Archive for June 2015

Cisco is Buying OpenDNS

Now, I know only a very few of you are using OpenDNS, but it’s worth mentioning because IF their free service continues after the purchase is complete, it’s worth the rest of you knowing about (as long as you’re NOT AT&T uVerse customers – you can’t use OpenDNS.)

So… What’s OpenDNS.  When you go to a web site on your computer you type in something like Google.com or maybe you just click on a link that says Google.  Computers don’t understand words – so the first thing it does it looks in the Internet phone book to find the “address” of the place you want to go.  If you’re here in Austin and a Time-Warner customer, your computer goes to Time-Warners DNS server (the “phone book”) and it asks “where is Google.com?  Time-Warner’s DNS server says “Google.com is at 64.233.160.5”, and with that information your computer tells the Internet “connect me to 64.233.160.5” and bingo – you’re connected with Google.com.  All this happens in less than a second.

But let’s say you accidentally click on PORN.com, your computer would ask Time-Warner’s DNS server how to get there, they would tell you and THEN, your computer would GO THERE!

If you have an OpenDNS account, then you can tell your router to send all Internet requests to OpenDNS instead of Time-Warner’s “phone book”.  But with OpenDNS, you can tell them what you do and don’t want your computers to have access to.  If you tell OpenDNS no adult sites (i.e. porn), then it won’t give your computer the address to any porn sites.

The basic OpenDNS account is free and I recommend all my clients take advantage of it (uVerse customers can’t because AT&T needs to use it’s own DNS servers to give you television, so you’re stuck I’m afraid.)

I use it just because accidentally clicking on something that sends you to a BAD site can do BAD things to your computer, I don’t need that and neither do you.

Hopefully, Cisco won’t be so greedy that they eliminate the free service.  We shall see.  In the mean time, if you don’t have an OpenDNS account, go here and set one up.  If you have questions, feel free to let me know.

I’m Pretty Sure This Will be a BAD Idea

imageAt first you think “hey, that’s a pretty cool idea!”  The idea is that you can see what’s ahead of the truck in front of you.  Sounds reasonable enough. 

Now let’s think about it… First, if you have a video display built into your car’s dash, by design they DON’T let you watch DVD’s on it while the car is moving.  Too distracting, right?  So why is it a good idea to put a 10’ television on the back of the vehicle in front of you?  I can easily see how someone would get rather entranced just watching it and may not play close attention to what is going on around and behind them.  It’s just a drive-in movie (for those of you old enough to remember what those are) at 60 miles an hours.

Second, sure as I’m the Tek-Chic, some dope won’t realize that they are looking at the back of a semi-trailer and run right into it – just like Wile E. Coyote running though a paper painting of open spaces only to fall 1000 feet into a canyon.  ALSO sure enough the dope who runs into the back of the truck will find an attorney and sue someone, the truck driver, the trucking company, Samsung – you name it.

Now, I’m sure this is a staged photo and no one is really moving, mainly because if you look at the video, the camera taking the video is almost on the far LEFT of the road – looking right at the oncoming car.  If the video camera was actually on the truck, you would see all the way down the road the and oncoming car wouldn’t be directly in front.

Current and Past Federal Gov’t Employees, Nothing I Can Do But Say I’m Sorry!

Update:  Friday it was announced that it may be upwards of 9 to 14 million people – including members of the intelligence community.

 

If you’ve watched the news, then you probably already know, but information about EVERY federal employee including past employees, pensioners, etc. was stolen by hackers.  Because of the nature of the intrusion, it’s believed that it was probably the work of a nation-state and not individuals.  “China” is beings thrown around a lot but it’s hard to pin anyone down. 

We’re talking about over 4 million people having their personal information stolen.  Even worse, the data is already showing up on what’s known as the “dark net”, which is a part of the Internet where bad guys travel to buy and sell this information. 

There’s a worse “even worse”, included in the stolen information was your Social Security number, because apparently the government didn’t think it was important enough to encrypt that information.  It was “in the clear” so now for sale is everything the bad guys need to open accounts, do whatever they want to impersonate you online.

What can you do?  Well since the horses have left barn, not much.  You can sign up for Lifelock or another service like it (Target paid for this service when they got hacked, I doubt the government will do the same for you,) contact the credit agencies and put a freeze on your credit report.  IF (and that’s a big if) you want to ask the government for advice, ironically the Federal Trade Commission has a site about Identity Theft at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identity-theft.

Lifehacker.com has an excellent article you should read here: http://lifehacker.com/what-to-do-if-your-social-security-number-has-been-stol-1684690096

Current and Past Federal Gov’t Employees, Nothing I Can Do But Say I’m Sorry!

If you’ve watched the news, then you probably already know, but information about EVERY federal employee including past employees, pensioners, etc. was stolen by hackers.  Because of the nature of the intrusion, it’s believed that it was probably the work of a nation-state and not individuals.  “China” is beings thrown around a lot but it’s hard to pin anyone down. 

We’re talking about over 4 million people having their personal information stolen.  Even worse, the data is already showing up on what’s known as the “dark net”, which is a part of the Internet where bad guys travel to buy and sell this information. 

There’s a worse “even worse”, included in the stolen information was your Social Security number, because apparently the government didn’t think it was important enough to encrypt that information.  It was “in the clear” so now for sale is everything the bad guys need to open accounts, do whatever they want to impersonate you online.

What can you do?  Well since the horses have left barn, not much.  You can sign up for Lifelock or another service like it (Target paid for this service when they got hacked, I doubt the government will do the same for you,) contact the credit agencies and put a freeze on your credit report.  IF (and that’s a big if) you want to ask the government for advice, ironically the Federal Trade Commission has a site about Identity Theft at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/identity-theft.

Lifehacker.com has an excellent article you should read here: http://lifehacker.com/what-to-do-if-your-social-security-number-has-been-stol-1684690096

It Came Early This Month

imageNo, I’m not talking about summer in Texas.  That’s right – it’s the second Tuesday of the month.  That day when Microsoft “blesses” us with updates and security patches to its operating systems. 

It’s also my opportunity to remind you to make sure your computer is up to date with Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Java as well.

HEY, YOU MAC USERS – WAKE UP!  It’s also my chance to remind to click on that little apple in the upper left corner (in case you were wondering what it’s up there for) and click on “Software Updates) to see if there are any for you as well.

So…. do you see these icons in your task tray?  Are they telling you that updates need to be installed?  Guess what?  NOW is the time to do them.

It Came Early This Month

imageNo, I’m not talking about summer in Texas.  That’s right – it’s the second Tuesday of the month.  That day when Microsoft “blesses” us with updates and security patches to its operating systems. 

It’s also my opportunity to remind you to make sure your computer is up to date with Adobe Reader, Adobe Flash and Java as well.

HEY, YOU MAC USERS – WAKE UP!  It’s also my chance to remind to click on that little apple in the upper left corner (in case you were wondering what it’s up there for) and click on “Software Updates) to see if there are any for you as well.

So…. do you see these icons in your task tray?  Are they telling you that updates need to be installed?  Guess what?  NOW is the time to do them.

Microsoft REALLY Wants You Using Skype

imageAs you might know, Microsoft bought Skype a few years ago.  Well, they’re not keeping it a secret any longer.  Skype is now a part of Windows Updates. 

So if Skype suddenly shows up on your computer and you don’t use it, feel free to uninstall it from the Control Panel.

I use Skype a lot, but many of you not only DON’T use it, but don’t’ even know what it is.  Don’t worry, you’re fine and life is still good. 

Just be aware that if you see Skype suddenly on your computer (and I have a feeling it will come automatically with Windows 10) that you can remove it so it doesn’t take up space or resources on your system.

The Retention Specialist is Your Friend

imageI’ve had clients over the years ask me about how to lower their entertainment bills (TV, Internet and phone) and I always have advised them to call the competition, get their best deal and then call back their current provider and talk to a “retention specialist.”  Now, most of you reading my blog are pretty smart people, so giving a few seconds to think about it – what do you think the job description of a “retention specialist” is?  That right – to RETAIN you as a customer.  They have the POWER to make you a deal the first level flunkies who answer the phone can’t offer.

Finally, I decided it was time for me to save some money.  My Internet is with the cable company – and it’s awesome.  My television is satellite, and it’s awesome.  The problem is that between the two it was around $180 a month, and I wanted to cut expenses.  So I called the cable company and asked them to make me a deal I couldn’t refuse to add TV to my service that was equal to the service I was getting from my satellite provider.  After an hour of joking and having fun, they were prepared to save me $70 a month.

Now, I knew I wasn’t going to get as good a picture and I would probably have more service interruptions with cable, but to save $840 a year, I was willing to do it and scheduled an installation date.

BUT…. when I called my satellite provided to cancel, being SURE that there was no way they could match the deal, basically giving me my present level of satellite service for $20 a month (that’s what was needed to match the savings,) not only did they match the price, they added HBO for a year.  Now, HBO is usually $15 a monthly anyway, so I’m getting my HD television WITH my DVR for $5.

I was SO sure that not even a retention specialist has the juice to save me this much money, that I barely even gave them the chance to make me the offer – I’m glad I shut up long enough to let them do it.

What I had forgotten is that both the cable and satellite (and uVerse, FIOS and any other TV provider) care mostly about the NUMBER OF ACCOUNTS.  That’s because that is in part what drives the value of their company as well as what they can charge advertisers.  My satellite company won’t make any money directly from me as a customer, but I add value to them because I’m one more out of millions that they need to keep their head above water.

The bottom line, it cost me a couple of hours total on the phone over a few days, I have the exact SAME level of service with the same provider that I’ve been very happy with, and now I’m going to save $70 a month or $840 for the next 12 months.  When that time is up, I’ll spend a few more hours on the phone.  Competition is a wonderful thing if you actually put it to work.

Ever Wonder “Why is This News”?

http://www.thinkbelle.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/how-social-media-is-taking-over-the-news-industry-infographic-df560fe1fe.jpgEver look online to read the news? Do you see a “headline” and think to yourself “why is this stupid thing so important to be big news?”

The answer is painfully simple, it’s because you CLICK on it.

I went to Google news today and 3 of the top 4 articles were “Woman Says Dennis Hastert Abused Her Brother in High School”, “Jill, Jessa say the release of Josh Duggar’s police report is a ‘re-victimization’” and “Woman struck by piece of bat at Fenway has ‘life-threatening injuries’

REALLY? Is this NEWS that you really have to know?

ISIS is killing people on a daily basis. Hundreds of people died when a boat capsized in China. And the number of people killed in our major city’s inner city is so huge that it doesn’t even make the news anymore.

So why does soccer become a headline (pay attention this weekend and you’ll see what I mean) and horrible things happening both in our own country and around the world get ignored?

It’s because you tell these sites “THIS IS WHAT I LIKE TO READ.”

I know the sensational and lurid world of a long-retired house speaker and TV family with internal issues may be alluring – but really, it’s nothing more than an accident alongside the road that you slow down for so you can take a look. It’s something that happened between a couple or perhaps a FEW people here on earth and I don’t know them and there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.  Personally, I make it a point to NOT look and honk at the person ahead of me because all that looky-loo crap just slows everything down – nothing you can do but pray for the people involved but you don’t have to slow don’t to do that.

All these web sites have ads if you haven’t noticed. And they can charge more for their ads if they can show how many people come to their site. So…. the more sensational, the more sexy, the more questionable they can make their headlines, the more they hope you’ll click on it out of a primal curiosity.

We now live in a world that you don’t have to be where the train-wreck occurs, the Internet brings the train-wreck to you.

What can you do? RESIST THE IMPULSE TO CLICK! Any site you go to is an endorsement to the advertisers that this is worth spending money on. So if gossip and sexy gets you to visit, that’s what they are going to post.

REAL news won’t show up until you click on genuinely real news articles. It’s one thing to read those magazine headlines in the supermarket checkout line, it’s another thing to BUY the magazine.

When you click, you “BUY” as far as the advertisers are concerned.

So part of this is just my own personal rant, but you also need to know that when you click a link ESPECAILLY on a news site, you’re telling them “give me more of this.”

Just FYI, there is NO advertising on my site, so I make nothing on my web site if 1 or if 1 million people visit. My web site is there for you, my clients and any interested folks who wish to visit.

This is YOUR opportunity to turn the Internet into an Internet YOU want. Just remember, you’re voting with your clicks!

I Laughed So Hard I Had To Share It With You

Absolutely NOTHING technology related to this, but I laughed so hard EVERY TIME I READ IT I just had to pass it onto my clients.

image

Pay Attention if you Worked for the Federal Gov’t.

stock-footage-computer-hackingIf you work (or worked) for the federal government, well… I wish I had good news, but I don’t. 

We learned TODAY that China has hacked into over 4 million records of federal employees.  The WORSE news is that OUR gov’t knew about this in April, but you’re just now hearing about it. 

There’s not a lot I can tell you to make you feel better.  Just be sure to change all your passwords to any accounts that may have been related to your position as a federal employee.

Don’t Panic Mac Users

apple mac malware vxerIf you own a Mac and have heard in the news about a new vulnerability that’s bad, well it is.  It’s technically involving Apple’s EFI firmware and in a loose sense, root kits, but, a bad guy has to have administrator or “privileged” access to inflict any damage. 

First a bad guy has to worm his way into your system, hard to do since you have to enter your password every time an administrator permission is required, but if you do allow it, then you could be in trouble.

HOW TO AVOID THE DANGER…

First, if you have a new Mac bought in the last year, you’re ok, the flaw only affects Macs from mid 2014 and earlier (obviously Apple knew about this and fixed it but didn’t bother with fixing it via updates for the machines prior – probably hoping nobody would notice.)

Second, the same advice that has been given to Windows users for a long time now applies to Mac users as well, create new user (call it Admin or Boss) and make that user and Administrator.  THEN log into that account and lower your normal account to a standard user.  When you are normally logged in as a standard user, then there is no way the flaw can be exploited.

Third, the flaw is dependent on you Mac going to sleep and coming out or sleep mode.  So if you go into your power settings and tell your computer to NEVER go to sleep, then the exploit can never happen.  So rather that putting your Mac into “Suspend” or “Sleep” mode, just shut it down – you can’t get hurt that way.

Have a Little Patience Before Installing Windows 10

By now you’ve seen the little white icon in the corner of your computer begging you to “reserve” your copy of Windows 10.

First, it’s a download, there isn’t a limited quantity.  Second, you’ll have until July 2016 (a whole year) to download and install your free copy, so there’s no rush.

I recommend you just take your time and DON’T install it for at least a few weeks into August when we have a chance to see how well the upgrade goes for most users.  Chances are that there will be a glitch and there will be some patches issued in the first weeks.  You’ll have a much smoother and rewarding transition to Windows 10 if you don’t jump the gun and download and install it the first chance you get.

You’ll be glad you waited.

Get My Tek-Chic Updates Sent to Your Inbox

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Wow! Microsoft REALLY Wants You to Update!

And frankly, when the time comes to update your Windows 7 or 8 PC, you should. 

Just today, Microsoft made the official announcement about when Window 10 will be available but it’s EVERYWHERE!

Reboot your computer and you’ll see something like this little white icon in your task tray in the lower right corner….

image

If you manually update Windows 7 you’ll see a HUGE message about Windows 10.

Let me clarify something for you….

1- The update to Windows 10 for current Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will be free.

2.  Windows 10 is not out yet.  July 29th is the official release date.

WHEN Windows 10 comes out, it is a worthwhile upgrade to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.x.  From Windows 7 you are getting a much better “under the hood” engine as an operating system.  For Windows 8 users, you’re getting a MUCH better interface to use on a daily basis.

You can sign up now if you like for the Windows 10 upgrade, but as my clients – wait a bit.  Let me find out more of the details and I’ll let you know here.

The FREE upgrade will be available for a year, so you don’t have to worry about loosing it in the first week.  I’ll give you all the details here.

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