All posts tagged Microsoft

Beware the Free Online Virus Scan

virus scannerMost anyone that has ever accepted something for free in life now understands what it means when people say that nothing in life is free. You never get something for free unless it is expected that you’ll do something else. So when you see an ad for a free online virus scan you need to think twice about what the real cost is going to be.

What is really happening?

At best you are actually going to get a virus scan with the results of all the known viruses on your computer but you’ll need to buy the software to actually be able to remove them. At worst you won’t get a scan at all, but it’ll just be installing viruses onto your computer while you think it’s conducting this free online virus scanner. This is a very common scam that you should be aware of.

This is why you also see ads from time to time for a free virus scan and removal. It’s such a common scam that there are companies that just focus on showing you how to remove the junk you get when you tried the free virus scan. The trick here is often it’s the same company that gave you the first set of viruses when you tried the free virus scanner. Only this time you got set up again. Instead of getting the solution to the viruses you got, it is just installing new ones!

Microsoft Virus Scan

There has been a lot of talk ever since Windows 7 came out about the Microsoft Virus Scan solution. It actually is free (typically with a paid copy of Windows 7 of course) and can be installed very easily. It really works very well actually, and it what I run on my system.

Windows systems were starting to really get slammed quite a bit by computer people because of all the viruses and issues floating around for Windows PC’s. Apple was really getting traction because there really aren’t viruses on the Mac’s. I’m not sure if this is because they are better at protecting against it or that Mac’s were less common and programmers tend to be PC folks. Either way, Microsoft had to come up with a way to combat that argument when people were ready to buy another computer. Their answer was to offer a really solid virus protection for free. For now it seems to be working.

 

So the next time you see an ad for a free virus scan you’d be better off to pretend that it says free offer to steal your car. The intent of the folks behind the ad is the same!

Mint – A Website And App To Keep Track Of All Your Finances

small business financial softwareMy new favorite financial site is Mint.com! I used to use Microsoft Money for years and years. I liked it but I didn’t like that it was specific to just my computer. If I wanted to check something and I was away from my house, or my computer was down I couldn’t get to it. I know Money was supposed to have some functionality where it would go web based but I just never got into it.

One the Cloud

Mint however is 100% on the cloud. So as long as you have an internet connection you can get to everything that Mint has to offer. Any place, any time, as long as you know your user name and password. I love it.

You also basically never have to enter transactions anymore either. With Money I would often not trust the link with banks websites, or it wasn’t working. So I’d end up entering all the transactions manually. What a pain! It got at the end where I was really not using any of the Money functionality other then the bills section.

Recently Mint added a bill reminder that I don’t like quite as well as Money’s but it is close enough, and everything else is so much better that I finally scraped Money all together and exclusively use Mint.

It doesn’t just sinc up with my banking account either. It will link up with almost any account that I can think of that has something to do with my finances. So it hooked up to my auto loans and tracks them over time. It hooked up to all my checking and savings accounts obviously. It also hooks up to my retirement accounts, as well as my kids college plans, so I can get a good snap shot of what is going on there too.

Reporting

One aspect that I really like is the budgeting and reporting options that Mint offers. The one I use all the time is the net worth over time. To me that is really the measurement of your true financial health. Your net worth is what you have left over, or still owe, after you closed all your accounts and cashed in all your chips. You want it to be obviously positive, and continuing to grow over time (unless maybe you are in retirement and are starting to spend your savings). So it’s a great way to keep track of your financial health.

The budgeting is great too. You can set up as many categories as you want and set up monthly budgets for them. Then Mint will automatically track you spending in the accounts you link up, and tell you through out the month how you are doing on your budget. It’s a really great way to keep track of how you are doing and where you need to be!

Cool Web 2.0 offerings

One really cool aspect of Mint is the 2.0 social functionality. So it’ll keep all the the information it gathers without and personal data and can track and trend. If Mint notices something that might be out of whack with your spending it’ll give you a notice. So when you log in you might get a popup that saying something like, “You are spending 35% more then other people in your area on auto insurance”. It’ll give you a link to get a quote for auto insurance and see if you can save some money. It’s a great way to save money you didn’t even think about, and this is also one big way that Mint makes it’s money as well, on these kind of referrals.

So sit down and sign up for Mint.com and get your finances on track and in control.

Google Chrome

Google ChromeIf you are really up on your browsers then you are hopefully viewing this page on Google Chrome right now (well OK maybe Firefox, but those are the only two real options)! For years I was toiling around with Internet Explorer like most everyone else. I had all ready started using Gmail and was loving it. Then I saw and add on Gmail that said to try Chrome because Gmail ran faster on it. I thought well I really like Gmail and really everything Google does for that matter, why not give Chrome a try? So I downloaded and installed it. I have to say I didn’t really notice that Gmail ran any faster on Chrome but over all the experience was great.

What is better about Chrome

Part of the reason I really like Google products so much is that it’s like you can see the effect of their attitude that you don’t always have to color inside the lines. It seems like every time a new Microsoft product comes out it looks new and slick and has some new functionality, but over all it does everything basically the same way, I assume because that is always what they had done before.

With Google though it really seems like they aren’t bound by that kind of thinking at all. They just try to rip apart the issue at hand and just try to figure out what is the best, fastest, and most user friendly way to accomplish it. Sometimes I have to admit that they are so far out of the box that it feel weird at first, but then as you get using it you realize they really have the right answer, and you wonder why you haven’t done it like this all along!

For instance when I first started using Gmail it felt really weird, and almost risky, to just archive something I was done with but didn’t want to delete. I mean emails you are done with and want to keep have to go in a folder right? Right?! Nope. They can just go into a large bucket of archived emails. This works so well because Google does search so well. You just type in some words that you remember from the email you are looking for and in less then a second they are listed on your screen. I have tens of thousands of archived emails and I’ve never not been able to find the email I was looking for!

This same kind of thinking has been applied to all aspect of Google Chrome. It really just feels like they have it all figured out. Once you get used to it you realize this is what you have been missing all along! I’m not a real technical coding guy, but over all there are less bugs. Think about how many times you have to reload Internet Explorer, or even have to reboot your whole computer. It rarely if ever seems to happen when I’m browsing on Chrome!

 

Google Docs

Google Docs AppGoogle Docs is my new favorite thing out there on the cloud! Google does everything and they do everything well! Basically Google Docs is the answer to Microsoft Office, but it’s all on the cloud. The applications are on the cloud and the the data is on the cloud. As long as you have an internet connections you have everything you need for creating office type files!

Obviously there are some strong pros and cons for cloud computing in general, but over all I really think the good far out weighs the bad! The only real downside is making sure you have an internet connection and trusting the source to be always available. So let’s say you do a large presentation on Google Presentation. You are going to give this presentation to a large crowd out of town. You get there assuming there will be an internet connection but there isn’t. You are in some trouble. Or worse let’s say you do have an internet connection but for some reason Google’s servers are down and you can get to it. Scary stuff.

The Good 

The good news is, at least for Google, they are almost never down! I mean it does happen but it is really really rare, and very short if it does happen. I feel very confident trusting my office files to Google. And really other then a pressure situation where you need it for a presentation then if they were down for a short period it wouldn’t really effect you all that much! And let’s be honest, in a presentation situation like that Google being down is comparable to you forgetting to pack the CD with the presentation, or that CD getting destroyed on the plane or some other physical issue like that. I’d rather take my chances that Google can come through then worrying if the baggage handlers can take care of the CD!

The App

I’m really excited now too that I found out there is a Google Docs app that I can install on my Android phone for free. It of course is a little more limited in functionality then the full version you will see on your computer or laptop, but when you are on the go and not near a computer it really is awesome! It’s best if you just need to view one of your documents to find out some information or review. You can edit your documents but because of the screen size limitations it is a little clunky. I would only really try to edit Google documents on my phone in emergency situations.

The other thing I use the Google Docs app for on my phone is to share documents. Google Docs is really slick when it comes to collaborating with others on the same documents. You can grant someone access based on their email address and you can both work on the same document at the same time! Or instead of emailing someone a document and then later after revisions emailing it to them again (and everyone being confused because they are working off an older version), you can just grant them permission to view the document. Saves on clogging up everyone’s email boxes and you know everyone is always viewing the latest version of your document. Awesome stuff!

Windows 7 Logo

Windows 7 logosWindows 7 has been out for a while now and for even the late adopters of new operating systems the change has been made. I know my office has switched to Windows 7 a few months ago, and if we have it then it seems that everyone must have it!

There are many cool new features that Windows 7 has to offer including the snap feature where you can drag a windows to the edge of the screen and it will become half the screen on that edge. There are function upgrades and just some really cool stuff too. So partially people upgrade to get the new functionality, some people want to cool stuff, and really the late adopters make the move because they get a new computer and it came with it, or maybe because the industry has moved forward and they finally find that they need Windows 7 to do what they need to do.

Windows 7 Logo

One area that definitely fall in the cool area of upgrades is the new Windows 7 logo. It of course features the core look of the Windows logo with the four colors squares, but it’s been upgrades to look cooler and be more eye catching. No where is this more apparent then on the start up screen.

I remember hearing an interview from someone within Microsoft that was in charge of look and feel of the new logos. He was specifically talking about the start up screen which if you are in charge of logos then that is the most important screen for your career! That new looks where it seems for different fireflys are coming together on a summer night to end up resulting in the new logo is genius. It’s new and eye catching and it sort of sums up the new look and feel of Windows 7!

Windows 8

I haven’t heard a release date yet but I have heard a few reports that Microsoft is hard at worm on Windows 8. This makes sense but seems funny to me because I feel like it was just a month or so ago that the commercials were out advertising the new Windows 7! With the really impressive look and feel of the Windows 7 logos Microsoft is really going to have to raise the bar to top it. Hopefully the Windows 8 logos are going to be just as impressive!