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.

Source

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

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

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!

Gift Idea: DNA Testing

This may sound a little weird but there are a lot of people getting/giving DNA testing for Christmas to find out their heritage. There are a few to choose from.

The two most popular that come to mind are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Other brands are Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage DNA, Helix, and Living DNA. They generally range from $69-$199.

Caveats: Your ancestry may be revealed to third parties by any or some of these brands. Some hidden family secrets may be revealed. This site gives some odd happenings over 23andMe testing.

Where do you learn how to?

Be it tying a tie, making a turkey, or learning a knitting technique, there are are many places to learn things. Many people go to YouTube to learn things while they do them like a new recipe or that tie or knitting technique. Even if you do a general web search, you are bound to find some videos showing you how to “do” it. According to Pew Research Center, about half of the people that go to YouTube do so to learn how to do something.

With Thanksgiving Day arriving this week, the top search showing as you type would be “how to cook a turkey”. There are many variations of like “how to brine a turkey” for example.

Google Search

There are other places to learn things like wikiHow. You just put in your search and it will show you some choices. Instead of videos you may find nice large pictorial steps telling you what to do for each step. On this site you can even ask questions.

If you have questions related to technology, there’s always How-To Geek website. From choosing a device to setting it up, they have suggestions for you.

Wi-Fi 6

We talked about Wi-Fi a couple weeks ago. Let’s expand on that. Now they have given Wi-Fi version numbers for the different protocol types identified by the letter suffix on 802.11. Let’s start with 802.11 and what it is.

The 802.11 protocol is set forth by the IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.) They are the ones who set the standards of what is under each protocol, specifically the IEEE 802.11™ Wireless Local Area Networks, the working group for WLAN standards. They have regular sessions and presentations about 802.11 protocol. There is one being held right now in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Wi-Fi Alliance® has now assigned version numbers to different Wi-Fi protocols.

  • Wi-Fi 6, which will be available next year will be 802.11ax standard.
  • Wi-Fi 5 is the 802.11ac standard
  • Wi-Fi 4 is the 802.11n standard

Older standards are not being given a version number because they are not widely used anymore.

Wi-Fi Certified WiGig™ will bring bands of 60 GHz with multi-gigabit speeds, suitable for virtual reality and HD streaming. Wi-Fi security WPA3™ will have increased crytographic strengths.

Sources and Further Reading:
http://www.ieee802.org/11/
https://www.wi-fi.org/news-events/newsroom/wi-fi-alliance-introduces-wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/wi-fi-6
https://www.wi-fi.org/discover-wi-fi/next-generation-wi-fi

Atlas Robot

Boston Dynamics has a few projects they are working on in robotics. Boston Dynamics was founded in 1992 by MIT. In 2013, they were acquired by Google X which later became Alphabet, Inc. In 2017, Boston Dynamics was sold to SoftBank (remember Pepper?). We have previously discussed Spot also developed by Boston Dynamics.

Atlas is a 6-foot robot that is more humanoid with 2 legs. It was unveiled to the public in 2013. It has slowly been evolving. It now can do parkour (similar to military obstacle course training):

Logging into any Google service logs you into Chrome

As of version 69, the Chrome browser will log you in and sync when you visit any Google site like Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Maps, etc. For whatever reason, you may not want to be logged in, or you may not want them to keep track of everything you do. They are not giving you that choice anymore.

There was a discussion on Twitter about it with Adrienne Porter Felt, a Chrome engineer and manager.

Apparently after these discussions and feedback, Google is going to back down and make some changes come version 70 coming out in mid-October. They will allow sign-in without syncing. If you want to sync between devices, you will need to turn sync on. Signing into a Google owned website will not sign them into Chrome at the same time.