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Exciting News! AdlensFocuss is now Allfield™

As some have noticed, Adlens has rebranded their variable focus prescription product under the name Allfield™. They have also announced a newer, lighter weight design and some additional style options. I will be reviewing the new design when I receive a set. Stay tuned.

UPDATE 6/26/2017:  Adlens has informed me that they have made a decision  to put a production freeze on their current design so that they can redirect all resources to a new design. I have been told that the expectation is the new design will offer more style flexibility and a significantly more streamlined and lighter weight product. I have no idea of the timeline but if/when I receive an update I will post that information here.

Latest Malware News

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Kill Spam for Good

[Update 12/2016: Unfortunately, DesktopOne is being discontinued, so this fabulous spam solution is no longer available.]

“For tis the sport to have the (spammer) hoist with his own petard.” – Shakespeare, Hamlet

Finally, we have a free and effective solution to your spam problems!

I’ve always gotten my share of spam in my email inbox, but something happened several months ago that sent the spam problem out of control. Evidently several of my email addresses, including some that are only used internally, found their way into spam lists. Probably this was due to an “inside job” at my email service provider, such as a worker at that company selling client email addresses for profit. Although it’s not something I can prove, it’s hard to imagine another way that these internal email addresses could have escaped into the wild.

Seemingly overnight my inbox exploded out of control, with typically about 300 bogus emails per day. That averages out to a spam every five minutes, 24 hours per day. First thing in the morning I’d be greeted by perhaps 100 spams in my inbox, making it very easy to completely miss or accidentally delete a legitimate email. Note that these spams are not the “opt in” type of spam that you might get from a real company – your bank, a department store, Amazon, etc. Those types of emails can be annoying too, but you can opt out of them, or unsubscribe. I’m not counting those in my 300 per day.

The spam I am talking about is the real kind, and more often than not it is the dangerous kind – spoof emails with bogus links or infected attachments, usually courtesy of cowardly international shysters, criminals, and con artists. Such spam accounts for about 80% of my email.

This is not an easy problem to combat. I could change my email addresses, but this would be very disruptive making it difficult for my customers to reach me. I can’t unsubscribe to them because I am not subscribed in the first place, and in any case the return email addresses are generally fake. If they do offer an unsubscribe option, it is only as a trap that lets the bad people know that my email address is attached to a real person – clicking the unsubscribe button will make the situation worse.

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Update: Adlens Focuss / CustomFocuss in Production

Late last year, Adlens introduced their Focuss (AKA AdlensFocuss, AKA CustomFocuss) glasses in a trial release through test partner Lenscrafters. These glasses are unique in the market in that they combine a standard optometrist eyeglass prescription with an adjustable focus mechanism allowing full visual range without the need to resort to multiple pairs of glasses or progressives / bifocals.  We reviewed that trial product on this blog.

Adlens Focuss and AccessoriesAfter a brief trial run in November – December 2014, Adlens ended the test program to collect their lessons learned and prepare for a full production run. In early June, Adlens announced that they were ready to initiate production, and now the first sets of glasses are rolling off the assembly line. I obtained a pair earlier this week and can now report some results. The glasses were delivered in an impressive package befitting a high end optical product, including a nicely designed case, tote bag, cleaning solution, cleaning cloth, and even a thumb drive. The thumb drive contains a professionally done promotional video that looks like it may become an advertisement, and a registration form. Of course what matters most is not the packaging and accessories but rather the quality of the product within. The news there is good which I share below. However it should be pointed out that at present Lenscrafters is not distributing the production run of Focuss. Instead, distribution is rolling out through a small but reportedly growing list of independent optometrists, and when needed, through direct sales from Adlens.

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“Which antivirus do you recommend?”

We get this question pretty much every day, usually from people currently suffering from an infection and looking for a better way to avoid infections in the future.

Down below we will give you our suggestion. However, we don’t go so far as to recommend any particular brand because all of them are imperfect. All of them are regularly defeated by new infection strains. Your safest bet is to consider antivirus products to be strictly a second line of defense. Your first line of defense is to be extremely cautious in your online activities, for example:

  1. Never open an email attachment unless you are 100% sure of it. Do not assume that an email from someone you know is really from that person.
  2. Never click on a link in an email. If you ever feel you must click on a link, hover the mouse over the link text to see what the actual link is.
  3. Never download “free” software, games, videos, or music. Much of it is either directly infected or bundled with adware and spyware.
  4. If you do download legitimate software, in many cases it will be bundled with junk. Even products like Adobe Reader or Flash are bundled with browser toolbars or useless scanners (e.g., McAfee Scanner is just a marketing tool for selling you McAfee products). On the download page, uncheck any checkboxes for optional junk. Also when running the installer for the program, never select “Express” installation. Instead, select “Custom” installation, where you may be presented with more opportunities to decline bundled junkware by unchecking boxes.
  5. Avoid torrent sites, pirate sites, pornographic sites, etc. Be extremely skeptical of anything online except from highly trusted sites, and understand that even trusted sites usually have advertisements that take you to another site that may have other links to other sites. The further you get from your original trusted site, the less trustworthy is the material.

If you follow these very simple rules, you are unlikely to become infected. There are other ways to become infected, but the above covers probably close to 100% of cases. It should also go without saying that you should always have at least one type of backup of all of your important data. We recommend two or more types of backup (e.g., regular scheduled backup to an external drive, plus an online backup service). A good backup strategy is particularly important given the current proliferation of “ransomware”. This type of infection encrypts all of your data and holds it for ransom, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars in extortion. The data cannot be decrypted without paying the ransom, which involves a protracted and painful process of buying “bitcoin” currency and wiring funds to the criminals. You should also note that the encryption attack will impact all connected drives, which could put your backup drive at risk, so you need to carefully think through your backup strategy. We have had customers who have lost everything, and others who have paid the ransom. Please take proactive steps in order to avoid their fate.

Okay, all that said, which antivirus software is the best supplement to your defensive strategy? For most purposes, we suggest Microsoft’s security software, for the following reasons:

  • The software is really and truly free. It is not a trial product, nor a teaser for another product.
  • They do not attempt to market or advertise to you, or trick you into downloading other tools.
  • It is relatively “quiet” in operation and does not unduly slow down your computer.

Microsoft’s solution goes by two different names, for reasons that only Microsoft’s product manager could explain. On Windows Vista and Windows 7, it is called Microsoft Security Essentials, and you can download it here:

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/security-essentials-download

It is no longer available for Windows XP, so if you are still using that obsolete operating system (which is also a bad idea), you will need to use another antivirus product.

On Windows 8 and above, it is called Windows Defender, and is built into the operating system. If you have a fresh, clean installation of Windows 8 or higher, Windows Defender is already there and activated. Unfortunately, most computer manufacturers bundle a trial version of a different product such as McAfee or Norton, and because of this Windows Defender is deactivated. To activate it, you simply need to remove the pre-installed trial software. (Occasionally the uninstallers do not do their job, leaving parts of the trial installed. As such, check the Action Center to be sure that Windows Defender has indeed been reactivated).

(Incidentally, there is a different tool called Windows Defender that runs on Vista and Windows 7. This is not the full antivirus product, but only the antispyware component. Again, only Microsoft’s product manager can explain why they have followed such a confusing naming policy.)

Of course if your computer becomes infected despite the above advice, we are here to help you. In the vast majority of cases, we can have your computer thoroughly cleaned up and operating normally within one business day.

Lenscrafter CustomFocuss Review / Adlens Focuss Review

ScreenShot1130[Note to previous readers: see latest updates at the end of this review just above the comment section. Note to new readers: the review has been updated to reflect the current “production run” version of the product available as of June, 2015. Click here to read the updated review.]

Good news to those who had been following my SuperFocus story: CustomFocuss by Adlens is now available. I am working on obtaining a pair and will review them here.

As with the previously posted review of the now defunct SuperFocus technology, this will be a “living post” documenting my experiences with the Adlens Focuss product, being marketed and sold as Lenscrafters CustomFocuss.

[Note: This is no longer true. The product is not currently sold by Lenscrafters, but rather has a network of independent optometrist shops that can be searched on their web site.]

This article will be of interest to you if you wear prescription eyeglasses. Like SuperFocus before it, the Focuss product line from Adlens (hereafter using the Lenscrafters name CustomFocuss or CF for short) is an evolutionary step in eyewear. In brief, one pair of CustomFocuss glasses replaces multiple pairs of single vision, progressive, and bifocal glasses. This is accomplished by matching a standard vision prescription with a variable focusing mechanism, allowing full field vision at all distances. Where with conventional eyewear you may need reading glasses, computer glasses, distance / driving glasses, and perhaps progressive / bifocals, all of these purposes can be served by a single pair of CustomFocuss glasses.

We know that this concept can work well, as proven previously by SuperFocus. The SuperFocus technology was quirky in many ways and had some technical problems, but certainly proved the concept that variable focus eyewear is feasible and can deliver outstanding visual clarity at all distances without the distortions and discomfort of progressive lenses. Unfortunately, the SuperFocus business model lacked an effective marketing and distribution mechanism, and/or lacked sufficient funding, and the company ceased operations in early 2014. Continue reading

Cybercriminals Increasingly Sneaky

The bad guys are getting increasingly sneaky. Let me show you how easy it is to be fooled into downloaded a bunch of useless, annoying, or even destructive junkware onto your computer.

Take a look at the following window that popped up in front of me today. It is cleverly disguised as a prompt to update Adobe Flash, including a foreground window suggesting the update is a critical security patch, and a backdrop using the Flash logo.

So, how can you tell that this is bogus? Easy. Look at the URL (web address) shown at the top of the window. It is not from adobe.com, but rather premiumvideoupdates.com. I don’t know who premiumvideoupdates.com is, but I can guarantee you it is not something worthwhile.

Speaking of worthless, don’t make the mistake of downloading any tool that purports to improve your computer performance (including tools that will give you a tune up, fix your registry, speed your memory, or update your drivers). There are no magic bullet add-on tools that will make your computer perform better. The essential tasks required to make your computer perform better involve (1) removal of software and (2) repair or upgrade of hardware. Adding more software will never, ever make your computer work faster.

And, it should go without saying that very few things in life are free. There are some genuinely useful and genuinely free tools available for download, however one thing is for sure: if someone is paying to advertise a free tool, then there is a catch where they getting money from somewhere. Either it is not really free (e.g. a temporary trial), or they are trying to promote some other product or service, or  (this is the bad one) junkware / malware / infections will piggyback along with the “free” tool. Follow the money. Nobody spends money to advertise something where they will make no money, and the bad guys don’t do what they do to be mean. There is always money somewhere in the equation, probably in multiple places.

Internet Explorer Fix

For those of you concerned about the Adobe Flash / Internet Explorer security flaw publicized yesterday, here is the fix. Be sure to uncheck the box for any add-on software (such as McAfee scanner or Google toolbar) before clicking the Install Now link on the download page.

 

Superfocus Glasses Review

photo4[Update 10/18/2014.  My Adlens CustomFocuss order process has begun!! This will probably be the last update on this post. To follow the story specific to Adlens / Lenscrafters CustomFocuss, click this link.]

[Update 10/3/2014.  Adlens Focuss via Lenscrafters is here!  See comments starting at #30.]

[Update 5/18/2014. For best current information on Adlens Focuss via Lenscrafters, see comments #18 and #25.]

[Update 4/30/2014. No real news here at this point, but it seems clear from user reports that SuperFocus is gone for good. If you came here looking for hope for Superfocus, you should probably start considering the long promised (but not yet available) Focuss glasses from Adlens. Supposedly they will begin rolling out in the US via Lenscrafters sometime in the next couple of months. They have a similar technology to Superfocus, perhaps even better, and thankfully have a more conventional rectangular shape. I rather like the funky round Superfocus glasses but would prefer a more conventional look as I think it has more market appeal and thus would make the product more viable commercially.]

[Update 3/10/2014. Good news! SuperFocus still has signs of life. I received the following email today: “Superfocus is transitioning to a different business model. As a result, the office is closed, production has been halted and no new orders are being accepted. Product shipped to the company is being returned to the sender. We plan to keep you advised as events unfold.”  Stay tuned for more, and read the comments section to learn experiences and alternatives of other Superfocus customers as this drama continues to unfold.]

[Update 2/27/2014.  Those seeking information on SuperFocus glasses should take note of the following. At the present time it appears that Superfocus has ceased operation, or at least has paused operation while it “takes stock” in itself. I have absolutely no information about what is happening, however as of 2/24 Superfocus has declined to answer any phone calls or emails, and while their web site is still up, the “Shop” portion is inoperative.  Multiple customers have stated that they had shipped their glasses to Superfocus for service and now are unable to get them back. It is my sincere hope that Superfocus will emerge from their current crisis in better, stronger condition, because their product is too good and game changing to be allowed to fail without a fight.]

[If you want to read the review below, go ahead. But if you are interested in the ongoing discussion about the demise of SuperFocus, skip down to the comments section, beginning at comment #10.]

Product Review
This topic is not computer related, at least not directly, but it is about an intriguing bit of technology. If you wear glasses, you will find this interesting. In this article, I’ll give an unbiased and hopefully thorough review of a remarkable product, Superfocus eyeglasses. If you haven’t heard of these before, please read on. If you have come here by way of  internet search, you are probably doing what I did: spending a lot of time researching these glasses and trying to decide whether or not to pull the trigger. This article may help you in that process. Continue reading