Sunday, August 17, 2008

Making Web Browsing Faster and Easier with RSS Feeds

Use RSS Feeds to Get All Your News
in One Place


If you have to visit a number of news sources and blogs every day for research or to stay on top of the news, you can quickly find yourself overwhelmed. Instead of spending a lot of time clicking around to individual sites looking for fresh content, take advantage of an easier option: RSS feeds.


RSS, or "really simple syndication," is a technology that aggregates Web content and dumps it into a single, simple interface (called a feed reader) so that you can browse all the Web sites and blogs you're interested in – and whenever a new post or article is published, it automatically appears in your reader. (Of course, automatic doesn’t always mean instantaneous – there can be a time lag of between a few minutes and a few hours between the original publisher and your reader of choice.) In short, RSS feeds offer an easy way to stay on top of newly updated content without wasting hours surfing.


Different feed readers use different displays, but most of them feature some riff on the layout Microsoft made popular years ago with Outlook: a column showing a nested file tree on the left, with more detail on the right. For example, here's what the Google Reader looks like. Web sites are listed on the left, with article details on the right.

And here's a screenshot from a Bloglines feed. Again, publications are sorted into folders on the left, with detail on newly updated articles on the right.




If you have Outlook 2007, you can configure it to receive RSS feeds. Click here to find out how. Your RSS feeds appear in their own folder off the same branch as your Inbox, Sent Items, and other popular folders.




No matter which reader you use, you can subscribe to a particular publication's RSS feed by looking for this icon, usually at the bottom of a post or in a prominent spot like the sidebar or masthead:


The newest version of Internet Explorer looks for RSS feeds as soon as it loads a site; if a feed is available, that RSS icon in your Explorer toolbar will appear in color. Just click the icon to subscribe to the feed.


You can also subscribe to feeds by going into your reader, following the directions to add a feed, and entering in the URL of the feed you're interested in.



Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fake UPS Email That Can Install Spyware on Your System

Don't Open That File! Steer Clear of Emails from 'UPS' about Undelivered Packages


If you've fallen for the latest email scam, you're not alone. Many people trained in good email practices and with a healthy suspicion of unknown senders have wound up with infected computers because of a fake UPS email that's making the rounds.


In this scam, the user gets a message from what looks like the UPS. The message claims that an attachment contains information about an undeliverable package. When the user opens the attached zip file, the file starts downloading trojans and spyware to their computer.


There are a few ways to combat this scam:


1. Most importantly, don't fall for it. The official UPS site makes it easy for you to track packages so that in the event you really are expecting a delivery, you can always go to their site and find out its status. And if you haven't ordered anything delivered via UPS -- junk that email.  The same principles apply for all sorts of email scams, whether it's a phony alert from a financial institution asking you for your bank account number or an email from a purported relative who doesn't seem to know your name.  Be skeptical.  Avoid or delete on receipt any email that is not personalized with your information, is from an unknown recipient, or asks for your personal data.  Any email from an unknown sender, and even email from a family member if it comes with an attachment, should be validated before you open it.  Attachments with file extensions .exe and .vbs are especially dangerous, but of late not even a .pdf can be trusted.


2. Make sure you have anti-virus and anti-spyware software installed and all your definitions updated. A good program will scan every email, every attachment, and everything you download off the web, providing several stop points to avoid downloading a virus.  Products and  update frequencies vary widely, so please do your research or call us if you have questions.


3. Run your virus scan. Then run it again. You may have to run a full scan and removal several times before your system is truly clean.