Firefox Quantum

Firefox just got faster. Two times faster. This past week, Firefox updated to Firefox Quantum (Version 57.0.) There are two versions – one for regular browsers and one for developers. It is built on a new engine for better and faster page loading. It also will use less memory than previously, and they say it is 30% lighter than Chrome.

It has built in privacy modes. You can block even hidden trackers by turning on tracking protection. When you block the ads and scripts that are bogging you down, the page loads even faster.

If there’s a page you want to see later, you can save it to Pocket to view later. There is a library where it will place these articles as well as your bookmarks. You can search with other search engines with just a click. You can also customize it with themes or placement of icons for your tools and addons. You can take screenshots without adding an extension – it’s built right in.

Distracted Walking Laws

So various places are adding “Distracted Walking” laws to try to prevent people from texting or just reading their phones while walking.

The latest place to pass this law was Honolulu. They have started passing out tickets to those distracted while walking in a crosswalk. They are the first major city in the U.S. to pass such a law. Minimum fines will be $15 but repeat offenders can look at $75-$99. (Even higher rates of $100 for first, $200 for second, and $500 for third offenses were previously considered.)

The Mayor of Honolulu says that they had more pedestrians hit in crosswalks than almost anywhere else.

Ontario Canada is looking to pass a “Phones Down, Heads Up Act” as well to make it illegal to cross a street while using a phone.

npr.com
treehugger.com

Adventures in Wikipedia

I’m sure everyone has looked up something in Wikipedia at one time or another. Kevan Davis, a developer in London, has developed a Wikipedia game called Wikipedia: the Text Adventure.

You choose where you want to start and it brings up information from Wikipedia. You can choose one of the locations offered or put something in. You can then choose where to go from there from the offerings it gives. You would type “go ” and then the direction choice from the list. Example: go northeast.

To leave and go to another adventure, you would type exit then yes. Check it out: http://kevan.org/wikitext/

Tech Movie: The Internship

It’s a few years old now, but if you haven’t had the chance to see it, The Internship is quite entertaining. It costars Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn as two washed up salesmen, who lost their jobs to the digital world, trying to figure out a new career path. They decide to try for an internship at Google.

So here are two guys in their mid-forties trying to land an internship against a bunch of 20-somethings. To them it was like having their dads with them. What makes it even more interesting is their lack of tech-savviness against the younger generation but they do bring their life experiences. You will see some Google products in the credits such as Google Drive, Translate, Google+, and more.

Whaling Attacks

We recently came across the term “whaling” so of course, we needed to know more about it. Here is what the Victor crew found out. It is a form of phishing aimed at high-profile business executives, managers, CEOs, etc. They are going after the “big fish.” The emails sent to them are more official looking and target a particular person. A regular phishing attack usually goes out to a lot of people trying to lure anyone. Whaling is also considered “spear phishing” where it is an attempt to target an individual person or company.

As with phishing, whaling is used to get a person to reveal sensitive information, such as login credentials, to an account. They do this by trying to scare the individual into giving this information up.

Whaling goes so far as to make a web page or email that looks like the legitimate one. You may even be enticed into downloading a program in order to view a page or to get your information. It may come in the form of a false subpoena, message from the FBI, or some kind of legal complaint against you.

Be aware of what you are clicking. If you can, hover over the link and see where it is taking you. Try putting the URL in an analyzer, such as VirusTotal or TrendMicro to see if it is safe. If in doubt, don’t click or download anything you are unsure of.

Your Wi-Fi is probably vulnerable

It has recently been found that WPA2 protocol is vulnerable to hacking. They are known as Krack Attacks (Key Reinstallation AttaCKS) and there is a website where you can learn more about it. It is found that Android and Linux are most vulnerable to this exploit. They can be tricked into reinstalling an encryption key with all 0s that will allow them to enter your network and then get to sites you visit and capture your login credentials.

If you watch the video below you will see it is a rather involved process to actually crack into the network but that doesn’t stop someone who is intent on getting into your network.

There isn’t a whole lot you can do because this vulnerability bypasses any security measures. Some of the more simple things you can do is not use unsecure Wi-Fi. Ever. Keep your firmware to your router updated. Do not downgrade to even more insecure protocols like WPA or WEP.

Tech movie: The Circle

We love tech movies. The Victor crew recently got to see The Circle. The main characters are played by Emma Watson (Mae) and Tom Hanks (Bailey). Mae leaves her hum-drum job join a tech/social media company called the Circle.

At first Mae is reticent about sharing her life but is pushed by co-workers to push the boundaries and become more transparent. As she becomes more transparent, she rises through the ranks from customer service to being part of the “inner circle.” She eventually has people all over the world following her, getting to know her, her friends, her family, and all she does.

As the movie moves along, eventually tragedy happens. Without giving away the full plot, through this tragedy and people she meets, she exposes the top people of the Circle and keeps them from hiding their secrets.

The taglines: Knowing is good. Knowing everything is better.
Some other lines are: Secrets are lies. Sharing is caring. Privacy is theft.

The movie trailers:

A new way to call

Last week, Amazon announced new devices. Among the new devices are the Echo Show, costing $229.99. This is a more triangular device with a screen. It allows you to make video calls as well. They are offering $100 off if you buy 2 devices with code SHOW2PACK. You can actually watch flash news briefings, see lyrics of songs, security cameras, just to name a few.

Other new devices are a shorter new Echo, the Echo Plus and the 4K Fire TV device. Also announced was the Echo Connect, Echo Buttons, and BMW partnership. The Echo Connect is an accessory to link Echo to home phone line. It costs $35 and is coming later in the year.

If you already own an Echo, Echo Dot, or Echo Show, effective immediately you can make phone calls. It is supposed to work with your land line or your mobile phone.

Echo Show at Amazon.com

iOS 11

The Victor crew just updated their new iPad to iOS 11. Here are some first findings and reactions.

After the initial update, if you had fingerprint access enabled, you will still have to use your signin to get in. You will then need to enter your iCloud password.

You can have the dock hidden but pop it up from the bottom at any time.

You swipe the dock up from the bottom and continue the swipe to show the App Switcher. The App Switcher has a new design as well and shows all open apps in a grid pattern rather than having to scroll through to find open apps. You can still swipe an app in this grid pattern to hard close or reset an app.

The dock has a folder that shows recently opened documents. It also allows you to browse documents. You can add your iCloud, and if you have the apps – Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive, and any other file managers you may have downloaded within this folder area. Once you enable these drives, you may need to log into them again to access them there. You can also tag files with colors.

The dock has a separator bar. To the right of the bar it shows the recently opened apps and to the left of it, your permanently set apps. If you move an app from the right to the left, it seems to permanently disappear from the home screen.

The App Store has a new design.

Another change is the keyboard. Usually you click on the 123 to access numbers and some symbols. Now you can just pull down on the key that shows the numbers or symbols to access without changing the keyboard.

If you go to settings, you will see you can choose some apps to show up in the control center all the time.

Equifax Breach – What you can do

By now you’ve heard about the Equifax breach. Something you may want to do by November 21 is put a security freeze on your account. Until then, they are waiving fees to do this.

A security freeze is supposed to block outsiders from opening an account in your name. This is different from a fraud alert which will only notify you if someone opens an account in your name (even you).

A security freeze has you adding a PIN in order to make any changes. The three major credit monitors are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax.
Right now you can only put the freeze on Equifax for free. TransUnion and Experian will charge $10 for each. Currently there is legislation pending on making this free. If you are planning to buy a car or house you don’t want to freeze your credit just yet.

Equifax will not be calling you so if you get a call saying it is from them, it is most likely a scam.

If you enroll in their monitoring program, you would waive rights to sue if you are impacted by the breach.

Here are some links:
Equifax blog with explanation of the problem
How to put on and remove a freeze from your account
Form to fill out to get a PIN to freeze account

Deleting files

Sometimes you try to empty a folder or delete a file only to find out you can’t because something else is using it. XKCD pictures it like this:

empty file

Sometimes you think you have everything closed yet you still get this message. You may need to restart your PC to make sure all instances that may have been previously connected to it are now disconnected. Another thing you can try is a program called LockHunter. Once it’s installed, you right click on a folder or file and you will see “What is locking this folder?” or “What is locking this file?”
LockHunter

After you click that, you will see what is locking the file or folder. I right clicked on a Pictures folder and clicked “What is locking this folder?” After that, this came up:
LockHunter Dialog

I can now find out what is locking the folder and take the actions I need to try to remove it.

Other Uses for Social Media

Maybe you love, maybe you hate it but social media is here to stay. Many people used it as their lifeline during the past storm in Texas, known as Harvey. Many used Twitter or Facebook or Instagram to let people know they were in stuck and needed to be rescued. Still others used social media to let people know they were able to help.

The U.S. Coast Guard preferred for people to call them or 911 but people had trouble getting through. People even turned to Airbnb to offer their homes as shelters for those in need. The Hurricane Harvey Texas Rescue Facebook group offered ways to help those trapped or in need of rescue.

“Farm Fresh” Amazon

The Amazon and Whole Foods deal going through today is leaving its mark in a lot of different ways. Whole Foods prices are going down on a lot of items in an effort to allow more people to enjoy the benefits of organic foods. You may start seeing some Amazon devices on Whole Food shelves and Whole Food items on Amazon’s website.

Prices have been slashed on many items already. For example in New York it was reported that organic fuji apples went from $3.49/lb to $1.99/lb, avocados dropped $0.80 per lb, organic rotisserie chicken dropped $4.00/lb, and organic bananas went from $0.99 to $0.69 per lb.

The Amazon devices like Echo and Echo dot found in the Whole Foods stores are the same discounted prices found on their website right now.

The Victor crew plans to shop at one later this week and will report back any other findings.

Bloomberg
TechCrunch

Robotics

Robots

See SpotMini run! In this TedTalk by Marc Raibert of BostonDynamics gives a demo of how far robotics have come. He talks about dynamic mobility, balance, and mobile manipulation. He has a few demonstrations on video and live to show some things they have done to meet the goals of using robots.

In one demonstration, they show some examples of what might challenge the robots if faced with some obstacles keeping them from what they are trying to do. For his live demonstration he shows the different movements of SpotMini – a dog-like robot. He shows on the screen what the dog robot is seeing and how the robot plans where and how it will step.

Keep your browser extensions updated!

It is important to keep all software you use up to date. There are updates for a reason – most likely some of the code used was found to be vulnerable to attacks.

This past week, a popular extension was hijacked. The developer of the Web Developer for Chrome extension had his own account hijacked. The hijackers phished his Google account, then modified the code in his account and pushed it out to users. The version of Web Developer for Chrome that was pushed out is 0.4.9. You need to make sure you have the updated version 0.5 installed NOW!

The version the hijackers uploaded can force ads on pages, capture passwords, or other unreported problems. Consider changing passwords to pages visited during the time of the compromise. The date was August 2. The developer himself admits he fell for a phishing attack that started this. This effected over one million users.

The developer details the events in his blog. The bottom line is anyone can click on a bad link and it is important to have two-factor verification in place.

Passwords: should you use the one you want?

If you are looking for a password, you can check to see if the password you want to use has ever been used. Just go to the Have I Been Pwned website and look at the Passwords link. They now have a list of the passwords that have been breached. You can test your password against it and it will tell you if it’s been breached but it will also tell you it may not be a good password even if it’s not been breached.

Here is what you get if your password has been used before and found on a breach list:

Have I been pwned Pwned Passwords - yes

Here is what it looks like if it hasn’t:

Have I been pwned Pwned Passwords - no

About Blikis

So what is a bliki? The Victor crew came across this work and wondered. Well, in short terms it is a mashup of BLOG and WIKI. Blog is already a shortening of weB LOG. WIKI is a Hawaiian word meaning quick. So let’s look at all these terms.

What is a blog?
A blog is posts put on a site diary-style. People use them to report news, rant, keep journals, etc. They are quite popular. If you have a blog, you are probably the only who posts on it. Some blogs may have guest authors contributing or employees if it is a news blog. There are many popular blog softwares out there such as WordPress, Blogger, Typepad. In the case of WordPress, you can either use their blog at wordpress.com or download the software at wordpress.org and install it yourself using your own domain.

What is a wiki?
A wiki is usually run on wiki software. It generally doesn’t have just one owner or leader but rather is open to the public to edit or to a group of users to edit. This is not as carefully planned out since anyone can contribute. There may be misspellings, poor grammar, etc. Wikipedia is probably the most popular wiki. Wikis may also not be reliable as to its actual content as we are all humans and have our own opinions and experiences that may influence our contributions.

What is a bliki?
So now we come to explaining this. Some explanations are that it is a blog with wiki support, or a blog that allows others to edit and contribute. This goes beyond the usual comments only you would find on a regular blog. There are wiki plugins for WordPress.

iPhone Smuggling

iPhones bring many people joy. Their prices vary in different regions. They happen to be cheaper in Hong Kong than mainland China, due to taxes and levies, so people try to get them there. A woman was recently caught by customs trying to smuggle in 102 iPhones strapped to her body. She was also smuggling 15 luxury watches. The added weight came to about 44 pounds.

Unsure of what types she was carrying, if they all were the iPhone 7 Plus, she would have had over $78,438 in USD at the very least. For the full capacity iPhone 7 Plus, it would have come to $98,838 at $969 each.

It seems this is an ongoing thing in China. In January 2015, a man was arrested at customs for smuggling 94 iPhones. Just two months later in March 2015, another man was caught trying to smuggle 146 iPhones. Most people are caught with up to a dozen or so. Sometimes they are caught with more, but this number made international news. It’s easier to smuggle in colder weather because they can wear heavier jackets.

Sources:
Chinese smuggler caught with 102 iPhones strapped to her body, doesn’t beat the record …
Chinese iPhone smuggler caught with 94 iPhones strapped to his body
http://kotaku.com/smuggling-146-iphones-looks-difficult-1690990925

Windows 10 Creators Update: Tabs

By now, many have already chosen to update to the newest Creators Update for their Windows 10 machine. You can see what version you are running by going to Start >> Settings >> System >> About. The newest version is 1703. Before installing this version, you will be asked to review your privacy settings so you are not giving out any information you don’t want to. They will bring up a page of privacy settings to review. The privacy settings don’t go into effect until you actually install the Creators Update.

You can always visit your privacy settings after the update to further set your privacy preferences by going to Start >> Settings >> Privacy.

Here are some nice features you can only use with the Microsoft Edge Browser:
You can save tabs for later
You can pin tabs to your start menu
You can preview all open tabs either all at once or one at a time
You can sweep all your open tabs aside to use later
You can pin pages to open next time you come back

Ever wonder about your Internet speed?

Are there times when you aren’t sure you are getting the speed from your ISP that you pay for? Running a simple test on your computer will tell you. First you need to know that the speed you receive via a computer connected through an ethernet cable may be closer to what your ISP says you have and connections through Wi-Fi will be lower.

Why would you need to do these tests? Well if you are streaming and run into a lot of buffering problems or connection problems, you might want to take a look at your speeds. Are others in your household doing things that require more bandwidth such as streaming or gaming?

Here are a few sites you can test (we are supposed to have 75 mbps up and down with FiOS):

SpeedTest.net
BandWidthPlace.com
Many ISPs have a speedtest if you want to try them – in some cases you just the need the url of your ISP then add /speedtest/ to the end of it.

Here are some results from my test.

Speed test using Speedtest.net
Speed test using Speedtest.net

Internet Speed Test by Verizon
Internet Speed Test by Verizon

Speed Test HTML5 No App Needed
Speed Test HTML5 No App Needed

Digital Cameras

You’ve heard the term megapixel many times especially with regards to digital cameras. But what does the term actually mean and is bigger better? That’s what the Victor crew wants to know. Here is what we found out.

Early digital cameras had a poor resolution and didn’t compare to regular film cameras when they first came out. Some were only about one-third to half a megapixel. So a single megapixel is one million pixels. If you are using a one megapixel camera, you will have one million pixels in the image. So what is a good size? It depends on what you are going to do with the photos. If you are only going to view them online, one to three megapixels is fine. If you want 6×4 prints, you will need at least 2 megapixels. For larger 10×8 prints you would need to go to five megapixels and even larger 14×11 prints you will need to bump that up to seven megapixels.

How do you get away with a smaller size on a computer? Most monitors aren’t usually more than 2000×1000 pixels so that is only two megapixels. If you have a 4K monitor, that is eight megapixels. So you can get away with about a 6 megapixel camera in most cases. More pixels, however will give you cropping room. You do not have to turn in your camera for more pixels.

Source:
http://www.digital-photo-secrets.com/

Fireworks of the Future

Imagine your sitting on a blanket on the grass with your family nearby. You get ready to watch the Fourth of July drones? Ha! So some are re-imagining see the Fourth of July with drones. So what’s the upside of this? No smoke. No explosions. No air pollution. Maybe you can hear the music they could be flying to. May be even cheaper to run drones than to blow up 30 tons of fireworks for an eighteen minute display. The drones can be choreographed into amazing displays.

Now maybe instead of “Intel Inside” we can see “Intel Outside” as they develop this. Find out more.

Lost your keys?

Nothing gives a more sinking feeling than losing your keys. You’ve searched and searched and still can’t find them. Well, there are small finders that will help you find them. Just add these small trackers to your key ring and download the app to your phone and you’re good to go.

There are several on the market. Some work better with iOS than Android so you need to be careful of what you choose. Some even have a backward function where you can push a button on the tracker to find your phone. Some come in multiple sets and different colors.

You can find them on amazon.com as well as your local stores such as Best Buy. There are so many brands out there you will have to read the reviews and decide for yourself.

How do you listen to your tunes?

There are a lot of ways these days to listen to music these days. There are many streaming services these days. Most people stream or use their mp3 players. There are also home devices like Amazon Echo, Google Home, or coming soon, the Apple HomePod.

The Victor crew even knows someone who still orders CDs to play in their car? But what will happen when he buys a newer car? Many newer cars are starting to abandon them. It has been predicted that up to 46% of new cars will not have CD players by 2021.

You can use a lot of data if you stream from your car (if you don’t have a Wi-Fi service) so you’ll have to rely on your mp3 player, satellite radio, or built-in radio. If you insist on a CD player, you can purchase a portable one that could plug in with your auxilliary cable. Perhaps you can purchase a new car kit with a CD player.

We sure have come a long way from just AM radio. Next came FM. Remember the 8-track players of the 70s? Then they went away to make way for the cassette. Then the piles of cassettes were replaced by piles of plastic discs. Life is getting simpler where you don’t have to store all the discs, cassettes, or 8-tracks anymore.

The Price to say “Buh-Bye Ads!”

Don’t you just love it when you go to a website and you have all these things pop up, music blaring, or you’re reading something and along comes an annoying ad blocking you. There are two sides to this. Some people make their living from these ads. But for the user, it’s no picnic.

Google has joined the Coalition for Better Ads. This coalition has guidelines that should be followed when designing ads for a website. They plan on building a new Chrome browser with this ad-blocking built in. It won’t block all ads and you may only get the most annoying ads from showing.

The up side: maybe you will see fewer annoying ads.
The down side: someone will be making money from this. On the Google post, they mention Funding Choices where publishers can show a customized messages to people who are using ad blockers on their browsers. They can either enable ads or pay for removing the ads on that site through a new Google Contributor program.

So how does Google Contributor work? You buy a $5 pass for a particular website. The site has a per-page fee of their choosing (some are $0.01 per page, some $0.03 per page.) Every time you visit a page without ads, it deducts from the pass. You can add or remove sites from your pass at any time. This is still in beta at this time. They plan the rollout some time in 2018.

Google Post about Ad Blocking
Google Contributor