A Reminder In Times Like This

On scams and misinformation

In a time that fear is so rampant, it’s my hope to just shed some light in your on-line space.

Published Mar. 15, 2020 by Mark McGinnis

Most of us have enough occupying our minds over uncertainty and are even likely experiencing a crisis, even on a small scale.

In a crisis, as a former paramedic, I’m reminded that people often don’t act rational, calm, sane, or even anything like someone’s normal.  This abnormal behavior is actually normal in an abnormal circumstance, if you are following me!  With reminders about what is true and that things are going to get better, we pull out of this.  Our country will; you and I will too!

The internet is a great place to help us come together as community.  There are wonderful platforms, email, chat, video conferencing and more that build community.

But be reminded that the internet is also a fertile ground for mis-information and scams.  Here are a few ways to be careful, as there are people out there taking advantage of the weak and those in crisis.


3 TIPS

Use reputable sites for your information, online shopping and entertainment

Go to sites you normally would use. Don’t click strange links that are targeting your emotions to try to get you to a website you normally wouldn’t go to. Many pop-ups and ads are targeting people’s emotions right now!

Donate to Reputable Organizations

If you do donate, go directly to the organization’s website that you want to donate to. Don’t click links or assume that an email is legitimate! Links and images in emails can be misleading and send you to incorrect sites, or even get you to download SPAM. Instead, retype the address in your web browser.

Check “Facts”! 

Even if someone on Facebook posts something about what they think is true, doesn’t make it true! Fact and fiction can both be written in the same font-type and it’s everyone’s job to decipher the difference. I know, someone just needed that reminder. Even the media spreads false information. It’s everywhere. https://www.snopes.com is a good resource to check internet facts/scams. Especially before sharing information, make sure it’s true. YOUR integrity is on the line once you share it.

If you have any comments, share in our blog online here. As always, you can contact me about security questions or concerns. Be smart. Share. And carry on!

Do You Have a Backup Plan?

Have a plan and save today!

Where are you keeping those precious photos? 

Most likely you are like most people, they are in “the cloud” somewhere, thanks to Apple.  Then there’s those computer files that you may not be able to do without.  They are hosted in One Drive or Dropbox, right?

So here are your options for backing up your files and then I’d like to recommend what I think is the best option!

OPTION 1: Backup your photos and files in the cloud.  This is a pretty simple solution these days, and it’s cheap!  Have your files automatically sync to One Drive (Microsoft), Google Drive, Dropbox (owned independently), iCloud (Apple).  They are all pretty much the same, other than the amount of data they let you store for free and how many computers you can have logged into your account.  Dropbox, for instance, only lets 3 computers sync the same files and probably allows the least amount of data for free.

If you have an iPhone, you probably know that your files are automatically being loaded to iCloud as a backup.  But once you take up 5GB of pictures and videos, they will charge you. 

Apple iCloud
50GB: $0.99
200GB: $2.99
2TB: $9.99

OPTION 2:  Backup your files on a local computer, external hard drive or flash drive.  You can buy an external device that plugs into your computer and have things backup to it.  There is a little learning curve to setup some of the devices, but they are fairly cheap and will keep your backups in your possession.  

Storing things at home has its benefits I suppose.  There is always a chance of a data breach or a server loosing your data in cloud storage.  Some people are also concerned with data security, which this would take care of.  But honestly, I think the chances of my drive failing (which they eventually do!) or my house catching fire (less-likely…but) is probably more likely than my data being stolen or lost in a data center.  You can weigh these risks.

OPTION 3: A bit of both and my recommendation.  Using a cloud service for files and then using a local drive to backup your photos.  Since photos take up so much space, I don’t think we want to pay for this in the long run.  You can periodically download your iCloud photos (once a year, maybe) to a local external hard drive and then keep a second copy on a USB flash drive.

Here’s the thought on this.  Spinning hard drives are cheaper but will fail!  Usually in 5-7 years.  Flash memory (USB flash drives) will also eventually fail, but not as fast as a mechanical spinning drive, and are more expensive per GB. You should always have your files backed up in 2 or more places.  So having 2 copies, one on flash and one on mechanical, is the best bang for your buck!

There are lots of drives out there.  Western Digital, SanDisk and Synology are good names. Seagate also has some good products too.

What inspired this article today was the deep discount on one particular product that is an external hard drive but is also wireless and can be accessed outside your home.  In essence, it’s your own cloud storage device.  You can backup your files wirelessly from several laptops or desktops, iPhones, etc. and be able to access these files while you are out and about!

No, I don’t get commission for selling these. I just think it’s a good product.  But today only you can save $80 on them!

It’s Western Digital’s 6TB My Cloud Home Personal Cloud Storage

Backup Solution: External Hard Drive by Western Digital

6TB Western Digital Mechanical Backup Drive. $219 currently on Amazon.

Goodbye Windows 7 & Security Information

Important Security Information

I know, I know, you are saying “this is usually a scam!”  But I’m not going to ask you for money and, no, there’s no number to call. 

If you have Windows 10 you should be aware of an important security issue that affects the security of https (Secure Socket Layer) connections.  Today (January 14th), Microsoft posted an important security bulletin, severe enough for the the National Security Agency (NSA) to actually disclose first.  This announcement is a first for the NSA.  This security issue affects some (not all) Windows 10 users.

The Quick Details

The bug is in Windows’ mechanism for confirming the legitimacy of software or establishing secure web connections. If the verification check itself isn’t trustworthy, attackers can exploit that fact to remotely distribute malware or intercept sensitive data.wired.com

What You Should Do

Run your Windows Update if it hasn’t run today.  Virus Scan programs aren’t equipped to protect users from this issue, so you can protect your computer by updating this now.  It takes 2 minutes!

  1. In the Windows 10 search at the bottom left of your screen type “update.”
  2. Click on “Check For Updates.”
  3. Click “Check For Updates” again and let it work.
  4. Restart your computer when prompted afterwards.
  5. That’s all!  Your safe now. 🙂 (for now)

If you want the nitty gritty, the security update is included in 2020-01 Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1909 for x64-based Systems (KB4528760)”

Published Jan. 14, 2020 by Mark McGinnis

 

Goodbye Windows 7

Published Jan. 14, 2020 by Mark McGinnis

Today’s the day that Microsoft has been preparing us for.  Preparing us by trying to sell us a new computer that is!

But buying a new computer isn’t what most of us have done. The people I talk to are just upgrading to Windows 10–for FREE!  (That’s a $139 savings!) Over the last few weeks I have been helping people people upgrade and it’s been a smooth transition.

What’s the big deal about today, anyways?  Well, starting tomorrow, Microsoft is no longer providing updates for Windows 7.  This means that any security patches and driver updates will no longer be sent to these computers.  If you’re concerned about security, this is kind of a big deal.

Is it worth the risk?  It might be.  If you don’t do any online banking, send any sensitive information such as credit cards or social security numbers via websites, or send emails with private information, you may be okay without an upgrade.

For most of us, though, upgrading is worth it!  You can do this yourself for free with just a little computer know-how.  You can also have us help.  Either way, there is only a slight learning curve we can explain to you in 15 minutes or less.

Save $129+ by upgrading now!  Right now (as of today), Microsoft is still letting this upgrade go for free by downloading it from their website.  But it’s also being sold on Amazon for $129+ and on their site for $139 and up!  So why would you purchase it, then?  We’re really not sure.  When you download the free upgrade, it will give you a new Windows License (confirmed by running a license scraping program like Belarc Advisor). BaBoom!  No need to buy it–for now anyway.  There’s no indication on whether this free upgrade will continue or not.

Here’s the link to download it for free on Microsoft’s website: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

 

 

Windows Update Rolls Out Today

Credit:   for All About Microsoft | 

Microsoft is kicking off the official rollout of Windows 10 1909, the Windows 10 November 2019 feature update today, November 12. The timing isn’t surprising, given today is Patch Tuesday, which tends to be when Microsoft commences new feature update rollouts these days.

As it did with Windows 10 1903, the May 2019 Update, Microsoft first rolled out its 1909 feature update to developers about a month ahead of today’s commercial launch. In mid-October, Microsoft made the 1909 client and server ISOs available to developers on MSDN.

Today, Microsoft is starting to make 1909 (Build 18363.418) available to “seekers,” meaning those who proactively go to Windows Update, check for updates and subsequently opt to download it immediately. As it has been doing with recent updates, Microsoft will be throttling delivery, providing the new feature update over the next few weeks to users with devices that Microsoft has deemed most likely to accommodate the 1909 feature update successfully.

Continue Reading on ZDNet…

You may also be interested in: Windows & Spam Updates | Are You Running Windows 10? | Upgrade to Windows 10 for Free!

An Upgrade Caution for Mac Users: October Update

In addition to 235 apps that will not run with MacOS Catalina, there are many other issues users have found problematic with the newest release of Mac OS on Oct 7th.  Among them: Initial installation issues, 32-bit applications will no longer work, Bluetooth connectivity, password issues, issues with iCloud and Apple ID needing to be reset.

The consensus is: if you don’t have to upgrade, then don’t.  Stay with Mojave (or your current Mac OS) until these bugs have shaken out.

See the latest update from Forbes.com