Telstra or Microsoft phone call scam

Scam-AlertIf someone calls up purporting to be from Telstra or Microsoft (or anyone really) and offering to fix your computer please don't let them remotely access your PC and "fix" it for you. I know that sounds obvious but they play the numbers game in saying that they are aware that you are having issues with your PC or internet connection. Inevitably some of the people they will call at any given time will, in fact, be having issues just based on probability.

Having just fixed one of these issues in the last 24 hours I can assure you it's a significant and unnecessary expense to reverse their "fix", get your data back and restore your computer to a working state.

If anyone calls you offering to fix your PC I suggest you just politely decline and hang up on them, also be prepared that they will probably persist.

Also seriously consider NOT being an administrator on your own PC and instead have a separate administrator account. Also, never store banking, credit card details on your PC just in an unencrypted document.


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How to remotely control another PC - Windows 8

Remote desktop connection iconHow to "remote desktop" or remotely control another computer using Windows 8

Follow this link for a guide on how to use the build in [free] remote desktop feature to remotely control another PC. Note that that the “remote” PC needs to be setup to accept connections.



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Whats a botnet?

Sometimes in IT things are hard to explain and when I get a good short explanation its sometimes worth sharing. This is from the Sophos antivirus guys:

[A botnet is a collection of] malware-infected computers, individually referred to as bots or zombies, that can be controlled remotely by criminals known as bot-herders or botmasters.

As well as stealing information such as banking passwords from each computer in the botnet, the crooks can also send commands to all the computers in the botnet at the same time, essentially giving them a huge distributed "network cloud" of computing resources.

Botnets can therefore be used to send massive quantities of spam (including spam runs containing email attachments with more malware), to clock up huge numbers of fraudulent but legitimate-looking ad clicks, to carry out online attacks, and more.

Attacks of this sort are hard to block because they originate simultaneously from thousands of innocent-looking computers, so there isn't a single, obvious source of criminality.


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Windows 8.0? time for the free upgrade

If your running windows 8[.0] without the free windows 8.1 update you need to install this free update now. If you don't you will no longer receive the security and reliability updates

...Today, June 10, is Microsoft Patch Tuesday. It's also the deadline for consumers running Windows 8.1 to install the Windows 8.1 Update if they want to continue to receive patches and fixes from Microsoft.
Microsoft originally imposed a deadline of May 13 on consumer users to move to the Windows 8.1 Update. On May 12, Microsoft announced a deadline extension to June 10.

Today, June 10, is Microsoft Patch Tuesday. It's also the deadline for consumers running Windows 8.1 to install the Windows 8.1 Update if they want to continue to receive patches and fixes from Microsoft.


Microsoft originally imposed a deadline of May 13 on consumer users to move to the Windows 8.1 Update. On May 12, Microsoft announced a deadline extension to June 10.

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Sick of plugging in your laptop?

Sick of plugging in your laptop?

Up until today every time I come back to my office I have set up my laptop on its stand then plug in:

  • Power/charger
  • USB Mouse
  • Other USB (out to printers and keyboard)
  • Monitor
  • Other monitor
  • Network cable
  • 3 x 3.5mm sound connectors for speakers

That's 9 plugs in total, a fairly painful/time consuming and a lot of wear and tear on my laptop plugs especially as I could go through that procedure 20 times in a day.

I have purchased a generic USB 3.0 docking station now I have to plug only two plus #1: Power, #2: a single USB cable, that's it!

That one USB cable achieves all the connectivity above and also allows for three screens (two external and the laptop screen) and 5.1 surround sound. Below are the details, for around $200 this is highly recommended (based on my experience so far) if you have a USB 3.0 laptop.





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Ebay hack reported, 128 million active users compromised

Ebay hack reported, 128 million active users account details globally compromised in Feb - March and they are only telling us now, thanks for that.

Do you have unique passwords for each of your online services? Consider yourself warned.

Here are some further details:

..."For the time being, we cannot comment on the specific number of accounts impacted," said Ms Ramirez.

"However, we believe there may be a large number of accounts involved and we are asking all eBay users to change their passwords."

Potentially affecting eBay's 128 million active users globally, the attack could be one of the largest affecting a retailer.

It comes after retail giant Target disclosed a security breach which could affect more than 100 million customers....

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Backup plan in place for your personal files at home

Do you have a backup plan in place for your personal files at home.

I have had a look around today and confirmed that, in my opinion, the best on-line backup is still Crashplan:

For one PC its $AU69.30 per year for unlimited data and it backs up continuously and automatically across the internet. All the data is transmitted and stored in an insanely high level of encryption on their servers.

A family plan is $165 which backs up to 10 computers if you have three or more PC's that's a good deal.

There are a few tricks for setting things up initially then there is a one time backup that copies all your data which may take a few days to complete but after that its pretty much set and forget and you get an email every now and then just letting you know that everything is going along OK.

Just be aware this won't work on a server (for business) its PC only.

If you want to work out how long the initial backup will take go here and run the test provided by another on-line storage provider:


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Screen cleaner product

MagiKleenI often get asked what product to use for cleaning computer screens, phones tablets etc. Here is the product I recommend along with the information from their web site. This stuff is great I last purchased from Harvey Norman.

(Note: use common sense when spraying liquid onto electrical goods)

MagiKLEEN Optical, LCD & Plasma Flat Screen Cleaner

The Best Screen Cleaner on the Market

This product is the Rolls Royce of screen cleaners; we can now claim to be the NO 1, LCD/ Plasma & Flat Screen cleaner in Australia. We sell to most major Retail, Commercial, Government & selected computer stores including Air Services Australia which control the majority of Air Traffic control Towers throughout Australia, they now use our LCD Cleaner to clean their screens after passing stringent quality control guidelines.

Our product is environmentally friendly, completely harmless, non toxic & non-flammable.
It is completely safe on all screens including modern coated screens.
Leaves a streak free finish.
The shelf life of the product is 5 plus years.
Cleans CD & DVD discs & optical surfaces without damaging the surface (cameras, videos, GPS units, glasses etc).
Australian made ingredients.
We have taken out an Australian Patent on the product.
MagiKLEEN Optical, LCD & Plasma Cleaner emits with each pump a 125 micron spray (0.125 ml) our unique formula requires only the smallest amount to clean even the most dirtiest screen, unlike cheaper products or imitations that are just soapy water. We sell this product in a kit form. The kit comprises of our patented formula & specially matched cloth. We can then guarantee our product will not scratch the surface it is cleaning.

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Email newsletters starter

email newsletter NetRegistry have a good, simple article on their web site about email newsletters:

"Quick, easy and offering a good ROI, email newsletters are a great way to get in touch with customers. Follow some top design tips to make sure your newsletter hits the right inboxes, tempts readers and gets the clicks you're looking for...."

Go here to read the whole thing, if you need help or details let me know.

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Idle state antivirus scan (NOD32)


NOD32 antivirus version 7 can be set to do a virus scan when the PC is idle (and not on battery power), the previous versions were typically set to scan at a specific time such as 2am on Sunday night (or "on next start-up").

Inevitably "on next start-up" is when you need to use the PC, that's why your starting it up right? So this is why you may get the impression that its frustratingly slow "every time you come to use it" this is because its starting up, doing an antivirus update, windows update, app updates and also an antivirus scan all at the same time. No matter how powerful your PC that's a lot of hard drive activity all at once.


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Heartbleed vulnerability

heartbleed3Here is a roundup of the easiest to understand information about the heartbleed vulnerability, read these and you should have a pretty fair idea of the lay of the land.

I have told many of you before but best practice recommendation is NOT TO DUPLICATE PASSWORDS each service should have a unique, strong password that won't fall over domino fashion if there is a breach like this one, and the Adobe one a year or so ago and the Sony PlayStation one before that. How do you manage all these passwords?, well see below the info on Its free on the PC and minimal cost if you want the multiplatform apps. This is important, consider yourself warned.

Here are the details on heartbleed:

Researchers have warned of a serious security bug in OpenSSL that allows encrypted data to be stolen. OpenSSL is an open-source library of SSL/TLS encryption - the transport layer security protocols by which email, IM, and some VPNs are kept secure online.
A bug dubbed "Heartbleed" lets anyone read the memory of systems using vulnerable versions of OpenSSL software, researchers from Codenomicon have revealed. "This compromises the secret keys used to identify service providers and to encrypt the traffic, the names and passwords of the users and the actual content," the researchers wrote on a website dedicated to the security bug. "This allows attackers to eavesdrop on communications, steal data directly from the services and users and to impersonate services and users."...

Office 365? Microsoft say this about Windows based products:

Information on Office 365 and Heartbleed: Microsoft Account, Microsoft Azure, Office 365, Yammer, Skype, along with most Microsoft Services, are not impacted by the OpenSSL "Heartbleed" vulnerability. [The] Windows' implementation of SSL/TLS is also not impacted. A few Services continue to be reviewed and updated with further protections.

...that chunk of data might include usernames and passwords, reusable browser cookies, or even the site administrator's credentials. While the exploit only allows for small chunks of data to be dumped each time it is run, there is nothing to prevent attackers from replaying the attack over and over, all the while recording fresh data flowing through vulnerable servers. Indeed, I have seen firsthand data showing that some attackers have done just that; for example, compiling huge lists of credentials stolen from users logging in at various sites that remained vulnerable to this bug.

For this reason, I believe it is a good idea for internet users to consider changing passwords at least at sites they visited since this bug became public (Monday morning). But it's important that readers first make an effort to determine that the site in question is not vulnerable to this bug before changing their passwords.

Security experts warn that changing all your internet passwords now could do more harm than good
Security experts are warning users to ignore advice to change all of their internet passwords in the wake of the Heartbleed compromise.

Lastpass password manager:

LastPass has updated its built-in Security Check so that you can now easily see which sites require you to update your passwords to be safe from possible Heartbleed attacks [and which to wait until they have sorted out their own SSL security first]....

Example screenshot:



2323 Hits

Outlook 2013 "pop-out" replys


When you reply to a message in Outlook 2010 or earlier, Outlook creates a new message in a free-floating window. When you hit Reply (or Reply to All) in Outlook 2013, your reply appears "inline," above the original message in the viewing pane on the right this works well on a touch screen tablet but on a normal desktop PC not so much.

Many of the message options available in Outlook 2010 aren't available in Outlook 2013, and it's easy to lose track of your reply when switching to other apps, unless you click Pop Out at the top. Pop Out makes Outlook revert to the 2010 behavior.

Solution: In Outlook 2013 Click File, Options, Mail. In the Replies and Forwards section, check the box marked "Open replies and forwards in a new window."

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Word 2013 reading view

Word 2013 reading view (or in most cases "prevent you from reading" view) isn't my favorite 2013 feature, turn it off using these steps:

In Word with a document open: click File, Options, and on the left make sure General is showing. Near the bottom, uncheck the box that says "Open e-mail attachments and other uneditable files in Reading View." Restart Word.


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"Server based mail"

Why do you recommend "server mail" what's the benefit?:

Microsoft Exchange (also included in the Office 365 subscription product) is a "Server based mail product" all the mail is maintained and stored on the server.

When using server based mail you start up Outlook, it makes connection to the servers and then synchronizes mail, calendar events, contacts and tasks both ways up and down (from and to your PC):

  1. Changes (new email, moved mail, created folders mark as read etc.) that you may have made in Outlook when you were offline (such as on a laptop or if the server was down) will be sent back up to the server
  2. Changes (new email, moved mail, created folders mark as read etc.) that we made on another computer or via web mail or a smartphone will be synchronized from the server down to your Outlook.

Additionally, Exchange server provides the same premium experience on mobile devices and tables such as Windows Phone and tablets, Android, and IOS.

The huge advantage to this is that all your computers/devices are kept in sync and changes made in one place (such as read and delete actions) will be mirrored to all your devices/access methods.

Isn't this the same as the free IMAP service I can get from my ISP?

If you have experienced IMAP you will have some understanding of how this works but IMAP is extremely limited by comparison. There are a number of other features such as shared folders calendar collaboration, remote wipe for your phone (for lost phones) available in exchange but that's enough information for now.

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1 Comment

How to Guide - How to connect to Exchange/Office 365

See here:

How to Guide - How to connect to Exchange/Office 365

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Microsoft Onenote software now free

Microsoft Onenote software is now free and with auto-sync to your (free 7GB) Microsoft onedrive/skydrive/livedrive online storage. Its a great product for school, uni, work or home notes. You can share between your team or family so that you can all "be on the same page".

Get the apps too so you can auto-sync with your Windows phone and Windows 8 tablet (supports other lesser products also).

(or if you want to pay $89 then you can do that also)


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MS Office (Outlook) 2013 issues

MS Office (Outlook) 2013 issues:

OK I have spent more than 10 hours of my evenings over the past few weeks trying to resolve issues with MS Office Outlook 2013 running under Windows 8 this was for the home and business version but I believe it's the same for all the new "click-to-run" versions. (Volume licence MSI install versions for business don't have this issue at all and I have been using Office 2013 since it was released without seeing this issue)

Basically the issue relates to accessing and modifying Outlook profiles (accessible via the "mail..." icon in the control panel). This is required in an instance where you have 2 x different mail accounts that you want to handle separately. Technically this issue manifests its self as rundll32.exe error.

I have replicated this issue 100% of the time under multiple (at least 5) different windows 8.1 PC's in different environments including clean installs. I have tested this using multiple different install disks (3) from multiple different suppliers. I have applied all the available patches and fixes suggested by both Microsoft and the IT community have failed 100% of the time.

I have gone round and round and round and round in forums and Microsoft support and I believe that this is a bug in the product that is unfixable by IT support such as myself. Now, this presents a bit of a problem as there is no Office (Outlook) 2010 available any longer.

What to do?

  • Firstly be aware of the issue understand that this will be a pain point and as such will require extra support time to address and is not fully resolvable at all for now, proper planning is required.
  • Secondly there is one and one only work around that I have established and that involves an Office 2013 MSI install disk (serial number not required).

What have I not tested:

  • OEM, Office 365 version or key-card based click to run downloadable versions, the products that I have tested are only H&B retail, however my understanding is that this applies to all click to run versions.
  • Office 2013 on windows 7 not specifically tested but I have observed this working, not sure what delivery methods these were installed by.
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As some of you know I recommend Joomla as the basis for your web site. Its a great (and free) product that is used by many huge organizations for their web sites, people such as the United Nations and loads more.

What does Joomla! mean? The name Joomla is a phonetic spelling for the Swahili word "Jumla," which means "all together" or "as a whole".




Recent Comments
Thanks Belinda Ill have to find a prize for you for being the first to comment!
Sunday, 23 March 2014 14:56
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Network/infrastructure monitoring

I have had a couple of people asked me lately about network/infrastructure monitoring. So I thought I would share with you a product which I use to monitor a couple of sites including my own internal infrastructure.

Without going into too much detail (and in order to get to the pretty pictures as quickly as possible) the concept behind network monitoring is to add certain sensors to constantly check for issues with servers, printers, routers, wireless access points etc. Conditions and levels are set for warning or full alerts depending on the device or service in question and notifications are sent to relevant staff if these conditions are triggered.

Without monitoring there is often no indication that things are going bad and the first thing that I hear is when all the users are locked out of the server. With monitoring I can see trends or emerging issues and restart a server or otherwise take some other action after hours or at a convenient time and thereby avoid a crisis. This type of product is not a magic bullet but it's a good tool to have and its saved me a couple of times.

Image 1 (below) is a listing of all the monitored objects on the network, note the memory warning on one of the servers:


Image 2 (below) shows the detail for that memory issue, note the yellow "warning' level and the red "alert" level on the graph.



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New desktop PC specs

I get asked about a recommendation for a new PC a lot (obviously). These days its a lot easier than it used to be so here you go in one sentence, for a standard business PC:

Intel i5 CPU, 8GB RAM, Windows 8.1 (normally) (always pro), Office 2013 home and business (always retail version), NOD32 antivirus (never security suite), Acronis drive image home 2014 (this is your insurance), Small UPS (APC brand), 22" - 24" screen. Seriously consider a warranty upgrade to onsite.

Brand/suppler... well you will have to call me for that and it is significant.

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digitalwelcomemat now has a blog!

Subscribe for the news as it happens, call me for support on 0404 493 770 or access my remote support solution here:

Digitalwelcomemat provides IT consultancy and services for business customers on the NSW Central Coast in Australia.




Give me a call: 0404 493770

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