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.

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.

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.

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

July 26, 2016

Make Money with Google?

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:37 am

Well, after the turmoil I created worrying you about Google watching you online last week, today you can get’em back! 

I thought today I would show you how to make some money off of Google.  Now be warned.  You will not be able to quit your job or buy a new car but you can make a couple of bucks when you have a minute to kill.

Google Opinion Rewards logoI started using Google Opinion Rewards about two weeks ago (rd.dblclx.com/GoogleOpinions).  I saw a write up on it from an RSS feed about Google which I receive every day.  I thought hmm, sounds like fun. So I gave it a try.

The way it works is occasionally you will get a survey on your Android device, sorry not for any other devices at this time.  For me the survey is usually about something I have never heard of.  I got one asking if I had read a specific magazine in the past week.  Easy answer since I had never heard of the magazine.  It then asked only two more follow up questions.  When I finished it added $0.34 to my Google account. Of course, it is not money to spend anywhere but at the Google Play store for apps, books and movies provided by Google.

The surveys are very consistent never having more than five or six questions and many have less than that.  Being so short you can take one in much less than a minute.  The app write-up says you will get one or more a week.  I got seven the first week, a few more the second week and this week (two days in) I have gotten none. 

Google Opinion RewardsThe questions also interested me concerning the article I wrote last week.  If you did not see it and are interested find last week’s newspaper or visit DoubleClicks.info.  One question I was asked sounded something like, "Have you been to a Honda, Ford, GM or Nissan dealership recently?"  Interestingly, three days before I had been to one of those dealers to have my car repaired.  I responded affirmatively and then it wanted to know how many days before I had gone.  The options were all less than a week except the last one which was, "More than 1 week."

From the information I told you about last week we know that Google knows where I went from my phone.  They previously knew I was at the dealership via that device.  My thought was, "Interesting, they are checking to see if I am honestly taking the survey or not."  They have not asked anything about how much I paid or what something cost.  They are very general questions.

Now what you have all been waiting for…how much money has Ron made with this thing?  OK, first the least money I have made for a survey was $0.10.  The most I made was $0.63.  And the total for the twelve days I have received surveys was an astounding – are you ready for it?  $6.89, which is not that much, but hey, it is technology, it is fun and it is not Pokémon. 

September 21, 2015

2015-09-21 Show Notes

Filed under: WSVA Show Notes — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 12:33 pm

No Podcast this week as WSVA is still working on the new system.  But a few interesting pieces of Tech info today.  Take a look at each one that interests you…maybe all of them.

Tech News

Computers ‘do not improve’ pupil results, says OECD
The think tank says frequent use of computers in schools is more likely to be associated with lower results.

The OECD’s education director Andreas Schleicher says school technology had raised “too many false hopes”.

Tom Bennett, the government’s expert on pupil behaviour, said teachers had been “dazzled” by school computers.

The report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development examines the impact of school technology on international test results, such as the Pisa tests taken in more than 70 countries and tests measuring digital skills.

It says education systems which have invested heavily in information and communications technology have seen “no noticeable improvement” in Pisa test results for reading, mathematics or science.


Are Dumb Phones on the Rebound?
400 million units sold in 2011 and the most popular consumer electronics device in the US, smartphones are a huge money maker — but only if you’re Apple or Samsung.

In 2011, Samsung and Apple were the only two smartphone manufacturers to turn a healthy profit — which is perhaps unsurprising when you consider that both companies each own around 25% of the market. Motorola, HTC, LG, Sony-Ericsson, and any number of other also-rans sold millions of handsets but barely managed to eke out a profit between them. The fact is, it’s hard to compete with Apple, which has the best supply chain in the world and an army of devout fans, and Samsung, which is one of the largest manufacturers in the world, and the top manufacturer of LCD-, OLED- and memory-related tech goods.

The best Dumb Phones today…



RFID on your Charge Cards Should you worry?
The distance from which a tag can be read is called its read range. Read range depends on a number of factors, including the frequency of the radio waves uses for tag-reader communication, the size of the tag antenna, the power output of the reader, and whether the tags have a battery to broadcast a signal or gather energy from a reader and merely reflect a weak signal back to the reader. Battery-powered tags typically have a read range of 300 feet (100 meters). These are the kinds of tags used in toll collection systems.


SnapChat is it useful at all?
You have probably heard about Snapchat, the mobile app that allows users to send videos and pictures that self destruct after a few seconds.

Snapchat is a fun messaging application for sharing moments. You can take a photo or a video, add a caption or doodle, and send it to a friend or add it to your story to share with some or all of your friends. Friends can view snaps for up to 10 seconds, and then it disappears.

While that’s all fine and dandy, many people have been left stumped by Snapchat. They can’t seem to understand why someone would send brief pictures or videos to friends if they can’t be saved. Well, they can be “saved”. And Snapchat has more to offer than what meets the eye.

If you’d like to learn all about Snapchat and how it works, keep reading. You’ll quickly realise it’s more than just an app that teens use for sexting.

https://youtu.be/ykGXIQAHLnA


November 18, 2014

Call in Your Order, Not Any More

A friend of mine, Tyler, told me a couple of weeks ago he had the new Taco Bell app for his phone.  I thought, "Well isn’t that nice?  But he could use his actual phone to call it in."  Of course, that was an old school thought.  So I checked out the app for my Samsung S5. 

I tried it out and ordered a Burrito from the list of categories.  Then it got interesting.  Since it was my first time it asked me to pick a location.  The app gave me a local map; I moved it with my finger about 30 miles to where I would be for dinner and refreshed the map.  It listed the two stores I knew about and I clicked the one I wanted to get my order from.

Next I added items to the order.  I choose extra beef, sour cream (I could have chosen low fat but hey, this was an experiment) and nacho cheese sauce.  The only bad part is that it gave me the calorie count for each item I added.

When I clicked complete it gave me the sub-total (without tax) I owed and offered to let me get a drink.  Then it allowed me to enter my credit/debit card info, use a Taco Bell card (a new one or existing) or use Facebook to log in.  I have no idea what the Facebook part did and stayed away from that one.  I entered the card I wanted to pay with, got the entire total and hit the submit button. 

It gave me a screen telling me that when I arrive at the store I can pick from the app if I want to walk in and get it or go through the drive-thru.  Remember: Do not text and drive.  The order will be "cooked" when you hit the button, so maybe you should do that part while at a light near the store or get your passenger to do it.  I used the drive-thru and all was well. 

You could even hit a link for a map with live directions on how to get to the store.

Pretty slick, so then I started to look around for more fast-food joint apps.  Here are just a few familiar ones.  They are in alphabetical order and I have not tested them all.  Burger King, Chipotle, Domino’s, Five Guys, McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Papa John’s, Pizza Hut, Starbuck’s, and Wendy’s.

Some of them have recently rolled out to the public so they may not be perfect; however, if you are hungry and interested give them a spin.

There are also many coupon apps out there too. I have had, "Fast Food Coupons Pizza & More" recommended to me although I have not tried it out…yet. Type it in the Google Play store and see what else they have to offer.

Of course you will now need a calorie counter app.  There are many, although I use "Calorie King" myself.  There is no app for it but the site is CalorieKing.com.  Trust me, after eating at all of these places you will need it.

July 23, 2014

Your Abandoned Smartphone May Betray You

(from TechNewsWorld, http://www.technewsworld.com/)

By Richard Adhikari

Your Abandoned Smartphone May Betray YouThat phone you so callously turned over to another may be harboring some of your secrets — and it may be all too willing to spill its guts. An examination of 20 used phones purchased on eBay turned up more than 1,500 family photos of kids, 750 photos of women in various stages of undress, and more than 250 selfies of men’s nether regions, according to Avast.

Doing a factory reset to wipe the data off smartphones does not work, and the data can be recovered, warned Avast .

The company recovered tons of data, including more than 40,000 stored photographs, from 20 used Android phones purchased from eBay.

Device owners need to overwrite their files to make them irretrievable, Avast said, touting one of the applications it offers.

Get more information here and see how to prevent this from happening to you.


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?

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