How to Delete Your YouTube Account

youtubeNow that Google has decided to force YouTube users to integrate their accounts more and more with Google+, a social network that nobody I know actually uses, many people are deciding they’d simply rather not continue using YouTube either.

To that end, here’s a short description of how to delete your YouTube account.

How To Delete a YouTube channel connected to a Google+ page or not connected to Google+:

  1. Make sure you’ve logged in to the channel you want to delete.
  2. Go to Advanced Account Settings.
  3. Click Delete channel.
  4. You’ll be asked to re-enter your login information to confirm that you really do want to delete your channel.

You may still see thumbnails of your videos on the site as it takes time to update; they will be removed shortly.

Note, though, that Google does say this: “If your channel is connected to a Google+ page, this will not delete the page. If you want, you can delete the page afterwards.”

This is more than a little confusing. Even more confusing, Google goes on to say that if your YouTube account is connected to your Google+ page:

“To remove your channel, you need to delete your Google+ profile (this will hide your channel and content unless you restore the profile) or delete your entire Google Account. You can’t separately delete your YouTube channel.”

So it sounds like Google has decided the only way to really delete your YouTube account is to delete your whole Google account. Hopefully it won’t come to that if all you want to delete is YouTube.

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How to Easily Encrypt Your Email

2014-06-03 18_05_01-MailvelopeThere are lots of reasons someone may want to encrypt the emails they send.

Maybe they don’t trust their internet service provider or email host with their private data.

Maybe they want to be more sure their messages won’t fall into the wrong hands while being sent over the net.

Or maybe they just don’t want to make it easy for certain 3 letter government agencies to process, analyze, inspect, evaluate, scrutinize or otherwise read their private personal communications.

Whatever the reason, it’s easier than ever now to securely encrypt your email thanks to a free and open source browser extension for Firefox and Chrome called Mailvelope.

Unlike most encryption programs, Mailvelope doesn’t force you to use a particular email provider or a separate  encryption program. Mailvelope works out-of-the-box with Gmail, Yahool Mail, Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail) and GMX.com. If your preferred email provider isn’t listed, it’s not very hard to add support for it through Mailvelope’s options.

To use Mailvelope, visit the Mailvelope plugin page for Chrome or Firefox depending on your browser. Click the install button and it will do the hard work for you.

After it’s installed you should see a new Mailvelope “lock” icon in your browser. Before you can start encrypting messages you’ll need to click this icon and select “Options” from the menu that appears.

In the Mailvelope options menu, click “Generate Key”. Enter your name and email address, and then enter a passphrase to secure your key. You’ll need to enter this key in order to encrypt messages or decrypt messages you receive.

After you’ve generated your encryption key, you’ll also need to give your public key (which identifies you) to the people you want to send encrypted message to. You can email the key to them, or post it to a keyserver (which is beyond the scope of this article).

To create an encrypted message, simply create a new email as you normally would. So, for example, in Gmail click “Compose”.

In the Compose window you’ll see a new lock icon. Click the icon and a new text entry window will appear. Here you can type the message you want to encrypt.

After you’ve finished typing your message you can click the lock icon in the text entry area to select who you want to send the secure message to. After you’ve select who you want to send the message to Mailvelope will automatically encrypt the message. From there you can click send in your email interface just like you normally would to send a message.

When receiving an incoming encrypted message Mailvelope automatically detects that it is encrypted and tries to decrypt the message for you. After you’v entered your passphrase to unlock your private key Mailvelope will display the decrypted version of the message just like a normal email message.

This may all seem complicated to read, but I assure you it’s actually easier than you think. To download Mailvelope and find additional documentation for how to use it, visit the Mailvelope website.

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How to Block Ads in Firefox

ABPI love the internet. I think that’s pretty obvious. I spend all of my work day and a lot of my free time using, learning about, and playing with internet technologies.

Internet ads, on the other hand, I don’t like nearly as much. So many websites these days load up their pages with big, obnoxious, annoying ads that they’re almost not worth reading.

Even worse, these ads waste bandwidth that could be used for downloading other things and make it possible for advertisers to track what you’re doing online. Why would I want to make it easy for them to do that?

Fortunately for you and me some smart person came up with the idea of an ad-blocker program many years ago. The original ad blockers where separate programs that ran on your computer and you had to actually pay for them. They also didn’t have a fantastic detection rate so some ads would still sometimes get through.

These day, though, ad blocker programs have improved greatly and are available for free for just about any web browser you can think of.

Here’s how to install one such ad blocking program, called AdBlock Plus, on Mozilla Firefox:

On the Adblock Plus plugin page, click the big green “Install for Firefox” button.

Firefox will ask if you want to allow the installation process, so go ahead and click OK.

If all goes as expected, Adblock Plus should now be installed and running in Firefox. You don’t even need to restart your browser. How cool is that?

Adblock Plus will block the ads on thousands of different websites and hundreds of advertising networks. It’ll even block the video ads on YouTube, which are honestly the most annoying ads in my humble opinion.

Adblock Plus is one of the first things I install anytime I work on a new computer. I’ve gotten so used to browsing the web without intrusive ads that on the rare occasion that I do have to use someone else’s computer without an ad blocker, I’m completely shocked at how many ads I’ve been missing. How do people put up with? I honestly don’t know.

But now you don’t have to. Enjoy your new, faster, ad-free internet experience.

Are adware and spyware programs making you miserable? ZookaWare techs are on-call 24/7 for remote technical support.

How To Get Free HD Space Wallpaper Images

spaceThe easiest way to infect a computer is to trick the user into running the malicious programs themselves.

But who would run a malicious program on purpose? Quite a few people, unfortunately.

The most common tactic malicious software makers use to trick users is to label their programs as something “free”. People love free stuff so this works.

One of the most common searches that malicious fraud programs take advantage of is “free wallpapers”. I personally wouldn’t have guessed that, but there you have it.

Here’s a way to get dozens of HD quality wallpapers for free without having to worry about malware infections:

NASA collects a huge amount of space imagery, almost all of which is in super high resolution. NASA is also a US government agency, and all works created by US government agencies are (with perhaps a few exceptions) in the Public Domain and can be used and redistributed by everyone legally without having to worry about infringing copyrights.

This means that the images NASA releases can be used for any purpose you like, including as an awesome high definition computer wallpaper.

NASA hosts their own online image gallery where you can find pictures from pretty much every project they undertake.

The most well known pictures NASA releases come from the Hubble Space Telescope, and as luck would have it there is a website dedicated to the images Hubble is collecting, including an image gallery and dozens of pre-made high quality wallpapers.

You can also check out the “Astronomy Picture of the Day“, another NASA project. Every day a new space related picture is posted, along with a short explanation of the picture. Many of these pictures are suitable for use as computer wallpapers as well.

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How to Completely Erase a Computer

Are you preparing to sell, give away or otherwise get rid of a computer? Here’s something you should know:Nuke_Logo

Even if you think you’ve deleted all of your personal and private data from your computer, there’s still a good chance it can be recovered. This is because of how data is stored by Windows on your hard drive.

When Windows deletes a file it’s really only deleting the location of the data on the hard drive. This makes deleting fast, but it also means that deleted files can be recovered unless something has overwritten them.

If you only need to securely delete a couple of files you can use a file shredder program like the one included with SpeedZooka. But if you want to be absolutely sure that your personal information is fully removed, there really isn’t a good substitute for shredding the whole drive.

Today I’m going to show you an easy way to do just that using a free software program called Darik’s Boot and Nuke, or DBAN for short.

From the DBAN website: “DBAN is a self-contained boot disk that automatically deletes the contents of any hard disk that it can detect. This method can help prevent identity theft before recycling a computer.”

Warning: Shredded files cannot be recovered. Do not shred any files you want to keep.

To use DBAN, you first need to download the program from the DBAN website. DBAN is distributed as an ISO file. Once you’ve download the ISO it needs to be burned to a blank CD. This is because DBAN isn’t like most other programs. Most other programs run on top of Windows as their operating system. DBAN is actually it’s own (very small) operating system that does only one job: shred files on any hard drive it finds.

Restart the computer you would like to completely erase with the DBAN disk in the CD drive. On most computers DBAN should start to run automatically.

DBAN works by overwriting all the data on every hard drive it finds many times, so the shredding process will likely take a couple of hours to finish completely. Once the shredding process is completed, your hard drive will be completely empty. At this point you can sell, give away, or dispose of your computer without having to worry that your personal information could be exposed.

You can download DBAN from the DBAN website here: http://www.dban.org

Got a computer issue you can’t erase? ZookaWare technicians are here 24/7 to help with Remote Technical Support.

How To Remove Yourself From Google Search Results

google2Thanks to a new ruling by the European Commission on the “right to be forgotten”, Google has implemented a new feature that allows you to request the removal of pages that contain personal information about you from its search results. Google says it will comply with the ruling and remove requested search engine results when they are “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant, or excessive in relation to the purposes for which they were processed.”

Best of all, while this is an EU ruling, nowhere that I can see is Google limiting search engine result removal to EU citizens. On the request form, Google does ask for a form of photo ID and what country’s laws apply to your request, but Google also states specifically that the photo ID requested doesn’t need to be government issued. That opens up an opportunity for US and other non-EU residents to also clear their names if they need to do so.

The goal here to allow people to protect their reputations in an age where data is never forgotten.

However, there are limits to what Google will remove. For example, Google states that they will look at whether the results include outdated information about you, as well as whether there’s a public interest in the information—for example, information about financial scams, professional malpractice, criminal convictions, or public conduct of government officials.”

So if you’ve ever been convicted (or even charged, probably) of some kind of wrongdoing, it’s unlikely Google will remove references the such an event.

If that’s not a problem for you and you’d like to ask Google for help removing search engine results, you can find the form to do so here: Google Search Engine Removal

Have a problem with your computer that you need help removing? ITZooka technians are available everyday for 24/7 remote support for any computer problem.

How to Easily Take a Screenshot

2014-05-30 17_05_13-Greenshot image editorWindows has some built in methods of taking screenshots, but honestly they’re a lot more trouble than necessary to do something as simple as take a picture of what’s on your screen. So today I’m going to show you how to easily take a perfectly sized screenshot using a free program called Greenshot.

Greenshot is very easy to install, just run the installer program, follow the on screen instructions and you’re done. Greenshot doesn’t come with any spyware, adware, or unwanted programs which is really a nice change of pace compared to most of the other “free” software on the internet.

Once Greenshot is installed and running is sits in your system tray at the bottom right of your screen.

To use Greenshot to take a screenshot, just right click the icon and select one of the 5 capture modes from the top of the list.

I normally select either “Capture region” or “Capture window” depending on what type of screen shot I’m taking. Capture region will let you use your mouse to select exactly the area of the screen you want to take a screen capture of, and Capture window lets you select a window you have open on your computer and capture just the interface of that window.

2014-05-30 17_27_17-Screenshot from 2014-05-30 15_51_05 - Windows Photo Viewer

After Greenshot has taken your desired screenshot, it’ll show you another menu with options of what to do with the image you just capture. There’s the normal “Save file” options, but Greenshot also has the ability to directly upload image to various image hosting websites, the print your image automatically using your printer, or even to open the image up in Greenshot’s own builtin image editor if you need to make changes or annotations.

2014-05-30 17_29_19-Screenshot from 2014-05-30 17_28_39 - Windows Photo Viewer

Because I do a lot of software and websites reviews I end up using Greenshot on a daily basis. It’s made taking good-looking screenshots an quick and easy process and saved me probably hours of time by now that I would have otherwise spent mucking around in an image editor trying to edit the screenshots Windows takes. I’d recommend it to anybody.

Greenshot can be downloaded from the Greenshot website here: http://getgreenshot.org/

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How To Shred Files using SpeedZooka

If you think that once you’ve deleted a file it’s gone forever, I’ve got news for you. Even after you’ve deleted a file and emptied the windows Recycle Bin, most times that file can still be recovered!

Even after you’ve formatted your hard drive it’s still sometimes possible to recover data from it. This has led to a number of incidents where discarded computers and other devices that were thought safe the throw away have been found to contain sensitive and sometimes even classified information. It’s even rumored (with some evidence) that some criminal organizations have taken to buying used computers and hard drives off of eBay and other websites in an attempt to recover personal information and steal identities.

This may sound pretty serious, and it is, but there’s an easy way to keep your information secure and I’m going to show you how right now.

In order to delete files in a way that they cannot be recovered you need to use a “file shredder”. File shredders work by overwriting the data in a file many times before deleting the file, making the data within the file completely unrecoverable. This process is often used for securely removing sensitive and private information like tax documents, medical records, and credit card information from disks.

Before we go any further, though, I need to make something perfectly clear:

SHREDDED FILES CANNOT BE RECOVERED.

EVER.

DO NOT SHRED FILES YOU WANT TO KEEP.

SpeedZooka includes a secure file shredder built to the specifications of the U.S. Department of Defense. SpeedZooka’s file shredder works on every version of Windows from XP onward.

To access the file shredder, click “Advanced Tools” in SpeedZooka, and then click the “File Shredder” button. It’ll look something like this:

SpeedZooka File shredder

From the file shredder window, you can either drag and drop the file(s) you would like to shred into the file list, or click the word “Search” to open a file menu and select the files you would like to shred from there. Clicking “Remove” removes a selected file from the file list, and clicking “Clear list” removes all files from the file list.

2013-10-14 14_15_58-

Files ready to be shredded. Once they’re shredded they’re gone for good.

Once you have added files you would like to shred to the list, click “Shred files”. After a few seconds (depending on the size of the files being shredded) the filenames will disappear from the list, indicating they has been shredded. Those files have now been completely removed and cannot be recovered.

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What is the Best AntiVirus for 2014?

When I first started using a Windows computer (back when Windows 98 was brand new) there were really only two popular antivirus programs to choose from, at least as far as most computer users knew about. You either had Norton or you had McAfee. Well, I guess some people just used nothing at all, but even back then that was a terrible idea.

Now 15 years later (give or take) there are literally hundreds of antivirus programs fighting malicious software, and each other, for the title of best antivirus software.

Last month AV-Test.org conducted a test of all the top antivirus software currently available for Windows 8. Each program was tested on three main feature categories: Level of Protection, Performance, and Usability. I’ve gone through the raw data they collected so you don’t have to. Here’s what they found:

The Best Paid AntiVirus

According to the AV-Test.org test results the highest scoring antivirus program in terms of protection, performance, and usability was…

… drum roll please …

Kaspersky AntiVirus. Kaspersky was the only program to earn perfect scores in all three of the measured categories. As one of the first anti-virus companies Kaspersky has since grown into a huge international enterprise. It’s not really surprising that Kaspersky would take home the top honors, they’re always near the top of the antivirus bunch as far as malware detection goes.

The Best Free AntiVirus

I used to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials to people looking for a cheap, fast, effective antivirus program. It was all of those things, and it didn’t bug you to buy the full version because it was included free from Microsoft with your operating system. Alas, those days are gone and Microsoft no longer shows MSE the attention it would need to be a top contender. While Microsoft Security Essentials (or Windows Defender as it’s called on Windows 8) is certainly better than nothing, I recommend using an antivirus program where the company behind it actually puts effort into it. With that being said, here’s the top Free antivirus software for 2014.

2014-05-30 16_59_35-Microsoft Security Essentials

I used to be able to recommend Microsoft Security Essentials, but not anymore thanks to Microsoft’s lack of effort to keep it competitive.

Close on Kaspersky’s heals, Avira AntiVirus can currently claim to be the top performing Free antivirus program. While Avira scored on the same level as Kaspersky for level of protection and usability, it fell behind slightly in its impact on system performance. Even then, however, the difference in performance impact was slight and not likely to be noticed by the average computer user. Avira is another one of the older competitors in the antivirus world, even older than Kaspersky.

While these two programs are currently the top rated, you should also keep in mind that the computer security world moves fast. What is best today could very easily not be best tomorrow. However, both Kaspersky and Avira have a long history of excellent malware detection and system performance, and seem likely to me to stay near the top of the antivirus herd for the foreseeable future. Also, this test was done only on Windows 8. Other Windows versions are likely to show similar results, but they won’t be identical.

For those of you who would like to see the results directly, here you go: AV-Test.org April 2014 Results

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