Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Iphone Texting Bug Now Effects Twitter & Snapchat - How You Can Avoid Being "Bitten".

You may have heard about the latest IOS exploit. Someone sends you a malicious text message with a specific string of characters, and when you receive the notification, the text crashes the Messages App, as well as, your device. This bug effects all IOS devices - IPhone, IPod, IPad and Apple Watch. We now know that it also creates havoc with some 3rd party IOS Apps such as Twitter and Snapchat. A similarly formatted DM or Mention sent to your Twitter address, or a text chat via the Snapchat App, will crash your device.

 

Apple is currently working on a fix and plans to release it soon, but this bug is spreading rapidly. So, what can you do? Apple has posted a 3 step workaround for the Messages App problem - using SIRI.

  1. Ask SIRI to read "unread messages."
  2. Use SIRI to reply to the malicious message. After you reply, you'll be able to open the Messages again.
  3. If the issue continues, tap and hold the malicious message, tap More, and delete the message from the thread.

In order to prevent the exploit on 3rd party Apps like Twitter & Snapchat - Go to Settings>Notifications and turn off Notifications for Twitter and Snapchat.

This may be inconvenient, but I suspect Apple will roll out an update - very soon.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Another WIFI Router Exploit Has Been Exposed - Is Your Home Router Safe?

Home WIFI routers are powerful little devices. Unfortunately, as we have said before, they have become commodities. Although cheap and generally ignored, they are the first line of protection between you and the Internet Frontier. Most folks just plug them in and walk away. The manufactures rarely bother updating the firmware and they gradually become a security nightmare.

Every few months we hear about a new exploit. Well, we have another one that compromises NetUSB. This security flaw affects a wide range of different routers from a number of different manufacturers. It could allow attackers to remotely execute malicious code that compromises connected devices on your network.

Essentially, NetUSB allows any USB device plugged directly into a router to be available to other devices. So that could be a printer, external hard drive, USB storage key, etc. In order for Windows & Mac machines to access the devices plugged into a router, there’s a client-side driver for USB running over IP.

First, your router must have a USB port in order to be compromised. Many older routers didn't include a USB interface for sharing. If your router does have a USB port, disconnecting the device form the port does not ameliorate the issue. So, what can you do? The biggest concern would be a remote attack from the Internet. NetUSB uses port 20005. Is port 20005 open to the Internet, on your router? Here's the test.

  1. Thanks to Steve Gibson you can scan your router to check this port. If it reports back as Stealth - you are fine. This indicates that you are not exposed from the Internet. You could still have an issue "inside" your local area network, so you may want continue with steps 2 and 3 below. If the scan does not indicate Stealth, you definitely should continue the steps below. Go here to run the scan. https://grc.com/x/portprobe=20005
  2. Check to see if your manufacture has a firmware update for this problem, as well as, other security issues.
  3. Look in the Administrative Web Interface to see if you can turn off sharing on the USB port. Some routers do provide a toggle to shut this down.

If you are unable correct the issue you will have to wait for the manufacture to update the firmware or purchase a new router. If the port probe does indicate
Stealth - I would be far less concerned, and simply wait for the update.

Home router exploits have become a major problem in the last few years. Check often for firmware updates and retire those older routers every few years.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How To Protect Your Mac From Malware - Yep, It's No Longer "Just A Windows Problem".

I know what you're thinking - "this is fantasy, my Apple Mac can't get Malware." There is no doubt that for many years Malware was exclusively designed for the Microsoft Windows platform. Why? Because 98% of the existing PCs were running Microsoft Windows. If you are going to create a profitable underground business (and that's what Malware exploits provide) you go where the users are.

Today, the "Malware Business" has become very lucrative. Mac OS X and it's Mobile counterpart, IOS have gained considerable market share, so these systems are now on the "bad guys" radar.

 

Before you panic, you should know that the chance that your Mac will be infected is still quite low. Apple devices continue to be secondary "Targets" and the unified hardware/software design makes exploits unlikely, but not impossible. In fact, Apple keeps a close eye on malware development and uses an internal "antivirus" built into OS X, called XProtect. This system consists of the quarantine of any app downloaded from the Internet - rather than the Curated App Store, the use of signing certificates to verify that an app is coming from a legit source, and regular security updates that include a databases of known malware targeting Mac OS X.

First, you should check to be sure that your Mac malware database is always up to date. Here's how:

  1. Open System Preferences
  2. Open the App Store Preferences
  3. Make sure that these two items are checked: 1. Automatically Check For Updates and 2. Install System Data Files and Security Updates.

In addition, I would recommend installing an anti-virus program. Some Mac users would say it's not needed, but I believe it's a good precaution. There are plenty of excellent, free applications from well known Anti-Malware vendors. I have two recommendations - both are well supported and require very little user intervention. Give
Sophos and ClamXav a look. ClamXav is also available in the Mac App Store.

You will be pleased with either choice and your Mac will be well protected.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

How To Speed Up Your Computer - What's the Single Most Important Upgrade?

Probably the most frequent question posed to a "Geek" is - How can I make my older computer run faster? This question has been around as long as desktop computers. Years ago the answers would always include - add more Memory (RAM), replace your CPU, get a new Hard Drive with faster seek/read/write performance, defrag the HD, cleanup the temporary files & cache, etc. In addition, the "smoke and mirror" programs that claim to boost performance have always been touted in advertising and TV commercials.

The truth is, some of the items mentioned above will provide marginal speed improvements. But, if you really want to significantly improve the speed and performance of a modern computing device, there is only one upgrade that is worth the trouble. Replace the Mechanical Hard Drive with an SSD. While this type of upgrade is not trivial, it is well worth the effort. Your computer will start faster and execute programs 10X quicker than when it was new. So, what is an SSD? The SSD is a Solid State Drive. Unlike the normal Hard Drive, that has a spinning magnetic platter and moving head, the SSD has no moving parts. It's similar to a high capacity Flash (Thumb) Drive. After upgrading, you’ll be amazed at the performance improvements and wonder why you waited.

 

I know what you're thinking - if this is so great why doesn't everyone upgrade. The answer has been cost. When SSDs first arrived they were prohibitively expensive. Too expensive for OEMs to include them on new computers. But, times have changed. Today, SSD prices have dropped considerably and they are well within reach of normal users. Larger capacity drives, in the greater than 1 TB category, remain pricey, but most users don't need this much storage for their applications and normal data. Music, Videos, Photos and other space intensive data can be stored elsewhere - even in the "Cloud".

A 256GB SSD is now around $100 and a 512GB (plenty for most folks) can be had for $200. Amazon and Crucial are good places to shop for SSDs. Crucial is a great starting place because they can match a suitable upgrade based on the Make and Model of your Desktop or Laptop device.

As I mentioned above, swapping out your hard drive is not for everyone. On the "Geek Scale" it would be 1 out of 10 in terms of difficulty. On the "Normal Folks Scale" it's more like 5 out of 10. If you are handy with a screw driver - give it a try. Basically, you have to "clone" (applications and data) your present drive to the SSD, remove the old drive from the computer and install the new SSD. Before you start, inventory your present drive and cleanup/uninstall things that you don't need. You will need to purchase an SSD that is at least as large as the "used space" on your present drive. Let's say you have a 1 TB drive, but you're only using 250GB. You may want to consider a 512GB SSD.

For "normal folks" I recommend a USB to SSD adapter and cloning software to make the process quick and simple. You can't go wrong with the Apricon SATA Wire Hard Drive Upgrade Kit - $20. It provides the cable and software you will need to "clone" your present drive to the SSD.

So, if you want to see a real boost and have an extra couple hundred bucks, it's definitely worth it. It's certainly cheaper than a new computer that may not include an SSD.

 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Don't Take A Chance With Your Precious Memories - Save Your Photos To "The Cloud" - Free

Smartphone cameras are not only handy, but they have created a new genre of amateur photographers. Ask a photographer to recommend the best camera and the answer is often "the one in your pocket". You can't capture a great shot without a camera, and our smartphones are nearly always present.

It is estimated that 25 billion photos were taken from the dawn of the camera (around 1826), through 1980. In the year 2014 alone, 1 Trillion photos were snapped - 300 billion uploaded to Facebook. Whether it's narcissism or preservation of history and memories - we take lots of photos. Where do you store your digital photos? Have you ever lost or accidentally deleted an important picture? Hard Drives, SD Cards and Flash Drives will fail, it's just a matter of when. Backups are important, but they are often lost in Fires, Hurricanes, Floods and Earthquakes. Have you considered storing or "backing up" your photos to "The Cloud"? Perhaps now is the time.

"The Cloud" is not mysterious. It's simply a computer (Server) located in a large data center that is accessible from the Internet. There are many great Cloud Services, but if you want to store photos - check out Flickr. Yahoo owns the Flickr Photo Service and you can store 1 TB (Terabyte) of photos and Videos, free. Based on the average sized photo - that's a half million shots. If you have a Yahoo account you are all set. Otherwise, just setup an account and grab your free space.

Install the free Flickr App on your Iphone or Android based smartphone and you can turn on Auto Upload. Every photo you take will then be uploaded to your Private Album (on Yahoo's server) - safe and secure. Windows Phone 8.1 users should take a look at the, 3rd party App, Flickr Booth, in the Windows Store. Here's what you get:

  1. Put your free 1000GB to work - auto-uploadr grabs all photos and videos on your device.
  2. Your photos will be private, until you choose to share them!
  3. A timeline view with browsing, organization and sharing.
  4. Make photo edits straight from your photos on your device.
  5. New and enhanced photo filters to help get your snaps share-ready.
  6. Share to Instagram.
  7. Your can access your photos from anywhere on most any device.

 

The Flickr Mobile Apps are intuitive and uploads are generally quick and easy. Keep in mind that uploading large photo collections will take time - depending on your Broadband connection. Flickr has always been a great choice for amateur photographers, and these new features, coupled with a "great price", make it a "no brainier".

 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Setup Custom Notification Sounds On Your Windows Phone 8.1

Anyone who has used a smartphone for more than a week, knows how useful notifications can be - if they don't get out of control. First, survey your apps and turn off Notifications on those that you don't need. You can easily take care of this on your Windows Phone 8.1 by going to Settings>System>Notifications+Actions.

Popup Notifications are helpful, but smartphones are generally out of sight. So, customizing Alert Sounds can keep you on task and reduce the constant interruptions. Windows Phone 8.1 will let you assign specific sounds to your Apps and to each of your Contacts. When a Notification arrives you will know whether you need to respond immediately or wait until it is more convenient.

 

To Assign an Alert Sound to a Specific Contact:

  1. Open a specific Contact (People Icon) and Click on the More ... At the bottom.
  2. Click on Edit. Select a Ringtone Sound and a Text Tone Sound.

To Assign an Alert Sound To a Specific App:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on Ringtones+Sounds.
  3. Click on Manage App Sounds. You will see a list of Apps that support Custom Alert Sounds.
  4. Just Click on the appropriate App to customize the Alert Sound.
  5. Custom alert sound options include showing the app in the Action Center, turning on/off the notification banners, turning on/off the vibrate alert, and choosing the notification sound.

That's it. You can now rest easy knowing that the next Alert you hear, may not be as important as you thought.

 

 

Monday, May 18, 2015

Keep Your Home WIFI Network Safe - UPnP May Leave You Vulnerable To Attack

The UPnP protocol has always been somewhat of a security concern, but findings by Rapid7 have demonstrated that it must now be taken seriously. UPnP was designed to allow easy discovery and setup of various devices (routers, printers, media servers, DVRs, webcams etc.) on a local network. Unfortunately, UPnP does not have any type of authentication - no passwords. This might be OK within a local network, but it's potentially very dangerous when enabled on the WAN or Internet side of your router. Apparently, this is the case for some 40 million devices.

We now know that many home routers accept UPnP requests from the WAN (external side) of the router interface. This means that anyone on the Internet who has the IP address of the WAN interface of your home router can send a UPnP request, and your router will respond. This creates a direct "backdoor" into your local network. It's like giving a Burglar the keys to your home. So, what can you do?

First, log into you router's administrative setup from a browser. The procedure (IP address and Credentials) will vary depending on the manufacture of your device. Find UPnP in the advanced settings and turn it off. Note that this simply turns off UPnP on the inside interface of your router. Unfortunately, this may not completely solve the issue. Next, you need to determine if your router is vulnerable on the exterior (WAN side) interface. Many thanks to Steve Gibson for providing a port scanner that will run a UPnP external test against your router. Go to GRC.com to run this test. Click on SERVICES and SHIELDSUP! and then select PROCEED. Select GRC'S Instant UPnP Exposure Test. This will scan the external interface of your router and report on your vulnerability status. If your router is exploitable, and you have shutdown UPnP as indicated above, you should check and make sure that your router has the lastest Firmware Update. Update the Firmware according to the manufactures instructions and run the scan again. If your device remains vulnerable, you will need to look into purchasing a new router that is not susceptible to this flaw.

Another alternative, although not as convenient, would be to close ports 1900 UDP and 2869 TCP (if you are using Windows) in your Firewall Settings.

Finally, if you do need to use UPnP on your local network and you are "technically savvy" consider replacing the firmware on your router with Open Source Products like "Tomato" or "DD-WRT".

For more information about securing your WIFI router check out this post.

 

 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

How To Setup And Secure A New Consumer WIFI Router

So, you have a new wifi router and want to setup a safe and secure wireless network on your Cable/DSL modem broadband connection. Let's get started. We will focus on a typical generic home consumer router, like Netgear - taking you through a, much preferred, manual setup. As of this writing, I don't recommend using the auto setup method (popular on many new routers) that uses WPS (WIFI Protected Setup). The WPS method has been exploited many times and it is inherently insecure. Make sure that WPS is turned off - no matter what brand of router you use. Unfortunately, some routers in the Cisco - Linksys brand have a flaw that prevents disabling WPS. Cisco has fixed this issue on it's newer home routers, but it still exists in some of their older products.

First, I would suggest setting up your router before connecting it to your broadband Cable/DSL modem. You will need a computer (Mac or Windows) and a normal ethernet, cat 5 network cable - the one that comes with your router is fine. Fire up your computer and power up the new router. Your computer's local networking adapter should be set to DHCP and not configured with a static IP address - most are by default. Connect the Ethernet cable between the router and your computer. You may use any port on the router EXCEPT THE ONE MARKED WAN OR MODEM. Give them a few minutes to sync. Open a browser Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Safari or Firefox on your computer. Type the following in the address bar http://192.168.1.1 as if you are going to a site on the Internet. This IP address is the default address for Netgear and many other routers. Keep in mind that each manufacture may have a different default IP address, so you may have to look on the Internet, or on the bottom plate of your router to find the correct address. After a few minutes you should see a box requesting a USERNAME and PASSWORD. If it does not popup - try again and make sure the IP address is correct. Generally, for Netgear, the default username is admin and the default password is password. Check you documentation to obtain the correct credentials for your specific brand. Enter these, click ok, and you should be logged in to the router setup page. If you see any message about updating firmware - cancel it, we will do that later.

The router configuration contains a plethora of settings that allow you to optimize your network. Fortunately, the average user only needs to adjust a few of these. Now look for Tabs with headings like INTERNET, BASIC, WIRELESS SETTINGS, ETC. The BASIC or INTERNET (WAN) settings should be fine for connecting to a cable modem - you many need to enter a username and password if you are using a DSL connection. Click on WIRELESS SETTINGS. Here we will name your Wifi network (SSID) and pick a security protocol. Remove the Netgear or Default name and add whatever name you want. Keep in mind that this name will be broadcast and other wifi users in you local geographic area will see it, as well. Next you need to pick your wifi security type and enter a passphrase or password. If all of your computers and devices are fairly new and can use (WPA2 - PSK) - choose it. Some older hardware may not be able to use WPA2, if that is the case use WPA- PSK + WPA2 - PSK. The password that you choose is very important. Make it 10 - 14 characters. Random numbers, letters, symbols, upper and lowercase. If your router is dual band you will need to complete this info for both bands (2.4Ghz and 5GhZ). Just give the two bands different names like Home and Home-5G and use the same password for both. Leave all of the other parameters - as is. Be sure to click APPLY at the bottom of the page to save you changes. Next choose ADVANCED SETTINGS & Advanced Wireless Settings. We will now disable WPS - it is not secure. At the bottom check all thee boxes to disable WPS and keep present settings. Click on APPLY to save. Keep in mind, this step varies slightly on different models. Just find WPS and disable it. Remember, on some Linksys routers disabling WPS in the settings does not work. Check with Cisco-Linksys for more information. There are two additional settings that you should adjust. Find the Remote Access Toggle - probably under Advanced and disable it. In addition, look for UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) and disable this, as well - unless you know that you need it. UPnP has always posed security challenges, but recent findings have revealed that it creates major vulnerabilities in some home routers. We have more info about UPnP in another Tech Tip here. You can now save and LOGOUT of the router setup. We are done.

Disconnect the router and get ready to connect it to your cable modem. Turn off the power on the cable modem. Connect your network cable to the cable modem, and to the Port marked WAN, MODEM OR INTERNET on the router. This is usually yellow or blue to differentiate it from the other ports. Power up the cable modem first and wait 3-4 minutes. Power up the router and wait another 4-5 minutes. Go to your computer or tablet and connect to your wifi network - dual band routers will broadcast both networks. Connect using your chosen password. See if you can get on the Internet. If you can only connect to the router Wifi, but not the Internet - if means that the Cable Modem has not synced with the new router. Just power down the cable modem, wait a minute and start it back up. Sometimes it takes a few attempts for the two to properly "talk".

Once your new router is up and running and you are connecting to the Internet you should make sure that your router has the latest firmware. The manufacture will frequently update the firmware to add features and fix bugs. There are two ways to do this. Go to your browser and login to the router - just like you did the first time. When you first load the setup page, a box will generally popup saying that it will check for new firmware. Let it check and download the updated software if necessary. Second, you can always do a manual check by going to Maintenance or Status Page and find Router Upgrade. It is important to let the router download and install the update without any interruption. A power failure during this process could cause your device to fail. The router will generally reboot after the upgrade and you will need to login again. You can then check the Router Status page and make sure you have the latest firmware. While you are still in the setup screen you should change the password that is used to gain access to the router. In other words you can replace "password" with a password of your choosing. This is not absolutely necessary unless you are concerned about someone getting into your router while they are physically on your local network. It is, however, good practice. Keep in mind that if you do change it, you must remember it, or you will be unable to gain access to your routers setup, in the future. If this happens, you will need to reset the device to factory default and re-enter all of your custom settings.

Your router will contain many additional settings that can be tweaked for advanced network applications. Most users just need the basics we outlined above, to be safe and secure. That's it. You can now logout of your router setup.

One final note. Home routers have become commodities and manufactures tend to provide little support. This limited support will come in the form of Firmware updates - for a year or two. You should check for these Updates periodically. They will often include patches for security vulnerabilities that have been discovered. Whenever an exploit is revealed in a particular model of router, the "bad guys" will immediately start taking advantage of situation. Most often, this results in compromising your local network and computers.

So, set your router up correctly, secure it with frequent Firmware Updates and after a few years, consider trashing the old router and grabbing a new one.

 

Friday, May 15, 2015

How To Get Nice Clean Pages And Save Ink & Paper When Printing Webpages

Many years ago, before the "World Wide Web" the Internet was devoid of all of the pictures, graphics, music, videos, ads, glitter and distractions that we now have. It was a simple world of plain text. Most modern users would have found it boring.

Exploring the Internet today provides a very different, almost immersive, experience. But, sometimes we just want to revert back, remove the "junk" and read plain text. Have you ever tried to read and article that was replete with ads, videos and Popups? Have you ever tried printing one of these articles, from your browser, and watched your printer spit out 20 sheets - when the text would easily fit on 2? What a waste of Ink, Paper and time!

 

There is a better way. CleanPrint, from Format Dynamics, is a free utility that will remove all of the unwanted, graphics, headers, ads, etc., format the document, and give you a plain text copy for printing. You can control the fonts and remove any sections that you don't need. The application runs as an extension in your Browser on Chrome and Firefox. Internet Explorer and Safari use a Bookmarklet (Favorite) to call up CleanPrint. In addition, the Bookmarklet also works fine with Safari on the IPad. The utility is very easy to use. Simply click the Extension Icon or Favorite (Bookmark) and the current page will be optimized. You are then free to customize from a myraid of options - print, save as pdf or text, email, send to (Dropbox, Box or Google Drive), add a note, change a font, share, etc.

Cleanprint does have an included ad, but that's a small price to pay for the added benefit.

 

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Secure Your Apple Watch - It's Not As "Theft Proof" As Your IPhone

The Apple Watch inventory was very small when the device launched a few weeks ago, but supplies seem to have improved. Fans that pre-ordered are now receiving various models and early reports & reviews are unfolding.

The watch is elegant and the stock Apple apps, in general, work well. Unfortunately, the third party apps are clearly version 1.0 - maybe even beta. This is to be expected, since most developers did not actually have the hardware while developing the first generation Apps. No doubt, positive changes will now surface quickly.

Apple has made it possible for users to secure data stored on the watch, but they did not include the anti-theft features that are now standard on the IPhone. When Apple pushed out IOS 7 they included a new feature called Activation Lock. With this feature, a stolen IPhone became useless because a "bad guy" needed the Account Credentials (Apple username and Password) of the original owner, in order to activate and reuse the phone - even after a "hard reset". This "Kill Feature" reduced thefts in large cities, markedly.

 

Unfortunately, as of this date, Activation Lock has not been implemented on the Apple Watch. A "bad guy" can grab the watch, reset & erase it, and then pair it with a different IPhone. Hopefully, Apple will correct this situation with an update, soon. So, what can a new owner do? While you cannot, presently, protect from theft, you can and should protect the data and private information stored on your Apple Smartwatch. Here's how:

  1. Open the Apple Watch App on your IPhone.
  2. Click on Passcode.
  3. Make sure you are using a Simple 4 digit (toggle on) or Complex (toggle off) passcode. You must have a Passcode in order to use Apple Pay on your watch.
  4. Toggle on Erase Data. This will erase all data on your Watch after 10 failed passcode attempts - protecting you data from prying eyes.

In case you are concerned about the loss of valuable data - your Apple Watch periodically stores a backup on your IPhone.

 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Planning On Buying A New Smartphone? Don't Sell or Recycle The Old One Until You Follow These Steps

Smartphone users are often looking for that "lastest and greatest" device. Will it be an Android handset, IPhone or maybe a Windows Phone. There are many great choices, in all price ranges, on every platform.

Once you make your final decision you will be faced with the question - What will I do with my old device? Sell it, pass it on, or maybe drop it off at a recycling center. Whatever method you choose - you should make sure that you have completed the following steps, to secure your data and privacy.

  1. If your Smartphone has a SIM card (most do), remove it. The new owner will be issued a new card by their Carrier.
  2. Backup your Smartphone - IPhone (via ITunes or ICloud), Android (via the Google Play Services) and Windows Phone (via the Windows Phone Store).
  3. Remove, or format and erase your SD card. Many Android and Windows Phones have a SD card for additional storage. The IPhone does not.
  4. Finally, Reset and Erase your Smartphone - restoring it back to the default factory settings.
  5. For IPhone - go to Settings>General>Reset>Erase All Content And Settings.
  6. For Android - go to Settings>Backup And Reset>Factory Data Reset>Reset Phone. The instructions may vary slightly depending on the OS version.
  7. For Windows Phone - go to Settings>About>Reset Your Phone.

You can now safely pass your device on, and grab a new one.

 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Tired Of Trying To Keep Up With All Of Those Mobile Device Chargers? Let's Consolidate!

A typical family, today, has multiple mobile devices - Smartphones, Tablets, E-book Readers, Smartwatches, etc. Generally, all of these devices are powered and charged via a 5 volt charger. But, that's not the end of the story. Each device also requires a minimal wattage output or current draw for successful charging. For example, an IPhone requires 5 watts (1 amp) and an IPad Air needs 12 watts (2.4 amp). You may have noticed that the IPhone charger is physically smaller than the IPad Air charger.

The one thing that all of these devices have is common is a Standard USB connector at one end of the charging cable. The other end may or may not be proprietary. So, what you need is a charger that will charge multiple devices, via Standard USB, and adapt to the specific Power (wattage) requirements of each.

I have tried many, but there is only one that I would endorse - The Anker 40 watt, 5 port, Desktop USB Charger. I am in no way affiliated with the company and I do not receive any compensation for any product I recommend. I have been using these for several years and they simply get the job done. The Anker is available for around $25 at Amazon.

There is no setup. Just plug the device into AC and attach your mobile device (with it's original cable) via one of the 5 USB ports. You can connect up to 5 devices powering a maximum of 40 watts (8 amp) across all 5 ports. Any individual port will charge up to 12 watts (2.4 amp). The Anker will deliver the correct charging current to each device. You can charge a couple of IPads and (2) IPhones at the same time - throw in a Kindle, as well.

So, if all of those chargers have turned your kitchen or bedroom into a wiring closet, you may want to check out the Anker.

 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

A Tip For All Facebook Users - Setup A "Legacy Contact" Today

Have you ever thought about what would happen to your Facebook Account after you have passed on? My first reaction was "who cares" - it's inconsequential. Family members would have many more important things to worry about. Upon further reflection, Facebook would certainly be far down the list, but not completely insignificant. The Internet can be an unruly place. Hackers can hijack static accounts and create all kinds of mischief in the names of those that are deceased. You may not care, but your family would be left to battle with these fraudulent individuals on your behalf.

 

Facebook has now provided an option to designate a "Legacy Contact". This is similar to giving a particular individual a power of attorney. The designee will be able to assume control of your account upon your passing. In addition, you can also choose to have your account deleted upon your passing, rather than giving someone legacy control. In this case, a family member would be required to contact Facebook, for verification, upon your death. Open Facebook in a web browser instead of using an IOS, Android or Windows Phone App, and follow the steps below. All of the mobile apps have slightly different User Interfaces and the instructions work best through a Web based portal.

  1. Log in to your Facebook account.
  2. Click the down arrow located at the top right of the blue bar.
  3. Select Settings from the drop-down menu.
  4. Click on the Security link in the left-hand column.
  5. Look for Legacy Contact and click the Edit link to the right.
  6. Type the name of the person you wish to designate as your legacy contact into the text box, then click Add.
  7. If you would rather have your account deleted upon your passing, check the box beside that option and answer any other questions.

All done. One less worry for your loved ones.

 

 

Friday, May 8, 2015

How To Cleanup Your Slow Windows Computer By Removing The Toolbars & Junkware

"Surfing" the web can be fun and informative, but the Internet has become a wild frontier. Over time your Windows based computer will become replete with Browser Toolbars, Junkware, Adware, PUPs (Potential Unwanted Programs), browser hijackers and other nefarious infections. You probably did not voluntarily install any of these unwelcome additions. These "Gems" are routinely installed when visiting unscrupulous websites or via rogue attachments in email. Your anti-malware application will prevent and remove a few of these, but many do not fall, strictly, into the virus/malware category. Consequently, they are often ignored.

Unfortunately, this Junkware will lead to endless Popups and a slow and sluggish computer. So, let's clean it up with a free application - AdwCleaner from Xplode.

Download and install the application - it runs on all versions Windows (XP - 8.1). Make sure that you get the latest version from Xplode - there are Fake copies circulating around the Internet they will drop additonal payloads. AdwCleaner is simple to use. After you have installed the program, launch it and click the Search button to initiate a scan of your computer. When the scan is complete, click on the Delete button to remove to Junk. You will be asked to reboot your computer. That's it - you should see a substantial improvement in the performance of your computer.

 

 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

How To Tweak Your Facebook Privacy Settings By Viewing Your Timeline & Profile As Others See It

Facebook is undoubtedly the largest Social Network in the world. Some 1.4 billion users pen an update at least once every few weeks. We often see news stories concerning Facebook Privacy issues. Is it possible to maintain a modicum of privacy and continue using Facebook? There are a myriad of, admittedly confusing, security & privacy settings, that will allow you to establish an appropriate comfort level. Unfortunately, it is often difficult to access the results of your changes and tweaks. Facebook does provide the ability to monitor your adjustments, but it is not easy to find. All you have to do is view your Timeline and Profile as others (friends, public, etc.) see it, and calibrate as needed. Here's how you do it.

  1. Login to your Facebook account via a web browser - rather than a mobile app. Tap on your name to go to your Timeline.
  2. Tap on the Down Arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the window.
  3. Click on Settings.
  4. Tap the Timeline and Tagging link in the left-hand column.
  5. Find the section labeled "Who can see things on my timeline?" and click the View As link.
  6. Look for the black bar near the top of the page - it tells you who you are viewing your profile as. The default is "Public", but you can view it the same way a specific person would see it by clicking the View as Specific Person link and then entering the name of one of your friends.
  7. When you’re finished viewing your Timeline the way others see it - Tap the Home button.

After viewing your Profile, as the Public sees it, you may want to go back and make further adjustments to your Privacy Settings.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How To Calibrate Your Apple Watch To Obtain Accurate Workout & Activity Information

Apple is gradually ramping up shipments of the new Apple Watch and early adopters are beginning to explore some of the health and exercise features. Some users have reported that, out of the box readings, have not very accurate - particularly if you are exercising indoors (treadmill, bike etc.). Fortunately, there is a calibration process that will ameliorate this issue. Once complete, you will get more accurate readings for Calorie, Distance, Move, and Exercise estimations in the Watch’s Activity app. You should also see improved calculations in the Workout app. Just follow these simple steps, as outlined by Apple.

  1. Bring your iPhone and your Apple Watch.
  2. Find an open, flat area outside that offers good GPS reception and clear skies. Make sure that Location Services is on. To check the setting on your iPhone, tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services.
  3. Make sure that Motion Calibration & Distance is on. To check the setting on your iPhone, tap Settings > Privacy > Location Services > System Services.
  4. Hold your iPhone in your hand, or attach it to your body with an armband (preferably) or waistband.
  5. Open the Workout app on your Apple Watch, and choose Outdoor Walk or Outdoor Run. Choose your goal, or select Open, and tap Start.
  6. Walk or run at your normal pace for about 20 minutes.

If you can't accumulate 20 minutes of outdoor walking or running during one Workout session, you can accumulate 20 minutes over multiple outdoor walking or running Workout sessions with your iPhone. If you frequently walk or run at a variety of different speeds, it's best to accumulate 20 minutes of outdoor walking or running in the Workout app with your iPhone at each of the speeds you frequently walk or run at.

You don't need to do anything specific to start this calibration process. It can be done during a regular outdoor walking or running workout in the Workout app when you have your iPhone with you. And, whenever you use Apple Watch and iPhone to walk or run outside in the Workout app, it will continue to calibrate the accelerometer by learning your unique stride length at different speeds, and get more accurate over time.

This calibration process can also help improve the accuracy of your overall calorie estimations in many of the other workout categories in the Workout app, and the calorie, distance, Move, and Exercise estimations in the Activity app.

Calibration data is stored locally on Apple Watch, and isn't backed up to your iPhone. Therefore, your calibration data will be lost if you unpair your Apple Watch from your iPhone.

 

Monday, May 4, 2015

How To Read The "E-edition" Of Your Local Newspaper And Still Get Those Weekly Ads

Do you read a traditional, daily or weekly local "paper & ink" newspaper? Many readers, even avid news junkies, have abandoned the print versions in favor of the so called E-editions. These Digital Editions are much more than Newspaper Websites. They are page for page PDF replicas of the Print edition.

Some readers prefer the old style, but many enjoy reading the paper on a computer or, more recently, a tablet. There are many Pros - less expensive in most localities, "green", available when traveling, clean, etc. How about the Cons? It is not very convenient without a tablet, a little difficult to clip ads and generally you don't receive the weekly circular ads.

 

Many subscribers are happy to be free of those prolific Flyers, but the lack of local circulars (Grocery, Pharmacy, Electronics, Department Stores) is a "game breaker" for others. If you fall into the later category, but like your e-edition, there is an "App For That".

Retale is available for IOS (IPad, IPhone) and Android. In addition, there is a web version that is accessible from your favorite Browser, via most any operating system. Retale will find and display the weekly circulars based on your present or chosen (zip code) location. The App is simple to use and the User Interface works well on smartphones and tablets. You can grab the app free from Apple App Store or the Google Play Store.

 

Saturday, May 2, 2015

How To Properly Secure Your IPhone/IPad In Case It's Lost Or Stolen

Is your mobile device secure? Do you use a passcode? What would you do if your device was stolen? It happens all the time. If you use an IOS device like an IPhone or IPad, keeping it secure from prying eyes is quick and simple.

First, you should decide how secure you need to be. Does your device store data that needs to be absolutely private? Or, does it have access to data, in the Cloud, that needs to be secure? If so, consider using a more complex password - a 4 digit PIN may not be enough. The downside - it is definitely less convenient typing all of those characters. A newer IPhone or IPad alleviates this issue with Touch ID (the fingerprint reader). So, if you have Touch ID, there is no reason not to use a more complex passcode.

 

Next, setup your IPhone or IPad to Erase the device after the passcode has been entered incorrectly 10 times. Make sure that you have backed up your device to ICloud (Settings>ICloud>Backup) or via USB using ITunes. Caution - small children can reach 10 misses quickly.

  1. Go to Settings > Passcode (this will be Touch ID & Passcode if you have a Touch enabled device). Hint: You could use all Numbers as a compromise between security and convenience.
  2. Enter your current Passcode.
  3. Toggle off - Simple Passcode if you want to use a complex PIN.
  4. Toggle on - Erase Data, to activate the 10 incorrect attempts strategy.

Mission accomplished.