Monthly Archives: October 2014

Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!

I received a message last week from a female robotic voice saying, “Your computer is generating some serious errors, please press 1 to talk to Microsoft service. Please press 1… ” While I was deciding how to track the number and find the thief, the recording stopped and the call disconnected. Hm. Maybe scammers can read my mind now.words only scary microsoft

I’ve had this happen before, but this was the first time I’ve actually had an outerspace robot on the other end. Live people have called me a few times. All of them with foreign accents.


Our conversations went something like this:

“This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages. Would you give me the _______ [I forget what computer info he wanted]?”

“Which computer?” I asked.

“Your main computer”, he replied.

“Which one? I have a few.”

Click. Dead air.


The conversation for another call was similar to the above except I was in teacher/preacher/mother mode.

“”This is Microsoft. Your computer is sending us error messages.”

“The company you’re working for is scamming people.”

I think he denied this. I added, “I’m sure you’re a very smart man. You should find a legitimate company to work for. Have a nice evening.”


Smiley phoneMy cousin tells the caller to hold on while she looks for the information they’re requesting. Then she sets down the phone and continues whatever she was doing when they called. Twenty minutes later she checks the line  and — you guessed it — they’ve usually hung up.


There’s a comedian who will engage the caller or telemarketer in normal conversation — How are ya’? How’s the weather there?, etc — then he’ll ask, “Oh, can you hold on a second?” Then he has a one-sided conversation in the background while the caller listens. It goes something like this:

“Hi, how was the doctor’s visit? Hey, what’s the gun for?”

Pause.

“No, No, NOOOOO!!!!!”

He drops a book or bangs something loudly.

“Oh My God!”

He picks up the phone again, and in a panicked voice he includes the caller in the crisis situation.

“Oh my God, oh my God. She shot herself. Call the police! No, Call an ambulance! No! Call a coroner!”

By this time the caller has hung up. Quite effective, don’t you think?


Now for the Serious Stuff

When scammers call you, they aren’t just trying to sell you phony services, it can be much worse.  Their goal is to do a number of things.

  • Download software that captures your passwords and information.
  • Install malicious trojans or viruses.
  • Take control of your computer remotely.computer handshake

What? You don’t think they can take control of your computer? They can. And when they do, they gain access to all your online banking/investment information, your personal data, and a ton more. Not cool.


How to Stop Them

1) The easiest way is don’t fall victim in the first place.

Microsoft, Apple, Dell, Windows, your internet service provider, or software  security companies (Norton or McAfee are the major ones) won’t call your home…ever.

They are too busy helping the people who call them — which they expect you to do — to go looking for business.

  • DO NOT ask for a phone number to call them back. They can have those rigged, too.
  • DO NOT go to any website they give you. Even to receive a $1000 refund from Microsoft. You know that’s not happening…ever, plus they probably have software on that website to capture your I.D.’s and passwords.

Remember, if it’s too easy or too good to be true, it is. Most of the time those greedy enough to pursue these kinds of offers end up wishing they hadn’t.

2) Disable Remote Desktop

Remote Desktop is a function of Windows that allows someone not near your computer (via the internet) to access your computer information and settings.

Scammers will try to walk you through enabling Remote Desktop. Just tell them it’s disabled on purpose, and you can’t reenable it without talking to your computer tech first. The scammer will probably hang up.


How to Disable Remote Desktop:

With Windows 7 or 8, a) open File Explorer (the file icon on your task bar), b) right-click on Computer in the left margin, c) click Properties  in the dropdown menu.


You can also get to the Systems window the long way. I wouldn’t.

In Windows 8, a) hover over the top or bottom right to open the Charms Bar — yep, it has a name — b) click Settings at the bottom of the bar, then c) Control Panel toward the top, d) scroll down to System.

In Windows 7, a) click the Start button on your task bar, b) select Control Panel in the right column, c) click Settings, then d) System.


In the System window, 1) open Remote Settings in the left margin.
Windows 8 remote settings

 

2) Uncheck the top box, and make certain the radio button is blackened in front of Don’t allow remote connections to this computer.
remote desktop disable

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3) click Apply, and 4) OK.

Congratulations. You’re done.

You may wish to read in the System Properties window What happens when I enable Remote Assistance? and Help me choose. Especially, if you’re considering applying this to an office computer. You can always re-enable Remote Assistance at any time if you actually need someone you know or you’ve called to access your computer, then disable it again later.


Have a safe and successful computing week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀

Related blogs: Creating the Safest Passwords; and Spotting Hoax Emails;


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

 

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Making Sense of Terms of Service (a.k.a. EULAs)

We’ve all done it. Yes, you have. Don’t deny it.Question mark smilie

“Done what?” you ask.

Rapidly read, or purposely skipped, a EULA for a software or app download.


What’s a EULA? over time you wish to use free or paid software or apps, you must agree to an End-User Licensing Agreement or EULA (their terms and conditions) before you’re allowed to download said software.


Most standard EULAs exist to protect developer ideas along with their licensing partners. This is especially true for apps. Many apps are independently created and sold for distribution to software giants like Google Play or The App Store (Apple).

The trouble is some EULAs aren’t standard. These EULAs are the problem causers.

timeThe trap many computer users fall into is the time trap. That’s the place where not-enough-hours-in-the-day meets the-abyss-of-EULA-legalese.

Some Time Management Thoughts

  • iTunes and Mag+ Publisher EULAs are each 33 pages long and over 15,000 words.
  • Paypal’s User Agreement has 16 sections for a grand total of 61 pages and over 26,000 words.

Guess how many words are in a novella? Yep, same amount: 17,500 to 40,000. And novellas are light reading. EULAs? Not so much.

I somewhat understand the Paypal EULA length since it’s a banking service, but still. Don’t get me wrong, I love Paypal. It keeps my credit card/banking info on one site rather than spread all over the internet.


More EULA Food for Thought

  • A few days ago, Nintendo updated its EULA for the Wii U gaming console.

If you don’t accept their new EULA terms, your game console shuts down and becomes unusable. Really nice after you’ve shelled out $300 or more USD for it originally.

The truly bothersome thing is the presidence Nintendo is setting. Now EULAs not only affect digital content, but actual physical items.


I know what you’re thinking, “Nintendo can’t do that. EULA’s aren’t really legally binding”.

If EULAs are or aren’t lawful depends solely upon the court trying the case. There have been court cases — ProCD, Inc. v. Zeidenberg is cited regularly — where courts have upheld the legality of EULAs.

So if EULA’s might be legally binding, what’s to safeguard the innocent computing public?Flying contract

We all know even when we read contracts sometimes the legal descriptions and verbiage just flies right over our heads. True enough? Not to mention the “boring” factor.


Here’s the blog section where I actually give you useful information. I knew you’d be happy.

First, some EULAs should be read in their entirety.

I’m talking about investment or financial sites. You have hard currency deposited with these places so you need to know what’s in their EULAs.

I’m also talking about sites that have access to your personal information.

Second, the following trick doesn’t work on EULAs that display in a pop-up window. However, it’s very useful for EULAs that display in .pdf form or browser windows.

Saving Time Reading EULAs

STEP 1: Know problematic EULA terms and phrases.

The terms or phrases the standard computing public should look out for include:

  • unlawful
  • pay/purchase*
  • share/give*
  • allow
  • trial*
  • rights
  • install*
  • uninstall/removal*

The asterisks (*) are the important ones, in my opinion (and that’s why you read this blog).

What we’re looking for with these terms are EULAs that state: a) they share or give your personal information away to other sites, b) may install other things on your computer (tracking software, tool bars, etc.), c) you can’t remove their software once you’ve installed it — Ha! I’d like to see them stop me — and d) you have to pay for something after a trial period, often at a cost that’s mind-boggling.

STEP 2: Determine if the EULA is a pop-up or not. This is easy. If it looks like the below example, and you can only click decline/accept or agree/disagree, it’s a pop-up. If that’s the case, I suggest you read it.
Adobe EULA WindowRemember, we can’t search a pop-up window for suspicious or unusual terms.

STEP 3: For a EULA in a browser window, Press Ctrl + F to search for terms or phrases.
EULA in Browser WindowNotice the nice box in the lower left corner? This is where you type your search criteria or terms.

STEP 4: Type in each term you wish to search out separately (see Step 1) then press Enter.

STEP 5: Use the up and down arrows to the right of the search box to view all your finds.


DISCLAIMER: This is my personal strategy. I am sharing it with the intent to help you avoid wasted time, and worse, legal problems. Use these techniques at your own risk. I am not a lawyer nor have I ever desired to be one.


Things You Should Know

1) When you put software on your computer, you do not now, nor will you ever, own it.

Most software is copyright by the developer(s) or the company who paid big bucks to the developer(s) to own it, and that wasn’t you.

Here’s an analogy. Written works are copyrights of the author who created them. You can pay $4.99 for a book, but you don’t own those writings. You own the book to read those writings, but not the original text.

It’s the same with computer software. But unlike books, you can’t loan a computer program to a friend for two weeks then get it back.

2) Many EULAs limit the resale of digital content. This has a lot to do with owner versus user rights like the ones we talked about above.

In 2010, a court upheld a developer’s right not to have its software resold courtroomor transferred by the original purchaser as stated in its EULA. This case came about by — you guessed it — a resale of software on Ebay.

The new and unopened software was resold by a gentleman who bought it at a business liquidation auction. The case started in 2008, and went back and forth on appeals. Check out Vernor v. Autodesk.  It’s interesting reading for computer geeks… and maybe even if you’re not.


Interesting Items in EULAs

Did you know…?

  • You can’t use iTunes for warfare.

“You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture, or production of nuclear, missile, or chemical or biological weapons.”

Personally, I’ve considered calling the Pentagon several times with suggestions of certain pop and rap songs usable as auditory weapons of mass destruction.

  • EA (Electronic Arts, a game company) isn’t responsible for “…LOSS OF GOODWILL, WORK STOPPAGE…”

Meaning if you fight with a friend over an EA game, don’t call them for bail, or if you call in sick or late for work because of their game and get fired, you can’t sue them for lost wages. Makes perfect sense to me.

  • Facebook can give anyone your info at anytime.

“…you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, worldwide license to use any IP content that you post on or in connection with Facebook (IP License).”

Facebook does give you an out by stating the above is “subject to your privacy and application settings”. So if you have strict privacy settings, they won’t give away as much of your stuff to everyone else on the net. They explain their reasoning in the next blurb.

“When you publish content or information using the Public setting, it means that you are allowing everyone, including people off of Facebook, to access and use that information, and to associate it with you (i.e., your name and profile picture).”

Last Thoughts on EULAs:

  • A few weeks ago I blogged about unknowingly adding tool bars to your computer (Extra Annoying Programs). Some EULAs do this.

Be careful to uncheck any boxes that could download extra content to your computer or browser before you agree to a EULA.

My Suggestion

contractIf you must pick and choose which EULAs to read, read the ones that matter.

Those would be from banks and financial institutes, and any site that has access to your private information.

On the freebie programs with no personal info, I’d search for download, tracking, location, and call it good.

Why?

1) You’re looking for anything downloading you don’t know about, and 2) mobile devices now can pinpoint your location like a GPS.

Number 2 is particularly bad if strangers want to track your kids, and particularly good if you want to track your kids.

My last suggestion is to use EULAs as bedtime reading. The “boring” factor I talked about earlier really comes in handy for insomniacs.

Have a great week, and thanks for following Patti’s Pathways. 🙂


Related posts you might like: How Secure is Dropbox? Extra Annoying Programs


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.

Welcome Windows 10!

October is a nightmare month for me. Terrifying in terms of the number of places to scared girlgo and people to see, not to mention stuffing day-to-day activities into the same time frame.

But guess what? I have more planned at the end of the month, but until then…  I’m baaaack. Cue scary music.


A few weeks ago I informed, notified, warned —pick your poison — of a new Microsoft OS on the horizon. The big announcement came on September 30 as promised, but speculation the new operating system (a.k.a. Threshhold) would be unveiled as Windows 9 was wrong. Microsoft skipped right over the number nine and went straight to double digits.

Welcome To the World Windows 10!

Hello little Windows 10.  We hear you’re a lot less horrifying than Windows 8 (which isn’t anywhere near as petrifying as Windows Vista). We want you to be our friend.

Niceties out of the way, it’s time to dissect our new buddy Windows 10.

With Windows 10 Microsoft has tried to lessen confusion by bringing back the familiarity of Windows 7 while keeping the new interface of Windows 8. Thank you Microsoft development crew.

Windows 10 is probably what Windows 8 should’ve been. Glad to see Microsoft realized the general public wasn’t ready for a futuristic Windows product just quite yet.

A few days ago Microsoft released a test version of Windows 10, and anyone can words only scary microsoftdownload it. But beware.

Windows 10 Technical Preview has numerous bugs, but that’s to be expected. It’s a preview. What wasn’t expected is the depth to which this preview can access your personal information.

“When you acquire, install and use the Program, Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.

For example, when you:

* install the Program, we may collect information about your device and applications and use it for purposes such as determining or improving compatibility,

* use voice input features like speech-to-text, we may collect voice information and use it for purposes such as improving speech processing,

* open a file, we may collect information about the file, the application used to open the file, and how long it takes any use it for purposes such as improving performance, orscreaming woman

* enter text, we may collect typed characters and use them for purposes such as improving autocomplete and spellcheck features.”

Scared spitless yet? You should be.

The good news is other people have downloaded and tested the preview so we don’t have to. Thank you brave computing souls.


What’s new in Windows 10?

Windows 10 has a fresh — not as alien as Windows 8 — look. Some of the icons within Windows 10 look different, but basically function the same as Windows 7.

  • Apps will appear in separate windows.
  • There are dozens of new shortcut key commands. Like “snapping” windows into different corners of your desktop.
  • File Explorer gets smarter in Windows 10. It’ll remember what you recently opened and keep track of your favorite files so you have faster access to the files you use regularly.
  • Taskview will be available so you can see all your open windows along the bottom bar of your desktop.
  • Search includes Internet finds.
  • MS also did some housekeeping, making a few minor changes. Like the ability to cut and paste into the command prompt, which will make intermediate computer users fairly happy.
  • Probably one of the neatest new features is multiple virtual desktops.

What’s that mean? Say I’m working on my blog and have Adobe Photo Shop open, MS Word open, plus a few web windows (WordPress edit, WordPress preview, etc.).

Someone asks me to start a spreadsheet project or to look up something on the internet for them. Before Windows 10, I’d need to add this to my sole desktop mess of open windows. With Windows 10, I can open a new, clean virtual desktop and work there.

With a few mouse clicks or shortcut keys, I can switch between virtual desktops. From what I understand, there is an auto-save function so you can call up your virtual desktops on any device at any time.

NOTE OF CAUTION: When you’re 100% through with a project on a virtual desktop, close/erase the desktop. I foresee people unfamiliar with these eventually having 30 or more virtual desktops open and wondering why their computer performance is suffering.


Okay, now to address the big question for us casual gamers: does Windows 10 have OpenGL?

Windows 10 description says it ships with DirectX12. I have a feeling as with Windows 8, there’ll be no OpenGL on Windows 10.

But fear not! The Grim Reaper hasn’t come for us yet.Grim reaper

At least for Minecraft junkies, there’s a silver lining. Sorry Angry Bird fans, you’ll have to tweak OpenGL as detailed in my first post. See below for the link.

For Minecraft fanatics, the great news is that Microsoft recently purchased Minecraft from Mojang. There’s little doubt Microsoft will fix the Minecraft issues to run with its Operating Systems. It would be counterproductive for them to leave their game unplayable on their OS… I hope.

I’ll update the OpenGL info soon after Windows 10 is released.


Whether you run a 4″ mobile device or an 80″ LED screen, you can use Windows 10. Keep your eyes and ears open. Rollout should start spring of 2015.

Have a great week, and thanks for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


Related Blogs: On the Threshold of Windows 9, A Notch in the Belt of Microsoft, Finally a Fix for Windows 8 OpenGL Error


All images used within EULA parameters granted by Microsoft.


 

DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own unless otherwise noted. I experience troubles with technology just like any other person, and if I stumble upon a fix or suggestion I feel could benefit others I pass it along. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any degrees or certificates related to computer repair.

I have during my career assembled parts into working computers; done troubleshooting on hardware and software; utilized a great many computer programs and software; designed and updated websites and blogs; as well as created brochures, banners, and flyers.