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Online Computer Tips Monthly Newsletter - March 2012

 Posted: February 15, 2012 -

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Latest Virus/Security Alerts:

Tax season phishing scams making their rounds

Now that tax season is in full swing, scammers are doing their best to steal your personal information for their financial gain. There is a new phishing scam that involves receiving a fake email telling you that you that you will be penalized up to $10,000 for failing to file your tax return on time. The scam includes a fake deadline and refers to Section 6038. The subject line will read something like "Penalty for not filing tax return on time."

The email also includes a link to a fake web site that is made to look like the official IRS website. Anyone who goes to the website are asked to provide personal or financial information that can be used by identity thieves.

Remember that the IRS does not communicate to taxpayers via email or social media and you should avoid any offers that assist you in filing for a refund and don't click on any links or got to websites that offer to help you file your taxes electronically.

Virus Help
Spyware Help

March's Poll:

Do you use a cellular internet connection such as 3G on your laptop/netbook?

February's Poll Results: 
Do you mainly use your cell phone or a digital camera for taking pictures?

- 46%
- 64%
Tip of the Month:

Enable spell checker in Firefox

I'm sure you have noticed that your word processing program whether it be Word, WordPerfect or Write checks your spelling as you type and highlight your mistakes allowing you to see them as you compose your document. This is assuming you have that option turned on within the program.

Many people do a lot of typing within webpages for things like online forms and discussion forums. Just like with your documents, you want your spelling to be checked so you don't look like you can't spell when doing these online activities.

If you are a Firefox user then you can have Firefox check your spelling for you as you type to save you some potential embarrassment. If the spellchecker is not on which it should be by default then it's easy to turn it back on. To do so go to the Tools menu and then choose Options and then Advanced. Click on the General tab and check the box that says Check my Spelling as I Type.

Firefox Enable Spell Checker

Now that it's checked Firefox will tell you when you spell words wrong by putting a red squiggly underline beneath the misspelled word. To fix the error you can either correct it with the proper spelling or have Firefox make a suggestion by right clicking on the misspelled word and choosing one of the suggestions. If it's a word that you know is spelled correctly and that Firefox may not have in its dictionary you can choose the Add to Dictionary right click option.

Firefox Spell Checker



All Tips

Hot Product of the Month: Buffalo Technology MediaStation 8x Portable DVD Writer


If you have a computer or netbook that doesn't have a DVD burner and want to add one then the Buffalo Technology MediaStation Portable USB DVD Writer may be just what you need. The compact design makes it easy to carry in your laptop case and it doesn't get in the way when it comes time to use it. It offers an 8x DVD writing speed which lets you burn those files or movies in a flash. Since it uses a standard USB connection you should have no problems with compatibility on multiple laptops or desktops.


  • USB Bus Powered
  • Ultra Slim, compact design
  • Integrated USB Y-cable
  • LED power indicator
  • Cyberlink DVD writing software
  • Includes Kensington lock slot
  • Quick Setup Guide






Important Windows and Office patches:

Critical Remote Desktop Flaw

There has been a flaw discovered in the Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) rated critical that could allow hackers to install malicious code with no user interaction required on the part of the host. This vulnerability would work even if the hacker didn't have valid credentials for the network. The attacker would be able to do things such as delete files, create new user accounts and install or run programs.

The flaw affects all versions of Windows with XP being more vulnerable because it doesn't support network level authentication (NLA) which allows for more secure RDP connections thanks to an additional authentication layer. Windows 7, Vista and 2008 do support NLA. It is possible to install additional software on Windows XP computer to support NLA but that can be a lot of work in large organizations.

Microsoft has posted 6 security bulletins fixing 7 vulnerabilities in products including Microsoft Windows, DNS server, Expression Design and Visual Studio.

More Resources

Interesting site of the Month:

If you ever wanted to know how it all began, in relation to Microsoft Windows that is then check out the History of Windows to learn about all the past versions of Windows. You can learn things such as release dates, editions features and system requirements.

Reader's Question of the Month:

Videos on websites won't play

Scott writes in with a software question
Question: I try to watch movies on sites like YouTube and Funny or Die and the videos don't play. All I get is a black screen and it does nothing. I don't get any error messages either. I tried to reinstall Flash Player since somebody told me it was probably the issue but it said I was up to date and it looked like it reinstalled it anyway. What can I do to get my videos back?

Answer: It does sound like it's a Flash problem with your computer. You can try a different browser as a test to see if it's just in your default web browser. If you use IE then you can try Firefox or Chrome but will most likely have to install Flash for those browsers before you can try them with your video sites. One trick that seems to work when a Flash upgrade doesn't do the trick is to uninstall Flash and then reinstall it from scratch. Adobe offers an uninstaller tool you can use to remove Flash from your computer and then reinstall it again after that.

All Questions

Tech News of the Month:

Windows 8 Consumer Preview is here

For any of you who have been waiting to try the pre-release version of Windows 8 before you will have to buy it, now is your chance. Microsoft has released the Windows 8 Consumer Preview edition that you can download and install on your computer to see all the new features and decide if it's something you are going to upgrade to.

If you have access to any virtualization software such as VMware Workstation, VirtualBox or Microsoft Virtual PC then that would be your best bet to try it out rather than formatting your computer or risking a disaster by trying a dual boot configuration.

Here is a video going over the new features.


The Windows 8 Consumer Preview can be downloaded for free from Microsoft's website.

Go to The OCT News Blog

Wallpaper of the Month:

Get your green on with these St. Patrick's Day wallpapers

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 - Spyware
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