DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

August 1, 2017

Phone Spoofing

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:15 am

Time for Ron to do a little whining as two things have recently popped up that bug me.  I figure they may also bother a few of you.  They are local phone number calls and Facebook tracking us.  This week Phone issues, next week Facebook.

I posted to Facebook (this is not about tracking yet), and talk to people about it, when it comes up, that I am tired of all the “fake” phone calls I get from local numbers.  I feel like I should know them since they “look” like numbers of family or friends.  They are always from area code “540” with prefixes like “476,” “478,” “433” and others of local origin.

And many times, immediately before or after those calls, I will receive one from another toll-free number.  They are all obvious ads or scams.  When I do not answer, which was often and is now all the time, they rarely leave a voice message.  If they do leave a message it could be the IRS telling me that all of my resources are being taken as they speak.  My bank accounts, home, furniture and cars are all being taken for taxes I owe.  It may be an advertisement for a monetary investment, buying gold, funeral arrangement deals, insulated windows, cars, contests I have won, etc.

1 ringy dingy - Lilly Tomlin

Faking phone numbers is called “spoofing.”  Spoofing is when the caller knowingly fakes the data sent to your caller ID on your phone.  This disguises their real number.  It is usually used to trick the called person into giving away personal information for criminal reasons.  U.S. law and FCC rules forbid most types of spoofing.

You may say, “Well surely this is illegal in the US.”  But the FCC has the “Truth in Caller ID Act.”  This act states that they prohibit, “…any person or entity from transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller ID information with the intent to defraud, cause harm, or wrongly obtain anything of value.”   But guess what?  If they have no intention to harm anyone or cause anyone to be harmed spoofing is not illegal.  I would like to thank US lawmakers for allowing spoofers to call and bug me several times a day.  Since they rarely leave a message in my voice mail they are not harming me…other than mentally.

So I have a plan to fight number spoofing, in my own little way.  If anyone calls me who is not in my address book, (I only have a cell phone) I do not see their name on the phone display and they do not leave a voice mail message I do not answer.  I will then block the number and delete it from my phone.  That number will never be able to distract me again.  If it calls my phone it gets dumped into the void.

So basically, if you call me for any reason I suggest you leave a message if I do not answer.  I could be busy or maybe your name does not show up in my phone.  Either way if you leave no message you will be blocked.

Someone said that I may miss important calls.  For instance, from a doctor, hospital, distant relatives or regarding prizes won.  It has been my experience when “real” people want to get me they give a message so I will get back with them.  But whatever, after I block a few bazillion numbers maybe it will calm down.

July 28, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 2

Last week I mentioned Chromebooks and Antivirus software.  Today in continuing with sharing emails and answers we look at the following questions.

"How often do you run Windows Update, defrag, cleaning, and other computer maintenance?" Wow, huge question with a multitude of answers.  First I suggest for most users you should set windows updates to run automatically.  With Windows 10 your only choice may be to have it automatically update, there are varying reports.  If you now run the update manually they come out on "Patch Tuesday."  Or, the second Tuesday of each month.  So you are good to run your update any time after that.  I would recommend you do it each month for security reasons if no other.

Defragging and cleaning really depend on how often you use your computer.  I have also recommended here before that you use CCleaner (piriform.com) for cleaning/removing old files and refreshing your registry. It is an excellent program.  For defragging I recommend another Piriform product called "Defraggler," found on the same site under "Downloads." 

Piriform logo

The timing for these is really up to you since it depends on how much you use your computer.  For a heavy user like me who can spend eight hours a day at work and then an hour or two several times a week at home, I run them every week or so.  If you only go online once a day to check email and Facebook for an hour, once a month or so is fine.  Longer will not hurt you and the more often you run them the quicker they work.  Defragging takes the longest so if you have never defragged before it could take overnight or more depending on the size of your hard drive.

One word of warning about defragging.  If you have a SSD drive and not a regular "platter" drive you should not run defrag.  It will not kill it; however, I have read reports that they will not last as long if you do. 

Maintenance other than those mentioned above is as follows:  Make sure you run your antivirus software regularly.  If you have a free one, as I told you about last week, you may have to do it manually.  To do so you usually right click on the software’s icon in your notification area and click update.  Applications can vary so check yours and proceed. 

Malwarebytes logoThe other two applications I have talked about before but are quite important are, "Malwarebytes" (malwarebytes.org) Filehippo logoand "FileHippo App Manager" (filehippo.com/download_app_manager).  I have talked about them in detail before but I do not feel like mentioning them again is too much.  The new improved version of FileHippo is even better and easier to use.

See you next week.

December 10, 2013

My Favored Browser

Apparently there are a few of you getting new computers for Christmas.  (Do not let the kids read this if they do not know about it.)  I have received many questions about what to do to set them up.  I have several suggestions; however, one of the best I have written about before.  If you missed Ninite, go to DoubleClicks.info and search for "Ninite" to read all about it. 

The next most popular question I get is something like, "I can’t afford to pay the $99.99/year for Office 365 or $399.99 for Office Professional."  In my opinion there is one very clear answer, "Libre Office."  If you have not read my information regarding it before go to the site and search for "libre."

Finally, there is the question I don’t believe I have tackled before.  The question is usually stated as, "Ron, what is the best browser for me to use?"  The answer is easy, "I have no idea, thanks for asking."

Now on to a slightly more helpful answer, since for you personally, I have no idea what you would favor.  There are many excellent browsers out there and they all have some features which may be better or worse than one of the others.  To me it is sort of like brands of cars.  One person would say that a particular car manufacturer has the only good cars available…the best in the world.  The next person will tell you why they hate those cars with good reasons.  It is all a matter of personal taste and preference.

So the following is my personal opinion concerning browsers.  Keep in mind that when I started out on the internet, the browser everyone wanted was called, "Netscape" and would cost you around $50.  Now owned by AOL, it has pretty much disappeared from the scene and is free.  All browsers are now free so the cost barriers are gone.

Here are the top five in use today in alpha order.  I have included a short description, my opinion and the percentage of people using this on average this year as of the end of October.  

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  • Chrome, "Get a fast, free web browser, one browser for your computer, phone and tablet."  You can tell who owns this puppy by the link.  I think this is an excellent browser and my #2 favorite.  It is fast and does allow you to have the same bookmarks, etc. between your devices. 52.08%
  • Firefox, "Different by Design, Proudly non-profit, Innovating for you, Fast, Flexible, Secure." OK, this is my favorite, again it is a preference since I am used to it and have been using it for years.  It has more "plug-ins" than the others which are added features allowing you to do different tasks online.  28.49%
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer, included with each and every Windows computer sold and must be left on your computer for other things to work properly.  I use this for work only as our company makes all of its software for MSIE only; however, with some Firefox plugins I can make most things work on FF instead.  12.55%
  • Opera, advertised as the smallest and fastest browser in the world!  For me this is an OK browser but just doesn’t have the snap and pizazz of others.  1.73%
  • Safari, you can tell by the URL who owns it.  My opinion on this one is the same as Opera, so again personal preference.  3.95%

The top three here have always been the top three by percentage for many years; however, they have jumped back and forth in order for a few years.  Google’s Chrome browser is excellent and if you do not have a preference yet, try it or any of the others and form you own opinion.  They are all able to do what you need, so enjoy the variety.

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