DoubleClicks.info 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 PayPal.com 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.

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.

March 21, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 2

Last week we looked at private browser settings.  If you have any setup questions, go back to last week on DoubleClicks.info and check it out.

Internet Explorer InPrivate Mode

This week a few more good things you can do with the Private Mode on your browser.

If you have ever needed to browse to the same site but different accounts, you can do it with the private mode.  For instance, say you want to look in two different bank accounts at the same bank. You cannot do this in the regular browser.  You could open another browser and do this; however, open a private window in the same browser and you can check in to the other account at the same time.  Or different email accounts, two Netflix accounts, Amazon and on it goes.  Open the account in a regular browser’s tab then open a private window and open the other.  Easy and works since it is totally separated from your system.  When you log off it and close the browser it goes away with no trace of your access.

The same thing will work for some of us on work sites.  If you have a regular account and an Admin account, you can visit both the same way.  It is a very convenient solution.

Now here is a biggie you may have experienced and not realized what was happening.  This seems to happen especially when you go shopping for vacation travel and plane tickets.  You look them up and do not buy them. Then later you come back to purchase and the price is up…I have shopped for web site addresses and found the same thing. Always shop in a private window and go back to find the prices are the same or better.  They are not keeping your browser’s cookies so they do not know that you have been there before.  Now not all sites do this but some do.  I do not like to shop in regular mode on my browser.  Reputable sites like Amazon and other well know sites do not do this.  Just be cautious.

Another thing that cookies perform in your browser in the normal mode is track you online. This is not quite as nefarious as it sounds; however, most sites do know where you were before you came to their site and what you looked at.  Just like the vacation prices, it could be that some site you looked at “Thingamajig 123” at the xyz.com store and saw it for $29.00 so they could (though not likely) reduce theirs to $27.50 and then up your shipping by $5 to cover it.  Again, I imagine that is rare but it has been done. There is no way for you to know or prove it.  However, in private mode no one knows where you came from before you got to them.

Also, think of logging into your bank from a computer that is not yours.  In normal mode your username and password could be easily recorded.  Then someone else “could” access your account.  In Incognito mode (Google Chrome’s name) they could not do this since nothing is left behind.

Note that you are not totally invisible in a private mode.  The internet service provider can make available all of your computer’s activities if it was required of them.  Private Mode only keeps your history off of your local computer and does not allow cookies for tracking.

Chrome Incognito logo

March 20, 2017

2017-03-20 Show Notes @ WSVA

Welcome back for another month of the WSVA radio talk show!  I hope you enjoyed it if you were able to listen this morning at 9:00 am ET.  If not you can listen to the show here.

These are a couple of the major things we mentioned today.

Have at ‘em.

Tech News

March 20, 2016

5 Technologies That are Making Farms Smarter and More Efficient Than Ever Before

  • Wi-Fi-connected crops
    A modern farm typically has electronic sensors distributed throughout the field that can monitor for different conditions; in some cases the gadgets send data to an on-the-farm server or to the cloud
  • “Liveware” gene editing
    Gene/DNA edits can make some plants more resilient to climate change, consume less water and increase yields, etc.
  • Robot farmers
    The rapid pace of development in self-driving cars is also happening on the farm. Self-driving tractors and robots are becoming more common as a way to control payroll costs by automating time-consuming tasks done by humans. This doesn’t include even more harvesting which has been done mechanically for years.
  • Eyes in the sky
    Mapping technology (along with other uses) is a vital part of data-driven agriculture, and getting those maps is easier and more cost-effective than ever before thanks to the explosive growth in drone technology.
  • Wavelength management
    Urban and vertical indoor farming is becoming more popular, giving growers of specialty crops ways to produce year-round regardless of outdoor weather conditions. But one challenge has been helped by now being able to provide the ideal wavelengths of sunlight that optimize growth in cramped indoor spaces.

Surprising Number Of Americans Would Chop Off A Finger To Stay Online Ouch

Americans love the Internet. Some love it so much that they’d rather chop off a finger than stay offline forever, according to a new survey.

In March, 2016, researchers at AT&T asked over 2,000 Americans what they’d give up to stay connected, and people admitted that they’d part with some pretty essential things. Their answers, which are meant to be more fun than scientific, illustrate the extent to which the Internet has become a nearly indispensable feature of modern life.

A full third of respondents said they would sacrifice a digit. Another third said they’d ditch their sense of taste. More than 15 percent of the people surveyed said they’d forgo human interaction before ditching the Internet, and nearly 20 percent said they’d give up love.

Over half said they would allow a stranger to die if it meant holding onto their Internet connection. And a measly 35 percent said they would give up the Internet if doing so would allow them to cure cancer.


EU authorities demand changes from Facebook, Google, Twitter

Social media companies Facebook Inc, Alphabet Inc and Twitter Inc will have to amend their terms of service for European users within a month or face the risk of fines, a European Commission official said on Friday.

Germany, the most populous EU state, said this week it planned a new law calling for social networks such as Facebook to remove slanderous or threatening online postings quickly or face fines of up to 50 million euros ($53 million).


That is all for today see you next month at 9:00 am on WSVA, April 17!

Ron

March 14, 2017

Secret Surfing, Part 1

What is “Private Browsing?” is a question I receive from time-to-time.  People write that they were looking around in their browser and saw it.  In Google Chrome the same thing is named “Incognito Mode.”  In Internet Explorer, it is “InPrivate Browsing” and others have slightly different names.

The Private browser settings are sometimes referred to as “Porn Browser Mode.”

What does Private Mode/Browsing do that normal browsing does not?

Incognito Mode SpyIt does not keep any trace of you on your computer or any website.  When you surf in normal mode everywhere you go is recorded in your browser’s history.  That way you can go back to your history and look where you have been.  This is good if you know you went to a site last week but cannot remember its name.  Search your history and you can go right back to the same page.

Cookies are not stored in private either, so your search information and sites visited are not stored for other sites to pull from your computer to send back info on which news sites you read, where you do all of your online shopping, etc.  When using private mode, it is as if you were never online.  Well, up to a point but more on that next week.

However, there are many other useful reasons you may want to practice it at times.

Setting Google Chrome for IncognitoIn the majority of browsers to open a window in “Private” look to the upper right of the browser and click the gear or three-dot icon.  This is where you get to all of the settings in your browser.  Then look for the private mode.  For instance, in Chrome click the three dots in upper right then choose “New incognito windows.”  You may also utilize the shortcut keys of “Ctrl + Shift + N.”  Once in the private/incognito window you will see some sort of label showing you that your browsing is secret.  In Chrome an icon of a man in a hat with glasses will be in the upper left corner.  All browsers are slightly different so search online for how to set it up and what is displayed on yours.
What other more respectable reasons should you want to use it?  First, pretend you are shopping online for a gift for your significant other, or someone else who may use your computer occasionally.  You search for a “Thingamajig 123” in the regular browsing window.  You find it and read all about it.  Well, cookies from that site will be saved to your browser.  When the other person opens that browser minutes, hours or days later and searches in Google, guess what?  Ads for a “Thingamajig 123” will appear in Google so you are given away.  Cookies are shared from site to site so that is why you see advertisements for things you have been looking for.  It seems spooky until you realize why.

Next week more reasons you may want to consider Secret Surfing.

March 7, 2017

Surface Pro

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:54 am

I am testing a new type of computer, at least for me.  They first came into the public view in early to mid-2013 depending on where on the globe you are located.  You know the one as the marketing for this “new” computer was worldwide and abundant.  You know all the happy people dancing around to a “snappy” tune, and flipping/closing their small computers in rhythm like they were in a euphoric trance.  Yeah, you have it now, the Microsoft Windows based, “Surface Pro.”

First was the Surface, next the Surface Pro, then a 2, and 3 which has progressed into the current Surface Pro 4.  Of course, that is not all Microsoft now has. The Surface Book, Hub and in December, 2016 the Surface Studio rolled out.

First what is different about it?  It is smaller than a usual notebook, more the size of a tablet with a very thin keyboard.  Approximately 11″ x 7″ x 0.6″.  When the keyboard is attached, it is closer to an inch thick.  There is a foldout section on the back to provide a stand to keep it upright with a couple of positions.  You need that “wedge” to support the actual screen/computer as the keyboard is only a hinge with no support like you may be used to with a regular notebook.

Surface Pro 2

Surface Pro 2

The keyboard is slightly smaller than some other brands of notebooks but not significantly.  It also includes a touchpad – similar to all the others.  I choose to use a wireless USB mouse with this one which functions well.  I have been typing on it regularly for a couple of days.  I am having no problem hitting the correct keys – other than caused by my regularly average typing.  (Hallelujah, for auto-spell checking in word processors!)

You have three keyboard options.  First, you can use the keyboard like any other notebook and type on it.  Next, you can fold the keyboard over to become the back surface of the notebook. It then becomes a tablet.  When in tablet mode your screen rotates when tilted like any other tablet and you can use the touchscreen.  Finally, you may choose to detach the keyboard all-the-way and have a Windows tablet.

It has good response and speed although nowhere near as quick as some larger notebooks I have used.  I have been using spreadsheets, word processing, web browsing, email, a very few online games (no pc games or Steam) and everything works as it should.

I cannot really find a lot to nitpick about with this nice little notebook/tablet combo.

Well, OK, there is one major issue for me, the price.  For the top of the line Surface Pro 4 today you may figure about $1,400.  Oh wait, that does not include a keyboard which may be had for an additional $55 – $130.  I am currently testing an older (2014) Surface Pro 2 which again I find to be a very decent system.  The price on one of these is around $550 and again that is without a keyboard.  I pulled these prices off of Amazon so you may be able to find others elsewhere.

Surface Pro 4

Surface Pro 4

My problem is at that price I can find two equally decent regular notebooks or tablets (with Bluetooth keyboards included.  If money were no object, sure, I would not mind owning one.  However, not currently for me.

 

 

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

February 21, 2017

Had Enough of Facebook? Part 2

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 5:31 am

Last week I let you know how to download a backup copy of most everything you have posted to Facebook.  This was in preparation for permanently removing you FB account.  Of course, you could do it for fun to see what they have on you.

Bear in mind that even though you will remove all of your photos, posts, etc. they may still be out there somewhere, where you have no knowledge of their existence.  Also, remember that in the fine print when you signed up for FB, they have your permission to use anything you post to their system anywhere they choose.  Your “stuff” may reappear somewhere else – maybe as an advertisement.  Your deleted information may not be found in the public domain by searching; however, it is still there.

So, after your backup copy is done and saved to your computer, here is how to entirely delete your Facebook account.  By-the-way deleting Facebook is a popular search on Google, take a look below at the sixth choice, where I started typing, “delete.

dele search - enlarged

First you should go to the settings area by clicking the lock or down arrow icon in the upper right corner.  On the lower left side of the Settings menu select “Apps” and remove all of them.  Keep in mind if it is an app that requires Facebook to play you may not be able to play the game, etc. again.  If you want to get more information about the app click its name or icon and read what it does and what information they collect about you.  Some apps may not be deleted so you have to deal with those few.

Delete Apps - enlarged

Next you can clear your past searches.  Again, under Settings click “Activity logs.”  On the left menu scroll down to the first “More” you see and select it.  When the screen opens look to the upper area and next to “Search” you will see “Clear searches.” Click and your past searches will be deleted.  Now the bad part of this is if you wish to delete all of the other things there you will have to delete them individually.  You would have to go to each photo, video, comment, etc. and delete each one.  This is not worth it to me and you have covered many of the bases up to this point.  I have heard some browsers have add-ins that will do this for you, but I have not tried them so Google for them if you wish.

In the past, you could delete your entire Activity Log but at this writing I could not find a way to do this.  Facebook changes this quite often so it may reappear in the future or it could be buried deeply somewhere I could not locate.

Finally, you need to go to this URL, “www.facebook.com/help/delete_account” and click the “Delete my account” button.  (That link is not found on Facebook as a link so you must type it in.) But first you may want to read “Learn more about account deletion.”  After an alert or two, respond appropriately and it will be gone.  You will get a verification email to your registered account letting you know what you did.

Delete May Account- enlarged

However, they say do not login to Facebook again for a minimum of 14 days.  I would wait longer.  If you do login before that time has passed it will be fully restored.  Aren’t they nice thinking you made a mistake after all of this hassle?

Now go read a book or a newspaper and maybe even talk to your friends and relatives who are really your friends.

February 20, 2017

2017-02-20 Show Notes @ WSVA

Welcome back, do to holidays, job changing and a variety of other things I have not had the show for a couple of months.

But today you may relax, we are back. Listen in at WSVA’s podcast and enjoy the show now.

Enjoy!

Tech News

February 20, 2016

FORBES: Google’s Chrome Browser Crushes The Desktop Competition In 2016 and keeps crushingA seismic shift occurred in the way the world browses the web in 2016. Google’s Chrome browser supplanted Microsoft’s Internet Explorer as the world market-share leader in desktop browsers. That’s a genteel way of putting it. “Google crushed Microsoft as Chrome dominates the desktop browser field” gives a clearer picture of what happened.

The market share numbers reported in this article come from Net Applications’ Net Market Share Report which measures unique visitors from approximately 40,000 global websites. Net Applications weights their results using the CIA’s internet traffic by country data. This reduces distortions caused by differences in a country’s percentage of global internet use and the percentage of its users captured by the websites Net Applications monitors.

IE remained the global market share leader until it fell into a virtual tie with Chrome in March 2016 when IE held 39.1% and Chrome had 39.09% market share. After that it’s been all Chrome. IE began 2016 with a 43.82% share and ended the year with 20.84%. In January, Chrome held a 35.05% share and it rose to 56.43% in December. The pattern continued in January of this year with IE falling to 19.71% share and Chrome rising to 57.94%. Game over.

Edge usage grew in 2016 but not nearly enough to offset IE’s loss. Edge began the year with 3.07% share and ended it at 5.33%. Almost all of the people who abandoned IE moved to Chrome.


Google Search a Specific site
Search for specific words or phrases on only one site and any site you know the URL to. Just type in Google like this –
“potatoes” site:wsvaonline.com
– with the quotes.


See you next month on March 20, 2017. Listen up!

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