iOS 8 Quirk May Delete All iCloud Docs!

If you’ve either recently upgraded your iPhone or iPad to iOS 8 or purchased a new iPhone 6, beware a setting that could literally WIPE OUT all of your iCloud documents.

Word on the street is that in the event you tap the “Reset All Settings” and reset your device from scratch as if it’s new out of the box, OUCH — your iCloud documents are permenantly gone! This also means if you have your iMac or Macbook synchronizing with iCloud, they’ll be gone from there, too, as soon as it next syncs up.

So as I always say, “BACKUP, BACKUP, BACKUP!” Things stored in the cloud aren’t immune from issues, even though they may seem to be. Have at least two backups of your most important files: on an external hard drive and in the cloud; or 2 externals, one of which is kept offsite.

Istart123 Virus Contains A Sneaky Twist!

Having been a computer tech for the past 2 decades, I’ve encountered and wrangled with my fair share of viruses on many computers. Some are fairly easy to remove, while others can dig their hooks into the registry and be very tenacious.

I’ve recently been faced with malware called istart123 which posed a bit of a conundrum because it did something I hadn’t seen before. I went through the normal steps of scanning, detecting and removing obvious malware files and references in the registry and thought I’d cleared everything out after the typical procedures. However, no matter what I tried (resetting all browser settings, clearing the cache, making sure the homepage was set to what I wanted, etc.), every time I opened up any browser, that darn istart123 page came up first. I couldn’t get rid of it!

Then I discovered a very sneaky and tricky thing: when I right-clicked on the browser’s icon and looked at the properties, something was added to the “Target” box that contains the exe command. Istart123 had inserted an extra string of text to the command line which caused the browser to open to that page every single time! Very devious! Turns out I had to right-click every single instance of every browser’s shortcut and change the properties individually and manually.

It got the better of me for a while, but now that I’ve seen this sneaky new trick, I’ll be better prepared for the next time the bad guys program their malware. Cat and mouse — game on!

Are You Wasting Money? There’s An App For That!

Recently, at the advice of my doctor, I went shopping for Vitamin D at a local store. I expected the price to be less than $10 for a 300-count bottle because that’s approximately what I remember paying the last time I picked some up (not too long ago, I might add). So imagine my surprise when I saw the price for the same brand had been hiked almost double! It was listed at $17.99, no joke.

Instead of making the purchase, I decided to whip out my handy dandy iPhone app called Red Laser. Within a few seconds, I scanned the bar code of the item and found out that the VERY SAME brand in a 300-count bottle was being sold at Target for, get this, $8.99! And if I wanted to get 3 bottles in one order, a special was offering the third one for only $1. We’re talking $18.98 for all 3 bottles! Needless to say, I got back in my car and drove over to Target where I saved myself about $35.

I hope after reading this tip that others will be prompted to take advantage of the FREE app Red Laser and save a few bucks on their next purchase.

Do You Have An iPhone or iPad? Read This!

A nasty “ransomware” attack is going around and you need to be aware of it if you have an iPhone and/or iPad. Hackers are remotely locking iPhones and iPads and demanding a ransom in order to regain access. Horrible, despicable, reprehensible and unconscionable are just a few of the descriptions of these hackers that come to mind when I hear stories like this.

In some cases—specifically, when a user hasn’t assigned a strong passcode to a locked device—it can only be unlocked by performing a factory reset, which completely wipes all previously stored data and apps. People with a locked device should immediately try changing the credentials for their Apple ID and ensure two-factor authentication is set up. In the event their locked device didn’t have a passcode associated with it, they can perform a factory reset by using a cable to plug the device into their computer while iTunes is open.

If the device has been backed up on iCloud, a user can retrieve data and re-download apps. But I would also highly recommend extra insurance, so to speak, by doubly backing up to an alternate remote site — to iDrive. Just sign up for a free account (you must click the button next to Free 5 GB to change it from a Pro account) and you can backup up to 5 GB for free; all contacts, calendars, photos and videos can be uploaded. You must first download the iDrive app from the App Store and login, of course.

It just adds peace of mind to know an additional backup of your most precious digital files will be available in the event you are attacked by the hackers. And, hey, it’s free!

Click here to sign up for iDrive.

Want To Get Rid Of That Annoying Banner Ad?

Websites earn revenue by selling ads and getting consumers to click on them. They obviously design ads to attract attention as that entices the clicks. A few ads here and there on a page are to be expected and I usually don’t have a problem with that.

I DO have a problem with the huge banner ads which have started literally taking over the entire screen on certain websites. They force you to search around to find a way to close it if you want to see anything beneath it, and sometimes it takes quite a while to find that little “close” button. Clever on their part, yes, but very, very annoying. This annoyance has backfired on the advertisers, however, because it caused me to search around for a way to fix it.

Fortunately, there’s a solution, and it’s FREE! It’s called Ad Block Plus and it blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads — even on Facebook and YouTube. Just go to adblockplus.org, click on the green button which says “Install for ….” and follow the instructions. It detects the browser you’re using and you’ll need to install it individually for each browser you use.

You’ll be free of those annoying banner ads in no time!

Happy 10th Birthday, Gmail!

Gmail went public April 1, 2004. It’s incredible to think back over the past decade and realize how much has changed. Back then, I was fighting with 2MB of storage on my Hotmail account, and I think Yahoo’s email allowed a whopping 4MB! When Gmail provided 1GB of FREE storage space, I thought I had died and gone to heaven! I signed up at the first moment I possibly could (after waiting impatiently for an official invitation) and haven’t looked back since.

Happy Birthday, Gmail! You’ve been a godsend and I wish you many more happy decades to come!

No New iPod Touches Expected Anytime Soon…

The iPod touch 6th generation was expected in fall 2013 during the iPhone or iPad events, but Apple focused on new iPads and iPhones. The only change Apple delivered in late 2013 was to offer the iPod touch in space gray. The iPod touch 5th generation that is currently on sale was announced in fall 2012, making them over a year old.

Apple did offer a iPod touch without a rear facing camera in May, at a lower price, but this is not a new iPod touch that added features.

While many of Apple’s products have shifted to a fall release cycle it is possible that Apple will announce a new iPod touch 6th generation with an Apple A7 processor and some of the iPhone 5s features like slow-motion and burst mode in the March to June timeline, though these features are only speculation at this point.

Apple is not talking about the iPod touch specifically or about any features, but as the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c age Apple could choose to add any of the following features to an iPod touch before introducing an iPhone 6 later this year.

* Apple A7 processor
* Touch ID
* True-tone flash
* Better FaceTime HD camera

It’s not clear what Apple will do with a iPod touch 6th generation, but in the past Apple used this device to offer some of the iPhone features in a product with no cellular radio and no contract or monthly cost. The iPod touch with a camera is $299 and the no camera model with less storage is $229.

Part of the reason Apple ignored this market is may be due to a push to get more shoppers to switch to an iPhone. From 2012 to 2013 smartphone sales to teens 13-15 grew 20% as teens and parents saw increased value in one always connected device.

Fun Free Christmas Fonts!

Christmas will soon be here and there are lots of cards, invitations, gift tags, photos, and more to prepare beforehand. If you want to “dress them up” a little, click below to find a great collection of *FREE* holiday fonts:

http://www.howtogeek.com/howto/37226/desktop-fun-merry-christmas-fonts/

Ransomware Example – CryptoLocker Is Seriously Destructive!

It seems that the bad guys figure out ways to be more malicious by the day! A relatively new example that’s cropping up is a malware threat called CryptoLocker. Ransomeware itself isn’t new, but new variations on the theme continually plague the vulnerable.

The scariest thing about this particular virus is that it really does what it claims: it literally encrypts your hard drive’s files and locks them! Many fake warnings have popped up trying to scare people, but there was always a way around it. However, this one is different. Supposedly, only paying the ransom money will allow you to receive the unlock key to recover your files. [Read more…]

Where Is That Shortened Link (URL) Taking You?

Though it may seem elementary to some, many people have no idea what a URL is even though they use them every single day. Not only that, many have no idea that clicking a seemingly innocuous shortened URL (read “link”) can do to their computer or phone.  Very briefly, a URL stands for “Uniform Resource Locator” and basically is something which identifies a network resource on the Internet — a web address.

Sometimes a web address can be ridiculously long; so someone came up with the bright idea of shortening them to save space and be easier overall. Great idea, except that it’s bad for your security. You cannot tell by looking at one of these shortened URLs where you’ll end up! Maybe on a malicious site that intends to install malware on you machine! Twitter, Facebook and others are proliferating these mainly to save space in posts, but watch out! [Read more…]