Content Filtering

We are often asked how to protect computer, prevent kids at home, or business employees from accessing inappropriate or dangerous content on the Internet.  There are numerous commercial solution available on the market, but most require you to have some IT experience and install an “agent” (software) on each computer you want to protect.  In today’s modern home, there are many ways to access the Internet, more than just the desktop.  We have smart TVs, smart phones, Internet enabled gaming devices just to name a few.  No one software provider has a product for every device out there.  The only real solution, is to filter content at the “router”.

A simple solution to add a lot of protection, is OpenDNS.

We recommend using OpenDNS because it’s great for business and household use.  OpenDNS doesn’t require any additional software or hardware to be installed on your home or business network.  Its free for home use, and the scalable for business use. Features allow businesses and households to set protection levels, view reports, and parents to control what kids see and you can even create a splashpage that they see when a page is blocked “See mom for access to this page” or my personal favorite “You can have access to your web game when your room is clean!” 😉  Reports help make managing a network less confusing.

Since OpenDNS is enabled at the “network”, and not on each individual computer, it also provides some protection to the many “web-enabled” devices in your household or business today, such as iPhones, Androids, tablets, Wii, PSP, xBOX, Nintendo DS, Netbooks, or any other Internet enabled device.

You should always run a quality virus scanner, but If you are looking for an inexpensive way to perform additional web filtering to protect from phishing, malware and much more, go to OpenDNS to learn more and sign-up.

Windows Updates June 14, 2011

For the most part I always advise users to allow Windows Update to download and install updates automatically.  However, this week some of the updates may adversely affect a few users.  If you update to IE9 you must also make sure your Adobe Flash is updated to the latest version, HOWEVER, this may cause some Flash applications to NOT work as expected if they have not upgraded to the latest version of Flash.  Please check you applications prior to upgrading to IE9.  Also, if you use VMWare player, you may want to wait until the next set updates comes out.  There are many reported issues with many of these security updates causing VMWare Player to crash and even uninstall/reinstall does not correct the issue.  If VMWare Player is important to your work, wait to install these Windows Updates (ESPECIALLY if you are still using Windows XP).

After you install Windows Updates you should check to make sure your email settings are correct AND double-check your hardware settings.  There have been reports of hardware settings such as power and cooling settings changing.

As always… it’s a good idea to make a restore point and/or a BACKUP of your computer prior installing updates.

I dropped my phone in the…

I’ve had FOUR phone calls today from people in a panic because they dropped their phone “in the pool… lake… sink… toilet…” (OH… and now I’ve officially had “I dropped my iPod in my beer!” (please follow the same procedure for lakewater 😉 )

The best advice I can give you is: teach your phone to swim 😉 and if that doesn’t work, try this:

Items you will or might need:

1) a zip-close bag full of dry, uncooked rice (NO, to the best of my knowledge, it does NOT matter what kind of rice… just UNCOOKED)

2) distilled water

TURN OFF THE PHONE (iPod, mp3, electronic device, etc.), and/or DO NOT TRY TO TURN IT ON! If possible, take out the battery IMMEDIATELY!

FIRST, if you dropped your device into something “dirt-y” you are going to want to rinse it with DISTILLED water, even if you do not think the water was “dirty” you might want to use distilled water. By DIRT, I mean like lakewater… and I’ll let you decide what to do if it takes a swim in the toilet 😉 PLEASE keep in mind that distilled water is not a disinfectant (and do NOT attempt to use a disinfectant); I want you to use distilled water to get any DIRT out of the phone. If you took a swim in the ocean (or a fishtank) you MUST rinse with distilled water ASAP to get the salt or minerals off of the copper components!

I have been asked about alcohol and there are PROS & CONS to alcohol: 1) rubbing alcohol usually isn’t “strong” enough to clean and dry out without leaving a residue and rubbing alcohol is usually what everyone has in their cabinets. You see, it works wonders on components but if it touches your screen, it will leave a mess. SOOOO, feel free to gently clean the battery, cover, keyboard, etc. with alcohol, but if it has an LCD screen, do NOT submerse your device in rubbing alcohol!

If possible, take out the battery and gently set the phone on the rice, be careful not to get rice or rice dust into the phone. Seal the bag and let it set overnight (the longer the better). DO NOT SHAKE THE BAG. Everyone always calls me back and says the phone screen is clear after just a couple of hours… GOOD… but that does NOT mean the components inside are dry, it just means the rice is working! KEEP IT IN THE BAG OVERNIGHT!

[UPDATE: if you are at a pool and have no rice, as apparently many of you have experienced: you should remove the battery (if possible) and set the device on your dash IN THE SUN. This will at least get the process started until you can go buy rice! if you are at the beach… WAIT… you MUST rinse the salt out of your phone BEFORE it dries!]

This does not always work but I have known people to use this solution multiple times, on the same device, with great results.

[NOTE: many have asked about using a blow dryer. I do NOT recommend this for two reasons: 1) because the forced air may actually push water or debris into areas not previously penetrated, and, 2) because if you use too high of heat, you can damage your phone… and NO… do NOT put your phone in the OVEN!]

Blog Easier

Many businesses are interested in “this new blogging thing” that is out there 😉 Blogging is basically defined as a Web Log, hence Blog. It’s not new, just a whole lot easier to do. Many of you, who know me personally, know that I have kept a personal “blog” for over 14 years now (since Jan 1997). As the years have passed, posting to blogs has gone from a tedious task to something as simple as a click of a button. My response to people when they ask if they should blog is “why not?” Many questions come from people who just want to keep in touch with family with a short anecdote and pictures of the grandkids. However, there are legitimate business reasons to keep a blog. It’s an excellent way to keep in touch with your customers by keeping them apprised of new or innovative ways to use your products. Blogging encourages feedback and that is always good. Regardless of whether comments are positive or negative, they encourage your customers to talk to you and allow you to address any concerns or reward and recognize superior performances.

That said, many times the communications of a company are left to the office staff. An excellent example would be a church where the bulletin is often prepared and printed by the church secretary. Imagine how tedious it would be to require this person to also login to the church website and retype or even cut/paste excerpts from the bulletin. True, the ability to cut/paste has made life much easier but websites are still an environment that many church secretaries do not feel comfortable entering.

Now enter Word 2007. Using the same example as above, the church secretary has probably created the bulletin in Word 2007 (or another comparable publishing product). Using Word 2007 you literally click on “create new”, select “New Blog Post” and after a quick set up, it’s a simple as the click of a button to publish to your blog. Now instead of remembering any website information, an authorized user can create and publish posts to a blog.

One detail you must remember before using Word 2007 to blog is to have the website administrator turn on xmlrpc.php, once this task is complete, you are ready to blog using Word 2007.

Microsoft has some helpful screenshots of how to create a new blog post using Word 2007. Keep in mind that using Word 2007 to make a blog post is a simple solution that many users need in order to take that first pensive step into the online community. If you are looking for bells and whistles, you probably want to stick with your theme plugins, otherwise… Blog Easier!

[NOTE:  this post was made using Word 2007]