Facebook Tips – Keeping It Positive

I normally do not write Facebook Tips for a couple of reasons.  One is that Facebook changes features and settings almost continuously so what I say today may not work at all on Facebook tomorrow.  Another reason is that I am no expert on Facebook, just a normal user, so I don’t have much to add to the conversation.  But, lately, there seems to be a lot of incorrect information floating around about how to keep your news feed up to date with information you want to see while preventing some of the more often negative tones or perhaps we would say less desirable moods prevail in your News Feeds.

First, let’s look at what the News Feed is actually letting us see.  Basically it is what Facebook machines believe is most important to you.  The machine decides by “guessing” at what you want to see next using a combination of what you “like”, what you view, where you are, your age and other information Facebook has collected about you.  You can adjust these settings and tell it what you really want to see or more importantly what you do “not” want to see.

Go to Facebook and hover over the name of one of your friends in the feed.  A “pop up” will show you their picture, some general information, and 2 buttons in the lower right corner of the pop up: A “Friends” button and a “Message” button.

Now hover or click on the “Friends” button inside that pop up to get some options.  If you uncheck the “Show in News Feed” it will no longer show updates from that user in your News Feed area.  Here is where I want to make note that these settings only apply to the “News Feed” area (where you start in Facebook).  If you click on any of the groups on the left, this does not apply, you will see the friend in that area.  The object of the News Feed area is to bring into immediate view your most wanted friends updates.

On this same pop up options area you can also click “Close Friend” to add it to your Close Friends list or one of the other Groups to add to that Group List.  You can suggest friends to that person or unfriend.  If you unfriend them, you will not longer be connected and will not get direct updates or information from their status updates at all.  If you have friends in common you may still see comments from that person on other status updates.

Now let’s look at a more precious way to narrow down what you see from some of your friends.  Let’s say for example you have someone on your list that is always updating with photos that you really do not want to see, for whatever reason.  But maybe they do status updates and comments that you do not mind seeing.  Hover over the person or go to their page by clicking on them.  Hover over or click the Friends button.  Then click “Settings”.

You will notice the top of the options list here lets you pickup a level of updates: All Updates, Most Updates and Only Important updates.  Facebook default is Most Updates.  Which means it sends most of their updates to your News Feed.  You can move a person up or down in that list (kind of like a ranking system for that person).  Or at the bottom you will notice update “types”.

You can uncheck the updates that you do not want to see from that person on your News Feed.  In our example we do not want to see the pictures in our news feed so we uncheck the Photos.  If you are not a Games person you might want to uncheck the Games updates.  Remember this only applies to your News Feed.  If you go to that person page or a group that you have that person in, you will see the pictures and everything else.

Now let’s say you have a friend on your list that has posted something that you just do not want to see any more, for whatever reason.  You do not want to change the friend setting maybe, you just do not want to see that one post.  If you hover over the post area you will notice that a down area appears in the upper right corner of the block.  In this area you can select to either “Follow Post”, “Hide” or Report it as Spam.  Most likely in this case you would want to “Hide” the status update.  You will no longer see the updates for that status block.

The hide option will hide it only from you in your News Feed and your Group Lists.  If you go to the persons Facebook Page you will see the status update on their page.  The hide option does not hide it from anyone else.

There are tons of other options available and this only scratches the surface, but using this options/settings area you can control what you see in your News Feed and streamline what news you get from your friends.

 

Cleaning Your LCD Monitor

When cleaning your LCD monitor, you may have some confusion about what is the best product to use. You will find a number of products ranging from a few dollars to over $40 for some cleaning products.  Don’t bother!

If you just “want” to spend money, buy some Distilled water, Isopropyl 99% Alcohol and a microfiber cloth.  You may want to just look around the house.  You probably already have what you need lying around somewhere.

Microfiber clothes are often included with eye glass repair or cleaning kits.  Or look in your automotive section for a microfiber cloth or two.  Just make sure it is as clean.  Any rough or rigid protrusion will scratch your LCD screen.

To clean your LCD, first use just the microfiber cloth to lightly remove all the dust and particles from the screen.  Normally the cloth alone will not remove the smudges and smears.  But you want to remove as much of the “large dust” from the screen as possible. Use a very light touch.

Next, combine equal parts of your distilled water and alcohol together to create a cleaning solution.  Use only a very small amount on your cloth.  Do NOT spray your LCD screen directly.  Your cloth should be slightly less than damp.

Clean with small circular motions and a light touch to the screen.  You can apply slightly more force to the difficult areas, but it is important to keep your touch as light as possible to complete the job.

You can finish by cleaning the outside casing.  You can apply extra force on the outside case along with more solutions than you used for the screen itself.  But you should not spray any liquid on any part of the monitor.

  • Monitor should be off and unplugged
  • Lay the monitor down on a hard flat surface
  • Apply a very small amount of cleaning solution (less than damp)
  • Use small circular motions during cleaning
  • Apply light pressure, only increasing slightly for difficult areas

NEVER SPRAY OR DOWSE LIQUID ON YOUR LCD

Managed Computer Services and Support

WilTech Services offers comprehensive managed computer services, network support, computer repair, consulting, and integration services for businesses in North Central Texas and Southern Oklahoma. WilTech Services can provide your small or mid-sized office both immediate Break-Fix Solutions and Managed Monthly Service Plans with Scheduled Proactive Management.

We at WilTech Services have a special respect for the challenges small business owners face in keeping their offices running. It is our duty to provide the best and most efficient service and support for our customers. Our goal is to form a long-term relationship with you that will help your company succeed and grow without constant worry of computer failure, data loss or network issues.

We pride ourselves on top of the line Customer Service! Our job is to make your job easier without all the Information Technology mumbo jumbo and complicated pricing. We fix your computers and make sure your network keeps running.

Your office data is a very important part of your business. If you, your employees or customers cannot access or cannot otherwise use your data for whatever reason, your company suffers. WilTech Services solves that problem for you. We protect your data assets!

William Helloms
WilTech Services
Technical Support Specialist

 

Keep Your Work Computer Usable

Your company computer is just about as important of a tool as anything in the office. If not more so. It is advantageous of you to keep it accessible and in good functioning order. About the most important thing to you do to your computer is to keep it clean. I do not mean to get out the scrub brush and get it immaculate. Not yet anyway, that comes later. What I mean is the software that runs your computer needs to be clean and in good working order.

Every process in your computer takes a fraction of time. The more processes it has to do, the more the time adds up. If your computer is not cleaned of all the extra junk and little demons that run around, it will soon start to slow down. There are many ways that extra software gets into your computer, but most of them are a result of your everyday use.

Let’s get some ideas on what to avoid.

1. Toolbars

Probably one of the primary uses on the computer is internet or internet based solutions. Whether it be a Google or Yahoo search, a cloud based documents share, or intranet portal. You face some of the same issues. Google has a toolbar, Yahoo has one, MSN, Dogpile, Ask, Ebay, MapQuest… I could list for days the toolbars out there. And if there is not one out there already, there are just as many ways to create your own custom toolbars. We will not even touch on the junkware toolbars lurking around to turn your day into a nightmare. If you have ever been on the internet, chances are you have been tempted to install a toolbar. The idea is simple: save time, save effort, quick and easy, save money.

Don’t do it! Or more yet, ask yourself a few questions before you actually install it. Do you really need that toolbar? Is it really going to save you time? You have been doing without it this long, why do you need it now. Do you have other toolbars already? If you are going to use another toolbar, will it replace one you already use?

Most people that I deal with, never use their toolbars. They don’t need them. They only take up space on the browser and add just one more round of ticks on the clock during processing time. There are good uses for specific toolbars, but that is an entirely different topic. Unless you really see a true benefit, avoid the toolbars.

2. Registry Cleaners

It has to be going through your mind right now. Hey, to keep my computer clean I need to clean the registry. Everyone tells me that.

And that is true. Everyone does tell you that. But it is not necessarily the best solution to have multiple registry cleaners. Some may even argue that is not a good idea to have any. My question to you is this. Do you really need a registry cleaner running all day, every day, taking up process time? For what? If you are going to use a registry cleaner, it certainly does not have to run all the time. Pick one, run it occasionally. Avoid the blot of multiple cleaners and full time registry scanners.

3. Messengers

Do you really have that many people that use messaging services that you just have to have every service out there? IMs are almost as abundant as toolbars. Yahoo, AOL, MSN, whoever, all have messengers and all want to run in your tray, even when you do not have them on. (Thanks Microsoft) I don’t need your chat software running non stop. Just another piece of junkware most of the time. If you use IM, pick one. Stick to it. Many allow you to chat with other users on other services. So you don’t have to have multiple IM programs running all the time, even if you chat on them all.

Also check the preferences, options and tools sections in the IM software. See if you can remove them from starting up automatically. Have a shortcut on your desktop. Run it when you need it. If you must have one, only use one messenger and avoid running it in the system tray when it is not in use.

4. Streaming Audio/Video

Okay. If you are the only person in your office, or your house, you pay the bills–use it all you want. If not, if you are in an office environment with several users. Use your MP3 player of choice. Connect to a power source (not your office computer.) You can get MP3 docking stations for cheap. They allow you to listen to your music without streaming it over the company internet. Remember, every process takes a little time. Many processes take much more time. Avoid streaming non work related media to your company workstation.

Now that you have an idea of what to avoid, why not check out for instructions on how to clean and maintain your computer.

Install Free Anti-Virus

If you ask ten technicians what antivirus they would recommend for Windows, you will most likely get ten different answers. Opinions vary widely. One thing is for certain, there is no right answer to the question. It is an opinion, just like any other. If you are a home user or have less than 10 employees there are some free choices out there you may be interested in. Watch out for the word free–often they mean a trial. (I will not include trials here.)

There are several people that will tell you that the free antivirus programs are not as good as the paid versions. That is just another opinion and it is up to you to decide the answer to that question.

The best protection again viruses is education, know what to look for. Educate your employees on how to prevent infections from fakes, don’t download unknown software. If in doubt–ask. If you don’t have an education program in place, contact me.

One of the most popular free antivirus for Windows right now is Microsoft Security Essentials which you can get at www.microsoft.com/security_essentials. It is good (and free) for home users or small business clients up to 10 users. If you have more than 10 users, Microsoft wants you to look into their paid Frontline Endpoint Protection. But as far as free, Security Essentials is about as good as you can get for Windows. Their only requirement is your Windows must pass Validation.

Another free antivirus is ClamWin. ClamWin is open source software. Unlike most antivirus software, ClamWin does not have an Active Real-Time scanning engine. You must run it manually. I would not normally recommend this for your average, every day user. I would however recommend it for more advanced users or as a manual scan option. Combining Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and ClamWin can add to your protection. MSE has the active engine running. ClamWin can manually be ran on a time schedule.

AVG Free version is a fairly well known free version software. It is a scaled down version of their full product. The definitions are limited in the free version as are the features. It is meant to be a very basic antivirus with limited protection. If you plan to use AVG Free, I would recommend a second malware application as well to cover the limitations. You could use the free on-access scanning for AVG and a manual ClamWin scan on a schedule to better protect yourself.

My last suggestion would be Comodo Antivirus. I do not know much about Comodo other than they have a free version of their software available. It appears to be, in much that same what as AVG, a scaled-down version of their original. As with AVG I would suggest a secondary protection software as well.

Again, there are hundreds of antivirus products on the market promising to keep your computer safe. If you are going to use these products and spend sometimes hundreds of dollars to protect your computers, do your research. There may be free options out there that are just as useful. Often the investment in money that you save requires an investment in time. Since Time Is Money, you may want to weigh your options.

How to Install Microsoft Security Essentials

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If you are a home user or a small business with up to 10 users, you may want to look at using the free Microsoft Security Essentials antivirus found at http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials. It is free. You must be running genuine Microsoft products. You probably want to take a look at the user agreement here also. It basically says the same as all others. You agree to the terms, not to misuse or make money off their free product. If your business has more than 10 users, you will have to look for a paid product.

Before we get started, remember you should always backup prior to any changes to your system. This is in additional to the normal everyday backups that you do. Make a backup now, before you start doing anything else. If you want to know more about backups read more at How Important Is Your Data.

If you are looking for a quick way to backup your data before you continue, visit Idrive and sign up free for online backups.

Now that you have a good feeling about your backup situation, you will need to download Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) from the Microsoft site at http://www.microsoft.com/security_essentials. Save it to your desktop so it will be easy to find later.

Perhaps before your are completely finished with the MSE download you could start making a list of the programs that you will need to uninstalling before you can finish installing MSE. First you will want to uninstall any antivirus that may already be installed. Having two antivirus running real time scans together can cause a real mess and slow your system to a crawl. Second you will want to uninstall any firewall or malware product that is installed. Basically anything that it appears MSE will replace needs to be uninstalled before you install MSE.

Now you can start uninstalling your antivirus and malware software. If you get to the point that you must restart your computer, make sure that the download for MSE has completed and you know where to find it. Then restart your computer and finish any needed uninstall instructions. For more information on uninstalling your unneeded antivirus software see Uninstall Unwanted Antivirus.

After all your previous antivirus and malware software has been removed, you are ready to install MSE. The install is fairly straight forward.

1. Run the setup that you downloaded and saved on your desktop earlier
2. Click Next at the Welcome Screen
3. Read the License Agreement, Check the Agree Box, and Click Validate
4. Click Install
5. Click Finish (let it scan the first time)

Uninstall Unwanted Antivirus

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There are so many antivirus and other malware software applications out there it is near to impossible to keep up with them all. Many if not all have removal tools to use in case their normal uninstall process fails.

Here are a couple of links with some instructions to get started on uninstalling your antivirus.

Comprehensive List of Uninstallers or Removal Tools for Antivirus Software

and


http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/protect/forum/protect_start/list-of-anti-malware-program-cleanupuninstall

both links are getting a little aged, so take a look. If you have trouble getting specific uninstalls to function, let me know and I will try to do a write up specifically for it.

All-in-One Application Removal

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As you may have seen several times many antivirus packages out there love to install, but hate to uninstall themselves. There are some very big ones other there that almost always fail to uninstall completely. Many of them have created their own little uninstall utility program to finish the job. But you have to wonder, if their software uninstall option did not work, how can I trust their uninstall utility to succeed?

Here is the solution. One app to kill them all. AppRemover by OPSWAT is an utility that will remove all of your most common (and some not so command) antivirus, antispyware, and several other security packages. Download it at AppRemover, it is free for personal and non-commercial use.

AppRemover is a well formed utility. It does not require an installer (which is great). Running the remover simply asks if you want to uninstall a security package or clean up a failed uninstall. You select what you would like to do and let it scan. After it finishes the scan, click next and select what you would like to remove.

At well over 100+ applications that it can removed, I will not attempt to list them all. But here are a few that I have seen that could be very useful: Avast, AVG, Avira, CA, Eset, F-Secure, GData, Kaspersky, Lavasoft, McAfee, MSE, Norton, Panda, PC Tools, Trend Micro, and 100+ more.

How Important is your Data?

Recently I had a conversation that started something like this, “Good Morning.”

“Ever get that feeling of impending doom?”, the caller said immediately.

“Not usually the first thing your IT person wants to hear before morning coffee, but okay, I will bite”, as we started in to address the issue at hand.

It turned out there was no real technical problem involved other than the absolute fact that the customer did not feel her data was safe on her computer. No reason other than a feeling she had when she got up that morning.  Is her important data safe?

Obviously the feeling had escalated to the point she was to near panic when she called me. She was sure something terrible was going to happen that would cause all her data to disappear into oblivion, never to be seen again.

Luckily she was using one of the on-line backup services that I recommend from Idrive. I eased her fears fairly quickly by setting Idrive to send her an email each time her backup completed. I am sure similar services such as Mozy or Carbonite have similar features as well. I am just not familiar with those setups. Fortunately she had no high magnitude disaster or fatal meltdown. Her important data was safe and sound.  If you start to get that feeling of disaster (if you are using Idrive) following these steps:

Open IDrive
Click on Schedule Backup (at the bottom)
On Scheduler, Email notification is in the lower right corner. Click Notify Always
Enter your email address where is says Mail To:
Press the Plus sign to the right to add it to the list.
Select the check box to Send log extract if you want it all

You will get an email each time there is a scheduled backup. With the ”Send log extract” selected you will get the full log in your Inbox. If your Inbox is already overflowing, you may want to select the option to ”Notify on failure.” This will skip the emails when everything is working fine and email you when there is a problem.

Now go have your coffee and read a book.