CTPC User Group
  1. Preview of the Next CTPC Meeting
  2. IObit Releases New Free and Pro Malware Fighter 2 - Ira Wilsker
  3. Windows Libraries Help Organize Files & Folders - Dick Maybach
  4. Interesting Internet Finds - Steve Costello
  5. Hurricane Season Has Started - Keep Track and Stay Safe Using Your Computer - Ira Wilsker
  6. Editor’s Musings - Mike Alcorn
  7. You Just Got A New Windows 8 Computer: Now What? - Phil Sorrentino
  8. Holy Cow! Is This A Virus? - Linda Gonse
  9. Living in the Past? - Computing in a Software Museum - John Davey
  10. Dick's Clicks - Dick Ramette

Preview of the Next CTPC Meeting - Tuesday, September 24, 2013 - 6:30 p.m.


There is no meeting in August - see you at the September meeting.

Details will be posted as soon as they become available.

Meetings are held at the Silver Star diner in Norwalk (directions here). We also invite you to remain after the meeting for some socializing and to have pizza, salad and the beverage of your choice. Cost is shared and is normally less than $14/person. The Silver Star allows us to use their facility at no charge and we think they deserve some benefit for their generosity.

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Ira Wilsker - Ira hosts “My Computer Show” a call-in tech support show on KLVI radio, 560AM, from 4-5 p.m. Mondays, Pacific time. The show streams live over the net at KLVI.com and on the free iHeartRadio app. His call-in number is 800-330-5584.

IObit Releases New Free and Pro Malware Fighter 2


I have always been a fan of utilizing third party malware scanners to provide computer security in depth as well as to detect and neutralize any malware that may have penetrated the primary computer security software. Countless times in this column over the years, I have recommended free standing anti-malware software from MalwareBytes, SuperAntiSpyware, and Emsisoft. I have now had an opportunity to experiment with another newly released competing product, and my first impressions are positive. This newly released anti-malware product is Malware Fighter 2 from IObit.

Available from the IObit website (www.iobit.com) as both a free version and a paid Pro version (the Pro version is currently introductory priced at $19.95 for a one year license). Both versions offer real-time protection from malware attacks with a security package that is easy on system resources (does not significantly slow down the computer), is frequently updated, can detect and remove malware infections that may have penetrated the existing security software, and is explicitly designed to run on top of other antivirus and security software in order to provide security in depth. Both versions use IObit's proprietary "Dual-Core" anti-malware engine which claims to be able to detect complex and deeply hidden malware, including spyware, adware, Trojans, keyloggers, bots, worms, and hijackers and other malware threats. If a suspicious file or behavior is detected that is not included in the updated Malware Fighter's database, the questionable file is uploaded to the new "IObit Cloud Security" service for further analysis and resolution. For users who prefer simplicity, Malware Fighter offers a "Smart One-Stop Solution" that can detect and repair any malware security issues with a single mouse click. The only major difference between the free and Pro versions that I could find is that the Pro version automatically updates itself (in the free version, the user has to click on the update button), and the Pro version can be set to automatically perform a scan at selected times.

As good as they may be, no security product offers 100% protection; in order to increase the security of a PC, it is often desirable to implement a layered defense which will impose additional barriers and defenses to a variety of cyber threats. While there is an old and mostly still applicable adage "Never run more than one antivirus program at a time", there are exceptions to that rule. Today, several anti-malware products are intentionally designed to run concurrently with contemporary security software in order to provide enhanced security in real-time, and Malware Fighter is one of those products. This software is written to be compatible with other antivirus and anti-malware software, firewall software, and other security products.

The real-time functions in Malware Fighter provide comprehensive protection from malware threats, including a series of "Guards" that protect the computer and its software from attacks targeted at specific computer functions. These guards include a "Startup Guard" that prevents unwanted programs from installing themselves such that they load every time the computer is booted; a "Browser Guard" that protects the browser from being hijacked, having the startup page changed without consent, and other browser based threats; a "Network Guard" that block web pages containing threats; a "File Guard" that protects critical system and program files as well as scans unknown files for threats; a "Cookie Guard" that protects the browser and the user from dangerous cookies (small text files placed on the computer by websites that can violate your privacy and safety); a "Process Guard" that monitors the running processes on the computer, continuously searching for threats that may start to run; a "USB Disk Guard" that protects from infestation from USB connected devices; and "Malicious Action" that protects against other malicious behaviors, threats and dangers to the computer. These real-time protections are always running and providing continuous protection, even when web gaming, web browsing, reading email, shopping online, watching videos, and performing other PC activities.

Currently, a nasty form of cyber threat is referred to as a "zero day" threat, in that it can be introduced and spread so quickly, that it is nearly impossible for security providers to detect the threat and devise a solution to neutralize it before is spreads widely. IObit Malware Fighters uses a variety of tools to protect the user from these rapidly evolving threats, including a form of Host Intrusion Prevention System, commonly referred to as "HIPS". Malware Fighter has a feature it calls "DOG" to detect these new threats. According to IObit, "DOG (Digital Original Gene) is a novel heuristic malware detection algorithm, that evaluates key attributes relating to software making, distribution and advertising. Various factors are considered before determining that a program is malicious. For instance, if the program is published by a notorious vendor. The main function of DOG is to enhance detection of zero day threats."

In addition to providing real-time protection, this type of software is also designed to scan the computer for existing threats; Malware Fighter offers three levels or scanning speeds, a smart scan, a full scan, and a custom scan. A smart scan is the fastest of the automatic scans (but still may take over an hour to run), but only scans the critical software files and locations on the computer, as they are the most likely to harbor any infections; most of the time, a smart scan is adequate for routine security scans. A full scan is the slowest, but most comprehensive scan, as it searches everything for malware on all connected hard drives; with large or multiple hard drives, a full scan could take several hours to complete, but it is the most comprehensive and complete scan available. A custom scan only scans selected areas or functions; Malware Fighter allows user selectable custom scans covering critical system areas, processes running in memory (running malware can often be quickly detected here, as a memory processes scan only takes a few seconds), or specific hard drives.

IObit Malware Fighter will run fine on all contemporary versions of Windows, including Window 8, Windows 7, XP, Vista, and Windows 2000. Hardware requirements are minimal for a modern computer, such that Malware Fighter will run on almost any Windows PC with a minimum of 256 megs of RAM, a 300 MHz processor, and 30 MB of hard drive space.

For those who would like another malware scanner in order to confirm their PC's security, or would like a free or paid real-time malware utility that can provide security in depth in addition to the security software already installed, IObit's new Malware Fighter 2 would be very worthy of consideration.

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Dick Maybach, n2nd [at] charter.net, published in the Feb 2013 issue of BCUG Bytes, the newsletter of the Brookdale Computer Users Group, www.bcug.com

Windows Libraries Help Organize Files & Folders

Windows 7 introduced a new way of accessing files, libraries. These are roughly similar to program shortcuts. A shortcut points to a program, while a library points to groups of files and/or directories. Neither takes up significant disk space, and you can delete either without deleting what they point to. Shortcuts appear on your desktop, while libraries appear in your file manager. The purpose of both is the same – make it easier to access things on your PC. The argument in favor of libraries is best made by citing some examples.

Your primary PC is a laptop with limited disk space, so you have most of your extensive collection of videos on an external USB hard drive, with just a few of your favorites on your laptop. You create a video library that includes both the video directory on your laptop and the external hard drive. When you travel (without the external drive) it includes only your favorites, but when you’re home it expands to hold your entire collection. If you fill the USB drive, you can add a second and see its contents in the same library. Searches are now much faster, since they will look only at your video collection, and it will appear in one place even though it may be spread over several hard drives. This becomes even more important if the external drives archive data other than videos.

You are making a report that analyzes data from several different projects, each stored in a different directory. So you create a library that includes all the directories you need, and all the data appears to be in one place. When you finish the report, you can delete the now unneeded library without affecting any of your data.

You have an extensive photo collection with recent ones stored on your desktop PC (in My Pictures) and older ones archived on a different internal drive that you added when your C: drive began to fill. Using a library brings these together seamlessly.

You can probably think of other examples that fit your own situation.

It should be obvious that libraries don’t affect the need to organize your files logically into directories. If you just throw everything together in My Documents, every library will contain all your files. Libraries augment your directory structure; they don’t replace it.

Libraries can include files and directories on internal hard disks and on USB hard disks with NTFS or FAT32 file systems. In general, they can’t access USB memory sticks, DVDs, DROMs, or drives on home networks. (There are some exceptions, but these aren’t common.) You can see your libraries by calling the Windows File Manager; just click on the folder icon in the taskbar at the bottom of your screen. The screen-shot shows the result, which shows the default libraries. (You may have to click on Libraries in the side panel to see something similar.) Note the New Library item in the File Manager menu bar; click on this to create one. Before you use a library, right-click on its icon and select Properties to see something similar to the second screen-shot.

Although a single library can include many folders, new additions always go into the same folder. The default save folder for the Documents library is My Documents; click on a different folder, then click on the Set Save Location button; a check-mark indicates your choice. Add or remove folders from the library by clicking the appropriate button below the Library locations box. While you have this window open, click on the button below to optimize the library for general items, documents, music, pictures, or videos, depending on its contents.

Any time you are using the file manager you can add folders to a new or and existing library. Single-click on a directory, then click on the Include in Library item in the menu bar, and the drop-down menu shows the existing libraries to which you can add the directory, or you can click Create New Library to create a new one. (See the screen-shot above.)

When you open a library, what you see depends on the display option you’ve chosen. The screen-shot below shows my Pictures library.

I’ve just clicked on the button next to “Arrange by,” which shows that I’ve selected “Folder.” If you select anything else, you will see all the files in all the folders included in the library arranged by month, day, rating, or tag. Your choices of arrangement depend on how you’ve optimized the folder. In my Documents library, for example, these are folder, author, date modified, tag, type, and name. While in a library, you can move to a directory by right-clicking on it and selecting Open folder location. Similarly, if you right click on a file and select Open file location, you will move the directory where it resides.

Libraries provide an alternate to the traditional directory tree, which you may find convenient for at least some of your work. It would be worthwhile to experiment with them enough to know when.

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Steve Costello - Steve is President/Editor, Boca Raton Computer Society, Inc., FL, Boca Bits, www.brcs.org, http://about.me/sefcug, editor (at) brcs.org

Interesting Internet Finds

In the course of going through the more than two hundred news feeds in my Google Reader, I often run across things that I think might be of interest to other user group members. The following are some items I found interesting during the month of August 2012. (Long URLs shortened with the Google URL shortener http://goo.gl/ )

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/which-is-more-secure-a-password-or-a-pattern-lock/ - http://goo.gl/FgDx3
How To Exclude Google+ Events In Your Gmail And Calendar - http://goo.gl/FhMMi 
Skype - The Forgotten Free Desktop Sharing App - http://goo.gl/Tgvpa
116 Places For Free Audio Books Online - http://goo.gl/FncB6 
546 Places for Free eBooks Online - http://goo.gl/DzVa4 
A Beginner’s Guide to RSS and Why It is Still a Great Way to Consume Information - http://goo.gl/QaFyJ 
Quickly Apply Rounded Corners to Pictures - http://goo.gl/IasdK 
Solutions to Common Android Wi-Fi Problems - http://goo.gl/Cfv4h 
How to Completely Integrate Websites in a PowerPoint Presentation - http://goo.gl/dOZot 
How To Create A Security Question That No One Else Can Guess - http://goo.gl/TfCay

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Ira Wilsker - Ira hosts “My Computer Show” a call-in tech support show on KLVI radio, 560AM, from 4-5 p.m. Mondays, Pacific time. The show streams live over the net at KLVI.com and on the free iHeartRadio app. His call-in number is 800-330-5584.

Hurricane Season Has Started - Keep Track and Stay Safe Using Your Computer

http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/mobile/  (Mobile link for smart phones and other devices)
http://www.weather.com/services/mobilesplash.html  (Mobile apps and links)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.cube.arc.hfa  (Red Cross Hurricane App for Android)
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=Hurricane.Software  (Android Hurricane Software)

June 1 started our official annual hurricane season, which will continue until it officially ends on November 30. Last year on the upper Texas Gulf coast, we were fairly lucky in that our region was not struck directly by a major storm, but the memories of Rita, Ike, Katrina, Isaac, and other disastrous storms are still fresh in the minds of many of us. As computing power and information has been exponentially increasing, and computer model forecasting has greatly improved, hurricane warnings and projected tracks have become more accurate with greater advanced warning. Major providers of hurricane information have increased both the quality and availability of online information, allowing us users of computers and smart devices to have immediate access to the latest storm projections enabling us to better prepare for severe tropical weather; this information may be a literal life saver.

There is a plethora of public (government) and private organizations and websites that provide comprehensive current hurricane and tropical weather information. Arguably, the premier source of hurricane and tropical storm information is the National Hurricane Center (www.nhc.noaa.gov), a Miami based division of the National Weather Service. With the fiscal and material resources available as a federal agency, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) offers the most comprehensive information and data available. For those using mobile devices with web access, such as smart phones or tablets, the NHC offers a mobile version of its website at www.nhc.noaa.gov/mobile. Alerts and updates are also available in text format, by email, and RSS (news) feeds, as well on the major social media networks. The NHC is obviously making this information available as quickly as possible to the widest audience.

On the front page of the NHC website is an abundance of easy to follow information that is usually updated at least every six hours, but more frequently as conditions warrant. Typically at the top of the page is a composite image that shows potential storms that may form within the next 48 hours, as well as the odds of each suspicious area becoming a tropical storm or hurricane during that time period. Clicking on the "Graphical Tropical Outlook", "Active Storms", or "Marine Forecast" links at the bottom of the "Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Activity" image will open another page with that particular information clearly displayed both as a graphical image, and as a text file explaining what is shown. For those interested in the details of what is going on in the tropics, that Atlantic Marine Forecasts page offers an interactive selection offering detailed information on tropical weather in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean, and on the Atlantic High Seas. When an area of suspicious or threatening tropical weather exists, additional images are displayed below the Atlantic Marine Forecasts display. As I am typing this, there is an area of disturbed weather in the central Gulf which is displayed in a colorful chart showing land boundaries, color enhanced cloud tops, wind flow, and the projected short term boundaries of the shower and thunderstorm area.

When a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane occurs, the NHC provides a massive amount of additional data to the public and the media. On the main NHC webpage there will be a thumbnail summary of a variety of charts and graphs covering three and five day projected tracks, predicted wind field and wind strength, watches and warnings, and other important information. It is this graphical and text information that is displayed by most of the media, and studied by local forecasters and emergency management officials.

For those individuals who prefer independently compiled storm information, there are several major commercial weather services and web pages that prepare their own charts, graphs, and predictions; sometimes these independent tropical projections differ or contradict what the official government agency (the NHC) announces. Probably the best known of these private weather services is the Weather Channel, and its companion website www.weather.com. The Weather Channel has a dedicated "Hurricane Central" webpage at www.weather.com/weather/hurricanecentral which typically has videos, stories, maps, charts, and other helpful information. The Weather Channel, being a commercial operation, offers what may be the most comprehensive support for smart devices. On its mobile page at www.weather.com/services/mobilesplash.html, the Weather Channel lists free smart phone apps for iPhone, Android, Blackberry, and Windows Phone devices. For those using mobile browsers with any operating system, the Weather Channel offers a webpage optimized for the mobile web at www.weather.com/services/mobile-web.html. With the popularity of tablet devices, there are also apps for iPads and Kindle Fire tablets. With countless people massively communicating via text messaging, the Weather Channel offers a free sign up for weather related text messages, localized by city or zip; the signup link for these free text messages is at the bottom of the mobile page.

A private, independent weather service widely used by many in the media and corporate world is AccuWeather, which offers its own proprietary graphics and predictions on its hurricane page at www.accuweather.com/en/hurricane. AccuWeather is a feisty company, with an excellent reputation, and a very loyal following. AccuWeather also has free apps for almost all smart devices, including BlackBerry, Windows Phone, Windows 8, iPad, Android, iPhone, and other devices. The links for these apps can be found at the bottom right of the AccuWeather webpage. iPhone users might especially appreciate the AccuWeather iPhone app; according to the listing on iTunes, the app was, "Voted “Best iPhone App” by the 2012 Mobie awards, AccuWeather for iPhone now has popular features from our AccuWeather for iPad app, current conditions that refresh every five minutes, and more! Users tell us it is their “Go-to weather app.” From what to wear to how to travel, they say they, “Can’t live without it,” and it is, “Better than any other.”

Since many people are now using smart devices, such as smart phones, as their primary data and communications devices, it is inevitable that a large selection of dedicated hurricane apps would be developed for those smart devices. As stated above, the Weather Channel and AccuWeather have apps for just about all smart devices, they are not the only apps available. For most devices there are several highly rated free apps specifically for hurricane tracking. My personal favorites for my Android phone are "Hurricane - American Red Cross" and "Hurricane Software". The Red Cross hurricane app is one of an integrated series of free Red Cross apps that cover a variety of emergency issues, including first aid, tornado, earthquake, and wildfire events. The Red Cross hurricane app is among the most acclaimed and awarded emergency apps: "One of the top 6 hurricane tracking apps - CNN"; Readers’ Pick: Most innovative and useful hurricane app – FastCompany; One of 5 apps to get you through a natural disaster – Fox News; Top Apps of the Week (11/3/12) – ABC News". In addition to providing hurricane information, this Red Cross app provides information on open emergency shelters, can send "I'm safe" alerts to family and friends, provides the ability to use a phone as a flashlight and emergency strobe, and other benefits.

Another specialized free hurricane app I have on my Android phone is "Hurricane Software", which is a highly rated, free, comprehensive storm information app. According to its website, this " ... hurricane tracking application give(s) you the most up to-date and reliable hurricane coordinates data and high resolution maps, satellite Images, warning information, storm tracks and more."

In the infancy of the internet, in March, 1994, I created my own comprehensive, localized weather page, www.beaumontweather.com. I believe that my non-commercial weather page is the longest, continuously running Beaumont based website. During hurricane season, beaumontweather.com displays storm projections, spaghetti charts (projected tracks from multiple sources), wind maps, storm surge predictions, satellite images, and other storm information, much of it in real-time. My page also displays current local and regional weather conditions, radar animations, emergency information, evacuation maps, and massive amounts of other information. Since this is a non-commercial website, there are no paid ads or other irritants displayed.

With all of the contemporary weather and tropical information available online, the old fashioned paper tracking charts are somewhat obsolete as a prediction tool. With all of this information readily available on a host of devices, we all have access to current information that may literally be lifesaving.

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Mike Alcorn, CTPC Newsletter Editor

Editor’s Musings

There won’t be a meeting in August but we hope to see you at the September 24th meeting.

I thought I would use this space to add some personal comments about the article titled Living in the Past - Computing in a Software Museum that appears in this issue. The article got me to thinking about how I too am living in the past insofar as much of my software is concerned. Herewith a short list of my oldies but goodies.

Microsoft FrontPage 2002
This is a WYSIWYG HTML editor and web site administration tool that I have always used to create the pages on the CTPC website. It did all I needed and I just never saw the need to upgrade. Not too long ago Microsoft dropped this product but the old versions still work though less well now that I’m trying to be HTML 5 compliant.

MGI PhotoSuite - Version 4 - 2000
I bought this at a CTPC meeting in July, 2001 where the product was demoed. I don’t do a lot with photos and this program still handles all the basics.

DiskJockey98 - Version 2 - 10/14/98
I bought this at a CTPC meeting in Nov, 1998 where the creators demoed it. This is still my Windows file manager. Its search function beats anything Windows ever produced. I did find that the installer refused to work on Win7 64-bit PCs.

Corel Ventura - Version 7.1465 - 1996
I started with version 1(?) about 1988 when the product was distributed (later owned) by Xerox. It took me months to really learn how to use all of the program’s features. It still does everything I need in a desktop publishing program so I see no need to invest the time and money to learn a new one. Corel now owns the product and the last version released was #10 in 2002! I continue to use Ventura to produce the pdf version of the CTPC newsletter each month.

Address Book Plus -Version 1.0 - 1996
My wife loves to carry a printed address book of contact information with her. Perhaps this program’s greatest feature for me is that it prints two-sided pages that can be cut into booklets that fit in a purse. When I upgraded to Win7 32- and 64-bit on my various PCs, the installer on the 3.5” disk would no longer work. I installed a virtual copy of Windows XP on my 64-bit Win7 laptop so I could produce an updated address book for my wife once or twice a year.

I suspect that many CTPC members will have other old programs that they still rely on. I’d like to hear from you with a short note describing the program, why it is still important to you and what steps, if any, you have had to take to keep it working as you upgraded your hardware and operating system.

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Phil Sorrentino, Member, Sarasota PCUG, FL, May 2013 issue, PC Monitor, www.spcug.org, philsorr@yahoo.com

You Just Got A New Windows 8 Computer: Now What?

I know, exactly, that feeling of excitement when you first turn on your new computer. I have done it many times since my first PC back in 1982. You push the “on” button and wait for the initial screen to show up to give you that wonderful feeling that tells you, you now have a new computer. But after the screen lights up and initial excitement wanes, what do you do next? If you are moving from Windows 7 to Windows 8 there will be a lot of familiar things to do and there will be some new things to consider. For one thing, after some preliminaries, like setting the language (English), Microsoft would like you to set up an account with them in the “cloud”. You don’t have to, but Microsoft would like to give you a SkyDrive account with 7GB of memory, free. This “SkyDrive” account, in the cloud, will be a place for you to store files like documents and pictures; but more importantly Microsoft can use that account to synchronize your computers, if you so desire. (If you don’t want to set up a SkyDrive account you can opt for a “Local” account.) After you setup your User Account the display will go to the new “Start” screen - you know, the one with all the Tiles. Now the fun starts.

The Start screen is probably the first unfamiliar thing you will have to get over. If you are feeling a little queasy and you have to get to something familiar, then find the “Desktop” tile, on the Start screen, and click it (or touch it if you have a touch-sensitive screen). The desktop tile is probably in view on the new Start screen, and a single left click will get you to the familiar Desktop... go ahead, give it a try. When you get there you will find that it looks very much like the old Windows 7 Desktop, except that down in the lower left corner, there is no “Start” button. Well, this is one of the very first and seemingly difficult differences to get over during this transition from Win7 to Win8. Don’t let it get to you. In fact, the Win8 Start screen (the one with all the tiles) provides all the capabilities that were included in the Start button in Win7, and then some. So when you click the Desktop tile, voila, there is the familiar Desktop (sans Start button). Notice all the familiar things, the Background, the Notification Area (lower right), the Taskbar, Icons (short-cuts) typically on the left. Go ahead, play with it, just make believe you’re back in Windows. Most everything should feel very familiar. To get back to the Start screen, just point to the lower left corner until a thumbnail shows up. A left click will get you back to the Start screen, but a right click will give you a menu with a lot of familiar capabilities, including the Control Panel and File Explorer.

If you ever took one of my classes you will remember that Windows Explorer held the keys to the kingdom. Well, now Windows Explorer has been renamed “File Explorer”, so File Explorer now holds the keys to the kingdom. Fortunately, there is a File Explorer icon pinned to the taskbar on the Desktop (along with the other explorer, Internet Explorer). Let me take a minute here to say that this Internet Explorer is the one that you are familiar with. When you get to the Internet Explorer tile, on the Start screen, you will find a slightly different user interface. The familiar menus and tabs will be missing and the address bar will be on the bottom, instead of on the top. They both do the job, but I guess it’s up to everyone to decide which one they like. Right now, I think, the jury is out on this.

Once you get over the idea of a new Start screen and have reveled in the familiarity of the Desktop, there may be some things that you may want to do. First, go to Windows Update in the Control Panel and update Windows. Your copy of Win 8 may have been created many months prior to your starting up your new computer. During that time there were probably many updates to Windows that your computer has not gotten, so get them and install them now. (My new laptop computer had not been updated for 268 days and needed 36 updates.) By the way, you’ll probably want to update all of your Apps when you get around to it, but more on Apps in a future article. Here’s another way to get to the Control Panel: go back to the Start screen (If you have not done this yet, move the pointer to the lower left corner and when a thumbnail of the Start screen appears, left-click it.) and just start typing c..o..n..t. Immediately after you start typing, you will be in the Search Capability, and Control Panel will show up on the left. There is a lot going on here which is probably enough for still another article. But just click on Control Panel and you will be taken to another familiar screen, the Control Panel. You’ll find Windows Update in the alphabetical list, if you are in the Icon view.

Another thing you may want to do early on is decide on Virus Protection software. Many new computers come with a starter Virus Software subscription from McAfee or Norton or some other manufacturer. If it is installed on your computer you can use it for the initial subscription time, usually a few months. Or, if you know you do not want to use it, Windows now comes with Windows Defender which now includes both Virus protection and Spyware protection features. If you decide to use Windows Defender, you should first uninstall or at least disable the Virus software that was initially included. After that Virus software is not in the picture, you can turn on Windows Defender. You can get to Windows Defender through the Control panel.

Once you have a virus protected computer, you can venture out on to the Internet. (Although you were probably out there already, if you setup a Microsoft SkyDrive account.) The “Store” tile on the Start screen is the place to go for new Apps. I used it to get the Yahoo Mail App so I could easily get into my Yahoo Mail. There is a generic Mail App on the Start Screen, but I wanted the one that was developed by Yahoo. Yahoo has tried to make their Mail (for Mobile devices) App very similar to their Desktop Mail experience. To find a specific App when you are at the Store, just start typing and the Search Capability will pop up on the right side of the screen, with “Store” highlighted, showing you that you are searching the Store. Type in the App name and if it is available it will show up on the left side of the screen. Follow the directions for installation and it will be installed on your computer. The Yahoo Mail App was installed in no time, finally signaled by the audio cue indicating the download was complete.

Windows 8, I am told (and so far I have no reason to not believe it), has a lot of security and performance improvements, besides the new Tiled User Interface. It seems to be a good step in the right direction. It incorporates new capabilities while maintaining all the familiarity and usefulness of the very popular Windows 7, so don’t hesitate to jump in, the virtual water is just fine.

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Linda Gonse, Editor/Webmaster, Orange County PC Users’ Group, CA March 2013 issue, nibbles & bits, www.orcopug.org, editor@orcopug.org

Holy Cow! Is This A Virus?

I recently added a second external hard drive to my computer system. I use one for files and the other one for Acronis True mage system backups.

As I browsed through the files I’d saved to the drives, I ran into something peculiar. Both drives had folders with names that were long strings of random letters.** And each folder contained one file: mrtstub.exe at 89KB on the Iomega drive, and MPSigStub.exe at 227KB on the Seagate drive.

Fearing these might be malware or a virus, I quickly did a Google search. Interestingly, the search turned up conflicting opinions' in different forums. Some people said it was a virus and highly dangerous, some said the folder and file(s) inside were benign, some said the files were leftover from when Microsoft Malicious Software Removal tool (MTR) was run and had not been deleted automatically, and some said Windows created them. Although I only found one file in the folders, other people have seen as many as four at one time: mrtstub.exe, mrt.exe. P, Mrt.exe, and $shtdwn$req. I found a link to information about the Malicious Software Removal Tool at: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/890830#Faq.

The Malicious Software Removal Tool does not use an installer. Typically, when you run the Malicious Software Removal tool, it creates a randomly named temporary directory on the root drive of the computer. This directory contains several files, and it includes the Mrtstub.exe file. Most of the time, this folder is automatically deleted after the tool finishes running or after the next time that you start the computer. However, this folder may not always be automatically deleted. In these cases, you can manually delete this folder, and this has no adverse effect on the computer.

I also learned that MRT is not a substitute for a resident anti-virus for various reasons:

  1. MRT only removes malware AFTER infection, it doesn’t BLOCK malware like an antivirus does;
  2. MRT is designed to target a small
  3. set of malware only, while an antivirus takes care of most malware in the wild;
  4. MRT can only detect actively running malware - an antivirus can also detect dormant malware.
Microsoft’s Knowledge Base (http://support.microsoft.com/kb/890830) also said a new version of Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool is released every month. After you download the tool, the tool runs one time to check your computer for infection by specific prevalent malicious software (including blaster, Sasser, and Mydoom) and helps remove any infection it finds. The KB article contains information about how you can download and run the tool, and what happens when the tool finds malicious software on your computer.

Even though I did not intentionally download the Removal Tool or run it, I read that Windows Update may do that when it downloads automatic updates. Further, it uses the largest hard drive on the system to create the temp folders; and in my case, the external hard drives are the largest with each being 2TB.

The upshot of this was I checked each file’s Properties and confirmed Microsoft had signed them. Then I deleted the folders and files manually and nothing bad happened. In the future, I’ll disconnect the external drives before downloading or installing Windows Update.

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John Davey, mail (at) jadavey.net, Cascading Style Sheets Workshop , Philadelphia Area Computer Society, www.pacsnet.org, http://pacs-css.blogspot.com/, published in the April, 2013 issue of User Friendly, the Los Angeles Computer Society Newsletter

Living in the Past? - Computing in a Software Museum

It was at a recent meeting of my computer user group that it hit me – I do my computing in a museum.

It’s not my hardware. My printers from several presidential administrations ago, and parts from 286 and 386 laptops, have all been delivered to the local recycler. Ditto that 19-inch CRT monster. (Though I did keep the Leading Edge Model D that started me off – you never know when you will need a fallback.)

No, I’m talking about software.

It was at the PHP session. The topic was email, and the session leader was talking about scripting an HTML email message. He threw in the suggestion to include a fallback version in case a subscriber was using an email client that did not display HTML. It was as if he was talking about writing a webpage for someone who might be using Netscape Navigator 4 -- but I actually use an email program that does not display HTML pages, at least not with my setup. Not surprisingly, I was the only one in the group. And that got me thinking about how many software relics that I use at home, and even at work, and that I actually reinstall every time I buy a new computer.

Mail from Another Era
The email client goes back to the 90’s. Java was a hot new platform, and OS/2 was competing with Win-dows as a PC operating system (that’s a whole ‘nother story). A developer built an email client in Java so that it could run on any operating system. It was called JStreet Mailer, and it was perfect for people like me who dual booted between OS’s. I made it my email program. As good an idea as it was, it did not take off. The developer ceased working on the mailer, but he was generous enough to release the source to some volunteer coders. They maintained it for a while as Polar-bar Mailer. The last update was somewhere around 2003.

It is a very well thought out program, but needless to say, the feature set is behind the times. And frankly, under Windows 7, it freezes up regularly. I still use it every day, though. At this point, I have so many addresses and folders of saved emails that the task of migrating to a new program is too daunting to consider.

New Data, Old Base
My database program is even older. Back in the DOS days, when Lotus was its own company, they devel-oped the 1-2-3 spreadsheet. When the transition to Windows came along, they purchased a great word processor called Ami Pro and renamed it Word Pro. And they purchased a database program called Ap-proach. It was a relational DB, not flat file, and it was a good one. They put these together with some other programs and marketed the package as SmartSuite. They had both OS/2 and Windows versions, so this one was also perfect for dual booting. Then came Microsoft Office -- enough said. The last version of SmartSuite was released around 2002. I bought that update for about $35 from a vendor at a computer show. Approach itself was worth many times that amount. I used it to learn how to design and build databases. I did one for my passwords and another for our user group’s attendance sheets, and I still use them both. The program may be behind the times, but it works, so I hang in there – again, it’s too much of an effort to move.

A Pre-App App
Then there is my address book. I had forgotten this one until I went to do my Christmas cards.

I had a Palm III that I bought used from a guy back when Palm was the thing. It came with a nice desktop application that synched with the Palm and made it easy to enter information in either place. (You could also beam information between devices – remember that? The original Near Field Communications.) The Palm itself has long been retired, but there were so many contacts in that desktop program, it was easier just to leave them there. So every December, I crank up the Palm Desktop program to retrieve my old addresses for the holidays.

From the Days of DOS
I go even farther back with my diary program. It’s not even a Windows application. Lotus again comes into play. The story is that Mitch Kapor, the mind behind 1-2-3, had a habit of keeping notes on slips of paper. Looking for a way to organize information the way spreadsheets organized numbers, he had Lotus develop a personal information manager called Agenda – running in DOS. Agenda was my kind of program. It was a free-form database with calendaring functions and organization on the fly. I could create projects, enter notes, set up due dates, and track completions. I bought the first version from an online auction for a Boston PBS station, back when I used CompuServe for access -- pre-internet of course. (I bought a 2400 bps modem at that same auction to upgrade from a 1200 model.) The second version of Agenda came out in 1992, and that was the end of development. When Lotus developed SmartSuite for Windows, it bought an organizer called -- yup -- Organizer. It just wasn’t the same.

For whatever reason, I can’t find a program that works my way as Agenda does. These days I have to run it in DOSBox. People coming by my desk want to know what website I am using or whether the program would work for them. I just tell them to find something else. It’s too much to explain.

A Pioneer’s Second Act
The last example is not as ancient, but I have never heard of anyone else using it. In the early days of PC’s, before Lotus 1-2-3, there was VisiCalc, a prototypical spreadsheet designed by Dan Bricklin. It was one of the foundations of the desktop computer revolution. Years after VisiCalc, Dan developed ListGarden, an application that lets web designers convert website entries into RSS feeds. I found it because I was looking for exactly that type of utility, and it was literally the only one that I could find. I have been using it for years, and I know that it is time to move to a CMS that will handle news feeds, but here again, there is a lot of work to make that transition. It’s on my to-do list. But for now, ListGarden does the job, and I appreciate it being available. I have searched in vain to find anyone else using it, so I guess I am a leftover.

All of this is not to say that I don’t keep up with new things. I’m writing this article on a dual-monitor system using Office 10 and saving the document to Dropbox. I keep notes these days in OneNote. And I am learning Access for my database management.

But the old software still works well enough for now. So I’ll hang onto Agenda for now -- and wait for the next version.

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Dick Ramette, President, Computer Club of Green Valley, AZ; Summer 2013 issue, Green Bytes, http://www.ccgvaz.org/, Rwramette@mindspring.com

Dick's Clicks

I really like solving crossword puzzles. Over the past 16 years the New York Times has published 5,844 of them, and I've solved them all. My convictions are (1) solving crosswords is good for the little gray cells, (2) one actually learns interesting stuff and (3) everybody needs a hobby.

I don't want the NYT to appear in my driveway each day. My computer to the rescue—NYT puzzles are available online by annual subscription of $39.95/year, only about a dime a day. Go to: http://www.nytimes.com/crosswords/index.html. A free software download of Across Lite, for both PC and MAC, facilitates on-screen solving by mouse navigation and keyboard taps, as well as my preference, printing a copy to solve by pencil. I like the euphoria of snuggling into bed with a new puzzle on my clipboard. In the morning I check out the Wordplay forum, http://wordplay.blogs.nytimes .com, for discussion of the puzzle.

If you're new to NYT crosswords, understand that the Mon-Tue ones are relatively easy. Wed-Thu are medium, and Fri-Sat are very challenging. Sun is like Thu but bigger. IMHO, NYT puzzles are the highest quality of the genre.

Check out these solving tips from Xword Editor Will Shortz, at < http://nyti.ms/11AYe6K > For free, you can try out some older puzzles under Classic Puzzles.

Try making XWords part of your summer recreation. Like learning to ride a bike, you'll be wobbly and mystified at first, but once you get the hang of it the ride is smooth and pleasant.

Quote of the Month: "Egotism, n: Doing the New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen." Ambrose Bierce

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