July 3rd, 2013

SurfEasy Mobile is here!

Your smartphone is a modern marvel. It’s your banker, your friends, your spouse, your work, your recipe book, your tour guide, your photographer, your personal shopper and so much more. With all that access to everything in your life in one place have you ever stopped to consider how secure your connection is? You may usually connect to cellular data which is secure for the most part. When you connect to WIFI, especially open hotspots with no password, you don’t really know how safe it is. Most people just trust that they have nothing important to steal. You might say “I’m not that interesting to a hacker.” Just imagine if someone got the password to just your email account. They could use it to reset the passwords on all your social media accounts. Then they could spam your friends and business contacts that looks like it’s coming from you. That alone is just embarrassing. If they get hold of your banking information that can cause you gross inconvenience while you fix the problem and hopefully insurance covers your losses.

There is a solution that can protect you from this. SurfEasy Mobile VPN.

VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. It’s an extra layer of protection that routes everything through a secure server. The connection between your device and the server is encrypted which means it’s only visible to you and no one else.

SurfEasy Mobile VPN is a service you pay for. It costs $29.99 a year available at London Drugs. It works on Apple iOS (iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch) and Android. It installs a service within your device that routes all internet traffic through a secure connection run by SurfEasy. The connection is not only encrypted to make sure no one is looking in at what you’re doing it also hides the physical address of your phone. There’s a little bit of magic that the SurfEasy conjured up to give just enough information to location aware apps like Maps and Foursquare so they still work.

The SurfEasy Mobile VPN also makes your device make it look like it’s in another country. That means you can get US Netflix or other blocked content not normally available in Canada. There is no bandwidth cap on the paid SurfEasy Mobile VPN so you don’t have to worry about how much you use the security and location changing.

I tried it out for a few weeks on my iPhone 5 with LTE. I was impressed at the speed. You don’t want anything slowing down your data connection. If SurfEasy slowed me down I would just turn it off most of the time. I have left it on for almost a month and have never turned it off. Other free ones I tried in the past have been notorious for being slow. That’s mostly because there are so many people using it. SurfEasy is paid so there’s less people on it and they maintain a very fast server with a limited number of users per connection. You don’t have to worry about the server filling up because you have priority on it at as a paid user.

I noticed a couple interesting things when I was using it. First when I went to search for something Bing or Google would ask me to fill in a human verification check because I was ‘changing locations so quickly’ which means it’s working well! I also had to re-verify my user name and password on a few of my social media apps. Once I did it once I was fine. They just want to check that you are who you say you are even if you traveled 10,000 km at the speed of light.

Available in store and online: http://www.londondrugs.com/SurfEasy-Mobile-VPN-with-Unlimited-Data-Protection/L7725906

Still not sure SurfEasy Mobile VPN is right for you? They have a free trial and more information available here http://www.surfeasy.com

Check back for the recently release SurfEasy Total VPN for Mac and PC review I just started playing with it.

Julian Sanders
in @LD_Saskatoon for @LDComputers

January 22nd, 2013

Windows 8 Is Growing On Me Big Time

Christmas is time for family gatherings, presents; turkey dinners. It is also time for Nerds like me to have some time to play with new stuff. Now, I admit, I did not upgrade my system at exactly midnight October 26th to Windows 8, as Microsoft had hoped. Working in a retail environment during the holiday season really doesn’t allow much time and freedom to play and experiment. Well, I waited and through Christmas and New Year, I finally dove in and played to my nerdy delight.

Like many people I know, seeing the welcome screen on Windows 8 for the first time was downright scary. What did Redmond do with the “Start” button. The loss was profoundly and nerdily missed, but not for long. Once I got over the initial shock, I began to see the entire screen as my new “Start” button. Instead of clicking once to see the common apps, they are right there in front of me. Instead of clicking “All Programs” to find other apps and maybe another click or two to get to the actual applicaiotn, they are also there: all I had to do was swipe. How cool it is.

No more shock and dismay. A nerdy nod in the general direction of the designers in Redmond.

Mouse? What mouse. Now, I have an advantage over my colleagues. As an avid photographer, I was already using the Wacom Intuous 5 tablet. Since it worked fine with Windows 8, I had less of a shock than my friends who are still “mousing”. The fact is, while Windows 8 is perfectly fine with a mouse, it is the touch screen optimization that makes it the state-of-the-art Operating System. I have been using a Samsung Tablet PC, so the touch-screen and the Wacom Tablet are both used. When I am at home, Wacom is there on the desk. When I travel, the native touch screen is oh-so-nice. Swiping from one app to the next is brilliant and efficient.

The touch screen keyboard took a while to get used to, but because the Samsung tablet is wider, the spacing of the keys made it a lot more usable than your typical tablet. In fact, that part of it is different enough that I started calling my machine the Tablet PC, as opposed to just “the Tablet”. Somehow calling it a tablet was beginning to sound a tad inadequate.

Then, there are the apps. Not as robust a list as some other app stores, but it covers the major ones. I do have to remind myself to read the reviews before I download, though. I found one app I thought would be nice to try. It really sucked. I went back to the app store after hours of frustration only to find that the first string of reviews all said the same thing: IT SUCKED. Duh!!   

Since I had a Windows 8 Pro edition loaded, all my applications for work, home and play all loaded with zero problems. Security was the same as my old Windows 7 system. In fact, much of the “under the hood” stuff is pretty much all the same, only faster. With the instant on feature on the tablet, I haven’t had to re-boot for the past month. I have not had a single incompatibility issue switching my software from Windows 7 to Windows 8. Updates for the apps and the system were all done behind the cover, without any fussing about by me.

Of course, I cannot leave this blog without a comment on the live-tiles, or whatever name the Microsofties are calling them today. Those are the squares or rectangles that represent various apps on the Start Screen. Only they are more than just representations of the apps. They are, in many cases, actually live and running apps. I get news, weather, exchange rates, tweets and such like rolling through as I sit and look at the Start Screen.  This is before I even start the app. Pretty and cool, so I guess it is pretty cool.

Tripping? No, not that. I have been on three trips with my Windows 8 Tablet PC. Just loving it. It weighs a fraction of my old notebook. In one single package I managed to combine my tablet, notebook and ebook. Heck, since I used video conferencing, it even replaced my phone for a couple of meetings.

Well, that’s my first month with Windows 8.

Cedric Tetzel
@cedrictetzel for @LDComputers

January 14th, 2013

Java – How do I use it and stay safe?

Recently there was a story in the news that originated with the United States Department of Homeland Security advising everyone to turn Java off on their computer due to “a serious security vulnerability”. But there has been a patch released so you can protect yourself and keep using Java.

Here’s a Tech Talk explaining:

You may have some questions. Let me help.

What is Java?
Java is a widely used programming language in almost every current computer. Windows, Macs and others all use Java.
Curious if you have Java? Check your computer at this link: http://www.javatester.org/version.html

Who is affected?
The security issue is in the latest version 7 of the Java Runtime Environment in Windows, Mac and Linux systems. You most likely have your computer set to automatically check for updates and if you’re like most people you probably install them on a monthly basis. By default, Java checks itself every 30 days for updates. Therefore, you are likely only one update behind for a matter of days or weeks.

What is the risk?
If you haven’t updated to the latest version of Java which was released on January 13, 2013 then you are vulnerable. Your computer could be remotely controlled by an attacker through an infected website. They usually install a key logger and attempt to steal your identity silently through the hole in Java by monitoring you when you enter passwords.

What do I do?
Check which version of Java you have by going here: http://www.java.com/en/download/installed.jsp
If you aren’t running the latest version it will tell you. Follow the instructions there. Once you finish go back and check again that you have 7.11 or higher.

Once you finish making sure you have the latest version of Java running you should make sure you uninstall any old versions of Java. This is important for Windows users because it plugs any remaning holes.
Instructions on how to get rid of old versions of Java are here: http://www.java.com/en/download/faq/remove_olderversions.xml

Also run your operating systems built in update feature to make sure you have all the current patches and fixes installed.

Can I get someone to help me do this?
If you get stuck or don’t want to do it yourself see your nearest London Drugs and get us to do it for you – we have tech services in every store.

Julian Sanders @saskajules
in @LD_Saskatoon for @LDComputers

December 7th, 2012

12 Scams of Christmas

Don’t get hit by “Cyber Scrooges” this Christmas.  Digital threats don’t care that we all should be enjoying the holiday season.  McAfee, makers of security software for your digital devices, wants to help by identifying the 12 Scams of Christmas

1) Social Media Scams — Many consumers use social media sites to connect with family,friends and coworkers over the holidays, and cybercriminals use these channels to catchusers off guard. Here are some ways that criminals will use these avenues to obtain shopper’s gift money, identity or other personal information:

• Scammers use channels like Facebook and Twitter in the same way they use email and websites to scam consumers during the holidays. Be careful when clicking on or liking posts while taking advantage of contests, ads and special deals that you get from your “friends” that advertise the hottest holiday gifts, exclusive discounts at local stores and holiday-related job postings. Be on the lookout for your friends’ accounts being hacked and sending out fake alerts to all their connections.

• Twitter ads and special discounts for popular gifts are especially huge around Boxing Day, and they utilize blind, shortened links that may be malicious.

Criminals are getting savvier with authentic-looking social ads and deals that take consumers to legitimate-looking websites. In order to take advantage of the deals or contests, they ask users for personal information including their credit card number, email address, phone number and home address.

2) Malicious Mobile Apps — Earlier this year, both Apple® and GoogleTM announced that they had each garnered more than 25 billion downloads from their app stores. But as the popularity of mobile applications has grown, so has the chance that users could download a malicious application designed to steal their information or even send out premium-rate text messages from their phones without their knowledge.

3) Travel Scams — Before shoppers make holiday travel plans to visit family and friends, they need to keep in mind that scammers want to hook them with too-good-to-be-true deals. Phony travel webpages with beautiful pictures and rock-bottom prices are used to entice users to hand over their financial details.

4) Holiday Spam/Phishing — Many of the spam emails that shoppers are used to seeing will take on holiday themes. Cheap designer watches and pharmaceuticals may be advertised as the “perfect gift” for that special someone.

5) iPhone 5, iPad and Other Hot Holiday Gift Scams — The excitement and buzz surrounding Apple’s new iPhone® 5 and iPad® Mini create the perfect environment for cybercrooks to plot and carry out their scams. They mention must-have holiday gifts in dangerous links, phony contests and phishing emails to grab readers’ attention and entice them to reveal personal information or click on a dangerous link that could download malware onto their machines.

6) Skype Message Scare — People around the world will use Skype to connect with loved ones this holiday season, but they need to be aware of a new Skype message scam that attempts to infect their machines and even hold their files for ransom.

7) Bogus Gift Cards — Another tactic used by cybercriminals is to offer bogus gift cards online. Shoppers need to be wary of purchasing from third parties to avoid the risk being scammed.

8) Holiday SMiShing “SMiShing” is phishing via text message. Just like with email phishing, scammers pretend to represent legitimate organizations in order to lure shoppers into revealing information or performing an action they normally wouldn’t do.

9) Phony E-tailers — Phony e-commerce sites that appear real try to lure users into typing in their credit card number and other personal details, often by promoting great deals. But after giving this information, shoppers never receive the merchandise and their personal information is put at risk.

10) Fake Charities — This is one of the biggest scams of every holiday season. As holiday revelers open up their hearts and wallets, the criminals hope to take advantage of their generosity by sending spam emails advertising fake charities.

11) Dangerous e-Cards — E-cards are a popular way to send a quick “thank you” or holiday greeting, but some are malicious and may contain spyware or viruses that download onto users’ computers once they click on the link to view the greeting.

12)Phony Classifieds — Online classified sites may be a great place to look for holiday gifts and part-time jobs, but beware of phony offers that ask for too much personal information or ask for funds to be wired via Western Union, since these are most likely scams.


October 26th, 2012

Windows 8 Is Here!

Today Windows 8 hits stores! Julian talks to Jeremy about Windows 8 being released and what that means to the tech world. Also answered is the burning question “Can Windows 8 play Angry Birds?”



September 29th, 2012

Running Windows on Mac with Parallels

Listen to Steve Dotto and Julian Sanders talk about running Windows on your Mac with Parallels.

Dotto interviewing Julian about running Windows on a Mac with Parallels

January 25th, 2012

Consumer Electronics Show 2012

It is now a week after the close of the CES chow in Las Vegas, that annual gathering of the electronics and computer industry to show the newest “stuff” in their arsenal. This year, it was joined by the Photographic industry officially with the participation of the Photographic Marketing Association, PMA.

The problem with this show is the hype. As if Vegas wasn’t enough, you have to wade through thousands of booths each touting the latest in bells, whistles and shining lights. After you get through the rap stars, country and western singers on stage, you need serious decompression time figure out what are the likely trends for 2012.

Now that my eyeballs have recovered from the bright lights and fancy hype, here is my modest list of what I consider the real deals.

  1. Windows 8. This was truly ho-hum at the show, unless you took the time to watch and experience the demos at the Microsoft booth. Microsoft would not announce a launch date, but I have already told my buyers they are not allowed to take time off during a certain month in 2012. This newest edition of Windows is a huge departure from what you and I both know as Windows. The interface has changed. Applications are grouped together for better and easier access. For a change, Microsoft paid a lot of attention of how people work, play and use their computers. This Operating System is built for users, not programmers. It is also optimized for touch, which means it will provide a common interface to phones, tablets, notebooks and desktop computers.
  2. Research in Motion demo’d their Playbook 2.0 Operating System. No one will argue that RIM launched the Playbook before it was ready, but with 2.0, it is ready. The unified inbox is astounding. It groups all social media and email communications into one application. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Email are all there in one application. No more flipping, flopping, closing, opening applications. The ability to use your Blackberry as either a touchpad or keyboard is also new and great for users. That’s just for starters. Check out the calendar. As your day gets busier, the calendar for that day grow larger and the typeface changes. Easy and elegant organizational tool.
  3. Enough of Operating Systems already. People are falling asleep. How about LED DLP projectors? Don’t know what they are? Well, they are about the size of a John Grisham paperback and probably a bit lighter. Unlike the earlier pico-projectors, which seriously suck, these throw a decent image onto a projection screen or white wall. Easy to carry around, it is great as carry-on luggage. No, it will not replace a full sized projector, but you can fire the Sherpa guide you have been hiring to carry your luggage when you travel to do presentations.
  4. Ultrabook. Let me repeat that: ULTRABOOK. This will be the tiniest humongous hit of 2012. It is a notebook computer that starts up in 20 seconds or less, weighs less than 3 pounds, slimmer than a few tablets and uses fully functioning Windows along with the bajillion applications for Windows. Yes, it is a full function, powerhouse of a computer. There will be a variety of Intel processors represented in this category. Samsung, Hewlett Packard, Asus and more brands will have their own interpretation of this form factor.

Enough for today. More later.

Written by Cedric Tetzel

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