Monday, March 4, 2019

Computers: What's the OSI Layer Model?


The OSI layer model was developed by ISO to describe the layers that data travels through as it is processed to continue to the internet and the receiving computer. There are 7 layers and the pneumonic for remembering the layer names is:

All People Seem to Need Data Processing

The layer names are:

1. Application
2. Presentation
3. Session
4. Transport
5. Network
6. Data-link
7. Physical

They are often referred to by numbers (1-7).

OSI is the acronym for Open System Interconnect. ISO is the International Standards Organization.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The New Normal: Solving Technical Problems

Laptops Allow Work Outside

The New Normal: Solving Technical Problems

Technology has carried us along changing the way we move through our days. Some tech giving us mastery (easy photos and video on a smartphone) other tech is simply necessary to conduct our lives (direct deposits of income to financial accounts). On an individual basis, we can control how much or how little we automate our lives: mobile deposits to the bank or a physical visit to the bank, for example.



Access to email, social media, financial accounts, bill paying, and more has become necessary instead of optional. A certain amount of technical mastery is necessary to keep our world chugging along. New mobile phones are complicated, but we all rely on some level of phone service. Many people prefer communication by text which encourages others to increase their mobile phone competence.


Often technical problem-solving is as easy as finding a helpful video or instructions on the internet hence the term “google it.” Discussions with friends and coworkers can reveal tips and paths to solutions.

Social Media Interaction on a Smartphone


I think we can all agree that internet technology though frustrating at times, can provide entertainment and nurturing of interests as well as social connections. I enjoy sharing information and photos on birdwatching and gardening with people of similar interests on Twitter.



I recently spent a couple of weeks on a blog article about technical problem solving on a DVR. I know that I had saved the article multiple times. On my final proofreading the article COMPLETELY DISAPPEARED (!). We can all be humbled at times by technical snafus. Often there is nothing to be done about it, but to start over.



Mobile Phones Can Accomplish Multiple Tasks

Instead of rewriting the saga of successfully updating a stubborn DVR, I chose to write about the inevitability of technical problems. We are all dealing with technical challenges whether a senior in assisted living keeping up with family on Facebook, a baby boomer updating mobile phones, a millennial using a phone locator to find a misplaced phone, or a college student opening up a checking account online.



Put one foot in front of the other, keep on moving forward, and thank that person (if you have one) that always helps you untangle your technical difficulties.

Technology Can Require Problem-solving




Friday, August 31, 2018

Dealing with a Tech Support Popup Scam



I had a tech support popup on my laptop recently. It was a written warning disguised to be from Microsoft along with a voice message.

Tech Support Scam Popup


As a reminder, follow the below steps if you experience this:


  • use CTRL ALT DELETE to bring up the task manager
  • close the browser by highlighting the browser in task manager and clicking end task
  • empty the browser cache
  • run a virus scan and any other spyware or malware programs available to you


This is the first instance of this popup since I discontinued using Yahoo mail. I used Facebook a lot that day and clicked on several articles of interest. That's the suspected source this time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Communication - It's not what it seems





While we were in church recently, my son received 3 emails from me. It was about 10:30 am on May 20. We thought the emails must have been delayed in an iPad outbox. The strange thing was these emails were dated May 16, May 4, and April 29. April 29th!

Actually they were not sent through iPad email. They were written and sent using the Gmail app on my iPad.

Gmail is the backbone of my communication system. I have all my business and personal emails organized in folders by subject. The idea that some emails are not delivered or delivered late is very unsettling.

Three weeks ago, my father left a voice mail on my phone. Because of the time of day, I knew it was him, and expected his message. Much to my surprise my iPhone showed not one, but 3 "new" voice messages. His message from that day (May 3rd), his  message from March, and a business message from April. Needless to say, I was mortified that I thought a business contact ignored my call and didn't return it. In fact, she did call and leave a message.

I have had some discussion with my mobile service provider to see if this can be avoided in the future.

Lastly, in April my brother sent me a text with order information. I didn't get it at all so after some back and forth, he resent it.

I have gone through all this just to point out that when you send an email, or text, or even leave a phone message, one cannot assume that communication was received. I have just shown serious examples of system failures.

What can we do to make sure important information is received? With emails, it is helpful if the receiver responds in some way. Just a "got it" will work. Same with a text. A smiley emoji or "thanks."  If a voice message goes unanswered, call again or send a follow-up email or text.




And if you see the person, "Hi! Did you get my email?"



Thursday, April 5, 2018

Trouble with your Wireless Scanner/Printer?



If your wireless scanner printer gives you an error message, it can usually be remedied by the following:

Unplug power cord to printer/scanner

Exit out of scanner software or app

After a few minutes, plug in printer/scanner

Open scanner software and resume commands

That's right! The simplest IT solution i.e. turn it off and turn it back on again is also the one that can get your scanner up and going again.

Another solution for a message that your printer/scanner and computer aren't communicating is to restart your router. I had success with that after I had tried the above steps.

I know it is very frustrating. In a pinch, you can scan documents with an iPad and use a scanner app to convert them to PDFs. You can print photos at discount and drugs stores, and you can print documents at office supply stores.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Disable Remote Access to Your Computers

What it is:

Remote access or remote assistance is a feature that allows entrance to your computer. Some of the dangers of a home or business computer being accessed are clear and others are less obvious.

Dangers of Remote Access to Your Computers - You Might Know These:
  •  Access Confidential Data Files
  • Use Your Computer to Send Spam Emails
  • Install Malware that Records Keystrokes to Access Passwords and Account Numbers

Dangers of Remote Access to Your Computers -Less Known:
  • Use Your Computer to Attack Another Computer or Web Server
  • Use Your Computer to Launch a Worm, Virus, or Malware
  • Use Your Computer to Tie Up a Network's Resources
  • Use Your Computer to Spy in a Large Network
  • Use Your Computer to Hide a Hacker's Identity

 

Why is it a Problem:


In this video by the BBB, a remote access scam is described. A phone call is received from someone claiming to be tech support at Apple. They claim your iCloud account has been hacked. They say the good news is they can fix the problem with remote access to your computer. Once they have access to your computer they can copy your private files, install malware, or perform any other breaches as described in the lists above.



How to Fix the Problem:

Remote access can be easily disabled. If it is ever needed for a legitimate reason, the process can be reversed. Since every version of Windows has a different path to reach remote settings, the easiest way to find your process is to run a google search.

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Friday, November 10, 2017

3 Simple Steps To Help Keep Your Computers Healthy


Take 3 Simple Steps To Protect Your Computers

With the increase of cyber security threats like phishing, malware, and viruses, know there are some basic steps you can take to protect your computers.

1-Install anti-virus software

  • Install only one anti-virus program to avoid conflict.
  •  ESET is a good one.
  •  Avast is a good, free option.

2-Install Anti-malware software


3-Install additional anti-malware protection

  • Malwarebytes is good and has a free option.
  •  Update it and run scans weekly.

Protection of your own computer and network benefits everyone because unprotected computers can be used to launch denial of service attacks.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Internet of Things Makes Your Home "Smart"

Back in June 2015, I wrote about the Internet of Things for ASQ (American Society of Quality). Two years have passed and devices that manage technology in our homes are becoming more commonplace. The term "smart home" describes the control and automation of lighting, heating, air conditioning, security, and appliances.

Honeywell Device for Detecting Leaks

Leak detection prevents water damage
The device shown above serves as a leak detector. The wire is a sensor for moisture. The box is a WiFi interface. This device can be placed near a water heater or washing machine. In the case of a leak, an email is sent to the owner.


Email Advising of Leak

Controlling temperature from a phone or other mobile device
More and more people are replacing their thermostats with models that connect to the internet via WiFi and can be controlled through an app on a mobile device. In this way, the home temperature can be checked and adjusted remotely.

WiFi Thermostat

One use is to raise the air conditioning setting while out of town. Once you are on your way home, you can remotely lower the setting so the home temperature will be comfortable when you arrive.

Mobile Phone App Screen Controlling Thermostat
Tablet App Screen Controlling Thermostat


Home security
Many internet of things in the home improve security. Lights and televisions can be turned on and off while on vacation so the home looks occupied. Cameras can be installed inside and out, and viewed on a device from another location (see screenshot below).
Tablet App Showing Camera Views of Business

An internet-enabled doorbell with camera allows the homeowner to respond by voice to someone at the front door even when they're in another location. This uses an app on a mobile device.

New home construction offers smart home technology. The addition of internet-enabled devices to older homes is being simplified to do-it-yourself home improvement projects.

This article first appeared in Quality: Improvements in Work and Life.

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Monday, June 26, 2017

Youtube Redirects to the Mobile Version on Desktop and How to Fix It

Mobile Version of YouTube on PC Screen



Two weeks ago I wanted to watch a favorite YouTube video . When I opened YouTube using Chrome browser on my Windows 8.1 Desktop personal computer, I saw a screen similar to the one above. It's recognizable as YouTube, but when clicked nothing happens. A quick workaround was to use another browser, but my favorite videos were bookmarked in Chrome.

A discussion with a family member about youtube.com redirecting to m.youtube.com revealed I was dealing with the mobile version of YouTube. It would not respond to mouse clicks.

A Google search suggested clearing out cookies.
Listed below is the click sequence:
Customize and Control Google Chrome>
Settings>
Show Advanced Settings>
Clear browsing data (Under Privacy section)>
Cookies and other site and plugin data>
Clear browsing data.
Afterwards the problem persisted.

YouTube.com Was Redirected to m.YouTube.com

I found a 2014 YouTube forum thread with the solution. Type chrome://settings/cookies in your Chrome browser window. A list of cookies will appear. Click Remove all. This got rid of the mobile version of YouTube on my desktop. Here's the 2014 thread.

All credit for this solution and the screenshot at the top of this page go to the thread contributors at that link.

How do you safely clean a laptop screen?

Looking back, I'm not sure what prompted the mobile YouTube to hijack my browser. I have a new laptop with the same Chrome identity. With that laptop being a touch screen perhaps there was some cyber-confusion. I try to limit my use of the touch feature on the new laptop because it makes a smeary mess of the screen. Can anyone relate? Any tips for safely cleaning a laptop screen? I would love to hear them. Also if you have experienced the YouTube mobile redirect or know why this happened, I would be interested to hear from you.

Thanks for reading my post. I've been busy with classes, but it's great to be writing about web technology again. Advertising on this blog supports my writing. By clicking an ad, you are under no obligation to buy. If you see an advertisement of interest, please click.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Small Business Cybersecurity: The People Connection


Data from 2015 shows that 20% of U.S. businesses hacked are small with less than 250 employees. 60% of those fail after the attack. For small and medium-sized businesses, the average cost of a data breach is $21,000.

In 2016 an accountant was hacked and financial information and social security numbers from accounts were stolen. By the time the breach was discovered, a false return had been filed with the IRS in my family's name.

Cyber criminals or hackers use stolen information to obtain money. Sometimes they use the data, but often it is sold to other criminals. With names and social security numbers, criminals can file fraudulent claims for tax refunds.

Hackers also steal bank account information, credit and debit card numbers and authentication details, personal information, medical records, trademark information, trade secrets and others. A list of names, phone numbers, and addresses can be used by IRS scammers. Those criminals make threats and convince people to wire money or mail debit cards.

Preventing business cybercrime requires several levels of defense. Employee internet habits are one layer of cybercrime security that should be addressed. Since downloads of software are one of the primary causes of virus attacks, employee internet policies need to be solid and well communicated.


Steps to prevent cybercrime caused by employee behavior:


Company policies

Robust and clear company policies need to be written, distributed, and updated regularly.
These policies would cover the following areas:
  • email and internet use
  • protecting confidential information
  • policy communication and updates

Security training

Periodic meetings should be held to discuss security issues and concerns. Use recent news reports and videos to highlight different security concerns. Be clear about new threats from cyber crime and security changes to address those threats. Employees should be educated to be alert to phishing emails and suspicious attachments or links. A cybersecurity manager should be named who can respond to employee questions in a timely manner. This person should also insure policies are written, updated, and communicated.

Control Access

Limit administrative and password access. Regularly change passwords and establish limiting access to levels of data where possible. When employees are terminated, immediate changes in network access should be made.


Protecting organizations from cybercrime is a complex issue. Employee internet behavior is one area that should be managed to keep business information secure.

A cybersecurity tip sheet for small businesses by the Department of Homeland Security can be found here.

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Is an App Key to Learning Chinese Culture?


WeChat is a very popular all-purpose app

With 760 millions users, the WeChat app provides services found on other apps in a single platform. 90% of Chinese internet customers access with a mobile device, and a third of their time or more is on WeChat. It is super multi-purpose.

Connections and follows resemble FaceBook or LinkedIn. Payments can be made like PayPal.  Monetary gifts can be sent easily with a gambler's chance of giving a bonus. I won't bore you with a complete list of functions. Assume that if it's done on a mobile device, opening WeChat accesses a screen.

If you are planning a trip to China, review information on this app and consider downloading it. It could be used to display maps to a cab driver who was summoned using the app. Instead of exchanging business cards you may scan a QR code and generate a friend request. Pay for coffee. Set up meetings. WeChat users often prefer to chat using the app rather than answer their phone. Sound familiar?

More information on WeChat is available in the Global Tech issue (June 13, 2016) of Bloomberg Businessweek: The People's Republic of WeChat by D. Lawrence and L. Chen. 

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Friday, January 29, 2016

How to use Twitter as a Research Tool

Research Topics Using Twitter

Twitter provides current information through tweets promoting articles. There are several different ways to use Twitter for research.


Researching a Company, Topic, or Individual

Type the name in the search bar.

Example: Type #healthy eating in the search bar
                 Many tweets about healthy eating are listed; most have links to articles on that subject

Want to get more specific? Double up!
                 Type #healthy eating #diabetes
                  Now you have a list of tweets referring to information on both healthy eating and diabetes
Tweet Search Results
You can also use the drop-down options menu to filter your results:
Examples:
Filter out tweet source: everyone or people you know
Filter to look at video tweets only

Filter Results with Options Menu


Finding a tweet about a specific article

My policy is to only retweet articles that I have reviewed. I read an article and knew it was from an older tweet.  In order to retweet it, I wanted an easy way to find the original tweet. This is how I found it:

In the search bar, I typed the source of the tweet and the name or topic of the article.

Example: Type @launchandHustle Single best way to create content

Type in Search Bar

Retweet After Finding Tweet




Twitter can be very useful in information searches. How do you use Twitter for research? I would be interested in your answers.
P.S. Comments from anonymous are automatically deleted.

More information on Twitter can be found in my article, Twitter School: 7 Fun Facts.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What is the Internet of Things?



What is the Internet of Things, and how does it affect you? Devices that communicate and share data on the internet are the Internet of Things (IoT). Our smart phones access all types of data through apps. The amount and type of data we access will increase as more and more devices are connected to the internet.

We can access more traffic information as street cameras network and commuter systems come online.  Sensors can detect heart rate and track our movement. This translates into health data we can access through mobile devices like smart phones or smart watches. As sensors are developed to detect even more health information, other data will be available through our devices. This information could prompt a visit to the doctor or give us the reassurance that a visit isn't necessary. We may exchange this data with our healthcare provider, and let her decide a course of action.

If you have 17 minutes, the following 2012 Tedx video by Dr. John Barrett offers a good explanation of the Internet of Things. Since its taping, more devices have become internet-compatible, and, as he predicts, there are even more things we can do with our smart phones because of the additional data on the internet.


I've written Managing the Quality of Internet-linked Products for ASQ Influential Voices. It can be found by clicking here.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Help for the Slow Windows 8 Computer

Slow Computer


My Windows 7 laptop died last summer. I was challenged by Windows 8 on a new Dell Desktop. From the beginning, the machine was slow compared to my 3 year-old laptop. This week the processing got even slower. When I typed in the browser window, it would take a few seconds for the words to appear. When the machine was in sleep mode, it would take a couple of minutes to wake up and respond to the mouse. Delays in opening new tabs or moving to the application panel were stressing me out.

I got lucky when I found Rasim Muratovic's YouTube video: How to Speed Up Windows 8 (or 8.1) - Free and Easy. This short (5 minute) video offers 10 things you can do to improve Windows 8 machine speed. Thank you Rasim. After making these changes and restarting my computer, there is a definite improvement in response. Rasim is a genius and so generous for offering these tips for FREE.

 


I want to emphasize that Rasim is not selling a product in the video. Be prepared to take notes and make changes to speed up a slow computer.

Here's a quick summary of tips in the video. I will be brief so refer to the video for detailed instructions:

  1. Power settings. Choose High Performance over Balanced. My computer didn't offer those choices so I left this alone.
  2. Search > Defrag c: drive  Windows 8 claims to defrag weekly, but there was plenty of defragging going on when I clicked this.
  3. Start > Run> Open: %temp% Delete contents of this file.
  4. Start > Run> Open: temp Delete contents of this file.
  5.  Start > Run> Open: prefetch Delete contents of this file.
  6. Go to Task Manager. Start up Tab > Disable programs you do not need on start up. There were many in my computer.
  7. Start > File Explorer > Right Click on Windows 8 OS(C:) >properties >Disc Clean up (Run this)
  8. Start > Run> Open: msconfig Go to Services Tab IMPORTANT: Click box next to "Hide all Microsoft Services" Then click Delete.
  9. Start > Run> Open: regedit Click HKEY current users >Control Panel > Double Click Mouse > Double Click MOUSEHOVERTIME > Change value from 400 to 20.
  10. Same place as above. Control Panel > Double Click Desktop > Double Click MENUSHOWDELAY > Change value from 400 to 10.

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Sunday, November 9, 2014

Inkpad by Taptrix, Inc. for iPad: A Great Free Vector Drawing Tool


Screenshot of Inkpad Canvas

It was exciting to discover the Inkpad app for iPad. I was looking for a drawing program for the iPad so I could "doodle."  As a former student of Adobe Illustrator, I was familiar with those tools and work flow and welcomed a chance to use those skills on the iPad.

Inkpad doesn't have all the tools and options of Illustrator, but it has enough. Included are the select, pen, text, and geometric shape tools. I really like the scissor tool that allows easy cutting of an existing shape. You can create logos or icons on the fly with this amazing app.

John Patton has a great tutorial that brought me up to speed. Using an iPad mini and a stylus, I was able to draw the  logo below by following the video.

Logo made following video tutorial




 

 John Patton's YouTube Tutorial on Inkpad App


Here are some other Inkpad drawings:



Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tuvaro Hijacks Browser - My experience with a Browser Attack

Tuvaro Hijacks Browser

The hijack of my Mozilla Firefox browser started innocuously enough. As I walked by the family computer, I noticed a window was open. The familiar steaming coffee cup logo suggested the Java program be updated.

Thinking I would help out my spouse and speed up the computer, I clicked to proceed. I deselected complimentary programs that are commonly offered with downloads. After some time, it seemed that the choices were more numerous than usual. The graphics and language seemed a bit off.

Use Caution When Updating Software


Too late I decided an update wasn't a good idea. I closed the window. Suddenly, the Firefox Browser was changed by Tuvaro. It was the same color scheme as Mozilla Firefox, but "Tuvaro" was added in the identification and replaced "Google" beside the search box. Desktop icons had been replaced with Tuvaro icons.Worse, the browser window filled up with pornographic images.

I clicked to the uninstall programs window. Tuvaro was not in the list of programs. I deleted all newly added programs that looked suspicious. This included YouTube Accelerator and Key Player Media. Then I uninstalled and reinstalled Mozilla Firefox.

Since the desktop still looked strange, I performed a system restore. This seemed to get rid of Tuvaro. Later, I found Malwaretips.com with steps for removing Tuvaro. One of those steps included running Malwarebytes Anti-Malware to clean up the system. By the way, all programs recommended to clean up your computer on that site are free.

This episode occurred 8 weeks ago. It was traumatic, and I procrastinated in writing this blog post. I have tried to describe the cyber attack as well as I can remember. I think it's human nature to want to forget unpleasant things.

The main take-away from this experience is to be very careful when downloading software or software updates. In the situation above, I should have gone to Java.com and updated directly from that website. Another suspicious Java update window has popped up since that experience, and I wasted no time in closing it.

Below is a 4-minute video that shows the browser changes after a Tuvaro attack. The video does not have vocals, but does a good job of showing the changed browsers at the beginning [of the video]. It also demonstrates another approach of redirecting your altered Firefox and Internet Explorer browsers.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Photon App allows viewing of Adobe Flash Player Video on iPads




Photon Browser is an app for the iPad and iPhone that allows viewing of Flash Player video. Video inserted on blogs or websites is often placed in an Adobe Flash Player platform. IOS based mobile devices do not support Flash. Photon provides a solution.

The app is available at the Apple App store for $4.99. Once installed, type in the web address. To view the Flash-based video, click the lightning bolt icon. This enables viewing.

BEFORE
Video files on iPad using Safari - there are blank spaces where the video and slide show should appear:





AFTER
Video files on iPad using Photon - the video and slide show are ready to play:






There are settings to optimize viewing, although the default settings have worked fine for me. I can now see my complete blog posts and videos on my web portfolio with an iPad. This allows portable viewing while in meetings.

The 7-minute video below helped me decide to purchase Photon.


Shop Amazon - Off to College

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Add Social Media Icons to your Blogger Blog

I recently had a reader request to connect with me on other social media. Below is a good YouTube video on adding social media icons to Blogger. It is a 7 minute video by Blogaholic Designs. I've written instructions below the video.



1. Get icons and place them in a convenient file. I used icons from UIcon Stock. This set was free with credit by linking back to the set. Here's the link.

2. Go to the blog and start a new post. Title the post something like: Social Icons - Do not Publish- Do not Delete.

3. Important: click HTML mode > click image icon (indicate you want to add image to blog post) > select files from your icon file

4. A window will pop-up and ask to choose a layout. Choose NONE and the size icon you desire (I chose small).

5. Click COMPOSE  to see how social icons look

6. Now you need to turn the icons into links to those social media pages. For each icon, click icon > click LINK. This does not give you the link set-up window. REPEAT it. click icon > click LINK. (Second time is the charm.)

Now you should get the link set-up window. Add the URL for the social media icon. Test it. Check Open in new Tab. Save.

Repeat Step 6 for each social media icon.

7. Return to HTML mode. Copy the code for your icon set. If right-click doesn't work, use CTRL A and CTRL C.

8. Open your blog dashboard in another tab.

9. Go to Layout. Click Add a Gadget > Select HTML/JavaScript

10. You will get a window. Leave Title Blank. Paste code for social icon set. Use CTRL V if right-click doesn't work.

11. Save arrangement. View blog. Social Icons should appear in the right sidebar.

Monday, June 16, 2014

CamStudio: It's Easy to Create a Screenshot Video

Curious about making a screenshot video? Do you have a computer skill to share? I downloaded the free CamStudio, and after only 2 hours had my first instructional video posted on YouTube. That time included a 45-minute tutorial which is well worth watching. I used the onedownloader site which is linked to above.

The CamStudio site is here. When I completed the download, the webpage with the instructional video opened. There is also a FAQ page and forum if help is needed.

Below is my first screenshot video which is under 2 minutes. Thanks to CamStudio for free software, and thanks to everyone for very helpful instructional videos!