windows XP or Windows Vista to Windows 7 on that same computer. Only some of these upgrades, however, can be done as a simple update–what Microsoft calls an “in-place upgrade.” Users moving from Windows XP, switching from 32-bit to 64-bit versions, or moving from a higher-end version of Vista to a lower-end version of Windows 7 can use an upgrade disc but will have to do a more cumbersome upgrade, known as a custom, or “clean,” installation. Really NOT an upgrade at all in my book, but that’s what Microsoft insists on calling the process. Go figure.

The difference between an in-place upgrade and a “clean” installation, in this instance, means backing up one’s data, installing Windows 7, restoring the data, and reinstalling all Windows programs. Windows 7 upgrade disks can be used to do this clean installation and will recognize the previously installed version of Windows. So – the bottom line here is that if you don’t have any previously installed version of Windows on the machine, you will need to get yourself a full copy of Windows 7.

While it might be (is) technically possible to use the upgrade disks to do an installation of Windows 7 without a previous version installed, doing so, as Microsoft points out, is not supported and the install will not be properly licensed.

Some of the confusion, thus the recent uproar, has surfaced after a few “enthusiasts” noted a way to get an upgrade disc to install on a fully erased (blank) hard drive.

Again, the main issue here is whether one is properly licensed to do so. If you have a licensed copy of Windows XP or Vista for that computer, you are good to go, and Microsoft technical support should be able to help you activate that machine. If not, you may be able to get it to install, but you could well run into technical or legal hurdles.

The bottom line is this. If you qualify for an upgrade license, then yes, you can use any number of work-arounds to install the operating system legally. If you don’t qualify for an upgrade license, then those same workarounds might technically succeed, but your license is not valid.

Would you get away with it? Probably… But if you’re running a business, do you want to run the risk that someone (perhaps a disgruntled employee) will turn you in to the Business Software Alliance, which could lead to an audit, civil charges, and eventually some stiff penalties.

I should also point out that beta test and pre-release versions of Windows DO NOT count as a previously licensed version of Windows – remember, you didn’t pay Microsoft for the privilege of beta testing Windows 7 so why should they give you a break on a upgrade?.

Also, you aren’t allowed to count the version of Windows that came installed on a previously purchased PC, if that’s not the machine you’re trying to upgrade.  The rules is – retail, boxed copies can be transferred from one machine to another at will but operating systems that came pre-installed on a PC (such as Dell systems) are licensed only for that particular machine. (Unless you purchased the system with an authorized “down grade” that included a Windows 7 upgrade) Confused yet?

 If you need help implementing any of the information or tips provided in my posts, contact us – we’re here to help.

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