Really useful software – dropbox

June 10, 2010

Do you use multiple PC’s? Perhaps you have a desktop PC in your office, another desktop PC at home, and a laptop as well. Do you find that the files you want to view or edit are always on the wrong PC and you end up emailing them to yourself, or transferring them on a usb pendrive.

I have been trying out a web based application for the past few weeks that resolves that problem. It’s called Dropbox.

First you create a Dropbox account, which is free. Then you install dropbox on each of your PC’s. Dropbox creates a folder within your My Documents called “My dropbox”.

Any files that you put in the dropbox folder, or any subfolders below that, will be automatically syncronised across all your PC’s that are connected to your dropbox account.

Dropbox will work on Windows, Linux, Mac’s, iPhones, and Android Phones (Blackberry support coming soon) so you can synchronise your files between your PC, Apple Mac, and your phone.

Also, if you are away from all your dropbox enabled devices you can logon via the Dropbox website to retrieve any dropbox file.

You get 2GB of storage free with a dropbox account, but if you need more than that you can buy extra space.

Dropbox has some other useful features, but I’ll save those for another blog article.

You can singup for a dropbox account below.

http://www.dropbox.com

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services
PC support and repairs for home PC users & small businesses

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Four ways to take control of your e-mail Inbox

June 7, 2010

Four ways to take control of your e-mail Inbox. This is an interesting article by Microsoft on how to deal with the large quatities of email that arrive in our inboxes daily.

http://ow.ly/1BzLc

The article is a bit biased towards Outlook, but is relevant whatever email client / task management software you use.

How long each day do you spend dealing with your inbox, let me know in the comments section.

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services
Computer repairs and support for home PC users


Really useful software – Digital Image Viewers

June 3, 2010

What is the best Free Digital Image Viewer for windows. There are lots of applications available for viewing digital images, and performing simple editing of those images.  Here is a review of the best ones available.  – http://ow.ly/1ExkB

Chris
ASL Computer Services


Really useful software – Evernote

May 20, 2010

Over the next few weeks I will be posting articles on various applications and software that we have found to be really useful. Some will be relevant to home PC users, and others will be more geared up to the small businesses.

I will start off with an application that I use to capture notes, screenshots, and ideas.

Evernote is a free application designed for notetaking and archiving of information. A “note” can be a piece of formattable text, a full webpage or webpage excerpt, a photograph, a voice memo, plain text, a screen capture, or a handwritten “ink” note.  Notes can then be sorted into folders, tagged, annotated, edited, given comments, and searched.

Evernote supports a number of operating system platforms (including Android, OSX, Windows and WebOS), so will run on PC’s, Macs, and mobile phones, and offers online synchronization between all these devices and platforms. Use of the online server is free up to a certain monthly usage limit, with additional monthly use reserved for paying subscribers.

I find it is really good for capturing notes and then making them available in a searchable format.

More details can be found at www.evernote.com

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


Viruses and Malware (MALicious softWARE)

December 8, 2009

Unfortunately, viruses are becoming more commonplace on PC’s in recent years. One reason is the fact that almost everything we now do on a PC involves being connected to the internet. Email, web browsing, youtube videos, facebook, twitter; they all require internet access.  And the internet is a really easy way for these viruses and malicious programs to get into your PC.

But what is in it for the writers and distributors of these malicious programs? Money, that’s the reason. Viruses and malware generate large sums of money for these “Internet crooks”.

  • Our PC’s can be scanned by “Spyware” for bank or credit card account numbers, and associated passwords, so the crooks can empty our bank accounts before we even notice.
  • The keys we press on our keyboard can be intercepted by a “Keystroke logger” that tries to find out our passwords.
  • Malicious programs can be put onto our PC’s without our knowledge claiming they are an “Anti Virus” program that has found lots of “virus infections”. And if we pay to upgrade the Anti Virus program it can clean the PC for us. In actual fact it is this new “Anti Virus” program that is the virus, and paying for the program upgrade will not cure the problem, it just gives the crooks our credit card details so they can go on a spending spree.
  • Our PC can be taken over by “bots” (a web robot) that can use our PC to send out thousands of email spam messages, which can then be used to defraud the unsuspecting recipients.
  • Our web searches can be intercepted by “adware” pop-ups trying to make us buy our goods from a certain seller (who probably is not a reputable company), or redirect us to web sites containing malicious programs
  • Our PC can be fooled into taking us to “phishing” web sites, that claim to be our bank, credit card, or Paypal account, but are actually a bogus web site just trying to capture our logon details.

So what can we do about it? Well, prevention is better than trying to “lock the stable door after the horse has bolted”. We at ASL recommend the following:

  • Ensure your PC has a resutable Anti Virus program installed. We recommend AVG and Avira anti virus programs. Both companies offer free versions for home PC users, and paid for products for business use
  • Ensure that your Windows Firewall is turned on
  • Use a “router” not a broadband modem to connect to the internet. With a router your PC is given extra protection from being hacked into from the internet.
  • Be vigilant and be very careful when opening emails with attachments from people you do not know (the attachments could be a virus)
  • Do not follow links in emails asking you to confirm your bank details.
  • Do not use peer to peer file sharing programs such as “limewire”. These types of programs make your PC incredibly vunerable to virus attacks.

If you do get infected with a virus, don’t panic. The best advice is to turn the PC off, and then get the assistance of a reputable local IT support company to “clean up” your PC.

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services


Gadgets and computer items for XMAS

December 6, 2009

In previous years there have been all sorts of gadgets and computer peripherals that have been must have presents for Xmas. A few years ago it was the digital camera, then last year it was the iPod touch, what will it be this year?

Here are a couple of ideas:

  • The Netbook: This year the small form factor laptop, otherwise known as the netbook, has been an immense success. I think it will be a very popular XMAS present. Initially they were available with XP or Linux operating systems, with Linux being very popular. However, recently Linux on netbooks has lost popularity with most being sold running XP. And now Windows7 netbooks are starting to appear in the shops. We think the Netbook will be a very popular present.
  • Windows7: For the first time ever Microsoft allowed the general public to download the beta test version of their new operating system months before it was released as a commercial product. Many people did this and are still running the Beta version (we still have the beta version on one of our PC’s). But the beta version stops working in March 2010, when you will have to revert to your old Operating System, or buy Windows 7. Because of this I guess many people will be putting Windows 7 on their present list to Santa. If you have multiple PC’s in your home the “Windows 7 family pack” is the best value. This allows you to upgrade three PC’s to Windows 7 much cheaper than three seperate Windows7 licences.  Be quick though as Window 7 Family Pack is only available for a limited time, it has already been withdrawn from sale in the USA.

Why not add comments to this article with what you think will be this years must have XMAS gadget or computer item.

Chris Moody
ASL Computer Services
Tel: 01788 298034
Web: http://www.aslcs.co.uk


Free CAD software for home use – ProgeCAD 2009

November 7, 2009

I was with a customer yesterday, fixing their PC, and they showed me a program they were using called ProgeCAD 2009.

It is a Computer Aided Drawing (CAD) program very similar to AutoCAD LT. But where AutoCAD LT costs many hundreds of pounds, this program is free for non comercial use (you can make a donation to charity if you like the program).

They also do a professional version for business use, and that is far cheaper than AutoCAD.

ProgeCAD can be downloaded at http://www.progesoft.com/en/smart-2009

Thanks for your software recomendation Stuart. If any other customers know of a very good PC program that is free, or offers exceptional value, let us know and we will post details on our Website.

Chris
ASL Computer Services
01788 298034

 


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