Improve Your Writing with Expresso

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I write fiction in my spare time and blog for work.  I’m always looking for ways to improve my writing skills.  This month I discovered Expresso, a web app that analyses and edits text.  For example, it highlights words and phrases in your writing that might be less than stellar.  I don’t always use its suggestions, yet among its many metrics, it points out weak words and passive voice.  Using active verbs and more vivid, engaging words is an easy and powerful way to jazz up lacklustre writing.

Here is a screen capture for the Expresso’s suggestions for the above text, displaying the top results.



Computers can help you improve your writing and your life.  At Ducktoes we can help make computers work better for you and your life.

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Clean Out your Junk Files

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A photo of a very neat and attractive home office with a computer.

Clean out your junk files with this recommended computer repair tool, ATF Cleaner. For years, the folks at Bleeping Computer have recommended ATF Cleaner for cleaning up junk and temp files safely.  They are a volunteer organization that helps people with their computers online and we trust their advice.  At Ducktoes Computer Repair we regularly use this as part of our optimization package. If you’d like to speed up your computer, I recommend using this every month or so to remove unnecessary file that are slowing down your operating system and browsers.

A photo of the ATF repair tool interface.

We uncheck the Cookies because otherwise you may lose some settings such your bank card number being displayed when you go to your bank account online.  You’ll have to enter it again.  We also uncheck History because we don’t want our clients to lose their browser history in case they need it.

After you run it, you get a little window telling how much it removed.


You can download ATF Cleaner here.   It says it is only for XP and Windows 2000 but everyone finds it works well on newer versions of Windows including Windows 8.

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Infected by DNS Changer? You Have Until July Before the FBI Shuts You Down

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If you happen to have a virus called the DNS Changer, you, or at least your computer, has been involved in a huge FBI crime sting operation involving Estonian and Russian cybercriminals.   What intrigue and thrills!   Here you thought your computer was behaving itself quietly at home when really it was off consorting with dastardly foreign types and now has even involved you with the FBI.  Aren’t you excited?  Isn’t the adrenalin flowing?  In fact, if infected, you are now getting your internet through the FBI.

Do you know where your computer has been?

But not for long.  The virus has rerouted your computer’s DNS  to go through the Estonian servers, and originally there were 4 million of you rerouted that way.   The FBI has now taken over these servers from the Estonians and so you now are getting the Internet courtesy of the FBI.  The Estonians have been arrested, by the way, the one Russian remains at large.

Now the FBI is worried that if they turn off the servers, all people whose computers have the virus will lose their internet connection.  So they are giving people until July to remove the virus.  At that point they will shut down the servers.  It is very considerate of the  FBI to do this, considering many if not most viruses turn off or prevent people’s internet browsers from working.

Everyone should check to see if they have the DNS Changer virus.  Here is a site that tells you how.  It has a utility to check your computer for the DNS Changer infection.  The site is an FBI security partner.

If you want Ducktoes to check to see if you have the virus we can do in our shop or remotely.   We are Calgary virus removal experts.  We can even check out your computer remotely with our remote services.

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An Excellent Way to Prevent Computer Viruses


An excellent way to prevent viruses is use Ad Block with Google Chrome as your browser. Since many viruses and malware are hidden in ads on websites, using Ad Block will really protect you. My daughter Jess uses Google Chrome with Ad block and has now stopped using an anti-virus. And she doesn’t get viruses. I don’t recommend stopping or removing your anti-virus but using Ad block inside your Google Chrome on a consistent basis, will keep your computer out of the computer repair shop longer.


Here’s where to download Google Chrome.

And here’s where to get the Ad Block.

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What Free Antivirus I Recommend

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What Anti-virus do we use in our computer repair shop?

Computer Virus Removal

I’m often asked what free anti-virus I recommend.

Unfortunately no one anti-virus can remove all viruses. In our Calgary computer repair shop we use many different ones and each finds different infections. Some that we use are AVG, Avira, Avast, Kaspersky, Dr. Web Cure-it, E-set online and off, among others. If we relied on only one, we wouldn’t be able to do an adequate job of fixing computers. So it rankles when an anti-virus company wants to be the only one used by people. It’s not realistic and would mean that a lot more computers would have to be reformatted to get cleaned.

If you’re asking which one I think you should keep resident on your computer, I like both Avira and AVG best. Both are really good at catching viruses. Google (search on Google for) either one and find the result that includes “” in its address. I recommend both Avira and AVG. Of course, I don’t mean both at once. I mean choose one of the two.

I used to prefer AVG over Avira until AVG stopped working with Combofix of Bleeping Computers. I loved AVG and put it on every computer in close proximity. I liked AVG better because of its easier user interface. Being “easier” meant more effective, because people were able to use it more effectively. Now I prefer Avira since you don’t have to uninstall it to run Combofix, which is, unfortunately, the only solution sometimes to an infected computer.

By the way, whoever the creator of Combofix is, whoever sUBS is, he ought to receive knighthood or hero-hood for the amount of computers he saves on a daily or even an hourly basis, and for which he does not even receive payment. He really makes a huge difference in people’s lives without much recognition or money. I respect him enormously and hope he lives a long time because we will be all be sunk without him.

Only people who are experienced techs should use Combofix, however. Very, very occasionally it will cause a computer to stop booting and if this happens and you don’t know how to undo the changes it makes, you may have to reinstall Windows.

Both AVG and Avira ought to take note, their new default of having scheduled scans disabled upon install is dangerous. Many people think they are protected when they are not. If you have Avira or AVG make sure they’re scanning on a daily basis.

If you have a virus and live in Calgary, come to our Virus Removal Lab and will be able to help you out without losing your data or programs or even changing your computer except to speed it up. We would love to see you.

PS. We enjoy all kinds of people and computers and viruses…and aren’t judgmental.[ad]

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