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

Windows 10 Creators Update

When the Victor crew was notified of the Windows 10 Creators Update, we scratched our heads. What in the world is that? Why would I need it?

There is a new Gaming category in Settings. When in game mode it will make the experience smoother.

You can use the new Paint 3D app to make 3D drawings along with 360 degree view.

There is feature that allows you keep open tabs by setting them aside so you don’t have to favorite them but put them aside for small projects you may be working on.

Microsoft Edge becomes the default eBook reader. You can customize the eBook as you are reading it, highlight parts, set bookmarks. You can also change the screen for night use.

There is a setting for Mixed Reality that works with HoloLens VR headsets.

Plan and measure trips on Maps. You can share them with others.

There’s a new privacy dashboard to allow you to set your own security settings.

Mini View allows you to keep a video in a small window.

The first of these updates were rolled out April 11, 2017.

Source:
https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/04/11/whats-new-in-the-windows-10-creators-update/#lTLvawf2Zc4QtKJx.97

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.

Ransomware

The Victor crew has heard a lot of news lately about a cyber attack nicknamed WannaCry using ransomware. Ransomware is holds an infected computer hostage until a ransom is paid, usually in bitcoin, money that is virtually untraceable. This latest attack has caused global problems. In the UK, hospitals have been attacked. In the US, FedEx fell victim. If you use a Macintosh computer you are most likely safe as these attacks are targeted at PC users. If you are still running Windows XP you are even more vulnerable as there are no more patches being made for these systems.

Here are some things you can to do to prevent this from happening to you:

Keep your computer up to date. Do the patches for your operating system.
Make sure to do security updates for your security service.
Only open attachments from the person you know and trust.
Be careful of programs or other items you may want to download.
Back up your computer to an external hard drive.
Keep copies of your files on cloud services.

If you do get infected and don’t want to pay the ransom, which has been about $300-$600, you will have to flatten your machine (reinstall your OS). If you have kept your files on a cloud service or on an external hard drive, you will have defeated them. You will need to reinstall all your programs if you haven’t backed up the entire system.

The predictions are that today there will be even more as people turn on their computers if they haven’t been kept up to date.

Sources:
http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2017/05/15/ransomware-how-to-protect-yourself.html
http://abcnews.go.com/US/simple-things-protect-ransomware-attacks/story?id=47410339

Rogue Science: Outlaw Tech

If you get the Science Channel, you might already know about the Outlaw Tech program. They explore the different ways tech is used to commit crimes. Be it heists sort of like Ocean’s Eleven, counterfeiting, or identity theft, they may cover it.

They have six hour-long episodes showing how banks, museums, casinos can be hacked. During the episodes, they show how people have defeated have cracked sensors, codes, ATMs, and computers to get what they want.

You can find out more here.

Why it’s important to keep doing your updates

The Jody Victor crew ran across an article that is truly disturbing.

A flaw in Microsoft Office given the ID CVE-2017-0199 has quite a history. This vulnerability allowed remote attackers to use Microsoft products to execute arbitrary code and take over computers. Ryan Hanson found the flaw last year. He spent some time to see if it could be made more deadly before contacting Microsoft in October 2016. Microsoft did not patch this right away. If they told people of a change in Word settings that would fix the flaw, then word would be out that there was a flaw with more ramifications.

They decided to release a fix in a later update. However, they sat on it and took their time. They started working on a solution in January but attacks had already begun. Through links in email, computers were infected with software that allowed eavesdropping. McAfee saw some attacks on April 6 of this year and blogged about it April 7. April 9, a program was for sale underground for hackers to exploit the flaw. On Tuesday, April 11, the flaw was finally patched in an update.

They don’t know how many computers were hacked or how much money was stolen before this exploit was patched. If you don’t automatically patch your PC, please do so now!

Source:
http://www.reuters.com/article/us-microsoft-cyber-idUSKBN17S32G

Can you put down your smartphone?

A few weeks ago 60 Minutes aired a segment called Brain Hacking. The Victor crew was surprised by some of the information.

Tristan Harris, a former Google product manager, compares smartphones to slot machines. Every time you pick it up and check on it, you are looking to see “what you get.” The person being interviewed, said that techniques are used to cause people to keep checking their phones and apps.

In another part of the segment, we find Ramsay Brown, a programmer who understands how the brain works and writes code accordingly. Co-founder of Dopamine Labs, tries to write apps based on the pleasure and desire in our brains. They try to find ways to keep people using apps longer or more often. For instance, he says Instagram may hold back some of your “likes” and release them in a sudden burst. They even try to figure out when the best moment to release them is. You don’t pay for social media like Facebook – advertisers do. He says it’s “your eyeballs are what’s being sold there.”

Read more about the segment.

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.

Do you NEED a screen protector?

So you get a new iPhone, Android phone, iPad, tablet, iPod … Do you need to purchase a screen protector for it too? The Victor crew wanted to explore this after having seen a protector be the only thing that saved the phone of someone they know and talking to someone else who said they never get a screen protector.

To begin with, there are different types of protectors – plastic and glass. Glass is the pricier of the two. It can also be tempered glass. You’ll find all different type like anti-glare, carbon fiber, high definition, etc. Where do you begin?

Whether or not you get a screen protector is personal. It can help with scratches and longevity of the device. Are you hard on your device? Where do you usually keep your phone? Are you clumsy? If your phone is made with gorilla-glass you won’t have to worry.

Just be sure to get the right type. The cheaper ones may protect somewhat for scratches but maybe not as much if dropped. Thermoplastic is more durable but may not be as effective as a screen guard. Tempered glass has several layers and can absorb some shock. A glass cover may shatter on impact but your screen may still be protected. You may want to go further and find an anti-glare cover.

Geeky April Fools Day

This past Saturday was April Fools Day. The Internet wasn’t short of pranks. The Victor crew enjoyed putting together this list of some of them.

Stack Overflow had fun making this video of their Dance Dance Authentication protocol:

In case you don’t know, Stack Overflow is a site that is used by developers as a forum.

Google had fun with Google Gnome, something to make your backyard smart:

T-Mobile Onesie:

Amazon brought us Petlexa

Honda has Horn Emojis

New iPad – Flat-out Fun.

For those of us waiting for a new iPad, last week Apple announced the new iPad. It wasn’t really given a name and it isn’t an iPad Air. It has a 9.7-inch Retina display with an A9 processor. It comes in just 2 sizes: 32GB and 128GB. (We really wanted a 64GB but had to get the 128GB.) It has iOS 10.3 and Touch ID. It comes in silver, gold, or space gray and costs $29 for the 32GB Wi-Fi model and $459 for the 32GB Wi-Fi + Cellular model. For the 128GB model it’s $100 more each respectively.

Ordering began March 24 and shipping begins on March 31. Read more here. Don’t forget to back up your old device through the cloud or iTunes so you will get back all your apps!

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

Server is down

Last week, there was a major outage of Amazon’s cloud servers on the east coast in VA. It lasted a few hours and caused havoc with many websites. It’s not often that this happens, but when it does, it causes problems in many places.

If you use any of their services, you can check the status of their servers here. Even if you don’t keep your website on their servers, you can find some of your apps having problems. Think Alexa, Nest, etc. Some major websites depend on these services as well and you may find them down as well.

If you are having trouble reaching a site, you can go to isitdownrightnow.com. The home page of this site has a list of major services listed with (hopefully) a green box to let you know it is running. It includes sites such as Netflix, Facebook, Youtube, Google, Yahoo, and the like. There is also a list on the right site of sites last checked and some sites that are currently down.

Oh, and human error was blamed for the massive Amazon server outage.

The Victor Crew

Scamalot

You may have heard of the Broadway play Spamalot. But there is British Mashable contributor who has recorded a bunch of short videos called Scamalot. The premise of the videos by James Veitch is that instead of deleting spam messages he receives, he actually answers them. They are all under 4 minutes long so they are quick watch. Season 1 includes the following episodes: Gold, Poem, Toaster, Mary Gary, Novel, and China Jewelry Corp.

You can watch a season of it on Amazon video or see them on his Youtube channel.

Here is the first episode: Gold.

Yahoo!

Yahoo has recently been in the news again lately due to yet another problem with data breaches. Having a Yahoo account, this Victor crew member has received an email from Yahoo about it.
Yahoo Email
In this message, they tell me that they are investigating the creation of forged cookies. They say they are taking steps to secure accounts. They say this forged cookie may have been created in 2015 or 2016 and they believe it to be connected to the September 22, 2016 data theft. They also give some actions you can take.

They suggest using a Yahoo Account Key which is something we will investigate ourselves at a later time. This user is on the verge of dismissing this account altogether although it was my first email created back in the 90s. I have added 2-step verification as well as changed the password.

Yahoo Email
Another email as a reminder from Yahoo states a reminder to secure to secure the account. They suggest updating to the Yahoo Mail app on android or iOS. They suggest to turn off insecure apps.

Yahoo Email
As I logged into the account after the above emails, there was a link to update security settings to block apps with less secure login. I am not sure what this entails yet, but will let you know when I find out.

Cortana

Remember that email you sent telling someone you’d send them something by Friday? Oh. You forgot. Well now you won’t … with Cortana. Cortana can now help you remember these things. She will give you reminders.

Just launched last week, Cortana’s reminders work on Windows 10 and will eventually support Android and iOS. It works with Outlook.com and Office 365 work and school addresses with support for other email services coming soon.

You can also have Cortana add a reminder to your list by talking to her. Unfortunately, you cannot link them all yet if you have an Office 365 Home edition. Hopefully that is in the future as well.

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.