Archives for January 2010

The Week in Review for 01-29-2010.

Here are a few selected RT‘s and assorted information from the StopSign Twitter account you may have missed this week. Did we miss anything? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

And here’s a StopSign blog post we talked about on Twitter, too…

  • We released a new blog article titled “7 Tips for Better Email Etiquette“. In it you’ll find ways to not only be courteous, but also to make sure that your point gets across.

Thanks for taking the time to check out our blog! We want to hear from you on the @stopsigntweets Twitter account and here on our blog, so don’t be afraid to ask us a question, give us some feedback or just say “Hi”.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

7 Tips for Better Email Etiquette.

7 Tips for Better Email Etiquette.

In today’s world, email is as much a part of our lives as any other tool, and knowing the proper etiquette to use when writing an email can be the difference between looking like a professional or looking like a fool. Today we’ll go over some basic email etiquette that’s generally considered to be the norm.

Every form of communication has some general guidelines, and email is no different. Whether you’re drafting professional correspondence or writing an email to your family across the country about your kid’s latest school play, following these simple rules when emailing will keep those who read your email engaged and interested.

  1. What’s the subject?

    In your excitement to get your message out there, don’t forget to add a subject line to your email. Without it the reader is hard-pressed to tell the difference between your email and run-of-the-mill spam. Short, but descriptive text regarding the heart of your email will give those on the To: list more incentive to open it and read it as soon as possible instead of missing it completely or marking it as spam.

  2. Who’s your audience?

    Your email should be properly addressed to the correct person or people. Make sure that the email addresses you use are correct, current, and valid. Without a valid email address your message could get into the wrong hands, and depending on the sensitivity of the email, could make you look foolish at best, or compromise your data at worst.

  3. Don’t SHOUT it out!

    The use of CAPITAL, or upper-case, letters should be kept to a minimum, just like any online messaging medium. (Including online forums, blog posts, IMs, text messaging, etc.) Proper Internet and email etiquette dictates that you may use all caps, but only in moderation, and generally only for emphasis. You don’t want to start out like Oprah did her first day on Twitter. Turn off your caps lock key before you start typing.

  4. Keep geek-speak to a minimum.

    Using too many slang words, Internet acronyms, or overly “techy” terms (“URL” vs. “website”, “ping” vs. “[Internet] response time”, etc.) can damper the effectiveness of your communications, especially of the recipient of your email doesn’t know or understand their meaning. Keeping everything in layman’s terms casts a broader net of comprehension and will get your point across much better.

  5. Brevity is the soul of wit.

    Nobody wants a digital version of “War and Peace” in their inbox, so keep emails short and to the point. Not only will you get your message out there faster (because it won’t take as long to write), but keeping the content distilled to the it’s basic essence will help ensure complete understanding of what you’re trying to get across.

  6. Keep things light.

    Have you ever noticed how anything written online “sounds” different than it might be if said aloud? That’s because without a human voice behind the words, none of the inflections or tonality used in normal speech are present to let the reader know things like humor, sarcasm, or irony. As such, you should always strive to have a light, non-confrontational “voice” in your digital communications. Without it your content may seem more heavy-handed than you intended.

  7. Who are you?

    You may have your email address in the From: of your email, but not leaving a closing “signature” is not only a little rude, it’s a wasted opportunity to thank the reader for reading, and maybe even to add a link to your website or alternate communication method such as a different email, phone number, or office location. We recommend that you close an email just the same way you would a hand-written letter. Additional details or contact information optional.

Keeping these email etiquette tips in mind when writing will not only make your emails look more professional, but they’ll also be sure to keep those who receive them from losing interest in your messages.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

The Week in Review for 01-22-2010.

Here are a few selected RT‘s and assorted information from the StopSign Twitter account you may have missed this week. Did we miss anything? Please let us know by leaving a comment below.

And here are a couple of StopSign blog posts we talked about on Twitter, too…

Have a great weekend, and keep those tweets coming! We’d love to hear from you on the @stopsigntweets Twitter account and here on our blog.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

False positive update for 01-20-2010.

Some of you may have noticed that Windows OneCare Live has recently been flagging StopSign as malware. This is a false positive! This happens sometimes among Internet security software providers. We’ve been in contact with Microsoft’s team, they’ve acknowledged that it’s a false positive, and they’re working on a resolution.

Here’s a quote from an email by our lead software developer regarding this issue:

I’ve just received an email from Microsoft stating that they believe that they have
correctly fixed the false positive problem, and the fix will be included in the updated set
of definitions, which should be published in the next day or so.

When the update is released publicly we’ll make an update to this post, so please check back if you’d like to know when the fix to this false positive is live.

UPDATE (01/22/2010): The Microsoft Malware Protection Center has confirmed the false positive and fixed the original bug. Here is an excerpt from their email confirmation:

Thank you for your recent inquiry about StopSign Internet Security and the issue you reported. The definition library for Microsoft Windows Defender has been updated to version 1.71.2391.0. We believe this new definition library contains the updates necessary to address the issue that you raised. This new definition library is now available for users who subscribe to the automatic definition update mechanism, as well as users who choose to manually update their definition library.

However, you may have noticed I wrote “…the original bug.” It looks like they have a new false positive in the safe file affected last time, and we have a new update request in to them. More details as we get them.

UPDATE (03/03/2010): The Microsoft Malware Protection Center has released a new signature to fix the false positive (“Adware:Win32/Exact“) addressed in this post. This should close out the false positive.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

Beware of Haiti Relief Scams!

Beware of Haiti Relief Scams! Please donate to the Haitian earthquake relief efforts at http://www.redcross.org/

It’s hard to believe that in a time of crisis people could stoop so low as to try to scam people trying to help out those in need. The Haitian earthquake disaster of January 12th 2010, however, has seen it’s fair share of scammers preying on those who would help.

If you’re looking for a way to donate to help the people of Haiti, we suggest you go directly to the charitable organization(s) themselves, or through a trusted source, in order for you to not fall for a scam. To help you find a reliable source we have put the links of a few organizations who are taking the donations and putting the money to good use.

  • Red Cross Donation Page

    Clicking on this link takes you to the Red Cross donation form online, where you may choose how you would like your donation distributed.

  • Google Disaster Relief Page

    You may also visit Google’s page to donate to other charities such as UNICEF and CARE.

  • If you’d like a really simple way to donate, you may donate to the Red Cross via a text message. Just text the word “HAITI” to 90999 and $10 will be sent to Red Cross relief efforts.

UPDATE: USA Today has an article about the FBI fielding over 170 Haiti fund-raising scams recently. The FBI has a team of computer analysts and fraud investigators reviewing the scam complaints.

Image courtesy of the American Red Cross.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.

Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Spyware Away.

Sure-Fire Ways to Keep Spyware Away.

Steering clear of spyware can be a difficult thing to do, especially with all the clicking you have to do just to get the information you’re looking for. A single-click here, a double-click there, lather-rinse-repeat this process for a few months and generously sprinkle that time with a few instances of drive-by downloads and a couple of missed opt-ins and before you know it your once speedy computer is slower than molasses in January.

Spyware happens, but there are things you can do to help stem the flow of it on your computer. By making a few easy-to-adopt changes to the way you browse the Internet and taking an extra minute before you download something, the tips we’ve compiled below will help you stay spyware-free.

  1. Watch where you’re browsing:

    Spyware (and malware in general) tends to get on your computer from a shady source. Staying away from untrusted or unknown websites is an easy way to fight spyware. If you need to download updates or specific software packages your best bet is to get it directly from the manufacturer’s website (i.e. go to adobe.com for Adobe Acrobat updates). If you’re looking for software in general (i.e. you’re looking for DVD burning software but don’t know of a specific maker) then try a major download site like tucows.com or download.com.

  2. Download with caution:

    A popular tactic with spammers is to send you to a fake website that looks like a legitimate one. Spyware makers have taken that lead and run with it for their own purposes. Stay one step ahead of them both by making sure you’re looking at, and downloading from, the site you’re actually supposed to be on. You can learn more about detecting fake websites in one of our previous blog posts.

  3. Read the Fine Print:

    There are 2 common places to look for the tell-tale signs of spyware on a website you aren’t familiar with:

    1. The download or info page:

      Some software or websites, by their very nature, need to contact the mothership every now and again. Anonymous usage statistics, passing along pertinent information such as items in a shopping cart before you purchase, and things of that nature are part and parcel of getting things done online. What you don’t want, however, is to have things like your social security number, credit card, or email address passed around without it being absolutely necessary. Entering your Visa number in a shopping cart is one thing, but there’s no real reason for that cart to ask for your SSN. Keep an eye out for oddities like that when you’re browsing, and make sure what they’re asking for makes sense.

    2. The EULA:

      “What’s a EULA”, you ask? A EULA is an acronym for “End User License Agreement”. It’s where all the technical and legal mumbo-jumbo is put in (or before) a download (or install). Most people consider reading the EULA a nuisance and click on “yes” without having read a word. Keep in mind that acceptance of the EULA is a legal agreement you’re entering into with a software vendor, and if you don’t read it you won’t know what you’re agreeing to. Give a EULA the once-over before you install anything and make sure that everything is on the up-and-up.

  4. Get protected, stay protected:

    Your antivirus software, in all likelihood, won’t do anything for you about spyware. It’ll work viruses all day long, but spyware is a different beast, and you need special antispyware software to deal with it. To make sure you’re completely protected you need to make sure your computer is protected with both antivirus and antispyware software. The one-two punch of antivirus and antispyware software will go a long way in keeping your computer as free from infection as possible.

Pretty simple stuff, actually. A lot of it is common sense, but keeping those things in mind when you’re browsing the Internet will help keep your computer protected from spyware.

If you're looking for great anti-virus software that won't break the bank, try StopSign. You don't pay extra for tech support for difficult malware, and our web protection software just works. Download & install StopSign to find out why our members choose us over the other options.