AstroBrights Back To School Crafts #goastrobrights

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Astrobrights Papers by Neenah Paper for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Astrobrights Paper

Do you remember when you were in school and the only colored paper you had was construction paper?  They were huge thick sheets of textured paper that you had to cut down to get normal sized sheets.  Sometimes they were smaller, but they were typically about the size of your desk.  Don't get me wrong, I loved construction paper, but it's nice to have normal sized 8 1/2 x 11 paper to print on when you need to.

AstroBrights paper is not construction paper, it's premium bright colored paper that you can actually put into your printer for school projects, book reports, after school chore list, PTA meetings, flyers for your lost dog/cat or you can cut to any shape and size you want for scrap booking.  What I most love is that, ok you are going to laugh.  Remember those things we used to make that were called fortune tellers?  We'd fold them up and then stick our fingers in and open wide then lengthwise and we would spell the color name, then choose a number and open and close it for that number of times then read our fortune?  Well, we had to use lined school paper and sometimes get in trouble for wasting paper.  This paper is perfect for that.  But I digress.

You can support your local school with the "Give a Brighter Year Sweepstakes" with a cash prize and school supplies valued at $30,000 for the school of your choice.  Check out AstroBrights papers on Facebook for more information.  It's easy, under their Timeline banner you will see 2 boxes that say Sweepstakes and Contest.

They also have a contest called "Make Something Astrobrights."  Unleash your creativity for a chance to win Astrobrights paper and other prizes.  All you need to do is click Contest on the Facebook page (link above) and share your unique project on pinterest and twitter using hashtag #goastrobrights.  It's fun, you know you want to do it.  First prize is a Visa gift card.  Just make something and have fun with it.

Astrobrights is available at Target, Amazon, Staples, Office Depot, Office Max and Walgreens.  I looked it up on Amazon and found it for $20 for 500 sheets.  I mean come on, that's a lot of paper for that tiny amount.  You could buy 2 packages and keep one for yourself and give the other to your local elementary school.  I'm sure they could use it.

Have lots of fun making those fortune tellers, I wonder if I can remember how to make one lol.

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EverQuest 2

The name you all know and love “Xanapus” comes from the original EverQuest.  It was a game generated name, but it was originally spelled Xandapus.  I played that character for a few days and was told I better start all over because I didn’t put the starting points to “int” (intelligence).  When I deleted the character, I went back into character selection and tried it again, but it wouldn’t let me use the name again.  I had gotten a little used to that name and I didn’t want to have to change it, so I just dropped the “d” and I became Xanapus.  That was June 29th 2002.

I quit playing EverQuest a few years ago after playing for 6 or 7 long years.  Day in and day out 16 hours a day non stop playing.  It took a serious toll on me because I didn’t know what else to do with my life.

Why did I spend so much time on the game you ask?  Well, I am legally disabled so what else is there for me to do?  I can’t stand for more than 10 minutes, I can’t lift boxes, I can’t even bend over out of fear of my back locking up on me, which happens more frequently than you think.  I am in constant agony from my back because I have Degenerative Disc Disease in my lower spine.  So I can’t work, I sit at the computer which also sometimes takes it’s toll on my back so I have to be careful to be as comfortable as I can.

So recently I had started to get lonely for the game so I decided to download it again and set up my account for $14.95 a month and get back to the daily grind.  I began playing a newbie character who was level 12 I believe, and got him into his mid 40’s in just a few short weeks, but I wanted to play my old guys like Xanapus and Perceus again.  I did, or at least tried to, but I found myself bored again already.  I decided why not try out EverQuest 2 and see what’s going on there, I had to get a memory upgrade, but I started playing it and I got that spark back because this is a whole new game with all new graphics and all new zones and all new adventures.  That is what I missed the most, was the adventuring.

I was having fun, but since the game was free I started to notice all of the restrictions for free players.  I figured, if I want to play this, I gotta pay the money, but I don’t want to have to keep paying them just so I can get a backpack or so I can do this or that, so I changed my subscription with EverQuest 1 to a station pass for all of the Sony Online Entertainment games for $19.95 a month.  Now for only $5 more, I can play all of their games, like Star Wars, DC Comics and whatever else they have.  That’s a way better deal if you ask me.

So this is great.  I can finally stop obsessing over who in the news is calling who anti-gay slurs and who is trying to take away my right to marry, now I can focus on actual fun, something that will give me a few hours a day to escape the real world.  Think of it as a vacation for my brain lol.

I took this video tonight in EverQuest 2 of me flying a Griffin.  Pretty cool mode of transportation if you ask me.  Anyway, till next time.

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SttQ1wd1pEo

Microsoft Support Center Scam

Today was a very good day.  I played EverQuest 2 for a couple of hours and I was having a ball.  I was video chatting with a friend of mine with Google Plus Hangouts when the phone rang.  I looked at the Caller ID and it said Unknown Name Unknown Number.  I never answer the phone when it says that, but Darrin does sometimes.

The phone first rang at 6:38pm and I guess Darrin answered it, but then he hung up on them.  They called again at 6:41pm and Darrin ran into my room and told me not to answer it, but I did anyway.  He whispered to me telling me that it’s a scam.  I was trying to hear what the guy was saying, but I had Darrin whispering to me while my friend was talking on my computer and I had to go into the hallway just to hear what this guy was saying.

Whoever was on the phone was asking me if my computer was on and at first I thought yeah yeah yeah and my refrigerator is running too, I guess I better go catch it, right?  I thought it was a crank call, so I asked “Who is this?”  He told me he was from Microsoft Service Center.  I asked him what he was calling for and he told me that I had viruses on my computer and that I can turn it on now.  I told him that he must have the wrong number because I don’t have a virus, but he insisted that he had the right number.  I couldn’t understand why he was telling me that I had a virus and that I had to turn my computer on, I mean, it was on because I was video chatting with someone.

I was getting a bit miffed with having people trying to talk to me while I was on the phone and with this guy telling me that he was from Microsoft and that my computer had a virus.  I asked him for the phone number where he was calling from, and he gave it to me.  (213) 221-3528.  I told him that I would call right back, but I was really going to Google the number so I could find out whether anyone else had gotten a call from that number before, but I didn’t find anything credible because it wasn’t on the caller ID so nobody else had complained about it.  I remembered that he said he was calling from Microsoft Service Center, so I Googled that and got a toll-free number 1 (866) 587-1775 and called them.

I spoke with an Indian man who I explained what happened to me when we got a scam phone call from “Microsoft Support Center” and he told me that Microsoft will never call me.  I agreed it sounded a bit suspicious, I figured he would tell me that there was nothing to worry about and that I should be fine, but instead he told me that they probably put a virus on my computer.  He asked me to open the Internet Explorer browser and go to a specific website, which now I can’t remember and for some odd reason it isn’t in the history.  He had me enter a code and run a program that will allow me to text chat with one of their operators named Deborah.  The program window said “My Tech Guru’s” on the top.

The man I was speaking with told me to continue the conversation online with “Deborah” and hang up with him, I assume so he can take another phone call.  She told me that she would use that program to take over my computer so she could find any viruses that I might have gotten from these people who had called me.  I really don’t know how that would be possible considering I never click a pop up ad and I never read or click links in spam emails.  The only thing I ever do is go on Facebook and Twitter, check my emails, and play video games.  The only time I ever click a link is in Twitter and Facebook when I’m reading news articles or signing petitions.  I don’t really see how I could get a virus.

I asked “Deborah” several times if this was going to cost me anything and she wouldn’t give me a direct response.  She asked my permission to control my PC and I kept asking her if it was going to cost me anything and again, she skirted the issue.  She told me that she had to find out what was going on first before she would respond.  I think I asked her 2 or 3 times before she took over the computer.

She clicked Start and Run and typed something, but I can’t recall what it was.  A window took forever to load and she ran it twice and the window she was waiting for finally came up twice.  She looked around and then closed the windows.  Then she clicked run again and typed cmd and opened the command window and typed a few things, then finally opened an events window which she scrolled through and found all these things that had errors like Bonjour and Chrome.  I’m not sure what Bonjour is, but it’s always been on my computer.  I know that the Chrome errors are probably from every time it crashes.  I’m sure Bonjour is constantly crashing, but she told me that those were viruses.  Yeah, Chrome is a virus… whatever.

She stopped poking around my computer and began talking to me about what she needs to do to fix my computer.  She told me that it needs to be fixed today, like right this minute and I began asking her again, how much is this going to cost me?  I think I asked 6 to 8 times before she finally told me that it was going to be $117 for a quick fix or $199 for a whole year.  I told her that I had around or about $50 in the bank and that there was no way I could afford that.  She tried getting me to change my mind for about 5 minutes and I explained to her that I had no money, so she gave me a better deal, $69.99.  I told her no way, I have less than $50 in the bank.  She asked me how much I could afford and I said $20, and even then I still can’t afford that, I have $50 in the bank.  She lowered it down to $39.99.  I said Deborah, we are in the middle of the month, that will leave me with $10 for groceries for the next couple of weeks.  You can’t do this to me.

UGH!  She tried getting me to pay her $40 but I kept telling her it was not easy to feed 2 people on $10 in 2 weeks and I told her maybe when I get more money, but I can’t promise anything.  She was having trouble letting me go, but I had to tell her that I had to go.  I revoked her permission and closed the window.

The phone call started at 6:38pm and then I called Microsoft Service Center at maybe 6:50pm and by the time I exited the chat with Deborah, it was probably 8:15pm.  I had wasted so much of my time on this issue for nothing.

After I got off the chat with her, I was going to Google Microsoft Service Center, but then as I was typing, the auto thing dropped down to finish my sentence with Microsoft Service Center Scam.  I clicked that and it showed me a list of things.  One from Microsoft itself…  Avoid Phone Scams is from the Microsoft website.  They also have this Microsoft Safety Scanner which is FREE!  Although, it’s probably not going to fix anything, but at least it might tell me what’s going on.  I’ve been scanning my computer with that for the last 3 1/2 hours and it has found 6 infected files.  It’s not even halfway done so I expect it’s going to run all night before I finally find out what’s going on and what my options are.

I was Googling for more information that I could use for this post and guess what I found out?  I Googled that phone number that I called and found that THEY too are a scam, and I let them take control of my computer.  866-587-1775.  Then I found them again on the Microsoft website.  Well, so much for a search engine giving me credible information.

My suggestion is that if you get a phone call from someone saying they are Microsoft and telling you that you have a virus on your computer, hang up!  Don’t call Microsoft Service Centers, just go directly to the Microsoft website and scan your computer.  I’ve been using Avast Antivirus because I can’t afford to keep paying Norton every year for their updates, but now I see I’m gonna have to get another antivirus because this isn’t showing me the 6 viruses that the Microsoft Safety Scanner has found so far.

I hope this will all be fixed by tomorrow so I don’t have to worry about it anymore.  We’ll see.

Update: I forgot to mention that “Deborah” told me to change my email and bank passwords.  I did, and I also changed my Facebook password just in case.

Update: Last night when I wrote this, I said there were 6 issues.  When I got up at the ass crack of dawn I noticed that it had finished scanning, but it wasn’t at the scanning screen anymore so I didn’t know how many issues were found.  As far as I knew there were still only 6, and those were just on the C drive.  I have 2 hard drives, my old 320GB hard drive which won’t work with my new motherboard as the main hard drive, so I use it as my backup drive.  Then I have my new hard drive which is my main hard drive and is the E drive.  The window said that there were 3 issues, 2 of them were on the C drive and they were a Scooby Doo theme which I haven’t used in more than a decade, and then the E drive showed 1 issue which I can’t even remember the name now, but it had the word fun in it so it must be evil right?  LOL.  I let the Microsoft Safety Scanner remove all affected files and then it rebooted.  As far as I know there aren’t any issues, but I will keep that scanner around and do quick scans from time to time.  I’m not really worried about it anymore.

My memory is not as good as it used to be

Memory has been a huge issue with how slow my computer is because I only have 1GB of ram.  EverQuest play OK, but it’s not great.  Lord of the Rings Online is really bad because as I’m running through a zone or area, the screen will freeze up every ten seconds for up to a second or two which can be a bad thing, especially if something is chasing you.  It can be a matter of life and death, well, for your character anyway.

I recently discovered that EverQuest 2 is free, so I installed it and went into the game and it immediately froze up on me.  In order for me to get out of that I had to hit the reset button on the front of my tower to reboot the computer.  I figured it was slow because I had just installed it, but that wasn’t the case at all because I tried to run it again and it froze up again.  That told me that I definitely need more memory for my computer.

I have been doing research over the last few days to find the most inexpensive memory because I just don’t have a lot of money to spare right now.  My go-to website used to be TigerDirect, but when I discovered how quickly I got my orders from NewEgg, that became my go-to site, but they are too expensive for 4GB.  A friend told me to try the Fry’s Electronics website so I checked it out and they are way cheaper than NewEgg.  I did go to TigerDirect and they aren’t too expensive, but I don’t want to have to wait a whole week when Fry’s is in Los Angeles and I could get it as quickly as NewEgg.

My ideal brands are Kingston and PNY, but they don’t have any available that will ship out immediately.  Fry’s Electronics also had some other less expensive brands that I would have liked, but shipping was unavailable, so I chose the Patriot Extreme Performance PC2-6400 (800MHz).

My motherboard will accept PS2 memory up to 8GB.  I can’t afford to buy 8GB so I am buying 4GB for now and then I will buy another 4GB later when I can afford it again.  What I love especially about this memory I am buying is the heat sink.  The memory I have doesn’t have that.  This is the description of this memory, and it really fits for what I use my computer for too.

“Patriot Gamer Series (PGS), part of the Extreme Performance (EP) Enhanced Latency line is engineered to expand your gaming options. These modules are designed to operate at 800MHz at 5-5-5-12 timings and is available in 4GB kit capacity. Equipped with lightweight aluminum heat-dispersing shields, these modules are designed for maximum performance and stability under extreme overclocking conditions. Engineered with quality and Performance in mind, Patriot Extreme Performance line is the ultimate solution for extreme overclockers, gamers, and PC enthusiasts.”

I think that “Extreme overclockers, gamers, and PC enthusiasts” really fits me lol.

Another issue I have with memory is Hulu, YouTube and Facebook games.  I don’t really care too much about Facebook games, but it is fun to play them every so often, you know?  I can’t play them at all because they freeze up my computer.

I will  order this memory now and then see how it works out.  I really hope that it’s as fast as it says it is, and it if is fast, I may just forego buying the other 4GB, but can you imagine how much faster it will be with 8GB?  I actually would love to see how much faster it would be so let’s hope I can afford that next month.

I will let you know how fast my computer becomes when my new memory comes.  I can’t wait!

Update: I ordered it early this morning and it has already shipped.  WOW that was fast!  I don’t have a tracking number yet, but if they ship it from Los Angeles, I should get it by tomorrow, that is if the mail comes on the 4th of July.

Update 7/13/2012: I called Fry’s a couple of days ago asking them why the tracking isn’t working and where my package is since I bought this on the 3rd, but they told me there was a tracking number, it just wasn’t listed yet because it wasn’t working on the UPS website yet.  I told the woman who I spoke with that it’s supposed to come USPS, but she said they ship it out with UPS, then they hand it over to the post office to send it to me.  Well, I was finally able to check the shipping on the UPS website, and the tracking says it should be here on 7/16/2012, but we will see if that is true on Monday, I won’t hold my breath.

My reason for buying this through Fry’s instead of NewEgg or TigerDirect was that I thought they were shipping it from their LA store, but they are really shipping it from back east, which wasn’t what I had thought.  If I knew I would have to wait for 2 weeks for my memory, I would have gone with TigerDirect which only takes 1 week.  They had the same prices, NewEgg was more expensive.  So this is the first and last thing I will ever buy from Fry’s.  I wanted to buy the other 4GB from Fry’s with my next check, but I think I’ll just live with 4GB.