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Alternative to Word, Excel

While I’m a proponent of purchasing a service that is good, there are times when people just want to complete a computer task without forking over hundreds of dollars.  There used to be a time when one would head out to the office supply store or electronics store and purchase a copy of Windows OS (ME, 2000, XP, etc) and/or a copy of Microsoft Office(Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.).  I’m sorry, but those days are gone.  Because the cost of building computer storage is cheaper, companies are willing to give you lots of storage options for a nominal fee.  Read my article Online Storage.

Since online store is cheaper, companies decided to make everything available online.  There were other companies that made it first to this process, but I think Google has the biggest following.

Google Logooogle is primarily a search company, but they have branched into many areas over the years.  Their not-so-latest is Google Apps.  Google Apps is a suite of products similar to Microsoft Office.  They have alternatives to Word, Excel, PowerPoint and more.  So, if you recently purchase a PC / computer / laptop and have no way of creating a word processing document, join the Google-verse.  It is completely free and Google keeps your documents private.  They will occasionally offer you services based on your searches, but not through the Google Apps.  I have created some videos on YouTube to walk you through the sign-up process and using various Google applications.  If you think you can do it on your own, give it a try and experiment.

Good luck Googling!

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Protecting your computer

For my first post to everyone I want to convey using your computer safely.  I hear too many times about someone being taken advantage of, specifically their home computer.  Therefore there are a number of steps to take to remain secure.

Anti-Virus Protection

When viruses first appeared on a large scale this was a great product for companies to encourage you to have.  If there was a virus about to enter your computer, then the anti-virus software would lock down the source and notify the user.

Today, it’s meaningless.  First of all, virus protection software can only help you against viruses that are known.  According to CNN, there were more than 317 million new pieces of malware in the year of 2014.  I would bet that there are more people creating viruses than there are creating protections against those viruses.

The new threat today is called ransomware.  Ransomware attacks your computer by changing the file type of all of your personal files.   CryptoLocker is the most well known which is believed to have rob people of $30 million in the first 100 days.  There is no definitive “cure” for ransomware, which means your have to pay up or lose all of your data.

The bottom line: anti-virus is a waste of time and money.  If you have Windows 10, one already comes installed, so don’t buy another one.

Solutions

These are the best solutions in order to keep your computer and laptop safe:

1. Do NOT open attachments or links!

If you receive an email with an attachment from a friend, your bank, or your mobile provider to name a few, call them and verify that they sent that email.  This is the no.1 way hackers get into your computer.  You open a link and it directs you to a site that the hacker has created in order to get into your computer.

Paypal_phish
http://www.bustspammers.com/phishing_links.html

This email looks legit, but it’s best to call PayPal to verify that they sent the email instead of clicking on the link.

2. Double check URLs

The URL is the address bar in all web sites show in the image below.

determine-domain

This is a legitimate yahoo web address.  Because it ends in yahoo.com.  No matter what else is in the address bar, if you are visiting a site, make sure it ends in the proper .com or .net, etc.  However look at this web page from Apple.

FakeAppleLoginPage.png

Just like the image says, this is fake.  It is web software to obtain your username and password to do malicious damage.

3.  Do not auto-download to your computer

Ever have those pop-ups in the corner of your screen that says, “a new update is ready.”  99 times out of 100 it’s perfectly fine.  However, you don’t want that 1 time to infect your computer.  Therefore, the best thing to do when these appear is to dismiss the message and go directly to the company website to install the update.  This however does not apply to Windows update.

outdated_java_plugin_detected.png

Bottom Line

Be vigilante!  If you’re not sure, call someone you trust with computer help.  And of course look online to blogs and forums that can tell you the truth.