Tag Archives: Patti’s Pathways

Patti’s Pathways has computer and health tips and solutions for daily life.

To Shred or Not to Shred

shredded paperWe’ve just started a new year. Now is a great time to sort and shred miscellaneous documents and bills you won’t need any longer.

The big question is what needs shredded versus what can be safely recycled?

Psst. Notice I said recycle and not pitch in the garbage bin. Learn from that. *wink* Recycling is easier than ever.

WHAT CAN SAFELY BE RECYCLE WITHOUT SHREDDING

There’s a lot of things that you can simply recycle without the need to shred. Some of the most common are:

  • Any, and all, junk mail that aren’t credit card solicitations.
  • Miscellaneous charity soliticitations.
  • Old utility bills.
  • Receipts from your credit card with all but the last four digits X’d out.
  • The body of a letter.
  • All envelopes.

I tear off and shred the top one-third of letters and bills envelopesif it contains my name and address, particularly if it’s a notice from a financial or investment institute. I don’t want people sifting through my papers knowing where I have accounts. If it’s a standard letter, anyone can get that information from the phone book so I feel it’s not as necessary.


TIP: I don’t have a shred box at my desk, but I do haveshred box a To Shred folder and a recycle paper box. When my To Shred folder gets too full, it goes to the shredder, then usually to the recycle bin where it awaits Recycle Day.


WHAT SHOULD BE SHREDDED:

  • Any portion of a financial statement containing your name, social security number, or account information.
  • Pre-filled credit card solicitations. You know the ones. You get these a couple of times a week.

FYI: Always write “Void” across any credit card application you’re mailing back to request removal from a mailing list.

  • Prescription receipts. Being the paranoid kind of person I am, I shred these. People don’t need to know what drugs my family or I have paid for or been prescribed. I’ve done this for years, and when HIPAA came out I felt vindicated.
  • Anything with your full credit card number.

When recycling shredded paper, check with your recycle center on how they’d like you to send it. Mine asks it be in a separate bag.


TIP: If you own a business, organize your own Recycle symbolRecycle Day. Have all department staff—essential staff can also pitch in until they’re required to answer the phone or help a customer—sort files. If you have too many documents for in-house shredding, there are reputable shredding services. Consult your Better Business Bureau and hire one.


WHEN TO SHRED:

I struggle with when to shred as much as what. The State of Washington’s Attorney General site has super info on why, what, and when to shred at What to Shred.


TIP: I have a printed copy of retention guidelines taped to the front of my To File folder, and another copy in the front of my filing cabinet.


Last Thoughts on Records:

If you’re interested in what to receive digitally in our paper-free computer society, here’s a great article at Kiplinger.com.

If you have questions about record retention for tax purposes, visit irs.gov and search recordkeeping.


I hope you’ve learned something new or gotten new ideas.

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


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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Food Additives and Preservatives

I’m straying far from my computer how-to genre this week. Bear with me. It’s for your own good. Yes, I do sound like your mother. But, it’s a new year, and a great time to think about your health.


1950's Family DinnerFifty years ago, there was no need to worry about what was in our food. Much of the food came from nearby farms or cities, plus not many  preservatives or additives were used.

Go into any grocery store today and find a package of your favorite food with less than three to five ingredients you can’t pronounce. Tough, isn’t it?

Never fear. Even though we’ve got a long way to go, things are getting better due to vigilant purchasers refusing to buy unhealthy foods for themselves and their families.

I’ve been researching food additives and preservatives for years. You’d be amazed at how food additives can affect our health. Sometimes in ways we can’t fathom. Check out my blog Tourette’s Syndrome and the Effect of Sweeteners.

TIP: If you or a family member has reactions that seem to be unexplainable (headaches, emotional and anger issues, attention problems, and more), research foods. Someone else has probably dealt with the same thing. If you can’t find anything helpful, it’s time to be your own detective by watching foods ingested two to six hours before the onset of symptoms.

I’ve been told my diligence in avoiding certain additives and preservatives is over-cautious, but I plan to live a long, productive life so over-cautious works for me.

In this blog, I’m only providing information. You’ll need to come to your own conclusions, and weigh how much effort you want to put into researching the food you buy.


food label readWhy do I care what’s in the foods I buy?

1) Many additives and preservatives used in the United States are  banned in Europe. Think about that one.

Why? I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me since they have social medicine, their governments don’t want to pay for treatments of cancers caused by foods.

2) It is proven certain additives and preservatives adversely affect behavior in children. If these make such a difference in how children act, can they be healthy for the general public?


I’ve come to the determination you can’t stay away from every additive and preservative. Because they’re in nearly every food around us—I do shop my organic grocers often—it makes the most sense for me to focus on those suspected of causing cancer.

Researchers code additives and preservatives as H = hyperactivity, A = asthma, and C = cancer. We’re going to worry about the C’s today.

Yes, I’ve heard laboratory tests use concentrated dosages of a substance to incite cancer growth. Do I care? No. Why? Studies show the effect of the H (hyperactivity) and the A (asthma) on people in normal dosages. Can the C (cancer) be far behind?

cellI’ve also heard everyone has cancer cells in their bodies, some people just don’t battle them effectively. That’s not true. We all have damaged cells, not cancer cells. Our cells police themselves. If a cell is too damaged it will either repair or kill itself.

Jennifer Loros, Ph.D, a professor of biochemistry and genetics at Dartmouth medical school says, “Everyone has cells that have mutant proteins from DNA damage, but to say that that’s cancer would be alarmist.” She also says, “Cancer can occur when the normal checkpoints in the cell cycle are misregulated somehow and the [damaged] cell starts dividing.”


Today’s Computer Tip:  Aren’t you happy there’s one in this blog?

You can easily search the internet for additives and preservatives that trigger H (hyperactivity) and A‘s (asthma). Copy and paste a table list into a database program like MS Excel. Then you can sort your data. I sorted mine by “C”.

FYI: European labels note their preservatives using numbers so don’t be confused with this in your web searches. Most lists are sorted by number.
Europe rating


I’ve included a printable list for your wallet at the end of this blog with my recommendations, but here’s what I’ve found on additives and preservatives.

  • All added colors, except caramel and greens, have caused cancers in the laboratories.

I know. It’s nearly impossible to stay away from colorings. Just be aware that food producers are starting to use natural colorings, like turmeric. And there are some products you can buy  now without colorings; I’m specifically thinking of Gatorade’s line of clear drinks.

  • Be aware of the below C causing additives and preservatives and try to avoid them.

Aluminum, BHT/BHA, benzoic acid, biphenol/diphenol, camauba wax, carrageenan, chlorine/chlorine dioxide, cyclamic acid/cyclamate, formic acid, magnesium sulphate, orthophenyl phenol, polysorbate, polyxyl/polyxyethylene stearate, potassium acesulphame, potassium bromate, propyl gallate, insoluble polyvinylpyrrolidone (wine, beer, pharmaceuticals), saccharine, and talc.

  • Stay away from all polysorbates, (other sorbates are not C’s), nitrites, and nitrates. They’re all C’s.

NOTE: I found after this article was published potassium sorbate and calcium sorbate are preservatives which are H’s and A’s, but not C’s. However, all polysorbates are C’s. I’ve updated the wallet cheat sheet below.

  • Be aware that chewing gums use petroleum jelly, white mineral oil, and paraffin, which are C’s.

Notice I haven’t list MSG? Why?

NO MSGResearch is divided on MSG. It’s definitely an H and an A, but researchers are split on the C.

What do I do? I steer clear of MSG. If I purchase a product with it by mistake, I don’t freak. No one in my family gets headaches or other immediately hazardous reactions.

In the USA, food manufacturers hide MSG on labels due to the bad press it received.

  • MSG is currently hidden in lists as natural flavors, yeast extracts, hydrolyzed proteins, glutamic acid and caseinate.

Another giveaway are the flavor enhancers disodium guanylate and disodium inosinate. In themselves, they aren’t dangerous, but they are almost always exclusively used with MSG since they themselves do nothing for flavor.

If a label says No MSG, it’s safe from MSG.


dairyOn a side note, I’m dairy intolerant so I carry a second list. Dairy intolerance is different from lactose intolerance. Lactose is specifically milk related; dairy is dairy related.

Hidden Food Label Dairy Ingredients:
*Casein/casinates * Hydrolysates *Lactalbumin/lactoglobulin/lactitol momhydrate *Nisin preparation * Nougat * Quark * Recaldent * Rennet * Simplesse * Whey *
May have milk: *Artificial flavorings * Caramel flavoring * High protein flour * rice cheese * soy cheese *

NOTE: If a label says Vegan or Dairy-free, it’s safe. If it says Non-dairy, it’s usually not. Non-dairy means no milk, but they frequently use dairy proteins as preservatives.

I’m blessed to not go into anaphylaxis. If I eat a bit of dairy, I get normal allergy symptoms: stuffy nose, watery eyes, headache, and itching of my nose plus other places people do not want to see me scratch. If I eat a lot of dairy, my muscles and joints ache as if I have a virus. Milk or dairy is poison to the body that can’t tolerate it.


I hope this post has given you information to make good food choices. Have a safe week, and thanks again for visiting Patti’s Pathways 😀


Wallet Cheat Sheet:
Note: If the back “Don’t cause cancer” says “other” in front, this means there’s at least one additive listed on the front with a similar name that does cause cancer.
additive cheat sheet

 

 

 

 


DISCLAIMER: Any and all ideas presented in this blog are solely my own. On any health related blogs, I am merely giving advice that seems logical to me after research and investigation. At no time, have I suggested or implied that I hold any medical degrees or certificates related to nutrition, psychological, pharmaceutical, or medical health.


New Year’s Computer Clean Up Resolution

happy New Year sunsetWelcome 2015 with a Faster, Cleaner, More Cooperative Computer


I don’t mean with a new computer, but if you got one for Christmas… Booya! to you. I’m talking about cleaning the crapware and extra programs from your good old ancient PC or laptop hard drive. It’ll run faster and better. Trust me. You’ll like it.


Between computer geeks I know and online gurus, I’ve got a few great suggestions for programs that take the work out of computer clean up.

Did I mention all of the programs use free software? If you’re impressed with the freebie, you can always upgrade to get more features. If you aren’t, it’s easy—and cheap—to remove and try something different.


tech money further cropDISCLAIMER: I have zero tech budget that isn’t from my own pocketbook. No software company has asked me to promote their programs.


CLEANING YOUR PC

First stop on our tour is our old friend Download.com. Remember it? No, Well, it’s your one-stop shopping headquarters for free and paid program downloads. Plus it offers editor and user reviews for all downloads. I find it super helpful to know what other people think of a product before I commit it to my hard drive, even free ones.

I’ll add direct links for most programs I’m suggesting, but download.com is a great place to find info about any program you want to check out.

Here’s a link to http://www.download.com, but for future reference when you search, it’ll look like this:Download (dot) com


NOTE ONE: the above link takes you to the Windows page. There are tabs across the top so you can search Mac, iOS, or Android applications as well.

NOTE TWO: It’s best to remove a program you don’t use or aren’t thrilled with rather than download a new one and leave them both on your harddrive. Some programs, like wayward children, don’t play well with others. I’ll tell you more about removing programs later in this blog.

ABOUT DOWNLOAD.COM: While it doesn’t covertly add extra programs you don’t want, it does have paid advertisers. Be aware of where your download is versus paid ad downloads.
Hijack This - Download

 


Beginner Computer Users and Beyond

Beginning computer users, this section is for you.

These programs do the work for you and you don’t have to worry that they’ll erase something they shouldn’t.

FYI: Some programs require a bit of software knowledge to use effectively (i.e. knowing which programs to keep thus not turning your computer into an expensive doorstop).

The “Beyond” in the title means these programs are equally useful for seasoned computer users, including programmers.

Must-Have Programs:

1) CCleanerCCleaner

CCleaner is a program by Piriform. It cleans unused and temporary files from your hard drive, cleans your browser history, and more. You can tweak it to clean, or not, any areas you wish.

I’ve used it for years and it’s never erased files necessary to run my computer. It’s not set to find those. Try it.

Download it here: CCleaner

Adv Sys care2) Advanced System Care

This is my current computer protection system. I say system because Advanced System Care does it all: anti-virus, system security, system optimization and clean up, even blocks malicious data stealing programs. It scans, repairs and optimizes. And that’s the free one. Upgrading to the Pro versions is very reasonable.

Get it here: Advanced System Care

malware bytes3) Malware Bytes

For removal of malicious and simply annoying programs infiltrating your computer, this is it. The free version won’t protect your computer from attack, but it’s great for removing Trojans and other hurtful viruses or adware.

Download it here: Malware Bytes


The above group of programs will clean and secure your computer causing it to run faster and safer. It’s well worth the effort.

NOTE: If you leave a cleaning program set to clear your browser cookies, it will most likely also remove your saved passwords and I.D.’s, unless a specific option is chosen to leave these alone.  But…i t’s not always a bad thing to clean I.D.’s out of your computer’s memory banks.

FYI: I never save passwords unless I don’t care if the site gets hacked.


fancy computer setupIntermediate Computer Users and Beyond

There are really good programs out there that take a bit of knowledge, patience (to research what to get rid of), or both to use. HiJack This is one of these.

1) Hijack This

This program is owned by Trend Micro, and can nose out viruses and Trojans with the best of them. Like Malware Bytes, it’s a removal tool.

With Hijack This, you’ll need to know your programs. It will remove indescriminantly… which is bad if it deletes programs needed to run your computer.

You can find it here: Hijack This

NOTE FOR BEGINNERS: You can use these types of programs, but don’t let them blanket delete anything. They’re set to scan everything, and don’t descriminate between harmful and helpful programs.

TIP: If you don’t know what something installed on your computer does, err on the side of caution and leave it alone. A google search will usually tell you about a program, file, registry entry, etc. you’re thinking of deleting, and if you should or not.

quarantined files copyMost removal tools allow you to quarantine files and this is super.

Why? Sometimes viruses disguise themselves as system files. When you quarantine a file, it’s not removed from your computer. Rather it’s stuck away in “file jail”. If you find your computer runs fine with it in jail, it was a virus and not a system file so it’s safe to permanently empty your quarantine folder.


Other Programs I’ve Used:

Windows Defender: Don’t forget about this one. It’s a nice little protective program that comes with your copy of Windows and is enabled by default.

Avast Anti-Virus: I really liked Avast when I used it. I’m not using it currently. It can be set to detect threats, but a few things sneak in anyway.

AVG Anti-Virus: For detection and removal it’s not as good as Malware Bytes, but it’s great at protecting against spyware.

Ad-Aware Anti-Virus: (by Lavasoft): I liked Ad-Aware. It didn’t find as many problems as Malware Bytes, but it did a good job.

Spybot Malware Remover:  I haven’t found anything with Spybot that Malware Bytes did’t detect, but it’s a great little program.

Comodo Anti-Virus: I wasn’t as psyched about Comodo as some techies because it evolves like artificial intelligence as it learns your computing habits. You tell it which sites and programs you want to allow each time you visit a site or install a program.

Part of my problem was when I tried Comodo I had Windows Vista as an OS. Each time I reinstalled Vista (which was often), I had to start over training Comodo. It got old fast. But you might like it. If you don’t, it’s easily removed.

Anvi Ad-Blocker: I’m currently using this. As far as I can tell, It works very well. If you wish to try it, you can find it here: Anvi Ad-Blocker


TIP: I love the notification area (that’s its name) at the bottom right of my Windows Desktop. I house all my mainentance and cleanup icons there plus a lot more.
Notification Area

BrrrrAnd yeah, that’s the actual temperature outside where I live… in Fahrenheit.

And no, I don’t live in Alaska, but sometimes the lower forty-eight are colder.


Now that we’ve talked about programs to add to your cleaning arsenal, let’s talk about removing programs you don’t want to free up memory.

Removing Unwanted Programs

Removing programs is done through your Control Panel. Remember how to access that? No? Here’s a refresher then.

 In Windows 7 and before, 1) open the start menu in the corner of your taskbar. 2) click Control Panel.
Windows 7 Control Panel

In Windows 8 and 8.1, 1) go to Settings at the bottom of your Charms Bar (hover over the top or bottom right corners of your screen to open it), and 2) Choose Control Panel.
Control Panel

In Windows 10, no clue. What? You didn’t know there was a Windows 10. Find out more about it at Welcome Windows 10!


3) In Control Panel, you have a plethora — yes, a plethora — of choices. Find the one labeled 4) Programs and Features and click on it.

Oops, don’t see it? You’re in Catagory View. Change the view to Large Icons so you have an alphabetical listing. So much easier.

Under Programs and Features, you’ll see all the individual programs you can or want to uninstall. Find any programs you currently aren’t using or don’t want, and uninstall.

TIP: If you aren’t sure what a program does, google it. I recently uninstalled my weather app — yep, the same one that says it’s 3 degrees Fahrenheit outside — by mistake. It was no biggy, but it’ll save time if you know what programs run your features.


RECAP OF COMPUTER CLEAN UP

These can be done in any order. Remember defrag and full scans take awhile, while cleaning old unused shortcuts, browser history and things with CCleaner takes less time.

1) Run CCleaner and remove the extra junk it finds.

2) Scan and enable protections with Advanced System Care.

3) Run Malware Bytes and remove extra malware it locates.

4) Uninstall from Programs and Features unused or unwanted programs.

5) Lastly, it’s time to defragment your hard drive memory.

Knowing how hard drives use memory will help you understand why defragging a hard drive speeds up your computer.


From Spotting Extra Annoying Programs:

How Hard Drive Memory is Used

Imagine your computer hard drive as a piece of graph paper. There are squares across plus up and down where we save data. The top left square gets the first item saved. We’ll pretend each square stores a byte of data.Mona Lisa

First, I save a word processing document worth ten squares (bytes). Now I’ve found a picture of the Mona Lisa I like so I’m saving it. Mona’s cost in space is five squares. So far I’ve saved fifteen squares of total data.

Oh, I forgot. I need to edit down my document; it’s too long. I erase two squares of data and re-save. I now have two open squares between my document and Mona on my hard drive.

Now I create a spreadsheet worth seven squares. Data saves in all open squares first. This means two squares of spreadsheet data are saved between my document and Mona while the last five of the seven squares save behind Mona.

This happens over and over as we save items to our hard drives. Computers slow down when we ask them to piece together an item spread out over many squares.


Defragging Your Hard Drive

In Windows 7 or before, open the Disk Defragmenter by choosing Start > All Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Disk Defragmenter.

In Windows 8, the name’s been changed to Optimize Drives.
defrag win 8

FYI: Obit (Advanced System Care) has a Smart Defrag program that does the same thing.


Happy New year snowAfter you’ve tried the things I’ve suggested above, you should be pleased with how well your computer works.

Have a Happy New Year’s and a very productive 2015. And thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


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.

Giving Out Credit Card Numbers

Happy Holidays! It’s the season of giving, peace on earth, Untitled-1and goodwill to man.

Unfortunately, wrapped up with all the holiday cheer is an upsurgence in unscrupulous people.

After all the looting recently in St. Louis, I wondered how many kids got stolen merchandise as gifts. And how many knew it was stolen?  Envision the exchange at a looter holiday. “Here, Johnny, I got you this sparkling new bike.” “Wow, you’re the  best uncle in the world!” Yeah, right.

Hey, Looters! Ever think of setting a good example, you thugs? You’re not protesters; you’re criminals who steal and destroy your neighbors’ hard work by looting and burning their stores.

dog snow tongueThen there are those who steal delivered packages off the front porches of others. Last week a few got their comeuppance. A couple in Washington, D.C. — tired of having their packages stolen from their front porch — rewrapped a special gift for the porch package pilferers. They videotaped the gift exchange so they could enjoy it for years to come, and share it with local law enforcement. The box they left was filled with dog poo. Ah, pooetic justice at its best.


Now for the real point of today’s blog: telephone scammers who ask for your personal information and credit card number.

Recently a friend received two calls in as many weeks asking for his credit card number. Both of these calls could’ve been legit, but he’s very smart and didn’t give out any information. The first caller identified themselves as from his bank; the second said they were from his new cell phone service.

The “bank” caller asked him to verify his social security number. He didn’t. Then they asked for him to verify his address. He said, “Um, you’re my bank. Shouldn’t you already know my address?” Then they asked for a credit card number and that tore it. He had a few choice words for them at this point and hung up.

shopping cart iconThe cell phone caller went immediately for the throat. They said his calling limit had been reached, and if he wanted to continue he needed to give them a credit card number. He just bought the phone the week before so he knew that wasn’t the case.


By the way,  it’s legit in our age of technology to charge items to your cell phone account much like you do to your credit card account.

In fact, this past October, the FTC reached a $105 million settlement with AT&T for adding unauthorized charges — technically known as “cramming” — to their clients billings.

The FTC has some great tips on protecting yourself from cramming and what to watch for on your telephone bill. Click here.


Today’s Important Lesson Number One: Never ever give out a credit card number to someone who calls you. Only give it out if you initiate the call.

Today’s Important Lesson Number Two: Never call back a number given to you by a caller then give them your credit card number. Scammers  can intercept calls and/or set up phone numbers to look like legit businesses.


Now you’re armed a bit better for scam callers. Don’t feel bad if the calls are actually from a company you do business with. You just did them a favor by advising them their policies need to be brought into the 21st Century.

Have a very blessed holiday season, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!Scammers Posing as the IRS.


 

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.

 

♪ Somebody’s Watchin’ Me ♫

Now that you have the 1984 Motown hit single by Rockwell and M.J. blaring in your head, I’ll explain why I’ve cursed you thus.

Webcams. Yep, webcams are the reason you’re humming hip-hop in your head.


Webcams are wonderful devices. They allow us to video chatWebcam with relatives living far off — if you haven’t tried this, you don’t know what you’re missing.  There’s facial recognition software that allows you to log on to your computer via your webcam. They help us monitor the interior and exterior of our homes and businesses for security purposes.

In this blog, I’m not going to tell you how to use your webcam. Rather, I’m going to tell how to keep others from using your webcam without your knowledge.


This year thousands of unsecured personal and business webcams were hijacked and livestreamed to whomever wished to view them. The site streaming these was closed down a few days later when the world’s major media outlets broke the story six months after the site went live.

It’s a harsh reminder to us with all the newfound wonders of the internet, and the freedoms it gives us, also comes responsibility.

While yoeyeballu might think this behavior is criminal, it’s really only unscrupulous. Why? The webcams chosen had no passwords or the original factory password hadn’t been changed.

Many of cams seized were surveillance cameras. These webcams weren’t only in homes, but offices around the world.

I know what you’re thinking, “Hackers can’t do that to personal laptop webcams, can they?” Um, yeah, unfortunately they can.

Norton, the anti-virus software people, has a good security article on webcam hijackings. In it they mention a lawsuit in Pennsylvania against a school for using webcams on school-issued laptops to spy on students and their families. You can read more from Norton at Are Hackers Using Your Webcam to Watch You?


So other than viewing you in your natural habitat, Baby Peeperwhy do you care if some peeper watches you? You’ve got a boring, lawful life, right?

  • The obvious one: perverts abound on the internet.
  • The site livestreaming hijacked cams listed each webcam’s country and the owner’s last name.
  • If the person viewing recognizes you and your last name, they know exactly when you’re not home. This is especially bad if it’s a business cam.
  • From the picture streaming, the viewer knows exactly where the camera is should they intend to break-in and disable it.
  • Believe it or not, there are websites teaching people how to secretly hack into and turn on webcams.

Secure Your Life

Post-it notes

  • The easiest way to put the kabosh on ill-intended webcam infiltration is incredibly low-tech. Cut a square from the sticky part of a Post-It note and plunk it over the camera hole. Too easy, huh? I have a piece over mine.
  • Have security software installed and enabled on your mobile devices.
  • For any cam device you use (baby monitors, security cameras, etc.), always change the default password. And for goodness sakes, don’t use “12345” or “password” or “11111” … or any other easily guessed pass. See my blog Creating the Safest Passwords for help.
  • Secure your internet router. How? 1) Change the administration password from the default. 2) Use WPA2 encryption, and 3) switch off SSID which broadcasts the name of your router, or change the name to something generic.

Your router users guide can help you. Tip: If you’ve misplaced your router user’s guide, the internet is a spectacular place to find guides. Simply search your router brand and model number and “user’s guide”.


Feel safer? You should. You’ve just taken steps toward securing your life.

Best of luck with your newfound security confidence. Enjoy the independence, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


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.

 

Scammers Posing as IRS

This quick post was necessitated by scam callers…again.phone handset

I wanted to make you, my faithful readers, aware of an ongoing telephone scam. This time the call was from people posing as the IRS.

Yesterday, a lovely recorded woman told me if I didn’t pay the money I owed, the IRS would come to my house, seize my property and sell off my assets to pay the bill. There were a few more sentences filled with aggressive and angry actions to be taken against me if I failed to comply immediately. Yada, yada, yada.

Then, being the super nice and helpful entity she was, she gave me a toll-free number — four or five times — to call to straighten this out. Because we all know, none of us wants to have our assets seized.


man coins falling outHOW SCAMMERS FAKE YOU OUT

From an article (IRS Reiterates Warning of Pervasive Telephone Scam) at www.irs.gov:

“Other characteristics of this scam include:

  • Scammers use fake names and IRS badge numbers. They generally use common names and surnames to identify themselves.
  • Scammers may be able to recite the last four digits of a victim’s Social Security number.
  • Scammers spoof the IRS toll-free number on caller ID to make it appear that it’s the IRS calling.
  • Scammers sometimes send bogus IRS emails to some victims to support their bogus calls.
  • Victims hear background noise of other calls being conducted to mimic a call site.
  • After threatening victims with jail time or driver’s license revocation, scammers hang up and others soon call back pretending to be from the local police or DMV, and the caller ID supports their claim.”

WHAT THE IRS SAYS TO DO

Tax docFrom the same IRS article:

“If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, here’s what you should do:

  • If you know you owe taxes or you think you might owe taxes, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040. The IRS employees at that line can help you with a payment issue, if there really is such an issue.
  • If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to think that you owe any taxes (for example, you’ve never received a bill or the caller made some bogus threats as described above), then call and report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 1.800.366.4484.
  • You can file a complaint using the FTC Complaint Assistant; choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.”

If you wish to report these types of scams, you can at www.irs.gov by typing “scam” in the search box.


I hope you feel empowered now to deal with those annoying, and just plain mean, scammer phone calls.

Holiday Blessings, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways. 😀


RELATED POSTS: Microsoft Won’t Call You…EVER!; How To Spot A Hoax Email


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.

Facebook: Changes Coming January 1, 2015

Guess what? The Facebook gods are messing with your Facebook universe again.FB logo

In my never-to-be-humble opinion, some of the changes are good, some are not, and some only a few people will care about (a.k.a. developers and programmers).


The Good Stuff:

Privacy Check-Up:

Dear Facebook, Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Facebook is adding prompts to help you do just what I taught you in Facebook: Little Known Tips and Tricks, tips five through seven.

Make sure to use this new feature. It’s a great privacy tool. If you want a sneak peek, go here.

“BUY” Button:

In some markets, Facebook is testing a “Buy” button so you can purchase items without leaving Facebook. I have no clue if you’re in a test market, but January 1 you’ll know.

One-time Advertising Control:

You’ll be able to set up advertising options once and it will cover all your devices – mobile or otherwise. Prior to this, you had to set your preferences on each device.


 Neutral Stuff:

mapLocation Information:

Facebook loves to ask where you are and what you’re doing. Now when you tell them, you’ll be prompted with things you might like to do, places you’ll like to eat, and Facebook friends in the area. This might end up being good, but I’m still evaluating the needs for this kind of privacy invasion.

Facebook Family of Companies and Apps:

Facebook has expanded its reach over the years. New terms in January will explain what, and who, their family of companies are plus apps you can use to interact.

Developer Updates:

If you’re a developer, you must comply with Facebook’s Platform Policy. All your special provisions will be merged and linked to an external page. You can find more info here.


The Not-So-Good Stuff:frown face yellow coffee mug

Ad Cookies:

Facebook is jumping on the advertising bandwagon by adding to their cookies. I think you’ll see more ads on your Facebook pages.

“We offer a range of products and features that involve the use of these technologies to reach you based on your activity on and off our Services.”

 Advertising:

But the ads you see won’t be free ones.

“Now we’re bringing new volume and content controls for promotional posts, so people see more of what they want from Pages.”

That we understand and that’s good, but the next part…

“According to people we surveyed, there are some consistent traits that make organic posts feel too promotional:
1 Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app
2.Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real  context
3.Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads”
Here’s what Facebook has to say about organic posts.

“Organic reach refers to how many people you can reach for free on Facebook by posting to your Page.”

Previously, creating and using a Facebook page for only advertising was a no-no. Now, they’ve narrowed it to individual posts.

What does this mean for home-based businesses,  book giveaways from authors, or using canned marketing packages?  I understand it to mean you can’t. I’m not sure of the consequences if you do. I would guess if someone turns in your post to the Facebook police, they’ll take it down.

An example of an organic post per Facebook is shown below. I certainly hope they don’t consider every post from bit.ly an ad. Some of the best recipes found on Facebook are there.
organic post1

What can you do to advertise your product on Facebook? You can pay.  Facebook says they are only trying to keep their subscribers happy and not make money. You decide.

For more information, go to Facebook’s explanation page: Organic Reach on Facebook. If you’re a business client of Facebook, you can find added info here.

 For updates to Facebook Terms and Privacy Policies, click here.

Enjoy the hustle and bustle of this magical season, have a great week, and thanks again for following Patti’s Pathways.


Related posts: Making Sense of Terms of Service


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.