Check this out before buying a new Smart TV

New Smart TV on your Christmas list? Be careful of what features you get on your TV. Specifically the ones with cameras or microphones built in. They could be used to spy on you according to the FBI.

Smart TVs connect to the Internet in order to update, download apps, connect through the apps. Some of the newer ones have built-in cameras for facial recognition so they can suggest your favorite programming. Microphones are generally used for voice control for the remotes to change channels.

If your Smart TV is unsecured, hackers can listen and watch you as well, or take control of the TV. If you can’t turn off the camera, consider using black tape over the lens. Make sure to keep the software updated.

If you are victimized by any fraud on the Internet, contact the IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center).

Cyber Monday

Cyber Monday is here and there sure are a lot of deals out there. From Oculus Go to Instant Pot, the deals were phenomenal.

On amazon.com, Oculus Go went pretty quickly for a low price of $119.00 for the 32GB version with a timed lightning deal. Regular price they are selling for now on amazon.com is $149.00. It was a little more for the 65GB version.

Once again Instant Pot made a big splash with the 8-qt version selling for about $64. There are many other deals to be had.

Kohls.com was offering $15 Kohl’s Cash for every $50 spent + $10 off + 20% off. Alaska Airlines had fares starting at $39 one way. Even some museums and zoos had membership deals. Whatever the deal is you are looking for be sure to check for deals first!

PayPal to Buy Honey

Hopefully by now you’ve heard of Honey. It is a browser extension you add to your browser. When you are on a shopping site, such as Amazon.com or Kohls.com, it will appear near the price and tell you if the price is a good deal. If not, it will show you other places where there are better prices.

When you put things in a shopping cart, it will run through a bunch of store codes and try to find a deal for you.

I have used it a few times. Here’s a caveat: on one site, I had gotten there through a special link that added a discount to my full order. During checkout, it went ahead and ran through the codes and couldn’t find any. In the process, the 25% discount I started with disappeared and I was left with a higher price. In this case, I closed my browser and came back to the site through that link. Seeing the discount back in the cart, I was able to check out with my discount.

What has people perplexed is the price PayPal is paying to acquire Honey: $4 billion dollars. They plan to accelerate Honey’s growth by driving adoption among Paypal and Venmo users.

Find out more about this acquisition: https://investor.paypal-corp.com/news-releases/news-release-details/paypal-acquire-honey

Let “My People” Go

It was recently reported that Microsoft was going to stop development and in the future remove the My People app from Windows version 1909. Some other changes are the Driver model for Remote Desktop.

Full list of Windows 10 features no longer being developed: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/planning/windows-10-deprecated-features

Full list of features that have been removed: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/planning/windows-10-removed-features

It kind of reminds me of the old song, “Let My People Go”. This phrase was first spoken by Moses in Exodus when he was trying to get Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt.

CNET Suggestions…

Don’t buy Amazon devices before November 22. Echo, Kindle, and Fire devices/tvs go on sale. This is one week before the actual Black Friday.

Here are some of the prices you can expect:
Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet: starting at $50 – savings of $30. Add $15 if you do not want offers on the lock screen.
Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition tablet: $80 – savings of $50.
All-new Amazon Fire 7 tablet: starting at $30 – savings of $20.
Amazon Fire 7 Kids Edition tablet: $60 – savings of $40.
Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet: starting at $100 – savings $50.
Kindle Paperwhite: starting at $85 – savings of $45.
Fire TV stick 4k with Alexa voice remote: $25 – save $25
Fire TV stick with Alexa voice remote: $20 – save $20
Amazon Fire TV Cube: $90 – savings of $30.

November 27 will have some more savings
Ring Indoor Camera 2-pack: $100 – save $40.
Blink XT2 3-cam system (weatherproof security camera): $185 – save $65.
Amazon Smart Plug: will be offered bundled with many products for just $5 – a savings of $20!

November 28 you can get Echo speakers and smart displays
Amazon Echo Dot (third-gen): $22 for a savings of $28
Echo Dot with clock: $35 – save $25
Amazon Echo (second-gen): $60 – save $40.
Amazon Echo Show 5: $50 – savings of $40.
Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen): $150 – save $80
Echo Auto: $25 – save $25.

Find out more about these amazing deals on CNet

Fitbit is Being Sold

So apparently Fitbit will belong to Google. Google was looking to expand their wearables division. Google has already been in this space with Google Wear OS and Google Fit. This will help bring together Fitbit’s technology with Google’s. The deal will cost Google about $2.1 billion. The deal is expected to be finished in 2020.

Fitbit, a pioneer in the fitness tracking industry, had already devised wearable smartwatches with their fitness tracker built in. The Versa2 Smartwatch has Alexa built in, as well as Spotify, a sleep tracker, heart-rate tracker, Fitbit pay, and various other apps. We can only speculate whether or not that will change in the future, especially about Alexa vs the Google assistant. It starts at $199.95.

The Fitbit Versa Lite Edition Smartwatch has heart-rate tracking, sleep tracking, apps and notifications and starts at $159.95. The Fitbit Ionic Smartwatch has personal coaching, built-in GPS, can store music, track heart-rate. It runs $249.95.

Other products are trackers: Charge 3 costs $149.95; Inspire starts at $69.95; Ace 2 for kids starts at $69.95 and is for ages 6+. In addition they also have Aria scales (Aria Air and Aria 2). Aria 2 will costs $129.95 while Aria Air is $49.95. They connect through apps to the fitness trackers as well. You can also accessorize your trackers and watches with a variety of different bands.

Source: Google
Source: Fitbit

Saved by a Watch

So recently there was a news article about how an Apple watch saved a biker. The biker was on a ride in Washington when he flipped his bike. He landed head-first on the pavement and was rendered unconscious. His Apple watch sensed the impact and called 911.

His son was waiting for him and received a text from the watch to notify him it detected a hard fall and sent a map with his location. By the time he got there, his dad was already gone and on his way to the hospital. His son received the message because he was listed as an emergency contact on the phone.

Apple iPhone 11

You probably already know from the Apple announcement event last week that they have already announced the upcoming iPhone series 11. There is the 11 and the 11 Pro.

So what makes the new phone different? Let’s delve into the new features.

iPhone 11: The iPhone 11 has a new dual-camera system – this gives you the option of wide or ultra-wide shots. The iPhone 11 will handle up to 17 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 has the same 6.1″ Liquid Retina HD display as previous models. It is made from aerospace-grade aluminum. It comes in light purple, yellow, mint green, black, white, and (PRODUCT)RED.

iPhone 11 Pro: The iPhone 11 Pro will have a third camera for telephoto shots in addition to the wide and ultra-wide cameras. The Pro version will handle up to 20 hours of video playback. The iPhone 11 Pro comes in two sizes featuring 5.8″ or 6.5″ Super Retina XDR display. It is made from stainless steel. The colors are midnight green, silver, space gray, or gold.

Find out more here: https://www.apple.com/iphone/

Here is a video from The Verge highlighting the event:

For Your Entertainment – Microsoft the Musical

Here is a video of a walk through the years of Microsoft. In Microsoft the Musical, where they say “It’s all happening here!,” 150 interns spent their free time outside work hours (mornings, evenings, weekends) making this video in eight weeks from start to finish.

It brings you on a journey of Bill Gates and what he achieved. They acknowledge the problem with Vista, as well as the Windows Phone. Their mission is to empower every person to achieve more.

Deepfakes

We’ve been seeing this word a lot lately. Let’s delve into what it is and what it means.

According to whatis.techtarget.com, it is an AI-based technology. It is used to alter videos to show something that didn’t happen. It comes from a Reddit user who changed clips of celebrities and used regular people in these clips.

So this is not just pasting your face over a celebrity image but rather using AI technology to create the clips making it even more polished.

This article from CNN has a lot of information that shows how this technology is made. It also sounds the warning of what may happen regarding the political atmosphere in our country concerning deepfakes.

Many celebrities are concerned about deepfakes because people have swapped their image onto porn films, thus invading their privacy and making something that didn’t happen go on social or other media.

Here is a video from Nova/PBS

Here is a TedTalk by Supasorn Suwajanakorn

Scamming a Scammer

Canadian bitcoin expert Ben Perrin was recently approached by a bitcoin scammer. He promised he could double his money every 24 hours. They didn’t know they were dealing with a YouTuber that actually teaches about bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

He decided to play along and see what they were claiming. In a turnaround, Perrin got the scammer to deposit $50 dollars into his wallet as he was pretending not to know what to do. Bitcoin deposits are irreversible so he was surprised the scammer sent the money. Perrin then donated the money to charity.

See the full video along with CBC’s interview with Perrin.

Flying High

Do you remember the cartoon show called “The Jetsons”? The people rode in a car in the air. Now there are some more personal drones almost ready for us to take flight. There will still need to be a lot of rules and regulations put in place before that can become a reality…

The company eHang in China has developed a personal drone. Watch as the CEO takes flight brought by Digital Trends:

Are You Smarter Than an AI?

AIs are supposed to be ever learning. However computer vision can be a different story. The Verge has an interesting article that shows some pictures and what AI sees it as.

In the article are a lot of pictures labeled with what the AI says it is vs. what it really is. In one group they are showing 4 different pictures of a dragonfly but the AI doesn’t identify any of them as a dragonfly.

It is important to get computers to see what is really there especially in the realm of self-driving cars. We don’t want them to see stop signs where there aren’t any or vice-versa. In another article on The Verge, it was reported that Google’s AI saw a rifle and not a turtle. If this had been something where they were looking for adversarial attacks, this could be a problem.

50 Years Ago

Fifty years ago on July 20, 1969, American astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first human to step foot on the moon. When the Apollo 11’s lunar module the Eagle landed in Lake Tranquility, the famous words “The eagle has landed” was uttered by Neil Armstrong. Later on, after he stepped out onto the moon’s surface, he said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The 50th anniversary of this momentous occasion is this Saturday. Here is a grainy video of the event that you might be able to see.

Read more about it

Do We Rely on Technology Too Much?

Yes, technology is great. But it can sometimes let us down. In the worst ways.

A woman in Colorado was on her way to the airport in Denver to pick up her husband. She came across an accident along the way. Traffic was tied up indefinitely. She wanted to be on time for her husband’s flight. What did she do? She relied on Google Maps to help with a detour around the accident to get to the airport. Something many of us have done.

Unfortunately, this time didn’t pan out for this woman. She was led to a dirt road. A dirt road that had gotten pretty muddy from recent rain storms. She wasn’t the only one. She found there were about a hundred people who also took the same detour. Some people got stuck and she ended up with 2 other people in her car.

More about Apple iOS 13

iOS 13 is coming out in the fall. But it is made for your iPhone. The iPad will be getting its own OS. So what will be different?

There will be “light mode” and “dark mode”. You can time when you want to use dark or light mode as well.

They are updating their “Apple Maps” app in hopes people will start using it. They hope the map is actually fixed. Also they are adding a street view. You can set favorites and collections so easily get to them in a list.

iOS will have more privacy by allowing you to grant access to apps just one time. You can even have the app ask each time so they can’t track you.

Reminders will have more sort features. You can tag people to your reminders so you can easily remember if someone else needs to be contacted.

More integration with health app to your Apple Watch.

You can Find My … device or… friend.

More photo editing options.

Apps should launch faster, and other speed improvements.

Better volume control.

Swipe on the keyboard – type one-handed without taking your finger off keyboard.

More emojis that are customizeable.

You can download the beta now but it is recommended to wait until the final version comes out.

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:

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.

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

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:

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.

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