Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Some give my profession a bad name

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

In serving customers, reading news, and visiting message boards, I’ve learned there are many in my profession who don’t know how to properly serve customers. Most of the time, it’s a simple matter of the tech support representative not having enough soft, “people” skills. I’ll admit this was difficult for me at first, but one I do feel I’ve learned more than most.

Another big issue is from those companies which outsourced their tech support to some other company (or country in many cases). The problem with this is not having enough control over the product (in this case, end-user support) being delivered to their customers. Sure, it may be cheaper on the books, but at what cost to your reputation? This article shows a prime example of how this can go bad.

The makers of Avast antivirus outsourced their tech support to a company which was then telling customers they had other issues and needed to subscribe to additional services to keep their computers clean. I’ve seen a similar tactic used with many scareware titles to tell you how screwed up your computer is (or how infected). This blog post goes into much greater detail on the issue.

In Avast’s defense, it appears they’ve dropped the irresponsible support company. This should go a great deal toward fixing their reputation as a result.

If you live in the correct half of the country, you could be entitled to some money

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

Last month, a settlement was reached with LCD makers under the idea they were conspiring to fix prices. Approximately $500 million will be put into the fund to be distributed to those who purchased a monitor or notebook computer containing one of the LCD units.

I found details at this article which goes into more detail. It also lists the states which are included in the class-action. Sadly, my state is not one of

them (nor did I live in one of them when I did purchase a potentially qualifying product), so I cannot see what’s coming to me.

I long since stopped being surprised at what large corporations would do. If price fixing did occur, it would be another in a long line of bad things corporations are hated for doing.

If you believe you are part of this class, you can go to to register.

Why are you still using the same old password?

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

We are all guilty of it (even I am). Using the same user name and password on multiple sites. Some sites just use your e-mail address as a user name. How many do so and also use the same password which applies to the e-mail address because it’s easier to remember? I shudder at those who want to have the user name and password be identical!

More news has pointed out a site which has been compromised and had login credentials stolen. The follow-up e-mail from the company instructs users to create new accounts and to change passwords on other accounts whichwere the same as used on this site.

When I visit a client, I’ll encourage them to use different passwords, especially for financial institutions. I often start the conversation when setting up a new wireless router. I’ll make sure the password to access the wireless network is something which can be shared and isn’t the same as what’s used elsewhere.

Financial institutions can be a big hassle if someone gets your login credentials. For many consumer accounts, you may have the ability to recover funds which were removed by using some kind of insurance (check with your bank to see what’s available for your account). Brokerage and business accounts generally don’t have the same kinds of consumer protections on them (when the money is taken, it’s gone for good). I strongly recommend you use very strong passwords with your financial institutions and they be unique to each account.

Using unique passwords for each site is not foolproof. Most sites have a password recovery or change procedure. This would require someone to get access to your e-mail account and then utilize the procedure to get access to your account. Some places make it more difficult (my bank requires me to have a set of five security questions for account authentication purposes), but some just send a link for you to click which may or may not require you to answer further questions to get access. What you should be doing here is making sure your security questions are not easy for someone else to figure out the answers (did you know it’s okay to make answers which have no relation to the question? Example: “What’s your favorite food?” Answer: “Oldsmobile”).

Most people find  the difficult part is remembering all these passwords. Managing passwords can be difficult, especially if you try to memorize them. Most browsers have the ability to save them, but doing so is not necessarily secure (Microsoft Internet Explorer, for instance, has effectively no security for this; Mozilla Firefox has some security, but you have to go into the settings to set a password which the program doesn’t inform you to do). You can do something as simple as making a little black book of your login credentials. The upside is it can’t be hacked by malware on your computer. The downside is anyone who knows about the book could view it, copy it, or just take it. There are many software titles available to help you manage your passwords. Rather than go into them myself, I’ll just refer you to a couple of sites:

From Gizmo’s best freeware lists: Mostly software which works on Windows. has a list of Password Managers on their security page: As suggested by the site name, these work on the Mac OS (although some have versions for other operating systems).

So, go out and change your passwords and use some kind of tool to manage them which works for you.

Steve Jobs is ill

Monday, January 17th, 2011

Many places (The Register, InfoWorld, New York Times) are now reporting that Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, has taken a leave of absence for medical reasons.  The big problem is that this is a private matter for Steve and everyone is wondering what this means for Apple, what’s really wrong with him, and will this prevent the iPhone from going to other carriers?  (Okay, I made that last one up.)

So far, with Mr. Jobs’s medical issues, we’ve seen Apple continue to grow and develop.  It’s not like the dark time for Apple when he was ousted and the direction for the company was less focused (although, the Newton was developed during that time so it wasn’t all bad).

I’m hoping there will be less madness from the public and the media this time around.  Steve is very involved with his company and is a vital component (especially when compared to CEOs of other companies).  I’m sure there is a plan in place and all will be well with Apple.

I like their products, but I don’t consider myself a “fanboy” in my like of them.  My world wouldn’t end if their products disappeared, but it would certainly be  less colorful.  This issue with Apple’s CEO is going to be a minor one, I am sure.