Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Data Doctors Caution

I know of good experiences with Data Doctors, where they have rescued data from a crashed disk and diagnosed a boot-up problem as being due to a faulty power strip and nothing to do with the computer. But recently, I had them do their $59 "analysis" of a computer I feared was facing a hard-disk or memory failure. Their "analysis" showed no disk or memory problem, but reported 25 "infections," including 5 "critical" ones. Before taking in the computer, I had run multiple scans with multiple anti-malware programs and nothing showed up, so I was dubious. I was even more dubious when they said they could not tell me what the "infections" were, and conceded they might just be tracking cookies. And my dubiousness turned into downright disbelief when they quoted a charge of $249 to clean the machine and "justified" the charge on a misleading statement about what the "cleaning" involved (as if they were going to do some manual thing as opposed to just run a program). I asked for a refund. They chose not to.  It turns out I am not the only Data Doctor customer to have had this experience.

Fighting Malware

RKill is a free program that attempts to terminate known malware processes so that your normal security software can then run and clean your computer of infections. So, if you think you have a malware issue, you should download and install RKill before running your malware scans. Also, when you believe you have a malware issue, run RKill and your scans in safe mode without networking after first being sure you have updated your anti-malware programs.


There is no reason to buy anti-malware programs because there are very good free ones. Microsoft Security Essentials will give you excellent real-time protection. SuperAntiSpyware, MalwareBytes, and HitMan Pro will do deep scans and they (or other such free excellent programs) should be run at least once a week as part of one's weekly maintenance routine. SAS and MB also have paid versions which will give you additional real-time protection.




HMP:  [Note: If running in SafeMode, use safe mode with networking]

Here is a list of all the security software that is available to you:

Retrieving Lost GMail Contacts

There is an issue with GMail contacts where they have been known to just "disappear" from one's GMail page. Obviously, this makes use of one's GMail problematic, but it also precludes tablets and other devices from importing those GMail contacts.  If this happen, log into your Google account and then go to this link which should bring them up for you:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More re System Restore

In its standard configuration, Windows System Restore can, over time, use up a surprising amount of your hard drive storage. It can easy be reconfigured to use less space without affecting the safety and security of your system. Here's how you do it: Right click on My Computer, click on Properties, choose System Restore (in XP)  or System Protection (in W7), and then slide to reduce disk space (in XP) or click on Configure and do same (in W7).

Online Price Protection

Price Protectr watches prices at 168 stores, including Amazon and Best Buy. Price Protectr is easy to use. First, copy the URL from the product page of the online store. Then, paste it into Price Protectr, include your email address, and wait. If the price drops over the protection period, you'll get an email. Then you just have to request a refund.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creating Restore Points in Windows 7

Windows 7 lets you create a restore point (which you should do before installing or uninstalling any software), but it's a little more involved than in XP. Right click on My Computer and click on Properties. Choose System Protection, then hit Create, add a description, and hit Create. Instead of remembering that, it is a good idea to put a Create System Restore icon on your desktop. Here is a link for instructions for how to do that:

Finding Good Airplane Seats

With SeatGuru, you can look at airline seat maps from almost every carrier, and will be able to see which seats have limited recline, reduced legroom and misaligned windows. Color coding also helps identify superior and substandard seats, as well as which seats have in-seat power ports. See

Friday, November 25, 2011

Weekly Computer Maintenance Checklist

Here is a weekly maintenance routine that will keep your computer running at top speed. While it looks cumbersome, it's very easy and takes under 5 minutes to do. Pick a day to do each week. Create a restore point before beginning, and proceed as follows (all of which programs are free):

1. Check for maintenance program updates with File Hippo ( or other updater.
3. Run Check Disk and 1-Click Maintenance with Glary Utilities (
5. Run fully optimize in Smart Defrag 2 or other defragmenter (
6. Clean your cache, cookies, history, downloads, temp internet files from your browser (this is one click with Chrome).
7. Run full malware scans with free versions of SuperAntiSpyware (, Hitman Pro (, and MalwareBytes ( ... which you can run simultaneously.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How to Survive Thanksgiving

Print What You Like

Here is a free, very easy way to quickly strip out of a web page whatever you don't want so that you can print just what you do want to print. Just past the web page's URL into and you'll immediately see the options for keeping what you want to keep and eliminating what you want to eliminate (e.g., ads).

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kindle Fire Review

I have been "playing" with the Kindle Fire for about ten days, and could not be more pleased. I cannot compare it to the iPad (which I know can do far more things, has a much larger screen, and has other significant advantages) nor to the Nook. But I can say, it has exceeded all my expectations and reasons for buying it. The set up was a snap (e.g., it synced my gmail account and my Kindle account in seconds). With a hiccup here and there, it is easy to learn about and use. While a bit heavier than standard Kindle and the battery life not as good, the color and the backlit screen and sleak look more than make up for those disadvantages. It has built-in free access to all kinds of things to read (newspapers, magazines, etc.). The picture quality for movies is terrific and the sound isn't bad either, and so certainly is a fine device for watching movies on airplanes and trains. The most compelling factor though is its price, at $199 (which is about $5 less than what it cost Amazon to produce). This puts it $300 below the least expensive iPad (which again, as a full-functioning tablet, is a different product), $50 below the Nook, and so little above the standard Kindle that it likely will be, and should be, a smash hit.

Some Amazon Things

1. Amazon has a very easy return process. Just go to the Amazon Return Center at and follow the easy steps to print a UPS shipping label and all you need do then is affix the label and drop off the package (or for $6, schedule a pickup by UPS). The refund will actually issue within 48 hours even though the return will not arrive back at Amazon until much later. One thing to note though: Amazon uses recycled UPS numbers so when you go to track the return, it will show it was delivered months before you actually shipped it and will not give real-time tracking info on your return. It will show on the UPS tracking site when it is delivered. Do not be concerned, and worry not that Level 1 at Amazon and at UPS do not really understand this, because their respective supervisors do, and they have been advised to issue alerts to their staffs apprising them of this stuff.
2. Amazon has excellent telephone customer support. However, it is difficult for some to find their telephone support number. Here it is: 1-800-201-7575. If they ask how you got the number, please do not tell them you got it from me. Thanks.
3. Amazon Wireless runs 1-cent sales on cellphones for new and extended contracts on AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile. This can be a dramatic savings over what you can get directly from the carriers (e.g., you will save $559.99 on a $560 Motorola DROID 2 Global Android with a Verizon plan). Here is where to start:
4. Except for a sleeve, stay away from Amazon for Amazon Kindle accessories. You can get their equivalents or better at all kinds of places on the internets.