Category Archives: Technology Blog

Service Provider Invoicing

So you are starting up your small business and confused about which accounting package is right for you. Knowing which accounting package is right for you can be a complex decision. Quickbooks is an outstanding program if you’re looking for an accounting program that is a total solution. However, for a new small business software accounting systems can be a big investment.

When you decided on an accounting package, it is essential to understand your needs now and in the future. Ask youself if the accounting package will grow with your business. Be sure you understand the portability of the data, should you decide to move to a different accounting package later on down the road.

If you are just getting started, and you are looking for simplicity and affordability, Freshbooks, a completely online accounting system, may be right for you. Freshbooks is an extremely simple and easy to use online invoicing program which provides many bells and whistles accounting tools which are standard with QuickBooks. With FreshBooks, the focus is on keeping everything simple and the programs core functions are based on the basics like creating estimates or proposals, issuing payments and sending invoices.

One of the best things about Freshbooks is that you can try it for free. Try Freshbooks here!

Freshbooks Accounting

AT&T and SBC Email Settings for Outlook

The helpdesk is frequently receiving calls regarding the proper settings for sbcglobal.net Outlook settings and att.net Outlook settings. If your email account is still pointing to the pop.sbcglobal.yahoo.com and smtp.sbcglobal.yahoo.com servers, you are likely receiving a certificate warning issue when sending and receiving mail. AT&T changed these severs over a year ago.

Need help accessing your account?  Call AT&T U-Verse Internet Support at 1.800.288.2020. or click HERE to connect with AT&T Support Team.

sbcglobal.net and att.net Email Servers

Incoming mail server: pop.att.yahoo.com Outgoing mail server: smtp.att.yahoo.com

Authentication

Mark the checkbox for My outgoing server (SMTP) requires authentication and select use same settings as my incoming mail server.

Server Port Numbers

Incoming server (POP3) – 995 (Check This server requires an encrypted connection (SSL))

Outgoing server (SMTP) – 465 (Change the following type of encrypted connection from None to SSL)New Account

Mail Settings More      Mail Settings More2    Mail Settings More3

This article is for information purposes only. If you need password assistance or help accessing your AT&T/SBC email account, you must contact AT&T. Call AT&T U-Verse Internet Support at 1.800.288.2020. or click HERE to connect with the AT&T Support Team.

Gone Phishing

Phishing Scams

Phishing is an illegal attempt to collect meaningful information, like your online bank account username, password, or credit card number, from an email recipient (target).  The emails masquerade themselves as coming from an organization you likely already due business with.  Large national banks like Citibank, Chase, CapitalOne, PayPal, PNC and others are the most frequent brands used by the criminals.  However, banks are not the only organizations used.  They will use social media sites, like FaceBook or LinkedIn, and other high traffic websites to trick the target into providing their information.

Popular Phishing Scams

  1. Email from your bank saying your account has been compromised.
  2. Email from your bank saying a check has bounced.
  3. Email from your bank saying your online password has expired or will expire.
  4. Email telling you to need to verify your email address.
  5. Email from your bank telling you about a recent change in your account information has changed.
  6. Email telling you some amount of money (usually a small but tempting amount) is available for you.

Email Spoofing

The method of masquerading a FROM email address called spoofing. It is a non-complex way of manipulating how an email appears when it is sent out to make the recipient believe it comes from a legitimate organization or person.  As an example, the email appears to come from security@somebank.com when in fact it was sent from 123456@freemail.com.

Why the scammers do it?

If an email spam scammer is successful the target will click the link provided in the email.  This usually takes the target to website which looks EXACTLY like the organizations legitimate website.  The target attempts to login to the FAKE website with their username and password and the scammers job is nearly complete. The victim has just provided their username (often their email address) and password to the criminal.

Unfortunately, over 80% of computer users, you use the same password for everything.  So the criminal now has the targets password for everything from their bank to their Facebook and Amazon account.  If a common password is compromised, the criminal will attempt to use it to access every possible site/account they can.  The targets compromised information is now used by the criminal or sold to another criminal to create distance between the original offender and the user of the information.

How to Avoid Becoming a Phishing Victim

  • Be aware that many scam artists are making forgeries of company sites that look like the real thing. They may take every precaution to make consumers believe their site is secure and, therefore, legitimate. Following are some tips on avoiding the trap.
  • Don’t trust e-mail headers. They can easily be forged.
  • Avoid filling out forms in e-mail messages. One can’t know with certainty where the data will be sent, and the information can make several stops on the way to the recipient.
  • Verify the legitimacy of a web address with the company directly before submitting any personal information. Don’t click on a link in an e-mail message from a company until you check.
  • Protect yourself through education and thorough evaluation. Don’t trust everything you read.
  • Verify the legitimacy of the company first before acting. What’s the rush? A simple phone call may make all the difference.
  • Be alert to phishing messages. Reputable companies do not contact their customers via e-mail to request that they update their files or to verify an account or security setting.

Source: Center for Information Technology

If you have been a victim and taken the bait.

If you have taken the bait and compromised your information, especially your Social Security Number (SSN), you should place fraud alerts on the three major credit reports (Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union).

Even if you haven’t been a victim, you should consider an identity protection and credit monitoring service like LifeLock or Experian.  Some of the services they provide include proactive protection, advanced internet monitoring, credit alerts, non-credit alerts, address monitoring and lost wallet protection.

Stuck Key’s Driving You Insane

As keyboards get old they have a tendency to loose their spring.  Most keyboards (laptop and desktop) rely on a combination of rubber springs and somewhat fragile plastic scissor clips.  First, we never recommend you taking your keyboard apart to resolve the stuck key.  It can lead to disastrous results and you needing to replace an otherwise healthy keyboard.

There are several things you can try to do to fix a stuck key or two.  Check out the article at PC World for some great tips on resolving your keyboard frustrations at I’ve got a dead key on my keyboard.

Digital Living Network Alliance

DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) is an alliance founded in 2003 which is dedicated to making our digital living experience better.  As we continue to add  more devices to our lives, it is essential they are truly interoperable with other technologies.

This is good for consumers and will hopefully mean a real end to proprietary technology. Well, at least as it relates to the ability to connect devices, to one another.  “DLNA is comprised of more than 240 of the industry’s most reputable digital brands.  The following companies have joined DLNA to leverage new technologies to help lead the digital revolution.”

So when you are considering a new device, you might well consider making sure the DLNA Certified Logo appears on the box.  Find out more about the DLNA at www.dlna.org

DISCLAIMER: This information provided in this site is not intended to provide support or specific guidance related to computer support problems. We are not responsible if you use this information and you do so at your own risk. Before attempting any repair on your own, you should contact the appropriate professional for assistance.

Trial Software • How to Save Some Money

Perhaps you have recently discovered some new software on the net which will make your life easier. If the company provides a free trial and you decide to purchase it, we recommend you consider uninstalling the software before you actually buy it.

Say again?  Yes, many online software vendors will give you a far better deal if they think you are going to stop using the software. Some times 50% off or more!

Here is how it works…

  1. You download and try the software.
  2. You decide to buy the program.
  3. You uninstall the program and it takes you to a website saying they are “Sorry to see you go…and they would like to keep you.”  This is where they will provide a discount code to use or a special link to buy the software at a discount.
  4. You follow the link or use the code and save some money.

Some Caution: Sometimes, the vendor may entice you to get the software for FREE if you do something like try another program. This is not the same thing and we do not recommend you doing so. What you are looking for is a specific discount code or special purchase link.  If they don’t provide one, and you still want the software, just go back to their website and purchase the software as normal.  Also, only purchase software from trusted websites. Never enter your personal information or credit card information on a website without an HTTPS (Secure Connection).  We recommend purchasing from companies which use PayPal and Google Checkout for order processing.

Dangers of Remote Computer Repair

When you computer is on the fritz, you may be very desperate for instant repair. You go to Google, Bing or Yahoo and the term computer repair results in thousands of options. Many web only computer repair organizations have very impressive websites and offer rock bottom prices. The problem is, you have no way of knowing where these companies are operating from, who the people are behind the screen, and what kind things they may be doing on your computer in the background.

Most remote computer software allows the technicians to do things you cannot see. While they may advertise you can watch everything the technician is doing, this is simply not the case. While most of these companies are legitimate, they often use remote technicians operating out of their home or worst yet in a third world country call center. Also, many of these organizations perform no background check on their employees. So be very careful when considering these companies for solving your problems.

Many computer repairs can be performed remotely but the fact is, it is not the case for all of them. In other words, after paying $39 to $199 for a remote fix, you may still need to take your computer in for further repair.

POINTS TO CONSIDER:

  1. Many good local computer repair companies offer instant remote support to clients. They might be able to help you today and still follow thru with a hardware repair if needed.
  2. Call the company and ask them where they are physically located. If they avoid answering the question, this should be a big red flag.
  3. 3. Use a company which provides verifiable domestic mailing address. A P.O. Box in Anytown, CA can mean the company is hiding or not operating from a legitimate place of business.
  4. Even if they seem to have a local address, you should use an online map service like Google maps to see what other companies use the address. Many nefarious companies will rent a private mail box in a mailbox store to appear more legitimate.
  5. Don’t simply believe a local phone number means they are local. With voice over internet, companies in third world countries are able to get local phone numbers. Also, just because they have a toll free number, doesn’t mean they are local.
  6. Companies which seem to offer local support everywhere are likely using local computer technicians on a contractual basis.
  7. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Companies which seem to offer the lowest price are mostly offering the lowest service. Pay now or pay later truly applies. You don’t want to more than once for the repair, so shop around and avoid low cost providers.
  8. Read BBB reports on the actual BBB website. Many companies throw the BBB logo on their website and have a history of complaints or no experience with the BBB at all. Angie’s List is also a great place to look for reviews.
  9. Look to see if the company is a member of a local Chamber of Commerce. While this by itself does not indicate legitimacy, it goes further to verify they are a real business.
  10. Don’t provide your credit card number to anyone in a chat window. Make sure the website you are providing payment information has a valid, trusted website certificate from a reputable company like VeriSign.

When in doubt…Check them out!

Adware and other Malicious Software

is software which is supported by specific internet advertisers. Most commonly the installation of the software results in endless pop-up type advertisements which display over your internet browser. This is particularly common when you have pop-up blocking software running but still seem to get unwanted pop-ups. There are several useful free tools available to help combat the unwanted advertising.

We recommend using software like , and (a.k.a. ). The free version is nearly as effective as the paid version of these programs. You should only download the software from trusted sites like the suppliers actual website or from download.com. Adware falls into the category of potentially dangerous as it is usually collecting vast amounts of information about your Internet browsing habits and behavior. The more information the software collects, the more accurately placed the ads will be to the types of things you seem to be most interested in. This is why adware can fall into the category of spyware. Here is what you need to remember:

  1. Never install any software from the Internet unless you know the source to be very reliable. As we tell our clients “If you don’t know…the answer is no!™
  2. Do not use freeware file sharing programs to download music, software and otherwise paid for Internet merchandise. Not only is it likely illegal, it is very dangerous. You have no way of knowing if the files being downloaded are infected.
  3. Do not assume an attachment from a friend or family member is safe. FAMSPAM™ is one of the leading causes of passing malicious software. Scan everything you download with a trusted anti-virus software before you open it.
  4. Don’t forward spam to your friends. Yes, those dogs are cute and yes the soldiers appreciate your support, but many of these emails are very infected and dangerous.
  5. Don’t click on links in emails. URL Masking is a method used by spammers to make you think you are going to a specific website when in fact you are going to another. For example, click on this link to go to . Don’t worry it is safe. We simply want to demonstrate the danger.

If you get infected and need help removing adware, spyware, malware, scareware or another virus, call TEKEASE at 309.689.8355 or schedule service by clicking .

Should You Buy a Refurbished Computer

Saving money is important to everyone and buying a refurbished computer may be the right choice for you.  However, recently we discovered that some claims of being refurbished may not be legitimate.

Being factory refurbished means the system has been completely checked out, cleaned inside and out and most importantly…the data (from the previous user) has been properly erased before the system is sold to someone else. We recently discovered at least one large discount store is simply restoring the hard-drive of returned computers without properly erasing the previous users data.  This is dangerous for both the previous user and the recipient of the refurbished system.

If you do decide to purchase a refurbished system, ask these questions before you decide to close the deal.

  1. Was the machine refurbished by the original equipment manufacturer?
  2. Is the hard-drive in the machine brand new, or has it been refurbished?
  3. If the drive is refurbished, was the previous users data completely erased? Not simply reformatted and the operating system reinstalled.
  4. Does the system come with a warranty of 90 days or better?

As a final note: If you should ever need to return a computer (new or refurbished) to a store, please make sure your data has been securely erased.  Not doing so could result in your personal information or files being restored by an unknown person in a near or distant land.  If you don’t know how to securely erase your data, we suggest you have reputable and certified system technician take care of it for you.  A reputable provider will give you a certificate of destruction.