During this hectic time of year, racing through the week becomes common for many of us. So in our November issue, we try to help you make the most of every minute. One thing you don't want to race through is maintaining your computer security. We begin with a reminder of how to prevent becoming the victim of cyber criminals that send bogus, and potentially harmful, e-cards. You'll also get tips for speeding up online searches, and learn to quickly place a photo in the message pane of an e-mail. As always, check out the Great Sites links to go straight to valuable tools and information you may need this month.
The goal of each of our monthly eNewsletters is to keep our subscribers informed regarding their Internet connection and to improve their Internet experience. We think you'll find this information interesting. If, however, you'd prefer not to receive these bulletins on a monthly basis, please see the links at the bottom of this e-mail to manage your preferences.
To see what's inside this issue, simply scroll down the eNewsletter or click on the links within the index to the left. Thanks for reading!
- The eCurrents Team
Be Alert! - Bogus Holiday eCards May Bring Bad Tidings
Cyber criminals take advantage of the increased number of legitimate e-cards sent during the holiday season to send out their own fraudulent, and potentially damaging, e-cards. These spammed messages may try to lure you into clicking on malicious links in order to compromise your PC with a Trojan horse or virus.
Be extra vigilant in the weeks ahead when you get an e-mail claiming, "You've received an e-card," unless you're certain it's from a trusted friend or family member. It only takes a moment to check out an e-card, and it could save you hours of headaches:
Examine the e-card notification closely before clicking on any links contained within it. Are there typos in the message? Does it lack a personalized greeting that identifies you by name? Those are warning signs.
Look at the link you're asked to click on in order to receive the e-card. If it ends in ".exe," it's an executable file—a file that automatically executes code to install and run programs and routines. A legitimate e-card will not have an executable file, so seeing one is evidence of a scam. Do not click on the link.
Check the headers of the e-mail to see if the Web address is different from the one displayed in your Inbox. If it is, this is another warning sign.
Should you receive an e-card notification containing one or more of these "red flags," do not click on the link. Simply delete the e-mail from your Inbox. In addition, continue to follow these basic security precautions:
Use a firewall.
Use antivirus and antispyware software and keep it up to date.
Never download or click on anything from any unknown source.
Don't accept an end-user agreement without reading the fine print first; you might inadvertently agree to install spyware or something else you don't want.
Exchanging holiday e-cards can be a wonderful part of the season. Just make sure you keep your eyes open before you open those e-card links.
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Ask The Help Desk - How Can I Streamline My Online Searches?
Question: It seems like it takes too long for me to find exactly what I'm looking for when I Google a topic. Do you have any tips on how to speed up the search process and make it more efficient?
Answer: Amid the growing Web clutter, it has become increasingly more challenging to wade through pages of search results to find the specific information you're really after. If you typically use search queries of just one or two words, try expanding the number to include additional words that more clearly define your parameters. Google also suggests the following:
Know what to eliminate. If you don't want a particular word to appear in your search results, use a minus sign right before that word. For example, if you want information on Paris, France, but you're not interested in Paris Hilton or Paris, Texas, use the query [Paris -Hilton -Texas].
Get to definitions quickly. Type in define followed by a word, and Google gives definitions from a variety of sources.
Narrow your sites. Let's say you want to read up on the economic stimulus but avoid news stories and commentary from bloggers. Search www.google.com/unclesam and your results will include content only from sites that end in .gov. Google also allows you to specify that your search results must come from a given website. For example, the query [iraq site:nytimes.com] will return pages about Iraq but only from nytimes.com.
Sites Of The Month - Great Sites To Check Out In November
Common Sense Media http://commonsensemedia.org - Common Sense Media is an organization that recognizes how prevalent media is—enough to become "the other parent" in kids' lives. Their website addresses the situation by providing information and reviews about movies, games, websites, TV, books, and music. You can search by age (2-17) or by media, and there are special sections for parents and educators. Check out community discussions on topics like Internet safety, digital citizenship, and safe social networking.
The Blind Side http://theblindsidemovie.com - Looking for a touching movie to share with family this holiday season? The Blind Side is a film based on the true story of a homeless African-American high school student taken in by a wealthy white family. As the student faces the challenges of studying in a new environment and participating on the school football team, the family supports him and moves through challenges of their own. The site features trailers and a synopsis of the movie.
Taste of Home http://tasteofhome.com - Here's a site that features the recipes you love—those handed down over generations and shared with family and friends. These are practical recipes because they come from regular cooks, not gourmet chefs. You'll find familiar ingredients, clear instructions, and colorful photos. Search for recipes for the holidays, or by ingredient or course. And don't forget to check out the videos on how to make a pie crust, poached eggs, quick and easy chili, and more!
SMARxT Disposal http://smarxtdisposal.net - It might surprise you to learn that improper disposal of medications can have harmful effects on humans, wildlife, and waterways. SMARxT Disposal is a partnership between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and two pharmaceutical associations. Their site describes the problems that can occur with traditional methods of medication disposal, and offers details about how to dispose of medications properly. Watch the informative video and check out the FAQs to learn more.
Personal Travel Assistant http://yapta.com - Your Amazing Personal Travel Assistant (YAPTA) is ready to help you find and track flight and hotel prices, and explore travel deals. The free service not only watches fare prices for you, but also continues to follow them after you buy a ticket. This means you'll always get the lowest fares possible, and may be able to claim a travel credit based on a little-known airline policy. Use the easy interface to enter your travel preferences and start tracking prices.
Short Tutorial - Placing Photos Into Message Pane Of Holiday E-mails
If you plan to send your holiday greetings via e-mail (rather than snail mail) this year, you'll probably want to include a favorite photo along with your famous "here's what we did this year" letter. Keep in mind that you're not limited to using an e-mail attachment to send a photo. You can paste a photo directly into the message pane of the e-mail so there's instant impact when your family and friends receive it. Simply follow these steps:
Placing Photos into Message Pane Using ... - E-mail Program: Outlook Express 6 - Computer Operating System: Windows XP
1. With Outlook Express open, create a new message by clicking your cursor arrow on the "Create Mail" icon.
2. Begin composing the e-mail message (addressing, filling in the subject line, and writing a message), and then click your cursor arrow at the location where you'd like to place the photo within your message. Click on "Insert" located on the menu bar. Select "Picture..." from the resulting drop-down menu.
3. When the Picture window opens, click the "Browse..." button to locate the photo you want to place.
4. Select the photo's file location (example: MyDocuments/Pictures/Summer09) and click on the photo to select it. Then click on the "Open" button.
5. Next, you can describe the photo for "text only" e-mail programs by placing your cursor in the "Alternate Text" field, typing in a description of the photo, and then clicking the "OK" button. The photo should now appear in your e-mail message. 6. Finally, complete your e-mail message and click the "Send" button.
Placing Photos into Message Pane Using ... - E-mail Program: Windows Mail - Computer Operating System: Windows Vista