Sunday, December 6, 2009

BCC Your Emails!

I have started using the BCC feature of my email religiously to prevent emailing other people’s email addresses when forwarding or distributing “mass address” emails. If  you ever get an email with that classic LIST, or lists, of various email addresses then PLEASE pull those emails outta there! I have recently blogged about the dangers of Spam, forwarded and chain emails. (Please check back through our archive to find that important read.)

As a quick refresher; Don’t trust ANYTHING you get in as an email if its not from somebody I know or is a chain/forwarded email! No matter the subject or topic of that  email! Social engineering is used where ever and when ever it can be applied to whom ever can apply it towards; through ANY medium!
Better be safe than sorry so if something does happen to REALLY catch your attention, just Google it and see what comes up! 


If we all could start using BCC (blind carbon copy), we can send what ever you wanted to whom ever  you wanted, and have it will look like it was specifically sent to that person! No sending of others emails addresses again!
Complete anonymity!
Hope that helps some people out!!

Jon Pienkowski – Owner
Pacific NorthWest Computers

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Facts on Forwarded Emails, Chain-mail & E-mail Petitions

Spam picture from  MauritsBurgers' flickr photos.

By now, most people are familiar with and/or for determining whether information received via e-mail is true or false. (If not, start using them!) Well, recently put together a fantastic "E-mail Fact List". The the purpose of the list; to inform our readers on what really happens when you send/receive forwarded e-mails, chain letter e-mails and those e-mail petitions. So we at Pacific NorthWest Computers is posting that information to help inform everyone on whats going on behind the scenes with chain mail, the dangers in forwarding those emails  and the facts on e-mail petitions. Enjoy and please forward to friends, family and co-workers!

  1. Almost all e-mails that ask you to add your name and forward on to others are similar to that mass letter years ago that asked people to send business cards to the little kid in Florida who wanted to break the Guinness Book of Records for the most cards. All it was, and all any of this type of e-mail is, is a way to get names and 'cookie' tracking information for telemarketers and spammers to validate active e-mail accounts for their own profitable purposes. The host sender is getting a copy each time it gets forwarded and then is able to get lists of 'active' e-mail addresses to use in SPAM e-mails or sell to other spammers. If you have been sending out (FORWARDING) the above kinds of e-mail, now you know why you get so much SPAM.
    •  Do yourself a favor and STOP adding your name(s) to those types of listings, regardless of how inviting they might sound. You may think you are supporting a great cause, but you are NOT! Instead, you will be getting tons of junk mail later. Plus, you are helping the spammers get rich;. Let's not make it easy for them.

  2. REMOVE ALL EMAIL ADDRESSES STILL ATTACHED BEFORE YOU FORWARD A MESSAGE. IT IS PUTTING EVERYONE'S NAME OUT THERE. Most people use a nickname for their email just so their real name is not out there on the Internet. BUT....... if YOU have listed their real name in your contacts, it will also show up next to their email address. Be a friend and delete all the names before forwarding. Even better, send everything by BCC. That's BLIND CARBON COPY. That way NO names will ever show up on an email.

  3. That brings us to E-mail petitions. E-mail petitions are NOT acceptable to Congress or any other organization. To be acceptable, petitions must have a signed signature and full address of the person signing the petition.

I hope this opens some eyes and educates folks on whats going on behind the scenes with chain mail, the dangers in forwarding those emails  and the facts on e-mail petitions. The aware we are to how cyber-criminals work, the better we are on preventing SPAM and identity issues.

Please pass this blog posting along to all  friends, family or co-workers!

Jon Pienkowski
Pacific NorthWest Computers
Main content is from
Edited and Formatted by Pacific NorthWest Computers

Thursday, October 15, 2009

HP's Nvidia Chipset Nightmare

A little over a year ago, while I was working at a local SW Washington computer repair shop, a customer brought in an HP DV series laptop with some serious and peculiar problems.

This HP laptop would randomly loose and then regain ability to use its on-board wireless. It would sometimes not boot at all and would RANDOMLY crash and reboot while in use. Sometimes, it would just come on with a black screen and nothing else at all. I immediately sensed that there was a major problem, and after tearing it apart and inspecting it from head to toe, I went to my good old' Google web search.

What I found was a surprise! HP had issued a recall on their DV and V series laptops; the NVIDIA chip set they had been using in 11 models of their laptops apparently didn't take too well to HP's motherboards. It turns out that the NVIDIA chips that were installed for video, wireless, etc were installed with low quality solder (the metallic substance used to bind electronics together) along with that issue; HP was using a "thinner-than-usual" circuit board. The two together have created a HUGE public relations and financial mess for themselves.

To give HP some credit, at first they were handling the recall quite well. They extended many systems’s already expired two year warranty with an additional 1 year warranty so systems could be repaired. But saying you will do something and actually doing it are 2 separate things.

Now don't get me wrong, I have helped several customers with this recall and they have received new/replacement laptops. But as it turned out, some of the "new" and "repaired" laptops that they were reissuing were failing before, or just after, their new 90 day repair/replacement warranty; this is where it starts to go down hill...

Really quickly, here is a basic definition of a recall:

A product recall is a request to return to the maker a batch or an entire production run of a product, usually due to the discovery of safety or product issues. The recall is an effort to limit liability for corporate negligence (which can cause costly legal penalties) and to improve or avoid damage to their public image.

HP has never really publicly declared this recall to the public and information is VERY hard to find about the recall. To my knowledge HP has not been notifying any of the merchants that they stock, supply and sell to about this recall. Plus, they never stopped selling the defective units all together.

So now, angry HP customers and users have created and are teaming up with other affected users to bring awareness to this "corporate denial" as well as compiling and publishing user’s experiences with receiving help from HP. The site then provided methods on how to take action to get their defective HP laptops appropriately replaced or repaired. The web site is also drafting letters in an attempt to form routes of communication and to submit complaints to HP's President & CEO, Mark Hurd.

My purpose in writing this blog is to help bring more awareness to what HP is and is not doing to deal with this "recall". My biggest frustrations are that HP has not publicized this recall enough. Many people have no idea that there is a recall and the ones who are affected, receive ridiculous support; if they are lucky to get that! They often get their customers frustrated enough that they simply buy another laptop or pay for HP to repair their defective system. Outrageous!

Pacific NorthWest Computer's customer service is based on character, respect and responsibility. I expect nothing less from other businesses and corporations!

If you think your laptop could be or is affected by this recall, give me a call today!
I can help you every step of the way; including packing and shipping your laptop for you!

Jon Pienkowski - Pacific NorthWest Computers

Product Recall - Wiki

HP Limited Warranty Service Enhancement

HP Limited Warranty Service Enhancement (Product Numbers Included) - "Why Were Angry"

NVIDIA Class Action Suite *Updated 10/13/2009

Stay Warm & Stay Secure!

Well, Fall is finally here and though the Sunny days are overwhelming gorgeous and the leaves will turn beautiful colors, sadly the rain and cold takes over!!  :-(
What that really means though is that people start spending more time inside to avoid the elements outside! That usually equates to people also spending more time on their computers.

Now is the time to update, review and tighten security on your PC as well as your Network!

Just in time for the changing of the seasons, we have recently completed's Services web page with the recent completion of our Networking Services page:

PNW Computers' Networking Services

*If you click the link above, it should be able to take you directly to the web page. However if this does not work, copy and paste the following URL:

Stop bye and take a look at the new web page and let me know if you have any questions or comments and please, feel free to browse the rest of the website!
Check out our other Blog and also our site's "Links" page! There is lots of great information to be found all over the site!

Thanks so much everyone, stay warm and stay secure!


Jon-Eric Pienkowski
Pacific NorthWest Computers

Monday, August 24, 2009

Facebook May Not Be For Everyone...

Here is a pretty fantastic read on Facebook and "what's going on" when you surf the site, create an account and communicate with other people. There is also a good detailed explanation of what "Apps" are and so on; good read for even the experienced users out there!

As a security vendor there are too many dangers on Facebook to advocate its use”.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recommended Browser Extensions & Add-On's

What we wanted to do is share our favorite, most recommended & most used Firefox & Google Chrome Extensions! So please, I hope you check them all out and maybe consider using them with your favorite browser! 
  1. BetterPrivacyEver wondered why you are still tracked though you tried everything to prevent it? BetterPrivacy is a Super Cookie Safeguard which protects from usually not deletable LSO's. It blocks longterm tracking on Google, YouTube Ebay and many others...
  2. Colorful Tabs (Firefox); The most beautiful yet the simplest add-on that makes a strong colorful appeal. Colors every tab in a different color and makes them easy to distinguish while beautifying the overall appearance of the interface.
  3. Cooliris; Simply the fastest and most stunning way to browse photos and videos from the Web or your desktop. Effortlessly scroll an infinite "3D Wall" of your content from Facebook, Google Images, YouTube, Flickr...
  4. Firebug  (Firefox); Firebug integrates with Firefox to put a wealth of development tools at your fingertips while you browse. You can edit, debug, and monitor CSS, HTML, and JavaScript live in any web page...
  5. FireFTP; A free, secure, cross-platform FTP client for Chrome and Firefox which provides easy and intuitive access to FTP servers.
  6. Flagfox; Displays a country flag depicting the location of the current website's server and provides quick access to detailed location and webserver information.
  7. Long URL Please; Replaces short urls with the originals so you can see where links actually link to.
  8. NoScript; The best security you can get in a web browser! Allow active content to run only from sites you trust, and protect yourself against XSS and Clickjacking attacks.
  9. Pocket; Pocket allows you to save web pages of interest to read later. It eliminates cluttering of bookmarks with sites that are merely of a one-time interest.
  10. WOT; Web of Trust, warns you about risky websites that try to scam visitors, deliver malware or send spam. Protect your computer against online threats by using WOT as your front-line layer of protection when browsing or searching in unfamiliar territory.
  11. Google Cast; Send content to your Chromecast and other devices that support Google Cast.
  12. LastPass; LastPass is a free password manager and form filler. LastPass is also available for Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera and Safari.
  13. AdBlock; One of the most popular extensions, with over 15 million users! Blocks ads all over the web.
  14. Chrome to Mobile; Send web pages from Chrome on your computer to Chrome on your phone or tablet.
  15. After the Deadline; Check spelling, style, and grammar in your browser.
  16. HTTPS Everywhere; Encrypt the Web! Automatically use HTTPS security on many sites.
  17. Keep My Opt-Outs; Permanently opts your browser out of online ad personalization via cookies.
  18. Lazarus: Form Recovery; Autosaves everything you type so you can easily recover from form-killing timeouts, crashes and network errors.
  19. MightyText; Text from Chrome! Sync'd with Android ~ SMS & Texting like Google Voice in Google Chrome! 
Let us know of any issues with links!
Updated 10/9/2017

Friday, August 7, 2009

Twitter, Twitter, Twitter...

We have been following and reporting about the lack of security importance over at as well as try to inform the populace of their lack of concern. Though it's member and use numbers climb every day, so do the number & severity of exploitations against them! Please, follow up on Pacific NorthWest Computers'..

Monday, August 3, 2009

We at PNW Computers are proud to be new members of the
Battle Ground Chamber of Commerce!

See our ad in the new BGCC Newsletter!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Securing Your Web Browser

Securing Your Web Browser
By the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team or US-CERT

Browser security and browser vulnerabilities are big topics that I soap box about all the time to customers about just because it's the most attacked vector of the user's computer (other than email).
Today I found a fantastic article explaining the importance of securing and using a safe web browser as well as goes over many details of why your browser needs to be secure and how it is exploited!

The article was written by the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team and is the best and most thorough explanation I have ever come across! This is an excellent, definite MUST read article!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Check Out Pacific NorthWest Computers' New Website!
*Still Under Construction...

Pacific NorthWest Computers On-line!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Twitter Got Hacked... Again !

"I just learned that Twitter has contacted the FBI so i decided to delete all my posts."

What does it take for a company to realize,

"We need to invest into the security of our website!"

Here is a brief list of the security incidents I have read about Twitter since the dawn of the new year...
(In the best chronological order I could put them in!)

January '09:

Monday Morning Madness @Twitter
Phishing Scam Bursts Twitter's 'Trust' Bubble
Hackers Hi-Jack's Obama's, Britney's Twitter Accounts
Twitter Hack: How it happened and what's being done
Weak Password Brings ‘Happiness’ to Twitter Hacker

April '09:
Twitter Worm Targets Celebrities
Wow - my Yahoo mail account was just hacked
This week, unauthorized access to Twitter was gained by an outside party...

May '09:

Hacker: I Broke Into Twitter

July '09:

The Month of Twitter Bugs

The Anatomy Of The Twitter Attack
Twitter: A Growing Security Minefield

August '09:
Why Attack Twitter!?
Hackers attack Twitter, Facebook also slows down
Twitter meltdown raises questions about the site(s) stability

Twitter Attack Looks Politically Motivated
Twitter and Facebook DDoS attack 'targeted one person'
Twitter still recovering from DDoS attack

Twitter definitely needs to get their act together! Especially with a month of investigative exploitations down, now a DDoS attack; what's next!?!?

Even if they finally "Batten Down the Hatches", safe online user account security practices are always a must when you any online or user based website; especially social networking web sites!
You always want to secure your account to the gills and try to avoid using "web apps" and similar Java & Flash applications.
(like Quizzes, User2User Games, etc.)

With our world's growing dependency on computers, we also need to be growing the security and safeguarding of the personal information that the world stores on these systems.
Best Practice Guide to Safe Social Networking

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Well, as any business that is "up-and-coming" would do,
We now have a Facebook and MySpce Pages!

If you are a social net-worker; check it out!

IE-0day Exploit Domains List

This is something that it is important to know for applications of IT and computer security; especially in corporate and government environments....

" ...list of domains that are exploiting the new IE-0day exploits as well as secondary domains that are hosting potentially malicious binaries utilized in these attacks... "

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Botnet Sagga Continues...

This is the Stuff, Die Hard Movies are made after! But, it is also a very serious and very REAL, day to day threat!

Botnet worm in DOS attacks could wipe data out on infected PCs

Say Hello to USB 3.0!

Running at 5Gbps and Nicknamed "SuperSpeed"....

U.S.B. 3.0!
"Sound the death knell for good old USB 2.0"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Office 2010 The Movie

As if technology and computers didn't move fast enough already; here's is Microsoft's latest Multimillion dollar media campaign for ANOTHER new product: Office 2010....

"From the makers of Office 2003 and Office 2007..."

But hey, I can't blame em'!
After releasing Vista, Office 2007, Windows Live, and Windows Defender. Who wouldn't want to make a comeback.... A BIG come back!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

HP - invent

"Present an idea which promotes HP Workstations ability to bring to life anything the creative mind can conceive." - Tom and Matt

Good show fellas!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup

Mainstream Graphics Card Roundup;
Good overall comparisons and statistics, along with software benchmarking results! Great read for anyone wanting to know what's going on with current/mainstream video cards!

Governments Targeted in Online Attacks

Washington Post, White House, FAA, DoD, Others, Targeted in Online Attacks; Scary Stuff!

".... a line of text buried within the malware carried the cryptic message "get/china/dns." ...."
  • Article can be found and read Here.

Google's "Chrome" Netbook OS

Google introduces their new "Chrome" Operating System; the great, the good and the not so good.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Lexmark Printer Service/Print Spooler Bug: XP Systems

Because of a flaw in Lexmark's printer driver and software removal and uninstall utility. After removing a Lexmark printer driver and software from an XP system, may create "Printer Installation Failed: RPC Server Unavailable" and/or "Print Spooler Service Is Not Running" error messages.

The first thing you always need try if you are having any kind of basic software problems, is to try uninstalling and reinstalling the appropriate drivers and software, and/or visit the manufacturer's website and download and install the latest drivers and software for your device. If this does not fix your printing issues, the problem probably lies within Windows itself. (Unless of course, your device is physically broken or you have a broken cable). But what I have seen over the years is that customers with these specific "Printer Spooler Service" or "RPC Server Unavailable" errors happen to to use or have had used a Lexmark printer.

So really quick, here is the definition of what a Windows Service, like the Print Spooler Service, basically is: (Taken from Link)
"A Windows service is an application that starts when the Microsoft Windows operating system is booted and runs in the background as long as Windows is running."
*Quick explanation of What Is RPC and How Does it Work.

The Print Spooler Service itself basically is a Windows service that starts when your computer starts, and is constantly running in the background of your operating system to load files to memory for printing. What I would find is that there would be a service installed in the computer from Lexmark called the "LexBce Server". The LexBce Server Service is installed by the Lexmark printer's software to configure the onboard network print server.
*The print server
accepts jobs from computers and send the jobs to the appropriate printers.

When the service installs itself however, it installs itself so the Windows Print Spooler Service becomes dependent upon it. So disabling the LexBce Server Service will make it so that your Print Spooler Service can no longer run. Which in effect disables all printing on your computer. Also, without the Print Spooler running, an installation of a printer is not going to be possible and you are going to most likely get the "RPC" error that was mentioned at the begining.
*The LexBce Server Service can also come pre-installed on some Dell computers that are packaged with "Dell" printers; that's because they are made by Lexmark.
**The LexBce.dll, a file related with the LexBce Server, is also related to
the software "MarkVision for Windows" also a product of Lexmark.

So, do all Lexmark printers install this service? I can't say for sure. What I do know is that if you are using a Lexmark printer or have had a Lexmark printer, you could have the LexBce Server Service installed on your computer and may eventually experience the discussed issues. Same scenario for previous owners of Lexmark printers. The un-installation of Lexmark printer drivers/software might have left this service behind. The bottom line is that if LexBce Server Service was, or is, on your computer and happens to fail or is disabled instead of removed during software/driver removal, say hello to the Lexmark Print Spooler bug!

*I originally wrote this blog working at Battle Ground Computers, back when I was a manager at their store; it was a great find of mine so I wanted to re-post it on my new blog with some updated and edits. My original blog posting;

Get the most out of your internet!

Getting the Most Out of Your Internet

Probably one of the number one issues that is brought up to me is "Why is my internet so slow! It use to be so much faster!". Well dial-up or high-speed, everyone can be affected by internet "chug". So here are some quick recommendations and thoughts on how to keep your internet AND your computer running quickly and smoothly!

1) Confirm that the computer itself is operating at maximum efficiency. It is very common for computers, mainly those using the Microsoft Windows Operating Systems, do become sluggish after as little as a few weeks of operation. This can make users think that their dial-up connection is extremely slow and can become an incentive to convert to a more expensive broadband connection. Sluggish computers are, of course, less noticeable with broadband.

2) Empty browser's caches and cookies, which are directories that the browser uses to retain copies of previously visited web pages. When these caches become very large, they can consume considerable space on a Hard Drive and thus slowing down your computer's operation, including its ability to displaying web pages.
**CCleaner is a free PC optimization tool. It combines a system cleaner that removes unused and temporary files from your system and also a fully featured registry cleaner! CCleaner allows Windows to run faster, more efficiently and gives you more hard disk space. The best part is that it's Small, Fast and Free!
*Here is a direct ink to it's download page:
Here is a link to instructions on how to install and use CCleaner:

3) Use a fast web browser. There are large differences in the speeds at which browsers render web pages; a browser is rendering when it's interpreting the web site's "geek" code and converting to a form which we see as a beautiful web page. The fastest is said to be closely between FireFox 3.5 and Google's Chrome web browser. Also, the newer the version of these browsers, generally the faster you'll go. Reason for this include improvements in coding and in how previously visited pages are stored in the browser cache. Internet Explorer should be avoided because it is the slowest of the major browsers, because it has inferior security and because it lacks other advanced features. FireFox and Chrome can be downloaded from the Internet at no cost and are available for use with most major operating systems.
Here is a link to download FireFox:
Here is a link to instructions on how to install FireFox:

4) Use tabbed browsing. Tabbed browsing is an innovation built into advanced browsers such as FireFox and Chrome that allows multiple pages to be opened at a time in which appear as different pages in a single web browser window. Each of these pages is easily accessible by clicking the appropriate tab along the top of the window. This can be much more convenient than having to open each page in a separate browser window when it is desired to have a number of pages open simultaneously. Furthermost, it can also speed up the web surfing by making it more convenient to be downloading other web pages while another page is being read.

5) Avoid unnecessary browser plug-ins, which are downloadable software that is designed to "add functionality" to your web browser. Plug-ins can substantially decrease web page rendering time because they allow additional data to be downloaded for many pages or is trying to consistently update "sibling" applications. Perhaps the most notorious example is Adobe Flash, which is used for moving images.

6) Turn off pop-up windows. These unrequested windows, which are usually used for advertisements, consumes bandwidth and can slow down the rendering of web pages. They are also a nuisance because the user has to click them to close them. The ability to turn off pop-up windows is a major feature of advanced browsers such as FireFox, Chrome and Safari; it was not available on Internet Explorer as of early 2006.

7) Turn off web page images. This is probably not desirable for most people, but for those who are interested solely in text, it can speed up the loading of web pages considerably, particularly those which contain numerous advertisements or other images. With the FireFox browser, for example, this is accomplished by clicking on the Edit menu to open the Preferences panel, clicking on the Web Features icon and then removing the check mark from the Load Images check box. Finally, click the OK button at the bottom of the panel.

8) The last and best solution is to optimize the performance of the computer itself. Several causes of sluggish performance are most notably caused by:
- A full, or nearly full, hard disk drive (HDD) & a lack of defragmentation.
- An older computer with a slow microprocessor with limited memory
- The presence of viruses or other malware in the system.
**Typically, the first of these is the easiest to correct; this can be accomplished by removing little-used files and programs. However,
malware can be "in-the-wild" per-say for up two weeks or more before being identifiable by your Anti-virus software. So there is small possibility that there might be something in there that just can't be seen for found yet; worse case scenario of course.

Additional Software Recomendations:
Applocations were picked for the effeciency, effectivness and low impact on the user's system performance.

Avira’s AntiVir Personal Anti-Virus:

Avira AntiVir Personal - FREE Antivirus is a reliable free antivirus solution
, that constantly and rapidly scans your computer for malicious programs (such as viruses, Trojans, backdoor programs, hoaxes, worms, dialers etc.), monitoring every action executed by the user or by the operating system and being able to react promptly when a malicious program is detected. Avira AntiVir Personal is a comprehensive, easy to use antivirus program, designed to offer reliable free of charge virus protection.

Malwarebyte's Anti-Malware:
Detects and removes Trojans, Worms, Spyware, and other malicious programs.

  • Repairs damage left by malware

  • Internet surfing tracks erased with TrackSweep

  • Incremental updates for faster downloads

  • Efficient computer resource footprint

  • Free software updates throughout license duration

  • Free support from worldwide security volunteer network

Safer Networking’s Spybot Search & Destroy:

Spybot - Search & Destroy detects and removes spyware, a relatively new kind of threat not yet covered by common anti-virus applications. Spyware silently tracks your surfing behavior to create a marketing profile for you that is transmitted without your knowledge to the compilers and sold to advertising companies. If you see new toolbars in your Internet Explorer that you haven't intentionally installed, if your browser crashes inexplicably, or if your home page has been "hijacked" (or changed without your knowledge), your computer is most probably infected with spyware. Even if you don't see the symptoms, your computer may be infected, because more and more spyware is emerging. Spybot-S&D is also absolutely free.

Why use this defragger instead of the standard Windows defragger?

  • Much faster.

  • Extremely easy to use.

  • Optimized for daily use.

  • Several strategies of disk optimization.

  • Directories are moved to the beginning of the disk.

  • Reclaims MFT reserved space after disk is full.

  • Maintains free spaces for temporary files.

  • Can defragment very full hard drives.

  • Can defragment very large files.

  • Can defragment individual directories and files.

  • Can be run automatically with the Windows Scheduler.

  • Can be used from the commandline (DOS).

  • Can be used as a screen saver.