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“When Digital Disaster Strikes, Smile!…because you will be OK.”

by Gregory West

Have you ever deleted photos from a camera or computer by mistake?

A friend of mine called me recently after going through a “catastrophe”, as he called his situation. It happened about mid way over the Atlantic Ocean, thirty-seven thousand feet up. He was sitting in his seat with not much to do so he decided to check the photos on his digital camera. All these photos were from this trip to Portugal, a trip that involved hiking in the wilderness and visiting old buildings. You can only imagine some of his prized photos.

I think you know where I am going with this…Yes, while looking at the photos, clicking from one to the next, he inadvertently deleted not just a couple of photos, every photo from his trip was gone in one simple click. After checking and double checking he knew it was fruitless to look further; the photos vanished.

When he got home he called as told me about this situation.

“That’s no problem,” I tried to reassure him. I explained that there is a software recovery program that people use in such cases with much success. The voice at the other end of the line was silent. I knew he didn’t think this process was possible. After he recovered every single photo from his vacation he couldn’t thank me enough.

However, my tale doesn’t end there. I had a similar problem where a new SD (photo storage card in camera) failed to produce 250 pictures and some video clips. After taking a deep breath I remembered my advice I had doled out and quickly downloaded a copy of Recuva, a recovery program that is free and works. Within no time I had all my pictures and video clips stored on my computer, thanks to Recuva.

The moral of this story is when you delete photos, music from an MP3 player, or data from your computer, remember that it is possible to recover the data. Don’t say it will never happen because you are careful. I am sure it has happened to the best of us.

To avoid a similar “catastrophe” you need to have a recovery software program installed on your computer. One of the best recovery programs around is called: Recuva. As an added bonus this program is free and it comes “highly” recommended.

You can read the reviews here: http://cnet.co/filehelp

How does it work? Recuva scans your drives for the files you need and “recovers them in a flash” (www.piriform.com). Even if the files are partially damaged “Recuva will show you a list of files it has found on the drive, and give you an estimate of the likelihood of success of recovering them”. You can’t ask for much more.

Let’s not forget when we delete those important emails. Yes you can recover them too. Recuva says that “The email program doesn’t delete the email or emails to the Windows Recycle Bin, but rather empties its own internal trash or Recycle Bin.”

I use word processing software every day. And yes I have lost documents that I have spent hours working on and never got them back. That is until I discovered Recuva. They assure us that their software “can intelligently rebuild Word documents from their temporary files”.

We all can agree for the most part that weddings, graduations, and other such special events are best remembered with lots of photos. Music downloaded to your MP3 player is a treasure chest to cherish. While those word documents on the hard drive on your computer are from hours of work, you dare not lose them anymore.

To find out more and to get your free copy of Recuva go to this website:www.piriform.com/download

Gregory can be reached at: gregory@alternatecloud.com
For more tips visit his Blog: https://gregorywest.wordpress.com
Free Computer Help Seminars: Grace United Church – 519-542-1203

New Google Search Series

This is a change from my normal blog. This time the article(s) and videos are in the LambtonShield online newspaper.

I am doing a 3 part series on the new Google Search. This is also part of a live presentation I am doing for the Sarnia Computer Users’ Group in Sarnia, Ontario.

CHECK OUT THE VIDEO AND ARTICLE: CLICK HEREgoogle search

 

Make Your Computer Run Brand New Again

Don't Let This Bug You

They say that computer users belong to a group known as procrastinators when it comes to maintenance. I confess I sometimes fall into this group too often and get reminded its time when someone cries out their “computer is so slow”.

In the old days of computing we had to manually clean out files and programs on our computers. This is when we had to know what we were doing. Cottage industries quickly grew in popularity, taking on the task of cleaning up computers. These businesses still flourish today. However, you can easily avoid the high costs of sending your computer in for repair by doing it the easy way: Do it yourself.

For some fun I called a local computer repair business to find out what it would cost to clean up my very slow computer. I don’t have a slow computer, I was curious on some pricing. I know it would be costly but I was not ready for the price of $101.70 for virus removal, of which they would not guarantee to get all the viruses or spyware. They suggested spending $113.00 for a complete format of my hard drive, meaning it would wipe everything from my computer and I would lose all the data. Wow!

What is a person to do?

My advice is to NOT pay these high costs when you can very easily do the same work yourself with a few clicks with a mouse? Want to learn more? Read on…

There are usually three issues that can slow down your computer.

  1. Malware and Spyware: Spyware and Malware software “programs can collect various types of personal information” (wikipedia.org) and redirect you to unsafe websites while on the Internet. It gets worse in that “Spyware is known to change computer settings, resulting in slow connection speeds, different home pages, and/or loss of Internet connection or functionality of other programs.” Here is a free program you should download and run:
    http://superantispyware.com
  2. Wasted Hard Drive Space: More than likely your computer is clogged up with junk files, unused useless files, traces of your Internet searches and other data that puts your registry out of sync. In the past, a highly trained technician was the only one to repair this section of your computer. Now the same task can be easily performed by you, and done extremely fast. The program to download for free is called CCleaner found at http://www.piriform.com/. You will note that more than 600 million people have already downloaded this program and it comes highly recommended for computer maintenance.
  3. Slow Starting Computer:I have worked on computers that are so slow starting up I didn’t think the machines was even going to run at all. Some didn’t. Those that were so slow starting were terribly slow running and some people said they could put a load of laundry in while waiting for the computer programs to appear.The problem could very well be that there are too many programs on your computer fighting for startup at the same time. Everything on your computer wants to begin running at the same time and that makes for a very slow computer. Why would you have a full blown office program starting up when you are not going to use it right away? What to do, you ask?

    CCleaner does a fast and amazing job of cleaning “up your Taskbar, ActiveX, Brower and Startup programs. WinPatrol monitors and exposes adware, keyloggers, spyware, worms, cookies, and other malicious software (cnet.com).”  A real benefit of this program also is that it keeps a watchful eye for you as it takes “a snapshot of your critical system resources, then alerting you to any changes that occur without your knowledge.” This is a good way to know if the bad guys have tried to enter your computer without your knowledge.

If your computer is still running strange, then you should consider formatting your hard drive, which means a reinstall of your operating system. Here are some websites that will help you:

Windows XP:    http://bit.ly/lhPy7g
Windows Vista: http://bit.ly/kagWR9

Windows 7:       http://bit.ly/ivEwt4

Good luck and I hope the first three items work well for you and no further work is required. Email me and let me know how you make out.

Gregory can be reached at: gregory@alternatecloud.com

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Free Computer Help Seminars: Grace United Church – 519-542-1203

MAC Users Should Protect With Software and Common Sense

There is a lot of hype in the media today about a security issue for Macs. In Krebs’ blog KREBSONSECURITY he wrote a blog entitled: “Weyland-Yutani Crime Kit Targetss Macs for Bots“. In this blog Krebs clearly pointed out that users are responsible and must maintain common sense while online and using a computer, be it Mac, PC or even Linux.

The media has hyped this issue up because it could involve Mac users. Krebs tells us that “A new crimeware kit for sale on the criminal underground makes it a simple point-and-click exercise to develop malicious software designed to turn Mac OSXcomputers into remotely controllable zombie bots. According to the vendor of this kit, it is somewhat interchangeable with existing crimeware kits made to attack Windows-based PCs.”

Apple news site offers this resolve:

What does this mean for normal Mac users? For the moment, only that you really do want to stay up to date with security updates to Mac OS X and Web browsers. If Weyland-Yutani were to become popular with criminals, the anti-malware market on the Mac would certainly heat up.

But for the moment, just be sure to install security updates, be careful opening email attachments that could contain code, and stay away from dodgy Web sites pushing pirated software, gambling, and porn. Oh, and keep reading TidBITS for news of changes in the security landscape. In other words, use your common sense, since the Internet simply isn’t an entirely safe place and hasn’t been for years.

Any Mac user who takes their computers seriously have read Apple’s advice on Security that is posted near the bottom of the Apple website:

Mac OS X – Security – Keeps safe from viruses and malware

The built-in defenses in Mac OS X help keep you safe from viruses and malware without the hassle of constant alerts and sweeps.

http://www.apple.com/macosx/security/

Security Advice

The Mac is designed with built-in technologies that provide protection against malicious software and security threats right out of the box. However, since no system can be 100 percent immune from every threat, antivirus software may offer additional protection.

and…

Here are some other ways to help keep your information as safe as possible:

  • Download files only from known and trusted websites.
  • Use FileVault to encrypt your most important documents.
  • Control access to your Mac by locking your screen after a period of inactivity.
  • Securely delete outdated sensitive files with the Secure Empty Trash command.
As a Lambton College Mac computer instructor I advise my students to download and use a copy of iAntivirus and ClamAV

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Online Petition – HELP Save Sarnia Jail

Sarnia Jail Help Save it sarnia jail

Petitions now are sent via emails. Once the required number of signatures are met, the final person is to send the PETITION to the listed addresses within the PETITION. PLEASE GO THE EXTRA MILE AND SEND IN AN EMAIL COMPLAINT YOURSELF TOO. USE THE EMAIL ADDRESSES LISTED IN THE PETITION.

For example here is a real PETITION that is being distributed in order to collect 200 names and thus the final 200th person is to forward the email with the signatures. For example, in the body of the said email you will see these instructions:

Please copy this message out of the original email and paste into a new email. Lastly, add your name to the bottom and pass it on to people who have the same concerns within our community. When there are 200 names, please forward to Jim.Bradley@Ontario.ca  and Mr. McGuinty dmcguinty.mpp@liberal.ola.org

In our case we are trying to save the Jail in Sarnia, Ontario, Canada.

FACEBOOKSee Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Sarnia-Jail-Help-Save-it/212016418809742

PLEASE FORWARD THIS IN THE BODY OF AN EMAIL TO YOUR FRIENDS AND CO WORKERS IF YOU WANT TO HELP US SAVE THE SARNIA JAIL. DON’T FORGET TO COPY THE NAMES IN THE LIST AND THEN ADD YOURS. 

Here is a copy of the petition:

Petition

To the Legislative Assembly of Ontario

WHEREAS, the Government and the Minister of Finance has announced in theOntario budget of 2011 the closures of Walkerton, Owen Sound and the Sarnia Jail;

AND WHEREAS, these closures are only to offset the cost of building and running the two new Super Jails being built in Windsor and Toronto at the expense of other jails and security;

AND WHEREAS, the closures will undermine the fundamentals of public and security;

AND WHEREAS, the closures will cause families undue hardship to travel two hours to attend courts and visitations;

WE the undersigned petition the Legislative Assembly of Ontario as follows:

1. Jim LaPier – Corunna, ON

2. Chris Parkes – Petrolia, ON

3. Dave Mitchell – Brights Grove, ON

4. J.Wolfenden-Bright’s Grove, ON

5. R.&P. Dummitt – Sarnia Ontario

6. F & N Strickland Corunna On.

7. K & D McGarry – Sarnia ON

8.  Allan Anderson – Sombra, Ontario

9. Jamie Pole- Sarnia, Ontario

10. Gregory West – Sarnia, Ontario

11. ADD YOUR NAME HERE AND PASS THE EMAIL TO SOMEONE ELSE.

Royal Wedding via Facebook and Twitter – Is Social Media Here to Stay?

Royal Wedding via Facebook and Twitter – Is Social Media Here to Stay?

By Gregory West

Note: Originally published in Lambton Shield Newspaper

Yes, without a doubt, the Royal wedding is history in the making. But so is something else here. With all the online interaction over the wedding, one must ask if we really need TV networks to cover such events as this? Right now maybe…But will we down the road?

Not too long ago, major TV networks snubbed any Social Media applications. After seeing that this is what “WE” the public want, and that this is how “WE” communicate, these social “prehistoric” media types broke down, finally “seeing the light”. The major media outlets have jumped with both feet landing in the real world of cyberspace via Social Media applications.

For real time evidence, just look at how TV executives joined the Social Media band wagon for the Royal wedding. They widely encouraged viewers to interact with their television broadcasts via Facebook and Twitter.

The New York Times reported that “ABC News is focusing much of its social media efforts on Twitter for both storytelling and engagement.”

NBC allowed for people to share their thoughts and comments with well over 7,000 people “who have already signed up for the “Event” on the Today Show’s Facebook page.” You could also join more than 32,000 people who followed NBC’s @royalwedding Twitter account  live as the wedding progressed.

According to USA Today, television networks are “using social media to engage readers and share minute-by-minute news, giving wedding followers countless social-media-drenched outlets to choose from, including the BBC’s royal wedding Facebook page, CNN’s Twitter posts from celebrities, the Today show’s Facebook page and NBC’s Twitter account @royalwedding.”

In reality, many people will still turn the TV sets on at home. However, statistics are showing more and more people are turning on their iPads, smart mobile phones, laptops and even old desktops to connect to the Internet for many live events. This will only keep growing as the trends catch on.

The print media, including the Toronto Star, fails to see the importance and popularity of Social Media.Gigaom.com, a very popular blog, reports that it is in many cases “fear” that sets some media back. They point out there are more missing the social boat: “”The Star is not the only media outlet making these kinds of errors — while they are happy to use social media to push their content, most major newspapers have failed to take advantage of these tools when it comes to building relationships with their readers.”

royal wedding couple

Really, if one thought about this, and I am sure wheels are turning in the TV network boardrooms, that the need for reporters, journalists, and radio and TV announcers may decrease. You can bet this is being discussed in colleges and universities around the globe. Could Social Media replace how we get the news? I think it just might…In fact, has it not begun already?