Category: Websites

Getting Pop-up Ads on Your Computer?

Getting Pop-up Ads on Your Computer?

If you have Google Chrome and get a lot of pop-up advertisements in the lower right-hand corner of your screen, there’s a very good chance they are coming from websites. They are appearing because you gave them permission to show you “notifications”. Is an advertisement a notification? No. But some naughty websites are misusing that feature of Chrome to show advertisements.

If you use Chrome and are on a website, it may pop up a message saying that the website would like to send you notifications. It will ask you to allow or deny that request. If you allow it, you may get advertisements popping up in the lower right-hand corner of your screen. These advertisements can show up from a website even if you aren’t currently viewing that website. So be sure to block it except on websites you want to allow to show you notifications there, which should be very few.

If you have already allowed some websites to show notifications and you would like to get rid of those notifications, here’s how.

  1. In Chrome, click on the menu button and chose settings.
  2. Scroll all the way down and click on Advanced.
  3. Now find “Site Settings” and click on it.
  4. Now find “Notifications” and click on it.
  5. At the very top is an on/off switch for site notifications. If you don’t want notifications from any sites, just turn this off and you are done.
  6. If you want notifications from some websites, say Gmail for example, then you’ll need to remove unwanted websites from the block list.
  7. At the top is a block list and at the bottom is the allow list.
    The block list is the websites you denied the ability to show you notifications.
    The allow list is the websites you allowed the ability to show you notifications.
  8. Scroll down to the Allow list. To the right of each website that has been allowed to show notifications, is a menu button (3 dots in a vertical line).
    Click on the menu button for that website and choose remove.
  9. Do that for each website you don’t want to be able to pop-up notifications.
  10. Some websites may not have a menu button and may, instead, have a silhouette of a puzzle piece. This means that it’s a google website and you can’t remove it from the allow list.

If you have trouble doing this, or just don’t want to fool with it, let us know. We would be happy do this for you.

att.my.yahoo.com Not Found

att.my.yahoo.com Not Found

If AT&T is your Internet Service Provider and you have your web browser go to att.my.yahoo.com when it starts up. Bad news. att.my.yahoo.com is gone. If you try to go there, you’ll get an error telling you the page was not found.

Instead, you can use att.net or my.yahoo.com. Try each one to see which one you like better. Then you can set your home page to the one you like best.

If you need help with this, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Which Web Browser Should I Use?

Which Web Browser Should I Use?

A web browser is a program that is installed on your computer that lets you view websites.
Here is a list of the more common web browser and our recommendation for each.

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer – Not Recommended
    Comes with Windows. Slow. Antiquated. Vulnerable to attack. Microsoft is phasing IE out and replacing it with Edge.
    Not available on Mac.
  • Microsoft Edge – Neutral
    Much better than Internet Explorer but still too young. Has some problems. Not as easy to configure as others. Not as many extensions available.
    Not available on Mac.
  • Vivaldi – Recommended
    I bet you never heard of Vivaldi. It’s very much like Chrome and actually comes from the same code base. But the makers of Vivaldi has done an excellent job of making Vivaldi easy to use and configure. It’s fast too. And since it’s the same base code as Chrome, you can use all of the Chrome extensions in it. By far my personal favorite web browser.
  • Google Chrome – Recommended
    Very good. Fast. Configurable. Many add-ons available. Some people have concerns about privacy with Google.
  • Mozilla Firefox – Recommended
    Very good. Fast. Very configurable. Lots of add-ons available.
  • Safari – Recommended on Mac. Not recommended on Windows.
    Pretty fast. Pretty good. Somewhat configurable. Fair amount of add-ons available.
  • Opera – Neutral
    Fast. Not as many add-ons. Fairly configurable.

Some websites work better with certain web browsers than others. One website may work better with Chrome while another may work better with Firefox. That’s why we generally recommend having at least two of our recommended browsers on your computer.

Privacy Policy Updates

Privacy Policy Updates

Seems like a good portion of the email I have received lately are from companies informing me of privacy policy updates. There was a study in 2008 that determined it would take the average person 244 hours per year, about 40 minutes a day, to read all of the privacy policies for the websites they use. And this year, with the increase in privacy policy updates, it would take a lot more! And they wonder why nobody reads them. But I digress. The reason for the mass privacy policy update is because the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) just went into effect in Europe. Companies that do business in Europe had to update their privacy policies and terms of service because of it.

This doesn’t really have anything to do with us here in the U.S. But a recent privacy policy update from Yahoo that didn’t have anything to do with GDPR does impact those of us who use Yahoo for email. Yahoo recently announced that the software on their email servers will start reading all emails. This software scans your emails for keywords for the purposes of figuring out what types of advertisements to show you. By the way, for various reasons, Yahoo Email has been on our avoid list for many years.

Google used to do that but in 2017 they announced they would stop. However, their software still scans your emails. Just not for the purpose of showing your targeted advertisements.

You may be wondering why they would scan your emails if they aren’t looking to show you targeted advertisements. The reason is to be “helpful”. Here’s an example. Let’s say you book a flight and the airline emails your itinerary to your Gmail email account. Google will scan your email, recognize that it’s a flight itinerary and give you the option to add your flights to your Google Calendar. Do you consider that helpful or an invasion of your privacy?

Loss of privacy is the price you pay for most free email accounts. There are a few, very few, free email services that don’t scan your emails. Of course, they aren’t as “helpful” LOL. If you are worried about your privacy, you have options. Our favorite private and secure free email service is ProtonMail (www.protonmail.com). Other good ones include Hushmail.com and RiseUp.net.

If you don’t mind paying a small annual fee, you can a totally private email account. We offer our own email service, tornadomail.net (www.tornadomail.net) which we are currently offering at the introductory price of only $20/year.

Another option is to get your own domain. A domain is like google.com, cnn.com, ct-cp.com, or tornadomail.net. You can get your own and have email accounts on it. Residential customers can get one like TheColburnFamily.us, motorhead.net, or whatever. Note that you can’t get anything you want as it has to unique. So if someone already has what you want,  you’ll have to pick something else. But there are lots of options. The cost of a domain name varies. For example, .com, .net, .us, and .org are all under $20/year. But just having a domain name isn’t enough. You have to have a server to put it on.

You could host your domain name through Google G-Suite and use the Gmail interface, but that costs $10/month for each email account. Expensive if you want to have several email accounts. You can sign up for a web hosting account at a place like GoDaddy, but then you have to do everything yourself which many people do not have the skills or time to do. Or you can let us do it for you. We can get a domain name for you and host it on our server. If you only want to host email, and not a website, the cost is $120/year for unlimited email accounts with unlimited storage (does not include cost of domain).

If you have any questions or need help, please let us know!

 

Troubleshooting: I’m getting advertisements on my computer

Troubleshooting: I’m getting advertisements on my computer

There are different ways advertisements can be shown on a computer.

When you are on a website, there may be advertisements embedded in the website. We call these banner ads. A website may also pop-up a separate window with an ad in it as well. This ad may pop-up on top of the main window so you see it right away, or underneath it so that you don’t see it until you close your web browser. We call these pop-up ads.

When you are not accessing a website, if windows pop-up with ads or if it magically opens your web browser to show an advertisement, then your computer is infected with ad-ware.

Let’s address each type one at a time. Let’s start with pop-up ads. Remember, these are the ads from websites that pop-up in a separate window. All popular web browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, Opera) have pop-up blockers built-in to them and, by default, the pop-up blocker is turned on. The pop-up blocker can sometimes interfere with the normal operation of a website, but not very often. These pop-up blockers are pretty good at blocking pop-up windows, but they aren’t perfect. If you are getting a lot of pop-up ads on your computer, the pop-up blocker built-in to your browser may be turned off. There are so many web browsers and different versions of web browsers we can’t give you instructions for how to access the pop-up blocker on every one of them, but here are brief instructions for a few of the more popular ones.

  • Internet Explorer
    On the command bar, click on tools, pop-up blocker, turn on pop-up blocker
  • Firefox
    Click on the menu button and then options. Click on the content tab and put a check mark next to “Block pop-up windows”
  • Chrome
    Click the menu button, settings. Scroll down and click on advanced settings. Under privacy, click on content settings. Scroll down to the pop-ups section and click on the radio button to select “Do not allow any site to show pop-ups”.

Banner advertisements on websites are a little more complicated. Most of these advertisements are perfectly safe and legitimate. However, some of them can be conduits for infections. Another complication is that many websites make their money from advertisements. If you block them, they may not appreciate it. But these types of advertisements also slow down the loading of a web page. If you want to block these types of advertisements, you’ll have to install an add-on into your web browser called Adblock Plus. To do that, point your browser to www.adblockplus.org and click on the big green button to download and install Adblock Plus. Be aware that Adblock Plus can interfere with the normal operation of some websites. If you encounter that situation, simply disable Adblock Plus for that website by click on the AdBlock Plus icon which is a red stopsign with ABP in the middle.

The last type of advertisements that can pop-up on your computer are those generated by ad-ware. Ad-ware is a category of malware (Malicious Software). Basically, it’s an infection kind of like a virus, only unlike a virus, it’s goal isn’t to harm your computer. It’s goal is to show advertisements to get you to buy stuff. If you have these types of ads popping up, your computer is infected. You can try scanning with your security software, but if your computer is infected like this, your security software didn’t prevent it and probably can’t remove it. You can try programs like MalWareBytes to try and clean off the infections, but many of these types of infections are difficult to remove and you’ll probably need to give us a call so we can disinfect your computer for you.

Heartbleed

Heartbleed

Chances are you have heard about Heartbleed in the news. There are a lot of unanswered questions, but the bottom line is, you need to take action right now.

This problem only affects certain websites that use a certain security product called OpenSSL. If a website you have used is on the list of websites that were vulnerable to Heartbleed, then you should go and change your password on that website ASAP.

Below is a link to the list of websites. Please check it and change your password on any websites you use. While you are at it, it’s a good idea to change your password on critical websites from time to time anyway. So why not go ahead and change those passwords now while you are thinking about it. By critical websites, I am referring to Financial institutions, email, and other sites that contain sensitive or critical information about you or your finances.

Here’s the link: http://mashable.com/2014/04/09/heartbleed-bug-websites-affected/

 

Web Surfing Tricks

Web Surfing Tricks

In this article we are going to show you some tricks you can use when you are viewing websites.

Search Current Web Page
When you are on a web page and you are looking for something specific, you can use the find function in your web browser to search the currently displayed. For example, let’s say you are visiting the alumni page on your high school’s website and you are looking for a specific person with the last name of Thompson. The web page lists hundreds of names and it’s not in alphabetic order. This would be a good time to use the find function. Press and hold down the Ctrl key on your keyboard (located on the bottom row to the left of the spacebar). Now press and release the F key on the keyboard. A search box will appear. In this example, you would type Thompson into the search box and it will find the first instance of the name Thompson, if there is one. You can keep hitting next to go to the next instance of the search word you typed in.

Where the search box appears and what it looks like depends on which web browser you are using. Generally it shows up in a corner of the web browser. Give it a try. I think you will find it will help you find things faster in some situations. By the way, Cntrl-F is a fairly universal keyboard shortcut for the find function. It works in Microsoft Word, most email clients, and lots of other software.

Tabs
Another powerful trick you can use when surfing the web is to use tabs. Tabs allow you to have more than one website open in the same web browser at the same time. Of course, you can have more than one copy of your browser open at the same time and each one can be on a different web page. But that’s harder to manage than tabs. Tabs show up near the top of your browser and look like the tabs on manila file folders.

When viewing a web page, there are normally links on most web pages. If you click on a link, it goes to that link and the content you were viewing is replaced by the content of the link you just clicked on. For example, if you are on the CNN home page and there is a story about Windows 8 and you click on that to view the story, your web browser is no longer showing the CNN home page and the Windows 8 story now replaces the CNN home page in your browser. If you want to keep the CNN home page, but still open the story on Windows 8, you can do that in one of several ways.

To open the Windows 8 story in a new tab, you could hold the Ctrl key down on your keyboard and click the mouse. This tells your browser to open the link you clicked on in a new tab. So it would create a new tab and open that link there. Meanwhile, you are still on the tab that is showing CNN’s home page. You could Ctrl-click on several stories on the home page and then switch to each tab and read the stories one by one. This saves a lot of back and forth.

Tabs are also powerful in the same way when you are doing a search with a search engine like Google, for example. When you do a search, you get a long list of websites that meet your search criteria. Instead of clicking on one, discovering it’s not what you want, and then having to go back and click on something else, why not Ctrl-click on several of them. This will load them into separate tabs. Then you can click on each tab and check them out. If a tab doesn’t have what you are looking for, you can close that tab and go on to the next one.

I encourage you to play with tabs. I think you will find they can be very powerful and will save you time and mouse clicks.

Zoom
Another trick that is especially helpful for those of us whose eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Web browsers have a zoom function that allow you to zoom in and zoom out. There are several different ways to access the zoom function, but the easiest way is to hold down the Ctrl key and then press the plus sign to zoom in or the minus sign to zoom out. Each time you press the plus sign, it zooms in closer and closer. And each time you press the minus sign, it zooms out farther and farther. You can also hold the Ctrl key down and scroll the mouse wheel to zoom in and out, but I find this method harder to control.

Backspace
A keyboard shortcut I use a lot when surfing the web is the backspace key. Hitting the backspace key is the same is clicking on the back button in your browser.

Full Screen Mode
Most web browser are capable of going into full screen mode. You can enter and exit full screen mode by hitting F11 on your keyboard. What this does is that it takes away all of the window controls, address bar, menu, toolbars, buttons, and even the tabs leaving more room to display web pages. While in full screen mode, you can access some of the controls like tabs, the back button, the close button, or address bar, by moving your mouse pointer up to the top edge of the screen. When you do that, some of the controls will appear, but not all of them. Moving your mouse pointer away from the top edge of the screen will make the controls disappear again. If you need access to controls that don’t show up when you move your mouse pointer to the top edge of the screen, then you’ll have to hit F11 on your keyboard to exit full screen mode to access them.

Ad-Blocking Software

Ad-Blocking Software

Ad-blocking software speeds up web surfing by blocking out those annoying ads, but more importantly, it helps protect your computer from infection. In this instance, we aren’t talking about pop-up ads. We are talking about banner advertisements embedded in websites. Your browser has the capability to block pop-up ads, but it doesn’t block banner ads. 

Most websites that have advertisements on them get those advertisements from an advertisement service. The advertisements you see on most websites aren’t actually on that website, they come from the server owned by the advertisement service. Often, the owners of the website displaying the advertisements do not know what specific advertisements are being displayed on their website. 

The problem comes in when the advertisement service is hacked. Now, any website showing advertisements from this service will be showing infected advertisements. If you click on one of these ads, your computer could become infected. 

Of course you should first and foremost have good, up-to-date, security software. But another good way to protect from this type of attack is to use ad-blocking software. 

You should also be aware that Adblock software can sometimes interfere with the normal operation of a web page. You can disable the ad-block software for that web page easily. 

Our favorite ad-block software is Adblock Plus. It’s free! Just go to www.adblockplus.org to download it and install it into your browser.

We also recommend you install the Web of Trust (WOT) add-on/extension as well. You can get that at www.mywot.com.

Note that if we worked on your system in the last year and you had Firefox or Chrome on your system, we may have already installed these add-ons for you.

The Best Browser

The Best Browser

A web browser is a program you use to view content on the World Wide Web. The browser that comes with Windows is Internet Explorer. But there are lots of free browsers you can download and use. Each has their strengths and weaknesses. In terms of market share, Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser simply because it comes with Windows. But just because it is the most popular doesn’t mean it’s the best. In fact, because Internet Explorer is the most popular, that makes it a big target for viruses and other infections which is one reason why we often recommend that people use one of the alternative browsers.

When evaluating which browser is the best, we look the following criteria:

  • Speed

  • User interface (how good it looks and how easy it is to use)

  • Security

  • Add-ons (extensions)

There are many browsers out there, many of which you have never heard of. For this article, we are concentrating on the top five browsers:

  • Internet Explorer

  • Google Chrome

  • Mozilla Firefox

  • Apple Safari

  • Opera

We won’t bore you with all of the details of the results. Here is the bottom line. Google Chrome was the fastest browser and it was also the most secure. In terms of user interface, it was a tie between Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox. And in the area of add-ons, Mozilla Firefox was the winner with Google Chrome a close second.

Based on these results, Google Chrome is the best browser followed by Mozilla FireFox in second. We recommend that you download and install Google Chrome and use it as your default browser. If you try Google Chrome and don’t like it, then try Mozilla Firefox. They are both free, so why not give one or both of them a try.

You may be wondering if you can or should uninstall Internet Explorer. The answer is, you can’t. Internet Explorer is an integral part of Windows and can’t be uninstalled. Furthermore, Internet Explorer has a feature called ActiveX that no other browser supports. Even though ActiveX is an old technology that was supposed to be phased out, it is still widely used, especially by Microsoft. What that means is that you will run into some websites that have certain features that will only work with Internet Explorer. So you may need to use Internet Explorer from time to time, even if it’s not your default browser.

You can, and probably should, have more than one browser on your computer, but only one can be your default browser. But it’s easy to switch between them. For each browser you have installed on your system, there will be an icon on your desktop to launch them. Just double-click on the icon for the browser you want to run.

Here’s where you can download Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox:

Google Chrome:               www.google.com/chrome

Mozilla Firefox:                 www.getfirefox.com

 

How to Change Your Home Page

How to Change Your Home Page

Your home page is the first web page that your web browser (Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, Netscape, etc) goes to when  you first open it. It can be any web page. If you have more than one web browser on  your computer, each one can have a different home page.

So how to do you set what your home page is? That’s what we are going to cover in this article. Each web browser works a little differently when it comes to changing your home page, so for the purposes of this article, we are only going to cover Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), Firefox 3.6, and Chrome 4.

With all of these web browsers, the first thing you should do is go to the webpage that you want to be your home page. Some web browsers allow you to have more than one web page and will open all of them up in different tabs. If you want that, then get  your web browser all set with exactly how you want it to look when you open the web browser. What you do next depends on which web browser  you are using.

Let’s start with IE8. To set your home page to the currently displayed web page, find the command bar. The command bar is a toolbar on IE8 that has a picture of a house, a printer, the word “Page”, the word “Tools”, and other stuff. On the command bar, find the house and click on the little down arrow to the right of the house. Now select “Add or Change Home Page”.  If you just want one home page, click on the circle next to “Use this webpage as your only home page” and then click the Yes button. If you have more than one home page in tabs, then click on the circle next to “Use Current tab set as your home page” and click the Yes button. There are more options here you can play with.

Now for Firefox. If you want just one home page, find the icon just to the left of the website address. This should be in the uppermost white address bar. The website address starts with http. Just to the left of that is an icon. Click and drag that to the left and drop it on top of the house icon. Firefox will then ask you if you want this document to be  your home page. Click the yes button.  If you want more than one web page, then get all your tabs set. In the Firefox menu, click on Tools and then click on Options. In the General options, you should see a button labled “Use Current Pages”. Click on that to make your current tab set your set of home pages.

Before I tell you how to set your home page in Chrome, there’s something special I want to tell you about it. I don’t like to have a home page set in Chrome. I prefer to use the new tab page. The new tab page in Chome shows you thumbnails of web pages you have been to recently. If you want to go to one of them, just click on the thumbnail. Something else that is special about Chrome. In the place where you would normally type the website address you want to go to, you can enter search terms like you would if you were searching on Google. So when you start up Chrome, you can type a website address, search terms, or click on one of the recent websites you have been to.

Click on the wrench and then click on Options. In the home page section, click on the circle next to “Open this page” and then type the address for the website in the box to the right. You can copy and paste as well. Then click the close button.

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