What is Linux Mint?

Linux Mint - Valley Computer - 206.730.1111

Linux Mint is an operating system for desktop and laptop computers. It is designed to work ‘out of the box’ and comes fully equipped with the apps most people need.

Web

Browse the Web, watch Youtube and Netflix with Firefox. Turn any website into a desktop app for immediate access.

Multimedia

Enjoy your music, watch TV and movies, listen to podcasts, Spotify and online radio.

Gaming

Access more than 7,800 games with Steam. Install GOG to get even more.

Graphic Design

Work in 3D with Blender, draw or edit pictures in Gimp, use Inkscape for vector graphics.

Productivity

With LibreOffice’s complete office suite, use the word processor, make presentations, drawings, spreadsheets or even databases. Easily import from or export to PDF or Microsoft Office documents.

Why you should consider a Battery Backup for your desktop computer.

Important electronics that help you run your computer can shut down during electrical surges or outages and brownouts. By implementing a battery backup or an Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS) you can avoid losing unsaved data or harming the electronics.

The windstorm Snoqualmie Valley experienced first week of November 2021 has harmed many desktop computers.  Most could have been prevented by having a Battery Backup.

Preventing your computer from losing power is important for several reasons:

  • Sudden loss of power can corrupt operating systems installation, which can result in costly repairs.
  • Power loss can harm or weaken the internal parts of your computer. It is also possible they can be completely damaged causing the need for replacement.
  • If your computer loses power while you are using it, you will lose any unsaved work which can be detrimental and result in rework and higher labor costs.

Your computers and other devices are a large investment, ensuring you have consistent and regulated electricity flowing to the device is key to extending the longevity of your devices while also ensuring the safety of your data and work from power surges and outages.

Please consider a simple Battery Backup like the following APC shipped by Amazon.

APC UPS Battery Backup Surge Protector

How does an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) work?

An uninterruptible power supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails, or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. A UPS allows for the safe, orderly shutdown of a computer and connected equipment. The size and design of a UPS determine how long it will supply power.

UPS Typologies

Different UPS typologies provide specific levels of power protection.


Standby is the most basic UPS topology. A standby UPS resorts to battery backup power in the event of common power problems such as a blackout, voltage sag, or voltage surge. When incoming utility power drops below or surges above safe voltage levels, the UPS switches to DC battery power and then inverts it to AC power to run connected equipment. These models are designed for consumer electronics, entry-level computers, POS systems, security systems, and other basic electronic equipment.


A line interactive UPS incorporates technology which allows it to correct minor power fluctuations (under-voltages and over voltages) without switching to battery. This type of UPS has an auto transformer that regulates low voltages (e.g., brownouts) and over voltages (e.g., swells) without having to switch to battery. Line interactive UPS models are typically used for consumer electronics, PCs, gaming systems, home theater electronics, network equipment, and entry-to-mid-range servers. They provide power during such events as a blackout, voltage sag, voltage surge, or over-voltage.


A double-conversion (online) UPS provides consistent, clean, and near perfect power regardless of the condition of incoming power. This UPS converts incoming AC power to DC, and then back to AC. UPS systems with this technology operate on isolated DC power 100 percent of the time and have a zero-transfer time because they never need to switch to DC power. Double-conversion UPS systems are designed to protect mission-critical IT equipment, data center installations, high-end servers, large telecom installations and storage applications, and advanced network equipment from damage caused by a power blackout, voltage sag, voltage surge, over voltage, voltage spike, frequency noise, frequency variation, or harmonic distortion.

UPS output wave forms

Valley Computer UPS Sine Wave - Simulated Sine Wave
Valley Computer 206.730.1111 – UPS Sine Wave – Simulated Sine Wave

Sine wave output

The highest quality waveform output is sine wave, which is a smooth, repetitive oscillation of AC power. Enterprise-level UPS systems produce sine wave power to operate sensitive electronic equipment. Sine wave output ensures that equipment utilizing Active PFC power supplies do not shut down when switching from utility power to battery power.

Simulated sine wave output

An approximated sine wave output waveform. It uses pulse wave modulation to generate a stepped, approximated sine wave to supply more cost-effective battery backup power for equipment that does not require sine wave output. The technology used to produce this type of power output is less expensive to manufacture and is common in standby and line interactive UPS systems.

iPhone, The new Pandora’s Box

Privacy watchdog groups are sounding the alarm on the latest move by Apple. Apple revealed that the company will be uploading software to user’s iPhone that scans for images of child sex abuse.

However, watchdog groups warn that this is opening “Pandora’s box.” This allegedly creates a “backdoor to user’s private lives” and governments or private companies could abuse the power to violate users’ privacy. “Apple intends to install software on American iPhones to scan for child abuse imagery, according to people briefed on its plans, raising alarm among security researchers who warn that it could open the door to surveillance of millions of people’s personal devices,” the Financial Times reported. “The automated system would proactively alert a team of human reviewers if it believes illegal imagery is detected, who would then contact law enforcement if the material can be verified.”

The report noted that the system will be called “neuralMatch” and will only be initially rolled out in the U.S. with Apple adding in a blog post that the software will “evolve and expand over time”. The software is expected to be included in iOS 15, which is set to be released next month. The company claimed that the software provides “significant privacy benefits over existing techniques since Apple only learns about users’ photos if they have a collection of known CSAM in their iCloud Photos account.”

However, despite Apple’s claims, academics and privacy watchdogs are deeply concerned about what the move signals long-term.

How to turn off Amazon Sidewalk

Amazon is about to share your Internet connection with neighbors.

You have no control over what sort of data flows over Amazon’s new Sidewalk wireless network, which has been lying dormant in Echo smart speakers and Ring cameras … until now. Buried inside millions of Amazon Echo smart speakers and Ring security cameras. They have the ability to make a new kind of wireless network called Sidewalk that shares a slice of your home Internet connection with your neighbors’ devices, and on Tuesday, Amazon is switching Sidewalk on — for everyone.

I recommend you opt out of Sidewalk, too, until we get much better answers to these questions.

Sidewalk will blanket urban and suburban America with a low-bandwidth wireless network that can stretch half a mile and reach places and things that were once too hard or too expensive to connect. It could have many positive uses, such as making it easier to set up smart-home devices in places your WiFi doesn’t reach. (That can help your neighbors, and you.) But by participating, you also have no control over what sort of data you’re helping to transmit.

But Sidewalk is also a vast new wireless network entirely controlled by Amazon — and paid for by us.

How it works

Amazon is not the only big company working on getting more things connected to the Internet by piggybacking on us. But it’s doing it in a more aggressive way.

Your lowly Echo speaker (or other compatible device) is already connected to your home’s private Internet connection. When Amazon transforms it into a so-called Sidewalk Bridge, your device creates a new network of its own that’s not WiFi. Instead, it uses common Bluetooth to connect devices nearby, and another type of signal (using the 900 MHz spectrum) to connect to devices up to half a mile away.

This new Sidewalk network can’t carry as much data as WiFi, but it’s still impressive: Sidewalk signals from all the Amazon devices in your neighborhood overlap and join together to create what’s called a mesh network.

Sidewalk authorizes your Echo to share a portion of your home’s Internet bandwidth. It’s up to 500 megabytes per month — the rough equivalent of more than 150 cellphone photos. Amazon caps it at a rate of 80 Kbps, which the company says is a fraction of the bandwidth used to stream a typical high-definition video. Still, this traffic could count toward your Internet service provider’s data cap, if you’ve got one. The bill will be paid by you, not Amazon.

It’s not hard to imagine Amazon could use Sidewalk for its own business, such as to track packages or connect up its delivery trucks.

Is Sidewalk secure?

Amazon says it built Sidewalk with three layers of encryption, so that nobody can view the raw data passing through it — not Amazon, not the person who’s sharing their Internet.

Amazon has been vague about what types of data will be able to transfer across the network, aside from innocuous-sounding examples, such as receiving alerts, software updates and the location of lost items

Lacking consent

Last but not least, Amazon should have made sharing our Internet connection something we opt in to, rather than just turning it on.

Amazon is activating Sidewalk on devices going back to at least the third-generation Echo speaker, from 2018, though it tells me they can only join the Bluetooth part of the network. (Amazon disclosed those devices had Bluetooth, but not that it might someday use them to build a network.) Echo devices capable of joining the long-range part include the latest Echo and Echo Show 10, both announced in 2020.

How to turn off Sidewalk

Turning Sidewalk off isn’t hard, but involves digging through some settings.

If you’ve got Echo devices, go to the Alexa app on a phone, then tap the More icon. Then tap on Settings, then tap on Account Settings, then tap on Amazon Sidewalk. In there, make sure “Enabled” is set to off.

If you’ve got Ring devices, go to the Ring app on a phone, then tap the three bars at the top left corner to get to the menu. Then tap Control Center, then scroll down to Amazon Sidewalk.

If you turn off Sidewalk on one kind of device, it should cover you for all of them. (Some people have complained they switched off the Sidewalk setting, but it turned itself back on. Amazon says it fixed the problem.)

One more thing to keep in mind: There’s no halfway option. If you turn off Sidewalk, you won’t be sharing your network with your neighbors, but your devices also won’t be able to access its network.

IS YOUR COMPUTER PROTECTED?

ValleyComp.Net perscribes MalwareBytes Anti Virus program

Update your antivirus software!

How many times do we see antivirus update notifications and we ignore them? It is important to constantly update the antivirus software on a computer because computers are regularly threatened by new viruses. The anti-virus updates contain the latest files needed to combat new viruses and protect your computer.

Antivirus software provides signature files which are very important since they contain the latest lists of known viruses. These signature files are released daily, and sometimes even more often.

To make sure that your antivirus is serving its purpose, its best to configure it to automatically check for updates at least daily.

What is an Anti Virus Program

As the name suggests, antivirus software is an application or a suite of programs that finds and removes viruses on computers and networks. In addition to viruses, most of today’s antivirus programs are also capable of detecting and removing other types of malicious software, including worms, Trojans, adware, spyware, ransomware, browser hijackers, keyloggers, and rootkits. Besides being able to identify and remove these threats, the best antivirus software can also prevent them from infecting your system.

When you run a virus scan, your antivirus program will scan your hard drive and all currently connected external storage devices for potential threats. The program will inspect each individual file and simultaneously look up the findings in its database of known viruses to detect a possible threat. If it does, depending on the severity of the threat, it will either delete, quarantine, or repair the infected file. The program will also monitor the behavior of all the software on your computer and look for any red flags.

Whereas once you had to run antivirus scans manually, most of today’s antivirus programs allow you to enable automatic scans and set up a scan schedule that best works for you. As a rule, it is recommended to run an automatic scan once a week. Additionally, you can also run manual scans of your computer, as well as specific files and directories. Antivirus scans are designed as background processes, which means that they shouldn’t use up too much of your computational resources or slow down your computer.

Since computer viruses are a constant threat across all platforms, today’s antivirus software is designed to provide protection on all operating systems and all internet-connected devices. This includes desktop and laptop computers running Microsoft Windows and macOS, as well as smartphones running iOS and Android. Statistics show that more than 360,000 new pieces of malware are released daily. For maximum protection, the best antivirus software will also automatically update virus definitions at least once a day.

How to Choose Antivirus Software

The market is flooded with antivirus programs that claim to provide optimal protection for your computer, your files, and your personal data. With such strong competition, finding the best antivirus software may prove difficult. When choosing an antivirus program for your personal use, you need to consider its effectiveness against cyber threats, its performance, the features it includes, the operating systems it is compatible with, as well as the number of devices it can protect.

While there are plenty of free antivirus programs, they might not be such a great choice, even for a budget-conscious buyer. For one, they never provide full protection against all threats, which means that you’ll also have to install at least one additional anti-malware program on your PC. Most of them are also ad-supported, which is why they’re often classified as adware. What’s more, they may even include a spyware component so that the authors can track your browsing activity and display better-targeted ads.

Although it’s not free, the best antivirus software is often available at a sizeable discount. These programs are the only way to ensure that your computer and your files are protected at any given time. They will monitor your computer 24/7 to detect and remove any existing viruses and malware, as well as to ward off all incoming threats. In addition to your computer, they will also protect your smartphones, tablets, smart television sets, and all other internet-connected devices without slowing them down.

Learn more about different types Anti Virus Programs.

All antivirus programs can be organized into the following three categories:

1. Standalone Antivirus Software

Standalone antivirus software is a specialized tool designed to detect and remove certain viruses. It is commonly referred to as portable antivirus software because it can also be installed on a USB drive and used by administrators to run an emergency scan of an infected system. However, most portable programs aren’t designed to provide real-time protection and download new virus definitions daily, which is why they cannot substitute internet security suites that include a variety of additional features.

2. Security Software Suites

As mentioned above, security software suites are more than just antivirus programs. In addition to being able to detect and remove viruses, they are also equipped to fight all other types of malicious software and provide round-the-clock protection for your computer and files. Most of these program packages include anti-spyware, firewall, and parental controls features. Some also include additional functionality like password managers, a VPN, and even a standalone antivirus program bundled with the suite.

3. Cloud-Based Antivirus Software

Cloud-based antivirus software is a fairly new type of antivirus technology that analyzes your files in the cloud rather than your computer in order to free up your computational resources and allow for a faster response. These programs typically consist of two parts – the client that is installed on your computer and runs periodic virus and malware scans without taking up too much memory and the web service that processes the data gathered by the client and inspects it for matches in its virus and malware database.