Might be interesting

Reading a summary of my own history, I feel like a vagabond man.  Write up from The World newspaper about Bandon IT, and myself (Aaron.)

http://theworldlink.com/bandon/news/business/bandon-it-offers-computer-adds-internet-at-t-directv-services/article_955310e4-769a-5db2-a8ac-a5bae5d7f140.html

Posted in Education Tagged with: ,

Google Drive – New Features and Name

googledrive

For the few folks out there that may be unaware or not use Google Drive – this is a software based virtual “drive” associated with your Google / Gmail account (similar to Microsoft’s Onedrive)  You can place any type of file in your Google Drive folder on your computer, and it automatically synchronizes to your online Google Drive account.  

There are several reasons why would you want to do this.  First off, redundancy.  If your computer hard drive dies, you lose all the saved files on it.  However if you have placed files in your Google Drive folder, there is a copy online that can be accessed and downloaded again on a new hard drive.

Another reason is for sharing / collaboration of files. You can go to your virtual drive and share a file with a coworker or friend, and both of you can work on the same file – online at the same time.  No more emailing a document back and forth between 4 different people trying to straighten out a rough draft.  And of someone gets carried away with the editing, you can always roll it back to the previous version.

Yet another reason that isn’t applicable to all but very useful to those that need it is having the same files on multiple computers.  If you need to access the same files that are on your desktop and laptop, you can have the same Google Drive account setup to both, with a mirror copy of all files on each.  Update one file, the changes are immediately sent to the other computers that have Google Drive installed.

Of course there is also Google Drive for tablets and smartphones.  You can access all of your Google Drive files from there as well.

Coming next week on June 28th Google Drive will be rolling out some new features.  Instead of just synchronizing files you have placed in your Google Drive folder, you will now be able to choose other folders to synchronize as well, like your Documents, Music, or Pictures folder. These new features will be in the form of a new app named Backup & Sync, and will combine features from both Google Drive and Google Photos backup applications.  

Remember that all Google accounts have a storage capacity of 15GB.  If you do need more space, you can purchase additional here https://www.google.com/drive/pricing/   Currently pricing is set at $1.99 per month for 100GB and $9.99 for 1TB.  That’s comparable to Apple’s iCloud at $0.99 for 50GB per month, and less than Microsoft’s Onedrive at $1.99 for 50GB per month.

Despite the large amount of data Google’s new Backup & Sync app has the potential to hold and handle, Google has recommended that business users stick with the original Google Drive application for now.  In other words, while the consumers work out the bugs.

Posted in Education, Software, Techie news Tagged with: ,

Podcasts

podcast

 

When I was ten (well before the internet age) I would secretly stay up late at night listening to my scratchy AM radio and tune into the adventures of Don Quixote and his faithful squire Sancho, as he battled windmills and musketeers. Today I don’t even own a radio, but the spirit of Don Quixote lives on in podcasts.

Podcasting (not to be confused with podracing) is according to statistics a familiar term to 55% of Americans. It hails back from the early days of the internet in the 1980s, when it was first called “audioblogging.”  Is was not until the mid 2000’s the delivery of podcasts took off with the advent of the iPod and other similar portable media playback devices.

Where is podcasting today, and why are we talking about it?  Today 57 million Americans listen monthly to podcasts (up 23% year to year) with an estimated 3.3 + billion downloads last year. With the ability to listen to podcasts on any computer, smartphone, or tablet anywhere at anytime, podcasts are bounding forward.

For the 45% of you that are still wondering, “What is this podcast magic?” here’s a breakdown.  Just as you can find any type of video you may be interested in on Youtube, and just like you can find information on any type of subject matter you want from Google, you can find and listen to any type of subject matter imaginable that peaks your interest via a podcast.  A podcast is an audio file that you can listen to on any device, and you can subscribe to podcasts to auto receive the newest release automatically.

There are podcasts for humor, tech, general news, religion, self help and sports. There are serial stories and short stories. For an example, here are a few I listen to on a regular basis (links to the podcast download):

I used to think think that I didn’t really have time to listen to podcasts, but then I realized that hour round trip to Coos Bay was a great time to listen to them, as well as those 3 hours scooting around on the riding lawn mower each week. Plus the hours each month listening while I fix the lawn mower… maybe I should listen to a mower preventive maintenance podcast.

Posted in Education Tagged with:

Before you Switch

email

 

This may come as a surprise for some – if you change your ISP (Internet Service Provider) you lose your hosted email services from that provider. Example, if you use Charter and switch to ComSpan you no longer get to use your @charter.net email. If you switch from Frontier to another provider, you no longer have @frontier.net or @frontier.com email.

If you have read previous Tech Tips I’ve written you are aware I am not a huge supporter of using Yahoo email services (which also hosts Frontier email) due to glitchy interfaces, annoying ads, and a proven track record of having the worst security of any email provider. I have also spoken out against using any ISP provided email services due to the fact if you switch, you run into the issue of no longer having that email address.

Competition between providers is at an all time high which is great for the consumer. Should you switch? That depends on location, costs, package, and what your individual needs are. But BEFORE you switch you must get a new email address. Gmail and Outlook (also known as Live, Hotmail, and MSN) are the two most popular free and secure email providers.

Here is a short reminder list of people and places you will need to update your email address with:

  • All of your existing contacts in your address book
  • Banks, financial institutions, retirement / 401k sites, loans (student, car, house)
  • Social Media Sites – FaceBook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, SnapChat
  • Medical sites – Your web portal to your doctors, North Bend Medical
  • Government sites – Oregon Dept of Revenue, Social Security Administration
  • Insurance provider – For business, car, home, life, workmans comp
  • Your phone provider – AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T Mobile; Also Apple, or Google if using an iPhone or Android device
  • All e-commerce sites – Amazon, WalMart, eBay, PayPal, Sears, etc.
  • Any online forums that you visit and post to

 

The above is not by any means an exhaustive list of all possible sites, but you can use it as a template to get started. I suggest going through all saved bookmarks (favorites) to see all sites you access and which ones will require a notification of email change.

Posted in Uncategorized

Card Compromised

fraud

Today we are going to look at a few of the more common ways your credit or debit card number can be compromised.

  • Skimmer – this is a device that card thieves insert into a normal looking “swipe” location. It could be at the gas station, your ATM, or any retail store you go to.  The only way to avoid having your card number stolen this way is to not use it. Alternatively you can use Android Pay and Apple Pay (at locations that accept them) without the worry of a “skimmer” reading your card. Or cash. Most places still accept cash.  Here is a video that shows you how fast these are installed:

 

  • Purchasing from “unknown” websites – The site may look great and give you a great deal on those garden gnomes, but how secure is their backend CC processing? Even the BIG stores (remember the Target card breach?) can be affected, but the little online shops are just (if not more so) vulnerable. For the times when you must have that item from them, use PayPal for the purchase. If that’s not an option, try a pre-paid Visa card.

  • Random Card Generator (bad luck) – This was explained to me by a US Bank fraud prevention employee. A $3000 purchase had been made in a store located in California to a new card with the chip that I had been issued.  The store ran the card without using the chip (which made the store eat the $3k).  How they got the new card number was by obtaining (compromising) a similar card number, and then they just changed the end digits.  No way to avoid that.  But you can (with most banks) setup customized alerts. I have mine set to now send me a text if there are any transactions over $49, to help prevent additional unauthorized activity once it begins.

  • Computer hackers – Hackers really don’t spend that much time trying to “break in” to individual / residential computers.  With a bit more effort they can get into large businesses and financial institutions and obtain your card numbers that way, and they get millions of them at a time; there is nothing we can do about that part. But there is still malicious software out there that does target us at home.  Keep anti-virus products up to date along with applying security updates to all programs.

  • Mail theft – Did you know your credit card number is listed on some statements? If a thief steals your statement, not only do they have your card number, but they also have the address the card is billed to which makes easy online shopping.  Have your statements mailed to a PO Box, or eliminate paper statements all together and use e-statements.  Your institution will email you when they are available for download, and you login to their site to access.

So you’ve been as careful as possible and yet some crooked kid still ends up with your card number making unauthorized purchases. Now what? Immediately call your card carrier and notify them of the unauthorized charges.  Most (not all) financial institutions will automatically refund the charges and forward the work on getting the bank repaid to their fraud department.  If you are unsure if your financial institution will assist, I advise you call and ask now.

Posted in Education, Security, Uncategorized Tagged with:

Windows 10 Adds Ads

windows 10

 

Market share wise Microsoft continues to dominate the laptop and desktop world with claiming ownership of 89% of such devices or roughly 283 million machines. The remainder are Apple devices, Chromebooks and a few Linux operating systems. As competition continues to grow, and Microsoft continues to make poor choices in implementation (everyone remember your forced upgrade to Windows 10?) this trend is projected to continue in decline.

Speaking of Microsoft, Windows 10 and poor implementation, let’s talk about the next shoe to drop.  Windows 10 will soon be delivering pop-up ads inside your Windows Explorer.  Not to be confused with Internet Explorer or Edge which are web browsers both used to surf the internet, Windows Explorer (also known as File Explorer) is the folder icon that lets you view the files on your computer.  As you poke around in your pictures or documents folder, you will soon be getting ads there.

What fresh hell is this you may ask? As revenues decline for Microsoft they are forced to find additional revenue streams, and what better way than to force ads on users that they have already forced the operating system on.  They sure make me love my Mac more everyday.

The good news is there is currently a “fix” to stop the ads. However as each new update to Windows 10 rolls out, Microsoft may disable this “fix” or find other ways to push ads onto your computer.  As the extension  AdBlock for web browsers plays the continuous cat and mouse game to block ads from websites, there is not a program (yet) to block ads coming from inside the computer.  Once one is created we will be sure to let you know.

In the interim here is the workaround to stop ads from coming to you via Microsoft:

  • Launch File Explorer and click View > Options > Change folder and search options.

  • In the Folder Options dialog that pops up, select the View tab.

  • In the Advanced Settings box, scroll down and uncheck the option labeled “Show sync provider notifications.” Hit OK.

Alternatively Windows desktops make great redesigned fish tanks, should you have the desire and time to make one.

Posted in Education, Techie news Tagged with: ,

Know Your Numbers

numbers

 

Scammers come in varieties of sheep clothing. They call impersonating Microsoft and Google, stating that there is “something wrong with your computer.”  They send pop-ups to your computer stating the same.  But did you know they advertise?

If you do any type of search for Microsoft,  HP, Dell, Gmail, or other major computer hardware of software vendor you will see millions of results.  Unfortunately many are fake support companies stating that they are “Support” for the company you called, and then proceed to login to your computer, state that your machine is “heavily infected” and require $00-$800 of work.

How do you know who is legit and who is not? The web address (domain name) that you are going to.  Support.microsoft.com is legitimate, however microsoft.mysupport.com is not. The name just before .COM should always be the name of the company.  If it is not chances are you are not talking with the folks you think you should be dealing with.

Below are the phone support numbers for several major hardware and software companies:

  • Microsoft 1.800.642.7676
  • Dell 1.800.624.9897
  • HP 1.800.474.6836
  • Quickbooks  1.877.797.5809
  • Quicken 1.650.250.1900
  • Lenovo  – Will not publish a number unless you have an account, then go here: http://support.lenovo.com/us/en/contactus
  • GMail – Phone support only for paid business accounts, must login to email admin console and click on Support to retrieve phone number.
  • Yahoo – You’re kidding, right? Zero phone support.

Another popular place to visit for those that have fallen for fake scam support schemes is the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).  You can register a complaint here, providing all information (who called you, what their numbers were, what was done etc.)   You can access that site here: https://www.ic3.gov/complaint

Lastly but perhaps the most important number to have saved in your contact list for those living in Coos County is the Coos County Emergency Dispatch  public number.  In the last two months there have been two large scale / national outages of the 911 system, affecting cell phone carriers and individuals attempting to call 911.  If you are experiencing an emergency that requires 911 services and you are unable to reach them, then call this number: 541.396.4221  Again please let me stress that this is an emergency number and should only be used in such instances that require a response from Fire, EMS, or Law Enforcement. 

Posted in Education Tagged with: , ,

Amazon – Delivery to the Moon

amazon

 

Last week Amazon announced that they are slated to begin deliveries to the moon by mid 2020. What does that mean? It means they believe by that time there will be humans (or maybe robots) living there that may require products from their vast supply chain.

Over the last few years Amazon has continued to grow their global market, expanding into many other countries outside of the US. That is great news for consumers worldwide and beyond as Amazon’s buying power increases, the ability to pass on savings to us increases as well.

Not everything on Amazon is the “best deal” out there though, you do need to keep a close eye on the prices. Yes Double Stuff Oreos are less expensive there than in the local store.  But a 9oz bag of Toasted Coconut Cashews run $19.90 on Amazon, compared to only $7.99 at RiteAid.

Another method of saving with Amazon is through subscription.  Some items offer you a choice of purchasing the item once at full price, or sign up for auto delivery and receive 5% off.  You get to choose how often the item is delivered from monthly, every other month, once every 3 months, etc. You can also go back and update and change your delivery dates, as well as cancel a subscription at any time.

The subscription service gets better though. If you have 5 items signed up for the subscribe and save program that are scheduled for delivery at the same time, you receive 15% off the normal purchase price.

To see what items are available on Amazon’s Subscribe & Save Store, go to Amazon.com, click on Account & Lists, then Your Subscribe & Save Items.  From there in the upper right hand corner of the screen you can click on the Shop the Subscribe & Save Store link. Here will be a broken down by department list of over 100,000 items that are available for subscription that you can browse through.  You can also from this page search for specific items on the search bar.

For a small example of items available, I currently have baby wipes, diapers, shampoo, conditioner, Bounce fabric softener, and Great American popcorn setup for delivery every other month.

In the fine print Amazon does have a disclaimer that the discount promotion is subject to change and could change at any time. But for now that’s an additional bit of savings I’ll take.

Posted in Education Tagged with: ,

Who is watching you?

TV

 

In the age of Siri, Google Now, Cortana, and Amazon’s Alexa (all virtual assistants) we are becoming more accustomed to having electronics constantly listening for our next verbal command.  We know there is a trade off between privacy and convenience.

What about your television, though? You may (or may not be) aware that some newer televisions have the ability to not only track watch you watch, but also listen to what is being said in the room.

The tracking of your viewing habits provides valuable information to advertisers and other third parties.  This collection of data is not restricted to the Smart TV however; streaming devices such as  Apple TV, Roku, Chromecast and Amazon Fire TV also collect information on what you are watching.

TV maker Vizio was hit in February with a $2.2 million fine by the FTC for collecting this information without disclosing that fact to consumers. Here is a sample of LG’s Privacy disclosure from their website:

“…viewing Information may include the name of the channel or program watched, requests to view content, details of actions taken while viewing (e.g., play, stop, pause, etc.), the duration that content was watched, and input method (RF, Component, HDMI)…. such as the menu items you click on, the apps you access (but not your activity within apps), what channels are available to you, and information regarding external devices connected to the Smart TV…. Voice Information. This refers to voice commands and associated data (such as information about the input device that records your voice) used to recognize and act upon the command, OS information, TV model information, content provider, channel information and service results.”

How can you tell if your TV is sending this data out?  Is there a way to opt out? Yes.

The following article from CNET lists all major brands of televisions and streaming devices with step by step instructions for each on how to limit or disable tracking.

CNET: https://www.cnet.com/how-to/your-tv-is-probably-tracking-you-heres-how-to-stop-it/

 

Posted in Education, Techie news Tagged with: , , ,

Online Competition

Walmart Amazon

Today there are virtual marketplaces online across the globe that you can purchase anything you could possibly imagine, legally – and – illegally, online.  We will not be discussing the “how-to” for hiring a hit man or human trafficking today, rather the competition between the legal companies.

Walmart steps up the ante.  Recently Walmart began offering free two-day shipping for all orders over $35.  Does that sound like another online company?  It should. Amazon had been offering free two day shipping for purchases over $49.

Amazon steps up the ante.  In response to Walmart’s new offer, Amazon has now lowered and matched Walmart’s shipping offer, with free two day shipping for purchases over $35.

Verizon starts the new unlimited war. After years of cellular companies attempting to rid themselves of unlimited data plans, Verizon last week surprised everyone by rolling out a new unlimited data plan, $80/mo for all 4G data, texts and talk.  Not to be outdone, three other carries quickly followed suit last week with announcing changes and / or additions to their plans.

T-Mobile announced that it was dropping two of the restrictions on its unlimited data plan, HD streaming and tethering.

Sprint stepped in also announced support in their unlimited data plan for HD video and mobile tethering as well.

Not to be left out, AT&T jumped into the fray and announced that it was expanding its unlimited plan so that non-Direct TV customers can also join and benefit from that program. The catch there is to obtain that plan, you need to have 4 or more smartphones on your account.  If you do not, you cannot obtain the new plan credit.

Now which one is best? It’s still dependent on needs, use, availability / coverage area. One may have better pricing but they also may constantly drop calls in your service area. To figure that out it is best to inquire with local friends and family on which carrier they use and that carrier’s quality in coverage.

Posted in Education Tagged with: , , ,

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