Nov 04

Don’t Fall for Domain Name Trickery

Owning a business has plenty of challenges. One of those is maintaining, and securing, your presence on the internet. I like to call that Web Presence. Once you’ve finally registered your domain name (somethingblahblah.com or .org or .biz etc) you have things to do, like create a website, get email addresses for yourself and/or your employees and so on. And, just as registering your business with the state opens pandora’s box of marketers, so, too, does registering your domain name. So, now you have one more item to add to your to do list :

SECURE YOUR DOMAIN NAME!

I can’t stress this enough. No-one, and I mean no-one, should be paying for your domain name other than you, as the owner of the business, or someone specifically dedicated in your company. Loss of that domain name means that everything you’ve built around it, your email addresses, website, inbound links, everything on letterhead, business cards, advertising campaigns etc. … it all gets lost.

And that’s not all. It’s easy to fall for the traps of seemingly legitimate notices – there are so many that come in the mail, and the internet. Here’s one you should watch out for :

Domain Name Expiration Notice

iDNS uses words like Domain Name Expiration and Failure to renew to trick you. Guard your Domain NameMost people register their domain names through one of a number of valid domain name registrars, including GoDaddy, Web.com, Network Solutions, 1and1, and the list goes on. Typical annual prices for a .com domain name registration range from $1 to $20, though some specialty domain extensions range in price, and there are a few predatory practitioners who register domain names and auction them to the highest bidder. Having finally registered your domain name, at some point you’ll undoubtedly start getting emails, phone calls, and snail mail solications. BE CAREFUL!

Here’s one example. I’ve highlighted some of the more glaring parts of this that should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up, and alert you to proceed directly to the shredder with that letter.

Quick Review of the things to look for

  1. Domain Name Expiration
    1. If this isn’t coming from the company you registered with, immediately regard it with caution. Also look at today’s date, and the date your domain ACTUALLY expires. If it’s more than a couple of months away, that’s a warning.
  2. Failure to Renew
    1. Notice how they’re trying to get your adrenaline going, striking fear into you if you don’t act. Typical advertising technique, and another red flag.
  3. This Notice is Not A Bill
    1. This isn’t always on documents, but it’s a clear indication that this should be considered solicitation to do business with someone you’ve never dealt with. Unless you’re extremely unhappy with whoever you have currently, take this letter directly to the shredder.
  4. Prices
    1. This was a real kicker for me. Most domain registrars have great low cost introductory rates, like $1 or $2 for the first year, with renewals ranging anywhere from $5 to $20 for subsequent years (though there will be some variability here). Notice on this letter that the first year is $45 USD! That’s crazy, and wreaks of fraud.

Now, I don’t know anything about this particular company, Internet Domain Name Services (idns). However, there are plenty of people calling me about the notices they’re receiving from this company, and companies like them. I’m tell you what I tell my customers – run the letter through the shredder! Whether they’re a legitimate company or not, they’re charging way too much, and there’s too much at stake to take a chance on a company like that. You might find that you’ve just paid something, for nothing – and that’s never a good way to run a business.

A Few Other References

I did a quick search for iDNS and found a number of other people reporting similar issues with exactly the same letter I just showed you. Feel free to review if you’d like a little more information.

Jun 16

Do NOT punish employees for being victims

 Joseph Granneman believes victims should be held accountable for the actions of criminals

Phishing

Phishing is when someone tries to convince you to click on a link and enter information on a website that is pretending to be something else, for the purposes of obtaining confidential information about you for an unknown, and probably illegitimate, purpose.

Punish the Victims?

An article, published on TechTarget​, proposes to punish the people who click on these phishing links. Punishing victims is wrong : even if the intent is to help people to learn how to identify these threats.
In fact, the analogy used by the author is flawed, too. He writes “Employees would be held accountable if they let a criminal into the office and they caused physical damage.” If we look at this analogy critically as it equates to an email phishing attack, then, the employee who actually allowed the “criminal” into the office would really be the one who allowed the email to arrive in an inbox, not the one who clicked it. This would be akin to punishing an Administrative Assistant for working with a criminal who was vetted and hired by someone in Human Resources, or allowed entry by the security guard.

Dissecting the Opinion

Here are some of the flaws in the analogies used in the article :

Users are either not understanding the message or they have developed an apathetic attitude toward the training because there are no personal repercussions for not following through on it.

Actually, users are very busy people, who sometimes rush through their day and, maybe, click something before they realize it, or are using mobile devices that sometimes do things the user didn’t intend. Furthermore, most phishing scams target personal information – in which people who fall victim are suffering very real personal repercussions, because their personal and financial data is often being stolen.

Phishing is still successful because organizations do not hold employees accountable. Speed limits would not be followed either if there were no enforcement.

The driver of a car is causing problems when they speed; not the passengers, or the drivers of surrounding cars. The author also assumes that people only follow rules if they agree with them – which is not at all true. There are many reasons people DO follow rules, much of which starts with understanding rules, and their intent. But criminals are those who knowingly break the rules with the intent of doing harm. In this analogy, the enforcement should be applied to those who are creating the phishing scams, not those who are stuck in a traffic jam because of those who have been speeding.

It is time for a new approach to information security because we are not winning this war.

Based on what metric? Most data, like this report from APWG, shows the number of attacks – not the number of victims.

A Better Way

Phishing is the result of technological, and the solution should come from technology, too. A far better way of handling phishing attacks would be for security software vendors to improve methods of looking at email links, analyzing their destinations, and popping up a message telling you there is a mismatch and giving you the choice to either proceed, or not.

Regardless, at the end of the day, it’s important to remember that criminals will continue to get more sophisticated in their methods of attack, and that, while we can educate people to help them avoid a negative outcome, it is never the victims’ fault.

 

Jun 01

Farewell to Internet Explorer – Hello Edge

Introducing Windows95 Microsoft PressThe year is 1995. AOL rules supreme as the internet service provider of choice, and Microsoft has just released a new operating system called Windows 95, a replacement for Windows 3.11. Personal computers were few, and far between, and those few people had were treated like gold. And, for good reason. A top of the line Compaq computer with an 80286 processor, 8MB of RAM and a 100MB Hard Drive, a dial up modem and Windows 95 and a handful of applications like Borland WordPerfect could set you back an easy $2000 or more, especially if you went with a large, 17″ Full color CRT monitor with .33 DPI.

The Information Highway

Now, as revolutionary as Windows 95 was, it was something embedded in Windows 95 that would really turn the world on its ear.  You see, this forefront leader in the technology world had seen the future, and it was going to be ruled by this very new thing called “The Information Highway” Very few people knew what the internet or World Wide Web was, let alone had any clue of its origins in DARPA, and, certainly, no-one knew what it would become. Back then, those few true internet fans were dialing up, enduring the squaking sounds, and pursuing ever baster baud rates while chatting with friends on bulletin board systems (BBS were the effectively original “online forum.”). But Microsoft knew, and if there’s anything that Microsoft has accomplished, it has been to put usable computers into the hands of the general public. To that end, Microsoft knew that the Internet could flourish only if people could reach it, and use it, and few people who walked into a computer store and paid $2000 or more for a PC were willing to spend still another $50 for Netscape Navigator just so they  could pay yet another $9.95 for a measly 5 hours of online access at 9600-28800 bits per second (compared to today’s 1.5 million bits per second bottom of the line broadband internet) while tying up their only in house phone line. But, if the ability to surf the internet was already on the computer, for FREE, then, maybe people would start to wonder what it was. And so, stunning the world, Microsoft included something called Internet Explorer IN their installation of Windows 95. And they hooked it to as much of the operating system as they could. Help files launched Internet Explorer to display information, updated content could only be obtained through an internet connection. But that wasn’t the end of it. No, Microsoft took it one step further and announced that Internet Explorer would be —- FOREVER FREE!Internet Explorer logo from 1995

Casualties of a Revolution

And so it began. With that announcement, Microsoft cut the feet right out from underneath one of the most popular browser of the time, Netscape Navigator, by changing the landscape of Internet Browsers from being a program that you paid for, to something that was your right to have, free of charge. Now, for Microsoft, even Apple, this was a cost that could be easily absorbed. But for Netscape, a company that paid its employees (including programmers, receptionists, help desk staff, owners etc) with the money from sales of their products, the ability to compete with a product that was readily available for free (and, in some cases, better than their own product), it spelled the end – casualties of a revolution. But they would not go down easy.

Justice Department Weighs In

In fact, the announcement also laid the path for another significant event : a 1998 justice department antitrust investigation that alleged “Microsoft set a zero price for its browser for the purpose of depriving Netscape of revenue and protecting its operating system monopoly.” As part of its defense, Microsoft reported that Internet Explorer was, in fact, “part of the operating system.” The intent of including an internet browser into the operating system was for the operating system (Windows) to be “the gateway to the information highway.”

“The Internet provides an incredible opportunity for Microsoft to effectively explore large-scale networks from many levels: customer needs, technical challenges, quality-of-service issues, electronic commerce and information-browsing technologies.”  – J Allard, 1994

The justice department suit dragged on for more than a decade, a veritable eon in the rapidly changing landscape of technology, and was finally settled on May 12, 2011 with the expiration of a consent decree that :

“barred Microsoft from entering into Windows agreements that excluded competitors from new computers, and forced the company to make Windows interoperable with non-Microsoft software. In addition, an independent technical committee would field complaints that might arise from competitors.” – Seattle Times

Microsoft Edge Internet Browser App Logo 2015Introducing Microsoft Edge in Windows 10

Of course, the expiration of the consent decree arrived well after the emergence of another technological powerhouse – Google, whose search engine revolutionized the internet, paving the way for the distribution of another well known free browser – Google Chrome, and its internet capable Chrome Operating System. Along the way, other free internet browsers have also sprung up, including Apple’s Safari, Mozilla’s Firefox, and Opera Software’s Opera browser. But the significance of the expiration is that it finally freed Microsoft to pursue their original mission – to make “Windows the gateway to the information highway;” which brings us, at along last, to Windows 10, which will include Microsoft Edge – the replacement for Internet Explorer.

Wait – What about My Internet Explorer!?

Now, this doesn’t mean that you will wake up tomorrow to find Internet Explorer suddenly no longer works, or that your core critical business application is going to have to be replaced tomorrow. Microsoft has a good track record of providing backwards compatibility in all of its core products. It does, however, put the world on notice : It’s not 1990 anymore, and the world of computing technology is a very different place. So, dust off your old list of computer technicians, consultants and programmers, call them and ask them to start looking into how this is going to change your business, so that you are prepared for what is to come. And, while you wait, kick back, and enjoy whatever browser you are using, and remember – you can thank Microsoft Internet Explorer for ushering in a new era of infinite Internet possibilities.

Oct 29

What do you mean my email is not secure?

Diagram showing the normal unsecure process of delivering email through a series of servers to its final destinationEmail security is a challenging topic to understand. While progress has been made to improve that security, there are many, many variables that make it impossible for you to know if the email you are sending is being delivered securely to its final destination. Yes, I did say impossible. Even a seasoned server administrator could not tell you that 100% of emails delivered by the servers they managed are being delivered securely, and have not been intercepted.

Emails Are Like Snail Mail

You can think of emails in much the way that snail mail is handled. There’s a fairly straightforward process that is followed. And it goes pretty much like this :

  1. You write a letter
  2. You put the letter in an envelope, and address the envelope.
  3. You put the letter in a mailbox
  4. The first postal carrier picks up your letter and takes it to their post office
  5. Another mail handler picks up your letter and decides if your mail stays in the post office, or goes to another post office
  6. If it goes to another post office, your letter goes on a truck to that post office
  7. That post office picks up your letter and decides if it needs to go to yet another post office.
  8. Eventually, your letter reaches the correct post office.
  9. A mail carrier picks up your letter, and delivers it to your mailbox
  10. The person receiving your letter retrieves it from the mailbox and opens it.

In this basic snail mail scenario, your letter has been handled by at least three, and up to dozens of people before it ever reached its destination. Anything could have happened to the letter along the way. Someone could have deliberately opened it. An equipment malfunction could have torn it open. Someone could have used something to read your mail without opening it.

Your Email Could be on one, or hundreds of servers

Just like in the snail mail scenario, when you write an email and send it off, there is a standard process that is followed, and it goes a little like this :

  1. You write your email and send it
  2. Your email program connects to the server you chose
  3. Your email server receives the email from you
  4. Your email server looks to see if you are sending the email to someone on the same server
  5. If not, your email server asks the world where their email server is
  6. If it finds their email server, your email server asks another server to help transfer the message
  7. That email server asks another server to help
  8. On and on it goes until the a complete chain is created, from your server to their server
  9. Then your email server starts talking to their email server, relaying the information through all the servers that helped it
  10. Piece by piece, your email is delivered, like a bucket brigade, through that chain of servers, up there in the cloud, to their server.
  11. The person you emailed opens the email.

While your server and their server have several different options for talking back and forth, usually, none of that information makes its way back to you – unless the process fails. So, you know very little – not even if the email was even successfully delivered.

But I have to use an email address and password!

When you use your email address and password to login and read your email messages, all you are really doing is telling your server whose mail you want to look at. It is even possible for your login ID and password to be sent in an unsecure way, along with any messages you are reading.

But that’s just the beginning. Your login id (usually your email address) and password is only between your computer, or phone/tablet etc., and your email server. That information is not used after your server gets the message you wants to send. This “NO PASSWORD” method of servers sending email messages is what allows you to send messages to so many different people. Otherwise, your server could only send email messages to the servers it knows about.

Is Secure Email Possible?

Yes! Secure email is possible. I will cover that more in depth at a later date. However, here are a few brief pointers

  1. If you are logging in to read your email using a web browser, like Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera, Internet Explorer etc., make sure the address at the top starts with https or has a picture of a lock. If not, you may be using an secured connection
  2. If you are using an email program, like on your phone or tablet, or a desktop/laptop program like Mac mail, Outlook, Windows Mail, or something similar, then check to make sure that your account is using SSL or TLS to connect to BOTH your SMTP (outbound – for sending) and POP or IMAP (inbound, for you to receive emails) accounts.
    1. If you find that your account is not using TLS, or says something about port 25, or port 110, then you are probably not using security (encryption) to send and receive emails. Contact your email provider to find out which settings to change.
  3. Contact an IT Professional if you are really concerned, and find out what you can, and cannot, do to secure your email messages.

Computers, smart phones, tablets, and our other high tech gadgets do bring us a great deal of benefit. Keeping the information on them secure, however, can be a challenge. You’ll have to decide for yourself how much to worry about just how secure your information is, and now important it is to address the issue. Even then, there will be limits to what you can do, or even a technical expert can do, and at a certain point we all have to accept that we’ve done what we can do. But if you haven’t yet done what you can, consider what “a bad guy” could do with the information in your email, and then decide what to do next.

Aug 28

Medicine, HIPAA, and the myth of the secure, private fax

ECLAT Technology Image of Fax Modems Perhaps you didn’t know this, but the Fax Machine has been around for a very, very long time. In a day of ever advancing technology, one displacing the next at an extraordinary rate, it’s actually hard to believe that the fax machine has endured for as long as it has. Consider, for a moment, that the fax machine was invented long before the Space Shuttle, and even the Space Shuttle has since been retired from use. So, why, then are we still using fax machines?

All it takes is a quick call to your doctor’s office to get the obvious (and wrong) answer : security, privacy, and HIPAA.

The Myth

Here’s how the myth goes. A Fax machine transmits directly from one fax machine to another, which makes it impossible to intercept. Emails, on the other hand, get routed through many servers and could be intercepted.

Okay, so, in concept, that makes sense. But what makes it wrong? Well, basically, just about everything. First and foremost, every phone call is routed through hundreds of switches, just like emails are. Watch any TV Crime or Espionage television (like I Spy from the 1960’s) and you can learn all you need to know about intercepting phone calls. Then, of course, there’s no actual identification on either end of the fax to verify the sender, or recipient, so all the sender has to do is plug in the wrong number and, if the other end has a fax machine, it still goes through – and no-one is the wiser. Since very few fax machines keep records (at least for very long) of these kinds of mistakes, there’s often no log that can be used to back track and find the error and determine what data went awry, or who it went to. Finally, of course, any paper based fax is simply available to anyone who happens to wander by and pick it up : no password required.

Faxes are Analog

Adding to the technical mumbo jumbo of faxes is the fact that it is an analog process, one largely dependent on analog phone services. While some phone service providers are catching on, and adding support for faxes, many still have trouble maintaining this older analog process on their increasingly digital phone networks. This, in turn, forces those who need faxes (hello doctors offices) to turn elsewhere to complete their faxing : Hello Outsourced Online Fax Services.

Online Fax Services

Online fax services have been around almost since the dawn of the internet age. In fact, dial up internet connections almost mandated their invention, since the phone line would be tied up during the internet use, blocking any inbound phone calls, including faxes. To get around this little problem, the fax would go to some other provider, whereupon it would be converted to a digital file, frequently a PDF or a TIFF file, which would then be e-mailed to the final destination.

Yep. You heard that right. Today, many (if not most) faxes often arrive at their final destination : as an email.

So, for all their supposed security and privacy, faxes are subject to all the same routing issues as any other phone call, are altogether too easily sent to the wrong number, have no security, are picked up by the wrong person, and often end up their lives as emails anyway.

Myth Busted

So, is a Fax, that is based on technology that is over 100 years old, more secure than an email? The answer is no, not really. It never actually has been, and today the waters are even more muddy than ever as phone providers go digital, and people outsource more and more services. It’s time that the world wakes up to these realities and deals with this very simple reality: Faxes are simply not secure. We need to accept this fact and start having a real conversation about displacing this old technology with its mythological properties and putting one in place that is real, and actually does the job. In the words of those highly entertaining television personalities : Myth Busted!

Aug 18

How to make the Oregon DEQ Lane Cams Work

So, it’s that time again. You’re off to see the Oregon DEQ to have your emissions test done and renew your registration tags. And, hey, look at that! They have webcams (which they call “Lane Cams) that show you how busy the station is. Great! Or, they would be, if not for that pesky problem with their Java certificate that prevents the webcam from loading on your computer. It reads :

Oregon DEQ Java Application Blocked by Security SettingsApplication Blocked
Application Blocked by Security Settings
Name : viewer
Location : http://vip-gr.deq.state.or.us

Your security settings have blocked an application from running with an out-of-date or expired version of Java.

5 Minute Solution

All is not lost, though. There is a way you can still see the Oregon DEQ lane cams. It will take about 5 minutes. Here’s what you do.

Windows:

Add Exceptions fo the Java Security Tab

  1. Open the Control Panel
  2. Search for the Java Control Panel
  3. Open the Security Tab
  4. Click “Edit Site List”

You will need to add two sites to the Exception Site List for each station you intend to look at. These are the sites to choose from :

Station Sites to Add
Clackamas http://vip-cl.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipclcam.htm
Gresham http://vip-gr.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipgrcam.htm
Northeast Portland http://vip-ne.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipnecam.htm
Sherwood http://vip-sh.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipshcam.htm
Sunset/Hillsboro http://vip-su.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipsucam.htm
Scappoose http://vip-sc.deq.state.or.us
http://www.deq.state.or.us/AQ/VIP/stationcams/vipsccam.htm

Click OK.

Oregon DEQ Lane Cam Run Unsigned ApplicationReturn to the DEQ Website’s Stations List Page and click the Webcam of your choice.

Click “Run” when the Security Warning Appears

Success!

And, voila! You can now see the Oregon DEQ webcam, and find out if there’s a long line, or if this is the moment, which you’ve probably been putting off, to go get that test done.

Have a Safe, and Courteous, drive.

Jul 18

Is my Internet Service Provider’s modem or router slowing me down?

One of the most frequent issues I run into when people call me to their homes to talk about their internet performance is that they are using the equipment provided by the internet service provider to access the internet AND run their home networks. Now, at face value, it seems as though having the equipment from the Internet Service Provider should be a good thing. But take a moment and ask yourself these questions:

  1. Is technology changing rapidly?
  2. How old is the modem/router that you are leasing/purchasing from your Internet Service Provider?
    1. When did that model of modem/router first appear on the shelves?
  3. Is your modem/router older than your smartphone, computer, tablet, blu-ray player, and/or television?

Why are Internet Service Provider’s Modems so far behind?

Once you realize that your smartphone, computer, tablet, blu-ray player, and/or television and even your television are all newer than the router that is connecting all these devices to the internet, you probably ask yourself “how can my Internet Service Provider (ISP) be so far behind?”

The answer, of course, is : economics. Consider how much it would cost internet service providers to keep every modem/router up to date, with all the newest processors, wireless radios, RAM, firewall and security software. With thousands of customers in an ever changing technological landscape it is, of course, impossible.

The Coffee Cup Analogy

My favorite explanation of Internet Service Provider modems/routers is the coffee cup from your favorite coffee shop. Ideally, the cup you get from the coffee shop would be highly insulated, re-usable, and would come with interchangable lids depending on the drink you were using. Hot drinks would stay hot and still wouldn’t scold your hand or require an extra sleeve. Cold drinks would stay colder longer, and both hot and cold drinks would be largely contained in the event of a spill. When you finished with your drink, the cup could simply be used upon your next visit, or turned back in for a credit towards your next drink.

In reality, of course, coffee shops use thin, disposable, largely non-reusable coffee cups. Why? First and foremost, they’re cheaper. Second, they know that most of those coffee cups will never return to the store.

So, coffee cups are much like modems/routers. ISPs like to re-use the modems/routers from one customer to the next, but they know that odds are high your modem/router will fail long before it can be returned, so they’ll probably never see it again. Second, they’re buying thousands of these routers, many of which sit on a shelf somewhere, sometimes for years on end, waiting for a customer to need them. There wouldn’t be much point in recycling all the modems/routers they have in stock simply because newer, better options are available.

But my ISP just came out and replaced my modem or router!

Again, because ISPs like Frontier, Comcast and CenturyLink purchase thousands of units at a time, they keep these units on a shelf. When one customer moves or changes providers, the equipment gets returned and is used when an ISP technician comes out to install new service, or to troubleshoot a problem with your existing service. So, the modem or router you are getting from the ISP typically isn’t new.

Okay, my modem/router is old, so what?

Modems and routers, some of which are combination devices, are essentially computers, and they are doing a lot of work. For example, when you ask your tablet to print a web page to your wireless printer, the router has to decide which information to send to the internet, and which to keep on your home or work network, with you, where it belongs. At the same time, it has to announce itself to the internet world, relay instructions between your devices and the internet, and attempt to stop the outside world from getting in, except when you want to.

If your smartphone tried to do all that work, it probably wouldn’t be so busy it wouldn’t be able to make and receive phone calls. Why? Well, modems and (especially) routers, require a processor, just like your other devices, in order to handle the instructions given to it. They have to store information, which requires memory. And they require software that contains the instructions go give to the processor. Then they relay those instructions to the correct piece of physical hardware. The faster it handles those instructions, the better your experience on the internet. As you can imagine, with technology changing at such a rapid rate, the older your modem or router, the longer it takes to do what you want it to do, especially when compared with a newer modem or router with a faster processor, more RAM, and better software.

Uh oh! My ISP modem or router is a problem. What can I do?

Fortunately, there are alternatives to the modem/router provided by your Internet Service Provider. In many cases, these alternatives are made by the very same companies who provided the equipment to your ISP in the first case. My recommendations, then, are these :

  • Use the modem provider from your Internet Service Provider ONLY if you have no other choice.
  • DON’T use the router provided by your Internet Service Provider.
  • DO get a faster, better router : many are available for purchase from online stores, local computer stores, and your local Technology Ally.
  • DO talk with a Technology Consultant. Not only are we not (usually) tied to a particular internet service provider, but we often spend our time solving problems that the ISPs can’t, or won’t.

If you’re ready to start improving the quality of your home/business internet experience, call 503-629-9214 today!

Jul 10

How to Print a Selected Range of Envelopes from Microsoft Word 2010

If you’ve ever had a multiple page document, you know that sometimes you just want to print just a selected range of pages, say, page 5-10. But what if you have a document full of envelopes that you need to print and send, but you can’t tie up the printer for the whole duration, or otherwise only need to print one envelope, or just a selected group of envelopes? Seems simple, right? Microsoft even has a how to document on the whole thing. But what if their steps don’t work?

The Symptoms

There are two basic symptoms that crop up over and over when printing envelopes, often produced by using a mail merge.

  1. Nothing comes out of the printer. The document seems to have been generated, and there’s nothing in the print queue, and there are no error messages, it’s just as though nothing actually happened.
  2. The printer spits out one or more blank pages .

The Solution

Picture of Microsoft Word with Answer to How To Print Selected Envelopes From WordIF one of the two symptoms above is your problem, then this is very likely the solution you are looking for

  1. Begin to print your document like you normally would (i.e. Ctrl-P or File-Print)
  2. In the Space labeled “Pages:” type s and the page number you want to begin with, followed by a dash (-) another s and the last page number you want to print.
    1. s2
    2. s2-s3
  3. Click Print

Everything should now work as you had anticipated, with only the desired envelopes spitting out of your printer.

 

May 04

An Evening for Autism 2014

Join us for an evening of Music, Wine and Hors d’ouevres, Silent Auction and Wine Raffle.

An Evening for Autism with performer Tyrone Wells

Apr 24

Autism, Fine Motor Skills, Art, and the Power of Undo

The power of Technology as an aide for Art

If you’ve ever had anything to do with art, you know the frustration of making a mistake. Those talented few whom we call artists, can take a mistake, and make something of us. The rest of us gnash our teeth in frustration.

A Picture made in Windows Paint with a WACOM IntuosFor some with Autism, however, art and fine motor skill challenges go head to head in mortal combat, like Mas Oyama fighting a bull with his bare hands. Add in a stroke of perfectionism, mix in some added stress by imposing a time restriction to complete the project and you have yourself a recipe for disaster.

But, what if there was a way to practice fine motor skills, and still have an undo button? Believe it or not, such an option exists, and it’s called a Graphic Tablet.

A Brief History of Graphic Tablet Technology

Surprisingly, you’ve actually seen similar technology around for quite some time. In popular media, the original Star Trek series frequently featured someone approaching Captain James T. Kirk with a digital device and a pen with which to sign. You’ve since seen similar devices from UPS and Fedex to sign for deliveries, then in the grocery stores to sign your credit card receipts, then with Personal Digital Assistants from companies like Palm Computing. Then we moved onto laptop computers that had large screens with a stylus pen with which you could write, and then the number of uses went crazy, from touchpads on laptops to smartphones to ipads and android tablets and so on. But, unless you were a graphic artist, you probably never knew about a quietly developing piece of technology called a graphic tablet. Today, however, these devices have reached the level of affordability, and technical function, that I can comfortably recommend them to just about everyone.

Rest your hand

Perhaps the most significant development in graphic tablets is the ability to rest your hand on the tablet as you’re drawing. For most of us, this is a more typical style of writing and drawing. Since the tablet responds to the stylus itself, it’s very much like using a mouse. For someone with fine motor skills problems, this can be a critical factor because the only place the image appears is where the stylus is touching the tablet, much like the only place a pen writes, is where it touches the paper. And, did I mention, no inky hands! 🙂

Sizes, shapes and Options

ECLATT Wacom Intuos Connected to Windows 7 LaptopA wide variety of sizes, shapes, connection styles are available for graphic tablets. If you’re just using it to sign electronic documents, then a small tablet is probably fine. If, however, you are planning on doing any drawing, look to something that is about half the size of a regular piece of paper or larger. This will be even more important when considering fine motor skill issues, but anyone who has used a mouse and run out of space on a mouse pad, or has run out of room on a piece of paper, is familiar with the need for a larger surface area.

There’s also an option to have an embedded screen on the tablet, allowing you to see what you’re writing or drawing where you’re writing or drawing, just like you would on a piece of paper. In fact, with some Android and Apple Tablets you can purchase a stylus to work with your device for the purpose of signing documents and working with graphic arts programs.

No special graphic art software

While programs like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator and CAD have some spectactular capabilites, graphic tablets are not restricted to these high end products. Because the graphic tablet acts like a mouse, as long as you have matched the tablet with the correct driver for your computer, you can use any built in graphic software, like Microsoft Paint on a Windows computer, or Paintbrush for Mac OSX. What’s more, many tablets are sold with software you can install, some even gearing themselves for anime and cartoon production.

Electronic Signatures

Signing electronic documents is a topic worthy of its own post, and I will write one. Suffice it to say, however, that if you can put pen to paper, you can put stylus to tablet and produce the same result.

That’s about it. If you have more questions about tablets, technology or Autism, feel free to get in touch.

Cheers!

Older posts «

» Newer posts