DoubleClicks.info About Computers for Newbies & Everyone Else

June 7, 2016

Password Vault

Filed under: Columns — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , — Ron @ 6:14 am

Bank accounts, dating sites, email, Facebook, Instagram, other email accounts, PC login, Twitter, websites, work, and on it goes.  What do those things have in common with most everything else on your computer?  Correct, passwords.

Five years ago I wrote about various ways to keep your bazillions of passwords safe.  DO NOT do what some non-savvy users do and write them on a piece of paper cleverly hidden under your keyboard.  Yes, I have actually known people to do that.  I also do not recommend creating a text document, spreadsheet, etc. with password protection as these are not really too secure. 

I used to exclusively use KeePass (keepass.info) which is an excellent program; however, from emails I have received it is a little cumbersome and difficult for some.  Especially when used in several locations like work computer, home notebook, tablets and also phones. 

KeePass logo 
I have recently switched over to LastPass (lastpass.com) which I find incredibly more useful in several respects.  When I mentioned LastPass five years ago I was slightly negative toward it since it had just faced its first hack attack.  However, that being said, it totally survived that attack and has not had a major attempt since. 

LastPass logo

LastPass puts your password information on its servers but that database is protected by your password and keys only you and your computer have. This is a very safe combination in that if your account was hacked at LastPass in the cloud, the hackers would still not have the information they need to get in.  That would have to come from you. 

LastPass’s online storage enables you to access your passwords online from any location on any computerized device.  That makes it incredibly easy to use anywhere. 

LastPass has many features but one of my favorites is once it is installed and set up.  You are able to save passwords as you browse, and when you go to that site next time LastPass will autofill the login for you if you want it to, as long as you have first logged into LastPass. 

Another good thing in its favor is if you have three Gmail accounts, 12 Yahoo accounts, and any number of others, it will remember them individually and let you log in to the correct one with the correct password.

As with all applications available today there is the free standard version and also a premium version.  The premium version gives you other beneficial features but you know me.  In my opinion the freebie gives you everything most users need, so try it out. 

If you use this link (rd.dblclx.com/20vo3US) to sign up for LastPass you and I will both get to try out the premium version for a while.  That way we can both see if its is that much better. 

Free or Premium really does not matter, this app will let you be much more secure online.  It will allow you to create a variety of passwords (which LastPass can even create for you) so that you are not using the same password for everything.  Come on, you know you are doing that since we cannot possibly remember a bazillion of them. 

Let me know if/when you try it out.  Below you can see some of the items in my LastPass vault.

Ron's LastPass vault

March 31, 2015

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

Microsoft Windows logoIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Windows Defender screenFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

Avast! logoSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "Avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at Malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

Malwarebytes logoI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

What Should I Install?

I regularly receive questions concerning readers buying new computers.  They will usually ask what antivirus software they should install to keep everything protected.  I usually suggest one or two good antivirus applications.  Keep in mind I am only referencing Windows machines and, due to my frugal nature, free applications. 

imageIf you have a Windows 7 system, I recommend going to Microsoft.com and searching for "Microsoft Security Essentials."  Go to the download page, download it and install it.  It may already be on your new computer if the manufacturer made a deal with MS to preinstall it.  However, do not worry if it is, it will harm nothing to reinstall.

Picture of Windows DefenderFor a Windows 8.1 (or 8 if you have not upgraded yet…which you should ASAP) you have "Windows Defender" already installed on your computer.  It comes automatically with all versions of W8.  It is an upgraded version of "Security Essentials" for W8.  These are both good antivirus apps and really all you need unless you go to disreputable places that may possibly be able to defeat them.  They are good in that they will be updated with Windows Update so you do not have to do anything additional to get them updated as you do with all other third party apps. 

imageSome people do not trust MS and want another antivirus software so I recommend, "Avast!"  If you choose to install Avast go to, "avast.com" only.  The reason is, if you search for it online you may be directed to a disreputable site.  It may be listed as a free download but you may be getting something that could harm your system. 

One other major application I would install on all computers today is Malwarebytes (download the free version at malwarebytes.org).  I mentioned it toward the end of last year but many people have asked about it, so I feel I need to remind you. 

imageI personally had not installed Malwarebytes on my computer figuring my antivirus software took care of everything.  A year or more ago I noticed my system running slower than it should be and I found a toolbar installed on Internet Explorer I had not installed.  I had not noticed it before since I do not regularly use MSIE as my browser so I had no idea how long it was on my computer.  Anytime you have a toolbar on your browser that you know nothing about is not a good sign.  It most likely means that you have some malware running and you need to remove it…now!  So I knew my computer had been had. 

Malware is software inserted when you download something, either intentionally or not, that is designed to do damage or some sort to your system.  It can totally or partially disable your computer.

The first time you run Malwarebytes you may get tens to hundreds of files recognized.  Delete them all!  I would encourage you to run it on some sort of regular schedule.  A weekly, monthly or quarterly time frame is good depending on how much you are online.

I almost guarantee if you install and run this on your old computer you will find many malware items present.  

July 21, 2014

2014-07-21 WSVA Show Notes

Tech News
Russian hackers placed ‘digital bomb’ in Nasdaq
CNN Money – Russian hackers managed to slip a "digital bomb" into the Nasdaq — one with the potential to sabotage the stock market’s computers and wreak havoc on the U.S. economy.

That’s according to an investigative report by Bloomberg Businessweek, which revealed the details of a 2010 cybergrenade that never detonated.


European Cell phone usage
How does the per capita rates of cell phone users compare across the world.  (Depending on where you look you will see different numbers, so this is another approximation.)


Edward Snowden Meets with Hackers
Edward Snowden made an impassioned call on Saturday for hackers and technologists to help would-be whistleblowers spill more government secrets.

Speaking via remote Google Hangouts video feed from Russia, Snowden addressed his comments to an audience at this weekend’s Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) conference at the Pennsylvania Hotel in New York


Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Get Pocket (formerly known as Read It Later)

Get Pocket LogoPut articles, videos or pretty much anything into Pocket. Save directly from your browser or from apps like Twitter, Flipboard, Pulse and Zite. If it’s in Pocket, it’s on your phone, tablet or computer. You don’t even need an Internet connection. Basically you can create your own informational magazine. Then go back to the phone/table app or log into GetPocket.com from any computer.

Pocket apps are out there for every smart phone made today. Go to your store and download it for free.


Rainy Mood RainyMood.com
Since I had a lot of feedback from people regarding coffitivity.com from the last show, I figured you would like Rainy Mood too.

Instead of office murmur how about a gentle rain storm for a nice background sound?


Math Way mathway.com
Having trouble with math? Apparantly this site can solve any sort of math problem you have. Calculus, Statistics, Pre-Algebra, Algebra and even plan old Basic Math.

There are even some Practice questions for up to the 8th grade.


Until next time have a great time online but most importatnly everywhere else too!

August 20, 2013

Android Factory Reset

Last time we talked about what to do if you could not remember your Android phone’s passcode or pattern.  An email this week stated, "OK, I don’t really use Gmail for much and never log into it."  They then went on to explain that they could not provide adequate information to Google to get their password for a Gmail reset. 

Keep in mind that if you cannot get into email it affects all of your Google account information, from your phone, contacts, Google blogs, etc.  So this is the ultimate "fix" in several ways.

Here are the desperation moves when you cannot in any way gain access to your Android phone.  Hold tight!

First you need to set up a new Google account on your computer.  You can also do this as one of the last steps in resetting your phone but it is easier to complete first online.  Go to Gmail.com and click the upper right link that says, "Create a new account."  Finish it all up and move on to your phone; however, do not forget to add your cell phone number in the security section, see last week for more detail.

Turn off your Android phone (it does not matter that it is still locked).  Do not just put it to sleep but cut it off by holding the power button down for 30 seconds or so.  Depending on the age, version of the OS, and manufacturer it will either ask if you want to turn the power off or it may just shutdown.

Next, and PLEASE listen to this part!  The following steps will wipe out your phone, i.e., all of your email, your apps, your high scores on games, your vacation pictures, etc.  So this is a desperation move ONLY.  You could also use it if you are going to give your phone to someone else and want to get all of your info off of it.  This will not reset the SD Card in the phone.  I would recommend you remove that and reformat it too; however, you may have pictures on it that you can get later.  This depends on your phone and how it was set up.

These following steps will vary by manufacturer so I suggest you contact your phone provider, tell them what has happened and ask how to perform a "Hard Factory Reset" via your phone’s buttons. 

Here is the standard way to "boot" your phone this way.  Hold down the Volume Up and Power buttons simultaneously.  After a few minutes or so your phone’s logo screen will display. (Again your manufacturer will have details for your phone so this is generic).  When it does, release the power button but continue holding the Volume button until the Android System Recovery menu appears.

Android System Recovery Menu (yours may vary)Once at the Android System Recovery menu, select the “wipe data/factory reset” option using the volume keys to move up and down them.  Once it is selected press the power button to start the "wipe."  You will get a confirmation screen.  Choose "Yes" and proceed to strip your phone of all but the essentials which allow it to work.

Reboot System Now screenAfter a few seconds it will finish and you will be presented with the Android System Recovery menu. Again this time choose, "Reboot System Now."

You phone will now reboot back into normal mode and be set up the same way it was when you purchased it and took it out of the box.  Set it up with your new Gmail account which was created earlier and you are on your way again. 

March 5, 2013

What are Those Hard to Read Characters for Anyway?

I receive questions about those goofy, hard to read letters which are found on many websites from time-to-time.  They are known as “Captchas.”  Yes, a nonsensical word, unless you are a geek. It actually stands for the word, “capture.”  Now that you just repeated them both in your mind, you are nodding – you get it!

imageWhen captchas first started out you usually found one “word” which you had to retype in a text box in order to proceed to the next step on a site.  I use the word “word” loosely since when the captcha craze first started out it was a combination of letters and usually did not spell an actual word.  Today they have advanced to multiple words or letter/number combos like “ck1U8iuX7” and appear slanted or wavy.

At first it was easy, but then with the addition of numbers, caps and slants things became a little more difficult.  Was that a numeral one (1) or the lowercase letter “l?” Is that a twisted capital “X” or lowercase?  So, to help out with that they added a reload button, which is basically one curved arrow chasing another.  If you clicked that button it would give you another word, sometimes to your advantage and sometimes not.

Later it was decided to add another button to “speak” the word.  The icon is usually represented by a small speaker for you to click.  I have tried these on occasion and I just LOL (Laugh-Out-Loud, for you non texting folks).  I cannot understand anything.  To me it sounds like static with a voice lightly speaking in the background; worthless.

OK, now you understand what they are but you still need to know the why of captcha.

Captchas were created to keep internet robots (sometimes called net-bots) from signing up for accounts on websites.  Basically I could offer the first one hundred people who join my website a free copy of my book (example only – I have no book).  A net-bot could immediately log onto my site and register hundreds of fake users in a matter of seconds; thereby, locking out real humans.

The captcha process is called a “challenge-response test.” This basically means that in order to make sure you are a real human it gives you a test that a computer cannot pass.  As we can see from above the “challenge” to you is to decipher the words you see in the graphic box and the “response” is for you to reenter that pattern of characters into a textbox.  If you pass the test you go to the next step, if not you can try another set of characters until you get it correct.

I use a captcha program called, “reCAPTCHA” which is owned by Google.  Google states that they are displaying over 100 million captchas every day with this service.

Captchas are a pain but it is all about internet security, so embrace it.

To try it out and see if you can pass the test by going to DoubleClicks.info and click the “Contact Ron” link in the upper left of the page under “Pages.”  If you want to LOL hit the speaker and hear the hint.  And for another reCaptcha try this one.


February 18, 2013

2013-02-18 WSVA Show Notes

Another day of fun in technology with Jim Britt and myself.  Today we hit a bunch of great topics, programs and apps.  Help in traffic, speed traps, the Federal Reserve site getting hacked and more…even the end of life as we know it.  To find out all of the exciting news (well, OK, fun too) check out the podcast from today.

Tech News
Hackers access Federal Reserve website
The Federal Reserve has acknowledged that an outside party gained access to its website and a limited amount of data, raising questions about the central bank’s cyber-security measures.

"The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," a Federal Reserve spokesman said in a statement.

"The exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue," the spokesman said. "This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve System."


Microsoft’s SkyDrive now stores 1B documents
Computerworld – Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud storage service now has one billion Office documents stored in it, the company announced today.

While a billion may seem like a lot, the most popular consumer cloud storage service, Dropbox, has more than 100,000,000 users. According to the company’s information site, users save one billion files to Dropbox every 24 hours.


Windows 8 ekes out 2.2 percent market share
Windows 8 may not be setting the PC landscape on fire, but at least it’s heating up some gains in market share.

The latest flavor of Windows scored a market share of 2.26 percent in January, as recorded by Web tracker Net Applications. That showed a slow but steady rise from 1.72 percent in December and 1.09 percent in November.

  1. Windows 7 – 44.4%
  2. Windows XP – 39.5%
  3. Vista – 5.24%
  4. Windows 8 – 2.26%
  5. Mac OS X 10.6 – 2%
  6. Mac OS X 10.7 – 1.96%

Police Drone
Do you live in a drone zone?
What’s that buzzing through the sky? It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s… a drone aircraft? If you live in one of 81 cities across the US, you might be seeing drone aircraft flying overhead much more before long. The FAA has just released an updated version of the drone application list, as requested under a Freedom of Information Act action from the EFF. Is your hometown on it?


 
Ron’s Android App Recommendation
(This app can be found on Google Play from your Android phone,
tablet or viewed on your PC from the link below.)
Waze logo Waze

Waze is a fun, community-based traffic & navigation app, 30 million strong. Join forces with other drivers nearby to outsmart traffic, save time & gas money, and improve everyone’s daily commute.

With community-generated real-time traffic, you’ll always get the best route to your destination. By simply driving around with Waze open, you’re already contributing tons real-time traffic & road info to your local driving community. You can also actively report accidents, hazards, police and other events you see on the road, and get road alerts coming up on your route too. Find the cheapest gas station along your route with community-shared gas prices.


 
Ron’s Firefox Suggestions
(You can find this Firefox addon and all the others at addons.mozilla.org
or by click the orange Firefox tab, then "add-ons"
or finally if you use the menu toolbar choose Tools/Add-ons.)
EPUBReader

For all of you ePub book readers out there you can now put your book on your PC and use EPUBReader to read it in Firefox. It will link your books marks between Firefox on different PC (if you sync them). However, it will not lync them to your eBook reader.

With EPUBReader you can read ePub files just in Firefox. No additional software needed!


Have a great day surfing the net, downloading new addons for Firefox and trying out Wave on your Smart Phones. See you next time and do not forget to visit DoubleClicks.info and WSVAOnline.com for more info and good information.

Thanks!

Ron

October 9, 2012

Two-Factor Authentication

I have a feeling if you have not already heard about two-factor authentication you will hear a lot shortly. TFA is also referred to as "two-step verification" so you may see them used interchangeably. 

Two-factor authentication is another advance in security for protecting you on the internet.  Some bank and other online apps including Google, DropBox, PayPal and many others are using or starting to use this security feature.

My first introduction to TFA was through PayPal several years ago.  It involved getting a free credit card-sized device or a security fob which would fit on your keychain. 

The security device was linked with your online account.  When you logged into PayPal to purchase something you had to enter a short, I believe six-digit, random code into a textbox on the site.  To get a randomly generated code number you used the card/fob.  When you logged into the site you entered your username, password and were then asked to enter your code.  You had to push a button on the device in your hand and it would generate that random code.  Once you entered that code into the website and it matched the code generated in the background on the site, you were in.  If they didn’t match you would get several more tries. Then you would be locked out.  You had to go through a bit of a hassle to get it all verified again or wait a specified amount of time before you could try again.

Unfortunately, my card wore out.  They would send you another for a slight fee.  I opted out of the extra verification.  I did not want to pay a fee for a device that did not survive the ride in my wallet for six-months before dying. 

Today things have changed.  This past summer Dropbox (dropbox.com or bit.ly/use-DropBox for extra storage for both you and me) started using TFA.  Their features are very similar to the large majority available today.  So let us look at how Dropbox works.

imageLog into your DropBox account using your email address and password as you normally would.  Next, go to Settings/Security and scroll down to "Two-step verification." It will indicate that it is disabled.  Now click "change."  You will be asked if you wish to use text-messaging or a mobile app.  With text-messaging the code will be sent to your phone via text.  If you have to pay for texting choose the other and you can download an app to your smart phone which will generate the code for you, just like the card from PayPal I mentioned earlier.

imageI always make the text-messaging choice.  You run through a verification entering your phone number, a test-text and you are set up.  Next time you log into your account you will use your username, password and get a text box to fill in with your code.  The code will be sent to your phone in about five seconds after you click the send button.

With DropBox as well as some others you can click "remember this computer" and it will put a cookie on your computer.  Then you will not be asked to verify your login with the code on that computer alone.

I like this process and usually forget about it until I try to log on to a site and get the buzz from my phone.  Good luck!  Let me know if you try any or are already using some two-step verification processes.

May 15, 2012

February 7, 2012

Google Latitude

Two warnings precede this information today.  First, I like most Google products and am a big Google supporter (read prejudiced).  Secondly, I work for Ntelos Wireless. Since I am going to mention phones I should warn you of any other possible prejudice.  When I talk about smartphones, etc. I am giving my personal experience not corporate information.

Now let’s get to the fun stuff.  Google is a great source of interesting, informative and OK, just plain fun applications you can get for free…at least most are free.  The one we will look at today scares some people.  I am in the camp of those others who could care less.  I imagine if you are a terrorist on the run from the Department of Homeland Security you would have an issue or two with Google Latitude.  But if you are a normal boring individual like me you do not mind it much.

Basically, if you install it on your smartphone, tablet pc, etc. (from your device’s marketplace) you can give your mapped location to only those you choose.  You can also hide your location whenever you choose.  The entire world will not be able to see your location, only your chosen "stalkers".  In my case only my wife and a couple of good friends can see where I am at any given time.  I only have one girlfriend and I’m married to her, so I don’t ever need to hide my location. 

Before anyone can view your location, you must either accept an invitation from them asking you to add them as a friend or you must request they share their location with you.  Then you must chose to either "Share best available location", which gives your most accurate location or "Share only city level location," which shows them the general area you are in, but nothing specific.  And of course, you can remove a person from your list and not share anything with them.

How close they are able to get to your location depends on the quality of your phone and how well Latitude is behaving.   Occasionally I will check it for fun when my wife and I are in the same location.  It has shown us to be over a mile apart but usually it is accurate to within 25-50 feet.  Hey, it is free what do you expect?

If I know my wife is leaving somewhere and I am going to meet her somewhere else I can follow her path on Latitude and ascertain her approximate location.  This helps me get there on time.  Of course, I could also call her but that just isn’t the geek way to do things now, is it? 

Where I've been the past 30 daysThe last thing I will mention today is that you can go online to "google.com/latitude" and log into your Latitude account.  From there you can choose Friends, Location History or Check-ins.   Friends shows where your friends are which is pretty obvious.  The Location History gives you just that, where you have been. If you go to DoubleClicks.info you can see where I’ve been for the last 30 days.  Check-ins are neat too.  When you go somewhere you can set Latitude on your phone to remind you to check-in where you stop for a while.  You can add a picture to it, a comment or just check-in.  I just checked in where I am enjoying a pastry and my fourth cup of java.  Where do you think I may be?

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