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My Computer Locks Up When I’m Downloading Files

Someone asked me just today about why their computer locks up when downloading files. Well, there can be many causes of lockups, especially when you are trying to get files from the Internet. For example, one person has this problem: “When i go to the windows updates site or they download in my system tray, at some point my computer locks up.”

Yet another person has this problem: “I have a good internet connection via my university. However my computer usually crashes when downloading from servers that I can get a good xfer rate from. Often when I download with a speed above 500 kb/s the computer locks up, the same thing can happen if I do several downloads at the same time even if they are going slower. What happens is that the screen freezes, I can’t do anything and I have to do a hard reboot.”

At this point, I don’t have an answer, but I will keep you posted, as I am researching the problem now.

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Merry Christmas!

Christmas Bells

Have a safe and happy holiday season!

Ken “The Geek” Harthun

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Encryption Couldn’t Be Simpler Than Encrypt on Click

Need encryption? Need it to be really simple? Then you can’t beat Encrypt on Click (freeware) by 2BrightSparks. This program is so simple you won’t even need to read the ReadMe file. But don’t let the simplicity deceive you: the encryption algorithm uses 256-bit AES. (In case you didn’t know, AES is certified for use on TOP SECRET government information as long as 192, and 256 bit key lengths are employed.)

After you install the program, this is what you see when you open it:

You can’t get any simpler than that. Make your selection, and you’re prompted to enter a password. Enter the password, click OK and you’re done. Your file or folder will be encrypted and the filenames appended with the .eoc extension. Here’s the list of benefits shown on the web site:

• A very secure encryption method is also used (256-bit AES encryption).
• Files are both compressed & encrypted, which results in a smaller file.
• Password protected.
• Will encrypt single files or all files in a folder.
• Very simple to use interface.
• Can be used on a USB key.
• Fully Unicode enabled so filenames in any language can be encrypted.
• Fits on a floppy disk.
• Files can be opened and decrypted using WinZip 9 provided the correct password is used.

Cheers!

The Geek

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PC Security Top Five

Everyone seems to be doing top five and top ten lists these days, so I figured it’s about time I presented one of my own. Here’s my PC Security Top Five for home computers and home computer users:

1.  AVG antivirus. This is a best-of-breed antivirus program that is free for personal use. I’ve been using it for years.

2. Spybot Search & Destroy. Freeware. Anti-spyware/privacy protection. This is my main tool in the battle against spyware, and as of March 19, 2008, the program includes RootAlyzer anti-rootkit technology.

3. SpywareBlaster. Freeware. Blocks malware (see site for details). You need to update it periodically, but it’s transparent otherwise.

4. Mvps.org HOSTS file. The HOSTS file can be used to block unwanted sites and mvps.org provides a constantly-updated list of sites to block. Complete details can be found by following the link. I’ve used it for more than five years and have never gotten infected by a bad site.

5. Security Now! podcast. Every week, Steve Gibson and Leo Laporte discuss security. If you’re not listening, you’re missing out on some of the best security advice out there. Tell ’em The Geek sent you!

Cheers!
The Geek

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Geeks as cyber warriors?

Check out this article in my new IT Knowledge Exchange blog (a paying gig for a change!). Seems the Air Force (which I’m a veteran of) has set up a new Cyber Command division. I’m sure it’ll be the geekiest place in the military.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Stay Tuned for Big Changes Here

Thanks to all of you fine folks who are regular visitors and the new traffic that keeps coming in from all over, Ask the Geek is growing. I’ll be adding new features to make this site easier to navigate, new downloadable content, improved feedback form and a completely new site design powered by WordPress. Because I’m a busy Geek, I won’t be able to do everything at once, but I’ll plug away and get it done over the next few weeks.

So, stay tuned.

Cheers!
The Geek

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Will You Be Used As a Weapon Against Your Own Country?

It’s 2010, maybe sooner. A rogue nation has just declared war on your country. No one will be killed in this war, at least not directly. But people will die from starvation, disease, and in the general chaos caused by disruption in vital communications lines. The rogue nation’s primary weapon? Botnets capable of taking down huge segments of the Internet and telephone networks. [Read the full article at Ask the Geek, Too]

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Who Wants to Go Green?

Twenty-nine years ago (according to the date on my drawing), I designed a roofing system that could be retrofit to any home and which would provide up to one-half of winter heating needs on sunny days. At the same time, I designed a geothermal heating/cooling system that would provide a constant stream of air into the home at a temperature of 55 degrees year-round; cooling in summer, heating in winter. At the time, these designs coupled with homes that were three-quarters underground would have been the ultimate in *green*.

These days, with all of the focus on global warming, *going green* means much more than just having an energy-efficient home–it means doing everything you can to reduce your contribution to the greenhouse gases that are responsible.

So, I figured I’d tell you about a few things this Geek is doing to reduce his *carbon footprint*:

  • Crank-power radios and flashlights. One of my radios uses no batteries at all; one of them is recharged by cranking. Same with the flashlights.
  • I turn my PCs off when I’m not using them.
  • Most of the time, I use my laptop instead of my desktop PC; a little over 50 watts energy usage instead of 250 watts.
  • I use those spiral florescent lights instead of conventional bulbs (yes, LEDs would be better, but they’re still too expensive).
  • I recycle what I can.
  • I cook with the microwave whenever possible (less energy used to cook a meal than with my electric stove).
  • I cool only the bedroom to comfort level and keep the rest of the house bearable.

I wish I could do more, but certain job constraints prevent my limiting my gasoline usage. When I get my own house again, I’ll do much more. Stay tuned.

Cheers!
The Geek

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AOL has detected an error with your connection to the internet

Q. When connecting to AOL I get the following pop-up: “AOL HAS detected an error with your connection to the internet. Please exit the AOL software, restart your compuyer, and then sign on AOL again.” Cannot connect to IE thru any links on AOL. Can receive and send emails.”

A. Thanks for your question. I have not used AOL since 1995, though I have friends who still insist on using it. I have seen this problem before and it is related to the “AOL Adapter” that AOL uses to communicate with its services. It usually means that the AOL Adapter is not properly installed or has gotten corrupted. You may have tried to go into AOL System Information–>Utilities–>Uninstall AOL Adapter, but you get an error message:”The AOL Adapter is currently not installed.” Fortunately, there is a fix. Go to http://www.dslreports.com/faq/8437 and follow the detailed instructions there. That should take care of your problem.

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Sony’s DRM rootkit exploited

It’s outrageous that Sony hacked its customers’ PCs with a rootkit, opening a back door for other hackers to commit their mayhem; in fact, it’s almost criminal and I think someone, somewhere should pay dearly for the crime. The damage is done. The attacks are already starting. According to Sophos, Inc., an anti-virus company with U.S. headquarters in Lynnfield, Mass, some low-life Internet criminal is already spamming out a Trojan to exploit the vulnerability introduced by Sony’s rootkit:

The Troj/Stinx-E Trojan horse appears to have been deliberately spammed out to email addresses, posing as a message from a British business magazine. Typical emails look as follows:

Subject: Photo Approval Deadline

Message body:
Hello,
Your photograph was forwarded to us as part of an article we are publishing for our December edition of Total Business Monthly. Can you check over the format and get back to us with your approval or any changes? If the picture is not to your liking then please send a preferred one. We have attached the photo with the article here
.

Because of this mess–and because I value my privacy–I refuse to buy any Sony CDs, and I’ll think twice about buying any other Sony products until they make up the damage they have done. The artists who have had their music released on the Sony BMG label should immediately sue and seek an injunction, unless they agree with Sony’s approach, in which case the artists should be boycotted, too.

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