DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

April 18, 2017

Schemes, Part 4

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:09 am

There is another scam that you may have heard of floating around the internet.  It is not a joke and is not to be ignored if it happens to you.

You may be working on your computer and get a phone call.  The caller may tell you they are from Microsoft, or some other tech entity, and see that you have a virus infecting your computer.  This virus could cause you the loss of all of your important information.  This scheme may not only come to you in the form of a phone call but also via email or a popup on a website. 

They will say they can send you a link so they can run the "fix" on your computer and you will not have any problems.  They may instead ask that you give them permission to log onto your computer to fix the problem.  It is free of charge and guaranteed to work providing you and your files with needed security.  They will sound so sincere that it is hard to believe later when the trap is sprung. 

It is not true.  Neither Microsoft nor any other big company watches your computer for viruses or problems of any sort.  Hang up immediately!  If not, you will be granting them permission to log into your computer from some other country (most likely) and install their "fix." 

The fix will actually install a virus that will activate days or weeks later.  It will infect your files and lock them down so that you cannot open them.  Think of it, your financial data, tax returns, photographs, etc. all no longer useable.  It could do more than this but that is the standard operation.  You will be informed to call the original "Microsoft" company back to have this corrected.  This time it is still not the reputable company you expect.  It will not be free either.  It will cost you several hundred dollars to gain back control of your own files.  Be careful.    

Next, one that really is not tech related but I feel I should mention. (CBS did as well, a month or so ago.)  You get a call from an unknown number.  You answer it and they say something to you that provides them with you saying, "Yes."  You think you are not that silly.  How about this?  You answer your phone and someone says, "Can you hear me?"  You reply, "Yes."  Then they have you.  They will use that as you agreeing to sign up for magazines, a loan, or a five-year supply of whatever. 

Watch out for phone scams

When you shop at real stores by phone they will many times tell you they will record your approval of what they offer as a legally binding agreement.  This is what the scammers do too; however, you have no idea what you said, “yes” to – until you get the bill. 

Next week we will look at some scams which are not always committed by technology or in normal ways.  However, they are always directed at only one specific part of the population.

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

November 29, 2016

The Party is Not Quite Over

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:44 am

Santa under packagesI hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and visits to the stores on Black Friday to get the very best deals.  By-the-way, it is said that the phrase “Black Friday” started in Philadelphia when the heavy traffic after Thanksgiving Day disrupted traffic around 1960.  Then in the early ’80s it started being used for the same day but demonstrated the point in the retail year when business owners began making a profit…moving from being into the “red” then moving into the “black.”  I.E., profits were made in many businesses that day and the weeks following for the entire year.

Then yesterday was “Cyber Monday.”  This one was started by Ellen Davis with the National Retail Federation, to influence people to shop online to get even better deals than the Friday before.  Whether that is true or not I cannot say, that is for you to determine.

But now they are both over so I guess you should have finished all of your Christmas shopping by now and not buy anything else. NOT!

The sales will continue on.  Stores both brick and mortar and online have lots of “stuff” they need to get rid of.  But today I have a few techie words of advice for you.

First, continue with most of your shopping in the local stores.  That way the money stays in our area not going to who knows where for the online shop owners.  Online shopping many times will be sending your money to other countries.

Online SantaI think one of the most important things to keep in mind while shopping online, which most all of us do occasionally, is to use major retailers and well-known online retailer sites.   Of course, I cannot mention them all but you know the ones.  The large stores you see in all the shopping centers all have websites and they should be considered safe.  They spend a huge amount of money to make sure that your transactions are performed as safely as possible. They make a lot of money on them and do not want to jeopardize the public trust and lose any time not making more money from the sites.

But what about the “only online” stores?  For instance, Amazon, Audible.com, Ebay, Overstock.com, New Egg, PayPal, Vista Print and many, many more.  Again, these should also be safe and trustworthy.

But what about RonsDeals.xyz?  First thing to do for the “iffy” sites you have never heard of is to search for reviews of them.  I would go to Google.com and search, “review ronsdeals.xyz” then read reviews from other sites – not from the reviews at the actual site. Read them carefully and consider what you see before you purchase…do not impulse buy from unknown online sites, or anywhere else for that matter.

I have discovered a couple of good sites that way.  Blinq.com is a site I found which has some good discounted prices on occasion.  Then ShopGoodwill.com which is pretty much what the name implies.

Last two tips.  Always know what you are looking at and are considering what the retail price usually is so that you will not overpay.  And last, make sure whenever you are dealing with money online that the URL for the site starts with, “https://.”  That “S” is very important meaning that the site is secure and protected from prying eyes.

May 10, 2016

Disappointment

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:33 am

Dollar sign

I have purchased a few items from online stores over the years.  I have become quite disappointed with one of the online stores I have used.

I received an email from one of the major online tech stores recently that seemed to be too good to be true.  It had the usual good prices on many devices and of course several notebook computers.  One of them popped right off the page at me. 

It was an extremely high-end 2-in-1 flipbook.  The keyboard and monitor on the notebook fold backward until they are flat together.  This means that you have a regular notebook with a full keyboard or a Windows 10 tablet depending on how it is folded. 

The most amazing part of the email was that it was listed for $200.  I knew it was worth more.  After checking online, the closest price I could find for the identical model was $1,100.  So I thought I would buy one.    

I clicked the email link, got to the site, scrolled down the page and there it was in all its glory.  I read the full write up and I was excited by the possibilities…yeah, I am a geek.  $900 off retail!

I continued on with the adventure by selecting the computer and putting it in my shopping cart.  I got to the shopping cart and guess what?  The price went from $200 to $645.  Now that is still a great price with  $455 savings but a lot more than "my" price.  The $200 worked for me but the new price once in the shopping cart, nope. 

Not being one to give up easily I got screen shots of all the items: The email, the webpage right on up to the shopping cart showing where the price started and where it ended.

To me it was a clear demonstration of the old "bait and switch" technique.  I thought it would be fine and their upper management would surely see the error of their ways, giving it to me for the "proper" price.

I called the company’s support number and was handed off to a manager.  After giving them my story they asked if I could provide a document and I was ready with my screenshots.  Pure proof.  So I emailed it to them as requested.  They said they would get back to me in a few days. 

The next afternoon I clicked the same email link to check the online price.  That computer was not even listed any longer.  I had kept it in my shopping cart so I went there and it said that the item was sold out and I could no longer purchase it for any price. 

Well after two weeks, several calls and emails they told me they were sorry for the inconvenience but to help me out they gave me a $25 discount on my next purchase.  WOW, thanks a lot for the equal trade.

I spoke to a lawyer friend of mine about the bait and switch. He said that basically when you click an email you get what you get and you have no recourse.  It has been tested in the courts.  So, yeah, after a few hours work I got $25.

March 22, 2016

Another Two Bite the Dust

Google told the world on February 12 it will no longer support, wait are ready for it? 

If you said, "Picasa" you got it right (picasa.google.com).  Now I will not yell too loudly about this one since I was not a big Picasa lover.  It seemed a little convoluted to me; however, many people love(d) Picasa and are very upset to see it go. 

Picasa logoPicasa is/was an image viewer for organizing and editing digital photos.  And yes, it was named after Pablo Picasso and blended with "mi casa" ("my house" in Spanish) and "pic" for pictures.  It was also linked to the cloud so that you could share your photos online with the world…if you wished. It was originally created by a company named Lifescape in 2002.  Google purchased it in mid-2004. 

As of March 16, 2016 it was removed from the web and is no longer "downloadable."  If you downloaded the file before then, you may keep the installation file and install it at any other time. In addition, Google will be archiving Picasa Web Albums data at a later date while encouraging those users to convert to Google Photos instead.  That means that if you still have Picasa you will not be able to upload to the Web Albums in the future since they will be gone.  It also means that Google will not continue to update it for security and other features.  

So, goodbye Picasa, I knew you well… a little bit.  Google is providing a new application called, "Google Photos" (photos.google.com) which rolled out early last summer.  This is the replacement which is lacking a few of Picasa’s features.  One big plus is that if you keep your uploaded photos to HD quality of 16 megapixels (MP) or less per photo, you have unlimited storage.  With higher quality it will use your Google Drive storage limits as did Picasa. 

Copy.com logoNow here is a discontinuation that really bugs me.  A great application that I have supported willingly over the past several years is Copy (copy.com) by Barracuda.  It is similar to Dropbox for storing any files on your computer in the cloud.  It is a great backup solution which would allow a user to start with 15 GB of space (13 GB more that Dropbox).

Well guess what Barracuda announced February 1st?  You guess correctly, it will be shut down as of May 1, 2016.  They commented, "…our business focus has shifted, we had to make the difficult decision to discontinue the Copy and CudaDrive services and allocate those resources elsewhere."  

There is no replacement with that much free space.  Basically Barracuda says put your files somewhere else.  Right this minute I am still a big Dropbox supporter ("rd.dblclx.com/use-Dropbox" for extra start up storage).  Of course, who knows what the future holds?

August 11, 2015

Emailed Questions, Part 4

Thanks for all of the emails I have received regarding the last few columns on applications and sites I use.

I will answer a few more questions today.

I am often asked how I check my email accounts.  Since I probably have many more than the average user I may operate a little differently than most folks.  For my main Gmail account I use the Gmail.com website and all is well.

Thunderbird logo

However, since I have email for testing, personal, work, columns, and purchasing I also like to keep them in one place so I only have to check one application.  Now this can all be done through Gmail but I prefer using a better (IMHO) application.  That application is Thunderbird (rd.dblclx.com/1ejd3ax) which was created by Mozilla.  Mozilla is the same company that produced the Firefox browser.

Using Thunderbird I can have all of my email accounts in one location with separate inboxes for each.  It was quite easy to set up with only my email addresses and their corresponding passwords.  So if you have Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo mail, etc. you can now view them all in one place with access to many advanced features the web sites do not have.

Evernote logoI get this question often from readers, "If you are out and think of something you want to write down or make a note of for later…where do you put it?"  I could be a wise guy and say take paper and pencil with you and write it down.  But unless you are my buddy Shannon you have a phone with you already so you are set.  There are many applications you can take notes with, Evernote (Evernote.com) being one of the leaders. However, the one I use I believe is even better and much more user friendly.   It is Google Keep (keep.google.com) and you can tell by its name who the company in charge is. 

Google Keep logo

With Keep you can, from your phone, tablet or computer, type in a note, create a list, add a photo, copy from a website and paste it in a note or even leave an audio message.  An audio message will be converted to a test message and both will be saved in Keep.  There are many other features that you should check out.  

Another neat feature is that you can set alarms for individual messages if you wish.  The alarms can be set for a date and time or even a location.  If you need to remember to take out the trash when you get home from work you can set your home location for a message to remind you.  If you need to do something at 10:43 AM next Tuesday, set a note with the alarm. 

We will start looking into Windows 10 toward the end of the month.  Keep sending in those W10 questions.

Windows 10 logo

June 17, 2014

June 10, 2014

April 29, 2014

Online Docs May Be the Answer

Last week we looked at the confusion regarding the many choices with Microsoft Office.  I said I would have another solution for Lindsey and you this week.   

imageHere are two more good options.  Office Live or OneDrive (formerly known as SkyDrive) depending on where you read about it or Google Drive (drive.google.com or just get there from any Google product you are logged into.)  Either of these are very good online solutions.  There are many ways to get Office Live.  I suggest using Live.com.  There you can sign up for a free Outlook.com email account which gives you access to everything you need.  You can also sign up with Yahoo! or Gmail accounts; although I have not experimented with those.  If you already signed in to other MS devices like a Windows PC, tablet, phone, Xbox Live, Outlook.com, or OneDrive, use that account to sign in.  Once there you can view and use your email, address book, calendar, online drive Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. To get to these click the labeled down arrow in the upper-left corner of the window.  Any of the files created can be stored in OneDrive so that you can retrieve them from any online computer.  They are all saved in the default MS Office formats so you can easily share them via email, etc.

imageVery similar products are available with a Google/Gmail account.  Setup a free account or you can use one you already have. Once logged in click the "Apps" button in the upper-right corner that looks like a small tic-tac-toe pattern, and then select "Drive."  You have a create button on this screen where you may choose from Document, Presentation, Spreadsheet, Form and several others depending on what you normally use with Google.  The files you create here are saved on your Google Drive for later retrieval just as in Live.com.

Even though I am a Google fan boy, Google is not quite friendly to Microsoft Office file types.  That being said they work with MS products; they just take an extra step or two.  There are several ways to do this but they all require you to download the file to your local computer.  I suggest finding your file in the file list, right click on it and choose download.  You will be presented with a choice of what file type you want to use, so choose "Microsoft Word. (.docx) You will then have it in your downloaded files to share as a standard Word doc.

Another note regarding Google docs.  When right clicked you may also choose to "Share" the file.  If you choose email as an attachment you once again can choose the file format and MS Word is one of the choices.

Now the final note.  OneNote is a terrific app available only with the Microsoft suite.  If you are interested let me know via email and I will share that with you in the future.

There are many other options and features in both Microsoft and Google online offerings.  Lindsey chose to try both and make a final decision later.  How about you?

January 7, 2014

2013 Sites in Review, Part 1

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year since we last talked.  I wanted to say, "Thanks!" to all of you readers who support the "Double Click" column by reading and writing over the past 12 years.  It is very much appreciated.  Please keep it up.  I always enjoy hearing from you.

It is the time of year when I review all of the sites mentioned during the previous year.  As always, have fun remembering, discovering, or rediscovering all the info! 

If the site addresses are too long to type I have shortened them using "bit.ly" for print, so the links may not look quite right.  Without further ado…here they are in their order of appearance with short descriptions of each.

  • Online music streaming sites;  "Slacker Radio" (slacker.com), "Spotify" (spotify.com), "Maestro" (maestro.fm), Last.fm and the one I like best…Pandora (pandora.com).   These are accounts for listening to most any type of music imaginable. 
  • Google Musicmusic.google.com.   Google’s music site is similar to above; however, you can also upload up to 20,000 of your own songs and listen to them online from any device.
  • Daily News-RecordDNROnline.com.  My flagship newspaper, read it often! 
  • Double Clicksdoubleclicks.info.  This column’s site, read it often, too!
  • Portable Appsportableapps.com.  A site where you can get apps that are… well, that’s obvious.  
  • Microsoft Officebit.ly/1kJ3oK4.  You know this one, "The" most popular office suite of programs.
  • Libre Officelibreoffice.org.  One of the two most popular free office suites.
  • Solutosoluto.com.  One of many ways to speed up your computer and keep all of your applications up to date, not just the Microsoft ones. 
  • Lynda.com. A paid online training site for many different applications used today.
  • Microsoft Office Trainingbit.ly/1cBOoM9.  Good free office training.
  • YouTube.com – among millions of other videos you can find excellent Office training videos created by people like you and me.
  • Google.com – the most popular search engine.
  • Gmailgmail.com.  Google’s branded email.
  • A Toy Train in Spacebit.ly/1bHdbc3.  A dad uses a Raspberry Pi computer to take his son’s toy train into space and return with some great video of the ride.
  • Newsblur.com, Feedly.com, TheOldReader.com, Pulse.me and Flipboard.com.  Several of the many popular RSS feed readers to replace the dead and gone Google Reader.  They vary for mobile platforms and web viewing.

Well that takes us through the middle of 2013.  Check out part two of the year in review next week.

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress

%d bloggers like this: