Monthly Archives: May 2015

Help is only a phone call away …

Just make sure the person on the other line is legitimate!

Have you ever gotten a call from “Microsoft”, or gone online to research a problem and found yourself talking to or chatting with “an authorized representative” of a known company – but is not really affiliated with that company at all?

There are some clever Scams out there.

Now let’s think about this for a minute…Did you register your computer with Microsoft when you purchased it?  Have you ever spoken with Microsoft in the past and given them your phone number or any other information? … Not likely.  Microsoft does not likely know you exist 🙂 …

But these scammers are good at what they do.  They have nothing to do with Microsoft (except use their name) – although they’ll likely tell you otherwise.  They’ll likely start off the conversation by telling you that your computer is infected with dangerous viruses, and/or Malware, been hacked, in danger of crashing, or there is imminent irreparable loss of data, etc..  They may point you to some log files on your computer that show errors and warnings (these actually exist – but are perfectly normal).  Usually, they want to take control of your computer (remotely).  Then, with their foot in the door, they can create problems for you, possibly downloading programs to your computer, and/or popping up false messages and warnings.  Not to mention, possibly stealing important or private information, or actually infecting your computer!  Then it usually comes around to the money.  For $39.99 – $75.00 – $150.00 – or $300.00 they can fix your computer and having it running like new!


Ignore these folks! 

It’s a SCAM … and a popular one.

I know of one case, in which the scammers took $300.00, then actually created a problem on the computer (after “cleaning it up”), so that the person would have to call back for more “help”! … and of course – pay more money!!

One of the best responses I’ve heard of – after listening to the opening scammer spill – was “that’s odd – I don’t have a computer” !

Or – “I’ll run that by my spouse (boss, friend) – they work for the FBI (or local police department) in the forensics department, and know all about computers”.

They’ll go away … there just usually phishing (like fishing 🙂 – and know nothing about you – or if you even own a computer (or smart phone, tablet, laptop, etc.) or not!

If you think you may actually have a problem with your computer, contact a reputable company (such as The Computer Man)

If you have a question or problem with your computer – call, email, or post on this site…I’ll be more than happy to discuss it with you, and give you some insight as to the “real” problem.

Michael (not from Microsoft)  🙂

I’ve got a secret …

It’s my password 🙂

What’s your password? Is it “secret”? Is it secure?

According to password management company SplashData, the top three passwords of the year (2013) are “123456,” “password” and “12345678.” The top three passwords haven’t changed, but “123456” and “password” swapped places from last year. The company’s list of the “25 worst passwords of the year” was compiled using data that hackers have posted online, which are said to be stolen passwords.

Here are the 25 most common passwords of 2013, along with the change in rank from last year.

1. 123456 (Up 1)

2. password (Down 1)

3. 12345678 (Unchanged)

4. qwerty (Up 1)

5. abc123 (Down 1)

6. 123456789 (New)

7. 111111 ( Up 2)

8. 1234567 (Up 5)

9. iloveyou (Up 2)

10. adobe123 (New)

11. 123123 (Up 5)

12. admin (New)

13. 1234567890 (New)

14. letmein (Down 7)

15. photoshop (New)

16. 1234 (New)

17. monkey (Down 11)

18. shadow (Unchanged)

19. sunshine (Down 5)

20. 12345 (New)

21. password1 (up 4)

22. princess (New)

23. azerty (New)

24. trustno1 (Down12)

25. 000000 (New)

These passwords might have ben good in the early eighties, but using them today (IMHO) is like leaving valuables in the front seat of your car, unlocked – with the windows down 🙂 … Easy pickings for hackers and thieves.

Hacking has evolved into an art – and is nothing to take lightly these days.

So what’s my password ? …”thecomputerman”? …”illnevertell”? … or perhaps “secret”? …

Well – to be honest, none of the above.

But let’s take a simple password like Michael and see what we can do to make it stronger and more secure.

First – if we add capital letters to the password – like MIcHaEl – we’ve increased the security.

Now, let’s add some numbers:  1MIcH7aEl9 – better still…

Now, lets add some special characters (usually #$!%&* are allowable – and perhaps others) :  *1MIc%H7aE$l9! – now we’re talking 🙂

Remember, hackers can use computer generated programs with the assistance of dictionaries, encyclopedias, maps, you-name-it – and can run through thousands of iterations in a short amount of time.  They could also pursue social media sites to pickup information that might aid them.  If you use a simple password – your most important stuff is at risk!

I know some folks who use the same password (or a similar one) for many if not all their accounts.  Not good 🙁

Once someone has one of your passwords, they are likely to “go shopping” – using your username (usually your email address) and the “secret” password to gain access to any of your other potential accounts (like your bank account, shopping accounts, social networking accounts, etc.).

But Michael, *1MIc%H7aE$l9! is hard to remember… True.

So what to do? … and by the way – this applies to your “secret” questions as well (usually needed to reset a password for example).

1.  Use passwords of eight characters or more (using upper and lower case characters, numbers, and special characters) as in my example:  *1MIc%H7aE$l9!.  You can also use a password generator.

2.  Some folks recommend using passphrases – short words with spaces or other characters separating them (secure*vault*box10).

3.  Avoid using the same username/password combination for multiple websites.

4.  Make the answer to your “secret” questions uncommon – even if it’s not the actual answer, or create your own question if possible.

If you have a hard time remembering those strong passwords and secret questions, you can use a password manager application that will store your passwords, and automatically log you into websites.

Or you can write them down.

Better yet, create a Microsoft Word or Excel document (or some such similar program) and password protect the document (will require a password to open the document).  Warning! – do not forget this password – or you will not be able to access your password list!

To be safe, print out the password list (and the master password) and store it in your favorite book (or drawer, or cubby hole).


Michael – The Computer Man – Have tools…will travel…





What’s in a name?

What’s in a name ? … Apparently a lot…

20 some years ago – before starting my own business – I was thinking of a good business name.  I heard someone refer to me as “The Computer Man” (I was working in an IT related field at the time), and thought “that’s a good name” – kind of generic – like the gas man or the electric man – something people would remember.  And so, in 1995, The Computer Man was born (in Charlottesville VA).

I tried to obtain the domain name (The Computer – but it was taken (still is – although it has changed hands a few times in those years).  So I chose (have tools…will travel).

I had a custom logo made:   logo


I started with one client…my sister!

I was off and running!

20 years later…

I did a Google search for “The Computer Man” today, and came up with over 42 pages (about 492,000,000 results) of The Computer Man related sites!

Wow…a lot of computer men out there…

But only 1 in Charlottesville Virginia – me 🙂  ( I came up in the results as well 🙂

I found the Computer Man on YouTube:   and

A man who shot his computer (I’ve been tempted to do that a couple of times):

Lot’s of Google images:

And Computer Men across the country (and world).

There’s even a Computer Man college !

Apparently, a lot of people like that name 🙂

Me too…I think it’s a good name.

But there’s a whole lot more to it…I’ve seen a lot of business come and go in twenty years – some with really good names.  It takes a lot more than a good name to stay in business…

I found out years ago for example, that the key word in a service oriented business is service!  Give folks good – no great –  service at a reasonable rate, and they will remember your name.

Some other keywords:  Honesty. Quality Work, Pride in Workmanship, Experience

And that’s what I offer you…and more.

Your (local) Computer Man.

Serving Charlottesville Virginia and surrounding areas since 1995.  Still here… Still have tools…Still travel… 🙂


Computer Repair – Have Tools – Will Travel

The Computer man specializes in on-site computer repair service in Charlottesville VA, and surrounding areas.  TCM celebrates his 20th year in business in 2015!   With over 40 years of computer experience, I have been around as long as computers have 🙂 … You don’t stay in business for twenty years if you are not doing something right.  I strive for quality work.  My standards are high.  I am efficient in time, and thorough in work.  I provide quality work, and I guarantee it!

If you have a computer need – call me (434 971 7405) – I have tools…will travel 🙂


Tool Users

The Love Bug

The Love Bug Virus turns 15 this year…

Introduced in May 2000, the bug was attached to an email message.  Although the attachment had a .TXT extension – seemingly harmless – its real filename was actually LOVE-LETTER-FOR-YOU.TXT.vbs, which was a Visual Basic Script (VBS) program.  The LOVE BUG not only created damage by spreading, but also tried to download and install a password stealing program.

Viruses have been around since the dawn of computers.  We now have Adware, Spyware, and Malware to be aware of as well.

Other common file attachments center around fake invoices, bogus courier deliveries, and news items related to your field of interest.

We are curious by nature…

Number one rule:  Have good security in place on your computer – Antivirus, Firewall, and Antimalware protection.

Number two rule:  Never open an attachment if you are not sure of the source and trust that they have good computer security in place.  Better yet, save the attachment to a temporary directory, and scan it with your Antivirus program BEFORE opening it.  Most Antivirus programs are now set to scan incoming email for viruses, but the authors are sneaky….and good at what they do.  Also, be sure your computer is set to show file extensions (this can be done in Control Panel ->Folder Options-> View – uncheck the box Hide extensions for known file types).

Number three rule:  Have a backup…and preferably a backup for you backup 🙂

Be safe out there…



The Computer Man       …have tools…will travel….