Category Archives: tech

Cell phones: Know why before the buy

GSM is the most popular cell phone standard, and is used internationally, GSM originally stood for Groupe Spécial Mobile but now means Global System for Mobile communications. Almost 80% of the world’s people use this form of cell phone carrier. This blogger had no knowledge of this term or any other as well as their significance. Below i a breakdown of each term and its importance to the buyer.

For practical and everyday purposes, GSM offers users wider international roaming capabilities than other US network technologies and can enable a cell phone to be a “world phone.” What’s more, things like easily swapping phones and using data while on a call is supported with GSM networks. GSM also has the advantage of easily swappable SIM cards. GSM phones use the SIM card to store your (the subscriber’s) information like your phone number and other data that proves you are in fact a subscriber to that carrier.This means you can put the SIM card into any GSM phone to instantly continue using it on the network with all your previous subscription information (like your number) to make phone calls, text, etc.  

Most people overseas like these phones because they are universal, that is they can be used with any carrier in the U.S.. A lot of  International students enjoyed their phones and purchased top of the line to avoid roaming fees. Some avoid the two year contract too.

Unlocked cell phones are phones that can be used by more than one service provider.On the negative side, they cost more than a locked phones. One could ask their provider to unlock their locked phone, but it could make one’s warranty null and void. Another thing that might prevent the carrier from doing this is if the user had an two-year contract.

These phones are in high demand by the international visitor because:

  1. It can give them more freedom to use their phone as they like

  2. it can save money. Getting out of a two-year contract can be costly too

Recently, Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 and the 8+ in Ghana via a host of public events using Lexis Bill. A few of the main attractions on this phone:

  1. It’s bezel-less, meaning there is more screen

  2. Full frontal– meaning it is borderless

  3. edge to edge -stretching almost to the end

The closest competitor, the Xiaomi’s Mi Mix, is sold only in China, can be purchased for 3449 yuan ($510) online. One should pay attention to the reviews. Improvement is needed for a better reccommendation the cost to produce them is astronomical, hence the limitation in availabity. The camera’s pretty average at best and taking selfies can be awkward. This blogger only sold products having four stars or more on Amazon.com.

Locked means only carriers that have software with a partiular type of phone can unlock it with a csde. When the carriers decide to support the manufacturer’s phone as part of their product range, they access this software using the code and use it to add a carrier lock to the phone. The lock ties the phone to the carrier’s network, so people who purchase the phone from the carrier can’t use it on anyone else’s network even if they remove the SIM card and replace it with one that uses a different network. Phones are locked to prevent people from buying a phone cheaper than market price using a two-year contract, and then switching carriers, leaving the original carrier out of pocket. It made it harder for the consumer to leave the carrier.

Using my land phone got to be expensive at $90 a month. The only way to slash the bill is to bundle with the cable company or phone company. Neither are liked by me because both of then had a monopoly in the area. Spectrum is tight-fisted about giving any type of yearly discounts. Before taking over for Time Warner Cable, my connection to cable and internet remained iffy on a daily basis. U.S. Cellular did not allow my Galaxy S5 on their network. For this, a refurbished phone is needed, but not at an additional $78.They wanted me to purchase a bundle too. My landline went wireless by usig the old AT&T line after the change of providers. Because my plan is A Simple Home Phone Plan there is no:

  1. Online access to paying bills, they are eitther mailed in or paid by phone

  2. Calling overseas-These numbers are blocked-This is built in tto the plan

  3. unwanted callers like spam calls put through-Some are forwareded to my cell and blocked if there isn’t already a busy signal.

Whether my cell phone became locked or unlocked, this blogger now knew the difference between the three. In spite of having a locked cell phone, my Samsung Galaxy S5 was still usable on three other service provider networks.

Sources:

What Does GSM Mean?

 MTE Explains: The Difference Between a Locked and an Unlocked Smartphone 

Before You Buy Unlocked Cell Phones or Smartphones

Xiaomi Mi Mix review

Xiaomi’s Mi Mix is one amazing almost bezel-less phone

A gorgeous con

Samsung and Apple iPhones available at The Movie Store

 

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Ransomware–WannaCry Microsoft’s latest concern for older OS’s

There are different types of ransomware, according to Microsoft. rir , demanding money to decrypt . This was worse than the Melissa virus and most pop ups that tell people there may be a virus on their computer and give them a number to call for repairs.

They can target any PC users, whether it’s a home computer, endpoints in an enterprise network, or servers used by a government agency or health care provider.

Ransomware—What it does

Ransomware can:

  • Prevent users from accessing Windows.
  • Encrypt files so people can’t use them.
  • Stop certain apps from running (like the web browser).

Ransomware will demand payment of money (a “ransom”) to get access to the PC or files. We have also seen them make the user complete surveys.

There isn’t any guarantee that paying the fine or doing what the ransomware told one gave them access to their PC or files again.

The ransomware typically contacts a central server for the information it needs to activate, and then begins encrypting files on the infected computer with that information. Once all the files are encrypted, it posts a message asking for payment to decrypt the files – and threatens to destroy the information if it doesn’t get paid, often with a timer attached to ramp up the pressure.

 

Ransomware WannaCry—The North Korean connection

Technical details within an early version of the WannaCry code are similar to code used in a 2015 backdoor created by the government-linked North Korean hackers, who were implicated in the 2014 attack on Sony Pictures and an $81m heist on a Bangladeshi bank in 2016Lazarus Group has also been known to use and target Bitcoin in its hacking operations. The similarities were first spotted by Google security researcher Neal Mehta and echoed by other researchers including Matthieu Suiche from UAE-based Comae Technologies.

This didn’t mean, however, that the same group or groups are responsible for the major cyber attack that occurred over the weekend. Anyone with computer coding knowledge could easily duplicate the effects of a ‘false flag’ thereby confusing those assigned to find the culprit. That is only if they can find the original code, which appeared to not be in later versions of the WannaCry program.

The WannaCry exploits used in the attack were drawn from a cache of exploits stolen from the NSA by the Shadow Brokers in August 2016. The NSA and other government agencies around the world create and collect vulnerabilities in popular pieces of software (such as Windows) and cyber weapons to use for intelligence gathering and cyber warfare.

How did Ransomware WannaCry differ from the Melissa Virus?

The ransom ware typically contacts a central server for the information it needs to activate, and then begins encrypting files on the infected computer with that information. Once all the files are encrypted, it posts a message asking for payment to decrypt the files – and threatens to destroy the information if it doesn’t get paid, often with a timer attached to ramp up the pressure.

Melissa is a fast-spreading macro virus that is distributed as an e-mail attachment that, when opened, disables a number of safeguards in Word 97 or Word 2000, and, if the user has the Microsoft Outlook e-mail program, causes the virus to be resent to the first 50 people in each of the user’s address books. While it does not destroy files or other resources, Melissa has the potential to disable corporate and other mail servers as the ripple of e-mail distribution becomes a much larger wave. Melissa caused the Microsoft Corporation to shut down incoming e-mail. Intel and other companies also reported being affected. The U. S. Department of Defense-funded Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) issued a warning about the virus and developed a fix.

This reminded me of the pop up alerts of a possible virus being on my computer and giving the user a supposed 800 number to call for repairs. The computer tech requested payment before proving their ability to fix the problem. The same thing happened in August 2014. The person on the phone, a foreigner with a thick Indian accent, saying he was affiliated with Microsoft, warned me of the same thing and spent the next seven hours trying to gain access to my laptop unsuccessfully. This same company ‘bothered’ me for the next four or five months until my reporting them to the credit card company and FTC. The ironic thing was that someone with a thick Australian, English, or New Zealand accent called me a year later claiming the same thing. I relayed the same story to the FTC again.

At this time, that company has called me twice. The first time, the PCSpeedy affiliate said they no longer support Windows XP. Microsoft support ended in April 2016. The last two phone calls stated that they lost their affiliate status from Microsoft and had to pay its customers back.

Ironically, Microsoft issued a special fix for older Windows operating systems in custom support only, like Windows XP, 8 and Server 2003, to prevent the massive ransomware attack that occurred in the UK last weekend. Even more extraordinary, the ransomware program had a kill switch, discovered by someone in their early 20s. For the moment, the attack has lessened. Microsoft has warned the public that no on should continue using older Windows operating systems.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

WannaCry ransomware has links to North Korea, cybersecurity experts say

Malware Protection Center

What is WannaCry ransomware and why is it attacking global computers?

What is Melissa virus? – Definition from Whatis.com – SearchSecurity

What is WannaCry ransomware and why is it attacking global computers?

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Effects on foreigners

Trump’s travel ban has consequences to America’s workforce

Trump’s travel ban affected more than immigration to the U.S.. It puts existing foreign workers with proper documentation in the United States on edge pending a decision on both executive orders. It made a shortage of skilled  American workers when foreigners were denied entry into the U.S. and  made IT and other customer services harder to render because of the suspension of the HB-1 Visa cap. Hardest hit is India.

One Iranian student had a single entry visa, with the travel ban in place and his future uncertain, he is worried because his visa expires next year. He hasn’t seen his father in seven years. His mother visited in 2014 after waiting almost 10 months for background checks. This was way before the travel ban and block were put in place.

Somehow, this hasn’t phased President Trump. It seems to me and the man in the above article, that our current commander in chief cared nothing for consequences. The first mandate, as it turns out, is unconstitutional. The second mandate banned everyone except Iraqis. This could also be a violation of the historic document, even though the wording is meant to avoid any legal tangles. Unfortunately, this did not occur. The travel ban is temporary as a decision emerges from the smoke.

The :”smoke”, in this case is the long wide avenue of appeals, which the current administration would definitely pursue. At least two states, Hawaii and Maryland, sued over the current travel ban laws already. The justice department is more concerned with the timing of their next move. Play the ‘Trump’ card too soon and their plans for both cases are revealed to the opposing side, play it last minute and it could end up costing them the cases in both states. This answered the when and where which is unknown at this time.

To accomplsh what method to use or how to challenge the issues in both states, it might tackle the one that was comprehensive or most inclusive., which is Hawaii. Remember, they were the first to sue over the travel ban.  It blocks two entire sections of the executive order that relate to refugee resettlement and visa issuances from six Muslim-majority countries, rather than just one clause of the order, as the Maryland judgment does. At its worst, these two cases could wind up in the same court that handed down the ban. If push came to shove, Trump might take the case all the way to the Supreme Court, where confirmation of  Neil Gorsuch, for the last Supreme Court spot.

Trumps Travel Ban: What this means for applicants wanting visas to the U.S. The March 6 mandate temporarily barred people from six Muslim majority countries and all people wanting asylum are banned from entering the U.S. Also, it allows racial profiling, which is illegal in America. The March 17 mandate leaves the decision with the consulate in the applicant’s country, whether or not to issue a visa, usually on a case by case basis, depending on diplomatic mission or government post. The sad fact about this is, two Russian brothers were responsible for the Boston Marathon bombing and they were naturalized American citizens. At that time, the older brother visited Yemen for six months before the terrorist attack took place. No one thought to connect that visit with such a horrible crime. The shooting in San Bernadino was by a married foreign couple with visas.

The most significant are two lawsuits filed in the state of Washington against the second ban. These are both presided over by district judge James Robart in Seattle, who issued the temporary restraining order against Trump’s first ban. In one case, a coalition of Democratic states have asked Robart to issue a temporary restraining order against Trump’s the new order, citing similar arguments in the Hawaii case. In the other, which was heard before Robart yesterday afternoon, a refugee advocacy group also made similar arguments.

If Robart rules in favor of either of these two cases, it will deal yet another blow to the administration.

The biggest problem with the cut to HB-1 Visa program is a worker shortage in the U.S. The truth is that there were not enough American skilled workers to take over if slashes are made to this system. Trump has said he wants to dismantle it to bring jobs back to America. While this might look good, in theory, it is devastating to the work force, especially to online customer service and other tech support. For one thing, wages certainly wouldn’t improve in this area.

Tightening the cap on H-1B visas would result in more entrepreneurs setting up shop outside of America. For proof, the US should look at H-1B reject and Snapdeal founder Kunal Bahl, whose company now locks horns with Amazon in India.

And that matters because the benefits of innovation aren’t limited to just software services.

IT is the major driver behind the emergence of many new industries, such as fintech, edu-tech, health-tech etc,” Ashok Soota, the executive chairman at Bengaluru-based Happiest Minds Technologies, told Quartz in an e-mail.

As of March 3, here is what Trump outlined for the HB-1 Visa Program:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said it will temporarily suspend premium processing for H-1B visas from April 03. The H-1B visa allows foreign professionals to work in the US for up to six years and India’s outsourcing firms are among its top beneficiaries, often using the fast-track processing option to fill up positions for new projects on short notice.

Under the premium processing route, applications for the visa are processed within 15 days following the payment of an additional fee of $1,225; the standard procedure, on the other hand, can take three to six months.

This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, we will be able to process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years,” USCIS said.

In a notice on its website, USCIS noted that the suspension could last up to six months but said it may consider some specific H-1B applications for an expedition in cases of severe financial loss to a company or person, an emergency situation, or for humanitarian reasons, among others.

India’s IT outsourcing industry, which gets over 60% of its revenue from the US, has been fearing a rise in protectionism in its largest market ever since Trump got elected. The temporary suspension is in line with the US president’s anti-immigration stance and could hint at a tighter H-1B visa policy in the future, according to recruitment experts.

The US government is clearly telling companies to not depend on the H-1B visa going forward,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, chairman of Headhunters India, a boutique executive search firm that works with several Indian IT companies.

And that poses a problem, notably for India’s tier-1 IT service companies, such as Infosys and Wipro.

Tier-I Indian IT services firms largely use the premium processing category for H-1B visa for their employees, since they can easily afford the additional $1,225 fee. But, there will be uncertainty, as they will have to wait even for ongoing projects,” Pareekh Jain, senior vice-president at research firm HfS Research, told the Business Standard newspaper.

Here are some of the pros and cons of immigration into the United States.

How immigration impacts the United States

While America has historically benefited from allowing immigration, there are potential downsides for the country as well. The pros and cons of key issues in the immigration debate are listed in the table below.

Amnesty
Details Pro Con
Forgives individuals of illegally living in a country by providing them legal status Provides opportunities for immigrants to make a life for themselves otherwise unattainable in their home countries Rewards and encourages illegal behavior for those currently living in a country illegally, as well as in the future
Border patrols
Details Pro Con
A resource used to protect the borders of a country by securing them against individual attempting unlawful entry Protects a country against possible terrorist threats, illegal immigrants, and harmful materials from being imported into a country Costly and often results in violent situations
Mexican border fence
Details Pro Con
Plan to build a fence on the southern part of the United States to secure the border between America and Mexico May help secure the southern border against illegal immigrants and terrorists Inhibits harmony between countries, is costly, and will create issues with travel to and from Mexico
Jobs
Details Pro Con
Employment and financial opportunities Immigrants fill jobs that Americans often do not want or cannot fill Immigrants take jobs from the working poor of America
Table sources:
http://immigration.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000770
https://www.cbp.gov/border-security/along-us-borders/overview
http://criminal-law.freeadvice.com/criminal-law/violent_crimes/terrorist-threats.htm
http://immigration.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000842
https://ults.co/2k94vus (truncated due to size)

Trump and the Mexican immigration policy

Since immigration is so heavily seated in politics, it is important that we understand what today’s political figures are saying about the issue. This is especially true of our new President, Donald Trump. Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail in regards to immigration is divisive, and is viewed with skepticism by many Americans. Along with a very specific set of visions, he claims he has adopted a plan in which he promises to put America first.

Trump’s plans include:

  • The intent to begin construction on a wall at the Mexican border which he insists they will pay for.
  • Stop allowing certain American cities to act as a haven for illegal immigrants.
  • Make sure that deported illegals go back to their countries starting with making sure that the countries responsible for them take action as well.
  • Strengthen the screening process when issuing visas.
  • Do away with previous amnesty policies formed under President Obama’s terms in office.

Racism versus realism – Trump’s views on Mexicans

It is really no secret that the newest president feels strongly about illegal immigration. He has been quoted, rather controversially, stating,:

When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. They’re not sending you. They’re not sending you [sic]. They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us [sic]. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.” (Newsday.com

As a blogger and a friend of most foreigners, Trump had a difficult road trying to build that wall. When foreigners come to this country, they bring their knowledge and skills too. Denying them entry devastated the U.S. economy.

Sources:

Ultius, Inc. “Donald Trump’s Controversial Immigration Policy Proposals – Will They Work?.” Ultius | Custom Writing and Editing Services. Ultius Blog, 15 Feb. 2017. http://www.ultius.com/ultius-blog/entry/donald-trumps-controversial-immigration-policy-proposals-will-they-work.html

Immigrants still caught in legal limbo despite travel ban block

Trump’s new travel ban was blocked. How did it happen, and what’s next?

Headlines that say H-1B visas drive down US tech wages don’t tell the full story

Slowly and surely, the Trump government has begun dismantling the H-1B visa

 

 

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

WhatsApp 'Backdoor '

WhatsApp messages: Safety of encryption still under question

WhatsApp message encryption  is still under question.  The fact that messages written between users of this popular service enjoyed it because of its privacy, messages can still be read by prying eyes.

Remember the uproar over the privacy issue in the San Bernadino shooting? IPhones had additional safety features built into the phone to avoid someone seeing incriminating evidence. Yet, the FBI found its way around the First Amendment and everyone’s right to privacy, including the dead terrorists. This blogger still has her phone coded around my family just in case someone gets too nosey.

Once again, the media might be the catalyst for giving people the wrong idea concerning the safety of chatting on WhatsApp. Being able to read messages through a back door led users to Most other chat services that aren’t encrypted or as safe. Sometimes it makes this blogger wonder why the media allowed for such stupid scare tactics to occur?

My biggest concern is whether my gmail and yahoo email accounts were safe. Because the app had been compromised at yahoo for the second time my password is coded, preventing a breach. In times of war, nothing is absolute, not even the right to privacy.  In the case of the San Bernadino shooting, the FBI showed just cause in retrieving the data in the iPhone as evidence of a terrorist attack and maintained the proper warrant.

The concern over WhatsApp encrypted messages has merit. This didn’t sound so dumb to a lot of people. According to Chris Mills January 13 bog post, End-to-end encryption relies on both users having two parts of a secure key, used to encrypt and then decrypt the message. But to make sure that messages are always sent, even when the recipient is offline, Whatsapp appears to have compromised that system. According to The Guardian, “WhatsApp has the ability to force the generation of new encryption keys for offline users, unbeknown to the sender and recipient of the messages, and to make the sender re-encrypt messages with new keys and send them again for any messages that have not been marked as delivered.”

Here’s how the WhatsApp feature worked, according to Chris Smith’s January 17 blog post :

  • When a message is sent but not delivered to the recipient (you see a single tick on your sent message), WhatsApp servers will hold onto the message until it can be delivered, regardless of what happens to the receiving account.
  •  If a person — let’s call him Jay — loses a smartphone, buys a new one, or changes SIMs, but wants to keep using the same WhatsApp account, the application will warn all Jay’s contacts that their friend has changed devices, and an in-person security check might be required to verify his identity.

Now, here’s where the backdoor ‘feature’ steps in. The messages sent by all of Jay’s friends via WhatsApp will still arrive — that’s when his friends will see two ticks under their sent messages, marking the fact that the messages have been sent.

*Boelter explains that all the government has to do to spy on a specific friend of Jay’s — let’s call him Silent Bob — is to mimic  Jay’s phone using sophisticated equipment or by accessing WhatsApp’s servers. The government would then prevent the server from sending confirmation ticks to Silent Bob that his messages have been sent to Jay.

Jay, meanwhile, will not receive those messages, as they’re sent to the government’s devices. But Jay might soon realize that something is wrong with his WhatsApp app.

The gist is that Silent Bob will continue to send out messages to his friend, thinking that Jay has not seen the messages. The government would then collect that data.

In Tobias Boelter’s January 17 blog post, he stated that Facebook’s failure to acknowledge this flaw is a major concern because it allowed hackers to use this vulnerability. The collection of data  would’ve been a violation of users First Amendment right to privacy and free speech. Facebook and WhatsApp would have to keep all messages sent to an account that’s activated on a new device and prompt the senders to send them again if they want to do it. Even if it’s a hassle for the user, who sent those messages. In this case, Silent Bob’s messages that are in transit would need confirmation to be sent again to Jay.

Even though this made encrypted messages safe, it isn’t totally safe from hackers or unethical government people. Tobias Boelter showed this.

 

Sources:

Feelings Tobias Boelter’s Blog, January 17, 2017

WhatsApp vulnerability: Encryption backdoor or convenience feature? Chris Smith January 17, 2017

Whatsapp bug allows viewing of encrypted messages Chris Mills January 13, 2017

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Safe holiday shopping tips

With the biggest shopping season upon us, safety remains a top priority both on and offline. Retailers expected more than $11 billion be spent between Black Friday and Cyber Monday and beyond. That meant that most shoppers are using the internet for those must-have gifts this season.

This also meant that thieves are monitoring people’s shopping habits. Just like the criminal that watches one’s comings and goings, hackers find patterns and find where their victims frequently shop and hone in on their weaknesses.

With that in mind, here is a set of helpful online shopping safety tips:

1. Ensure that the website address is secure and has a valid encryption certificate. It will usually display a “locked, green” indicator in front of the website name. If it doesn’t have that, it does not have a higher level of security that has been guaranteed by a known entity like Verisign, Symantec and others.

2. Ensure your system has the most recent recommended system and security patches.

3. Always use a credit card that is not tied directly to your personal bank account(s), even if you are using PayPal, Bitcoin or some other payment method. Thankfully, there isn’t a bank card in my wallet.

4. Never give anything other than name, address and phone number.  You should not need to answer security or privacy questions when making a purchase or checking out. If they ask, see if you can checkout as a “guest” instead.

5. Monitor your credit through a third party for identify theft and have SMS and email alerts sent to you immediately. I use LifeLock, which notifies me via phone or text messaging when there is a problem with my identity.

6. Set-up alerts with your credit card company that send both SMS and emails when any purchases are made and the credit card was not scanned (meaning, it wasn’t in someone’s hand when the charge was made). Set them as low as $25 per purchase. Also, set-up alerts for total purchases over $500 in a billing period to protect multiple $24.99 purchases. And if possible, a maximum amount of purchases allowed in a billing period, such as $1500 before card will get declined. My credit card companies will notify me of suspicious activity on my cards for free. There isn’t much space for a criminal to run up a bill on any of them anyway.

7. Ensure that you have a reputable Antivirus program running on your computer and that your browser has an Ad blocking plug-in. Even with this protection in place, things still slip under the radar like the flashing ads from a flashplayer. If this happens, run the antivirus program immediately to avoid an infection or malware problem.

8. Ensure that the network your computer/device is on is secure and you know who has access to your network. This is usually done with your router. You want to lock down your router so that traffic can be initiated from the inside-out but you do not want traffic to be initiated from the outside-in. If you are using a WiFi connection, make sure that network is also secure and requires a password to join. If it is a public WiFi network that doesn’t require a password, then the traffic coming from your device can be monitored and stolen. I don’t use hotspots. With only two gigabites a month, my phone is only used to make calls when I am out. I make purchases via the computer anyway.

9. Any passwords that you use should be strong, hard to guess ones. Or, even better, hard to guess, but easy to remember.

10. Don’t click on unfamiliar links to sites advertising sales, coupons, etc. This was one of the reasons why people, myself included, got in trouble. In my desparation to have that elusive video, I went ‘off the grid; to make the purchase and ended up not getting it. I got something with English subtitles instead from Amazon.

11. Use two-factor authentication/verification, if it is offered. I’ve learned my lesson. To protect Yoboogle from hackers, I tried this. It took three tries in order to have this safety feature removed. Because I had no hooked up printer/scanner, I had to send the form to the apartment manager to print out so I could sign it. E-signing wasn’t accepted. They had to rescan the signed form back to me so it could be sent to GoDaddy.

It has been my policy never to purchase anything via my phone. My bad habit is leaving sensitive information on the clipboard or not erasing my cyber trail after Googling something. I my phone didn’t have an alert about this, hackers would have a field day. No wonder someone from Turkey and Taiwan tried hacking into two of my email accounts a while back. After my yahoo account got hacked via the app, I stopped ordering food, like pizza using online coupons. There are some safety tips to remember when using your phone:

1. Only download apps from official app marketplaces like Google Play or Apple’s App Store.

Most of the time one can download the free version of an app. Always look for this first.

2. Be wary of applications that ask for suspicious permissions, like access to contacts, text messages, administrative features, stored passwords, or credit card info. Never allow this unless absolutely necessary.

3. Check out the background of an app before downloading. Research the developer and be cognizant of the spelling of brand names. Like fraudulent emails and phone numbers, there can be fake apps too. If there is any bad press, you will find it.

 

4. Make sure to take a deep look at each app. New developers, or developers that leverage free email services (e.g., @gmail) for their developer contact, can be enormous red flags — threat actors often use these services to produce mass amounts of malicious apps in a short period. Also, poor grammar in the description highlights the haste of development and the lack of marketing professionalism that are hallmarks of mobile malware campaigns. Check the reviews to see if there is a history of trouble.

The ironic thing about most Black Friday purchases is that the majority of shoppers used this method, according to a Today Show Saturday report. Target had the top sales of 3,200 TVs a minute their first hour. Online sales hit a record $3 billion. Amazon sold 100,000 toys in their first few hours. Also ironic is that Target, Walmart and Best Buy had the best sales on electronics like gaming consoles and kitchen items, in spite of some big ticket items and their ‘limited availability’ or ‘allowed amount’ per buyer.

My trouble with apps aren’t the shopping kind, like Amazon, Overstock, Best Buy and Retail Me Not. They usually are the type meant to support one’s smart phone. Cleanmaster was great until it was infected with malware. CM Security already had memory boosting capabilities, a way to clean junk files, shut down battery draining apps, a security scan, and call blocking capabilities. There isn’t any need for all other apps.

My first desktop computer was bought after Christmas. My first laptop was purchased about one month before the holiday shopping season officially opened. My reasoning for owning a laptop at the time was because my desktop was showing its age and slowing down. Sale ads have been always on television, in the local paper and online. I got lucky—or so I thought, because they were getting rid of the brand of computer or laptop desired by me. I got what I paid for. The motherboard was not expandable.

This is a hard lesson to learn both with laptops and desktops. Buyer beware. One should buy new or trade up, not just look at the price tag when considering an electronic purchase. Trading up meant the purchase was expandable. I went from Windows 8 to 10 because it was built into my laptop and it was free till July of this year. Compatibility is a major factor also. My television is compatible with the Clearwire TV Antenna. My brother just bought me a Blue-Ray DVD Player, but in order to work, it needed the newest in television sets because the new player did not decode on the analog sets I have. With both the old computers, the lack of space to upgrade to Windows 7 after Windows XP went out of service, forced the need for a new laptop.

The trick here is avoiding scams both online and in the store at any time, not just around the holidays. They can happen anywhere, even over the phone. While one locks their gifts in the trunk to avoid theft, avoid being taken for a fool by believing everything in print. Know what the offers are and their limitations to avoid any misunderstandings.

 

 

Sources:

15 tips to stay safe while shopping online from Black Friday to Cyber Monday

What You Should And Shouldn’t Buy On Black Friday

Black Friday weekend expected to kick off busiest holiday-shopping season ever

Fighting Back: The Scam-Buster’s Survival Guide

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Black Friday 2016: Tech and movie tie-ins predicted hits

Black Friday 2016 will be upon us soon, now that the Presidential Election is over. One thing different this year is that there are a whole host of stores that decided that they are remaining closed on Thanksgiving Day.

This blogger believes that Black Friday 2016 actually started long before the target date. The ads for great Christmas buys started after Halloween. If shoppers were smart, shopping should start midsummer. My mother read me the riot act for waiting until Christmas Eve to shop for gifts. Then threaten bodily harm if my shopping done before Thanksgiving. I did my shopping via the internet after that tirade. To be honest, Black Friday 2016 and Christmas Eve were the worst times to do one’s shopping. The stores were a mad house for those rushing to get the best deals in the beginning and buy those forgotten on their list the night before Christmas.

Don’t lose heart, though. There are places that have good deals on some of the hottest selling items this season. While some stores wished to remain closed, the list of those staying open are updated daily.According to one article on AOL, one of the biggest sellers this season is to be the iPod. The Nintendo NES has been available since Veteran’s Day, One of the hottest items, Hatchables, are already hard to get. Some parents are buying these toys on ebay for four times their retail price and beyond. It looked to me that the most popular toys flying off the shelves this holiday season were either technology-based or had a movie tie-in. Remember the superhero movies last year? All the toys released for the holiday were based on the movie in theaters. Retailers were counting on this and the predictions made by execs and children earlier in the summer.

My prediction is that the Nintendo NES and the new Xbox One and Xbox One S will be hits this Christmas in addition to those toys predicted to be sold faster. Fans of Nintendo are going to have to wait until the universal theme park opens as it is still in the planning stage. It remained to be seen what toys became popular this year.

 

 

 

 

Sources

Stores Closed on Thanksgiving Day 2016

Stores Opening on Thanksgiving Day & Store Hours 2016

DealsOfAmerica.com.

10 items that will sell out fast this Christmas

Nintendo and Universal Studios announce partnership to bring games, characters to life in new theme park attractions

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Windows 10 software

Microsoft: Refund faulty Windows 10 software to complainers

As a Windows 10 user, I am in agreement with the article that stated that Microsoft should refund its users if they have issues with faulty Windows 10 software. So far, this user has not had any, except with the downloaded Amazon.com music program. It was not Windows 10 compatible, even though it said so. In the article, the problems with Windows 10 software were with things like web cameras and internet protection software after being added to the computer.

The issue with my laptop was the software already on the computer. For instance, Windows 8 already had McAfee, which had to be removed in order to install and operate Windows Defender. Both of these together butt heads, locking up computer performace by slowing it down. This blogger disagreed with the article’s continued allegations that Microsoft forced the latest upgrades to its users though its updates. Any time an update was free and didn’t mess up my OS system, it was a blessing.

Microsoft says Windows 10 has been installed on more than 350 million devices, and as of August this year was running on 23% of PCs on the market globally.

The Windows 10 upgrades were free to Windows 8 and 8.1 users, if they scheduled their upgrade before the button was removed this year after July. There was no way, this blogger is paying $99.99 a piece for two upgrades. Granted, Mom had to send both the new and old laptops to my brother to fix them. The weird thing about this is they just needed to be plugged in at his house.

Why return to a previous state when Windows 8 went the way of Windows XP? One should enhance, not got back unless their computer is damaged. The trick here is going back far enough so that one didn’t have to do a full restore. In my case, the flash player ads on the internet messed up the computer my mother loaned me a few years ago. With no reimaged software, my only recourse was to purchase a new one for her.

For those that had trouble with the Windows 10 upgrades, they should be reimbursed for the faulty sotware. Microsoft should honor it too.

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Walmart top 25 holiday toys chosen by children, suppliers and trends

Ladies and gentlemen, start your shopping now! Get ready for the trending toys this Christmas. Walmart already had their top 25 holiday favorites listed. The beauty of this is, they didn’t rely Walmart treding holiday toys2016bon the recommendations of parents, but children aged toddler to preteen and toy suppliers also. Another plus, they are supposedly to boost holiday sales.

If the child is interested in a specific toy, it is bound to be on the shelf. The trick, though, was getting there early. Black Friday started earlier every year. So far, a racing playset, a Disney princess carriage, a Sky Viper Steaming drone and a  Razor Power Core E100 Electric Scooter are very popular among this chosen set

Of course, Star Wars remained among the top sellers also. This is due to last year’s hit movie, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, which bought back a shift in focus to galactic defense. Tmely, since North Korea and Iran have nuclear weapons. I lost count after the first three movies in trilogy came out years ago. I had to wait two years before Star Wars: Return of the Jedi came to cable. It was still good though. Star Wars: Rogue One, due in theaters Dec. 16, is destined to bolster holiday sales also.

Toy suppliers are important too. They are given the difficult task of developing toys that interests children. Thankfully, last year’s, hit Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, made things a lot easier. Remember how it got panned by critics? Well, Walmart counts on the bat cave from this franchise becoming a premier item sold from Mattel. It had strong sales from November to spring 2016.

Shoppers wanting to get a jump on toy shopping might like the Walmart layaway policy, which gives early-bird shoppers more time. There are no fees ad customers are allowed as little as 10%. Before being phased out in 2006 on all products except jewelry, it got re-instated five years later. When my niece’s mother bought her oldest daughter the contraband Easy-Bake Oven, only the oven got placed on layaway, not the cake mixes.

Let’s not forget the ever popular video games and their consoles. Other than Amazon.com, the best place to buy locally is Walmart.. Of Course, the Sony PlayStation Virtual Reality Bundle is a standout, along with standards like cookware and make-up kits. I got my T-Fal ten piece set in 2001 and it is still holding up well.

 

Source: Walmart names its 25 hottest toys for holidays: Get in line now

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

Targeted ads using WhatsApp cell numbers breaches Facebook’s promise

Facebook and WhatsApp  users are fuming over the parent company using data collected from phone numbers to target ads. The backlash is far-reaching. Some WhatsApp users have left the chat service over this announcement. Frankly, this blogger didn’t blame them. Unfortunately, this blogger wants updates through her phone on news related items, so Facebook had my cell number. WhatsApp requires users to give their cell number to validate the account. I only chat with one person, even though other friends use that chat service.

I don’t mind the Facebook targeting their ads to me as long as they are beneficial. It’s to their credit they have been so lately. However, this blogger understood users outcry of both system’s determination to make a profit from their targeted ads. This is a breach in their promise not to use collected data from WhatsApp. The social media giant bought the app two years ago. Back then, a $5 price hike concerned its users.

Facebook must be hard up for members to breach its agreement with its users. While it is a great place to gather trending news topics, it wasn’t the only choice. There was a time when I’d get three or four alerts on the same trending news story from different outlets. It is difficult deciding which one to use. The link easiest to use won. That ranked People near the bottom because their stories were removed a lot.

While Facebook remained quiet about this latest announcement, users of these services can stop it. With the encryption added, no one outside of the sender or receiver can read messages. They didn’t share anyone’s posts from WhatsApp on Facebook or send a list of cell numbers to advertisers. On the flip side, sharing one’s number got targeted ads, better friend requests and fight spam. I’ve noticed that unverified accounts on Facebook are removed. Before accepting the TOS agreement on WhatsApp, remove the check mark from the box that reads ‘share my account with Facebook’, then put a check mark in the agree to the TOS box. If it was already checked, go to the account section and remove the check mark from ‘share account info’. This blogger plans to check her account on WhatsApp and Facebook.

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.

VCRs are extinct–or soon will be

VCRs are becoming extinct, literally. The last ones are being made this month. Right now, the only place VCRs are bought are in resale shops. As for ‘feeling old’ my first VCR wasn’t until after graduating college. This blogger is still waiting for her brother to find a Blue-Ray player, my Christmas present from two years ago. Apparently, the halt in production is because parts are harder to acquire and poor sales also, according to this morning’s Huffington Post article.

VCRs:  Remembering the BETAMAX

As a preteen, my family had one of these overseas. Okinawa is the best in purchasing the first VCR, the Betamax. Electronics like that are cheaper in the country in which they are created, at least before China or Taiwan became involved! My dad had fun recording movie titles, everything from A to Z. “Blazing Saddles”, “Silver Streak”, “History of the World, Pt. 1” and “The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie” are our favorites. While I like “Phantasm 1-4” my brother likes “Squirm”.

VCRs: The Problem

My father used this because it was in the living room with the family television set, which later included cable. While programing it became my father’s, brother’s and sister’s responsibility, it became a major source of entertainment for all of us. Like the first TV set, it was analog and had actual working parts. It lost to the competition because most movies are at least two hours. Betamax tapes only play one hour, meaning death in the rental market. Size and cost contributed, especially with shipping.The Betamax was 36 pounds! Hey, the first electronic typewriters had ribbons and a wheel of letters, not screens with a delete button. One used white out if they had typos.

VCRs: Still in use

Right now, my VCRs are a symbiant to my DVD player since replacing my first one with an RCA. It won’t play without a VCR. Watching cable through the first one aged it quickly. My cable box got replaced more than my VCR. The company tech didn’t have the know how to reattach either one of the above and wouldn’t touch them. His high rating depended on both being reattached correctly, whether needed or not. By God’s grace he did it right and double-checked before leaving.

When CDs and DVDs came out, most of my VHS tapes got replaced. Some of my records did too. Most of my DVDs are Disney classics, literary classics comedy favorites or old cartoons. The blue-ray player plays both types of DVDs. Since my television viewing is non-existent, the recording isn’t needed. As long as it works, there aren’t any high-powered electronics needed, like a DVR.

I love to write about trending topics and real life experiences. I love to read and write Science Fiction and Fantasy stories dealing with parallel worlds.