Email Message Hoaxes – Don’t Be Afraid

Many of you, my co-workers have forwarded me email message “alerts” these past few weeks which always refer to a reliable person “in fedexthe know” who has information about a major virus on the horizon. These messages can almost always be ignored. The email message you received from the “reliable source” asking you to forward it on is the “virus” itself. We will talk about these messages in more detail during next week’s IT classes.

Here is some more detail about the history of these types of email “hoaxes”.

Email hoaxes are nothing new, dating back at least as far as 1994 with what is widely believed to have been the first email hoax—referred to as the “Goodtimes virus” or the “Goodtimes virus hoax” after the subject of the email. The message in the early version was short and to the point, advising recipients not to open email messages with the subject “Good Times” because doing so would ruin their files. This, of course, was not true, but in cases where the recipient complied with the warning, it obviously had the effect of ruining their chances of actually reading any legitimate email messages with that very subject.

Before email, normal postal mail (known fondly by many as “snail-mail”) chain-letter hoaxes regularly did the rounds, and sometimes still do even today. The difference between a simple hoax and a chain-letter hoax is that the latter encourages the recipient to forward the letter or email on to others, usually family and friends. Sometimes the hoax email claims that something good will happen to the sender if they send the letter on to at least 5 or 10 or 15 or 20 people, whereas others take the darker path of sternly informing the recipient that failing to forward the message to others will result in something bad happening. This could be illness, loss of income, the sky falling, or whatever the case may be (insert evil consequence here). Of course, both the “carrot” and the “stick” versions prey on people’s natural desires for good things to happen in their lives, and their equally natural desire to prevent or avoid “bad luck.” I’m sure most people don’t truly believe that something bad will result if they fail to forward the message, but many people are superstitious and probably take the view, “Well, it can’t hurt, so just in case…”

A minor variation of one particular hoax that dates back to at least 2006 (and possibly before) has recently resurfaced and is scaring people once again. The email looks like this:

FYI  TO ALL.
            Dave's brother is a very advanced  programmer who does  
computer work for a living and  has a high up status with Microsoft.  He  
  doesn't send these if they aren't real.   If  he  says this is for  
real, it for sure is.   Be  aware.
           VIRUS  COMING ! 

          Hi  All, 
          I  checked with Norton Anti-Virus, and they are  gearing up  
for this  virus! 

          I  checked Snopes, and it is for real. Get this  E-mail  
message sent around to your contacts  ASAP. 
          PLEASE  FORWARD THIS WARNING AMONG FRIENDS, FAMILY AND   
CONTACTS! 

          You  should be alert during the next few days. Do not  open  
any message with an attachment entitled  'POSTCARD FROM  
HALLMARK,'regardless of who sent it  to you. It is a virus which opens A  
POSTCARD  IMAGE, which 'burns' the whole hard disc C of your  computer. 

          This  virus will be received from someone who has your  e-mail  
address in his/her contact list. This is  the reason why you need to  
send this e-mail to all  your contacts. It is better to receive this   
message 25 times than to receive the virus and  open it. 
          If  you receive a mail called' POSTCARD,' even though  sent to  
you by a friend, do not open it! Shut down  your computer immediately.  
This is the worst virus  announced by  CNN. 

          It  has been classified by Microsoft as the most  destructive  
virus ever. This virus was discovered  by McAfee yesterday, and there is  
no repair yet  for this kind of virus. This virus simply destroys  the  
Zero Sector of the Hard Disc, where the vital  information is  kept. 
          COPY  THIS E-MAIL, AND SEND IT TO YOUR  FRIENDS. 

          REMEMBER:  IF YOU SEND IT TO THEM, YOU WILL BENEFIT ALL OF  US 

$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>$1>

Create & Mail PDF files from Excel 2007

When sending Excel files to co-workers or associates you should be aware that the recipient will able to change the document. Even if you take the time to save the document with a password, the recipient can save the document with a new name, and then modify the document. Now, if you are aware of this that’s no problem. However if you want to protect the document, save the spreadsheet as a PDF. By doing this you will be protection our work from unauthorized changes.

A new feature of Microsoft Excel 2007 (with Microsoft Office Service Pack 2 installed) is the
ability to create and mail Acrobat Reader PDF files. If you do not wish to install Microsoft
Office SP2, you can install just the add-in. You can download it here :
2007 Microsoft Office Add-in: Microsoft Save as PDF

After the add-in is installed you can use the code below or do a manual Save As PDF.
Office Button >Save As ….PDF
Office Button >Send ….PDF

Note: In Excel 2010 the big round Office Button is replaced by File

Tips / warnings :

1) If you have also installed Acrobat Reader you can change OpenAfterPublish in the code to True to open the PDF file after you create it.
2) The mail code example is not working with Outlook Express or Windows Mail.
3) If you set OpenAfterPublish in the code to True then you can do a manual send in
Acrobat Reader (also with Outlook Express or Windows Mail).
4) If there is no printer installed the add-in will not work. You only have to install a printer driver of one of the printers in the default printer list, you not need a real printer to use the add-in.
5) When you use a hyperlink to another place in the workbook or if you use the Hyperlink. worksheet function the hyperlinks are not working in the PDF.

If your workstation still have Microsoft Office 2003 and you would like the upgrade to 2007 please create a Track-It work order requesting an upgrade.

Weekly Tip: Locking your Computer

Keeping your data secure is critical. Allowing others access to your computer is unwise to say the least. Think of walking away with your computer “open” in the same way as walking away with your open purse or wallet unattended in a public place. Now I am fairly certain most people would never intend to leave their open purse or wallet unattended and your computer should be treated in the same manner.

It is very easy to “lock” your computer when you get up from your desk to walk away.  For example, lets say you want to walk away from your desk, and deliver a hot cup of coffee to your IT Manager. Here are some easy directions to lock your PC while you deliver that much needed cup of coffee:

1. via the keyboard
The easiest way to lock Windows XP is by simply pressing the Windows logo key and the letter (for Lock) on a Microsoft Natural Keyboard or any other compatible keyboard that includes the Window key. Doing so will pop up the Unlock Computer Password box.

2. via a Shortcut.
If you don’t have a keyboard with a Window key or simply don’t like the keyboard method, then here’s how you can make a desktop shortcut to lock your computer. 

Right click an empty area of your desktop, choose New/Shortcut and enter this line as the command line:
rundll32.exe user32.dll, LockWorkStation ClickNext. Name the shortcut whatever you prefer and click Finish. That’s it. Pretty simple wouldn’t you say.

There are other ways to lock your workstation such as simply pressing the [ctrl] [alt] and [delete] keys and selecting “lock computer” so please do yourself a favor and lock your computer when you step away from your work area. The data you save may be your own!

Windows Black Screen recap

Following our most recent post last night we believe there may still be confusion related to the Windows Black Screen issue. Following the issue of our fix, which continues to receive significant downloads, we believe that this problem is still affecting a very large number of users in a very diverse range of windows environments. There have been more than 50,000 downloads of the free fix tool since we made it available 5 days ago.

Referring back to the original post where the issue was first highlighted, we stated that there ‘appear’ to be many causes to the black screen issue. In addition, that customers who had experienced the problem in the past two weeks, after the last Windows update (or after running a security programme), our fix will have a high probability of working. We subsequently posted an update stating that following further tests the conditions under which the actual black screen is triggered are spasmodic. Moreover, we stated that some test systems always trigger the condition, others are less consistent and also highlighted two windows patches that seemed common to the issue.

As you will see, at no time have we categorically stated that these patches are the cause of the Black Screen problem. We shared our initial findings around the two patches with Microsoft, conducted further tests and have confirmed that these specific updates are not the root cause.

The emergence of this issue coincided with the recent set of Windows updates, therefore our investigations were focused on identifying if any of these could have been the cause of the problem. We have covered this further in the previous blog.

Regrettably, it is clear that our original blog post has been taken out of context and may have caused an inconvenience for Microsoft. This was never our intention and we have already apologised to Microsoft. Microsoft is a valued partner and our fix was developed to ensure its customers were able to quickly resolve the Black Screen issue without having to reinstall Windows as some users indicated.

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