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Ramblings, News & Links

Military Art

Earlier we mentioned that SOHO was more than a computer store. My military art collection is on display. Some prints are framed and hanging on the walls and some are mounted and on a display shelf. There are currently over 70 pieces of art in the collection. Go to the Valor Studios link below to see photos of some of them. Almost every print is individually autographed by a war hero, including names like President George H.W. Bush, Major Dick Winters, the Band of Brothers, General Hal Moore, Franz Stigler, Tom Hudner, the Tuskegee Airmen, ‘Tex’ Hill and the Flying Tigers, Jimmy Doolittle, General Chuck Yeager, Colonel ‘Bud’ Anderson, General Paul Tibbets, General Robert Scott, Colonel Robert Morgan, General Robin Olds, and many others! Stop in and see the entire collection.

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Nearly all of the art collection was found and purchased online. Almost half of the prints came from Valor Studios in Colorado. They have a great selection of prints, books, and collectibles signed by war veterans. 

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News & Thoughts

News

SOHO has a new website and you found it. Updates will be posted more frequently so check back often.

Thoughts

Have you been called by Microsoft and told that your operating system is going to expire, or that there are viruses on your computer, or that there has been illegal activity detected? Maybe you got a pop-up telling one of these things. THESE ARE SCAMS!!! We have had several customers who have paid money to have their computer "cleaned". My advice is to not listen to these scams and to NEVER, NEVER give anyone remote access to your computer unless you are sure about their intentions. If you get a pop-up that you can't close out of you can use task manager to close the program. Hit the Ctrl-Alt-Delete keys on your keyboard at the same time. This will bring up a menu, click on Task Manager on the menu. Select the running program that you want to close (probably your web browser) and click on the End Task button.

  

Most people buy computers from the same stores where they buy their appliances or their office supplies. They expect to plug it in and that it will just run without any addition care or consideration for years. Not so! A computer travels the internet and picks up unwanted passengers in the form of cookies, viruses, spyware, and other malware. Your home computer needs periodic maintenance (a tuneup and oil change, if you will) to perform at its best. Upgrades, updates, antivirus, and cleanup should also be part of a good maintenance program. Your car is more pleasant to use when it’s clean and performing properly. Your computer will be, too.

  

So, you finally got that new computer! New toys are so much fun! But… before you are really ready to use that new machine there are some steps you should take first to properly prepare it. As anxious as you are to get started with it, by taking some time now you may prevent a lot of headaches in the future.

  1. Install a full version antivirus. Most new computers will come with a free limited-time trial version of an antivirus. As part of the start up you will be prompted to activate this free trial. The problem is that when the trial is over and it’s time to pay up it’s easy to ignore the part about paying to continue the protection. By starting out with a full version antivirus you can surf safer longer. If you choose to use a different antivirus than the one that comes with the computer remember to first uninstall the current program. Two antivirus programs do not live and play well together.
  2. Download and install all available updates from the computer’s manufacturer and Microsoft. That “new” computer may have been sitting on a shelf in a warehouse or the store for some time. Downloading updates will give you the current security patches and other features and really bring your new toy up to date.
  3. Uninstall additional software that came with your computer that you will not use. Most of these programs are “bloatware” (more about that in an upcoming article) and are normally shareware or freeware that will probably eventually require a payment to continue using it. It may contain malware or advertising that can be detrimental to your user experience.
  4. Now that you’ve done that your new computer is ready to work for you. Enjoy!!

  

“Where do those tool bars and programs come from? I didn’t install them.” That’s a phrase we hear from our customers. That’s a valid question. When you open up internet Explorer do you see unexpected tool bars and search bars? Or do you get new programs you didn't install pop up? You did install them – you just didn’t know it! When you download a program from the internet, or even install a program from a disk pay attention to what’s being installed.

A program downloaded from the internet may ask if you want to install a Google toolbar, Google Chrome, or it may automatically install another program. The default answer is “Yes” as the check box to select the installation is already checked. You need to uncheck it to prevent the installation.

We all know that agreeing to terms of service, EULAs (End-User License Agreements), etc. are required to install our software. There have been cases where the EULA will include the right for the software manufacturer to monitor or further intrude on the use of your own computer. Of course, how would a normal person know this, since they are written in lawyer language and are rarely ever read or understood?

As easy as it is to just keep clicking on the “Next” or “Accept” button while installing software be alert for unwanted items to sneak into that installation. That program or driver you are downloading might just come along with a hitchhiker that you don’t need and don’t want. Paying attention to your installations can help reduce clutter and keep you computer lean and mean.

 

We’ve heard of STDs, well there are also ITDs (Internetally Transmitted Diseases - I just made that up) for your computer. Here is the first installment of Safe Surfing 101:  

Recently we, at the shop, have become quite busy with virus removals. Although this is something we do regularly, it seems that lately our numbers are higher than average. This tells us that there is a new wave of viruses out there and our clients are not practicing safe surfing and downloading techniques. Here is a list of a few things you should know and do to help keep your computer clean and your data safe.

  1. KNOW WHAT ANTIVIRUS YOU ARE RUNNING: When surfing the internet and a message pops up saying you’re infected, you need to know if it is your program warning you or the works of a malicious program trying to infect your machine. Keep your antivirus current and updated.
  2. NEVER SAY "YES" TO A POPUP THAT SHOWS UP OUT OF THE BLUE: Don't click any of the links. Don't click anywhere on the popup. Don't even click the "X" button to close it. Hold down the "Ctrl" key and press the "W" key to close them. If that doesn't work, click Ctrl+Alt+Delete > highlight your browser on the list of applications > click "Close Task". You can then close Windows Task Manager and start your browser again. These pop ups are an indication of the presence of malware. A legitimate program will not use scare tactics to sell itself.
  3. BE CAUTIOUS WITH WEB MAIL: It is in HTML format. A malicious message could spoil your whole day as easily as a malicious webpage can. Usually there's a way to delete suspicious messages without ever opening them. Find it and test it before you need it.

In the interest of brevity, these are just three of many safe surfing suggestions. Keep checking back for more tips to be posted in the future. If you need more information, feel free to post a question. We will be glad to answer it and/or direct you to a site that will answer it more thoroughly than we might be able to.


Today’s topic is “Del's theory of relativity” as it pertains to computers.  Here’s the second installment of Safe Surfing 101: Preventing Malware (malicious software).

Most of us have heard the saying, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” That also applies to computer and internet freebies. The urge to resist those bright and shiny toolbars, search bars, email enhancements, etc. can be difficult. Downloading and installing anything, even something seemingly harmless, can contain malware that you are inviting into your computer. “Free” programs and websites such as weather programs, coupon clippers, and even some safe websites can deposit tracking cookies, or worse, on your computer. Our malware scanning programs very often detect these types of programs as containing spyware.

Ever notice that after you search for something (mortgage, book, appliance, etc.) you are then presented with ads for that very thing? What a coincidence!! Not really. It’s the work of tracking cookies that watch your surfing habits and target ads for you based on that information. Someone somewhere is paying for that system of advertising to entice you to buy.

Del’s theory of relativity is that nothing is really free and that you can control, to some degree, your level of exposure to malware on the internet by practicing safe surfing habits.

  1. DON’T DOWNLOAD ANYTHING YOU DON’T NEED. Your emails look just fine without animated smiley faces that waste your PC’s resources and probably contain unwanted hitchhikers. Use discretion if you need to use additional toolbars and searchbars. These place an additional burden on your PC and will cause your web browser to open slowly, run sluggishly, and probably contain malware. 
  2. FIND A GOOD CLEANING PROGRAM AND USE IT OFTEN. We recommend and use Ccleaner to remove cookies and other junk      files.
  3. CLEANUP AFTER YOURSELF. After web surfing use the cleanup features in your browser to remove temporary internet files, cookies, and history.
  4. DON’T WANDER THE INTERNET AIMLESSLY. The most amazing feature of the internet is that it goes on forever. One site will lead you to another, and another, and another… “Driveby” malware can infect your computer without you having to download anything. Just passing through a website can be dangerous. Have websites that you trust and when you use them go directly there and then get out of Dodge.

Limiting your time and downloads on the internet is hard – it’s made that way on purpose. Internet self control is the best preventative medicine. You wouldn’t invite strangers into your home. Don’t do it with your computer.

Links to Our Favorite Sites

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