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LPI Computer Tips & Tricks  

 You can search our page for key words and subjects you might be interested in by clicking on "Edit" (in/on your main menu bar) and choosing "Find" or "Find on this page..."  Any questions or comments, please E-mail or call us at 307-886-1122.  Any ideas for things you want researched and posted, let us know.

Posted 01/02/2019 by AndyO 
Android Apps Sharing Data With Facebook 

Link to article:

Most Android apps are sending data to Facebook even if you don’t have an account
Yahoo News UK Rob Waugh,Yahoo News UK

Facebook hoovers up data from most Android apps – even if users are not logged in to Facebook, or don’t have an account.
Privacy International tested 34 popular Android apps and found that two-thirds send data to Facebook as soon as they are launched.
It makes no difference if people are logged out of Facebook, or don’t have an account.

The data transmitted is used to build up advertising profiles, Privacy International said – but could build up detailed information on private matters such as health or religion, the privacy group said.

Privacy International said, ‘We found that at least 61 percent of apps we tested automatically transfer data to Facebook the moment a user opens the app. This happens whether people have a Facebook account or not, or whether they are logged into Facebook or not.

‘The primary purpose of advertising IDs, such as the Google advertising ID (or Apple’s equivalent, the IDFA) is to allow advertisers to link data about user behavior from different apps and web browsing into a comprehensive profile.

‘If combined, data from different apps can paint a fine-grained and intimate picture of people’s activities, interests, behaviors and routines, some of which can reveal special category data, including information about people’s health or religion.’

A Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo News, ‘Facebook’s SDK tool means that developers can choose to collect app events automatically, to not collect them at all, or to delay collecting them until consent is obtained, depending on their particular circumstances.

‘We also require developers to ensure they have an appropriate legal basis to collect and process users’ information. Finally, we provide guidance to developers on how to comply with our requirements in this regard.

‘Facebook’s collection of information is clearly explained in our Data Policy and Cookies Policy. We ensure that these policies are accessible from each page on Facebook, and that users can access and read these policies when they sign up to Facebook or during updates to these policies.’

German security experts MobilSicher last month tested apps including Pregnancy+ and MigraineBuddy, Bible+ and Muslim Pro were collecting information and transmitting it to Facebook.

The apps all use Facebook’s Software Developer Kit (SDK), which allows developers to use Facebook’s analytics service.

Posted 03/20/18  by AndyO 
Facebook - how can I delete my information? 

Note:  I don't have a Facebook account or wall, so I can't say this is totally correct, but it is one of the few that will tell you this, and in decent depth. 
And here's another article/story: 
I's also important to note & notice that if you use your Facebook "UserID" or credentials (UserName & password), to log into other apps, then those apps have access to your Facebook profile infomation, and Facebook has access to your information on those apps. 
***If your UserID is your Email address, as most apps are moving to these days, UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES use your actual Email account password, as the password for Facebook or other apps.  That gives them and their employees full access to your Email account. 
***While I'm at it, also do NOT use your Email address and Email account password as your Windows 10 UserID.  Never.  Never. 
See more about Windows 10 sharing below. 

Posted 03/28/16  by AndyO 
Windows 10 install/startup questions 

If you have an unknowledgeable tech person set up your new Windows 10 computer (or, heaven forbid, a high-school student working for Best Buy, Staples, Wal-Mart, etc.), then they will probably choose "Express Settings" on the very first screen, which would be a terrible choice.  Here at this link is the list of install questions asked by Windows 10, pretty much ALL of which I would answer "NO" to.  Any questions you have or things you would like to see added, please Email me. 

Posted 10/01/14  by AndyO 
Get ready - Wndows 10 is here  

I won't go into a long description (including asking where was Windows 9!?!).  Just read the story and get ready....  I'll be back to report more when there's more to report.  

Posted 09/02/14  by AndyO 
Apple/Mac/iCloud The Target of Data Theft  

For those of you who believe that Macs "don't get viruses" and are "un-hackable", read on....   Well, OK, it's iCloud, not actually the iPhone or th eMac, but there's a lesson here.  Many people think their files are safe on Google Drive/Docs, or Microsoft's SkyDrive - well it's not.  Further, if anyone bothered to read the EULA (End User License Agreement), you woul dfind that anything you put on a cloud storage server/service you no longer own.  Oh, sure, you can GET to it, but you can never really delete it, nor do you own it or have exclusive rights to it or to use it anymore.  Wake up, America!  NOTHING IS FREE!!!! 

And don't forget:  these thefts, sometimes wrongly called "leaks" (see article below), can happen to anyone - it's just that entertainers and famous people are more "targeted" or "sought after" than us boring, normal people. 

Posted 08/01/14  by AndyO 
Facebook tracks you even after you leave Facebook!!!

Well, it's true, but this article not only explains how they do it, but how to (almost) turn it off.  Please read and share with your children.  It's important. 
Direct link: 

And something about their new "Atlas" tracking system - and how to Opt Out!  

Posted 06/30/14  by AndyO  
Even if they tell you otherwise, your data will be kept and used.  Now, it seems, the ads and even the "Likes" are manipulated for their own purposes.  Is NOTHING REAL on the internet?!?  

Last week, Facebook revealed that it had manipulated the news feeds of over half a million randomly selected users to change the number of positive and negative posts they saw. It was part of a psychological study to examine how emotions can be spread on social media. 
Reaad the whole story and watch/listen to a video:  

Posted 06/24/14  by AndyO 
4 Questions to Ask Before You Give a New App Access to Your Personal Data  

Here’s how most of us protect our own privacy when it comes to new mobile apps: We hear about an app somewhere, we see it has a rating above 3.5 out of 5 stars, we install it, and we tap through whatever permission requests it presents.  Read the whole story..... 

And now thay try to explain away the messages you get.  I'm sorry, but I'd be just as worried if every app had access to this info.  Read more:   

Posted 05/26/14  by AndyO 
Facebook is at it again - a "feature" of its app that can turn on your micrphone and listen to you or whats around you?  Not for me...   

The social network's new quirk allows its mobile app to turn on your smartphone's microphone, listen in on what's around you - and has many "creeped out".  Read the full story.  And watch a humorous video to the right about one man's wanting to delete Facebook (as if it's possible). 

Posted 04/20/14  by AndyO 
Great article on companies not keeping their promises 

From the labels on food we buy, to the claims the weight loss companies make (and don't get me started on the latest berry or nut that solves every medical problem from cancer to gout); we have to watch out.  Let the buyer beware.  While the whole article is great, for our blog here, we want to direct you to the bottom of the article with the heading "Privacy". 

Posted 03/28/14 by AndyO
For all Windows XP users: Internet Explorer 8 is past  

I'm very sad to have to report that for Wndows XP users (still the best O/S there is), using Internet Explorer 8 (IE8), the latest version of IE it can use - it's time to switch to another browser.  This report about a new IE security flaw, will definitely make us switch to another browser that will run on XP. 

Now, the report says Microsoft is stopping support for XP, which is so far true, but also says that up to 25% of the world's desktops still run XP.  I think it's even higher than that, since many business or corporrate applications still haven't been "ported" or "migrated" to Windows 7.  And since Windows 2000 is still "supported" through 3rd-party developers, I don't see XP going away too soon.

However, the IE8 browser will have to go.  I deeply suggest going with FireFox.  Their latest version V28 will run on Windows XP and do just fine.  This browser, unlike Google Chrome, is safe, HIPPA compliant, and doesn't automatically share everything you type or look at with Google.  Here is a link to download FireFox V28.  It even has an import feature, when you run it for the first time, that will import IE's Favorites (Bookmarks), home page, and other setitngs.

If you want further discussion on any of this, please call or Email us.

Posted: 02/20/14 by AndyO
Google Chrome is not a HIPPA-compliant browser  

Hard to imagine, isn't it? It's been proven that when you use Google Chrome as your browser, anytime you go to a web site, the browser sends and receives inormation to and from that web site. As usual and as expected.

What they don't tell you is that Chrome ALSO sends all that information you sent and all that is received to another server owned by Google. this is mostly used for ads, sales, and demographic information (that Google sells to high-paying corporations), but is also put into it's searchable database. If you are a hospital, doctor's office, or organization that holds patient, customer, or personal information covered by HIPPA, then you are in violation. And once this information is acquired by Google, they won't ever give it back (and don't have to).

It's even worse with any Google apps you use (GMail, calendar, Docs, rive, etc.) When you install these apps, you have to click on a EULA - End User License Agreement. This states that any and all data/information you send to/through these apps becomes the property of Google. Yep. They own it. You can get it, but it belongs to them now.

Please think seriously about this before using these applications/programs.

Posted 01/04/14 by AndyO
Why does it tell me to upgrade my browser?  Or which internet browser is the best?  [By "browser" we mean the computer program you use to "browse" or go to the internet - ie. Internet Explorer (IE), Mozilla FireFox, Safari, Google Chrome, Opera, etc.]
There are more web/internet browsers now on the market for you to use, and those that have been around are constantly coming out with another newer version. So, which one should I be using?
Well, there are a few questions to ask, which answers will answer that one.

- First, is your present browser not working or not doing something you want it to do? Sure, the web sites you go to will tell you that "YOU NEED" the new browser. You probably don't. SilverStar, since going to GMail, has a notification at the top of the page saying you have an "UNSUPPORTED" browser, and that you should upgrade to Google Chrome. This is half true. The "unsupported" part is true in that if you call them for help, they (and Google) won't help you until you upgrade. It's untrue in that your present browser won't do what the newer brower will. I still have Internet Explorer 8 (IE), and it still works fine.

- Second, and most important, what operating system are you using? Many of the latest versions of all browsers were written/programmed for the latest operating systems, which are "64-bit" (Windows XP is 32-bit). If you have a 32-bit operating system, then the 64-bit prpgrams won't run properly, or as well. (See blog post on 10/22/13 below).

- Third, what web sites are you going to the most? Are they more modern, HTML5 web sites? I know - how do you tell? The more modern sites will have pop-up-ish "overlays" and "drop-downs" or "expanding sections", instead of "pages".

Be advised that the later the browser, the more information it will collect and share about you. I don't trust Google Chrome as far as I can throw it right now (see post on Chrome is a non-HIPPA-compliant browser below). However, since it is on every mobile device, the only thing we can do is not type in any personal or sensitive information.

In any event, when changing or upgrading our browsers, PLEASE don't install extra features that you don't need. Google Chrome will try to install (watch for check boxes and prompts all along the way), Google Desktop, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google+, Google Calendar, Talk, Books, Sync...... (I could go on and on). And after you start using it, it will constantly prompt you to install the next Google app. There oughta be a law! 

Posted 12/22/13  by AndyO 
iPhones track everywhere you go.... good or bad?  

You probably know that a lot of iPhone apps log your locations so they can offer directions or geographic-based recommendations. But did you know the iPhone keeps a separate, locally stored history of everywhere you’ve been?  Read the story... 

Posted 11/02/13 by AndyO
It's so sad that I have to start out the new year with bad news, but on the internet, and with all the new electronic "smart" devices coming out, there's always more bad news than good.

Without much explanation, here are two new pieces of information informing you that your personal information (especailly if you put it "on-line"), isn't safe "out there".

The first article is about the Skype system being hacked and your profile info beng stolen (the source may be suspect, so weigh it properly), the second is about SnapChat also being hacked and users' information stolen. SnapChat is a new on-line photo/chat-sharing app.

Posted 10/17/13 by AndyO
Windows 8 has an update (called Windows 8.1) that put back the "Start Button"  

For those of you that were taken aback that the new Windows 8 was made more for mobile devices than computers,and had a really hard time finding stuff and running older programs, the new update will at least put back the start button. Read one article here. Amazingly enough, I can't seem to find a download of the update on their support or downloads pages, but I'm sure [hope] you can just update it through the operating system.

Posted 10/14/13 by AndyO
The data collected by our computers and SmartPhones could work against us  

Well, OK. That statement isn't so shocking, but could it be used for discrimination? Not just collected to sell us stuff, and sometimes to steal our identities, but now to segregate groups? Anayway, you be the judge - and please be more careful with where you go and what you share on-line. Read the article here. Read especially paragraph 4.

Posted 09/11/13 by AndyO
Facebook removing option to be unsearchable and allowing teens to hare information with the "entire internet" (rather than with just "friends" on Facebook)  

Well, I really hate being right, but you are about to lose even more security on Facebook. I won't go into it here, you can read the report at the link below, but I'm sending out the warning that they will continue. You will continue to lose more and more security freatures on Facebook as the days go along. Also, be ready for "new" features to take away privacy ans security as well. Why? Because even though Mr. Zuckerberg is a billionaire, (1) he wants more money, and (2) all the advertisers who buy space on Facebook are pushing him to give them more personal info about you.

Now, there are a lot of you out there saying, "but we WANT to be searchable on Facebook". Well, that depends on why you have a "page" there. If you are selling business products or services, then, probably yes. If you are just sharing family pictures, then your family should already know your "short URL" and don't need to search for you. I any case, be ready for Facebok to want more and more personal information (I wouldn't put ANY financial information in there - no bank account info, no credit cards), and for that to be available to everyone. But don't beleive me, click here to read the report. Please get away form Facebook while there is still time.

Oh, and the irony of this is that Mr. Zuckerberg is buying all the homes around his home for ... get ready for it... PRIVACY!!! Click on this link to read about that.

Th eother story here is that teens (users that list their age as 13 to 17) can now share their content with anybody anywhere and everybody everywhere. It's timre to tell our teens to be even MORE careful about what they post. Story here.

Posted 06/11/13 by AndyO
Windows 8, 7, Vista, XP Operating Systems Discussion:  

We at Little Pines, Inc. have mentioned to many of our customers - especially those with servers - that you have to buy the right Operating System on new computers for what server and type of network you have.

With the new Windows 8 machines on the market right now, they are NOT a choice to buy. Not at all.

In fact, ALL the Windows Operating Systems have versions (as does MS Office). They all have at least a "Home" version and a "Pro/Business" version (and usually a Premium and Enterprise secondary version on top of those). The HOME versions purposely DO NOT WORK with a SERVER or a DOMAIN. Those of you with servers MUST buy the business or Pro version for it to work properly on/with the Domain. And the Windows 8 Pro version will only connect to a server running version 2010 or later, which means that if you want Windows 8 machines, a server upgrade will be necessary to the tune of between $5k and $8k.

And what about the "great apps" for Windows 8? Some of them are not so great. Please be VERY AWARE that Windows 8 comes with "sky drive" and "cloud" connections already installed and activated by default. This means that your files WILL be shared to Microsoft's servers, even if you don't want them to be. I haven't found out if these "features" can be turned off or uninstalled. This is at best not good, and at worst a way to collect your business information. And I doubt this would be considered HIPPA Compliant. Each Windows 8 machine comes with the "App Store" already loaded and runinng as well. I wouldn't type my credit card information into a Windows 8 machine if you paid me double.

But you may say that you can't get a machine without Windows 8 on it. That's not true. Only crappy places [for buying a computer] like Best Buy, Sam's Club, Staples, Office Max, etc., will force you into only one O/S. Places that sell true Business Machines will offer you a choice of O/S. You can even still buy new machines with Windows XP Pro on them. And it's a good choice to look into the refurb market for a few years.

Be advised as well, that computers with an AMD processor may be pretty good for running graphics programs, if you want a business machine that runs business programs and applications better and faster, then an Intel processor is better.

And about 64-bit or 32-bt... This is of less concern than the Home/Pro part, but to make mention of it: while 64-bit versions will run a bit faster than the 32-bit version of the O/S's, you have to be aware that you then will have to have peripherals (external devices like printers), that have 64-bit DRIVERS for them. A Driver is the software that makes the hardware work and/or communicates with it. Also, some older software only comes in 32-bit, and may or may not run, or at least run properly, on a 64-bit O/S. Be sure to either do some research on your present peripherals before buying - or be ready to buy all new peripheral devices.

In the end, we would be happy to consult with you on your next computer purchases. While we believe that LPI offers the best and highest quality machines, both new and refurbs, if you want to buy elsewhere, we can point you in the right direction. At least don't buy something "on sale", or the cheapest machine you see. Go to the store's business section. At least you will get more choices.

Posted 03/15/13 by AndyO
Your WebCams can be used to view you - Remote Control Programs (Read Article)  

Well, I've been saying this for years - make sure your WebCam is turned off until you want to use it, then turn it back off. Even that isn't good enough in the case of Remote Control Tools or programs (RATs). Now, we computer geeks like remote control programs, because we can fix your computers or show you how to do stuff remotely. It saves us time and you money. This article doesn't mention the names of the remote control programs, probably to not get companies in an uproar, but there are many.

But this brings up the more important issue - also what I have been saying for years: Don't install certain programs to run at all times. Remote Admin programs should be INSTALLED, but only RUN when you need support, and your tech guy wants to "remote-in". The worst type of programs are those that connect you to a server to then connect to a machine or multiple machines. These servers collect and keep EVERYTHING. Then sell it to the highest bidder. Read the EULA (End User License Agreement). You give them ownership of the stuff you put on their server. This is why "The Cloud" isn't what it seems, and is mostly bad.

Skype is another good example. It may be great to Skype with your relatives, but if it's loaded, running, and on all the time (which is the default install setting), then people from all over can connect to your machine and do whatever they want. And the "Skype Server" keeps all your video and audio files. All of them. Not to mention all information in your "Address Book". Please be aware and careful. Naivete isn't a reason to get out of responsibility. If you have any questions, Little Pines is here for you.

Posted 02/24/13 by AndyO
Google Glass   

Darn. I'm very sorry to only bring bad news to this blog. It was intended to be a "tips and tricks" blog/list for computer users to know more and be able to do things themselves more correctly, or as an avenue for correct computer hardware and software information; but the powers that be have been doing all they can to collect our personal information and rob us of all that's personal and private - and we give it to them freely!

Introducing the "Google Glass". A pair of glasses we would wear that takes pictures and can record everything we do, while allowing us to search for information at a moments notice. Some good in it, mostly bad. Please read the article and comment to us about it.

Posted 01/04/13 by AndyO
A New Year - and why do I have to start it out this way?  
More sharing of our personal information - whether we want it or not.
Google forces users to create a Google+ "page" that anyone can see.

I won't write a big thing about this. Please just read the article - while it's still available. Please stay away from social media and protect your personal information.

Posted on 11/12/12 by AndyO
Yet another Facebook problem arising   

Yes. Mr. Paranoia is out and about again. Click here to read the story.
This one talks about "people" on Facebook not being who they say they are, or having, multiple user IDs. Not unusual, since we've heard about this for years when talking about "Chat rooms". I want to add that Facebook isn't all bad, nor are other social networking web sites. If you only go to the pages/walls of people you know (if it's really them!), and only look at pictures, then you're probably safe.

If, however, while you are there, and reading about your friend's recent snowmobiling trip, you see an ad for snow boots or winter clothes, how do you know where that ad is going to take you?!? Well, you don't. Please don't be fooled by ads that are down the right side or pop up. even on a site that you trust, it doesn't mean the ads are to be trusted.

It may surprise you that even the most trusted company in the world, Google (cough, gag), has people and companies that pay it to put ads in front of you, that are very bad. But, hey! at least Google is making millions of dollars, right?

New psychological condition: Facebook Depression???
The Facebook Graph Search.
And more about "Graph Search" - change your profile and security settings. And, by the way, notice how this article says things are available for "friends" and "FRIENDS OF FRIENDS". This is one of the problems with Facebook - what if you DON'T want every one of your friends' friends seeing your stuff and profile? What if you don't like one of your friends' friends, or maybe they aren't as security-conscious as they should be? Hmmmm?
One last thing: if you read this article, read the user comments at the bottom. See/Hear what people are saying/thinking about some of Facebook's "features".

Posted on 8/4/12 by AndyO
Yet another Facebook story you should know about   

And, beleive it or not, I don't relish slamming Facebook, per se, just peoples' naivete that it's safe. Please wake up America - NOTHING free is good for one reason or another. They are ALWAYS getting something from you for their "free" service.
Most interesting to me in this story are not the stock price drops, but claims of fake accounts, "bots" (software robots) that click on ads so that advertisers get charged more, and its employees are leaving.
Read about it on "7 Ugly Truths About Facebook".

Posted 07/17/12 by AndyO
The big UPS/Battery Backup Question. Not a Simple Answer  

I just ran across a customer who wondered why the "battery backup" his computer was plugged into wouldn't keep the computer running when the power went off. He was rightly miffed that what some other computer consultant said was a good investment, didn't do its job. There were a few reasons this problem arose. Some on the part of the computer consultant, some on the part of the customer. Let's look at them:

(1) There is a bit of a difference between a true UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) and a "Battery Backup [power strip]" you can buy at Best Buy, Staples, Wal-Mart, etc. A true UPS is made to keep devices running when the power goes out. These have industrial batteries in them and you need to buy one with a power rating that is 50% more than the devices you plug into it will draw. A cheap "Battery Backup [power strip]" is, unfortunately, just a better-than-average power strip. Some have battery ratings of 250VA to 500VA, which might be OK for brown-outs, but when the power goes out, might keep your computer and monitor running for about 5 minutes. Not good enough in my book.

It is also important to pay attention to what you plug into the UPS/Battery Backup. Some have two rows of receptacles - one labeled "Battery Backup" and another labeled "Surge Suppression Only" or similar. Plug the computer and monitor into the "Battery Backup" jacks and everything else (speakers, inkjet printer, external USB backup disk, etc.) into the "Surge Suppression Only" jacks. ***NEVER plug a Laser Printer into a UPS or Battery Backup. Laser Printers will drain a UPS in a week. Plug them directly into the wall.***

Unfortunately, a computer's power is rated in Watts and a UPS is rated in VA (Volt Amps) of kVA (KiloVolt Amps). And don't forget - you want the UPS to keep the computer on for at least 30 minutes. One rule of thumb is to see what size power supply your computer has. Then add to that the power needs of all the peripherals you may plug in, then any USB devices you have plugged into the computer that the computer will have to power. Then add at least 50%. So, if you have a 400 Watt power supply, and some extra devices, and you want about 30 miutes of battery time, that'll come to about a 600VA UPS - minimum.

For a newer computer with a power supply of 600 Watts, and a lot of USB devices, and a monitor, you might be looking at a VA rating of 1000+. Servers are even worse, since they can have multiple disks, processors, heavy-duty motherboards, lots of cooling fans, etc. I try not to get anything lower than a 2000 for a server.

Good UPS brands are APC, TrippLite, Power King, and some others. Many have software that will automatically save/close your files and shut down the computer when the power goes out. Not a bad idea.

Don't forget that a UPS is a battery, that charges as it discharges (runs the computer). Every so often, you will have to "condition it" by unplugging the UPS from the wall, let it drain to nothing, then plugging the UPS in (with nothing plugged into it) and let the battery charge to full. Then plug everything back into it and go forward. Discharge, then charge while off overnight - just like your cell phone or laptop battery.

(2) Anyway, back to the customer. This PC had a 400 Watt power supply, had a monitor, had a laser printer pluged in, had 6 USB devices plugged in, and was situated in a desk such that the cooling fans were running full speed all the time. The "Battery Backup" device was rated at 400VA. It was destined to fail.

If you want to know what size UPS to get, ask a good computer consultant with some experience. I usually suggest that a normal PC have around an 800-1000VA unit, while servers need around a 2000VA unit or more, depending on peripherals. One other thing to mention - if you KNOW the power will be out, like a planned outtage from the electric company, then please shut down your computers. Especially servers. Having the power yanked from a comuter while it's running can cause great and grave problems for both the hardware and software.

Posted on 07/02/12 by AndyO
Surfing the Internet Anonymously 

You can't really surf totally anonymously, because then you wouldn't be able to log in to your on-line banking or shopping sites or Facebook (not a loss). Some of these sites need to remember who you are from page to page to keep giving you your personal data. Turning off cookies is the best way to do it if you don't want the web site to remember you or track your movements.
This article from Yahoo! Shopping adds some interesting facts about surfing that everyone should read. I can't endorse or say anything good or bad about the software they mention, but what they say about Facebookand Google is good information. Let me know what you think.

Posted on 06/13/12 by AndyO
If SmartPhones are so smart, why can't they make people smarter?!?  

Maybe it's my problem, but with the advent of SmartPhones (iPhones and Android-powered cell phones), people are getting dumber (no offense). Please don't ASSume that just because you have the power to text and get on the internet, that everybody automatically has the same capability.

I've had a number of calls lately asking me why I didn't fix a certain computer problem or call back. "Didn't you get my text?" No, I didn't. Why would you just ASSume I got your text? I can't afford the phones or services that give me unlimited voice, text, internet, etc. I also would rather talk directly to a person or customer. Since even most E-mails don't give me enough information do properly service a customer, why would a text with undecipherable abbrevations do better? No. Please call.

One other funny thing about SmartPhones is that our service providers (like the great SilverStar) don't give the phone user enough information to properly set it up. When I call you, your caller ID says "Little Pines". Way too many SmartPhones don't have a CallerID moniker set up so I know who's calling me, nor do they have a voice mail announcement message set up so I know who I am calling (...the party you have dialed is not answering...[that much I knew]). I'm sorry, but it's very aggravating if you recently changed from a land-line to cell phones only, and didn't give anybody your number.

As a last, added beef, it seems that as soon as a person gets your cell phone number, that's the only number they call from then on. I would rather get morning and evening calls on my home/office phone. Easier to talk and hear on, easier to hold on my shoulder while typing on my computer, and saves money on minutes and on battery life.

Please, everyone that just got a SmartPhone, set up a CallerID moniker, set up a voice mail announcement message, tell all your friends and business associates that you have a new number (better yet, let your old number direct people to the new number for a couple/few months), and don't ASSume everyone has the same phone plan or system and features that you do. Talk to people. Even our children are losing their social graces because they text instead of talk to people. Thank You.

Posted on 06/06/12 by AndyO
You Need Adobe Acrobat Reader X/10/11/12 to view this file  

No, you really don't, and it may even be bad to upgrade. Be aware that, while browsing the Internet, you may come upon web sites that tell you that "you need" the latest version of something to see their site or read a file. You don't. Adobe Acrobat Reader is the worst purveyor of this. Versions 9 and 10 (X) have been written mostly for the 64-bit and newer Operating Systems of Windows Vista and 7. Those of us who love Windows XP do not need Acrobat X (10) and it is a program that is so big (bloat-ware) that it slows down the machine terribly. Windows XP users should stay on version 8. It does everything versions 9 and 10 do, and runs much faster. Even if you then get an error that says that the PDF file you are trying to read has been created in a newer version and "you need" to upgrade to read it - they are lying. The Reader version 8 will read anything 9 and 10 have created. (There is one exception - forms. Some auto-fill-in PDF forms require a later version, but try the hint below before upgrading).

Other examples of these are "Microsoft Silverlight". The web site in question may say that "you need" Microsoft Silverlight to see the web site in all its glory - but you don't. And again, Silverlight was written for later Operating Sysytems, not for XP, and it slows down the machine to the point of screaming.

I will add to the examples list as I come across them, but as a rule, if a site says you need to download something, please try it without the download first. In fact, save the file to your C: drive and try to open it through "My Computer" or Windows Explorer. See what happens. Usually it will work just fine.

Posted on 06/01/12 by AndyO
Can Facebook get any worse about using our personal stuff in a bad way? Yes they can!!  

This teaches us a number of lessons: (1) Be extremely careful about what you "Like" on Facebook, (2) Be extremely careful what you type/write/say on Facebook, (3) Be extremely careful who your "Friends" are, and (4) Maybe we should start reading those EULAs (End User License Agreements) and Terms of Agreement/Service thingies (even though they are thousands of words long - Facebook's is 4000, according to this article).

Anyway, please click and read on...
And more about security - this story isn't so much about the "chain post" as what it says about Facebook's security...
Facebook's SocialCam shares all and what you see isn't for teenagers. How to turn it off.

Posted 05/10/12 by AndyO
How do I protect my information and prevent Identity Theft?  

Well, it's actually quite hard, expecially in our world today where all the "Social Network" stuff is so "important" to us, and when everything, including our bank accounts are "on-line". The main things we can suggest would be (in no specific order, and some may be repeats):

Do pick a complex combination of words with no relation to one another
Do include numbers, capital letters, and other characters when possible
Do pick a password you can remember without having to write it down
Do change your password frequently, or any time you feel your account may be the victim of a breach
Do not use names, specifically those of family members
Do not use common phrases or short passwords
Do not use the same password for multiple sites
Do not tell anyone your password under any circumstances
Do not rely on password managers to handle your info, they can be breached as well
Don't use the same passwords for important stuff as you do for unimportant stuff like Facebook,
Choose/create passwords with Capital Letters and numbers in them and don't put any birthdates or names of children or pets in your passwords,
Don't send any "sensitive information" through "public" or unencrypted software such as E-mail, chat, instant messaging, Skype, Google everything, etc.,
Don't save information on "cloud" servers or file-sharing programs (see "Share your files with anyone on-line" post below),
Don't click on links in an E-mail and put in any passwords (go directly to the web site itself and do that - see post below on Phishing E-mails),
When your computer asks you to "remember this password", not only click "No", but choose the "never" option,
And never give any important information to your children!!! (This is only a 50% joke!)
If anyone out there wants to suggest more ways to protect our information, please let us know and we'll post it. Also, we'll try to continually update this post with new info.

Stories to read:
How to Prevent ID Theft from Yahoo...
LinkedIn gets hacked and passwords stolen...

Posted on 04/12/12 by AndyO
A couple of things I was asked by a customer to post here:  

(1) Secure a document you want to share: If you share documents with others or you're a business and you want to send a document to another business or customer (contract, etc.), and you don't want them to be able to change it, you can download and install a free PDF Creator program that allows you to "print" your document to a printer driver that saves the printout as a file - a PDF file. You can't change a PDF file. With some of these programs you can also put security features on the file such as inhibiting copy/paste functions, printing functions, export functions, etc., and you can require a password to open the file. Check features before downloading to get one that does what you want it to do, and to make sure it's free, instead of a 30-day trial. My favorite is called "PDF Creator" by SourceForge and you can download it at the link provided. Other good ones are CutePDF and PrimoPDF.

(2) Screen Capture: Ever wish you could capture an error message before it goes off your screen? Well, you can! There is a "Print Screen" key (sometimes it says "PrtScn" or similar abbreviation), usually found in the upper-right corner of a PC keyboard or above the navigation keys (Home, PageUp, End, etc.) If you just hit the PrintScreen key, or do "CTRL + PrtScr", it will capture your whole screen. If you do an "ALT + PrtScr", it will just capture just the Active Window. This is like doing a "Copy" of your screen to the Windows Clipboard. You can hten run a word processor or phot editor program and "Paste" the screen shot into a document or JPG file. Then you can have it for when you call us to fix your machine! One thing to be aware of: word processing programs have margins. You should set your page to have the smallest margins possibe before Pasting the screen shot in, so it will be as large as possible.

Posted on 03/15/12 by AndyO
Add some more to the "losing our privacy and personal information" list:
Another Facebook privacy problem...

Posted on 02/18/12 by AndyO
For those who still think I'm paranoid, here are stories and reports that Google is tracking your on-line movements and accessing your contacts list/address book. While these focus on the Safari browser and the Apple iPhone, this is just the tip of the iceberg.




Posted on 02/02/12 by AndyO
Has anyone seen or heard of those "great deals" like:
- Free on-line backup! Back up your files on-line and never have to worry!
- Share your files with anyone on-line! Safe! Secure! Free!

Well, once again, what seems too good to be true definitely is, and what they say is free is not really.
Is it free? Well, yes, you may not have to give them money, but you give them access and all rights to use your files and information for whatever purpose they want. Most of them read through files to get personal information to sell to their marketing departments, subsidiaries, business partners, or worse.

What/which are these programs? Well, in the file sharing arena they're programs/companies like Google Docs, DropBox, KeepAndShare, ShareFile, Egnyte, and most anything that uses the term "cloud computing".
In the on-line backup arena they're programs/companies like My PC Backup, SOS Backup, iDrive, ADrive, BeeCloud, AVG, My Other Drive, and names we trust like Norton Backup, Microsoft's Private Cloud, and Seagate's Carbonite.

Are there ones we CAN trust? Well, that depends on where your data ends up. If it's on some company's server that they control, probably not. If it's on a server that YOU control? Maybe. LPI resells Mosey Pro online backup because we paid for the program and have it installed on OUR servers. We control the security and access.

Keep in mind the tell-all: If it's FREE there MUST be a catch. Can anyone afford to set up a server ($4K-$10K), have a fast internet connection ($80/mo), and allow users to save Gigabytes of data on it FOR FREE?!? If you want a truly safe and secure on-line library/file sharing/backup program. Give us a call. We do it right.

Posted on 12/05/11 by AndyO
Network Printers Hackable 

It has come to my attention recently that there are articles informing us that networked printers are "hackable" and that they can even cause problems on other machines. This is half true and half false.
First, see this article:

Now, some of this is true - printers that are attached to "the internet" and/or that are monitored by your printer company for fuser use and ink/toner levels can, in fact, be hacked and compromised. ANY device you allow to have an "open port" for communication can have a hacker use that same port or piggy-back on an open session/connection.

What can be done is to make sure your printer is attached to your NETWORK but NOT the internet. When you give your printer an IP Address to be able to communicate on your network (and all your computers as well), you also have to give it a "Subnet Mask" address which tells it which group of computers it can "see" or communicate with, and then there is a third address called a "Gateway" address. This address is usually your Router and tells the network computers the "route" to the internet. Don't put this address in your printers and they won't know how to get "out" of your local network.

Another way to protect your business is to have a firewall [that is configured correctly] that can block communication to any open ports on any machines. If you have any questions, or to have your network checked for these things, please call or E-mail us.

Posted 11/30/11 by AndyO
Social Networks Track Our Movements  

I know that, much to the dismay of many of my customers and friends, I'm a bit of a "social-network-xenophobe", but it's not without good reason.
Far too many of our present day web sites and devices can track where we go on the internet, ostensibly to track our buying habits, but many also collect our keystrokes and search our computers for files and information. Anti-Virus/Firewall programs cannot stop this activity becuase we give these programs permission to do whatever they want by not blocking them.

Facebook isn't the worst yet - LinkedIn, MySpace, Twitter, and others are worse - but Facebook will GET worse, since they command 80% of the whole Social Networking market and they will soon be a public company instead of private (they will have to appease stockholders that will be more interested in profits than function). The bigger the company, the more they'll compromise our privacy to make money. And you shouldn't need any software installed on your computer to see Facebook pages. If it wants to install a program on your computer, don't let it. It's just another way to collect your data.

Also be aware of "Ad Trackers", the worst of which are DoubleClick and others. If you see something pop up that says " wants to put a cookie on your machine" or similar, please don't allow it. Unfortunately, you might not get to that web site you just typed in, but that's not much of a loss.


Facebook Tracking Even When You're Logged Out: 

FTC Sanctions Facebook: 

SmartPhones/iPhones Tracking: 

Facebook's Reputation problem: 

Posted 11/09/11 by AndyO
Beware of E-mails that say they are a "Scan from Xerox WorkCentre #524342" or similar.

These are probably SPAM or worse. If you are not waiting to receive these, delete them. Also, notify any reputable businesses you are receiving scans-through-Email from that they should change the "Subject" to reflect their actual business name. To send a generic subject is very unprofessional.

Be aware of E-mails that say they are a DHL/UPS/Fed-Ex Shipping Notification, or delivery failure notification, especially if you are not expecting a package with tracking, or if they have an attachment that has a file extension of ".EXE". ".ZIP". or ".VBS" (NOTE: If you don't see file extensions, turn them on!). If you do get a package tracking notification, it should have a link in it to the tracking information, not an attachment (although, that brings up another problem - the link that takes you to a bad web site). And if they ever send an attachment, it should be a ".PDF".


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