Be Ready For When The Cybercriminal That Misrepresents Microsoft Calls You

November 17, 2014

I want to start off this post by stating something I tell people, especially the elderly, who came from a generation that trusted other people.

“If you receive an unsolicited telephone call, whether it be a charity, a politician, an alarm company, your grandson is locked up in a jail in Canada, etc… where the caller is wanting money, PLEASE disconnect the call”.

What I am finding is once you get hooked by these calls you are placed on a call list that is sold to others AND the calls will perpetuate into more calls. It is like getting spammed by telephone and it gets so bad that you do not know what is real and what is not. My general rule of thumb is, when I get a phone call at my house and there is a delay of 3 seconds, GUESS WHAT? You just got disconnected.

 

One of my favorite blogging sites is TCAT Shelbyville – Technical Blog. Recently they posted an article (that I reblogged) titled, “No, you are not a Microsoft employee, no I don’t have a virus and by the way, you are definitely talking to the wrong people” that really hit home with me personally. I actually know several people, including members of my immediate family, where this fraudulent activity occurred.

The fraudulent activity I refer to is where a person (usually with a foreign accent) will randomly call you and tell you that they are a Microsoft Tech and will offer to fix your computer problems or sell you a software license. They will convince you into taking over your computer remotely and then they will go to work attempting one or all of the following:

  • Trick you into installing malicious software that could capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords. They might also then charge you to remove this software.
  • Convince you to visit legitimate websites (like http://www.ammyy.com) to download software that will allow them to take control of your computer remotely and adjust settings to leave your computer vulnerable.
  • Request credit card information so they can bill you for phony services.
  • Direct you to fraudulent websites and ask you to enter credit card and other personal or financial information there

After reading the TCAT-Shelbyville article, I started wondering if Microsoft is aware that they are being misrepresented in this manner. What I discovered is that they do know and actually have a page up on their Safety & Security Site that focuses specifically on this matter. I strongly encourage you to visit Microsoft and read, “Avoid Tech Support Phone Scams” where you will learn the following:

  • Telephone tech support scams: What you need to know
  • How to protect yourself from telephone tech support scams
  • What to do if you already gave information to a tech support person
  • Will Microsoft ever call me?

How to report this crime:

The CyberCriminals that initiate these calls know that most people will not report the crime. I suggest that if you are victim of a call such as this, especially if you find your credit card has been compromised, that you report the matter to the local authorities and contact your credit card company immediately to be issued another card.

Microsoft also encourages you to contact them, as well:

Whenever you receive a phone call or see a pop-up window on your PC and feel uncertain whether it is from someone at Microsoft, don’t take the risk. Reach out directly to one of their technical support experts dedicated to helping you at the Microsoft Answer Desk. Or you can simply call Microsoft at 1-800-426-9400 or one of their customer service phone numbers for people located around the world.

Report phone scams 

In the United States, use the FTC Complaint Assistant form.

In Canada, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre can provide support.

In the United Kingdom, you can report fraud as well as unsolicited calls.

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TECH DEAL – Metro Vacuum ED500 DataVac 500-Watt 0.75-HP Electric Duster 120 volt

November 11, 2014

To maintain optimum cooling performance and stability of your computers and electronics it is necessary that on a regularly scheduled basis that you blow out the dust that accumulates. I have seen the interior components of computers so laden with dust that a blanket had actually developed causing the computer to overheat and stop functioning. Not forgetting to mention that dust build up on electronics can cause an overheated condition that potentially can lead to a fire.

A solution to this issue is to used cans of compressed air. This is a good solution; however, it can also be a costly solution with the costs of canned air being as high as $7 or 8$. A solution to eliminating the ongoing expense of canned air is the Metro Vaccuum Electric Duster. Bite the bullet on the cost of this duster and never buy cans of compressed air again.

Don’t let the name of this product fool you into thinking this is a vaccuum cleaner. It is the opposite, it is a duster with a 3/4 HP blower and it is awesome (and powerful) that will blow the dust out of just about anything. When blowing dust from your computer, make sure you do it in an open air environment (like outdoors) and make sure you wear eye protection.

I found a good deal on this at Amazon that you can use as a price comparison and where you can get a good read on the customer reviews (of over 1500 reviews). I cannot emphasize the importance of keeping your electronics dust free.

Metro Vacuum ED500 DataVac
500-Watt 0.75-HP Electric Duster 120 volt

Metro Vaccuum Duster

Features:

Electric duster is compact and comfortable to use.

Powerful 500-Watt motor literally blasts dust, dirt and debris off expensive computer/electronic equipment.

Motor: .75 HP, Amps: 4.5 amps, Weight: 2.7 lbs.


Google Chrome Tip – How To Open Links In New Tab In Background

November 8, 2014

Google Chrome TipGoogle Chrome user?  Try this handy tip. Not sure if this will work in the other browsers; but, you may want to give it a try. To me this tip is pretty handy, especially if you are researching something and you need to open another browser tab in the background.  I found two ways this will work:

1 – Hover your mouse on a link on a web page and CLICK your MIDDLE MOUSE BUTTON and the link will open in a new tab (in the background). For some reason, the type of mouse that I have, this did not work; however, other mice I have used, this does work.

2 - A workaround, if your middle mouse button does not work (like in my case), is to hover your mouse on a link, is to push down the CTRL key on the keyboard and LEFT MOUSE CLICK the link. Again, this will open the link in a new tab (in the backgound).

 


Windows 10 Technical Preview: Install As A Dual Boot Configuration OR Install In A Virtual Box

October 12, 2014

If you are looking for a method to “test and try” the Windows 10 Technical Preview and you do not have a test PC available; I found detailed instructions, from two very reputable sources, for two common install options. Even though these options are commonly used, it always the general-rule-of-thumb to have backups of your personal files and your hard drive readily available in the event trouble arises.

OPTION #1 (provided by the How To Geek):  How to Dual-Boot Windows 10 with Windows 7 or 8 – You probably shouldn’t install Windows 10 on your primary PC. But, if you are going to, you should at least install it in a dual-boot configuration. You can then reboot to switch between your installed versions of Windows. Be sure you have backups of your important files before doing this. You shouldn’t lose your files if you follow this process, but a mistake or bug could cause you to lose them. Better safe than sorry! … READ MORE

How to Dual-Boot Windows 10 with Windows 7 or 8

 

OPTION #2 (provided by TechRepublic): Pro tip: How to install Windows 10 Technical Preview in VirtualBox – Do you want to take a closer look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview, but you don’t want to disrupt your current computing environment with what is essentially an incomplete and potentially unstable operating system? If, so you’re in luck, because you can do so quite easily and without any fear by installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview in an Oracle VM VirtualBox virtual machine. In this article, I’ll show you how… READ MORE

VirtualBox with Windows 10


Use Ctrl + H in Google Chrome To Access and Manage Your Browsing History

September 13, 2014

If you use the Google Chrome Web Browser, hold down the “Ctrl” key on your keyboard and hit the “H” key… This hotkey combination makes it easy to view your history (for the past 90 days) and to manage various aspects of it, such as “clearing your browsing history” and managing the history on any of your other google account signed-in devices.

Chrome - Browsing History

Use the History page to view a list of websites you’ve ever visited in the last 90 days while using Google Chrome in standard mode. This page doesn’t store pages from secure websites, those you’ve visited in incognito mode, or those you’ve deleted from your browsing history. If you’re signed in to Chrome on multiple devices you will see your browsing history from those signed-in devices. Any changes that you make to your history on one device will be synced to your other signed-in devices automatically.

 


Train Yourself To Use The Windows 8/8.1 Quick Access Menu (aka: Win +X Menu)

September 12, 2014

If you are a Windows 8 user, teach yourself to to use the Quick Access Menu (also known as the “Win + X menu” where you hold down the “Windows Key” on the keyboard and hit the “X” key on the keyboard).

To get to the Quick Access menu using the mouse, right mouse-click the “Start Button” at the bottom-left corner of any screen (including the Start screen or the Desktop) and the menu will pop up. If you don’t see the “Start Button”, move your mouse to the lower-left corner, and the “Start Button” will appear.

Quick Access Menu

The reason you should train yourself to use this menu is that this menu was designed by Microsoft to give you a specific (hidden) location to quickly access the most commonly used and advanced options on your computer, no matter what screen you are working from (for example: you can do things like shut down and sign out, get to Control Panel, Task Manager, File Explorer, or open a Command Prompt window).

Few people know about this menu; and, the few that do know this menu is there, forget to use it. In a nutshell the “Quick Access Menu” gets you to the nuts and bolts of the Windows 8 operating system.


How To Activate The Windows 8.1 Onscreen Keyboards During Those Times Of Laziness

September 8, 2014

There are times when I am at my computer where my posture and position are just not ergonomically correct (by all standards). It is called getting comfortable (by my standards). It is when I am in my comfortable posture and position, with feet propped to the side, that typing from the keyboard requires me to become a contortionist (which then defeats the purpose of being in my comfortable position).

To solve this problem of using the keyboard I use the onscreen keyboards that are built into Windows 8.1 and use the mouse pointer to type (using the hunt and peck method).  To get to these keyboards and have them readily available here is what you do:

1st OPTION: Using the Windows 8.1 Touch Keyboard

1 – To Activate The Keyboard: Right click the taskbar at the bottom of your screen, select Toolbars, then click on Touch Keyboard. 

2 – To Launch The Keyboard: Click on the icon that is now on the taskbar to show or hide the keyboard (you can also click on the close “X” button to hide it, as well).

Touch Keyboard

2nd OPTION: Using the Windows 8.1 On Screen Keyboard

1 – To Activate and Launch The Keyboard: Press the key combination [Windows-Logo]+[R] and type the following command: osk and then confirm by pressing [Enter].

2 – Pinning To Taskbar:  After the keyboard launches, click on the minimize button so that the keyboard minimizes to the taskbar.  Once it is minimized to the taskbar, right mouse click the keyboard icon and select “pin to taskbar”.

3 – Using the Options: This onscreen keyboard can be moved around and resized; whereas the previous keyboard option presented is stationary at the bottom of the screen. There is an option’s button built into this keyboard that will allow you to add or remove features of the this keyboard. One nice feature using this keyboard is that it has word prediction built in, which makes your typing experience faster (and more accurate); PLUS, it also has a “hover” option (when turned on) that you can hover over a key with your mouse pointer and the letter will be typed for you.

On Screen Keyboard

You will see many articles out there on how to turn these keyboards “off”; whereas, for purposes of laziness I have presented you with how to turn these keyboards “on”…

These keyboards are really handy when you need to type in short text strings, such as a web address, a password, etc… I don’t think I will be typing any letters with these; BUT, what I am finding is that I am really getting faster at mouse typing (using the “hunt and peck method” or, maybe I should say the “hunt and click method”).


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