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Text the PoliceNot long ago I was on a train ride into Boston riding on the Commuter Rail. There was a woman who was clearly mentally unstable and was harassing other passengers. One passenger was in tears because of the way she was treating her. Tempers were flaring and the woman was screaming at anyone talking on their phone within a short range of her. The train, being completely packed made it impossible to move somewhere else to contact the police so I started looking on the MBTA’s (Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority) website for a “text” number for the police but couldn’t find it. So I tried texting the police main number: 617-222-1212 and to my surprise, a police officer began texting me back.

Without even placing a phone call, they had a unit waiting to intercept the woman the moment the train pulled in. They knew what she looked like because I had taken a picture and texted it to them. It’s a nice trick that I found slightly by mistake that can seriously help if you’re in a bad situation and uneasy about making a phone call.

To find out if you can text your police, contact your local police department and ask them if they have texting capability.

 

Phishing emails are nothing new. We all get them and most of the time they are very easy to spot, banks asking for login information or a site that looks like a place you regularly login.

Checking Phishing emails in Outlook or other Email Programs

Outlook link float over

Floating your mouse over a link can give you the URL of the actual link.

One thing that I am always teaching people when using Microsoft Outlook (or most email programs – not webmail) is to float your mouse over the link and see if the link goes to the website it says it goes to. For example, you float your mouse over a link that says www.hotmail.com and in fact the URL that shows when you float over it is http://bobstubes.com. That is obviously a phishing email and if you click it one of three things will happen:

1. You will get a site that looks exactly like the site you expect, but when you type in your credentials you will actually be giving them your login details so they can access the real site using your ID and password.
2. It will take you to a different site and you’ll get a virus or trojan.
3. It will take you to a different site just to get you to go there.

The example in the image on the upper left is a very common Linkedin phishing email where they try to get you to given them your Linkedin username and password so they can take it over.

What do you do when you have an iPhone and have no mouse to float with?

Phishing email on iPhone

Phishing email on iPhone

Hold your finger on the link to get a pop up menu

Hold your finger on the link to get a pop up menu

Very good question. You have no mouse on your iPhone. So the easiest thing to do is hold in your finger on the link. You will get a dialog box pop up that asks if you want to Open, Add to Reading List or Copy. We want none of the above. However, right above those buttons in white text is the URL that it will really take you to. As you can see, it is not Linkedin. This is a phishing email. So, you hit Cancel and delete it.

 

What if I have Hotmail, Yahoo,  or some other web based email? 

Check your links in web based email such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail

Check your links by floating your mouse over them

This one is easy and something everyone should know how to do. Anytime you have a link anywhere on your web browser (Internet Explorer, Chrome, Firefox, Safari), float your mouse over the link. It will show you where they link will actually take you, down in the lower left hand corner. If it doesn’t go where it says it goes, then it’s phishing.

 

 

 

 

I have been using iOS 6 for my iPhone 4 for a little more than two weeks. So far I have to say, I love a lot of the new features but I have noticed a few glitches along the way as well.

Below I will list some “goodies” and some “not so goodies” about Apple’s latest iOS.

The Not So Goodies

The only reason I’m starting with the bad is because so far the good outweighs the bad so I expect this list to be short.

Call Dropping and Data Bandwidth Loss: At first I thought it was just my service (AT&T), but after running a few diagnostics with my phone and running the same diags on a friend’s identical phone, I have discovered that in order to provide some of the newer features (such as enhanced security and full Facebook integration) Apple has sacrificed some processing power from their wireless transceiver monitoring system.

This means three things to you:
1. You will have more dropped calls until they can fix the problem.
2. Bluetooth devices will have issues connecting at times.
3. Data connections will drop (on and off)

Personally, I find this to be a pretty big glitch. After all, it was designed to be a phone above all else, correct?

iOS 6 is not available for iPad 1: Okay, I do understand why they did this. iOS is a heavier operating system. But the iPhone 3G uses the same CPU and memory as the iPad 1 so I think this is purely a tactic to get iPad users to upgrade. I find this to be a petty and disrespectful attempt to force their loyal iPad 1 customers to upgrade.

The Goodies

And now some of the good features.

Insert Photo in Email on iOS 6Photos: iOS 6 allows you to edit photos directly in the Camera Roll and overlay grid. This is something that wasn’t previously enabled. Also, if you own an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 then you will be able to shoot panoramic photos too. There is also a new photo stream feature that allows you to share photos of specific things to friends or family and gives them the ability to comment on them.

Email: Probably one of my favorite features is the “pull to refresh” feature (similar to Twitter and Facebook). When in your email box, just drag down your messages and it will check your mail. One other HUGE improvement which has always eluded me that they did not include  it to begin with is the ability to attach photos while already in an email. So, now we have that ability.

DND - Do not disturb for iOS 6 DND:Something that has long been available on the Windows Mobile, Droid and Blackberry phones was the ability to prevent calls from coming in while in a meeting or more importantly – asleep. Now you have that option with additional filtering.You can prevent everyone from calling you but specific categories (Family, etc.)

 

Phone: Another nice feature, the ability decline a call or even reply with a message while an incoming call is coming in. You can adjust those settings by going to “Settings > Phone > Reply”.

 

 

Decline and Reply with Message to Calls

Overall, I really like iOS 6, but I do look forward to the next update so they can fix that transceiver problem as I and many users find it irritating.

 

 

I saw a strange scam / trick today. While working on a client’s computer, a Skype call suddenly started ringing from “gpq.systems”. It had a Screen Name of “SYSTEM NOTICE – URGENT”. I basically cocked my head to the side pondering what in the world some fool thought he was doing. So I answered it and an english voice said “Hello, we have detected an unauthorized attempt by a hacker to access your system. May we have permission to access your computer and prevent them?”

I scoffed and said “I don’t know who you think you are, but consider yourself reported.”

Skype Scam

An example of recent scam calls

Please, never answer any call like that. It’s an attempt at social engineering to hack into your computer. They will pass you a link that will most likely take control of your computer, load it with viruses or worse, steal your identity. Very dangerous.

Here are a few others (looking at my client’s history in Skype) that they received:

• “SYSTEM NOTICE – URGENT!” (Skype Username: ‘gpq.systems’)
• “ONLINE HELP – PERFORM SYSTEM MAINTENANCE!” (Skype Username: ‘xprpssb’)
• “ONLINE HELP – PERFORM SYSTEM MAINTENANCE!” (Skype Username: ‘ss2.online.system.states’)
• “SYSTEM HELP – URGENT NOTICE!” (Skype Username: ‘syshelp.notice.ol2′)

If you ever get  an calls or chats on Skype (or any other Instant Messaging software), never accept them. Only accept calls and chats from people you know. Anything else is a scam or an attempt to gain access to your information.

Block and Report Abuse

Block and Report Abuse Immediately

If you should receive them, please, click “Block” and “Report Abuse” to Skype immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your friend calls you up or emails and says “What’s with that link you just sent me?” and you have a look on your face racking your brain trying to figure out when you sent a link to the person.

You’re not going crazy, most likely your email address has been spoofed. That’s right, just as Mel Brooks can spoof Star Wars, someone can spoof you. They are basically send an email to someone with your email address as the “sender”.

How is this possible? I know this person. - you say.

Don't be a sloppy emailerIt all boils down to two things:

  • Sloppy emailing
  • Forwards

If you have ever sent an email to your friends, putting a lot of emails (more than 2) into the “CC” or the “TO” area, then you stand a chance of having your email address being cataloged and used.

There are ‘bots’ that go out… look at emails and grab the sender (you) then parse (filter) all the email addresses that the email was sent out to. Then the spammer sends out links to their products or websites looking like you and knowing that the email will will be received by people that know you.

It’s a nasty trick, I know. Worse yet, there isn’t anything you can do about the email addresses they already have. However you CAN do something about the future.

DO:

  • ALWAYS BCC people so you don’t reveal their address when sending to a group of people.
  • Change your passwords frequently so that you can ensure no one gains access to your email.
  • If you receive an email from a friend with YOUR address contained in a large group of email addresses. Ask them to BCC your address next time for privacy purposes.
  • Never forward useless things. If it has TRUE value and merit, then by all means. (FYI: A goofy picture of an idiot doing something does NOT have merit or value.)

And the top question: Why do people spam?

Answer: Ahhhh the eternal question. If you ever find out an answer, let me know.

Over the weekend, a friend mine sent me an email showing that the FBI would be shutting down various servers and computers remotely due to a threat of some malware advertising scam.

Now, people send these kinds of things to me all the time, asking me if they are legit or not and about 98% of the time they are just gossip, nothing more.

I will admit I was a bit surprised when it turned out to be true.

What it’s about

Basically there is someone by the name of Vladamiri Tsastsin that has compromised a large network of computers (both servers and personal computers). He and several other hackers created a virus that took control of these computers and used them to serve out viruses and trojans, which in return affected even more computers.

So, the FBI and other internet companies were able to obtain a court order under “UNITED STATES v. VLADIMIR TSASTSIN, ET AL.” and collected a group of IP addresses (unique numbers that identify computers on a network) that needed to be isolated from the rest of the internet.

The collectivly came to an agreement that on July 9th (today) they would cease all DNS (domain name servers that point to these unique addresses) operations to these IP addresses so that they can isolate them from the rest of the public and prevent further damage.

What you should do

You can find out if you are in fact infected by these viruses or trojans and if your computer IP address is in fact compromised by going to: http://www.dns-ok.us/. If the background is green, you are good… for now.

Now, keep in mind, over 95% of home computers out there use what’s called DHCP, which means that you get your IP address is reissued every so often and you are not set to a single static IP address. This means that you could still be infected, but are lucky enough to have an IP at the moment that is not being removed from access. That being said, you can still check to see if you have the virus or trojan but downloading the most recent virus definitions for Symantec (Norton) or McAfee.

There are more details about the FBI Malware Warning here:

https://forms.fbi.gov/check-to-see-if-your-computer-is-using-rogue-DNS

http://kdvr.com/2012/07/08/fbi-warning-malware-could-cause-thousands-to-lose-internet-access/

Some of you may know.. .and some of you may not know about all the wonderful shortcuts out there. There are a lot of shortcut keys that you can use, that once you have mastered them, save you time and make working the computer a lot easier. Here are a list of some of my favorites that you might find useful:

Windows and Mac

  • When filling out a form, press TAB and it will advance you through the fields you’re filling out. Want to go backwards? Press SHIFT + TAB.
  • When filling out a form, you can go through a drop down list by pressing the UP or DOWN arrow keys on your keyboard.
  • When filling out a form, to submit it, you can either press enter or tab to the button and press SPACE BAR.

Windows – All applications

  •  ALT + P to print
  • CTRL + C will copy
  • CTRL + V will paste
  • If you press “Print Screen” and go to Word or another application and press CTRL + V it will paste a screen shot of your whole computer screen.
  • If you only want to paste a specific window in your application, go to that window, press ALT + “Print Screen” and then paste it into the application.
  • Press ALT + TAB to scroll through all of your open programs
  • Press Windows Key + M to minimize all your applications
  • Press Windows Key + R to open a “Run” prompt.
  • Press Windows Key to open your start menu.
  • Press F5 to refresh your window (very handy for web browsers).
  • Holding down your CTRL key and scrolling your mouse will zoom in and out in most applications.

Windows (Microsoft Outlook & Most other Email Applications)

  • Press CTRL + K to verify email addresses or names against your contacts.
  • Outlook – Press CTRL + ENTER to send an email.
  • Press CTRL + R to reply to an email that you are reading
  • Press CTRL + SHIFT + R to reply to everyone that the email was addressed to.

Mac – All applications

  •  ALT + P to print
  • Command Key+ C will copy
  • Command Key+ V will paste
  • Command Key + SHIFT + G takes a screenshot and saves it
  • Press ALT + TAB to scroll through all of your open programs
  • Press Command Key + M to minimize a window
  • Press F5 to refresh your window (very handy for web browsers).
  • Holding down your Command Key key and scrolling your mouse will zoom in and out in most applications.
  • Command Key + E will eject a CD or DVD

Mac (Entourage, Mac Mail & Most other Email Applications)

  • Press Command Key+ K to verify email addresses or names against your contacts.
  • Outlook – Press Command Key+ ENTER to send an email.
  • Press Command Key+ R to reply to an email that you are reading
  • Press Command Key+ SHIFT + R to reply to everyone that the email was addressed to.

If you have many files to print, these may be created in the same program or in different programs, but you can print all these with a single command without printing each file individually. This technique is very useful if you have many files to print and which are also created in different programs.

First create a temporary folder on your desktop for this purpose. Copy all files from different locations into this temporary folder. Now you have two options: you can select all files using CTRL+A or you can choose by holding down the CTRL key to select one by one.

Now right-click on the select files and choose the Print command. Each file will be opened in its related program and printed automatically.

Pencil Shavings. Wet hay. Touch of mold.
Sound as appetizing as a wet shoe, right?

The above are actually wine tasting notes, and yes, some wines do taste like pencil shavings…and that is not a bad thing.

Many apps, such as “The Daily Grape” (free on Apple), make wine drinking and tasting fun. Leave all the pretension in Bordeaux France, where it belongs.

Host Gary Vaynerchuk is rather silly, but if you can get past his car salesman like demeanor, and the fact the he talks really fast, like warp speed fast, this guy knows his wine.

If I was not sure he was talking about wine, I would think we were sitting in a bar arguing Orr VS. Gretzky. Orr. I digress.

The app is fun. There is nothing wrong with having fun while tasting wine.

 

Another free app, not as fun, but for more of the purist, is “Drync Wine”

I like this one. Under the “cellar” section you can add wines that you have drank, that you currently own, and bottles that you want.

It has a “Top Wines” list in case you just want to be told what to buy.

You can earn a badge VIA the “Vinpass” by tasting two or more wines within the Valley of your choice. Keep score; try to out slurp your friends!

Of course, the best wine is the one you like to drink.

Currently, I love swirling the “Petite Red” from Sakonnet Wineries in Little Compton Rhode Island.

If you have not seen the BIG beautiful of LITTLE Compton, you are missing something indeed.

Find a winery near you.

Be well

The insanity

I just finished reading an article about a murder case in Tennessee involving a case where the couple deleted the daughter of someone from their Facebook friends list and were murdered because of it.

I later went on to read another Facebook incident where a man hit his wife in Texas because his wife did not “like” one of his Facebook posts he wrote about the anniversary of his mother’s death.

My God! What are we coming to as a society?

How things have changed

I believe that one of the worst and best things that has occurred with today’s society is the advent of social networking. It has allowed those who are not close physically to be a part of people’s lives. However, as with all things it has also allowed those who you would never want to communicate with to open a dialog… whether you want to hear it or not.

Change AheadIt has allowed predators (child and psychotic) a means to track down and hunt people. Many of these services have not come up with a strong enough method to lock down certain aspects of social networking. Don’t get me wrong, there are ways to lock down most of these, but there are also ways to get around the lock downs.

In years past (before the Internet), for those who can remember that far back… Socializing involved getting your clothes on and leaving your house. Meeting at bars, sports clubs, parks, movie theaters and such. It is healthy to physically interact with people. I recall when I lived in Columbus, Ohio, going to the French Market and walking around as a teen and simply “hanging out”. Today, people spend hours upon hours in front of the computer “chatting” and “interacting” in a virtual way, never leaving their house or if they do spending countless hours on their smart-phone doing the same interaction. I went into a mall near where I live last week, I saw about a dozen teens hanging out in an area near Best Buy, two of them were talking and all the rest were typing away on their smart-phones.

Weighing the Pros and Cons

Let’s look at what technology has done to us socially:

Pros

  • It has brought distance families together
  • It has allowed us to reconnect with people we haven’t heard from in years
  • It has allowed those who are not able to leave their home to interact with the world
  • It has provided a means for people to research others for safety purposes
  • It has provided a means for businesses to reach out to people at a low cost of advertising
  • It has allowed us to communicate instantly when the need is there
  • It has allows us to share things like music, video and photos where otherwise it would be difficult or nearly impossible to do so.

Cons

  • It has allowed people to research you when you would prefer to be more private
  • It has allowed people to find you that perhaps you didn’t want to talk to
  • It allows others to pass on videos or photos that you may have wanted to remain only between yourself and a few others
  • It has allowed predators an easy means to hunt down children
  • It has allowed stalkers an easy means to hunt down people
  • It has created an environment where people don’t need to leave the house to socialize
  • It has created an expectation of instant communication
  • It has made it easier for people with addictions to feed their addictions

 

The breaking pointThe Breaking Point

The sad thing is, I believe that we as a society are not going to do much about our decline of physical interaction until things reach the breaking point. A point at which the events taking place are so insane or over the top that a few key individuals who can actually do something about it step back and say “What on earth is going on here? We need to stop it now.”

Only then will we reach a point that we can reach a balance. I just hope we can find a way to reach that balance before we reach the breaking point.

What are your thoughts?

One of the reasons that some iPhone users switch to Androids, is the lack of support for flash with the iPhone.

Chrome for Android may have set its sights on being the default browser on your Ice Cream Sandwich smartphone, but you’ll have to make do with no Flash Player support if you give in to the new beta’s allure. Having announced that its Flash Player mobile plans were over back in November, Adobe has confirmed that Chrome for Android does indeed arrive too late for a plugin of its own.

more at SlashGear.com

Frequently my small business clients have asked me, “Do I need a server for my business? What kind should I get? How many should I get?”

These are all complicated questions. In short, it really depends on what type of business you have. If you have a business with 2+ computers / devices on your network that are used for the purpose of serving customers or clients, then I would say the answer is ‘yes’.

Why could I need a server?

Here is my reasoning:

  • It’s a good idea to have files centralized in one location, that way no matter what computer you are at, you can access them.
  • It allows (in most cases) for added security and authentication procedures that you can’t get from a work-group (non-server) network.
  • It allows for a central location for files to be backed up from. Whether you are using an online backup software or a removable media (such as a removable hard drive), it’s a very good practice to have one place that is responsible for backing up the files.
  • Redundancy. This is a little complicated. I’ll explain this below.

Redundancy? How?

If you are at your desk, helping a client and working on a file and (given that your network administrator setup your network and applications correctly) you should power, or your computer crashes, you will not lose what you are working on. Why? Because:

  • Your application will have been set to auto-save to your network drive every xx seconds.
  • Your local (computer at your desk) PC will not be responsible for actually housing the files, the server will be.

How is a server different than a PC?

Basically, a server is a PC on steroids. It has faster processors (brains), more memory (RAM) and usually more stable and roomy storage space (Hard drive). Because of these features as well as in most cases; redundant (multiple) power supplies and a solid UPS (battery backup) it will be a work horse for your environment.

How many servers do I need?

That all depends on you. If you are a small insurance office doing nothing but creating word processing documents, then you really don’t need more than one server. Whereas if you are an engineering firm that designs CAD (computer aided design) drawings, houses your own internal email, internal website with complicated rendering capabilities; then you are going to need more than one server.

For a question like this, contact me (it’s free) and I’ll give you my own two cents on what I think you will need.

 

I normally never post images that people forward me, but I received a nice little collection of yesterday vs. today in technology and decided I had to share them with our readers.

Every once in a while we need a little humor (or is it humorous?).

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I can see a trail marker just up ahead”, I say aloud to no one. Mud has caked my boots, making my trek harder than it should be. Still, if this is the Northwest trail, and I make good time, I should be out of the woods before nightfall. My pace quickens.

Back to Nature“hey-uuna”! “hey-uuna”! What was that???!!

It’s my cell phone. My husband wants to know if he should pick up Indian on his was home. I answer meekly, brought back to the real world
“Cool, get some wine too”

Technology: The best, and the worst thing to happen to the outdoor enthusiast.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that my husband can track me when I am out for a long hike, or trail run, VIA the GPS in my cell…it’s just not very “Lewis and Clark” I have been a prisoner of www.mapmyrun.com for years, because surely a run must be recorded for it to count. Right?

Also, and I am at loath to admit, I have worn a heart rate monitor and watch while hiking The Rockies just so I could track the miles in order to enter the workout on my “Daily Burn” app. Never mind the pristine Rockies, the fresh air, the humbling affect that nature has on me. No, I need to know how many calories I’ve burned, so I know how many beers I can have and where to get them, thanks to “beer mapping”.

Still, we could all use more “woods time”, as I call it. Feel the leaves crunch beneath our feet. Take long drags of cold, fresh air into our lungs. Climb on rocks green with moss.

Get out there. Get moving. Check out your local and national parks.

Be well and be connected

What is DSL (ADSL for home users)?

ADSL LineADSL (or Asymmetric digital subscriber line) is notorious for having bandwidth issues. That’s why it has been almost completely phased out in the USA. Although in more rural areas there aren’t many options so people living in those rural areas don’t have many options.

ADSL uses a specific frequency on your telephone line that is outside of the voice part of the line (this is why you get a lot of static if you don’t use your DSL filter).

It was specifically designed to be able to be used on POTS (plain old telephone service) lines because nearly all homes have POTS lines running into them.

Get on the Bus, but be careful it’s crowded in there!

Because of this, your line is transmitting and receiving on that frequency… All your neighbors are using that frequency for their DSL lines and everyone between you and your CO (ISP’s office) are also using that frequency. Some of the older switches have a difficult time filtering out the frequency separation that is required… as they were actually designed for voice separation.

So, to make a long story short, the more people that are online in your area, the slower your connection will be because the signal is degraded. The less people online, the better the connection.

How to speed up your connection

Well you basically have four options:

  • Get your neighbors off the Internet (unlikely to happen)
  • Reduce the number of filters: Sometimes, reducing the number if filters in the house / building can increase your bandwidth. So if you put a filter say at the entrance of the line into the house and have one line for voice and the other for your DSL. Then you may experience faster bandwidth.
  • Get a different type of circuit. Verizon FIOS or similar fiber optic or Coaxial connections will provide you with a solid circuit that is not affected by voice traffic.
  • Share a connection. If you have a whole building (with multiple apartments or units), ask your neighbors if they too are having problems with bandwidth. If all of you are, it might make sense to talk to the owner and opt in for a more robust circuit and then have WiFi in the building that you all share the cost on.

Foster ChildrenBeing a parent with children using technology is difficult enough, being a foster parent to a child using technology adds a whole different level of complexity to your responsibilities.

I also recommend you read: Protecting your children on Facebook – The Battle

There are some of the problems that foster parents face that differ from biological children:

The Security Blanket

It can be very difficult and scary being a foster child, moving from place to place, without any solid ‘home’ environment. Many foster children own Internet capable technology that has been given to them by previous foster parents, their biological parents or their friends or family. Often times, this technology is their only link between the life they knew and their friends. They tend to live their life through Facebook, twitter and email. Breaking them or taking them away from their “tethers” will only cause harm to them and to your ability as a foster parent to work and build trust with them. However, the fact that they are living under your house and your parental guidance puts you as a foster parent in the position of having to be responsible for where they go on the Net, who they meet up with and who is trying to get in touch with them.

Technology Inventory & Monitoring over Blocking

As a foster parent of a new foster child your instincts are to immediately block anything that could potentially harmful to your new foster child. I recommend resisting that urge. If you cut them off from their normal chatting / browsing / emailing habits, you will only force them to go somewhere where they can access it and then you won’t have control over the situation. My advice is to take the following action for any new foster child that comes into the house:

  • Inventory: Lay down a “Technology Inventory” policy. The child must tell you about ALL technology that they own. Down to the smallest MP3 player, set of headphones, everything. Sit down with them and write a list of it.
  • Research: On your own, research each piece of technology (or contact me) and find out what is Internet capable, what isn’t and what can have monitoring software installed on.
  • Monitor: Install (with or without their knowledge, that’s up to you) a monitoring software on any Internet capable device that can be monitored.
    The monitoring software should ideally:
    • Log all keystrokes
    • Take screen shots (pictures of their desktop environment)
    • Remote monitoring capabilities (ability for you to check on it without actually getting on the technology
    • History logging (recording of websites visited, etc.)
  • Approach: Your goal is not to pick apart your foster child with every nuance of activity they do. They should have an implied feeling of privacy. Only if they are browsing an area they shouldn’t be or having an inappropriate conversation or communicating with someone they shouldn’t be, should you then step in and approach them.
  • A spoonful of sugar goes a long way: If you have to approach your foster child about questionable material, do not come down on them like a ton of bricks. Sit down and have a calm conversation with them. Explain to them that you are concerned for their well being, not that they are doing something wrong. If the timing is right, let them know that you do keep tabs on what they do so that you know they are safe and that is the only purpose. Let them know that you do not violate their private conversations or talk to anyone about what you discover.
  • If it’s illegal, deal with it: It can be very scary to discover that a person you brought in your home is doing illegal activity. Talk to your DSS worker first and if needed, pull in the police but wait to talk to the child until you have confirmed your suspicions. You do not want to jump head first into boiling water.

Some Internet capable devices that can be monitored:

  • Windows and Mac laptops and desktops
  • iPhones, Droid phones
  • XBox & XBox 360
  • Nintendo Wii
  • Nintendo DS
  • SonyPS3

 

 

 

 

Facebook and Social Websites

Facebook began as a college-only website where students could talk to each other about classes and issues. Users could only have profiles associated with their college, using their school email address to log in and browse their own network of students. The site expanded to allow high school students and eventually anyone to create profiles, causing parents to wonder about its safety.

FacebookI have taught for years on how to monitor children’s activities, record activities so that parents can ensure that the children are safe. I have recently begun trying to find out if there is a way for parents to “Administrate” their children’s Facebook page.

Now as a Network Administrator for a company, you have the capabilities to access all systems. There is a level of understood privacy and secrecy involved in being a Network Administrator. To violate that trust and “hack” into a users’s files without their permission is not only a violation of your job as a Network Administrator, but it’s also against the law in many cases. It’s a line I never step over.

However, being a parent is a whole different issue. You are responsible for that child, from the moment they are born, until (at least legally) they turn 18. In the event of working as a foster parent there is an even greater responsibility, because you need to rapidly attempt to help a child, protect your own children from whatever dangers the foster child may present and protect yourself.

For these very reasons, there is (and I quote from law enforcement) “No expectation of privacy with children under 18, no exceptions”. I know that sounds cruel and a violation of privacy that your teen or preteen wants… but you cannot protect your child if you don’t know what they are doing.

If you live on a large property and your child is going outside to play, you expect to know where they are going, what they will be doing and when they will be back. It’s a matter of you being a responsible parent. Why should it be any different for online activities? It shouldn’t.

Lack of Administrative functions for parents

This brings to light one of my biggest complaints with social websites. There is virtually NO administrative rights for parents with social websites.

Child onlineThere is nothing wrong with kids being on Facebook, or other social websites. It allows them to be in contact with their friends and family, to voice thier opinion and to be at least partially independent. The problem with Facebook (and many other social websites) is that now with the privacy lock-down capabilities from within the child’s Facebook account, even if a parent “friends” their child, the child has the capability to exclude what that parent sees. This is very wrong in my opinion.

I think that Facebook and other sites should have the capability for a parent to “declare” themselves as a child’s parent (through documentation) and then Facebook grant that parent administrative rights (The ability to see what their child is doing REGARDLESS of the privacy lock-downs that the child does). Again, there is NO EXPECTATION OF PRIVACY for a child you are responsible for under the age of 18.

Monitoring

Yes, you can monitor what your child does by putting monitoring software on thier computer and getting their username and passwords (assuming they will give them to you). But that, I think, steps over the bounds on perceived privacy. However, it does help you to protect your child as long as you don’t abuse it.

I will see what other information I can get on Facebook administrative rights as time progresses.

So… Stay tuned.

The software “Carrier IQ” has been known for a while now to log keystrokes and activity on phones. Sprint is finally taking action to remove it.

On Monday Android Central reported that the HTC EVO 3D, which runs on Sprint’s network, will get a new firmware update that will wipe the Carrier IQ software from the device. HTC confirmed on Tuesday its move in a statement to The Verge. The company said that the maintenance software update would “remove Carrier IQ and provide security enhancements and bug fixes beginning in January.”

Read more at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30686_3-57360436-266/sprint-updates-phones-to-eliminate-carrier-iq/?tag=mncol;editorPicks

The holidays are over, and if you’re like me, you’ve blown all your extra cash on gifts for other people. But what if you still would like to treat yourself to shinny new handset? Not to worry, since these new phones are all more capable than you’d expect yet are easy on the wallet.

Even if you don’t see a device here with your name on it, they all prove the theory that you don’t need to spend top dollar to enjoy premium mobile features.

Read more: http://www.cnet.com/8301-17918_1-57360439-85/best-smartphones-for-budgets/#ixzz1jkqPAmpS

We could be a few weeks away from getting a peek at Apple’s next iPad, if a new report is to be believed.

iPad 3 Citing an Asian supplier and “a source in United States,” Japanese Apple blog Macotakara says that Apple is cooking up a special event in “early February” to take the wraps off its next iPad, with a formal launch of the product taking place sometime the following month.

Why the delay? Macotakara says that the Chinese factories involved with the production if iPad 3 units will be celebrating the Chinese New Year, which kicks off at the beginning of next week.

It’s not unusual for Apple to delay the sale of a product from its formal introduction, however that time period has only been a week or two for new iterations of existing products. In the case of the iPad 2, the product was unveiled at an event on March 2, 2011, with a release on March 11. With the original iPad it was considerably longer, with Apple unveiling the product on January 27, 2010 and not putting it on sale until April 3.

Read more at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-27076_3-57360372-248/ipad-3-to-get-february-intro-march-release/?tag=mncol;topStories

First things first

It’s for servers, NOT desktops or home computers. iCloud is different so don’t get the two mixed up. iCloud is Apple’s service for providing a space that you can synchronize your files in one location.

What is it?

Cloud computing in it’s simpliest terms is the providing of computers as a service rather than as hardware.

Instead of going out and purchasing a server, a company can simply contact their cloud company and tell them “I want a server with X processing power, X hard drive space and X memory” (fill in a number for the Xs).

The cloud computing company then lays out a virtual computer/server that meets all the specifications for the customer.

There are drawbacks and benefits to cloud computing.

The Pluses and the Minuses

Pros:

  • You can get instant servers to specifications that meet your needs
  • You can get rid of the servers at will, there is no costly disposal
  • Most of the time, the servers have a backup arranged with the service
  • Because the servers are already online, replication is easy between them
  • No need to worry about RAIDs (that’s a term for hard drive configuration)
  • If you are a small business it’s a cost effective quick method of getting high quality servers

Cons

  • You don’t have physical access to them, so if you need to do something in the bios or low level configurations, then it’s not for you.
  • It’s a monthly subscription, so you never really own anything
  • You are dependent on the providers internet service. So if they have a slower connection than you, then your server will be slow.
  • In many states HIPAA (Health Information Privacy Act) prevents medical institutions from using cloud computing due to privacy information risks.
  • You are bound to the quality of hardware that the service provider chooses

 

Ok, although I personally promote the idea of an automated backup utility such as Carbonite or Mozy… There are some good tips in this article from PC World:

——————————————

I’m going to concentrate here on backing up your data (in which I include photos, videos, music, and so on), because that’s your top priority. Should your hard drive die, you can reinstall Windows and your applications. You can’t reinstall your tax records or your children’s baby pictures.

Any decent backup program should know what files and folders need to be backed up. But just in case, here are the likely candidates in Windows XP. All of these folders reside inside C:\Documents and Settings\login, where login is the name you use when you log into Windows:

  • My Documents
  • Desktop
  • Application Data
  • Favorites
  • Local Settings\Application Data

Read: http://www.pcworld.com/article/151987/whats_the_best_way_to_backup_what_i_need_to_backup.html for more details

One of our major problems on today’s roads is the influx of drivers that are texting while driving. What could possibly be so important that you are willing to put dozens of lives at risk just to send that text message while you’re driving down the road?

Q: What technological advances have been made in the past five years that affect the way potential buyers and sellers showcase their properties?

A: Real estate and technology have changed dramatically in the last five years. One of the reasons I chose to be affiliated with Climb Real Estate Group is that it is one of the few general brokerages that have fully embraced technology.

We have a team consisting of a webmaster, content manager and Internet marketing coordinator that showcase our properties through our website, new development blog sites, outsource to 48 different real estate sites and create videos for video blogging and property websites.

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/13/RE101MOOPB.DTL#ixzz1jVHt1IAE

As Toyota Motor Corp. promotes new in-car technology letting drivers make restaurant reservations on OpenTable and use Bing to search the Internet, regulators are still seeking to discourage mobile-phone use.

Audible Facebook updates and steering-wheel controls that let drivers buy movie tickets and check stock prices went on display at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last week. Daimler AG is developing technology to let customers summon road information on the windshield with a wave of the hand.

“People are pretty determined to be connected in their vehicles as they are everywhere else,” said Jeremy Anwyl, vice chairman of auto researcher Edmunds.com. “You can regulate all you want. I’m not sure, for a lot of consumers, it’s going to make a lot of difference.”

Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/01/14/BUPJ1MP3O4.DTL#ixzz1jVH3zFZQ

Aisle after aisle of companies hawking their latest tech gadgets. HDTVs stacked 30 feet high with brilliant colorful videos playing in a loop. Thousands and thousands of people all there to soak it all up.

The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is an impressive event.

Companies from all over the world converge on the city that never sleeps to show off the latest technology. Almost every major innovation over the past 30 years has been launched at CES –  VHS, DVD, HDTV and 3DTV. Needless to say, the expectations are high every year.

Read more: http://www.abc15.com/dpp/news/science_tech/blog-consumer-electronics-show-brimming-with-innovative-technology#ixzz1jVGTYZ8W

 

Believe it or not, 3D video has been around since the mid 1950′s. In simple terms 3D video is just two camera angles. One for the left eye and one for the right eye. It’s being able to present this to a room full of viewers that is the real trick.

How 3D Works

Red Blue 3D Glasses

Red Blue Anaglyph 3D GlassesCourtesy "How it Works"

Nearly everyone has seen the old 3D glasses that had red and blue lenses (see left). One camera angle would be overlaid with a red tint and one angle would be overlaid with a blue tint. The glasses would cancel out the color that shouldn’t be seen. The effect is an amazing 3D image. The side effects however were headaches due to the eyes having to translate these two images. Also the color was always off due to the tinting.

This led to a discontinuation of the technology in mainstream film by the late 1980s.

The in the late 1990s film makers began experimenting with polarized lenses. Instead of a color separation of red and blue the film producers used polarization of plastics to show the different layers. Much the way polarized sunglasses can cause an LCD display (like a calculator) to be blackened out.

This latter design for 3D is much more conducive to long term watching of video because not only does it not require the brain having to handle color separation, with the lack of tinting, the color is true and accurate. Because of these features, this is what film producers decided to opt for with their movie productions.

Polarized 3D

Polarized 3DCourtesy "How it Works"

The way it works is, there are two projectors in the theater. Each projector is casting an image with a different polarization. Each of the lenses on the 3D glasses is designed to view only that single projector’s images. Thus producing a 3D image for the viewer. (see right)

3D TVs and 3D DVD players

So, after explaining the whole 3D LCD thing as listed above, now we get down to the nitty-gritty. Do you need a 3D TV to use a 3D DVD player. If you want to view a 3D image, then yes. The reason is, the 3D TV has the technology to present the 2 images, but the conventional DVD player can only see one image on a DVD. So, you need a 3D DVD player that can view both images and pass it to a TV that can put out both images. On top of that, you need the 3D glasses (which are usually proprietary to the manufacture of the television) to view the 3D image.

As you know, I’ve discussed the idea of Geotagging before in “Geotagging – A danger to you and your family”. This relates to that to a degree, but it takes it a step further. First, I’ll show you this video and then give you some advice as to how you can protect yourself in today’s digital age.

What is really at risk?

  • Your Home
  • Your Car
  • Your Children
  • Your Work
  • Your Daycare
  • Your School

What services currently use Geotagging Location services?

This is a small list, there are literally hundreds out there. Here are some of the most popular:
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • SmugMug
  • Google Picasa Web Albums
  • Flickr
Hardware:
  • Almost all SmartPhones & Cell Phones manufactured after January 2008
  • Newer Cannon, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus  SLR cameras
  • Most compact cameras (CoolPix, etc.) manufactured after  January 2008
  • iPads, Samsung Galaxy, Kindle, Nook, etc.

If Geotagging is so dangerous, why do it at all?

Believe it or not, Geotagging has it’s place.

  • Trips – Let’s say you want to take photos on a trip to China and you want to remember exactly where they were at. It is safe to Geotag these. The reason being, it is not your locations of  ”habit”. There is really no risk of someone stalking you through your vacation locations if they are far removed from your home.
  • Reference – I have personally used geotagging to record things such as a gravestone placement in a large cemetery when doing family history research. It’s a great tool so you don’t have to go hunting down a headstone.
  • Professional Photography – If you are professional photographer, then you are constantly taking photos and knowing where you took a photo and at what time of day helps you to know a great spot that you can catch perfect lighting.
  • Real Estate – If you are a real estate broker, being able to go and take pictures of a home or apartment and be able to cross reference where it was based on the GeoTag helps a TON.

How can I protect myself?

My advice? Follow these important steps:

  • Disable Location Services on your SmartPhone (Don’t worry, 911 will work regardless and if you’re using an iPhone or iPad you can enable the “find my phone” feature without exposing GeoTags)
  • As enticing as it is, DO NOT constantly post your every detail on Facebook or Twitter. You never realize how important your privacy is until you lose it, lose a loved one or have a theft due to your negligence.
  • Be aware of your surroundings. Be aware enough to recognize if someone that you don’t know seems to “see” you a little more often than they should.

 

Ever wish you could tell who’s texting, calling or what your iPhone is trying to tell you while you’re in a meeting without looking at it?

Here’s how: http://heresthethingblog.com/2012/01/12/iphone-tip-create-custom-vibrations/

Opps I did it again…

Facebook TimelineSo, you have chosen to “check out” the new Facebook “Timeline” feature (see left), just to find out… you can’t go back.

That’s right. If you try out Timeline, you had better make sure it’s locked down well, because now your whole timeline of your experience on facebook are public. Although they give you a 7 day “test” period, you can’t go back. It will still be published in 7 days (unless you choose to publish right away).

I personally made the mistake myself. In the interest of all things technology… I decided to at least see what it was so that I can write about it and made the mistake of tripping the switch. So, in another 6 days mine will go public (to my friends). Now, I have locked it down pretty tight. But I really don’t like the new interface at all. So I’d prefer to go back myself.

In doing some research I found that like most of Facebook’s other changes, this too can not be rolled back.

The new Timeline feature has come under scrutiny from EPIC (Electronic Privacy Information Center) over concerns of people’s privacy being opened up more with Timeline. Something for which I haven’t found any evidence that Facebook has done anything to rectify.

My advice?

For now, leave Timeline alone. There is a LOT to do to your history in order to privatize things (on Facebook).

Scams and Hacks

Facebook Timeline Scam/Hack

As with everything else on the Internet, there have been people cropping up trying to take advantage of those who want to disable their timeline and will do just about anything to try and do it. One such scam is a Facebook page (see right) that shows up when you search Facebook for “disable timeline”.

I’m providing the URL here ONLY so it shows up in Google’s indexes to hopefully warn people NOT to use it. BEWARE OF: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Activate-Or-Disable-Timeline-on-Your-Profile/135835836531465.

They walk you through a series of steps that reveals a lot of your Facebook account to the hacker (and everyone else).

Wrap up

In a nutshell, if you’ve activated Facebook Timeline, it’s not the end of the world, just make sure you lock it down (as shown below).

How to lock down Facebook Timeline

(courtesy of Here’s the Thing)

http://heresthethingblog.com/2011/12/16/5-privacy-tips-locking-timeline/