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Online Computer Tips Monthly Newsletter - August 2012

 Posted: August 22, 2012 -

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Latest Virus/Security Alerts:

Data wiper virus making its rounds

There has been a new virus called Shamoon that is showing up on computers and it's apparently targeting the engineering sector. According to Symantec, W32.Disttrack is a new threat that corrupts files on an infected computer and overwrites the Master Boot Record making the computer unusable. Kaspersky Lab has also discovered that the new virus has a file called Wiper which reminds us of the wiper incident that happened to computer in Iran.

Although the new virus is not too advanced, security experts are having trouble trying to figure out what the creators are trying to accomplish by spreading the malware. It doesn't appear to steal any information but rather tracks the names and numbers of the files that it deleted as well as the IP address of the infected computers. It also seems to be focused on certain groups of computers rather than a widespread attack. I guess we will just have to wait and see if any more information can be gathered about this virus and if it will be a threat to more people or no.

Virus Help
Spyware Help

August's Poll:

How many times per day do you log onto Facebook?
Click Here to Go to This Month's Poll

July's Poll Results: 
Do you do regular virus\malware scans on your computer?

Yes - 100%
No - 0%

Tip of the Month:

Eraser data removal tool

If you are one of those people who have really important or sensitive files on your computer or at least think they are really important and want to delete them for good you may want to take an extra step when doing so.

Eraser is tool for Windows which lets you to completely remove files from your hard drive by overwriting them several times with carefully selected patterns. When you delete a file from your computer, Windows does not actually remove the file from the drive but only removes the reference of the file from the file system table. The file stays on the hard drive until another file is created over it. Even after this step there still may be traces of the file on the hard drive.

So if you are planning on getting a new hard drive and want to secure your old one or if you are planning on doing something like donating your computer then you may want to use Eraser to make sure those sensitive files are gone for good.

Eraser works with Windows XP SP3, Windows Server 2003, Vista, Windows Server 2008 and Windows 7 and is also available as a free download from their site.

All Tips
Hot Product of the Month: U32 Shadow 240GB External USB 3.0 Portable Solid State Hard Drive


If you like to use an external hard drive to store data or make backups but want a faster way of doing so while protecting your drive for accidental drops then the U32 Shadow SSD drive may be for you. SSD drives offer better performance than standard hard drives that use spinning disks and also offer more protection against damage from dropping the drive.


  • Durable - No moving parts, able to withstand high impact
  • Lower power, cooler operation
  • Fast USB 3.0 transfer speeds; also compatible with USB 2.0
  • Faster seek time than spinning disk drives
  • Includes a 7GB lifetime Online Backup account with SpiderOak






Important Windows and Office patches:

Microsoft updates Movie Maker and Photo Gallery programs with new features

If you are a user of the Microsoft Windows Essentials line of software then you are in for a nice treat since Microsoft has just updated their Movie Maker and Photo Gallery programs with new features to give you a better movie and photo editing experience.

Windows Movie Maker is the free movie editing software that allows you to edit your video footage to make custom movies that you can burn to DVD or share with friends. For this recent update, Microsoft added a video stabilization feature and improved sound editing. There is also improved titling functionality. If you like to add music to your video but are afraid of copyright issues then you can use Movie Maker to access music sources that offer free audio that you can use with your video.

As for Photo Gallery you can now take advantage of the new Auto Collage technology which will create collages automatically for you after you select the photographs from your computer. You can also share your videos and pictures to Vimeo right from your computer.

More Resources

Interesting site of the Month:

If your kids spend a lot of time on the Internet then you may want to have them log on to Wondermind where they can expand their mind, play some games and learn some new things at the same time.

Reader's Question of the Month:

What's the best way to protect my computer from power outages?

Gary writes in with a hardware question
Question: Where I live we seem to get a lot of power outages and when that happens and I'm on my computer then it goes off and I loose whatever I was working on if I haven't saved it and I don't think it's too good for the computer. One time my computer wouldn't even start back up after the power came back on and I had to spend a lot of money to get it fixed. What can I do to prevent this? The guy at the computer shop suggested a UPS but I don't know much about them and was wondering how they can help if I'm not at my computer when the power goes off.

Answer: A UPS is the way to go if you want to protect your computer from power outages but your protection will only be as good as your UPS. There are different levels of protection when it comes to Uninterruptable Power Supplies. They will keep power to your computer as long as the batter has juice to do so. The amount of time the battery lasts depends on how big of a battery it is and how many things you have plugged into it. So do your research and decide how many things you want to plug into the UPS and how long you want to be able to run on battery power and buy a UPS that fits your needs.

As for protecting you when you are not at your computer, you can get higher end models that have a feature that can power down your computer properly in the case of a power outage. This way you don't have to worry about corrupting operating system files.

All Questions

Tech News of the Month:

Microsoft gives away a limited copy of Windows 8 RTM to everyone

This month Microsoft released the final version of Windows 8 to TechNet and MSDN subscribers. But if you don't have one of these memberships you can download a 90 day evaluation of Windows 8 RTM (release to manufacturing) that you can try out for 3 months. Microsoft has said that this 90 day trail is "intended for developers building Windows 8 apps and IT professionals interested in trying Windows 8 Enterprise on behalf of their organization".

Windows 8 is Microsoft's new operating system that is supposed to bridge the gap between PC, phone and tablet operating systems. So if you want to try before you buy then download the RTM version of Windows 8 and try it out for yourself. If you don't want to wipe out your current PC just to try it out then you can run it on a virtual platform on a third party program such as VMware Workstation.

You can download the trail as an ISO file in either 32 or 64 bit format from the Microsoft website.


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Wallpaper of the Month:

Relax and take in these sunset wallpapers

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