The New Gmail

Gmail rolled out the new Gmail recently. We thought we’d give it a try. It didn’t really look any different once we set it up. Until we wanted to check in our contacts. We no longer could just click on the name Gmail on the top left to get to our contacts. This meant a Google search to try to find it.

Here is where it is – on the top right is the app grid. Find contacts in there. You may need to move it up to the top so you can access them quickly. If Contacts icon doesn’t show, click More at the bottom of the first page and you should see it on the second. You can simply grab it and move it to the top.

The first image shows the grid without the Contacts app. The second image shows it on the second page under More. The third shows the Contacts app on the top right.

Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid Gmail App Grid

Another difference we found is that Labs was missing. Labs were experimental addons you could enable to try different things.

Does Windows 10 really shut down?

Windows 10 uses something called fast startup mode. By default, this is enabled and it does just that – allows you start up faster. What you are really doing instead of shutting down is hibernating. It caches everything so it will all load faster when you “turn it back on.”

To control what happens you can go to Control Panel > Power Options > and click “Choose what the power button do” and you can change what you want to do. If you are on a laptop, you can choose what happens when you close the lid as well.

If you really want to shut down, you will have to do a restart. This makes the old “if you have problems, reboot” really mean it.

If you are feeling adventuresome, you can create your own power plan as well.

Windows Defender Browser Protection

There is an extension for the Chrome browser called Windows Defender Browser Protection. It extends your Defender protection to include your browser. It will keep you from accidentally clicking to phishing site. You can also turn the protection on or off. If you click to a link from an email it will help by reporting to you that the website is unsafe.

After you install it on your browser, you will see a small defender icon on the top of your browser. You can click it and then you will see the dropdown (shown below). You can turn on or off temporarily.

Windows Defender Chrome Addon

Get the extension for Chrome here.

Learn more about how it works from Microsoft.

Duolingo

Duolingo is a way to learn another language online…for free. You can do it through your browser or their app. They have Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Japanese (Beta), Dutch, Swedish, Irish, Turkish, Norwegian, Danish (we like cheese, please), Polish, Korean (Beta), Hebrew, Greek, Chinese, Vietnamese, Esperanto, Welsh, Ukrainian, Hungarian (Beta), Romanian, Swahili, High Valyrian (really?), Czech (Beta), Klingon (Beta). Indonesian, Hindi, and Arabic are also in the works and coming soon. These are listed in order of how many people are currently learning these languages. Spanish has the most with 120 million people learning.

Wait! Klingon? Yes they have Klingon in Beta with 40.6K learners already. All these languages are currently on the website but not all are available through their apps yet.

The languages offer different rates of learning. They start at Casual for 5 mins per day, then Regular is 10 mins per day, Serious level is 15 mins per day and Insane is 20 mins per day. They will gear the lessons to your time level. You will need to make a sign-in to keep your place. You can create a separate login or use Facebook or Google account login.

Tired of Ads?

Some sites make their money with ads. But lets face it, sometimes they get to be too much and intrusive. With Chrome tightening rules on ads, there are still sites with ads if you use Safari on your iOS device. The Victor crew has a few solutions for you.

Try using a different browser. Especially if there’s a site that has ads that tend to redirect you. Browsers we have tried and had good results with are:

Adblock Browser:
Made by the people who make AdBlocker extensions.
AdBlock Browser in App Store
AdBlock Browser for Android

Brave Browser:
Made with built-in AdBlocker, tracking and security protection
Brave Browser in App Store
Brave Browser in Google Play Store

Try using Adblock extension for Safari:
Simply install and then go to settings >> Safari >> Content blockers >> turn on AdBlocker extension.
AdBlock extension for Safari on iOS

Other things you can do – turn off javascript from Safari:
Settings >> Safari >> Advanced. Turn off JavaScript.
We’ve used this to keep ads from redirecting to other sites.

App Updates Stuck?

So the Victor crew had an interesting problem. The update in the App Store on one of the apps got stuck. It kept spinning and spinning. For days. Tried closing the app in the app manager. Tried closing the App Store app in the app manager. Opened up the app store again. Still spinning.

Of course we “Googled” the problem to see if anyone else had this problem. Some suggestions were to stop the automatic updates in the settings but that didn’t help. Some were to delete the app and redownload or remove the app data. We chose a different way. We rebooted the iPad. That did the trick. So the age-old fix for just about anything is reboot it.

Encrypted Text Messaging

Recently a family member told me about an encrypted messaging app called Signal. It not only encrypts your text messages but also conversations. There are a few nice things about it: it is free, it is open source, and it works on both iPhone and Android phones. You can also send documents and images.

There is also a desktop app for your Windows, Mac, or Linux computer.

Microsoft Edge

Microsoft Edge has come a long way. The Victor crew tried something out this past week and it works like a charm. You can connect your phone to your PC through Edge. The practical side is if you are looking at something on your phone (small device) and want to view something larger, you can send the page you are viewing on your phone to your PC. And yes, iPhone users, that means you too!

Install Edge on your mobile device (works with iPad as well). Sign in with your Microsoft password.

Scroll to a site and at the bottom you will see some icons.

Browse on Edge Browser

The middle icon (mobile device with arrow) is what you touch to send to your PC.

Next when you see the screen below, you would choose which PC to send it to. I only had one connected PC as shown below (name partially obscured.) Press the PC you want to send the page to.

Send to PC

You are done.

Sent from iPhone to PC

New on iPhone iOS 11

Here are a few new things the Victor crew found in iOS 11 for use in emergencies.

You can add Medical ID for emergency contact. Open the Health app and tap the Medical ID tab. Edit then scroll to Emergency Contacts. Press the + and it will take you to your contacts. On this page, you can also add medical conditions, notes, allergies, and medications as well.

There is Emergency SOS where you can call for help quickly. The Emergency SOS slider and Medial ID slider you can bring up to quickly contact emergency services. For iPhone 7, you will need to press the side button five times to get the sliders to show. For iPhone 8 or X, you would press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons. After the call ends, the iPhone sends your emergency contacts a text message with your current location unless you cancel. If you have your location services turned off, they will turn back on temporarily.

Find out more here.

Password security

We’ve talked about passwords before and yet it is such an important thing because of all the breaches we see. Some people say they don’t have anything that important so it doesn’t matter or they say they need to use the same password for everything.
This is a totally bad practice and attitude to have about this. Think about all your accounts where you have purchased items, or your banking or credit card accounts. Do you really want to use the same password for everything? Once they breach one account, say your email, they can look through that to find what other accounts you are subscribed to and have a field day. This is even how identities are stolen.

Here are some things you can do:
Go to HaveIBeenPwned.com and check your email for pwnage.
Also click on their password tab and check to see if your passwords are on any common lists.
Use a password manager like LastPass.
Use 2 step verification. Use an authenticator, too.

Once you download LastPass, set it up with a hard to hack easy to remember password (the first video below gives some suggestions on how to find one.) You can then import all the passwords saved to your browsers. Once you have LastPass you can also run a kind of audit check for recommendations on which passwords to change – it will show you duplicates or not so secure passwords you already have.

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.

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.

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

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/

Google Maps Tips

The Victor crew found an article on PCMag.com about some things that you can do with Google Maps mobile app that not everyone may know about. From this app, you can add stops, you can hail a ride (taxi or Uber, for instance), travel through time in Street View, create a private map, remember where you parked. These are just a few of the tips listed along with short videos.

New type of phishing attacks affecting browsers

The Victor crew came across an urgent matter. If your browser is Chrome or Firefox, be aware of a new phishing attack. An attacker can send you an email with a link to a malicious website. You could visit a site that will either infect your computer or make you think you are signing in with your credentials as they trick you into thinking you are accessing the correct site.

The people from Wordfence, a security plugin for WordPress found this last Friday, April 14, 2017. They set up a demo site to show what is happening. It is well worth it to check their article and see if you are affected and what to do. They have set up a demo using a medical site, epic.com, so you can test your browser and browser settings. You can visit their demo site here in Chrome or Firefox. To compare the demo site with the real site they faked for comparison, you can click here to visit the real site here.

This does not affect Windows or Safari browsers. Currently there is a fix for Firefox browsers. Here is what you do:

Open your Firefox browser
Type about:config in the address bar
Search for ‘puny’ (without quotes)
You should see network.IDN_show_punycode set for ‘false’
Double click it to make it ‘true’

Chrome currently does not have a fix for it.

So you want a new iPad, iPhone, or iPod

You’ve had your device for a while and it has all your favorite apps, your information, etc. What do you do? Well, if you haven’t already, you back it up to either iCloud or through iTunes.

To back up to iCloud, go into Settings then click on Backup and turn on iCloud Backup. Tap Back Up Now. You can see the information (how big your back up space is) if you look at Storage. You are only allowed 5GB of free space so if you need more, you will have to purchase it from Apple for about $0.99/month for 50GB.

The other alternative is to back up through iTunes. You will need to have a Mac or PC with iTunes running on it. Connect your device to your computer. You can still back it up this way to your iCloud or to your computer. Most likely you are doing it this way because of lack of iCloud space. Find out more here.

To restore a device from a backup, you must have all content erased from a device. Follow the onscreen setup until you reach Apps & Data screen and tap Restore from iCloud Backup or Restore from iTunes Backup. Sign in with your Apple ID if you are restoring from iCloud. Find out more here.

The Victor Crew

Keyboard Shortcuts for PC

For almost anything you do, there is a keyboard shortcut. On a PC, you usually hold down the Ctrl key + another key.

Here are some of the more popular ones used while making a document or editing:
CTRL+C: Copy
CTRL+P: Paste
CTRL+X: Cut
CTRL+Z: Undo
CTRL+B: Bold
CTRL+U: Underline
CTRL+I: Italic

If you want some other shortcuts:
Microsoft Flag button – brings up the start menu
Flag+L: locks your PC
ALT+TAB: switch between your open programs
CTRL+F5: refresh the webpage
ALT+F4: closes the current window
CTRL while dragging a file to another folder will copy it to the folder.

You can find many more shortcuts here.

The Victor Crew

Mobile Phone Number Hijacking

We’ve written a few times about password security. But what if your phone number gets hijacked? This is not having your phone stolen but rather having your phone number taken from you. You no longer can use the two-step verification because someone else has the number they have on file for it. So how does a phone number get hijacked in the first place? The Victor crew wanted to learn more.

It can start with a text that looks like it came from your carrier. It may have a number or a login page for you to enter some information. All they need is your call-in pin and they can start the process of porting your number over to their phone. You actually think you are talking to a representative of your carrier. Once they have your number, they can use the “forgot password” function of all your apps and get a code sent to them to reset the passwords. Think of all the apps you have – your bank, your email, your wallet. So what can you do?

Here are some ideas from Forbes:

  • Put a passcode on your account with your carrier. Make sure whoever you are talking to uses that passcode with you. If a hacker tries to use it, hopefully the representative is on the ball and asks for the passcode.
  • Use the mobile carrier specific email address to access the account. Forbes suggests you have an address as your current primary one, one just for a mobile carrier, and one for all your sensitive accounts like banking. This way your primary account can’t be used to steal your phone number.
  • Disable online access to your wireless account. You will have to go the store to make changes but it won’t get hacked.
  • Ask your carrier to make changes with photo ID required.

Some other thoughts:

  • Use a password manager and let it generate passwords.
  • Don’t have the same security questions on all sites and don’t answer them truthfully.
  • Do not connect your mobile number to sensitive accounts. Create a new Gmail email address and don’t connect a phone number to it. Use Google Authenticator with one-time passcode generator to use it. They suggest using a Google Voice number.
  • Use a security key. Yubikey is a physical security key device. There are also devices you use a USB port for.
  • Use biometric authentication – fingerprint for example.

Ever think about cutting the cord?

Cord-cutting refers to abandoning cable TV for streaming services. There are so many different avenues to go with this, the Victor crew thought we’d do some exploring into what was available.

One thing you can get is a Roku that you can stream many different channels from. It handles Netflix, Amazon, Hulu Plus for example. Netflix and Amazon have some crossovers, but Hulu Plus will bring you many current TV shows. Another streaming channel to consider is Sling TV for television shows. You might consider Apple TV instead of Roku. Another streaming device is Amazon Fire TV. There’s also Google’s Chromecast. You may want to find reviews on these devices and make your decision.

Another thing to consider is your Internet connection. How strong is it during peak hours? You can test it at speedtest.net or testmy.net. Do several throughout the day and evening to see how much you can handle. You may need to get an HD antenna to get the major networks in full HD.

You can find more information here.

Microsoft 10 Event

So Microsoft has an event scheduled for October 26 at 10 am EDT in NYC. They say to join them to find out what is next for Windows 10. One can only speculate…

While we’re on the subject of Windows 10, did you know you can ‘write’ in the Edge browser and save it as a note to OneNote? If you have a touch enabled device you can use your finger or a stylus. If not, your mouse will work.

First you need to enable your “pen.” This is in the top right corner of the Edge browser.
Webnotes

Next you need to choose the type (pen or highlighter), color, and size. This will show up on the left hand side of the browser after you enable the pen.
webnotes

Then you can write on your page and save it as a note for later.
Webnotes

The Victor crew.

TOR networks and the deep web

You may have watched some crime dramas or other shows where the resident geek goes on the deep web or Tor network. Anyone can access this but you need a special browser. Here’s what the Victor crew found out:

Tor stands for “the onion router”. The web addresses will end in “.onion”. You will need to be careful because some of these sites can be nasty and contain scams. It works by anonymizing your activity so it can’t be detected. People in other countries use this if websites are blocked in their country. For instance, they may need to go to “https://facebookcorewwwi.onion/” to access facebook.com/ or “http://3g2upl4pq6kufc4m.onion/” to access DuckDuckGo search engine. you can search the web for more sites. Here is a directory we found: https://thehiddenwiki.org/ that lists some sites.

The Tor browser is slower than your usual browser but people use it to bypass censorship. The Tor Browser is a modified Firefox version that you can download here. Remember to be careful of the sites you visit.

http://www.howtogeek.com/272049/how-to-access-.onion-sites-also-known-as-tor-hidden-services/

Ever need music clip for a video?

With all the copyright laws out there, if you need music for videos, here’s a site where you can generate AI music. At Jukedeck, you can choose genre (instruments), moods, and length. They have also have a list of pre-made downloads. Every track is unique and royalty free.

If you set up an account, you can save your downloads for future use. This was originated at Cambridge University by a team of composers, producers, engineers, academics, and machine learning experts.

The downloads are free for small businesses or individuals if you give them credit or $0.99 per download without credit. For businesses with 10 or more employees the cost is $21.99 per download. If you need to buy the copyright, it is $199 and you own it outright.

Here are some samples: