4 Articles about Online Privacy

If you have been reading my posts for any length of time, you know that my biggest bug a boo is privacy.  Second, of course, is security.  In hopes that others will want to learn a little about privacy, I’ve searched the interwebs for some of the best articles out there right now about why online privacy on your electronic devices is important.

As Marsha Blackburn of US News and World Report says:

“Online privacy is an issue that continues to rightfully concern Americans. According to research by IBM, over ninety percent of the world’s data has been generated in the last two years alone. The explosion of smartphones and internet-connected devices has Americans utilizing online services to do everything from grocery shopping to tracking their health. However, increased reliance on online services has made Americans more conscious about how they share sensitive personal information…”

Who else besides me uses their phone for everything from buying coffee to checking Facebook to tracking steps?  That’s a lot of info that goes out into the “cloud”.  Is it safe?Online Privacy

It’s important to remember that the onus is on you to keep your own data secure as these people who sued Facebook found out.  They thought that once they had logged out of Facebook, it should not be able to track their browsing history.  In this article, the Judge presiding over the case said no.

“Judge dismisses lawsuit accusing Facebook of tracking users’ activity, saying responsibility was on plaintiffs to keep browsing history private. …. US district judge Edward Davila in San Jose, California, dismissed the case because he said that the plaintiffs failed to show that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy or suffered any realistic economic harm or loss. …. Davila said that plaintiffs could have taken steps to keep their browsing histories private…”

And Alfred Ng reports in c|net that some of the bargain phones are sending info to a server in China.

“People have enough to worry about when it comes to privacy on their personal devices. Between government surveillance and security vulnerabilities, preinstalled software on the phone itself is an unexpected breach of both trust and privacy for millions of owners who are just looking for an inexpensive phone. ….. Having access to the command and control channel — a communications route between your device and a server — allowed Adups to execute commands as if it’s the user, meaning it could also install apps, take screenshots, record the screen, make calls and wipe devices without needing permission.”

Privacy has become such an issue that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case later this year.  This article in Reuters describes much of the case.

The case reaches the high court amid growing scrutiny of the surveillance practices of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies amid concern among lawmakers across the political spectrum about civil liberties and police evading warrant requirements.

The legal fight has raised questions about how much companies protect the privacy rights of their customers. The big four wireless carriers, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, receive tens of thousands of requests a year from law enforcement for what is known as “cell site location information,” or CSLI. The requests are routinely granted.

The Supreme Court has twice in recent years ruled on major cases concerning how criminal law applies to new technology, on each occasion ruling against law enforcement. In 2012, the court held that a warrant is required to place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle. Two years later, the court said police need a warrant to search a cellphone that is seized during an arrest.

Civil liberties lawyers have said that police need “probable cause,” and therefore a warrant, in order to avoid constitutionally unreasonable searches.”

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet.  I’ll try that next!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission if you sign up.)

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How is a Coffee Shop Like a Sickbed? 8 Things You Need to Set Up a Great Virtual Office

Never have I been so happy that I already have a virtual office set up as I have been for the past few months. Last year I traveled several times to the East Coast while my kids hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Because of my virtual office set up, I was able to manage our business wherever I was. Recently though, I’ve had a much greater need for a virtual setup.

In the past three months, I’ve had two surgeries.  A total knee replacement in February, and my other knee in April.  When you can’t get around, and spend most of your time resting and healing, it’s good to have tried and true technology at your bedside.

Virtual Office Requirements:

WIFI:

You must have fast WiFi. A minimum of 12mbps is recommended. Remember that you may have to upgrade your router in order to provide the actual speed that is being flowed from your ISP to your devices.  Good routers have low latency and can support many simultaneous users.  Cheap routers tend to support only one user at a time. Chris recommends this Linksys router.

Tablet

Sometimes a laptop is just too heavy!  My iPad has been perfect for internet research, sending email, and keeping the Geek For Hire calendar up-to-date. And it’s great for watching AmazonPrime movies and keeping up with Facebook.

Cell Phone:Virtual Office in Bed

Well, that kind of goes without saying!

Charging Cords

Make sure you are able to easily reach your charging cords.  You may need to add a power strip right next to your bed to easily charge your phone and other equipment.

Optional:

Laptop:

Sure, you can get a lot of business accomplished with just your Smartphone and tablet.  But sometimes, you just need your laptop to do certain tasks. For example, Quickbooks won’t let me enter all the detail I’d like on their mobile app. I need to login to Quickbooks from my laptop to do that.

TV:

Entertainment value.  Pure and simple.

Headphones:

Sometimes when you’re stuck in bed, it’s hard to sleep when other people are sleeping and you don’t want to disturb them in the middle of the night. Having a good pair of headphones keeps the volume down when you’re watching Speed at 3am.  Here’s my recent blog about Bluetooth headphones.

External Keyboard for Tablet:

Typing on a tablet can be cumbersome.  The hands – so big.  The keyboard – so small.  The mistakes – so many! Get yourself a Bluetooth keyboard and typing will be much easier.  The newer ones have back-lighting which makes it easier to type when the lights are dimmed.

Speech to Text Software:

Sometimes you just can’t type.  (Two of my friends have recently had shoulder surgery.)  Many of our customers have used Dragon Naturally Speaking to get their thought down without typing.  Keep in mind that it does take a bit to customize the software to your voice.

Remember, it’s better to plan ahead and get your virtual office technology in line before you need it!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fifteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website, or give us a call 303-618-0154. Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area as well as remote service throughout North America.

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8 Tips For Determining Fake News Sites

Over the last week or so, I’ve been hearing more about “Fake News” websites.  I’ve been aware, for a while, of websites that seem more biased, but I hadn’t been aware of websites with actual fake news. An off-shoot of this issue is that these websites sometimes include malware.  Several of our customers got a virus in the week leading up to the election from clicking on those types of “news” stories.

abraham-lincoln-internet-quote

Have you read any of these news stories?  Many of them surround the impact fake news has had on Facebook and other Social Media.  For example this article from the NY Times, or this one from the Washington Post, or this one from CNN .

What to watch out for:

  • Does the site have a lot of “click bait”?  That’s a web site with pop ups that you have to click through before you can read the actual content. This is different from the sites which make you watch an advertisement before you get to the actual story.  Click bait will take you to another site entirely.
  • Can you verify the news item with a reputable source?  If it’s real news, there should be something on one of the national news websites like CNN, NYT, MSNBCUSA Today, or even the Financial Times.  If it’s a local news stories, an NBC, CBS, ABC, or Fox local affiliate should have information.
  • Does the URL for the website seem odd in some way?  For example a url that ends with ” .co “, or ” .su “, or ” .ru “.
  • Does the headline match the story?
  • When a news story seems too fantastic to believe, I head over to Snopes to see what they have to say.  From their website, Snopes: “began in 1995 as an expression of … interest in researching urban legends has since grown into what is widely regarded by folklorists, journalists, and laypersons alike as one of the World Wide Web’s essential resources.”
  • Is it on a list of “fake news” websites?  There are several of these lists floating around.  Here is the one published by USA Today.
  • Is it satire?  Several websites are satire, which is not fake news.  Satirical sites which come to mind include the Onion, and the Borowitz Report.
  • Check the date.  Is it a recent news event, or something from months or even years ago that is being re-purposed as new news?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Facebook and Ad Blocking

Facebook Advertisements:

Did you see the Press Release from Facebook last week? They say they have figured out how to show ads even to people who use Ad Blocking software.  Why?  (Sarcasm alert!)  Because Facebook knows better than you do, what is relevant to you and can show you ads that are appealing to you.  Here’s an excerpt from the Press Release:

“When they’re relevant and well-made, ads can be useful, helping us find new products and services and introducing us to new experiences — like an ad that shows you your favorite band is coming to town or an amazing airline deal to a tropical vacation. But because ads don’t always work this way, many people have started avoiding certain websites or apps, or using ad blocking software, to stop seeing bad ads. These have been the best options to date.

“We’ve designed our ad formats, ad performance and controls to address the underlying reasons people have turned to ad blocking software. When we asked people about why they used ad blocking software, the primary reason we heard was to stop annoying, disruptive ads. As we offer people more powerful controls, we’ll also begin showing ads on Facebook desktop for people who currently use ad blocking software.”

I’m not sure how they’ll accomplish this, or how long it will take before Ad Blocking software is upgraded, but for now it looks like we’ll be seeing ads on Facebook whether we want to or not.

Change Facebook Settings:

In the meantime, you can make a few changes to your Facebook Settings.  (Click on “Settings”, then “Ads”.)

The first thing you’ll want to do is change your preference for “Ads with my Social Actions” to “No One”.  Otherwise, your friends will see your actions associated with an ad like this:

FB Adblocking 4

Then, you’ll need to decide what to do about ads that are presented to you.  Do you want to see ads that are relevant to you, or do you just want to see all ads?  Essentially, those are your two choices as shown in the screen captures below:

FB Adblocking 3

FB Adblocking 2

I don’t know about you, but I’m hoping Ad Blocking software will get an upgrade very soon!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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5 Good Things to Know about Pokemon Go

Have you downloaded the new Pokemon Go App yet?  Are you playing it?  It seems to be taking the nation by storm! You can find out all about it at the Pokemon website: http://www.pokemongo.com and you can download it from the iTunes store or, for the Android from Google Play.

If you are playing, make sure you appropriately manage your security settings. (In fact you should always be careful with how much you share from your phone with game developers.)

pokemon_go_logo

Pokemon sure has been getting some bad press though. Consider some of these stories:

  • Veteran Memorial overrun by Pokemon players
  • Pokemon Go players go mad.
  • Falling, tripping, and other mishaps.

The Good News:

But it’s not all bad news.  There have been several good things to come out of this new craze.  For example, people with anxiety, autism and Asperger’s are finding the Pokemon Go helps them get out and be more social.  According to this article in Inverse:

 “… the game is reportedly helping people overcome anxiety and other mental health issues, bringing an array of players together under one common passion. Such has been the case for a few parents of autistic children, who have been sharing stories about the game easing their children into incredible social interactions.”

 Pokemon has helped people find things:

According to one story, two women found a toddler: “Looking for new Pokemon Friday night, as they’d done before, the two stumbled upon a little girl who looked to be no older than 2, crossing a busy street by herself.”

 Another teen found a missing man who had recently died.

Businesses have realized they can use Pokemon to their advantage.  In fact, this Forbes article is full of ideas that businesses can use to lure in more Pokemon players – and potential buyers!

“Instead, take a cue from this local indie clothing store, which got into the spirit of the game by saying, “come get your PokéBalls and previously rocked threads. Gotta catch ‘em all in style!” That’s bound to leave a positive impression, get people talking and, with the overwhelming media attention this game is getting, potentially get your local business some exposure in the press.”

And players are accidentally getting more exercise!  One friend posted this on her Facebook a few days ago:

“I’ve walked 26 miles this week playing Pokemon GO. This is the weight loss plan I’ve been waiting for my entire life.”

In fact there’s even a guide for people who want to do interval training!

“Interval training … is a workout where you push yourself as hard as you can in short bursts, rest, then repeat. … This kind of stop and go activity is perfectly suited for the walk-and-stop play of Pokémon Go, and knowing that you get to play while you exercise can be a huge motivator. You’ll collect items at PokéStops (like eggs that only hatch if you walk or run), hatch said eggs with the massive number of steps you rack up, wear down rival gyms so you can take over, find wild pokémon to catch, and get fit all at the same time.”

Is it all just a mad scheme?  How long do you thing this craze will last?

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Facebook and Politics

Social Media:

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook is getting full of posts about politics.  Sometimes I agree with my Facebook friend, and sometimes I don’t.  Sometimes the posts are downright offensive!  I have a trick I use to minimize the number of times I see those offensive posts. It also helps minimize the times that those people can see my posts and start trolling.

Other People’s Posts:

I am assuming that you still want to be Facebook friends, you just want to see less of some of the posts that makes your blood boil!  If you don’t want to keep in touch with that person, by all means, press the “unfriend” button.  Otherwise, follow these steps:

Bring up the person’s Facebook page and click on the down arrow next to the “Friends” button.

Facebook acquaintence list 3

Then click on “Acquaintances” and make sure the “Get Notifications” option is unchecked.

Remember that Facebook uses algorithms to figure out what to show you.  If you check out that person’s page, it is more likely that their posts will show up on your feed. Facebook needs to be trained!

If something does show up on your feed that you don’t want to see, click the down arrow on the right side of the post and select “Hide Post”.

Facebook acquaintence list 5

You’ll get another pop-up after clicking on “Hide post” that looks like this.  Here you have another choice.  Do you want to see less from that particular person? Or do you want to see less from their source.  Click on your option and continue on your way through your news feed.

Facebook acquaintence list 6

Your Own Posts:

Sometimes it’s good to minimize who sees your posts as well.  Now, that will be easy for you to do.  When you post a news story or your own opinion that may be controversial to some, you can select who gets to see it.  Click on the down arrow to the left of the “Post” button and select who can see this post.  If you select “Friends except Acquaintances”, then all the people you’ve categorized as Acquaintances will not see that post.

Facebook acquaintence list 7

I hope these tips help you keep your sanity through this election season!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Wearables

I ambled down the rabbit hole and stumbled across this old PC Magazine article from 2008.  In the article, they look at futuristic devices introduced in movies and show how those ideas have come to fruition in 2008.

  • There’s the transformer cell phone.  Watch the Youtube here.
  • There’s the hoverboard and another Youtube.
  • And there’s this poor substitute for the universal translator/ babel fish and its cringe-worthy video.

The only gadget from the movies that has really taken off is the wrist watch communicator.  In just the past few years watches that alert you to phone calls and texts, track your steps and heart rate, and allow you to search the Internet, have evolved into wearables worth the investment.

Here’s my Fitbit  telling me that Chris is calling:

20160705 fitbit

Aside from the FitBit and the Apple Watch, other wearable gadgets available today include:

Thync: The first wearable for relaxation and energy  The Thync works by signaling nerves on the head and neck to act on the brain’s adrenaline system. These nerves then activate your body’s natural state of Energy or Calm.

Then there are Blacksocks Plus. These are truly wearables with a twist!  From their website:

Imagine your phone could communicate with your socks. Your phone would know:

    • which socks belong together,and could help sort them out,
    • how often you have washed your socks,
    • when your socks were produced,
    • when you ordered your socks and
    • when your socks were dispatched.

Your iPhone can also tell you if your black socks are no longer properly black and help you buy new socks.

If only they could tell you if it was the washer or dryer that stole one of your socks!

Coming out later this year are Jewelbots.  This adorable bracelet is aimed at teaching young girls to code.  The gender gap among boys and girls in science and engineering classes continues to widen, and the number of technical jobs continue to increase.  Getting our girls interested in the sciences at a young age, and keeping their interest through high school and college is so important!  Jewelbots is a just one step on this path.  For more info on this issue, check out Girls Who Code.

 

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted!   Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial (Yes, we’ll get a small commission when you sign up.)

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Sharing Your Social Media Identity with the Government

Every once in a while I read a story that makes me say:

WHAT?

Today was one of those days.  According to this article in arsTechnica, the US Customs and Border Protection is considering adding a new field to their Visa application process.  They will be asking visitors to the US to provide their Social Media Identity.  Apparently it won’t be a required field, but if you leave it blank, it will look very suspicious.

“The agency says travelers coming to the US…. won’t be forced to disclose their social media handles, but leaving it blank obviously could raise red flags.”

Additionally, the verbiage associated with the request is very nebulous.  According to the article:

‘Here’s what will be asked: “Please enter information associated with your online presence—Provider/Platform—Social media identifier.”‘

So, someone who is not paying attention may provide not just their ID, but might also provide their login and password info!

I have a couple of thoughts about this.

First, of course, is that anyone can find anything online, so adding a box on their form will just make the process a little easier for Customs to get your info.

Second, how will Customs keep this info safe?  How will they insure that someone can’t hack into their systems and capture the info – especially if some of those applications may contain ID’s and passwords?

why

Lastly, how will this help?  Call me cynical, but I don’t think someone entering the country with malicious intent is likely to be providing their “real” social media identity.

It is far too easy to set up multiple identities online.  Just look at me.  I’ve got an email for business, an email for personal stuff, an email for networking, and an email for signing up for stuff online.  It was easy to do this.  And once you have different emails, you can set up different social media accounts.

No, those folks will be providing their ”professional” social media account; the identity they use for LinkedIn to show that they are an upstanding citizen of their home country.  I fail to see how this new field on the visa application will keep out the “bad guys”.

What are your opinions about online privacy and multiple identities?  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more on our website.  Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area and remote service throughout North America.

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Virtual Reality

“The promise of virtual reality has always been enormous. Put on these goggles, go nowhere, and be transported anywhere.”

(source)

Virtual Reality is starting to get hot, again.  I remember a trip to Toronto about twenty years ago.  We went to the CN Tower and there was an arcade there that offered a “real” VR experience for about $20.  Chris couldn’t pass that up and thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in a totally different world.  Things sure have changed since then.  It’s getting closer and closer to a Star Trek Holodeck experience.  (Although I still don’t understand how Picard can ride a horse in the holodeck without bumping into the walls!)

Picard and Troi

Picard and Troi in “Penpals”

But first, what is Virtual Reality?  The website “How Stuff Works” describes VR as:

“using computer technology to create a simulated, three-dimensional world that a user can manipulate and explore while feeling as if he were in that world. Scientists, theorists and engineers have designed dozens of devices and applications to achieve this goal. Opinions differ on what exactly constitutes a true VR experience, but in general it should include:

  • Three-dimensional images that appear to be life-sized from the perspective of the user
  • The ability to track a user’s motions, particula­rly his head and eye movements, and
  • correspondingly, adjust the images on the user’s display to reflect the change in perspective”

From what I’ve been reading the new Oculus Rift is essentially just for playing games.  When you head to their website, you can watch a video of the user interacting with some of their games.  Although new games are being added all the time, it makes me wonder if there really is an future in VR beyond games.

Never fear – Mark Zuckerberg, owner of Facebook and Oculus is all over that like white on rice.  At the F8 conference last week they introduced new ways of using VR. Huffington Post reports:

“Facebook hopes to one day connect the world through virtual spaces. It owns Oculus, perhaps the world’s best-known virtual reality company, and its intent is to use the technology to break down barriers separating people from one another. (You know, things like space and time and oceans.) In the not-too-distant future, you and a friend could don virtual reality glasses, create avatars of yourselves and meet up in digital environments to play games or just hang out and chat.”

Want to learn more?  Check out these links:

 

Chris Eddy of Geek For Hire, Inc. has been providing computer service to families and small businesses with Mac’s and PC’s for the past fourteen years. His company is highly rated by both the BBB (Better Business Bureau) and by Angie’s List. You can find more at http://www.GeekForHireInc.com Geek For Hire, Inc. provides onsite service (Tier 3) to the Denver / Boulder / Front Range area.

We’ve been using Amazon Prime for the past few years.  We like the free 2-3 day shipping and the online streaming. I haven’t tried the Kindle lending library yet, but I’m tempted! Prime is normally $99/year, but you can try it for 30 day for free by clicking on this link: Try Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial