Technology Blog

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Malware Monday

Here is a brief explanation of whats going on…

below it are my thoughts…

Thousands of computer owners may find it impossible to reach the Internet on Monday despite an unprecedented campaign by a coalition of tech security groups and the online giants Google (GOOG) and Facebook, which have sought to warn people about the malicious software known as DNSChanger.

http://download.cnet.com/8301-2007_4-57467164-12/what-the-dnschanger-malware-is-and-why-you-should-care-faq/?tag=FD.epic

you can check if you have it here…
http://www.dcwg.org/detect/

http://dns-ok.us/ will state if you are or are not infected

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If you have an active antivirus and don’t feel like anything weird is going on with your system then you are fine, but if you are not certain go the link above to make sure you have a green light.

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So the story is the FBI found these servers and rather then take them down they left them up because ‘thousands of people, including fortune 500 companies could be infected”.

This story is implausible for a variety of reasons, first what difference does it make if they took them down last year or now, secondly are we really supposed to believe that there are all of these fortune 500 companies infected with malware?  The truth is painfully obvious.

If the FBI leaves these servers up they have the opportunity to track all traffic from every user that is infected.  Information that is not readily available without a dns server sitting between these users and the internet.

“Update on March 12, 2012: To assist victims affected by the DNSChanger malicious software, the FBI obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium (ISC) to deploy and maintain temporary clean DNS servers. This solution is temporary, providing additional time for victims to clean affected computers and restore their normal DNS settings. The clean DNS servers will be turned off on July 9, 2012, and computers still impacted by DNSChanger may lose Internet connectivity at that time.”

It should concern everyone that the FBI is able to just continue using the technology these hackers created.  The hackers need to be prosecuted, and the servers should have been taken down immediately!

 

Shutting down your computer properly

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-vista/Turning-off-your-computer-properly?SignedIn=1

When you’re done using your computer, it’s important to turn it off properly—not only to save energy, but also to ensure that your data is saved and to help keep your computer more secure. Best of all, your computer will start quickly the next time you use it.

I know this is obvious for most of you, but some people don’t realize that letting your battery die while in windows, or unplugging a computer with no battery power will do serious damage to windows.  Once corrupted usually you will have to do a repair install, or a complete install to get the OS running the way it should.

 

Microsoft Windows Intune

Checked out my free subscription to InTune today, looks pretty sweet, so I downloaded installed it, total of 5 different components.  I was happy becasue I am paying for Goto Manage, which is a great product, but if I could save some money buy using InTune I am all about it.

Alas, InTune doesn’t support any versions of Windows except Pro, waste of time.  Makes no sense, so I can support remote computer with it, as long as they have a professional OS installed.  That is ridiculious, why would I use a product with that limitation when every other product on the market has the capability to support all OS’s, GotoManage even supports android and WebOS.

This is typical of Microsoft, and why they have gone from the leader in the industry, to just trying to catch up to everyone else.  Years ago Microsoft would have developed something that could connect you to anything, anywhere, anytime, now they want to restrict you so you buy their products and only their high end products.  More bad boardroom decisions!

Download Windows XP Mode with Virtual PC

This comes in handy when trying to run those old programs in Windows 7…

Windows 7 has several built-in tools to help with program compatibility and Windows XP programs should be installed directly on Windows 7. Windows XP Mode runs many older Windows XP productivity programs and that are not natively compatible with Windows 7, thus helping realize cost savings and reduce possible operational downtime by extending the life of existing software. Visit the Windows 7 Compatibility Center to find software that works with Windows 7.

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/virtual-pc/download.aspx

What happened with my previous partner…

Trust has always been an important thing to me, I suppose I tend to trust people to much, many times to my own detriment.  I was an independent sales rep for a company for 14 years, I am going to leave out their name because I know they track everyone who mentions them on the internet.

On the first day back after the Christmas and New Year Holidays they decided to terminate my 14 year relationship with zero notice.  I have to say I was really blindsided, although I saw many changes happen, and was a little concerned,  in my mind since I had been there for 14 years and always worked on commission I didn’t expect the relationship to be terminated with no notice.  In retrospect it is my own fault for trusting that businesses and people are always up front, honest and trustworthy.

The reason why I feel I need to put this out here is that it seems there have been many rumors floating around, most of which are totally false.  Here is a brief summary of exactly what happened and I have documentation to back this up.  Over the years I have come to find out that many people will say just about anything to make a sale, or put money in their pockets, I have never been like that, and really don’t expect people I deal with to act that way.

On 12/30/2011 I recieved this email…

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Brian,

I hope all is going well.  I am sorry that I was not able to meet with you need today for our weekly meeting.  I would like to meet with you briefly at 4:00 PM on Tuesday January 3rd to discuss a few things.

Have a Happy New Years!

Kind Regards,

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So I called in Tuesday January 3rd, 2012 for what I thought was a regular weekly meeting and found out that they were terminating the relationship with NO notice at all, and at that moment I was being cutoff from access to everything I had worked for 14 years on with this particular company.

I was given a termination letter and that was it.  No “thank you for helping us build the company from 5 million to 25 million a year”, no “lets talk about how we can make this work out for everyone”, nothing.

Just to be clear, I have documentation of this, so if anyone wants it please ask…

I am very happy now that it turned out as it did because I have built a reputation over 20 some year in the IT industry of trust, and I would rather not be associated with people who will lie, cheat, and steal just to make a dollar, especially not at the expense of nonprofit customers who work hard everyday to make a difference!

A call to Microsoft about Office 365

After I have spent 2 weeks trying to get a situation with Office 365 straightened out, looks like I finally got that straightened out, and by straightened out I mean they deleted my entire BPOS account and told me all the info stored is gone forever.  Today I needed to call in about another issue.

I thought it might be fun to track how this call goes…

this was on 2/20/2012

1:15 I called the Microsoft online services help desk and selected tech support…

1:30 Have been listening to music for 15 minutes

1:35 No Music, seems I have been disconnected, will call back in

1: 35 called back in, please hold while we connect your call

1:41  Music seems to have gone away again, looks like i was disconnected again, will give it a few more minutes.

1:43 music is back barely, so I guess I am still holding.

1:45 It’s been 30 minutes, still no one has picked up.

1:55 been 40 minutes, still have musac, wondering if anyone of the powers that be as Microsoft ever tries to actually use the systems they put in place

1:58  Someone picked up, great girl, the people up there are always very helpful and nice, obvious they are just stuck in a bad situation, of not really understand how it all works.

2:05 Back on hold, so the problem I having is that my Microsoft Partner account is not tied to my office 365 account for some reason and it says it will expire.

2:21 Technical support couldn’t help me, needed to transfer me to a different department, neither issue is resolved yet, back on hold…more musac.

2:36  I got a nice lady on the phone, she says she can take care of everything, that is what everyone has told me for 2 weeks now…

2:48 Back on hold, they think I may need tech support after all, I am thinking what i need is a straight jacket after the past hour

3:17 Still on hold for techsupport again

3:43  Well it seems I was disconnected, will have to try again tommorow.  That’s 2:30 hours I will never get back.  Ok let me close down these six different sites i needed open for this too.

 2 month later I recieved an email from Microsoft…

here is the exact wording from the email…

“We can create the new revised amendment if we receive the previous information you were requested previously, or if you acquire the new amendment as you have done so before. The reason for this is because we cannot make any changes, or offer a blank MOSA.”

“the previous info you requested previously”…this is why microsoft worries me, I am not sure if they are the leading software company in the world, or a place selling food out of truck…..ya know?

so i replied and attached my email from 2 months ago which contained all the info requested.

“or if you acquire the new amendment as you have done so before. The reason for this is because we cannot make any changes, or offer a blank MOSA.”

so I need a new MOSA (Microsoft Online Services Agreement), but Microsoft can’t provide me a blank one… all i can say is wtf?

4/24/12 update

received an email from Microsoft MPN Solve

“and also to estate that we are not authorized to provide blank MOSA forms.”

so can you tell me where I can get a Microsoft form, perhaps Symantec has them?

“I have reviewed the attachment your provided and forwarded it to them once again. I will await further instructions from them and get back to you. This should not take any longer than 3 business days for them to contact me and for me to follow up with you.”

really 3 business days to answer a simple email?

 4/25 update

“Unfortunately we cannot give out blank MOSA forms to customers or partners”
if you cant give me a blank microsoft form, and you are indeed with microsoft, then where do i get it?
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“we require the number of seats that your customer is the Online Service the customer is buying and the number of seats they attained.”
again, if you are microsoft and they purchased this from you, wouldn’t you already know what they have?….not to mention it was on the form i attached earlier, the original MOSA that I sent to you…

 

Paypal

I guess about 20 years ago now I opened my first merchant account through my bank so I could take credit cards.  Over the years dealing with merchant services, online payment gateways, etc. had been a nightmare and PayPal wasn’t an option, to much shenagins’s, yea i used that word.  I am sure most people in the IT business understand, security is always an issue.  I changed yo PayPal a few years ago though, mainly because Ebay, and I have come to really appreciate the simpleness of it as a solution.

Paypal allows me to do my invoicing, buy things easily online without having to use a credit card, create add to cart buttons, and handle many other business transactions.  I would say that that rate is a little higher then it was with a merchant account, but in my opinion, the ease of it far outweighs the extra few tenths of a percent.

I am sure anyone that has or has had a merchant account and tried to use it online can understand my viewpoint.  I remember back when I get my merchant account I had to pay a few grand just to set it up, and then there are fees from the bank, the processor, the online gateway, the shopping cart, and to try to track all of the hands in that pot was a nightmare.

People in the processing business that are friends have tried to argue with me about this, but my best advice is if you are considering or currently using a card processor to take donations, or accept credit cards for other reasons, you should definitely consider Paypal as an option.

I don’t get any money from Paypal for this praise, but if they read it they can feel free to send me a check…

 

Technology is ever changing…

One of the things I have always loved about technology is that it is always changing, and so is life.  I would have never thought back in the day when i was writing peeks and pokes in code that someday the world would be moving away from desktops to tablets.

Life is much the same way, ever changing, luckily the things you have learned help you make it through the changes and make the best of your opportunities.

A great example of this, I have started a post about cloud computing many times but have yet to finish it, mainly because my thoughts on it’s viability change daily.  It seems many of the offerings are things that us in the IT business have been already doing for years, yet others seem to be a great new way to look at technology, hopefully I will be able to get that post done soon!

So, were do I go from here…..stay tuned…

 

 

 

 

Google Chrome

I started using Google Chrome only because I needed a small footprint browser, and it is small and runs fast, so it does the trick.  However I think the real nice thing about Chrome is the apps.

Games, including Angry Birds, productivity apps, learning apps, kids apps, are all free in the chrome store.  I thought it was really cool to find angry birds, but now I have realized from my kids that there are all kinds of cool fun apps on these that you can download and use for free.

Take the time to check it out…