Scams, what can you do?

February 16, 2017

Phone scams are nothing new but with a new one going around lately I figured it may be a pertinent thing to talk about. Lately there has been a scam going around where a recording will call your phone and ask if you can hear them, if you say yes your answer is recorded and used to sign you up for all sorts of things without your knowledge just with your answer. It is important to remember to be cautious when you answer your phone just as you would be visiting sites online.

While I understand this may not be possible for everyone I believe a good rule of thumb is to not answer phone numbers you are unsure about, essentially screening your calls. This is something I always do, if the number does not show up on my caller ID as a number I have saved I just don’t answer. If you don’t want to do that another idea is to inquire more information from the caller on the other end, for example instead of just answering a question asking simple things like “who is this?” or “what is this about?” Never just answer a question if you are unsure of who you are speaking to, even if it seems innocent and harmless.

It is important to protect ourselves from strangers who are seeking to do us some sort of harm, even over the phone. For some these things may seem like common sense but it is important to remember and remind us of them every so often. So a word to the wise, be careful when you pick up your phone, not everyone who calls you is your friend 😉

Coupon App to save you $$$ this holiday season and beyond!

December 13, 2016

I just downloaded an App called Honey. This is a coupon app that was originally created by a dad whom apparently just wanted to save a few dollars on pizza but it has become a great money saving tool among millennials. I have an android phone and I am not sure if there is an App for iOS users or not. It seems very user friendly thus far, the first thing I found upon opening the app was a list of local gas prices with the lowest already listed before you even open up the whole list of prices, score!

I need to use the App for a few days before I can give a full report or opinion but so far it seems like a wonderful tool. Things are  categorized by “local” “weekly ad” “favorites” “latest” and so on with a search option, notifications, favorites, and a bar-code search among other menu options. It also breaks things down by type such as “Store” “Restaurant”  and expiration dates of offers. I’m excited to use this for a week or so and report back with my official opinion of “Honey”. Stay tuned!


Using Minecraft to teach Kid’s Programming

November 18, 2016

If you have small children (or big ones) or like the game yourself then you’ve probably heard of Minecraft. Microsoft announced recently that it wants to teach kids to not only play the game but program the game as well. It has been said that coding and programming will be an essential skill in our children’s future and it looks like Microsoft wants to jump on that bandwagon, but who could blame them.

On Tuesday the company released a tutorial for which is a non-profit sponsored by many tech companies to get kids into programming. The tutorial uses “Lego-like” puzzle pieces snapped together in a certain sequence to control an on-screen character, puzzles and video tutorials attempt to explain programming concepts. Many schools are also on board to teach kids coding and programming skills as well.

I think this is a fantastic effort by Microsoft to take an already popular game and get kids involved in a way that could give them vital skills for their future. Bravo Microsoft! Bravo!




Windows 10 Update KB194496

October 14, 2016

In the never-ending saga of Windows 10, Microsoft has recently pushed another update and surprise surprise its broken! The name of the update is KB194496 and its causing widespread problems for users. It doesn’t install correctly, it causes machines to restart and in some cases the update will attempt to install again after the restart causing a never-ending loop of restarts and re-install attempts. Most but not all users have reported issues. What’s even worse is Microsoft was aware of the issue before releasing.


How much more can Microsoft upset consumers with Windows 10? How will Microsoft rectify the current issue? And when will they stop forcing unwanted things onto their customers? I’m willing to bet blame will always be placed elsewhere and not much will come of a hopeful handle on quality control. How has this updated impacted you? Are you still a satisfied Microsoft customer?

Microsoft’s Timesheet App for iOS

September 23, 2016

Microsoft has released an app called “Office365 Project Time Reporter” that allows you to keep track of and submit your hours from your mobile device (currently only if that device is an Apple product but Microsoft claims a version for Android will be available soon). The app allows you to keep track of hours, non-project work and assignments and save for later editing and submission. All of this is completely independent of location and allows you to input whatever you need to wherever you may be at the time. I am optimistic for this app just for the simple fact of being able to add to, revise and submit your hours regardless of where you are.

I think the app would work great for someone who travels out of the office a lot for work or someone who works from home a lot and is seldomly in the office. Not only can you keep track of hours and projects you can also keep track of overdue tasks and also submit task updates to keep your boss informed of your progress if a project is particularly long. I think the app will come in handy for many business owners and their employees and I applaud Microsoft for its creation.


Can Samsung repair the damage?

September 15, 2016

Samsung has recently pulled it’s commercial for the Note 7 off of the air after the large recall of Note 7 phones due to exploding batteries. They’ve basically given up hope of restoring peoples faith in the smart phone and are hoping to focus energies on an early release of the S8 an S8 edge. But this begs the question, can Samsung repair the damage? Sure they can issue consumers who’ve already bought the Note 7 a new handset, but who is to say that one won’t explode too? They can try to make people forget by releasing the latest version of the S a bit early but is that really going to help? Samsung has already undergone a lot of bad press as of recent and releasing a new version of the S may not be all they need to come back from it. What many, my self included, find interesting is their lack of marketing during this time to try to pull more consumers in. They’ve instead focused their already purchased ad space on things like refrigerators and and TV’s. With Apple about to release their latest iPhone, can Samsung repair the damage that has been done quickly enough to regain profits undoubtedly lost? I suppose time will tell….

RE: Microsoft Confirms Windows 10 New Monthly Charge.

August 26, 2016

So by now I’m sure most of you have heard that Microsoft has announced and confirmed that Windows 10 will now be a subscription service. What does this mean for consumers? Well apparently not much, yet, as Microsoft has also stated that this subscription fee will be for enterprises only. But for how long? How much trust are we willing to instill in that “promise?” We are talking about the company who went in and automatically upgraded users to the service without their permission or knowledge. I’m sure eventually Windows 10 will be a fee-based service for all who use it; Even if you don’t have to incur the fees automatically, like probably those who have already upgraded, I’m sure little features here and there will start having some fee attached to them.

My thoughts? Why fix something that isn’t broken. What I mean by that is, what was wrong with windows 7 or 8? Why do you or I or any average Joe computer user need windows 10? Most millennials don’t even have home computers anymore anyways. Want to save a buck, or 7? Stick to a slightly older but more than sufficient version of Windows and go buy yourself a drink or take yourself to dinner instead ;).

The Flash Patch and the Shocking truth about Shockwave Player

September 21, 2015

Adobe has released a critical software update to fix nearly two-dozen security holes in its Flash Player browser plugin. Separately, I want to take a moment to encourage users who have Adobe Shockwave Player installed to finally junk this program; turns out Shockwave — which comes with its own version of Flash — is still many versions behind in bundling the latest Flash fixes.

If you use and need Flash Player, it’s time to update the program (the latest version is for Windows and Mac users). Google Chrome and Internet Explorer bundle their own versions of Flash (also now at v.; each should auto-update to the latest. Find out if you have Flash installed and its current version number by visiting this page.

Adobe said it was unaware of any exploits in the wild for the vulnerabilities fixed in this Flash release. Nevertheless, I would recommend that if you use Flash that you strongly consider removing it, or at least hobbling it until and unless you need it. Disabling Flash in Chrome is simple enough, and can be easily reversed: On a Windows, Mac, Linux or Chrome OS installation of Chrome, type “chrome:plugins” into the address bar, and on the Plug-ins page look for the “Flash” listing: To disable Flash, click the disable link (to re-enable it, click “enable”). Windows users can remove Flash from the Add/Remove Programs panel, or use Adobe’s uninstaller for Flash Player.

If you’re concerned about removing Flash altogether, consider a dual-browser approach. That is, unplugging Flash from the browser you use for everyday surfing, and leaving it plugged in to a second browser that you only use for sites that require Flash.

If you decide to proceed with Flash and update, the most recent versions of Flash should be available from the Flash home page, but beware potentially unwanted add-ons, like McAfee Security Scan. To avoid this, uncheck the pre-checked box before downloading, or grab your OS-specific Flash download from here. Windows users who browse the Web with anything other than Internet Explorer may need to apply this patch twice, once with IE and again using the alternative browser (Firefox, Opera, e.g.).


In other Adobe patch news, on Sept. 8, 2015 I urged readers who have the Shockwave media player installed to update to the latest version or else junk the program altogether. In an post more than a year ago, I outlined Why You Should Ditch Adobe Shockwave, noting that the program bundles a component of Adobe Flash that was more than 15 months behind on security updates.

I checked back with Adobe last week to find out whether the version of Shockwave that the company released earlier this month is caught up on Flash flaws. Turns out, it’s still woefully behind. The version of Shockwave released just two weeks ago bundles the Flash runtime, a version of Flash that Adobe released in February 2015.

Translation: The version of Shockwave that Adobe released two weeks ago lacks fixes for a whopping 155 vulnerabilities in Flash that can be used to backdoor virtually any computer running it! Included in those missing fixes are patches for a half-dozen Flash flaws that were being actively exploited at the time they were fixed in Flash Player.

Not sure whether your computer has Shockwave installed? If you visit this link and see a short animation, it should tell you which version of Shockwave you have installed. If it prompts you to download Shockwave (or in the case of Google Chrome for some reason just automatically downloads the installer), then you don’t have Shockwave installed. To remove Shockwave, grab Adobe’s uninstall tool here. Mozilla Firefox users should note that the presence of the “Shockwave Flash” plugin listed in the Firefox Add-ons section denotes an installation of Adobe Flash Player plugin — not Adobe Shockwave Player.

Windows 10 Automatic Updates Start Causing Problems

August 6, 2015

Microsoft has said that the Windows 10 updates are mandatory and automatic….no exception.

With just four days left before launch, Windows 10’s policy of automatic updates has run into its first major problem and it is causing many PCs to stop working correctly………..

…..Interestingly the problem has also been experienced by Forbes contributor Paul Monckton who has done some digging and explained that the fault lies in a conflict between Windows Update and Nvidia’€™s own driver and software management tool the Nvidia GeForce Experience€™.
€œIt looks like driver version 353.54 [the latest at time of writing] is available only via Window Update, €œThe problem is the Nvidia GeForce Experience then tried to downgrade that to the previous version while claiming the previous version was actually newer………….

So, if you roll back the driver update, Windows will install it again…and again…and again…

Given Windows 10 updates cannot be stopped the most obvious solution is to uninstall third party driver management and hand it all over to Windows Update to avoid clashes. This potentially simplifies matters by providing an all-in-one update service, but it does mean taking away control from specialist companies over their own products.
A second approach is worth mentioning when Microsoft confirmed Windows 10 updates were unstoppable:

hack it.
Initially this might work, but in April senior Microsoft product marketing manager Helen Harmetz said during a Windows 10 webinar that users who forcibly stopped any Windows 10 updates would eventually have their security updates cut off. Microsoft has yet to confirm this brutal enforcement policy in official documentation, but if this is the path it chooses that would ultimately make any form of update hack pointless.

Windows 10 could share your WIFI with friends and social media

August 6, 2015

Microsoft is offering most Windows 7 and Windows 8 users a free upgrade to the software giant’s latest operating system, Windows 10. But there’s a very important security caveat that users should know about before transitioning to the new OS: Unless you opt out, Windows 10 will by default prompt to you share access to WiFi networks to which you connect with any contacts you may have listed in Outlook and Skype — and, with an opt-in, your Facebook friends.

This brilliant new feature, which Microsoft has dubbed Wi-Fi Sense, doesn’t share your WiFi network password per se — it shares an encrypted version of that password. But it does allow anyone in your Skype or Outlook or Hotmail contacts lists to waltz onto your Wi-Fi network — should they ever wander within range of it or visit your home (or hop onto it secretly from hundreds of yards away with a good ‘ole cantenna!).
I first read about this over at The Register, which noted that Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Sense FAQ seeks to reassure would-be Windows 10 users that the Wi-Fi password will be sent encrypted and stored encrypted — on a Microsoft server. According to PCGamer, if you use Windows 10’s “Express” settings during installation, Wi-Fi Sense is enabled by default.
“For networks you choose to share access to, the password is sent over an encrypted connection and stored in an encrypted file on a Microsoft server, and then sent over a secure connection to your contacts’ phone if they use Wi-Fi Sense and they’re in range of the Wi-Fi network you shared,” the FAQ reads.
The company says your contacts will only be able to share your network access, and that Wi-Fi Sense will block those users from accessing any other shared resources on your network, including computers, file shares or other devices. But these words of assurance probably ring hollow for anyone who’s been paying attention to security trends over the past few years: Given the myriad ways in which social networks and associated applications share and intertwine personal connections and contacts, it’s doubtful that most people are aware of who exactly all of their social network followers really are from one day to the next.
Update, July 30, 12:35 p.m. ET: Ed Bott over at ZDNet takes issue with the experience described in the stories referenced above, stating that while Wi-Fi Sense is turned on by default, users still have to explicitly choose to share a network. “When you first connect to a password-protected Wi-Fi network, you choose if you want to share access to that network with your contacts,” Bott writes. Nevertheless, many users are conditioned to click “yes” to these prompts, and shared networks will be shared to all Facebook, Outlook, and Skype contacts (users can’t pick individual contacts; the access is shared with all contacts on a social network). Updated the lead to clarify that users are prompted to share.
El Reg says it well here:

That sounds wise – but we’re not convinced how it will be practically enforced: if a computer is connected to a protected Wi-Fi network, it must know the key. And if the computer knows the key, a determined user or hacker will be able to find it within the system and use it to log into the network with full access.
In theory, someone who wanted access to your company network could befriend an employee or two, and drive into the office car park to be in range, and then gain access to the wireless network. Some basic protections, specifically ones that safeguard against people sharing their passwords, should prevent this.

I should point out that Wi-Fi networks which use the centralized 802.1x Wi-Fi authentication — and these are generally tech-savvy large organizations — won’t have their Wi-Fi credentials shared by this new feature.
Microsoft’s solution for those concerned requires users to change the name (a.k.a. “SSID“) of their Wi-Fi network to include the text “_optout” somewhere in the network name (for example, “oldnetworknamehere_optout”).
It’s interesting to contrast Microsoft’s approach here with that of Apple, who offer an opt-in service called iCloud Keychain; this service allows users who decide to use the service to sync WiFi access information, email passwords, and other stored credentials amongst their own personal constellation of Apple computers and iDevices via Apple’s iCloud service, but which does not share this information with other users. Apple’s iCloud Keychain service encrypts the credentials prior to sharing them, as does Microsoft’s Wi-Fi Sense service; the difference is that it’s opt-in and that it only shares the credentials with your own devices.
Wi-Fi Sense has of course been a part of the latest Windows Phone for some time, yet it’s been less of a concern previously because Windows Phone has nowhere near the market share of mobile devices powered by Google’s Android or Apple’s iOS. But embedding this feature in an upgrade version of Windows makes it a serious concern for much of the planet.
Why? For starters, despite years of advice to the contrary, many people tend to re-use the same password for everything. Also, lots of people write down their passwords. And, as The Reg notes, if you personally share your Wi-Fi password with a friend — by telling it to them or perhaps accidentally leaving it on a sticky note on your fridge — and your friend enters the password into his phone, the friends of your friend now have access to the network.

Source: How-To Geek
An article in Ars Technica suggests the concern over this new feature is much ado about nothing. That story states: “First, a bit of anti-scaremongering. Despite what you may have read elsewhere, you should not be mortally afraid of Wi-Fi Sense. By default, it will not share Wi-Fi passwords with anyone else. For every network you join, you’ll be asked if you want to share it with your friends/social networks.”
To my way of reading that, if I’m running Windows 10 in the default configuration and a contact of mine connects to my Wi-Fi network and say yes to sharing, Windows shares access to that network: The contact gets access automatically, because I’m running Windows 10 and we’re social media contacts. True, that contact doesn’t get to see my Wi-Fi password, but he can nonetheless connect to my network.
While you’re at it, consider keeping Google off your Wi-Fi network as well. It’s unclear whether the Wi-Fi Sense opt-out kludge will also let users opt-out of having their wireless network name indexed by Google, which requires the inclusion of the phrase “_nomap” in the Wi-Fi network name. The Register seems to think Windows 10 upgraders can avoid each by including both “_nomap” and “_optout” in the Wi-Fi network name, but this article at How-To Geek says users will need to choose the lesser of two evils.
Either way, Wi-Fi Sense combined with integrated Google mapping tells people where you live (and/or where your business is), meaning that they now know where to congregate to jump onto your Wi-Fi network without your permission.
My suggestions:

  1. Prior to upgrade to Windows 10, change your Wi-Fi network name/SSID to something that includes the terms “_nomap_optout”.
  2. After the upgrade is complete, change the privacy settings in Windows to disable Wi-Fi Sense sharing.
  3. If you haven’t already done so, consider additional steps to harden the security of your Wi-Fi network.