About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 11, 2017

Schemes, Part 3

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:49 am

For the past two weeks, we have looked at several of the ways we are being schemed and scammed out of our money. Today we will continue that journey looking at some other devious ways we are being bombarded by online purchases.

  1. Shop with reputable, well-known online retailers.  Do not shop at a site you have never heard of or where you do not have a friend or two who has successfully shopped there before.  In addition, read ALL of the information concerning your purchase in each screen.  Next, print the “receipt” page that is shown at the end of every online transaction, you may need it for returns later.
  2. Check for a little lock-like icon somewhere in your browser’s window (near the URL) when shopping.  Also, verify the URL of the site.  It should start with, “https” since the letter “s” at the end stands for secure.  They both indicate you are on a secure site which is a MUST.  Information submitted here is only readable by the receiver.image
  3. As I have stated last week and many other times, NEVER EVER click a link in an e-mail to order something.  I don’t care how proper the e-mail looks, no matter whom it is from, do not do it.  Always type in the address (URL) of the site you wish to purchase from.
  4. Get an email address to use only for online purchases and nothing else!  Do not give it to friends or relatives, do not sign up for anything else with it, do not post it online in Facebook, Twitter, Flipboard or anywhere else.  Other than online purchases you only use it with Netflix, Amazon, PayPal, your cable provider, etc.  I gave you reasons before so I will not repeat them here.
  5. Whenever possible use to purchase online items.  PayPal is in the business of making safe and secure online transactions and they are good at it.  They have built in security you cannot get on your own.  Google “PayPal security center” to see what they offer to protect you.  You may be surprised.
  6. This one is a pain but it is strongly recommended by me and other nerds.  Open a new account at your current local bank.  Open it with the full intention of never putting more in it than whatever you may spend on an impulse online purchase.  I usually keep about $25-$50 in mine.  It is the one that I connect to my PayPal account.  I only use the debit card connected to that account for any non-PayPal online purchases.  That way if someone hacks it they can never get more than that amount. If I am going to purchase something for more than the amount I have in there I transfer it in from my home checking or savings account.


Be safe out there. Unfortunately, not everyone is as nice as you.  Make no mistake – they want your money.

July 8, 2014

January 20, 2014

2014-01-20 WSVA Show Notes

Welcome to the show for January 2014 and Happy New Year to you and yours!  Below are links to the sites we talked about today and here is the podcast if you missed part of the show.

Have fun looking around.

Tech News
Tablet ownership in U.S. surges
Thirty five percent of Americans own a tablet and 24 percent own and e-reader, according to the latest study from Pew Internet Research.Pew documented a big jump in tablet ownership. In November 2012, 25 percent of Americans owned a tablet {September 2013, 35 percent}. The findings illustrate the democratization of tablet computing and the impact on lower-cost models beyond the larger version of the iPad.

This article sums up the tablet and e-reader ownership breakdown for Americans 16 years old and up. It’s also worth noting that previous Pew studies on tablet ownership in the U.S. started at age 18 and up.

Chromebooks Enjoy 21% of Notebook Sales in 2013
According to NPD (a major national market research company), Chromebook sales hit a total of 1.76 million units between January and November of this year, which is quite a bit of a jump from the 400,000 units that made it out in 2012. In total, NPD’s figures indicate that Chromebooks jumped from virtually nothing in 2012 to 21 percent of all notebook sales in 2013.A recent press release from Amazon itself confirms that Chromebooks took two of the top three spots for “holiday best sellers” – specifically, a Samsung Chromebook and an Acer Chromebook.

Spiders force Toyota to recall 800,000 vehicles
Toyota has announced a voluntary recall of some 803,000 cars due to airbags inadvertently deploying — and the blame appears to be spiders inside the air conditioning units. Toyota’s recall notice states that some 2012 and 2013 Camry, Venza, and Avalon vehicles are experiencing problems with their air conditioning condenser unit housing — apparently, condensation and water has been leaking into the airbag control module. In most cases, that’s just causing the airbag warning light to turn on, but a few times the driver side airbag has deployed without warning.However, according to CNN, the cause of the leak is rather unsettling if you suffer from arachnophobia. Spiders and their webs are apparently responsible for clogging the air conditioner drainage tubes, causing the water spillover onto the airbag control module.

To provide better service in alerting the American people to unsafe, hazardous or defective products, six federal agencies with vastly different jurisdictions have joined together to create — a “one stop shop” for U.S. Government recalls.

The Door Lock of the Future is Here
Kwikset Kevo
Kwikset has rolled out the Kevo lock. A door lock that receives a signal from your Smartphone (iPhones only right this minute) or a coded key fob and can open when you touch the lock. If you forget your phone it will open with a regular key that you can find buried somewhere on your key chain.

Check out the video and see what you think, especially with a $219 price tag.

Get the best route, every day, with real–time help from other drivers.

Waze is the world’s largest community-based traffic and navigation app. Join other drivers in your area who share real-time traffic and road info, saving everyone time and gas money on their daily commute.

Free available to most all types of phone OS’s.

Free Backup Software
Cobian backup,
Allway Sync,
Two good free backup applications for making sure you do not loose your important files.

Browser History
Check Browser History for all Browsers
Sometimes you may want to make a return visit to a website that you saw a day or 20 ago. You may use multiple browsers like many people and do not want to go view the history in each browser. With this app from you can check the histories of all of your browser at the same time and get a report of what has been seen.

If you have cut off your History feature on your browser you will not be able to retrieve this information.

Your Fingerprint may be your new Password
Biometric Scan Comes to Android 2014
The FIDO Alliance (Fast IDentity Online) has claimed in a new technology news statement, that the first Android handsets with biometric scanners will be released in the first half of next year, to help to remove the dependency on traditional app and web passwords.

This technology news was meant to be available for any web-based service or manufacturer so that traditional text-based passwords can be replaced with these biometric alternatives. Michael Barrett, the PayPal chief information security officer, and the president of FIDO, has explained that the increasing support and power of the group has meant that it will become possible for the mobile internet to become considerably safer to use in a very short period of time. That way, swiping a finger across the smartphone will be all that is required for the access of an individual’s own online accounts, but that they will remain safe from being accessed by anyone else.

If I Die
This website provides a way for you to write and store letters to your friends. Each letter, when finished, will be stored securely and encrypted with a special password of your choosing. No one will be able to read any of your letters while you’re still alive.

A couple of “safegaurds” are in place to keep them from firing off by mistake.

New ‘Bond gadget’ set to let us breathe under water Bond-like rebreather
It is the James Bond gadget on everyone’s wishlist.

A South Korean designer has taken inspiration from the movie spy’s “rebreather”, which allows the user to breathe under water.

Clipped on a diving face mask, the Triton device acts like a fish gill to extract oxygen from water so that the user can keep breathing while under the sea.

That is all for today.  See you again next month on Monday, February 17.

Keep those cards and letter emails coming!

October 1, 2013

Android Device Manager

At some point in time after "smart phones" hit the market people starting leaving them on buses, in taxis and had them stolen.  The Chief Information Officers website states that in August, 2013 that approximately 200 cell phones are left in New York City cabs every day.  That adds up to about 73,000 per year.  With the current smartphone average cost of $372 each (September 2013) people are losing over $27 million a year in money.  Keep in mind that is also only in NYC! 

This created a market for security apps for those devices that would allow the phone to be found when those events struck.  There have been and still are some very good ones out there; however, leave it to Google to come out with their own free application made just for this purpose.

Besides finding your "lost" Android devices (phones and tablets both) you have a couple of other options too – more on those later.  Keep in mind that the only stated versioning requirement for your Android device to work with this is that it must be running Google Play services version 3.2.25 or higher.

Google created an automatic rollout of this capability several months ago and was announced, as with most Google rollouts, with very little fanfare.  To see if your device it working with it go to and log in with your Google account username and password used with that device.  If it is on you will see your device(s) listed. 

If it is not listed you need to start the service on your device.  On your phone or tablet go to your Apps Menu, select Google Settings and then just touch "Android Device Manager", if available.  This is mostly found on >>>>>>>>.  There are two check boxes whose jobs should be obvious.  The one you need to check is labeled, "Remotely locate this device" which permits you to do exactly what it states.  The other one, which I highly recommend is, "Allow remote lock and factory reset."  The last one allows you to wipe your device slick if you know you will not get it back or if you do not want anyone seeing your secret information.  Also, to keep strangers from getting phone numbers, addresses, email addresses, etc. about everyone in your address book.

Location of my phoneThe info for your device once logged onto the site is the name of your device, where and when it was last located and three buttons at the bottom of the small navigation window.  As far as accuracy, when I wrote this column I was at the location shown in the graphic at 2:19 pm.  The map showed me that at that exact time it is on the map about 10 feet from where I am sitting…spooky.

Your choices are to RING your phone, which will ring it, even if the volume is off at full volume for five minutes or until you shut it off on your phone.  Next, you can LOCK your device.  Locking changes the password to get into the device to a different one that only you know.  You can set it back when you retrieve it later.

The final choice is to Erase the device.  This is the last resort and will basically clear off all of your information, apps, data, etc. from the phone and put it back into the "brand new out of the box" mode.

On one of their pages Google also warns you by stating the obvious, "Important: If you believe your device has been stolen, contact law enforcement. Don’t attempt to retrieve the device yourself."  In other words, "Don’t be a superhero!"

August 13, 2013

Passcode, What Passcode?

Robert wrote me recently with a question I had never received before.  It was an excellent question. I am sure some of you have bumped up against before, too. 

He wrote saying that he had just gotten back from a vacation out of the country and had not wanted to be bothered by work.  To help facilitate that last part he left his Android phone at home and had a great time.  The problem started when he realized he had changed his passcode right before leaving and could not remember his new code when he got back home. 

Here is what happens when you forget either your passcode or pattern on an Android phone.  (iPhones also have a recovery but I will let you iPhone users talk about that on

Notification ScreenFirst, you get five tries to log in with the proper code (this is the same for codes and patterns).  If you fail the fifth time you will get a message saying something like, "You have tried to log into your phone 5 times incorrectly, try again in 30 seconds."  The tagline varies between phone manufacturers and Android versions.

You have to wait the full 30 seconds which (other than making you nuts) is used to discourage a thief that may have your phone.  If you try unsuccessfully again, five times, you get the same thing over and over.

Forgot Password?However, the first time you miss the five tries a link will also appear at the top of the screen indicating that you can click it if you have forgotten your code.  If you choose that option you will be asked to enter your Google/Gmail account’s username and password.  As we all know you must have a Gmail account to fully use an Android device.  If you enter this info successfully you will be asked to create a new code.  This was the point at which Robert was successful and began to have a nice day. 

If you cannot remember your Gmail login info you are going to a bad place but hopefully it is recoverable.  All that is left for you is to get to a computer and go to ""  They will guide you through many questions and try to get your info for you. 

One additional suggestion here:  Go to Google and search for "Google recovery phone number," to find the Google page where it is explained.  Set up your phone number it that area.  It is used to send your login information to your phone in the event of this situation.  It is much more convenient than having to go to the site for help.

This is totally another topic, but have any of you gone "offline" for an extended length of time?  I have not but would just like to know if you have tried it.  Not if you are "unaddicted to technology" but are a hardcore tech-lover.

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