Category Archives: Computers

Applied Technology High School in the News

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How to Choose the Best Theme for Your Business Website

We are huge fans of WordPress here and these handy features on the WordPress site are a great way to get started.

The WordPress.com Blog

Building a beautiful website for your business begins with choosing a theme — a design that controls page layout, widget areas, and default style. With more than 350 free and paid themes on WordPress.com, selecting a theme for your business website can feel overwhelming, but you can make it easier by focusing on these three questions.

What Am I Publishing on My Website?

Draft a visual map of your website to help you plan your site structure and decide what you want your homepage to look like. Will your homepage contain static information about your business like a welcome message and business hours or do you want to showcase your latest blog content?

In a theme overview page or when trying out a live demo, look at how the theme handles Widgets— tools or content blocks that you can add, arrange, and remove on your website. Widget areas can include…

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Domain Registry Services of America – SCAM!

Reblogging this one because it seems that they have changed their name. I received another one of these today from iDNS, a.k.a Internet Domain Name Services. Amazingly they haven’t done much other than change the name and switch from the blue to a red color scheme.

As usual – throw the notices from these scam artists in the garbage or you will have unwittingly switched registry providers and will pay 4-5 times what you should have.

The Computer Whisperer

Today I received a very official looking letter from a company called Domain Registry Services informing me that the domain of one of my customers is due to expire “in the next few months”.  If you have received one of these don’t be fooled – it’s a scam!

Here’s how it works: Domain Registry Services sends website owners an official-looking “expiration notice” (see below), urging them to “act today” to prevent “loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you.”

They are hoping that you won’t look too closely at it, fill in the form and send it back.  If you do you will have inadvertently transferred the domain registration from the company you originally registered with (GoDaddy, BlueHost, etc.) and signed that over to DRS.

I have no idea what their registration services are like but I can say that they are at least twice as expensive…

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Anti-virus expired? Replace it for free!

Some time ago I bought a new PC which came pre-installed with the usual bloatware and McAfee Anti-virus.  The subscription provided was for whole year, so I left it in place.

Yesterday I received this message from them.

renewal

Knowing that there are perfectly good free versions of AV out there here’s what I did about that.

Screenshot 2014-11-30 08.52.29

Control Panel – Uninstall a Program. Remove McAfee.

Restart your PC after uninstalling.

Restart your PC after uninstalling.

Enable Windows Defender (included with Windows 8) Then choose update and scan to finish the job.

Enable Windows Defender (included with Windows 8)
Then choose update and scan to finish the job.

 After that…no more subscriptions to worry about – you are protected forever!

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How to avoid the tiles in Windows 8.1

Moving to Windows 8 can be a frustrating experience.  People that grew up on earlier versions of Windows are confused by the Metro screen (the tiles that show up when you boot).  Fortunately there’s a 2 minute fix for that which came with Windows 8.1.

  1. Screenshot 2014-08-03 12.07.00From the Windows 8.1 desktop, right-click on the taskbar and choose Properties.
  2. In the Taskbar and Navigation Properties box that opens, click the Navigation tab.
  3. In the options in the “Start screen” area, check the box next to “When I sign in or close all apps on a screen, go to the desktop instead of Start.”

 

From now on you’ll boot directly to the desktop, making the experience feel much more “normal”.

You still won’t have a proper start button.  If you want that you will have to install a free 3rd party program like Classic Shell.  Do that and you can almost forget that you ever upgraded.

Enjoy!

 

 

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Domain Registry Services of America – SCAM!

Today I received a very official looking letter from a company called Domain Registry Services informing me that the domain of one of my customers is due to expire “in the next few months”.  If you have received one of these don’t be fooled – it’s a scam!

Here’s how it works: Domain Registry Services sends website owners an official-looking “expiration notice” (see below), urging them to “act today” to prevent “loss of your online identity making it difficult for your customers and friends to locate you.”

They are hoping that you won’t look too closely at it, fill in the form and send it back.  If you do you will have inadvertently transferred the domain registration from the company you originally registered with (GoDaddy, BlueHost, etc.) and signed that over to DRS.

I have no idea what their registration services are like but I can say that they are at least twice as expensive as any reputable domain registrar ($35 for one year when most charge between $10 and $15).  I can only assume a company that stoops to such underhanded tactics to win clients would be an absolute nightmare to deal with and any chance of getting a refund has to be slim at best.

If you receive one of these notices do yourself a huge favor and file it in the round filing cabinet.

scam

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Who’s attacking your website?

ImageWith the explosion in web creation tools owning a website is no longer the domain of a select few.  Whether you have an online store, a “business card” site or a fan site for your passion setting up a website can be done by almost anyone with a need and a little patience.

What many people fail to realize is that, just like your home PC, a little care is needed if you are to avoid having your website taken over and either vandalized or used as a springboard for spreading viruses.  After all which of your friends wouldn’t download something from a website they knew you created?

Think people aren’t attacking your site?  A quick look at the sites I have set up showed, without exception, every one of them had logged attempts to log in using brute force password cracking.  I know this because I have software installed on these sites that tracks failed attempts to log in and, if they occur often enough (10 tries in my case) then my site will automatically  block access from those IP addresses with increasingly long lockouts and sends me a note to let me know about it.  Here’s a sample from one of the sites I take care of:

IP Tried to log in as

 

As you can usernames like admin, administrator, root, and variants of the URL (starred out for privacy reasons) have all been tried.  It’s one of the reasons I NEVER use those as either a user id or a password.

Attacks mostly seem to come from the Czech Republic, the Republic of Korea, Ukraine and so on.

Why those places and what are they doing?  Who cares?  The important thing to realize is that even the website you put together as a memorial to your beloved dog can, and will, be attacked.

The site i pulled the lockout information from is only special to the people that use it.  It doesn’t get millions of views, isn’t a political or controversial group, and doesn’t contain any secret information.  In fact everything on the site is public.  So if they are being attacked then it’s a very good bet that your website is too.

So what can you do about it?

Well you can’t stop people attacking you, but you can make life difficult for them by taking some simple steps.

  1. The most obvious, and easiest, thing to do is to make sure that you don’t use any common user names  or passwords.  If your website providers sets up a default user such as Admin when your site is built, change it!  Passwords don’t have to be long and hard to remember – two random words like BlueDriver or NotedMarketer will keep people guessing long enough to make them bored.  If you use Admin and password because they are easy to remember then you deserve what you get.
  2. Install software that can lock out repeated login attempts.  There are many of these around and they are often free.  Install them for some peace of mind and sleep easily knowing that someone isn’t bombarding your website with thousands of login attempts.
  3. Make sure that you keep your website software up to date.  As the HeartBleed bug showed us, no website is foolproof, so make sure that vulnerability are patched regularly.

Those three simple steps alone should keep the vast majority of people at bay.  Sure there are are few highly skilled people out there that could get in if they wanted to, but with so many juicy targets for their talents why would they waste their time on your cooking blog?  Nope…it’s the equivalent of the thug with a brick that we want to stop and the steps above are the equivalent of a spray can full of mace to those guys.

 

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