December, 2004 Vol. 3, No. 1
IS Newswire
The Latest Technology News from the
Long & Foster Information Services Department

Contents - December 2004

Note: Clicking the links below will open the newsletter in your Web browser.

Buying Guide

What is Websense?

How do I know if I have a virus?

Help Desk Tips and Tricks

NAR 2004 Tech Survey

IS Team Player Spotlight

Tell us what you think of the Newswire! Contact us!

 

Buying Guide

The Holiday Season is upon us! Here are some great gift ideas from the Long & Foster IS Department.

Everyone has   heard of the Swiss   Army Knife, the pocket  multi-tool that seem   to carry everything but  the kitchen sink. Now, the venerable gadget has gotten a USB Memory Key added to its repertoire to bring it into the 21st Century. Not only can you fend off grizzly bears with the trusty knife, trim down pesky cuticles with the nail file, search for lost keys with the built in light, and pick out leftover turkey from your teeth with the toothpick, you can now also back up your important documents with the included USB Key! The Memory key comes in 128, 256, and 512 MB sizes, starts at $99 and can be found at the manufacturer's website: http://www.swiss-knife.com.

Can't stand being away from your email? With the BlackBerry 7100t cell phone, you won't have to. With both a speakerphone and Bluetooth technology, you can surf the web and send and receive email (and if you get this for a Long & Foster agent, you can connect it DIRECTLY to the Microsoft Exchange email system!) Don't feel like emailing? Try the Instant Messaging service that can connect to AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo Instant Messenger, or ICQ! Lightweight with an innovative and space saving keyboard design, the 7100t can be yours for $199 with service from T-Mobile.

Are you constantly traveling all over the place with a laptop? Hate how much is weighs? Tired of all the chiropractor bills? Then check out Dell's new small form factor laptop, the Inspiron 700M! Lightweight (only 4.1 lbs!), thin (1.5" thick!) and powerful (it has it all!), the 700M will never leave you wanting for more. With a battery-saving, yet ultra-powerful processor, enough memory to make your friends drool, and a battery that will last longer than Aunt May's fruitcake, the new Dell Inspiron 700M will keep you satisfied for years to come. The 700M can be found at http://www.dell.com and starts around  $1200.

Help Desk Tips and Tricks
Changing password
Still using 'password' as your password? Let's change it! If you are logged into a computer on the Long & Foster network, just click the Ctrl Alt Del buttons (the same ones you use to initially log in). A menu will appear, select "Change Password". All you need to do is type your old password and your new one twice (the 2nd time to confirm) and click OK. Click cancel at that next menu and you now have a new password!

Checking for Windows Updates
All Long & Foster computers are constantly being updated with the latest Microsoft Windows XP security patches, but is your computer doing the same? Without these important fixes, your computer may be vulnerable to hijacking attempts by hackers out on the net. The best way to ensure that your computer is getting these important patches is to set "Automatic Updates" on your PC. To do this:

  1. Right Click on the "My Computer" icon on your desktop and select PROPERTIES
  2. Click on the "Automatic Updates" tab and set the updates so that they are downloaded and installed automatically.
If you would like to check right now if you need to have any updates installed:
  1. Open up Internet Explorer
  2. Go up to the Tools menu and select "Windows Update"
  3. This will take you to the Microsoft Windows Update site which will scan your computer and let you know what "Critical Updates" are needed for your PC.

IS Team Player Spotlight
Scott LaCasse
Help Desk Manager

Employed with Long & Foster for 2 years.

A Certified Help Desk Manager, Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer, and an A+ and Network + certified technician, Scott strives to stay up to date with all the latest technologies in order to better serve his customers - the Long & Foster agents and employees!

Spyware

When you start up Internet Explorer, do windows pop up everywhere, making it impossible for you to do your business? You may have Spyware! Spyware is defined in general terms as a program surreptitiously monitoring your actions. In more simple terms; "Spyware is programming that is put in someone's computer to secretly gather information about the user and relay it to advertisers or other interested parties'. It is also known as "Adware" or "Malware". One or two of these tiny little programs trying to gather data about your surfing habits will not harm you too much. But a couple hundred (sometimes THOUSANDS) of these irritating little files, all trying to communicate with their home server at the same time, can cause a huge problem with your daily work.

How to avoid Spyware?

  1. Run an anti Spyware application.
  2. Run antivirus software
  3. Avoid download executables (.exe) from anywhere but vendors or major, well-checked sites
  4. Delete Cookies and Temporary Files often. In Internet Explorer click on Tools, Internet Options, Delete Cookie, Delete Files.
  5. Delete unsolicited e-mail without reading it. Turn off preview pane to delete messages without opening them. Change Automatic Download Settings in Outlook. Make sure not to download pictures.
  6. Do not install anything without knowing exactly what it is.
  7. Protect yourself against drive-by downloads. Make sure your browser settings are stringent enough to protect you. In Internet Explorer click on Tools, Internet Options, Security, Internet Zone, Internet, Custom Level, it should be at least medium. Deny the browser permission to install any ActiveX control you haven't requested.

How to remove Spyware for free? http://www.download.com/

Type "spybot" in search box, then download Spybot Search and Destroy.

Websense

What is?

When you go to a website and you see Websense, Long and Foster is blocking you from accessing that web site. It may be due to inappropriate content, non-work related information, hacking attacks, IM (Instant Messaging - which exposes companies to security risks), streaming media (listening to the radio), or viruses.

Did you know:

  • 30 to 40% of Internet use in the workplace is not related to business (IDC Research)
  • 70% of all Internet porn traffic occurs during the nine-to-five work day (SexTracker)
  • 37% of workers say they surf the Web constantly at work (Vault.com)
Information above is provided by http://www.websense.com

The Long & Foster IS Department is also using Websense to assist with Spyware issues on the network as well. Webopedia defines Spyware as "Any software that covertly gathers user information through the user's Internet connection without his or her knowledge, usually for advertising purposes". You may sometimes see a small box on the website you are viewing that, instead of the usual advertising window, displays a Websense box. This is for your protection. That small advertising window was trying to install Spyware on your computer!

Websense Enterprise software allows companies, such as Long & Foster, to transparently monitor, report, and manage Internet usage. This software filters objectionable web sites. Next time you go to a website and you see Web Sense, it is for your protection.

How do I know if I have a virus?

Have you noticed something "different" about your home PC lately? Does it seem slower than usual or do strange things such as randomly rebooting or do you have unfamiliar icons on your desktop? Unfortunately, you may have a virus. Viruses come in many forms and can vary in its effect on your computer. The severity can range from doing nothing to your PC all the way up to destroying all of your data.

Sure, you may have the latest and greatest antivirus program installed, like all PC's have on the Long & Foster network (Norton Antivirus Corporate Edition), but many viruses these days will try to trick you into "inviting" the virus onto your machine. Examples of an individual inviting a virus onto their machine include opening up that email attachment you just received from a friendly-looking individual, clicking on a website link within an email or surfing the web in its more nefarious corners.

The accompanying article by Scott Spanbauer from PCWorld.com attempts to give you some insight about how to identify if you have a virus and what to do if you receive one.

Read More...

NAR 2004 Tech Survey
As we all know, technology continues to transform the real estate marketplace in many ways. Have you ever wondered how you compare to your colleagues nationally regarding many aspects of technology? Have you asked yourself, how much should I spend on technology, should I buy my own laptop, will I benefit from my own web site? Well, your association, the National Association of REALTORS regularly surveys its members on a number of technology related topics and the most recent survey is entitled REALTORS and Technology: The 2004 NAR Technology Impact Survey.

This email-based survey was conducted in December 2003 and represents a random sample of 270,700 NAR members and covered four general topics: 1) Usage of Technology Products, 2) Computers and Software 3) Internet and Online Communications and 4) Multiple Listing Services and Technology. The results of this survey can allow you to get an idea as to how your own use of technology compares with REALTORS nationally. Here are some highlights:

  • The typical REALTOR plans to spend $858 on technology products, $254 on technology services and $257 on technology training in 2004.
  • 97% of REALTORS own and use a personal computer for real estate purposes and 95% use a mobile phone
  • The most frequently used operating system is Windows XP (54%
  • REALTORS were most likely to have an email account through their firm (24%)
  • 50% of REALTORS have their own Internet Web page for real estate, 21% plan to have one in the future.
  • MLS listings are most frequently viewed by REALTORS on their own personal computer
  • 48% of REALTORS report that they usually access MLS listings from their office; 47% usually access MLS listings from their home.
If you would like to obtain a copy of the full 2004 NAR Technology Impact Survey you can do so for $35 at www.REALTOR.org. Use the web site's search engine and the title of the report to link to the page where you can purchase this survey. Not only is this particular survey full of very interesting statistics and information but www.REALTOR.org is simply packed with information from your Association that is both education and valuable for your business.