Personal Computer FAQ and Tips

Computer/Virus cleanup

  • First off, know how to use the internet safely
    • No matter if you are looking for games, programs, porn, or videos… you should not download or install any software unless you are 100% certain it is safe to install.
    • If you have the Recommended apps (see below) installed, you should not need to install anything else to view that video, or read an email. Many sites are set up to trick you with ads, popups, etc. that convince you to install their “software” (malware, phishing, virus, etc)

 Infected Computers

  •  If your computer is extremely slow, try these steps
    • Press Ctrl-Alt-Del and click on Task Manager
      • Click on Processes, and tick the box to Show All Processes.
      • Click the CPU column header to sort by CPU largest to smallest
      • Find the largest CPU hogs and end the process
        • This may kill something important, but the damage is undone once you reboot
        • You can ignore System Idle Process.
        • iexplore is Internet Explorer
        • svchost is used by Windows, but also by viruses
          • Killing it can be good or bad depending, but is worth a shot
    • Eliminate startup programs with WhatInStartup
      • If you are really infected, just remove everything in the list.
    • Scheduled Tasks
      • Start – Control Panel – Scheduled Tasks or
      • Start – Control Panel – Administrative Tools – Task Scheduler
      • Some Virii hide in here.
      • You can pretty safely remove any tasks that are not in the Microsoft folder
  • Download TDSSKiller
    • Scan computer and remove threats
      • Reboot if prompted
  • Install MalwareBytes
    • Opt out of the professional trial when installing
    • Update, Scan and Remove all infected Malware
  • Install Microsoft Security Essentials
    • Update, Scan and Remove all infected items
  • Browser Toolbars
    • Remove ALL toolbars and suspicious add-ons from each browser
      • Internet Explorer
        • Tools – Settings – Manage Addons
      • Firefox
        • Tools – Addons – Extensions, and Plugins
      • Chrome
        • Settings – Extensions
    • Change Search provider to Google as default
  • Download and run Cleanup to clean Temp files and free up space
  • Please see my warning about Cryptolocker
    • If this applies, seek immediate attention
    • This will destroy all of your files, and leave  “HOW_TO_DECRYPT” files in your folders.

New computers/Windows 8

  • Windows 8
    • Windows 8 can be improved with the Installation of Classic Shell
      • This will give your start menu back, and nearly eliminate the Metro start screen.
  • Startup – Speedup
    • Eliminate startup programs with WhatInStartup by Nirsoft
      • Extract/open the zip file and run the exe program
        • Never do this unless you trust the origin – but you can trust me now
      • You can pretty safely delete everything in here to speed up your computer and eliminate background programs.
      • Once you’ve removed everything, reboot for the changes to take effect.
      • Keep this program, and check it again in a month, things tend to reappear and need to be cleaned out regularly


  • Installing
    • Be careful installing ANY programs that are downloaded from the internet.
    • Even if you know it’s safe, click through the installer carefully. Almost every installer now contains additional “sponsored” software that you don’t need.
      • ie. Ask toolbar, Safesearch, MyPCBackup, Trial antivirus, Trial professional versions, etc.
    • Use the links below to get the apps
      • They go to the best source to download them
  • Safe applications
    • You can find many free, useful and safe apps at Sourceforge
    • Any application that is “Open Source” is generally safe to install
  • Highly Recommended for every computer
    • All of this software is free but can contain sponsored software, so again – Be careful
    • Necessities
    • File unzip
      • 7-Zip
    • Internet
    • Pictures
    • Video
    • Email
      • Thunderbird
        • This has many add-ons available to integrate calendar, sync with Google contacts, etc.
      • I recommend Gmail for free email as it allows you to sync email, contacts, and calendar with nearly any Android, PC, or Apple device.
    • Microsoft Office
      • MS Office is not free, but there are alternatives
        • Office Viewers  (allow you to view but not edit files)
          • Just install the latest version for each program
        • Google Docs
        • Open Office
          • This is a free competitor to MS Office
      • If you have an older version of Office and want to open newer files, just install the Compatibality Pack
    • PDF viewer
      • Adobe Reader
        • Be sure to uncheck the optional offer before downloading
    • Notes
      • Evernote
        • Permits you to save and sync notes from any device
  • Removing programs
    • You can uninstall most programs in the Control Panel
      • Start – Control Panel – Programs and Features
        • You may need to change the View by to Large Icons, or classic view
      • Windows XP is Start – Control Panel -Add/Remove Programs
    • Any program listed here that you do not currently use is generally safe to Uninstall

Everything Else

  • If I have forgotten anything, please let me know in comments and I can add it.
  • Bookmark and check this blog as needed, I will try to keep it up to date.
  • If you don’t know how to do something Google it


Cryptolocker Virus Alert

I normally do not panic about new virus alerts, but this one has caught a lot of attention because of the potential destruction.
The links in this page are safe, but are a perfect example of how viruses spread through email. Do not trust unknown links (except for this). One way to verify links are by hovering over with your mouse, the destination address should appear in the bottom left corner of the browser window.

What does this virus do?

When this virus infects a system, it immediately encrypts the
user’s data and possibly the data on any external drives (such as
USB/thumb drives) or network share drives to which the machine is
currently connected. Once the data has been encrypted, the virus
prompts the user to pay money ($300) by a specified deadline to
decrypt the data. If there is no response before the deadline, the
key to decrypt files specific to the encrypted machine is
destroyed. Once the files are encrypted there are no other
alternatives EXCEPT to recover the data from an offline backup. Read more here

Will your Antivirus program protect you?

At this time, both Vipre and other major antivirus vendors have
updated signatures to this virus and prevent its infection.
However, they do NOT not have a way to decrypt the files once they
have been encrypted.  It is critical that you keep your antivirus
active and updated daily. They are still not 100% fool proof, and
the best defense is user education and excessive caution when
opening email attachments or files downloaded from the internet.

What you can do to protect your computer and your data?

  • Do NOT open attachments from people you are not
    expecting to get attachments from. This includes emails from
    printers saying they have sent you a scanned document, or from
    shipping companies stating there is a customer support issue.
  • Continue to keep your antivirus signatures updated.
  • Importantly, the only sure way to beat this virus and others
    like it is to make regular backups of your data and store them
    offline.  If you backup your files to an external hard drive, do
    not leave it connected to your computer unless it is in the
    backup process.

What should I do if I get infected?

  • Immediately turn off your computer by holding the power button
    down for 10 seconds.
  • Do not attempt to move files or circumvent the problem.
  • Immediately contact your local computer support group

What should I do at home?

  • Backup
    your important data regularly to an external USB drive, and keep
    the drive disconnected.
  • Be sure you are running up to date Antivirus software
  • Scan your computer now for Malware and  Rootkits.
  • Do not trust links or attachments sent through email unless
    you are absolutely sure of what you are downloading.
  • Do not connect to an office network or VPN if you are unsure
    that your computer is clean.

What about other devices?

At this point Linux, Apple and Android computers and devices are
not affected.
Cloud storage such as Dropbox, Google drive, etc. can be affected
by this and other viruses if an infected computer is synchronized.


Cool things to do with your Android phone.

So, now that you’ve got the best phone on the market, how do you use it????

This is not necessarily a how to for any of these things. It is just a list of super cool things that can be done with your phone with a little time & effort… and a lot of google searching.

Install Apps

Open the market application and search

Check Email from multiple accounts

Install K-9 Mail

Watch live TV

You would need to purchase a Slingbox

You also need the SlingPlayer app for Android

Play Poker

Full Tilt offers Rush Poker app for Android

You need to change your application settings to “Allow applications from unknown sources”

Scan Barcodes

Install Barcode Scanner

Listen to your MP3 collection

Install GMote on your desktop and phone

Open ports on your firewall 8889 & 9901 to your computer


Listen to other music

Install Pandora Radio and create a free account

Run Windows

This is a bit tricky, but well worth the trouble.

You need to have a computer at home running at least Windows XP professional

You must “Allow Remote Desktop connections” from your computer.

Open port 3389 on your firewall

Sign up for a free account

Configure your computer to update that account with your current IP address

Install Remote Desktop on Android ($19.95)

Connect to your dyndns address

Live webcam backgrounds

Change your background automatically with various world webcams

Install WorldTour

Listen to the news

Install Scanner Radio

Cancel phone service.

Seriously… it’s possible. But I wouldn’t recommend it YET.

You can actually use the droid to make and receive calls with a local phone # of your choice.

AFAIK, there is only one true way to do this

  1. Sign up for Google Voice.
    1. Create your phone number, and add your Gizmo number as a forwarded phone.
  2. Install GrooveIP
    1. Configure this to use your Google Voice account
  3. Connect to WiFi and make some VOIP calls
    1. Phone calls are placed through your Google Voice account. I believe US calls are free, and international are about .02/minute.
    2. I believe incoming calls are free
    3. **You DO need an internet connection of some sort. It can be a data only plan, or WiFi
  4. Ask yourself WHY do I pay $60/month for cell phone service.

Backup your apps

Install Titanium Backup