Say Goodbye to Windows 7

Windows 7 End of Life: Everything You Need to Know

Microsoft recently announced that it will officially begin the Windows 7 end of life phase on Jan. 14, 2020. On that day, the company will stop supporting Windows 7 on laptops and desktops, and will no longer patch it with security updates.

But – alas – all good things must come to an end. And soon enough, Windows 7 will be put out to pasture, leaving those who stick with the operating system at potentially higher risk of being targeted by hackers.

So, to answer some of those fears and answer some of the questions you may have about Windows 7 end of life, we’ve compiled the following FAQ.

What is Windows 7’s end of life?

In this case, it means that, as of Jan.14, 2020, Microsoft will move on from Windows 7 and no longer patch security holes in the operating system. And if things go awry and bugs develop, you won’t be able to call on Microsoft to fix the problem.

So, when Microsoft’s end-of-life date hits, any PC, 2-in-1 laptop, tablet or other device you have that’s running on Windows 7 will be on its own when fending off hackers.

What does Windows 7 end of life mean for my security?

Well, this is where things become difficult.

One of the nice things about not being in end of life is that the operating system or software package is fully supported and patched. In Windows 7, all of that support will go by the wayside after Jan. 14, 2020.

In years past, when Microsoft has put software into end of life, the company has offered up some hefty patches in the run-up to the date, to secure the operating system as much as possible. And while that was a welcome decision, it also meant that hackers had free rein after the end-of-life period hit.

Indeed, it’s not uncommon for hackers, knowing when end of life hits, to wait until after that date to find ways to exploit vulnerable systems and wreak havoc. After all, if Microsoft isn’t going to support the operating system and there are still plenty of people using it, why not attack?

The fact is, the sooner people can get away from Windows 7 and switch to Windows 10, the better.

Can I keep using Windows 7 if I like it?

There’s no one stopping you from staying with Windows 7 if you really like it, but, as we’ve discussed, you’ll be using an operating system that is no longer supported nor comes with security updates.

Windows 7 will operate after the end-of-life date just as it does now, so you shouldn’t see any problems with your computer’s functionality. However, over time, you could start to see more security problems.

In addition to Windows turning the lights out on Windows 7, it’s possible that third-party developers could do so as well. Microsoft won’t force developers to stop supporting their applications in Windows 7 and chances are, if there’s a large enough user base, they won’t stop support initially. But over time, as things change and users increasingly turn to other platforms, developers are bound to stop supporting Windows 7 updates in their apps, as well.

Will I be able to install and activate Windows 7 in the future?

If you’re really serious about sticking with Windows 7 and don’t want to give it up, you can still deploy it. In fact, Microsoft has made it clear that you can still install it and activate it on the device of your choosing.

What about Internet Explorer?

Since Microsoft moved to the Edge browser in Windows 10, the company has been eyeing opportunities to do away with Internet Explorer. And at long last, it can do that.

Microsoft said that Internet Explorer is considered a “component of the Windows operating system,” which makes it susceptible to the same end-of-life timeline.

So, like Windows 7, Internet Explorer could be hit hard by hackers trying to target the browser. Fortunately, Microsoft’s new Chromium-based Edge browser is getting an Internet Explorer mode, so Windows 10 users who relied on IE for certain legacy functions can still take advantage of them.

Credit: Don Reisinger – LaptopMag


Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts

Knowing at least some of the Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts helps make your Windows 8 experience much more enjoyable. Try to memorize these top Windows 8 shortcut keys.

  • Press the Windows key to open the Start screen or switch to the Desktop (if open).
  • Press the Windows key + D opens the Windows Desktop.
  • Press the Windows key + . to pin and unpin Windows apps on the side of the screen.
  • Press the Windows key + X to open the power user menu, which gives you access to many of the features most power users would want (e.g. Device Manager and Command Prompt).
  • Press the Windows key + C to open the Charms.
  • Press the Windows key + I to open the Settings, which is the same Settings found in Charms.
  • Press and hold the Windows key + Tab to show open apps.
  • Press the Windows key + Print screen to create a screen shot, which is automatically saved into your My Pictures folder.

Does your Dell E6430u smell like cat pee?

Users say Dell’s Latitude E6430u laptop has a distinct odor, but the company says the nauseating smell won’t actually make you sick.

Let’s start with the bad news: If you’ve purchased a Dell Latitude E6430u, there’s a solid chance that it smells like cat pee. But don’t worry! Dell says it’s not actually cat pee and while the smell may be unpleasant, it won’t make you sick.

Buyers of the Latitude E6430u started stinking up the Dell forums with complaints about the notebook’s suspiciously feline-like stench all the way back in June. Dell support first suggested removing the Latitude’s keyboard and cleaning underneath, as well as blowing both the keyboard and vents with compressed air.

Users said doing so didn’t fix the problem, however, and over the months a growing chorus of complaints suggested the stink wasn’t limited to just a few laptops. Some people reported exchanging their laptops only to be greeted by the smell once again in replacement Latitudes.

Here’s a mere whiff of the numerous gripes:

  • “The machine is great, but it smells as if it was assembled near a tomcats litter box. It is truly awful!”
  • “I thought for sure one of my cats sprayed it, but there was something faulty with it so I had it replaced. The next one had the same exact issue. It’s embarrassing taking it to clients because it smells so bad.”
  • “Here I am Sunday doing some work on the couch and my wife says “What stinks like cat pee.” I said.. I think it’s this laptop.”

This morning, a senior Dell technical support member took to the company’s forums to clear the air.

Just wanted to provide a quick update for everyone.

As mentioned before, the issue was fully investigated and Dell has determined that the smell is not at all related to cat urine or any biological contaminate. Further testing revealed that there is no health hazard related to the smell.

The issue has been corrected on new units currently being ordered. We are currently finalizing plans for a full resolution for those who still have unit that exhibits the issue. I am hoping to post a root cause and resolution either this week or the next and am just waiting on engineering to finalize a few details.

We do appreciate everyone’s patience as we work thru this issue. For updates, keep watching this thread or follow me on twitter @stevebatdell

So there you have it. While it’s great that units rolling off the line have ditched the kittylicious odor, here’s hoping that users who have already spent $900-plus on a notebook that smells like cat pee receive a fix sooner rather than later.

Story credit goes to Brad Chacos at ITNews.


End of support for Windows XP and Office 2003

April 8th 2014 was the last day Microsoft will offer support for their Windows XP and Office 2003.

That’s the day that Microsoft will stop supporting XP and Office 2003.  And that means no more updates, no more bug fixes, and — perhaps most important of all — no more security patches.

What does this mean for you?

If your systems need to be HIPPA or Massachusetts Data Protection Law 201 CMR 17:00 Standards compliant you will need to be replaced those PCs with a new PCs running Windows 7.  One of the requirements for both of these regulations is to have the latest security updates.  As of April 8th 2014 Microsoft will stop new security updates for XP.

Running Windows XP SP3 and Office 2003 in your environment after their end of support date may expose your company to potential risks, such as:

  • Security & Compliance Risks: Unsupported and unpatched environments are vulnerable to security risks. This may result in an officially recognized control failure by an internal or external audit body, leading to suspension of certifications, and/or public notification of the organization’s inability to maintain its systems and customer information.
  • Lack of Independent Software Vendor (ISV) & Hardware Manufacturers support: A recent industry report from Gartner Research suggests “many independent software vendors (ISVs) are unlikely to support new versions of applications on Windows XP.” And it may stifle access to hardware innovation: most PC hardware manufacturers will stop supporting Windows XP on the majority of their new PC models.

Some Computer Dos and Don’ts


• Regularly scan and defragment your hard drive.
• Use canned, compressed air to clean out your keyboard, mouse and computer CPU.
• Use the application’s uninstaller (or Windows’ Programs & Features utility) to remove programs.
• Regularly clean up the contents of your temporary Internet files.
• Check to be sure that have up-to-date security patches from Microsoft.
• Periodically use your virus checker and make sure your virus definitions up to date.


• Don’t use water or harsh cleaners, especially on monitor screens.
• Don’t use Windows Explorer (or other such tools) to remove programs by deleting files and folders.
• Don’t shut down your computer by pushing the power button.
• Don’t edit the Registry yourself unless you’re 100% sure that you know what you’re doing.

201 CMR 17.00 Standard for the protection of personal information of residents of the Commonwealth

Do you accept credit cards? Do you store customer information? Do you store information on your employees?

There are many considerations related to Information Security. Start the process now to become compliant with the new MA regulations (201 CMR 17). Non compliance will result in significant penalties to your business and jeopardize your reputation as well as business revenue.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Let us help you protect your business.

Relia-tech, Inc. can help you:

• Assess your current level of compliance to the law
• Develop a written Information Security program necessary for compliance
• Evaluate your IT Infrastructure
• Recommend IT enhancements that are required

How will CMR-17 affect your business?
These regulations apply to all businesses in Massachusetts who store personal information. Companies will need to institute a security process for the protection of personal information. The regulations include: establishing password protocols for every user, encrypt information sent over the Internet or saved on flash drives or laptops, restrict access to personal information, maintain current anti-virus, malware and firewall protection, as well as train every employee on security procedures.

What is a security breach?
A security breach is an unauthorized possession of unencrypted data that may be used to compromise the security or integrity of personal data and creates a significant risk of identity theft.

What happens in the event of a security violation?
If an incident occurs, you are required by law to alert the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation (OCABR) and the Attorney General as well as the affected party. The law also requires that when a company reports a breach that it also provide details of the steps that have been taken to prevent a breach from occurring again.

What changes will companies need to make?
You will need to develop a written Information Security program and enforce compliance from all employees. You will need to evaluate your IT Infrastructure to make sure your data is encrypted, access to personal information is restricted, passwords are changed regularly, maintain up-to-date hardware and software (firewall, antivirus, Malware, etc.).

How will you know that the vendors you work with are acting in accordance with the regulations?
The vendor will need to sign a document that says that it has a written, comprehensive information security program that is in compliance with CMR-17.

If a company complies with federal HIPAA or Graham-Leach-Bliley requirements, do they have to comply with these new regulations as well?
Yes. These regulations are not pre-empted because both GLB and HIPAA allow state laws to provide for a higher standard of protection.

When do the regulations take affect?
Massachusetts has extended the deadline to March 15, 2010. Prior to the effective date, a company must have a written information security program in place.

Has the state provided guidelines for compliance?
Every company is different and will have requirements specific to the nature of their business. However, the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation will provide a model plan as a guideline.

What are Parasites?

‘Parasite’ is a shorthand term for “unsolicited commercial software” — that is, a program that gets installed on your computer which you never asked for, and which does something you probably don’t want it to, for someone else’s profit. The parasite problem has grown enormously recently, and many millions of computers are affected. Unsolicited commercial software can typically:

• plague you with unwanted advertising (‘adware’);
• watch everything you do on-line and send information back to marketing companies (‘spyware’);
• add advertising links to web pages, for which the author does not get paid, and redirect the payments from affiliate-fee schemes to the makers of the software (such software is sometimes called ‘scumware’);
• set browser home page and search settings to point to the makers’ sites (generally loaded with advertising), and prevent you changing it back (‘homepage hijackers’);
• make your modem (analogue or ISDN) call premium-rate phone numbers (‘diallers’);
• leave security holes allowing the makers of the software — or, in particularly bad cases, anyone at all — to download and run software on your machine;
• degrade system performance and cause errors thanks to being badly-written;
• provide no uninstall feature, and put its code in unexpected and hidden places to make it difficult to remove.

Where do they come from? There are three major ways unsolicited commercial software can make its way on to your machine:

• Some freeware programs are ‘bundled’ with parasites, which are installed at the same time. Often if you are careful to read the small print when you install the software it will warn you about this, and it is sometimes possible to opt out. So always skim the licence agreement when you install and don’t just click Next-Next-Next… but you still can’t be sure they’ll tell you.

• Many parasites load using Internet Explorer’s ActiveX installation option. When a web page includes a link to an ActiveX program, a window will appear asking the user wishes to execute it. If ‘Yes’ is clicked (or if IE security settings are set lower than normal so that it never even asks*), the software is allowed to run and can do anything at all it likes on our computer, including installing parasites. For this reason, you should never click ‘Yes’ to a “Do you wish to download and install…” prompt unless you are 100% sure you trust the publisher of the software, which might not be the publisher of the web site you are viewed — read the dialogue box very carefully. Sometimes sites (or pop-up ads) try to fool you into clicking ‘Yes’ by stating that the software is necessary to view the site, or opening endless error windows if you click ‘No’, or claiming that the digital certificate on the code means it is safe. It means no such thing. ‘Microsoft Authenticode’, signed by companies like Verisign, means only that the company that wrote the software is the same as the company whose name appears on the download prompt — nothing more.

• Some of the really bad parasites, particularly homepage-hijackers and diallers, execute by exploiting security holes in Internet Explorer, ways of getting code to run that are not supposed to be possible, but are due to mistakes in the browser code. You can do your best to guard against this by ensuring you have the latest updates and patches from Microsoft. Still, there are usually a handful of security holes that have not yet been corrected, so you can never be 100% sure you are safe. One way of reducing your risk of exploitation is to go to Tools->Internet Options->Security and set the security level for the Internet Zone to ‘High’. (If no slider is visible, click ‘Default level to make it appear first.) Then set the security level for the Trusted Zone to ‘Medium’ and add the sites you use and trust to this zone; you may need to do this quite often as many badly-designed sites just won’t work in high-security mode.

Why dosn’t my anti-virus software detect this? Technically, most unsolicited commercial software isn’t viral: it doesn’t spread from computer to computer, it just installs and runs on one system. That doesn’t mean it’s not harmful, but anti-virus software does not attempt to detect all software that could be harmful. Actually some anti-virus programs do detect some of the parasites outlined on these pages, but not nearly all, and not all versions of them. Parasites that install using IE security holes are more likely to be targeted by the anti-virus software vendors, but the selection of targets seems for the most part to be pretty arbitrary. For this reason there are now a number of anti-parasite packages around that work as a complement to anti-virus software. If you think you have a parasite infested computer, call us to schedule a visit to your office or home for our “Spring Special Clean-up”.


Malware, which is tech-jargon for malicious software, is menacing software authored by clever programmers to covertly download itself on to your computer through sly Internet means, and then perform secret operations without the owner’s informed consent. Usually they will “piggyback” on innocent-looking web page components or web searches and otherwise-benign software such as game demos, MP3 players, search toolbars, free subscriptions, and other things you download from the web.

Malware is a direct cousin to viruses with a broader portfolio of wicked intentions, and includes spyware, dishonest adware, root kits, worms and backdoor Trojan horses to name a few. Once in place, malware may log your keystrokes, steal your passwords, observe your browsing choices, spawn pop-up windows, send you targeted email, hijack your web browser and redirect you to advertising/phishing pages, report your personal information to distant servers, and serve up pornography. One common method disguises itself as a rogue anti-virus or internet security program, which appears to automatically run a scan, and finds infections on your machine in every folder possible. When you attempt to cancel or stop these scans, you either get prompted that you are infected and need their software, or the annoying program returns to “scanning” within minutes. Of course to remove these “infections”, you have to purchase their product; the end result – you losing your money and rendering your computer useless.

Malware can operate invisibly, often without displaying itself in your Task Manager or disabling many of the administrative features that allow you to stop its processes. To top it off, malware usually refuses to be uninstalled through your control panel, is designed to be undetected by legitimate anti-virus software and requires special tools to delete them from your drive.

No PC user is immune to malware due to its stealth properties. There are several steps you can take to prevent malware from being downloaded onto your computer:

• Be aware of how your computer is operating. Unusual activity or sudden slowness can be a red flag for malware

• Set your Internet browser so that you are notified anytime a program attempts to download.

• Don’t download software or programs from unknown Web sites. These seemingly innocent programs may contain malware that will install on your computer when the original program is installed.

• Read the fine print when downloading programs. Those user licenses seem boring and repetitive at times, but there can be a wealth of information in them as well, such as giving a company permission to place malware in the form of adware or spyware on your computer.

• If you suspect malware presence, contact Relia-Tech and let the experts free your PC of infection!

Quickly create an Outlook Contact from an email message

The Contacts folder is the best way to keep track of email address, phone numbers and other important information about the people you do business with. A quick way to create a contact item for a person is by using an email sent from that individual. To do this, open the email from the person for whom you want to make a contact item, then right-click on the contact’s name after the From: field. In the resulting shortcut menu, choose Add To Contacts. A new contact form is opened and the email address is already filled in for you. Just complete the contact’s information and click on Save And Close.

What to do if Your Mouse Freezes

Did you know that if your mouse freezes, you can still close the program you are in and shut down Windows correctly? Here are a few keyboard combinations that will get you around in Windows without a mouse:

1. The <Alt> and F4 keys at the same time will close the program running in the foreground. You can do this until you get to the screen that asks if you want to shut down.

2. The <Alt> and the S keys will get you to the “Start” menu. Then you can use your arrow keys to move around the menu.

3. <Ctrl><Alt> and <Delete> keys together will bring up a task manager screen at which point you can choose to shut down.

4. <Alt> and <Tab> will toggle you through all the programs you have open in Windows.

5. Any letter that is underlined in a word can be used together with the <Alt> key to do that command. For example, in Microsoft Word, File in the menu has the F underlined. If you hold down the <Alt> key and then the F, the file menu opens.