News from Apple

As you may have heard last week, Apple will be discontinuing iTunes. When they release macOS Catalina, they will have three new apps to take the place of iTunes: music, TV, podcasts. No longer will you be able to use all three in one app. You will still be able to access everything you have in iTunes via these apps. iCloud will still sync everything across devices as well.

Apple music will also be able stream music on your Mac through the music app. The TV app will have movies, shows, and premium channels. They also say Apple TV+ is coming soon. You will be able to listen to your podcasts with the podcast app. Since it can sync across your devices, you can start on one device and finish on another.

Other things new that will be coming with the new OS is a rebuilt Reminders app. You will be able to add attachments to reminders. The start page will have an update and will add Siri Suggestions. There will something called Sidecar that allows you to use your iPad as an extended screen. You can work on one and display on the other or mirror the screens. Also with Sidecar, you will able to use the Apple Pencil to work on supported apps. Screen Time is also going to be available on Mac. There will also be enhanced security on the Mac. There are accessibility enhancements such as Voice Control, omm the second display, Hover Text to make some text larger and more readable.

Find out more: https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/
https://www.apple.com/macos/catalina-preview/features/

Watch the WWDC 2019 Keynote from Apple:

Rubik’s Cube

The Rubik’s Cube has been around since the 70s. Invented by a Hungarian professor named Erno Rubik, his first prototype was made in 1974. When he had built his first cube, it took him a month to solve it. He got his patent in 1975 for his “Magic Cube”. In 1979, it was presented to toy fairs in various countries.

Tom Kremer, a toy specialist with a passion, convinced the Ideal Toy Company to pick this up as a product. The first thing they did was change the name from Magic Cube to Rubik’s Cube and launched it in 1980. By 1981 it was a world-wide craze. Through the years it has been reworked and made even faster. In 2017 they released the Rubik’s Speedcube.

They have a step-by-step guide on solving the Rubik’s cube.

Here is Business Insider’s Guide:

Google Honors Memorial Day

If you had a chance to log onto Google yesterday, Memorial Day 2019, you will have noticed something different about Google. Instead of the primary color logo, Google went gray for the day. They even had a light gray background at 3:00 pm. They asked for you to join them at 3:00 pm wherever you were to observe a National Moment of Remembrance. You could play taps with the link they provided.

Clicking on the folded flag under the search input would take you to this blog post.

MS Paint

Remember Microsoft Paint? Usually it is disparaged by people, especially those who have access to something more powerful like Photoshop.

Microsoft has added some new features to MS Paint that are to be included in the Windows 10 May 2019 update. The most key new feature is that the keyboard will be used as the primary input. This will give users the added ability to draw only with their keyboard.

In keeping with the accessibility features, they have also improved the way Paint interacts with screen readers like Windows Narrator.

See more information along with the keyboard shortcuts illustrated.

Want More Alexa?

If you run Windows 10, you can have her! More powerful than Windows’ Cortana, you can have her run on your PC now. Just say “Alexa” and start speaking.

You will have to give permissions to your microphone. You will also have to sign in with your Amazon account. Alexa will listen in the background and you can access it just like Amazon Echo.

So what happens if you have the Alexa app on a Kindle, an Amazon Echo, and you put this on your PC? Well, we wondered too and found this on Amazon.com Basically it says the closest one will respond. Some content and settings are shared but not all. While it may not work the way you intend or is different than the Echo device, it may be helpful.

Car Hacking

The Victor crew has written about car hacking before. It seems to have escalated to apps being used to hack some cars now. Breaking into certain GPS Tracking apps, the hacker claims to have the ability to even stop engines, as reported by MotherBoard.

The apps he has hacked, called iTrack and ProTrack, are two apps where companies can monitor and manage their fleet vehicles. The hacker found that the apps have default password of 123456 when they sign up. The hacker said he was trying to target the companies, not the users.

Both apps are made in China.

Zero-Day Internet Explorer Vulnerability

First of all – what does zero-day mean? It is the day a vulnerability was found. If a bug was around for 10 days it would be a 10-day vulnerability. Usually a fix will be developed in the form of a patch or workaround.

A zero-day exploit means an attack takes place the day a vulnerability is discovered.

On March 30, 2019, two zero-day vulnerabilities were discovered in Microsoft EDGE and Internet Explorer. Without getting too technical, the behind the scenes code of the browser can occur when you visit a malicious site and some of the same origin policy code allows other sites to intervene. When working correctly, it would prevent other sites from accessing your information.

Another vulnerability is related to MHT files. Internet Explorer can still read MHT files. If you are using Outlook, you may see this above an email: “If there are problems with how this message is displayed, click here to view it in a web browser.” It will then open in IE even if you are using Windows 10 with Edge. If the MHT file is infected you will have problems.

To prevent programs from opening IE, you can go into “Programs and Features” in Control Panel and then to “Turn Windows features on or off” and uncheck Internet Explorer 11. Restart your computer.

Trend Micro Blog

Google tricks and “Easter Eggs”

Once upon a time back in the beginning of HTML and website coding, there was blinking code and marquee code and a lot of other things that have gone by the wayside and become obsolete.

At one time you would just put around the code you wanted to show blinking and blink away it would.

There is a little “easter egg” in google search that can bring a little bit of it back in the search results. Just type in “blink html” in the search box and you will see all result words “html” and “blink” actually blinking.

We were curious of what other “easter eggs” we could find. One said to type “askew” in the search box. We found a link to https://elgoog.im/tilt/ which showed a tilted google page. When we entered a search term, it showed a mirror image of google results with it going from right to left.

Another said to type in “recursion” and the only thing we found is “Did you mean: recursion” which I guess in itself is a recursion. If you type “anagram” it will say “Did you mean nag a ram”.

This link shows the Google page backwards: https://elgoog.im/
This one does a barrel roll: https://elgoog.im/doabarrelroll/
This is a zerg rush that shows little circles erasing the page and then shaping two G’s. You are supposed to click on the little circles before it destroys the whole page. https://elgoog.im/zergrush/
Zip apart the Google page: https://elgoog.im/zipper/

Do you want a Narwal?

Not the mammal. The robot mop and vacuum. What sets this apart from other robotic floor cleaners is that it is self cleaning. It has Lidar Navigation Technology to map your floorplan. You can use the app to schedule and customize your cleanings. When it is done cleaning your floor, it will return to its base and clean the mops and dry them.

It has capacity enough to clean a 3200 sq ft floor. Right now it is still in KickStarter – it now has far outreached its goal. You can still sign up for the early bird version.

Update – new video:

April Fools Day 2019

So where are all the jokes? It seems there haven’t been as many jokes this year. However, here are some places you can find some jokes that have been aggregated from around the web:

DIGG
April Fools Day on the Web
Snopes
Tech Crunch

Some of the jokes include Google Files screen cleaner, Hasbro ditching Mr Potato Head for Mr Avo Head (avocado), the OnePlus warp car, and 450 pound dog to name a few.

A lot of Australian people were bummed this wasn’t a real thing:

Do you have a Chromebook?

Some of us may have purchased a Chromebook. It may have been out of curiosity or maybe you just wanted a lightweight “laptop” to just scan your email and surf the Internet. There really isn’t much more you can do with it. If you are “techie” you can install a flavor of Linux to run along with the Chrome OS. The thing about a Chromebook is that the OS is Chromium.

When you do anything on a Chromebook, it is all in the cloud – nothing is on the computer. Now, when it updates, you just get a little message that says to push a button to restart and it comes right back, you log into Chrome again and it’s updated very quickly.

There are limitations on what you can do with them. For instance, I can stream Netflix through the Chrome browser on it, but Prime Video won’t play. The only place you can save files is in your Google Drive.

Google has an Auto Update Policy about their updates. As technology advances and hardware becomes old or outdated, they cannot guarantee the software updates will run any longer. With that in mind, they have set a time limit on updates for Chromebooks. If you have a Chromebook, you can check the date here. It has a list by Manufacturer then Model. I happen to have an HP Chromebook 14, which looks like I cannot get updates past June this year. If it still runs, then that’s fine. If not, I can always install Linux over it and see if that will run.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp Outage

Last Wednesday, Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp were down for many users around the globe. It turned out to be the longest outage they ever had. As a Twitter user, I saw many people complaining on that platform. In fact, we saw a few people had even just signed up for Twitter so they could complain about Facebook or Instagram.

Facebook even took to Twitter to let people know what was going on. At 1:49 pm, they acknowledged they were having problems. At 3:03 pm, they confirmed that it was not a DDoS attack. On Thursday afternoon, they said the problems was due to a server configuration change that caused the problem.

Facebook Outage

Many people took to complaining on some sites that report outages, sometimes even showing a map so you can see how widespread the problem is.
You can check which sites are down at these places:
https://downdetector.com/
https://www.isitdownrightnow.com/

Happy Pi Day!

Pi Day is coming up this week. The date is 3/14 and happens every year. Some places even offer Pi Day deals. People celebrate it in various ways. Maybe they will make a pie with the pi symbol on top; perhaps they will go out for pizza pie; maybe even participate in pie throwing contests.

Pi Day was founded in 1988 by Larry Shaw, a physicist. Why 3/14? Well, duh – Pi is approximately 3.14159… It also happens that it is the birthday of Albert Einstein. Pi is a number that is used in calculating the circumference of a circle.

Sources:
https://www.piday.org/
https://www.history.com/news/where-did-pi-day-come-from

Future Microsoft Excel Feature

Ever wish you could more easily put a table in Microsoft Excel instead of typing all those fields or trying to copy and paste? If you have Microsoft 365, you are in luck. Over the next few months, they will be rolling out a new feature that allows you to insert data from a picture.

You will open the Excel app on your phone or tablet, and tap the “Insert data from picture” button to start. Then you would capture the data you want to import within the box borders shown and you can change the size around the image to make sure you get it all. Using its AI engine, Excel will convert it to a table. You can correct the data by tapping on Edit or continue by tapping Ignore if it detects errors. You can then Insert the data. Excel will convert the data to the spread sheet.

Source

Gmail Apps Update

In the past week, the Gmail app has been updating across all platforms. It went to Android users first and just rolled out for iOS users. It will take a little getting used to.

As a heavy Gmail user, I currently have 3 accounts on my device. I used to touch the hamburger menu icon (the three bars) to open up the side panel and see all my labels and switch accounts. Instead, they have added the icon for the account you are currently in at the top with the “Search mail” box above the messages list panel on the left.

The entire app looks more “white” as well. There are three list densities to choose from: Default, Comfortable, and Compact. Default will show who it’s from, a small logo on the left, subject and the first part of the email and show if there are attachments. Comfortable will remove the attachments from the list view. Compact will only show who it’s from and the subject line (no logo, but it will show a checkbox to allow you to move or delete). You may need to play with it to look the way you want.

To compose a new email, you will see a colorful plus sign over the message list. Even though the app had updated, I had to hard close the current app and reopen in order to get the new one.

Gmail Default View
Gmail Default View Settings
Gmail Comfortable View
Gmail Comfortable View Settings
Gmail Compact View
Gmail Compact View Settings

Gmail – some features

There are a few newer features added to Gmail in the past year or so that can be annoying to some, helpful to others.

Gmail NudgesOne newer feature is called Nudges. Do you forget to answer emails? Gmail can nudge you now to answer the email. I had noticed there was an older email (4 days old) that I wanted to wait to answer. All of a sudden the email was at the top again. In the subject line there was orange print that said “Received 4 days ago. Reply?” You can choose to reply or even “snooze” the email. If you snooze it, it will go into a new folder called “Snoozed”. This can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

“Smart Reply” is another newer feature. The first time I saw it, I was a little confused because I hadn’t read anything about it. These are the words that show up at the bottom of an email that allow you to choose a canned response. For instance, based on words in the email (yes that’s creepy), I’m looking an email that ends “How’s that sound?” and the canned response choices are: “Sounds good to me.”, “Sounds like a plan.”, and “Sounds great!” So I could choose any one of these quick replies. I can usually tell when I’ve gotten one of these from somebody. These Smart Replies can be enabled or disabled in Settings. This picture shows the instructions for disabled from your iOS device.

Another newer feature is the “Hover Actions” where you can hover over the email list and delete or label while in the list. This action can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

You can now add a split view to Gmail where you can see the list of mail on the site and a pane with email to the side or top of it (horizontal split or vertical split). If you have a wide screen, it makes it nice to work with.

Gmail

If you have a gmail account, did you know that your email address can also have dots in it and you’ll still get it? For example, if your address johndoe@gmail.com, it won’t matter if you send to john.doe@gmail.com. You can even send it to j.o.h.n.d.o.e@gmail.com and still get it. Most mail systems do not allow this. Apparently this has been like this for some time.

We found out recently when we saw an article from ZDNet about how scammers are exploiting this by registering for different websites under your email but adding the dots. It may be sites like Netflix, Amazon.com, or eBay. They would see the dotted account email as a different one.

One group has used a variation to obtain credit cards. They have filed tax returns, registered for trial accounts, USPS change address requests, collecting Social Security benefits, apply for unemployment benefits, and apply for FEMA disaster relief.

The article brought out two other things that could be exploited. First, Google allows + signs – you can send email to johndoe+someword@gmail.com and johndoe@gmail.com will get it. Second, before gmail.com it was googlemail.com and if you use johndoe@googlemail.com, johndoe@gmail.com will still get it. Yes this has been tested and confirmed.

Collection #2-5 Breach

Just a couple weeks after Collection #1 Breach was identified, there come Collection #2-5 Breaches. There are an estimated 2.2 billion unique accounts compromised in this breach.

The site we usually check for breaches (HaveIBeenPwned.com) has not been updated yet. In the meantime, you can use the Hasso-Plattner Institute’s tool to check. When you enter your email into this tool, it will email you a report of what has been found in a breach.

Once again, we want to stress that you use a password manager, use hard to type or guess passwords, use 2FA where available.

Gone Phishing

Phishing Quiz
You’ve gotten those emails asking to click on something. It could be to learn how to make more money, or maybe someone has your information, or something that really looks legitimate. They prey on people hoping to get more of your personal information.

Google’s Jigsaw unit has a phishing quiz. The Victor crew suggests you take it to see if you can spot some phishing emails/sites. It is only 8 questions long but it may help you be on the ball. You start out by making up a name and email for the quiz. Some are phishing and some are legitimate. See if you can spot the imposters:

Take the quiz

Source: Google Blog

Collection #1 Breach

There was a new breach found last week and reported by Troy Hunt on January 17, 2019. This one is a massive breach where a collection of emails and passwords of over 2.5 billion rows of combinations. There were over 1.1 billion of these as unique combinations found possibly due to emails being in both upper case and lowercase. There were a total of of over 700 million unique email address with passwords.

Perhaps you are no longer using a particular email that was found in the breach. Or maybe your password has been changed. Chances are you are or were a little lax about your passwords and re-used them on different sites.

You can use Troy’s site https://haveibeenpwned.com to check to see if your email has been found in any breaches. You can use this page to check to see if a password you are using has been in any breaches: https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords

We recommend you use a password manager and let it generate secure passwords for you. You would only have to remember that one password and can have access to all your passwords and sync them to your devices. Some managers even offer storage of sensitive documents.

Read Troy Hunt’s article here.

Microsoft Edge Browser

Last week we posted about some different browsers out there. It seems Microsoft has been actively trying to embrace the open source software community. They recently bought GitHub, a repository used for years by people to store their open source projects.

Last month, they decided to adopt the Chromium open source project to re-develop their Microsoft Edge browser. Many browsers are already built on Chromium, such as Chrome, Opera, Brave, Vivaldi, and Yandex just to name a few.

Some of their reasons make sense. One is web compatibility. When developing websites, developers have to check their sites in at least four browsers to make sure they look right in all of them. This will make it easier by removing one that is often difficult.

Sources
Windows Blog

MakeUseOf.com

What’s Your Favorite Browser?

My mind is like my Internet browser – at least 19 tabs are open, 3 of them are frozen, and I have no idea where the music is coming from.

~ Anonymous

What browser do you use? Do you use the default browser that comes with your computer? Or do you immediately download your favorite browser and use that? If you have a Mac, you get Safari browser. If you get a PC, you get (these days) Microsoft Edge. Many people use Chrome or Firefox in addition to the default browser. Did you know there are many more browsers out there?

At one time, many used Netscape or Lynx – Lynx was the first browser. Netscape went away in 2008. Other defunct browsers were Chimera which became Camino, Mozilla, which became SeaMonkey, Phoenix, which became Firebird.

In addition to the above browsers, there is Opera, IE (for users with older PCs), Maxthon, Lunascape, Firefox for Developers, and NetSurf.

There are some lesser known browsers as well like Brave; Vivaldi; Dillo; Konqueror; Epiphany, the Gnome web browser for Linux; Midori; K-Meleon; Pale Moon, forked from Firefox; AdBlock has their own browser; and you can also browse within some applications on your mobile device like in LastPass.

Lynx has been around since 1993 and Opera since 1994. IE came out in 1995. In 1996, Mac came with Mac IE. Firefox has been around since 2002. Chrome came about in 2008.

Wikipedia – timeline of browsers

Kids and Alexa

There are a lot of funny videos of kids trying to get Alexa to do things. Sometimes they are hard for even humans to understand so they are harder for Alexa to understand.

Here is a boy asking Alexa a math question from this past week:

Here is a girl checking her homework:

Here is a boy checking his homework from about 2 years ago:

Here is a little boy trying to play music but gets more than he bargained for:

Here is a little girl asking for Baby Shark:

Here is a compilation of kids talking to Alexa:

This young lad wants Alexa to tell him if she likes Christmas, to clean the kitchen and remember when he was younger:

Why NORAD tracks Santa

We already knew that NORAD would track Santa every year but didn’t know the story behind the “why”.

It seems back in 1955, Sears and Roebuck printed an ad but had an incorrect phone number in the ad asking kids to call Santa direct. When children called in, the number rang to a secret red phone on the desk of Colonel Harry Shoup of the Continental Air Defense Command, which has since been renamed to NORAD. Only a four-star general and Colonel Shoup had this number. They were afraid of something dire when that phone rang.

Colonel Shoup thought the call to be a prank when a child asked to speak to Santa, but then when the child that called started to cry, he realized there may be an issue. The child’s mother came to the phone to straighten it out. It has become a tradition and now NORAD tracks Santa and keeps track as Santa delivers every Christmas. You can get an app to track him or do it through the website: https://www.noradsanta.org.

Why NORAD Tracks Santa.jpg
By NORAD Public Affairs, Bob Jones – http://www.noradsanta.org/en/whytrack.html, Public Domain, Link

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE VICTOR CREW!