Welcome

Pam CostaYes, you can learn the computer skills you need to enjoy the internet without having to wait for your kids to help you or attending a crowded class.

My name is Pam Costa and I want to welcome you to PC Tutor Naples – a place for you to dip your toe into the waters of technology and the internet; a safe place for you to Learn, Discover and Connect.

The internet opens the door to a magical world of adventure and wonder where you will discover everything you can possible imagine and some things you didn’t even know existed. Your computer, phone or tablet is just the key you use to open the door.

Our mission at PC Tutor Naples is to guide you with a clutter free starting point, simple explanations of how things work and lots of encouragement to get you going on your adventure. All you need to bring with you is curiosity, imagination and a thirst for learning.

YOU Can Do It! – Yes YOU!

 

Something Lovely and Nourishing – Meditation

Cosmic Tornado

Every morning, with the best of intentions and the plan I have prepared the night before, I set out with visions of great accomplishment, whether that be towards my goals or just vacuuming the rugs.

And then what do you know? I find that it is afternoon and I am feeling defeated because I have not accomplished most of what was in my plan. That’s not to say I haven’t accomplished anything – I have actually accomplished lots and I know that my discoveries will be useful someday real soon.

Two weeks ago I had so many thoughts racing around my brain and I had wandered around all of the media input online, my mind felt like it was in the center of a tornado. I was just craving some peace.

While listening to a Tim Ferris podcast interview of Maria Popova from Brain Pickings, Maria said that she started her day with 15-20 minutes of meditation. She listens to Tara Brach’s guided meditations and teachings and said that listening to Tara’s Mindfulness  teachings and guided meditations have impacted and changed her life more profoundly than anybody in her life.

Wow! This was just what my mind needed to hear. So for the past two weeks I have been listening to Tara’s teachings and meditations and I have found such a feeling of peace that lasts throughout my whole day. Though I can’t say that my wandering mind is immediately in focus and accomplishing every daily goal, I can say that I am calmer and much kinder to myself and not reacting to small disruptions that come up during the day.

 

Tara Brach

Below is the teaching that has had a powerful impact on me this week .

Be All That You Are

 

Be All That You Are
We are conditioned to live in stories that obscure the vastness, goodness and mystery of what we are. This talk explores the ways we construct a limited self-identity and the pathways to realizing and living from a fullness of our Being.

Be sure to visit Tara’s website for more teachings and meditation.  TaraBrach.com

STOP!! Before You Open That Attachment…Read This

There is an extremely malicious program that is spreading around the internet called “CryptoWall 2.0” that is affecting Windows computer users; home users as well as businesses and corporations. (It does not currently affect Mac computers, but cautions still apply to all computer users.)

CryptoWall 2.0 is the latest version of the malware, called ransomware, that you may have heard about earlier this year.

It attacks your computer and encrypts all of your files making them unreadable, then demands you pay a ransom in order to regain access. As it locks up your files (photos, music, documents…) it places an internet shortcut to a website inside each folder that launches when you try to open your files. It does all of the damage silently behind the scenes, encrypting all of your files before demanding the ransom, so you don’t have a chance to stop it until it has done its damage.

The earlier version, known as CryptoLocker, worked in the same way, but was able to be removed with removal tools and sometimes the files were able to be recovered without having to pay the ransom. Not so with the version that started attacking computers in October 2014. Your only options with CryptoWall 2.0 are paying the ransom (still no guarantees of your files being returned) or reformatting your hard drive and restoring your files from a clean backup.



How does CryptoWall 2.0 (Or any virus or malware) get into my computer?

It appears that there are two main ways for your computer to get infected; email attachments and advertisements on websites. 

This is the email that tricked us. You may receive one that looks like it is from the USPS, UPS, a bank, IRS – they come masked as anything and everything – DO NOT OPEN!!

Email Attachments: An email message with an attachment that appears to come from a recognized institution or friend, urging you to take action.

The email is trying to trick you into opening the attached file that has the malicious program inside and launches it invisibly in the background.

You think that the attachment doesn’t have anything in it and go about checking other emails or browsing the internet while the malware is busy encrypting your files. Next day or later, your computer starts to act strange and you may have forgotten that you opened that attachment.

Advertisements on Websites: You see an ad that looks interesting and click on it. Your browser is then redirected to a third-party page that execute programs searching for outdated browser plug-ins like Java, Flash Player, Adobe Reader or Silverlight. Once a vulnerability is discovered, CryptoWall 2.0 is then installed on your computer without you ever knowing it is happening.

 

Are your files and photos backed up?

The best way to make sure you can recover your precious photos and your important documents from an attack or device crash is to make regular backups to a removable storage device. External hard drives are very affordable and your computer has backup programs that make it easy to back up your data. Remember to disconnect the external storage device when the backup is complete to avoid the chance of your backup files being attacked and locked by CryptoWall 2.0 or any of the other copy-cat malicious viruses.

** Dropbox users – If you suspect you have inadvertently downloaded the malware onto your computer, immediately uninstall Dropbox (through Control Panel/Remove Programs) and access your files through the Dropbox website only. Crypto will encrypt your files on your computer and when Dropbox syncs it will sync your encrypted files.



How can I protect my computer – what precautions can I take?

1. DO NOT open any attachments that you are not expecting to receive.

It may appear to be from a friend, the bank, post office or other companies or government agency. If you are not expecting something, call the person or company and ask if they sent you something and what it is. Most times you will find that they did not send the email at all.

2. DO NOT click on any links in emails that you weren’t expecting, even if they came from a friend.

If they look like they are from your bank, PayPal, UPS or the Post Office, and especially if they are in your Junk/Spam folder. These are called “phishing” emails and they are trying to gain access to your private information. Don’t click – call them or go to the website directly and log in from there (www.paypal.com, www.yourbank.com, etc.).

3. DO keep your Anti-virus and Anti-Malware programs and definitions up to date and run scans frequently.

4. DO keep all software installed on your computer updated, especially your web browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer) and their plug-ins.

When there is an update it is most often to update a security vulnerability. The criminals that create the malicious programs and viruses are always updating their programs to attack at those insecure places.

 

What Can You Do Right Now?

 

  1. BACKUP your important files and photos – Buy a removable storage device right away if you don’t already have one. 
  2. RUN a complete scan of your computer using your Antivirus Program (I use AVG Free).
  3. RUN a complete scan of your computer using an AntiMalware Program (I use MalwareBytes).

 

 

It is my intention that this post equips you with the information you need to protect your computer data from a nasty attack. No need to be afraid of being online – information gives you the power to control your experience and keep your valuable information and photos safe.

I stress the importance of being extremely cautious of what you click on when reading email or advertisements online. It takes less than a second to open your files and photos up to some very damaging programs that can be very costly in time and money to repair.

 

Pam – PC Tutor Naples

 

Have you been tempted to open one of these files?

Leave your questions or concerns in the comments below. I will be happy to research answers for you.

Three Must Have Apps For A Fun Beginner Online Experience

How satisfied are you with the time you spend online?

Maybe you just got your first computer, smart phone or tablet and can’t wait to start exploring or maybe you have been online for a while, but the technology has moved too fast for you to keep up.

Oh sure, you are on Facebook and you share emails of funny videos and beautiful photo slideshows. You may be on Pinterest and follow some favorite personality’s blogs and sign up for newsletters. You know how to shop online and may even own a Kindle or Nook.

Then there comes that time – it may be a Sunday night or it may even be in the middle of the day – when you hit refresh on Facebook for the hundredth time, to see if anyone has commented on your post or replied to your comment. You check your email to see if there is anything new, only to find more junk that you are not interested in. You wonder just what the internet is good for anyway, because all it is doing is making you feel bad about yourself and you have to return to a job you hate or are boredom from too much free time.

Are you ready to make a change and get more satisfaction from your online experience, but are frustrated with the tools you have been using for email, browsing, creating and collecting information?

Why do we feel that to enjoy our online adventure we must go back to the beginning of time – or the internet – and learn from there? Why don’t we just start from where we are with the most current tools available to us right now?

Every day the hardware gets more user friendly and easier to use, why should our whole experience be any different?

Time to revamp our internet/technology experience and get going on our adventure!

These three web based applications (apps), will have you up and running in no time on all of your devices; all in sync and available from anywhere!

Google Account (with Gmail), Evernote and LastPass

I have been using these three products, consistently for over three years. I have changed phones from Android to Apple, changed laptops from Windows PC to MacBook and use an Apple iPad tablet and have never lost my address book contacts or calendar when I changed systems.

These three tools are just the ticket you need to collect, organize, and create; to get the most out of your internet experience and bring the excitement that comes from learning and exploring new things into your world.

All three are free to use. Evernote and LastPass have premium upgrades that extend the features available, but the free version is more than enough to get started.

Google Account with Gmail & Google Chrome Browser

With just one username you can access your address book, email, bookmarks and calendar…all from any device and all kept perfectly in sync.

You can log into your account from any computer or device from anywhere just by going to Google.com and signing into your account.

Although you can sign in to your Google account using any browser; by using Google Chrome your experience will be much more rewarding and easy to use.

Evernote – The Workspace for Your Life’s Work

Evernote is a single place to create and collect information that is synchronized and available across your phone, tablet, computer and the web.

It is a powerful tool that not only remembers everything, but also organizes all of your notes and collected information and has such a powerful search feature that you can find anything you are looking for by just typing in a few words.

With a free Evernote account you can:

- Create text, photo and audio notes.

- Clip web pages including text, links and images.

- Synchronize your notes across your devices.

- Search for text within snapshots and images.

There are many apps that were created to work with Evernote that let you create and customize the most useful helper that you can’t live without!

LastPass – Password Keeper

There are many different way to remember your passwords and I have tried a few, including a little notebook! As the internet and mobile devices have grown so has our need for a more secure and user friendly method. One that is available everywhere we go and we don’t have to remember to bring with us.

LastPass is simple, fast and easy to setup and effortless to use. You only have to remember one master password to access your Vault.

Download and setup is quick and easy. Once you create your account, LastPass will prompt you to save new sites as you browse and login to them.

LastPass is also secure. It is encrypted and decrypted locally on your computer before syncing with LastPass. Your Master Password is never stored or shared with LastPass.

If you have mobile devices (phones, tablets) there is a LastPass app to give you access from your devices, but it requires the Premium upgrade.

LastPass Premium,  $1.00/mo – $12 annually, has additional features making it a very inexpensive upgrade:

  • Unlimited use of LastPass Mobile Apps on all of your devices.
  • Ad Free and Priority Assistance
  • Shared Family Folder to manage shared apps with up to 5 LastPass users (can be Free Account users).

 

This post is just to introduce you to Google, Evernote and LastPass. Hopefully it will spark your interest in learning some new, and easy skills to make your time online more enjoyable.

In our next posts, I will take you through each app, show you how to open an account, initial setup and how to get started using them.

What tools are you using now to check your email and browse the internet?

Tell me in the Comments below.

Blog Challenge!

That's Me - The Beginning of My First Life Changing Adventure 25 Years Ago!

The Beginning of My First Life Changing Adventure   25 Years Ago!

This is something that I have been choking on for a very long time!

I won’t go into what has been holding me back just yet (hint: I bet it is the same thing holding you back from doing what you would love to do!) but what finally broke down the wall for me is a blog challenge that I joined this week.

Scott Dinsmore at Live Your Legend has started  “Start-A-Blog” Challenge; a 7 day writing habits course and though I am technically on Day 4, this is my post for Day 1.

In order for me to get the full benefit from the course I am going to just write, publish and move on to the next day’s writing prompt; no obsessing about perfection – in grammar, punctuation, message. I know deep down that this practice will move me to where I will be able to share helpful information and give you all the most value that I possibly can.

I am so grateful for this challenge and you giving me the opportunity to share my journey.

So here is my first official post:

Welcome!

I’m Pam Costa, Founder and Chief Encourager at PC Tutor Naples!

I am a “Baby” Boomer who is far from being a baby in age! and a tech geek from the days when I was a kid and watched my favorite cartoon, The Jetsons and dreamed of living in that world of the future (for me it was all about the “microwave” oven – I was too busy reading and doing other things to bother eating…).

I have traveled quite an adventurous path, by land, sea, computer; meeting new people, sharing stories and learning new things every day. I also learned and am still learning, about myself – what I love, what I am passionate about and what I am capable of that I never thought possible.

I have so much that I am excited to share with you, but because this is my first official blog post I will stop for now and push that “Publish” button!

Let’s do it!!