DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 4, 2017

Schemes, Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:45 am

Today on Part 2 of looking at different schemes that are knocking on our phones, emails, and even doors we will look at a couple which have hit me recently.  I am no different from you, so if I am getting them some of you are too.  So here are your alerts, warnings and call to be cautious.

How about those offers from Netflix you just received?  I got this one yesterday.  At first glance it appears to be from Netflix.  The logo is in the upper right of the email so it must be official.  The email explains that if I do not click the “Click here to verify your account” button and fill in the blanks it asks for my Netflix account will be closed.

However, let me tell you several other things about this “scary” email.  The first thing I noticed is that there are some typos.  The salutation is, “hello,” all lowercase. ALERT!  Some of the grammar sounds strange like, “…will result in suspension Netflix.”  Notice the missing parts of speech and similar sentences with comparable bad grammar. ALERT!

Next, there were two links in the email.  One was “Netflix Support.”  I did not click this link as I have warned you about many times here; however, you can hover a link with no ill effects.  When I hovered over that link it popped up and was actually the Netflix Help site. GOOD.  Then I hovered the “Click here…” link mentioned earlier.  When it revealed itself, it was for some strange site in France. ALERT!

imageThe final straw for this email trying to get my login information, or worse, is where they sent it.  It came to my most commonly used email address. ALERT!  The one I used online all the time, for this site, for logins to blogs, RSS feeds, etc.  It can easily be found online.  I buy nothing with that email address.  I use a completely different email for purchases online.  And this includes Netflix.  They fell into my trap and sent it to an account that has had no dealings with Netflix.  That is a guarantee that it was a scheme/spam.  I have advised you before to get one email address for buying online ONLY. Do it if you have not done so yet.

I have given you several alerts that you can easily check in an email…use them!  Most importantly…NEVER, EVER click links in emails that ask you to login to validate, verify or check something online.  If you are concerned that it may be an actual email from a company, open your browser and log into the actual site like “netflix.com.”  While there you will be alerted if you actually need to validate something for them.  Note that this is a rare occurrence.  I have been contacted by sites like this before but only because someone tried unsuccessfully to get into my account.  They emailed to let me know that I should change my password.

By the way, I received two emails from Amazon over the past two weeks.  They were even worse than this one.  One of them spelled Amazon as “Amozan.”  Spelling errors will not be found in actual emails from large companies.

Amazon pays people to check emails before are sent out.

March 28, 2017

Schemes, Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:27 am

There are a lot of cyber-schemes going around today.  And yes, they have been going around for years.  However, it seems to me that they have become more abundant over the last several months.

You know the emails with strange attachments, the links from companies asking you to log in and check your account.  Then the deposed politicians in foreign countries who need your help getting money, etcetera.

Scheming Computer 

I am getting multiple emails a week…sometimes daily which is a bit disturbing.  It really bothers me in that I pretty much feel confident that I avoid most of them but some of you may not.  I will never say that I will avoid them all because sooner or later I may mess up.

So first, perform the standards of keeping your operating system, antivirus, and anti-malware software up-to-date.  That is a significant help to you.

I took a class on security recently and thought I should share a few tips with you.  Some you may not have ever considered.  

One is, what should be done if you find a thumb drive laying on the ground somewhere?  DO NOT put it in your computer to see if there is any secret "stuff" on it.  Yes, it may have financial data, account numbers, legal documents, pictures or who knows what on it.  However, it is possible that it could have a virus on it.  You put it in your system and, "boom," you could have a very big problem with your computer.  You should give it to someone in "charge" at the location.  If it is in the middle of nowhere, toss it in the trash. 

How about your passwords?  Yes, I know that everyone has a different password for every single site they visit…not.  But you probably have multiple passwords you use from time-to-time.  How ever you deal with passwords they should be secure.  A secure password has at least eight characters and includes a minimum of one upper case letter, one lower case, a number and a symbol.   "12345678" is not a good password, but "Row3Urbt!" is.  So how do you remember it if it is that difficult?  Take a look at that one, how about, "Row, row, row, your boat?"  Make up those that are easy for you to remember, like the first letter of each word of your favorite song, followed by the year you graduated with an exclamation point-at the beginning.  Play with it and if you can do 12 characters it is much better.

Click the graphic below and use the password checker below
to find out how secure your passwords are. 

(Do not enter you actual PW but something close.)

Check the security of your password here.

Next, what about your computer when you leave the house?  Make sure of several things.  First, do not leave it unlocked.  On your windows PC press the Windows key and the "L" keys at the same time and it is locked/secured.  Make sure that you have not left a piece of paper lying around or under your keyboard with your password(s) on it.  Do not leave your thumb drive lying there as they are easy to walk off with.  Take your cell phone with you.  And this is old school but do not leave your tax returns lying on the desk before you leave for a movie.

More next week.

March 21, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 2

Last week we looked at private browser settings.  If you have any setup questions, go back to last week on DoubleClicks.info and check it out.

Internet Explorer InPrivate Mode

This week a few more good things you can do with the Private Mode on your browser.

If you have ever needed to browse to the same site but different accounts, you can do it with the private mode.  For instance, say you want to look in two different bank accounts at the same bank. You cannot do this in the regular browser.  You could open another browser and do this; however, open a private window in the same browser and you can check in to the other account at the same time.  Or different email accounts, two Netflix accounts, Amazon and on it goes.  Open the account in a regular browser’s tab then open a private window and open the other.  Easy and works since it is totally separated from your system.  When you log off it and close the browser it goes away with no trace of your access.

The same thing will work for some of us on work sites.  If you have a regular account and an Admin account, you can visit both the same way.  It is a very convenient solution.

Now here is a biggie you may have experienced and not realized what was happening.  This seems to happen especially when you go shopping for vacation travel and plane tickets.  You look them up and do not buy them. Then later you come back to purchase and the price is up…I have shopped for web site addresses and found the same thing. Always shop in a private window and go back to find the prices are the same or better.  They are not keeping your browser’s cookies so they do not know that you have been there before.  Now not all sites do this but some do.  I do not like to shop in regular mode on my browser.  Reputable sites like Amazon and other well know sites do not do this.  Just be cautious.

Another thing that cookies perform in your browser in the normal mode is track you online. This is not quite as nefarious as it sounds; however, most sites do know where you were before you came to their site and what you looked at.  Just like the vacation prices, it could be that some site you looked at “Thingamajig 123” at the xyz.com store and saw it for $29.00 so they could (though not likely) reduce theirs to $27.50 and then up your shipping by $5 to cover it.  Again, I imagine that is rare but it has been done. There is no way for you to know or prove it.  However, in private mode no one knows where you came from before you got to them.

Also, think of logging into your bank from a computer that is not yours.  In normal mode your username and password could be easily recorded.  Then someone else “could” access your account.  In Incognito mode (Google Chrome’s name) they could not do this since nothing is left behind.

Note that you are not totally invisible in a private mode.  The internet service provider can make available all of your computer’s activities if it was required of them.  Private Mode only keeps your history off of your local computer and does not allow cookies for tracking.

Chrome Incognito logo

March 14, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 1

What is “Private Browsing?” is a question I receive from time-to-time.  People write that they were looking around in their browser and saw it.  In Google Chrome the same thing is named “Incognito Mode.”  In Internet Explorer, it is “InPrivate Browsing” and others have slightly different names.

The Private browser settings are sometimes referred to as “Porn Browser Mode.”

What does Private Mode/Browsing do that normal browsing does not?

Incognito Mode SpyIt does not keep any trace of you on your computer or any website.  When you surf in normal mode everywhere you go is recorded in your browser’s history.  That way you can go back to your history and look where you have been.  This is good if you know you went to a site last week but cannot remember its name.  Search your history and you can go right back to the same page.

Cookies are not stored in private either, so your search information and sites visited are not stored for other sites to pull from your computer to send back info on which news sites you read, where you do all of your online shopping, etc.  When using private mode, it is as if you were never online.  Well, up to a point but more on that next week.

However, there are many other useful reasons you may want to practice it at times.

Setting Google Chrome for IncognitoIn the majority of browsers to open a window in “Private” look to the upper right of the browser and click the gear or three-dot icon.  This is where you get to all of the settings in your browser.  Then look for the private mode.  For instance, in Chrome click the three dots in upper right then choose “New incognito windows.”  You may also utilize the shortcut keys of “Ctrl + Shift + N.”  Once in the private/incognito window you will see some sort of label showing you that your browsing is secret.  In Chrome an icon of a man in a hat with glasses will be in the upper left corner.  All browsers are slightly different so search online for how to set it up and what is displayed on yours.
What other more respectable reasons should you want to use it?  First, pretend you are shopping online for a gift for your significant other, or someone else who may use your computer occasionally.  You search for a “Thingamajig 123” in the regular browsing window.  You find it and read all about it.  Well, cookies from that site will be saved to your browser.  When the other person opens that browser minutes, hours or days later and searches in Google, guess what?  Ads for a “Thingamajig 123” will appear in Google so you are given away.  Cookies are shared from site to site so that is why you see advertisements for things you have been looking for.  It seems spooky until you realize why.

Next week more reasons you may want to consider Secret Surfing.

March 7, 2017

Surface Pro

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:54 am

I am testing a new type of computer, at least for me.  They first came into the public view in early to mid-2013 depending on where on the globe you are located.  You know the one as the marketing for this “new” computer was worldwide and abundant.  You know all the happy people dancing around to a “snappy” tune, and flipping/closing their small computers in rhythm like they were in a euphoric trance.  Yeah, you have it now, the Microsoft Windows based, “Surface Pro.”

First was the Surface, next the Surface Pro, then a 2, and 3 which has progressed into the current Surface Pro 4.  Of course, that is not all Microsoft now has. The Surface Book, Hub and in December, 2016 the Surface Studio rolled out.

First what is different about it?  It is smaller than a usual notebook, more the size of a tablet with a very thin keyboard.  Approximately 11″ x 7″ x 0.6″.  When the keyboard is attached, it is closer to an inch thick.  There is a foldout section on the back to provide a stand to keep it upright with a couple of positions.  You need that “wedge” to support the actual screen/computer as the keyboard is only a hinge with no support like you may be used to with a regular notebook.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2

The keyboard is slightly smaller than some other brands of notebooks but not significantly.  It also includes a touchpad – similar to all the others.  I choose to use a wireless USB mouse with this one which functions well.  I have been typing on it regularly for a couple of days.  I am having no problem hitting the correct keys – other than caused by my regularly average typing.  (Hallelujah, for auto-spell checking in word processors!)

You have three keyboard options.  First, you can use the keyboard like any other notebook and type on it.  Next, you can fold the keyboard over to become the back surface of the notebook. It then becomes a tablet.  When in tablet mode your screen rotates when tilted like any other tablet and you can use the touchscreen.  Finally, you may choose to detach the keyboard all-the-way and have a Windows tablet.

It has good response and speed although nowhere near as quick as some larger notebooks I have used.  I have been using spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing, email, a very few online games (no pc games or Steam) and everything works as it should.

I cannot really find a lot to nitpick about with this nice little notebook/tablet combo.

Well, OK, there is one major issue for me, the price.  For the top of the line Surface Pro 4 today you may figure about $1,400.  Oh wait, that does not include a keyboard which may be had for an additional $55 – $130.  I am currently testing an older (2014) Surface Pro 2 which again I find to be a very decent system.  The price on one of these is around $550 and again that is without a keyboard.  I pulled these prices off of Amazon so you may be able to find others elsewhere.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

My problem is at that price I can find two equally decent regular notebooks or tablets (with Bluetooth keyboards included.  If money were no object, sure, I would not mind owning one.  However, not currently for me.

 

 

February 28, 2017

IE Tab for Chrome

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

My friend, John and I were talking a couple of weeks ago about a geek hassle we have all faced.  Usually this happens at work but on occasion anywhere.  Some specific websites are designed to open and function properly in Microsoft Internet Explorer…only.  SharePoint seems to be one of the main offenders.  They may open in other browsers; however, they will not function properly.

Since I am an advocate of the Google Chrome browser I hate when I am working on something in deep thought.  I open a site in anticipation of reading something, completing a process or researching information and poof, it fails to respond properly.  Then we all do the same thing, copy the URL from the failed site and paste it in MSIE to get where we need to be.  What a hassle!  IE Tab logo

Enter IE Tab.  Chrome as well as other browsers, have extensions or add-ins depending on what they are called by each company.  These allow additional features to be added to the browser that were not available originally.  There are many types available which perform a wide variety of functions.  They help you with your shopping, find articles, check the weather, help you navigate in your browser as well as your car and do hundreds, if not thousands of other things.

IE tab was built originally for Chrome but now comes in a version for Firefox as well.  You can get it for Chrome while in the browser.   Go to the three vertical dots in the upper right hand corner, when you hover there it will show “Customize and control Google Chrome” and click.  Go down to “More tools” then “Extensions.”  At the very bottom of the window you then click on “Get more extensions” and search for “IE Tab.”  Finally click and install the extension.  (As a shortcut, you can type “chrome://extensions” and skip many of those steps.)  After IE Tab installs and you use it the first time you will be directed to install “IEtabhelper” which is needed to make it work.  Do not worry, this is a safe app too.

Once all is done you will get a dark blue extension icon with an “e” to the right of your address bar.  Right click it and then click on “Options.”  Then scroll down to “Auto URLs” and start by entering an offending URL and click “Add.”  The next time you go to that site which would not work correctly in Chrome it will now function flawlessly.  It will continue working any other time you go there in the future.  The makers of IE Tab say that it will properly use Java, Silverlight, ActiveX, SharePoint, and other Microsoft browser features.

One thing my buddy John mentioned is that he uses the Safari browser.  Yes, even though he is my good friend he uses a MAC!  I found this about Mac’s lack of IE Tab.  It has it built in, sort of.  While in Safari go to Safari, Preferences, Advanced Tab and check “Show Develop menu in menu bar.”  This will place the Develop tab in the menu where under it you will find “User Agent.”  There is a list of browsers so select the browser you would like Safari to emulate, then go to your web address.  The only problem with this is that you must do this each time you need to visit that site again.

Safari Browser logo

February 21, 2017

Had Enough of Facebook? Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:31 am

Last week I let you know how to download a backup copy of most everything you have posted to Facebook.  This was in preparation for permanently removing you FB account.  Of course, you could do it for fun to see what they have on you.

Bear in mind that even though you will remove all of your photos, posts, etc. they may still be out there somewhere, where you have no knowledge of their existence.  Also, remember that in the fine print when you signed up for FB, they have your permission to use anything you post to their system anywhere they choose.  Your “stuff” may reappear somewhere else – maybe as an advertisement.  Your deleted information may not be found in the public domain by searching; however, it is still there.

So, after your backup copy is done and saved to your computer, here is how to entirely delete your Facebook account.  By-the-way deleting Facebook is a popular search on Google, take a look below at the sixth choice, where I started typing, “delete.

dele search - enlarged

First you should go to the settings area by clicking the lock or down arrow icon in the upper right corner.  On the lower left side of the Settings menu select “Apps” and remove all of them.  Keep in mind if it is an app that requires Facebook to play you may not be able to play the game, etc. again.  If you want to get more information about the app click its name or icon and read what it does and what information they collect about you.  Some apps may not be deleted so you have to deal with those few.

Delete Apps - enlarged

Next you can clear your past searches.  Again, under Settings click “Activity logs.”  On the left menu scroll down to the first “More” you see and select it.  When the screen opens look to the upper area and next to “Search” you will see “Clear searches.” Click and your past searches will be deleted.  Now the bad part of this is if you wish to delete all of the other things there you will have to delete them individually.  You would have to go to each photo, video, comment, etc. and delete each one.  This is not worth it to me and you have covered many of the bases up to this point.  I have heard some browsers have add-ins that will do this for you, but I have not tried them so Google for them if you wish.

In the past, you could delete your entire Activity Log but at this writing I could not find a way to do this.  Facebook changes this quite often so it may reappear in the future or it could be buried deeply somewhere I could not locate.

Finally, you need to go to this URL, “www.facebook.com/help/delete_account” and click the “Delete my account” button.  (That link is not found on Facebook as a link so you must type it in.) But first you may want to read “Learn more about account deletion.”  After an alert or two, respond appropriately and it will be gone.  You will get a verification email to your registered account letting you know what you did.

Delete May Account- enlarged

However, they say do not login to Facebook again for a minimum of 14 days.  I would wait longer.  If you do login before that time has passed it will be fully restored.  Aren’t they nice thinking you made a mistake after all of this hassle?

Now go read a book or a newspaper and maybe even talk to your friends and relatives who are really your friends.

February 14, 2017

Had Enough of Facebook? Part 1

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:51 am

Particularly with today’s political climate some people are getting tired of all the rhetoric on Facebook.  Some laugh and ignore it others get off of Facebook temporarily while still others deactivate their accounts, get off of the app and never come back…or so they plan.

There are several ways to get off of FB.  Yes, the easy way is to stop using it for a while.  I have a relative or two who have done this.  They just stop using it for a while and wait for the insanity to pass.  That way you have the ability to log back into the system and see pictures of old friends and hear what people had for breakfast; whatever.

Another way is to deactivate your account.  To do this, open log into your Facebook account.  In the upper right corner click the down arrow in and choose “Settings.”  On the left of this screen select “Security” then at the bottom of that screen click on “Deactivate Your Account.”  Now choose it once again.

image                    image

Facebook now tells you that your photos will vanish in most areas of Facebook and that people will see some of your posts if others have shared them, etc.  They also try to make you sad by showing some of your friends on FB who will miss you.

Next, you will need to answer a few questions, like your reason for leaving.  By-the-way, if you want to deactivate for a period of time you can choose that here also.  Your account will then become active again at the time you choose.  Then there is a little more information and warnings.  For instance, do you wish to opt out of receiving invites, notices of being tagged in photos, etcetera?  You will also need to decide if you want to also shutdown Messenger.  You can still use it if you like the app, which in my opinion is the best part of FB.  Then you hit the last Deactivate button and finish it off.

If you choose to deactivate your Facebook account, you can start it back up again later.  As long as you keep your email address or phone number you used for the account when you deactivated, you can start back right where you left off.

If you really want to shut down and delete your Facebook forever, proceed.  Get ready as this is made harder to do than deactivating.  If you want to keep copies of your posts, photos, videos, messages, and chats you have posted to FB download them first.  Go to the settings again and at the bottom of the General tab click “Download a copy of your Facebook data.”  All of the data will be in your downloads as a zipped file once it completes.

image

We are going to stop here this week. Next week we will cover a few more actions required to permanently eradicate your Facebook account.

February 7, 2017

My Visit to the Dark Side

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:35 am

I recently had the opportunity to test an iPhone, 5S.  Keep in mind as I continue I began this as an Android fan-boy.  But in my new position I have been asked to test specific phones to decide on which one best works for me.

So, several weeks ago, I began my journey to the Apple iPhone.  Before I go on I will say that before I wore it out I had an Apple iPod, Classic 80 and it could not be beat by any other mp3 player on the market.  If they had not been discontinued I would own a newer now but oh well, life goes on.  So, it is not like I absolutely cannot stomach their products, I really liked my iPod.

Since I previously worked in the cell phone industry, I could use most any phone made.  However, I have started out with and remained loyal to Android phones since they came out.  No reason other than the iPhones were more expensive and I didn’t really think the features were worth the extra money.

A few weeks with an iPhone may not be a fair comparison regarding years with Android but here is what I think.

iPhone 5s              Galaxy S6

The iPhone seems to be snappier in execution of applications.  The applications seem to run better and to be more stable than on Android.  I did not time anything. It was just a feeling I got as I used it regarding the “snap.”   I like the size and width of the iPhone, but more on that later.  I liked some of the default apps/abilities loaded on the new iPhone.  Since I now have meetings in many different time zones around the world, I like the system because it let me set phones for any time zone and have them side-by-side which was quite convenient.  I believe this to have been caused by the carriers but I found that I dropped far fewer calls on the iPhone than I had in the past with Google’s OS.

Those were most of the pros, now some cons.  Above, I mentioned the smaller size as a pro.  I did like that a lot at first; however, after a day or so I found that I did not like the screen size.  It is much smaller than the Galaxy S6 I dumped for this phone.  Next, something that has always bothered me about Apple products is the cost.  Not only is the hardware pricier but the applications cost you, too.  Most every Android app I used for free was 99 cents and up for Apple.  Next, the battery life of the 5S was much less than my Android S6.

The largest difference that I grew to dislike on the iPhone was being locked into their “desktop.”  How many ways can you say, “boring?”  You get the round icons to launch the apps, you can rearrange them and move them to different screens but that is all.  No widgets for weather, phone calls, music, video, etc.  The desktop contains the installed apps, the date and time and a search and message bar if you swipe down from the top.  Android allows you to install widgets for most every application running so you get a live preview any time you look.

In my opinion the android system is much more user-friendly and much more useful than the iPhone.  I will stick with my Google based systems.  I will also say that I did not hate the Apple OS as much as I thought I would.  It is a good system and very functional, but just like my computers I will stick with Windows PCs (with some Linux) and Android for my phone.  You may not like what I said but now I have actually tried one out.

Apple vs. Android

January 31, 2017

Facebook Safety, Part 2

A long time ago (on the “feels like index”) last year we looked at some Facebook security settings you should check on your account.  If you need a refresher on what I said go here, rd.dblclx.com/2hVbumC, to take a look again.

Today we will take a look at some of the personal things you need to think about before sharing.  First, I will mention your kids, grandkids, you know those little people in your family.  I cannot encourage you enough to not post many pictures of your kids.  You may think they are innocuous and cute but you may be giving away a lot of information. Especially over time.  Take the family whose young son was kidnapped.  They had only posted pictures about him on FB and other sites for his first few years of growing up.  The first day to school.  Many little league shots.  They mentioned a couple of his great teachers in elementary school.  Mom talked about how Wednesdays she had worked out at the local gym with pics of her friends and herself. Over time the kidnapper found out, even though it was never specifically mentioned, the boy’s school, his grade level, what position he played on the team, what days/times he practiced, his friends, his mom and her friends and where he was supposed to go on Wednesdays after school.  Put it together and you know how that worked.  Be very, very careful what you are posting.

Next, do not accept friends you do not know.  Many people are just selling you stuff on FB and will blanket as many people as they can for friend requests.  When you accept, you and all of your friends can be blasted with offers.  Use common sense, if you do not know or remember their names they are not quite up to being a "friend" anyway.  If the guy is from Gondwanaland and you do not know anyone there – ignore him, you will not hurt his feelings.

Keep in mind that if you secure your Facebook site to not allow anyone but friends to see your posts that is good.  However, their friends can see their comments on your posts and their friends can see theirs and on-and-on.  Your posts can end up anywhere.

Now time for one of the biggest no-nos.  Never, never post pictures or talk about your vacation until you are back.  Why?  Because there are sites out there that just look for people talking about  being away from home so that the nefarious bunch out there can remove your TVs, motorcycles or anything else in your home while you are away.  At one time, there was a site, "PleaseRobMe" that had a search going on Twitter and Yelp, letting burglars know what houses were empty.

The last concern is not just limited to what you post on FB, Twitter and Yelp.  Think about when you are out and publicly post about a great restaurant you are at, or how you are meeting some old friends for bowling…or whatever.  You are letting the world know you are out and where you are.  Be safe out there, would you? 

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