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.

February 9, 2016

I Took One for the Team and Lost

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:56 am

Last week I told you about my situation after installation of a program I was testing to possibly recommend to you.  After the test it failed to perform as advertised.  I then uninstalled the app, went on about my business and realized it had put malware into my computer.
This week…the aftershock. 

I dug into Google to search for a fix for this particular problem.  The problem was that after the uninstallation each browser I used had a new Yahoo search tab open.  The page did not appear to be an actual Yahoo page.  If you use Yahoo you will see that the URL will be, ""  The one in the new tab had an additional ten – fifteen characters which is wrong.

I found several different suggestions on how to resolve this issue.  I tried several solutions that had registry edits, folder removals, and other suggestions – none were effective. 

After an hour or so I decided to run a System Restore which has been built into the Windows OS since Windows ME came out in 2000.  System Restore will basically roll back your entire computer to a previous time in history.  It will not affect files you created such as Word documents or spreadsheets but it will remove any software that was installed since that date.  This means that usually after the restore process is finished and your computer reboots any problems you had will be gone.  Well, not so with this issue.

After the system restore my computer would not restart.  I got the new blue screen of death for Windows 10 which has a large “frowny” face.  Cute but disgusting none-the-less.

Your PC ran into a problem, warning graphic

I was not too discouraged with this latest non-starting situation since I had already decided to rebuild this computer.  My feeling has always been once you have a virus or malware you have one choice.  That is to set aside several hours to wipe your computer clean and rebuild it from scratch.

So I reformatted the hard drive, installed Windows 10, and added all of my programs as if it were a new computer.  Unlike you, when I get a new computer I wipe it clean and rebuild it myself.  Call me a geek but that way I know exactly what is on my system.  So this was not a big deal to me.  I sort of enjoyed it.  If you ever have to do this you must make sure you have all of your serial numbers for your applications so that you can reinstall them.

As I have said before I use Dropbox.  So I simply downloaded all of my personal files, like articles I have written over the past 15 years, and all was well.  A pain to do but it was a little like spring cleaning for me. 

I have had emails this past week from people wanting to know what the program was that caused all the problems.  If you are interested shoot me an email and ask.

October 15, 2013

Get Help, Problem Steps Recorder

I have had people tell me many times that sometimes their computer will give them a problem.  No surprise there. But then when they talk to a geek or go to have it fixed they either cannot explain it to the geek clearly enough, they may forget exactly what happened or they cannot get the problem to duplicate itself at that time.  They then feel hopelessly lost.

Never fear, Microsoft thought of you with Windows 7 and continued it in Windows 8 (if you are one of the unfortunates using it) and hopefully from that point on.  The application is called, "Problem Steps Recorder" and is really a miracle of the technology age.

It is very simple to use and will give your computer geek more than enough, maybe even too much information regarding what is going on with your computer.

To get to PSR you can either click on your Start Orb and type Problem Steps Recorder and click the link that reads, "Record steps to reproduce a problem" or just type "PSR", see "psr.exe" and click it to start.  

PSR Start ScreenA rectangular window will pop up on your monitor that is label in-kind.  At that point you have only three options.  First you could close it with the "X" on the upper right.  Next, you can get help by clicking the question mark SNAGHTML3c02deunder the close "X."  Lastly, click on "Start Record."  With the last one you will be recording your screenshots anytime you click your mouse or type.  Each thing you do is recorded along with exactly what page you were on, the X and Y coordinates of the mouse location, exactly what you enter into areas, etc.

While recording, you can also add a comment by clicking the appropriate button on the controller for PSR.  It will open a text box in the recording area and you can type notes or thoughts with regard to the process. They will appear when you play the file back later.

Once you have finished stepping through your process click the "Stop Recording" button and you may then save it.  It will automatically create a "zipped" file to make it easier to email or take to another person for help.  If you would like to experiment try it now.  Save the file, (best to your desktop) and once it completes unzip the file and run the video to be amazed.

This is an excellent help tool and really easy to use.

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