Misery from Social Media (and other thoughts)


Misery from Social Media (and other thoughts)
July 2013
Visit our website at www.pcs4me.com
Ken Johnson, Newsletter Editor
SIG = Special Interest Group
This Week's Schedule
July 20 - Saturday - 1:00-3:00 PM
General Meeting - Leader: Ray Carlson
Location: Prescott Public Library
First Hour: Protecting Yourself from Keylogging and Other Risks
The recent keylogging incident at Prescott High School focused attention on an easy way for people to steal
information. All the thief needs is brief access to your computer to install keylogging software or hardware. The
software can be downloaded for free from the Internet and the hardware can be purchased from a variety of sources.
Once installed, these items record everything typed on the keyboard including usernames, passwords, and messages.
During the meeting, we will demonstrate the software and describe the hardware. We will show how to recognize if
the software or hardware has been installed on your computer and how it can be removed. As usual, we will encourage
those present to describe problems they have recently experienced with malware and attempts at information theft.
We will also give a non-technical explanation for sandboxing, a protection against malware that was mentioned briefly
at the last meeting.
Second Hour: Phil Ball will add some of his valuable computer tips and tricks.
In addition to the presentations, the following are typical events which take place at our General meetings:
1) We hold an informal Flea Market in which you are encouraged to bring in your excess computer equipment or
software and make them available for others to enjoy at no charge. Please deposit give-away items on the table in the
back marked "Free Stuff." Any items left here at the end of the meeting are subject to disposal.
2) If you have items that are just too good to give away, you may set up a separate table and hold your own sale.
3) We conduct a raffle of new computer items at the end of the meeting, so make sure to get a pair of tickets from
whoever is in charge and place one on the item you'd like to win.
4) We will also accept your used ink and toner cartridges for recycling. They are turned in to Think4Inc for credits which
PCS uses to purchase office supplies from them.
Calendar Cont on Pg 2
Prescott Computer Society MESSENGER
Page 2
Future Meetings:
July 25 - Thursday - 6:00-8:30 PM
Board of Directors Meeting- Prescott Public Library; Elsea Room
All PCS members are welcome to attend but you are asked to first contact Ray Carlson in order to ensure
that there will be room available for you.
July 27 - Saturday - 12:00-2:00 PM
PCS Annual Picnic
Location: Garden Ramada, Willow Lake Park, Prescott .
Additional information will be forthcoming.
Map to Picnic:
Note that these dates are correct at time of publication but are subject to change.
Up to date information can be found on our website, www.pcs4me.com
Unless otherwise noted, our meetings are usually held in the
Founder’s Suite at the Prescott Public Library.
Prescott Computer Society
Officers & Board of Directors
Vice Pres
General Directors:
Ray Carlson
Joan Baum
Phil Ball
John Carter
JB Burke
Joan Fullmore
Edi Taylor-Richards
Rich Knapfel
Murray Smolens
Prescott Computer Society MESSENGER
Holy cow! Is this a virus?
By Linda Gonse, Editor/Webmaster, Orange
County PC Users’ Group, CA
March 2013 issue, nibbles & bits
I recently added a second external hard drive to my
computer system. I use one for backups of InDesign
files and the other one for Acronis True Image system
As I browsed through the files I’d saved to the drives,
I ran into something peculiar. Both drives had folders
with names that were long strings of random letters.
And each folder contained one file: mrtstub.exe at
89KB on the Iomega drive, and MPSigStub.exe at
227KB on the Seagate drive.
Fearing these might be malware or a virus, I quickly
did a Google search. Interestingly, the search turned
up conflicting opinions in different forums. Some
people said it was a virus and highly dangerous, some
said the folder and file(s) inside were benign, some
said the files were leftover from when Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool (MRT) was run and
had not been deleted automatically, and some said
Windows created them.
Although I only found one file in the folders, other
people have seen as many as four at one time:
mrtstub.exe, mrt.exe._p, MRT.exe, and
I found a link to information about the Malicious
Software Removal Tool at http://
support.microsoft.com/kb/890830#Faq. In particular,
it gave instructions on how to remove the Malicious
Software Removal Tool.
The Malicious Software Removal Tool (MRT) does not
use an installer. Typically, when you run the Malicious Software Removal Tool, it creates a randomly
named temporary directory on the root drive of the
computer. This directory contains several files, and it
includes the Mrtstub.exe file. Most of the time, this
folder is automatically deleted after the tool
Page 3
finishes running or after the next time that you start
the computer. However, this folder may not always
be automatically deleted. In these cases, you can
manually delete this folder, and this has no adverse
effect on the computer.
I also learned that MRT is not a substitute for a
resident antivirus for various reasons: 1. MRT
only removes malware AFTER infection, it doesn’t BLOCK malware like an antivirus does; 2. MRT
is designed to target a small set of malware only,
while an antivirus takes care of most malware in
the wild; and 3. MRT can only detect actively
running malware — an antivirus can also detect
dormant malware.
Microsoft’s Knowledge Base (http://
support.microsoft.com/kb/890830) also said a new
version of the Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool is released every month. After you
download the tool, the tool runs one time to check
your computer for infection by specific prevalent
malicious software (including Blaster, Sasser, and
Mydoom) and helps remove any infection it finds.
This Knowledge Base article contains information
about how you can download and run the tool, and
what happens when the tool finds malicious software on your computer.
Even though I did not intentionally download the
Removal Tool or run it, I read that Windows Update
may do that when it downloads automatic updates.
Further, it uses the largest hard drive on the system
to create the temp folders; and in my case, the external hard drives are the largest with each being
The upshot of this was I checked each file’s Properties and confirmed Microsoft had signed them.
Then I deleted the folders and files manually and
nothing bad happened. In the future, I’ll disconnect the external drives before downloading or
installing Windows Update.
Continued on pg 4
Page 4
Prescott Computer Society MESSENGER
Holy Cow! Is this a virus?-cont’d from p 3:
Folders and files found on external
The bottom line of this article is that sometime in
mid-2012 I checked my monthly credit card statement a little more thoroughly than usual, and I found
that the $50.00 bucks that I thought I was saving a
year was still being deducted from my credit card by
I then e-mailed, talked to them by phone, sent a letter, re-sent the letter via Certified mail! All to no
My final realization was that I had to file a civil case
with my local magistrate. I filed the paperwork, paid
the court fees up front, and waited for my court date.
On my court date the defendant, (MacAfee, headquartered in California) did not show. The judgment
was in my favor and I received the McAfee 2012
credit card cost of $50.00 + bucks, and all of my court
If you agree, check the square box!
By Ralph Smoyer, Vice President, Lehigh Valley Computer Group, PA
February 2013 issue, The LVCG Journal
wemiller (at) ptd.net
“If you agree to the following list of items
please place a check mark in the small
square box.”
How often have you seen this line before? Well I
have seen this line many, many times before, and I
have also personally entered that check mark in
that box at least one time too often. You see, I
downloaded a MacAfee computer virus protection
program via the Internet approximately three years
ago and dutifully check marked the square box. I
thought the MacAfee program worked quite well!
However, I have belonged to the Lehigh Valley
Computer Group for many years and I often use a
lot of the knowledge that I get at our meetings.
Well about three years ago one of our instructors
mentioned that Microsoft offers a free virus protection plan, and I jumped on it. Wow, I could save
$50.00+ bucks a year.
I chose to use my newly gained knowledge from the
LVCG, and my present virus, malware and spyware
protection is Microsoft Security Essentials (free
from Microsoft) and yes, I did check mark the
square box to have it actuated. It works great.
When talking by phone with a McAfee representative
I mentioned that I didn’t order their virus protection
product this year and she replied, yes you did when
you checked the square box. I then noted to her this
could go on forever, and she agreed yes it could. I
We l com e to
Alice Weis
Continued on pg 5
Prescott Computer Society MESSENGER
Page 5
Continued from pg 4:
Misery from Social Media
(and other thoughts)
By Greg Skalka, President, Under the Computer
Hood User Group, CA
February 2013 issue, DriveLight
president (at) uchug.org
overall for Facebook users, as everyone competes to
report having the most impressive lives. It reminds
me of the feelings I recall having when my wife and I
would go out to tour model homes on the weekends, not to buy but to get decorating ideas for our
own home. We would leave our house feeling reasonably satisfied with it, but interested in making it
just a little better. We would return from touring
these fabulously decorated and ridiculously neat
model homes with the feeling that our house was a
dump. It would have been better for our mental
health and overall happiness if we had never gone
looking. I wonder if we will someday find it is the
same with social media?
Does Facebook make you miserable? I know I get depressed when I think about all the time people waste
on social media sites, spending hours looking at what
other people are doing or raising imaginary crops on
Farmville. I get perturbed when I read about those
bird-brains that spend all their time tweeting their
every action, and the twits that follow them. I’m not
sure what is higher on the worthless scale in that case,
A Hard Drive In Your Pocket
being the tweet-er or the tweet-ee (at least the
Ignore those that say you can’t take it with you tweeter is writing something).
now you can. When you need to carry around a lot
of data, Kingston is there for you. They announced
Now there may be proof that all this social media con- the 1 TB version of the DataTraveler HyperX Predanectivity is bad for our mental health. A joint study
tor 3.0 flash drive at CES, which is expected to be
conducted by two German universities indicates that available in the first quarter of this year. It will allow
use of social media sites like Facebook causes inyou to carry a hard drive’s worth of data with you
creased feelings of envy. Researchers reported
and access it at USB 3 speeds. You will have room in
that one in three people felt worse and more dissatis- your pocket for it, however, as the price will empty
fied with their lives after visiting these sites. “We were your pockets, wallet and more. “Greg’s Rule of Flash
surprised by how many people have a negative experi- Drive Pricing” says not to pay more than $0.50 per
ence from Facebook, with envy leaving them lonely,
GB for flash drive storage, and you can do that for
frustrated or angry”, said researcher Hanna Krasnova drives up to 32 GB. Unfortunately, the 512 GB verfrom the Institute of Information Systems at Berlin’s
sion of this drive is priced at $1300 ($2.50 per GB),
Humboldt University.
and the 1 TB version is expected to fetch over
$2500, about what you would pay for 35 1 TB 3.5”
This is not very surprising to me. The tendency of
hard drives.
most people to post mostly positive information about
themselves, their families and their activities, and
The Extermination of the Mouse
leave off the unflattering bits tends to skew what is
Those of us that were at the January general meetseen on these sites. I’m sure some use social media as ing at the Microsoft Store in the Fashion Valley Mall
the high tech way to brag. When faced with glowing
saw a demonstration of Windows 8 on a large disreports of friend’s lives and activities and beautiful
play screen connected to a touch screen computer.
photos of their latest adventures, a viewer’s feelings
The touch screen is one way to get rid of the mouse
of inadequacy seem a reasonable result of the social
in our computing lives. Another way is coming from
media experience. The study did report that vacation a company called Leap Motion (http://
photos posted by others was the biggest cause of re- www.leapmotion.com/). They are producing a prodsentment. How surprising. Second was social interac- uct that will allow you to interact with your comtions, where being able to compare against others the puter without a mouse, using hand gestures similar
number of birthday greetings received or comments
to those controlling the computers shown in the
and “likes” on photos and
movie Minority Report. Think of it as a Microsoft Kinect interface for your hands only. You can interact
posts produced envy.
with your computer through hand waves, pinches
The researchers noted that these feelings of envy
and other gestures more intuitive than a mouse can
prompted users to boast more about their own activiallow. You can pre-order their 3D hand gesture conties, which I would think would result in more angst
trol capability for $69.99.
Continued on pg 6
Page 6
Cont’d from page 5
The small hardware motion controller, the size of a
pack of gum, plugs into a USB port and sits in front of
your monitor. With the Leap Motion software, they
claim it can track individual finger movements to
1/100th of a millimeter. If this becomes real like Kinect, it could make the mouse obsolete.
Prescott Computer Society MESSENGER
gone to bed before I can pay the bills online. Meanwhile, as they are screaming for more bandwidth, I
can watch my DVDs on my laptop in peace (as long
as I have on my noise canceling headphones, that
What’s Going into the Gadget Graveyard by the
End of 2013?
My column last month contained my predictions for
the next year. One of them was that desktop and laptop computers would continue to hold their own
against the onslaught of tablets and smart phones.
I’m happy to report that my prediction is in line with
the 2013 Gadget Graveyard predictions made by
IEEE, the world’s largest technical professional organization. Their survey of IEEE members, engineers,
engineering students and CES attendees predicts that
desktop computers should live on for at least another
Smart phones also will not yet force cameras, car
keys or GPS systems into the gadget graveyard. What
are most likely to head for extinction are entertainment devices like CDs, radios, MP3 players, DVDs and
cable boxes, as streaming services for audio and
video continue to gain in popularity. The consensus
was that paper-based items, including printers and
paper money, would be around a while longer.
I think I will hang onto my DVDs and MP3 players, as
they may provide the only entertainment I will get
this year. The problem with Internet streaming services is bandwidth, and in just one month I’ve found
mine to be more limited than I thought. I’ve got cable
Internet at home that typically shows a 12 Mbps or
greater download speed (often approaching 20
Mbps), but recently I was confronted with web pages
that would not load on my computer. Something was
bogging down my Internet access. I went downstairs
to find my wife watching an episode of Downton Abbey on her Kindle Fire HD tablet, while my son was
downloading something on his Google Nexus tablet.
It is kind of like the water we San Diegans get from
the Colorado River.
At the state line it is an impressive flow, but if enough
users turn on the tap at the same time, all I’m likely
to get is a trickle. All these new tablets are thirsty for
bandwidth, so I may need to wait until everyone has
Computer Book &
Magazine Recycling
Do you have old computer magazines or
books that you don’t need any longer? Bring
them to a General meeting. Just bring your
recent, but no longer wanted computer-related
material to a general meeting. We suggest not
bringing anything over a year old because they
are out-of-date.
Anyone, including guests, can help
themselves to any items on this table. There will
be no charge for any items. After the meeting,
remaining items will be discarded.

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