Archive for November, 2009

Is it a Virus Hoax or a Real Warning?

I know several people whose computers were slapped down by virus hoax warnings.  This type of attack is on the rise!

Virus hoaxes are false virus warnings that are designed to cause alarm or damage. They waste time and cause undue fear or distress or can lead to widespread computer damage and data loss. Sadly, such damage is almost always the result of hoax recipients themselves who are tricked into harming their own PCs by following a set of persuasive instructions that promise to "fix" or "disinfect" a perfectly healthy machine.

Watch for Mind Tricks

A virus hoax can employ any number of psychological tricks in an attempt to convince recipients to perform the desired (damaging) steps. For example:

  • It may point you to a file that’s supposed to remove the infection and tell you to shut down your antivirus software to ensure the disinfection can occur, but in actuality this file IS the real virus!
  • It may direct you to "disinfect" your machine by making hazardous edits to the registry or deleting files that are critical to Windows, resulting in either a security-weakened state or even a completely disabled PC.
  • It will almost inevitably direct you to forward the message to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, and you unknowingly perpetuate the hoax before you realize it’s a fake.

Virus hoax

The above is a typical virus hoax. SULFNBK.EXE is actually a critical Windows file and would render the PC inoperable if deleted.

You need to quickly differentiate hoaxes from real warnings – think twice if you get an email message with a virus warning that:

  • Instructs you to take immediate action and delete files or edit the registry to avoid infection. The wording is intended to rush you into taking action before you verify that it’s a hoax. Alarmingly, the most common instruction is to delete a file that is required by your operating system to run properly.
  • postcardvirusInstructs you to forward to all of your loved ones and friends. Hoaxes of any kind are worded to play on people’s desire to help others.
  • Has wording designed to alarm, with many words in ALL CAPS, a series of exclamation marks, or dramatically dire predictions of what will happen to your computer. Reputable warnings do not have such exaggerated amplifications.
  • Contains poor grammar. Many hoax creators do not natively speak the language the hoax is delivered in.
  • Contains language that sounds technical, but is in fact gibberish or a technical impossibility. Many hoaxes will use this technique to attempt to convince non-technical people that the hoax is real due to the advanced jargon. Real warnings are typically written simply and are easy to understand by even non-technical people.
  • Is part of a series of forwarded messages, and the original message is undated. Many hoaxes have been circulating in email boxes for years, but the original date is removed so that it appears new.
  • Is from an unknown source that claims to have detected a virus on your computer. This is not a valid way to learn about the security status of your computer.

What to do if you think you’ve received a hoax

One good way to do some quick research is to copy the subject text of the questionable email message and perform a web search on this phrase. If the message is a hoax, chances are it is being discussed by experts, and the web search results will indicate its status. While this investigation method should not be considered failsafe, it’s where many savvy computer users start.

If you aren’t comfortable performing a search as described above and you think a message may be a hoax, simply delete the message and perform a full system scan using a reputable antivirus product with up-to-date malware signatures. If the scan comes back negative, that’s about as good a "clean bill of health" as you’re going to get. Keep an eye on your PC over the next few days, and consider performing another full scan with updated signatures later to double-check your status.


November 30, 2009 at 5:02 pm Leave a comment

Help a Genius Who Paints Sound

 mm_logo_300_v2As many of you may know, the DREAM Fund was developed to assist people in advertising, public relations and media industries whose lives have hit unexpected difficulties.  Today, we have a special need in the Houston Area; a need that requires immediate assistance.

Mark Meyer works as an audio engineer at SoundWorks.  He has been diagnosed with lung cancer and unfortunately the chemo treatments have not helped; thus, the current prognosis isn’t favorable.  For the past 6 months, he has worked on a reduced salary and is the primary provider for his family.  Mark has been labeled as a genius at painting sound; however, he is also a master of not making a sound when needing help.  To fight this battle, Mark needs not only encouragement but monetary support for his mounting medical bills and for the care of his family (wife, two daughters and grandson).

Should you wish to make a tax-deductible donation to assist this family in their time of need, please logon to:

click on: DONATIONS

select: Donate online

Fill-in all required areas (*) on the form, uncheck any pre-checked selections and under DIRECTED DONATIONS type: MARK MEYER



Once the donation transaction is complete, you will be able to print your donation confirmation and receipt.

Again, please spread the word and help a colleague in need.  Thank you for your support.

To send a note of encouragement to Mark – visit The Mark Meyer Fund on Facebook or Mark Meyer on Twitter.

November 18, 2009 at 5:40 pm Leave a comment

Unfriend Is the Word Of the Year!

Unfriend Unfriend is the New Oxford American Dictionary Word of the Year. If you use Facebook or some other Social media this is not a new word. New Oxford American Dictionary has announced today that they have selected Unfriend as their word of the year. Unfriend essentially means remove someone from your Friend’s list on a social network. This word was indeed made popular by Facebook which is still the most popular social networking service on the planet today. Oxford hypermiling as their word of the year last year.


To me  Hide is the dangerous Facebook word that I would nominate for next year.  Why is it dangerous? Because you can have tons of friends and they can all hide your posts.  You will never know that they hide your posts and you think “I have X number of followers.” But how many are hidden?

n. To remove a contact from your network on a social networking site,
such as Facebook.

“Michael keeps spamming me with requests to join his pirate army and
take stupid quizzes. I’m totally going to unfriend him.”

November 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm Leave a comment

The Science of Great Tasting Wine

wineI occasionally like a glass of red wine and I am amazed at how one can find a good wine at an inexpensive price. But unless one gets guidance you have to go through a lot of experimentation before you find a good tasting cheap wine. Now after watching the Science Channel and reading some geeky articles I find that there is actually a science to good tasting wine. The answer may be in recycling our food waste. Check out this video and see what I mean ….

November 17, 2009 at 4:34 pm Leave a comment

How to make your batteries last

nicadThere are so many electronic items with batteries these days. It seems like I am always having to replace them or recharge them. Just yesterday I pulled out an air compressor and the batteries would no longer take a charge. So the challenge is how can you extend the life of your rechargeable batteries? Here are a few tips …


1. Never let your batteries be 100% charged or discharged. Charge them to about 85% and then repeat when they reach 15% capacity. This will extend the life of the battery.

2. When you buy a new device charge it before you use it.

3. Keep spare charged batteries in the refrigerator, they like the cold.

4. If you have a laptop, don’t leave it plugged in all the time.

5. Revive NiCad Batteries by Zapping with a Welder – this sounds like a Myth Busters episode. I had a friend who used to put new life in his batteries with a power supply – he called it zapping the batteries. Zapping brakes down the crystals that form over time causing the battery to not hold a charge. Be warned, doing it wrong will cause them to explode.


November 9, 2009 at 8:15 pm Leave a comment


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