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Annoying Annoyances Redux

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Category: Rants Published on Monday, 01 June 2009

I'm not Going to Take it Anymore (Part 2) 

Bet you thought my tirade was going to end with Part 1 -- WRONG! I have only begun to rant!

Users of Windows XP have been hit with a new, updated version of the classic smitfraud virus, which attaches itself to various programs and files on your PC or netbook. Unfortunately, this one isn't as easy to eradicate as the older versions and has converted many PCs into expensive door stops.

Usually this scourge of the PCs is linked to a notice that pops up on your computer warning you that you have a virus on your computer. It tells you to "click here" to remove it and, once you click, you're cooked. The pop up is usually linked to a website that guarantees removal of the virus -- for a fee, of course. Unfortunately the so-called virus killer is to viruses as an empty glass is to thirst and you end up spending your hard earned bucks on something that doesn't work.

Unfortunately, your computer becomes unuseable once you've "clicked here," with the pop-up continuously blocking your access to any of the programs on your computer.

PC Tools Spyware Doctor from Large Software can make your comuter useable again, but it only does half the job. The pop-up remains linked to your Web browser. The solution? Use another browser -- I like Safari from Apple -- or completely reformat your hard drive and reinstall all of your software. The only caveat for using a second browser, of course, is that it must have been installed on your PC BEFORE you had the problem, since Internet access using your original browser is blocked by the nasty pop-up.

Netbook users, unfortunately, don't have the option of reformating and reinstalling the software.

So far this has only infected PCs and netbooks running the 32-bit version of Windows XP, but can a Vista or Windows 7 scourge be lurking in the background??? Hopefully not!

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Facebook users and those of you with unprotected email accounts are also big-time targets for viruses and identity theft.

The Chief Marketing Officer Council has discovered a gazillion Facebook links and fraudulent email campaigns that will take you to Web sites operated by so-called trademark trespassers and brand-name knock off artists offering deals that are "too good to be true."

Some operate in a similar fashion to the smit fraud viruses -- once you've clicked on them, you're cooked. Others offer great deals on what you think are brand name products. BUT, once you place an order, they fail to deliver, get access to your bank or credit card accounts and possibly install a file on your computer that will hijack any financial or personl information stored on your PC.

The email scammers have also become a bit more sophisticated. The obvious spelling errors are gone and they've begun using email headings designed to scare you, such as "I'm going to sue you in 24 hours" or "there's a problem with your account."

The only way not to be suckered in by these scam artists is to have a good handle on your personal affairs.

One good way is to establish online links with all of your accounts and use a good software program, like Intuit Quicken or Microsoft Money Plus Premium, to keep track of all of your financial dealings.

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Finally, when are the Boys in Redmond going to wake up and give us a Web browser we can actually use?

If you haven't tried the new Internet Explorer 8 browser, don't waste your time. In fact, I'm convinced, if you look up "unstable" in the dictionary, you'll see IE 8 among the definitions. This new incarnation of Internet Explorer crashes so often, you'll be looking for a seat belt and air bags!

If you insist on using it, here are a few tips:

1) Reset its setiings to "default" to remove anything that may cause it to become unstable. You can do this by going to the "tools" dropdown menu, hitting "Internet Options," then hitting "Advanced" and, finally "Reset," which is at the bottom of the dropdown window.

2) Make sure no add-ons or toolbars are loaded. The Yahoo! Toolbar seems to be a big offender.

3) Pray!

 

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