LEGO Brand Retail
Nov 292012
 

Got a text message today telling me I won a $1000 Target gift card. YAY (if it were real). First off I never entered a contest secondly I knew this had to be a scam. So first thing I did when I hit the office was Google the phone number it came from – 323-636-8891. First thing to come up is a post about it being a scam. Check out a few more to confirm and it is definitely a scam. So if you get this text message (or anything telling you that you won something and asking you to click through to a website) don’t click the links, don’t reply (only tells them they have a good number) and DELETE the message off your phone.

text message scam

I then did a search for the website it was telling me to go to — TargetWinners.com and got more info and a few additional phone numbers that are sending out this crap. I wish it was easy to block phone numbers on my cell because half the known world would be blocked by now.

Two other people at work got this same text too. Just wanted you all to be on look out and not to be taken in during this crazy time of year.

It is bad enough we get all that SPAM in our email why bother us on our cell phones? Especially when most people have limited minutes and/or no text messaging (it cost them money).

 

Oct 142012
 

Do you know what the term “black hat” means. Would you understand it if it were used in a footnote of an article you were reading? Most likely not.

Black Hat is a hacker term for someone who violates computer security.

I was recently appalled by an article about SEO tactics that were so incredibly WRONG it had me seeing red. The article in question is titled: How To Trick Bloggers Into Linking To You and it reads like a DIY kit to SEO via images, Even though the author states the article is a black hat situation (kind of off handed at the end of the article), the article itself would get any photographer angry.

Two things that the article tells people to do (THAT THEY SHOULD NEVER EVER DO) is…

1) use Google image search to post images to your website/blog (stealing images violates copyright laws and is, well, just plan WRONG).

2) use Google’s image search to find blogs using those images then go to the site and claim them as yours (holy crap that is just so wrong I cannot even put it into words).

The article in question reads like a How-To-Guide for folks looking to increase SEO via back linking. Back linking is good this article and all it suggests is not.

The guy that wrote it is the one who developed Triberr (a good tool for bloggers), but this article really undermines his integrity if you ask me.

So basically, just don’t trust anything you read over at DIYblogger.net.

Sep 222012
 

Abby on my PC

Ever come home to find your cat on your PC? I don’t know why but mine have always been draw to it. Abby here always had to be on my lap or in this case on my laptop, whenever I worked on my computer.

But cats walking across a keyboard can actually be dangerous.

Not for the cat, but for the files on the PC.

I don’t know how many times she turned off my wifi just by hitting the right combo of keys. She even closed programs making me lose the file I was working on.

In this photo you can see she has brought up the task screen. Who knows what could have been deleted or reset on my PC!

Thank goodness I never lost any vital files (like all my photos of my kitties) or I would have been heartbroken.

Surdoc has the solution (and not just for us cat owners either). Get 30 GB of free online backup & storage for all your important files. Just use the promo code: CATPROOF to get your fee 30GB of backup storage now.

Here is a handy infographic with tips on how to cat proof your PC.

Cat Proof Your Computer

 

May 222012
 

That’s right I gots ideas in my head and I want to get the out. Problem is they appear there while I am driving.

And I always lose the idea / thought once I reach my destination.

Sucks to be me.

So I tried Dragon Dictation for my iPhone (see the last two days).

I hate the idea of talking to myself. That’s one of the reasons I did not jump on the new iPhone with SIRI (although she does talk back).

I feel self conscientious about talking to myself (or to a dictation software app), but I think I might be able to get away from that if I used it more often. I know for darn sure making an audio memo on the phone is out. I would never listen to it and if I did I would be afraid that someone would hear it. So that leaves me with either ignoring all the ideas that pop into my head during my commute or finding a speech to text that works and that I can get comfortable using.

Dragon did not work out for me. Guess I will try a few others before I give up the ghost completely.

I used to keep my digital pen in my car, but stopping to write down notes makes the commute a lot longer than it already is, besides the folks that made it stopped making the pads so no more digital pen for me. I just won’t buy the “adult” version that came out a few years ago and you can still get at Best Buy because of that. What happens when they decide to stop supporting the pen and special papers? Also they did not have any OCR software at first and I needed to become typed text not hand written images, you know?

May 212012
 

Ok now I am really confused. I went to iTunes to leave a review and it told me I did not have the Dragon app on my phone. I just used it, or rather tried to use it, and could see it right there. So I removed it and reloaded it. It came back up with a different icon on the iPhone now it is Dragon Go and the app looks different. I will give it another try.

I figured it out. The first non-working Dragon app was Dragon Dictation the second one that works is Dragon Go. Dragon Go only searches the phone and operates apps. No note taking which is what I need. And as I said before Dragon Dictation did not work at least not in the car. I had the radio off but I guess the engine noise was too much for it??? So no Dragon note taking for me. I haz a sad now :(

May 202012
 

I just loaded Dragon Dictation on my iPhone.

First of all, I thought Dragon was supposed to be the leader in speech to text technology, so why then does their app for the iPhone suck so bad?

It would not pick up anything I said at first kept giving me an error message…try again. Again? I don’t remember what I just said! That is why I wanted to try out the app in the first place.

Finally it started picking up some words, but only after I started speaking very slowly and unnaturally. It worked best one word at a time. I had to keep looking at the phone and would have had to correct almost everything as it came up. They ONLY thing that worked in any regular fashion was the period. Every time I said period it put a period on the page.

Anyone out there know any good, as in working, apps for speech to text?

Apr 052010
 

I have been using Outlook Express for years without too much of a problem until today.

I recently moved all my files onto a newer computer at work (we won’t call it new as it has been sitting there not being used since it was purchased in 2007, but it is a lot newer than the dying one I was using). I moved all my email files, address book everything over to the new computer and I was rather impressed that I did it without spending too many hours searching on Topeka (see Google’s April Fool’s Day joke for an explanation) for the help I needed in exporting and importing the files from old PC to new PC. Yay me. Pat on the back and all that.

Okay, that being said, I normally have the email spell check everything before sending it. Well this new system did not have the email set up that way from the previous user. So I manually ran the spell check only to find that it wanted to change every word to something funky. What the heck was going on here? So I looked under the hood, so to speak, only to find that the only language available for the spell checker was French! I don’t speak French and don’t send too many emails in French. I need English, any English would do.

A quick search revealed that the missing languages in Outlook Express is known problem with Outlook Express 6 and Microsoft Office 2007. From what I read this happens with upgrades from old office versions to this new one, yet this PC come with the programs installed on it. Apparently, Microsoft has no intention of fixing this and suggests you use a third party spell checker. Maybe an updated Outlook Express is in order, maybe?

Thanks to a very helpful blog post on Outlook Express being stuck on French, I was able to find the information I needed to either get the 3rd party software (they recommend Spell Checker For Outlook Express from Snapfiles). Upon further reading of the comments I saw that I could install/reinstall just the needed Office 2003 Proofing tools, which I did and so far so good. But who knows what tomorrows PC start up will cause. Wish me luck.

Don’t even get me started on their new file formats for Office 2007!

Feb 192010
 

Viruses aren’t the only dangers on the internet these days. If you let your kids use the computer, you not only need to worry about what their seeing and what sites they are visiting, but also online predators and bullies. So what is a parent to do, especially when most parents can’t do much more than turn the PC on and check there email let alone follow along on facebook or Twitter?

That’s where Internet Safety Software like Spector Pro comes in handy. It can allow you to easily see every step your child takes out into the World Wide Web by taking snapshots of the sites the visit. It actually records their every move allowing you to sit back a watch a video preview of their PC activities.

If you have kids on the web you’ll want to check out Spector Pro and everything it can do to protect your children while on the net.

Feb 192010
 

A little while back I wound up with a really nasty virus on my computer. I was not only afraid my new laptop would crash and burn on me, but also that my personal information and credit cards were all open to any hacker who wanted them.

My PC is protected by anti-virus software that is supposed to also watch out for spyware or malware so how in the world did my computer wind up getting infected?

I scoured the web searching high and low for help in removing this rather nasty bug from my system. Turned out it was a Trojan and I needed trojan horse remover to get rid of it. I had to take my computer off to the doctor to get it all better. The guy who worked on it told me about CyberDefender, wish I had known about them before hand. But as they say,  hindsight is 20/20.

If you don’t have good protection on your PC, get some now.

Sponsored by CyberDefender.

Feb 142010
 

It might seem like one of the scariest parts of starting an online business can be figuring out credit card processing and how to implement that into your online shopping cart. Just the costs alone can be frightening, but it does not need to be that way.

Surprisingly online credit card processing is a very simple thing to set up and start using, while the hardest part may be in finding the right shopping cart that will work with your credit card processor and not force you into using the one they have teamed with. The processor they have chosen to partner with may not be the best fit for your company.

A lot of the people I know with online stores don’t always have a physical retail store, but that doesn’t stop them from selling in offline forums like craft shows or expos. Just because they are not doing business online doesn’t mean they have to become a cash only store when on the road. There are great options for wireless credit card processing that lets you take your store accounts with you wherever you go. For people just starting out wireless processing can be a bit expensive, but don’t think you can’t do it. There is always the DialPay or telephone option. And who doesn’t have access to a cell phone these days?

No matter what type of card processing you need, you should have no problem figuring it all out with a little research. Good luck with your new venture.

Jun 032009
 

Facebook is the new playground for phishers. Why? The social networking site has made things relatively easy for computer criminals. So far, the consequences have been relatively mild — mostly, some annoying emails. But if facebook and other social networking sites don’t get a handle on security issues soon, a serious outbreak could occur.

Behind every successful criminal computer hack a simple two-step process: gain trust, then exploit that trust with an attack. Computer criminals will tell you that gaining trust is the hard part. Consider a real-world parallel: Breaking into a bank is difficult. But if you befriend a guard, he’ll eventually let you walk right in through the front door.

That’s why facebook attacks are so easy, says Mary Landesman, senior researcher at computer security firm ScanSafe.

“Facebook users assume a level of trust they just should not assume when using the site,” she said.

Phishing attacks have been popping up nearly every week on Facebook and other social sites like Twitter. Victims receive e-mails from friends with innocent-sounding messages, such as “click on this video.” Those who are duped then surrender their login information on a rogue Web site, and then a criminal is off to the races with their identity.

People who would never fall for an old-fashioned phishing note are getting tripped up by Facebook phish for one simple reason: They trust the sender.

“People are pretty unguarded in the social networking environment,” said Kevin Haley, director of Symantec Corp.’s security response team. “You figure you’re surrounded by friends, so why have your guard up?”

He likened Facebook attacks to scam artists that prey on church communities, where members typically share a high level of trust.

By creating what looks like a safe, fun environment, Facebook has created an ideal breeding ground for phishing attacks. In fact, some Facebook software even helps the cause. For example, Facebook makes it relatively easy to send messages to groups of friends, or to post notes that appear on their Web pages. That means one stolen login account can lead to a lot of trouble.

Worse yet, some of the techniques Facebook employs fly directly in the face of accepted security practices. Facebook regularly sends e-mail to users with links in the message. “To follow the comment thread, follow the link below,” reads a typical note. Clicking on the link then prompts users to log in.

That is precisely the formula phishers use to trick victims into divulging their passwords — an e-mail with a link that leads to a login page.

The Facebook method is a recipe for disaster. It’s difficult for users to tell the difference between a legitimate Facebook message and a phishing e-mail. That’s why many banks stopped sending e-mails with links years ago. And in general, that is why e-mail is no longer regarded as a secure form of communication — outside the social networking universe, anyway.

But Facebook has trained their users to click on links in e-mail. And with the steady advance of third-party applications that require sharing of data, Facebook has trained users to play fast and loose with personal information, too.

“We’ve barely gotten users to the point where they have a basic understanding of passwords, and the idea of not using the same password for everything,” Landesman said. Facebook’s use of e-mail and links “is a huge contributing factor (to the phishing problem).”

Facebook could make a simple change and stop many of these phishing attacks — all notification e-mails could say simple “login on our homepage to see the message,” for example, forcing users to always arrive at the site the old-fashioned way — by typing in www.facebook.com in a Web browser’s address bar.

This wouldn’t eradicate phishing. E-mails within Facebook’s system sent between users also include links, and these could also lead to trouble. Because linking to articles is such an important part of Facebook use, there’s no realistic way for Facebook to abolish all e-mail links. But anyone who clicks on such a link sent from within Facebook’s system wouldn’t need to log in again. Over time, users would learn there’s never a need to supply their password after clicking on a link, and wouldn’t be primed to do so when a phisher’s e-mail arrived.

Things could be much worse
So far, most Facebook scams have been designed to steal passwords. But the next successful scam e-mail could be much worse. It could lead users to a cleverly designed Web site booby-trapped with a nasty virus that deletes files or finds its way around a victim’s PC and steals credit card information. Such an attack wouldn’t require the victim to log in; merely visiting the page would be enough.

Of course, these are the same hazards that Internet users face every day — supplying login information to impostor Web sites is bad, landing on booby-trapped Web sites even worse. But Facebook users are especially vulnerable, because they trust the site and their friends. The firm bears responsibility to act before the problem gets worse.

Facebook isn’t entirely to blame, of course. Some of it is old-fashioned techno-naivete. Users tend to be too trusting when a new technology arrives. Just two months ago we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Melissa virus, the first e-mail worm that really shut down the entire computing world. Its method sounds quaint — or even silly — today. The Melissa message, which appeared to come from a co-worker or friend, read simply: “Here is that document you asked for … don’t show anyone else ;-).” Few Net users would fall for that trick in a standard e-mail today. But Facebook users are falling for very similar criminal tactics because they are working in a new medium. Many will have to touch this new stove and find out that, here too, they can be burned.

Here, too, Facebook is a victim of its own success. Mary Landesman points out that because nearly all Facebook messages are legitimate, recipients are much more likely to fall for the occasional e-mail trap. On the other hand, most traditional e-mail messages are spam (80 to 90 percent) and most inboxes are full of malicious messages, so consumers are much more wary when using regular e-mail.

“The fact that a majority of Facebook correspondence is still valid gives people a false sense of security,” she said.

Facebook didn’t ask for the job of Internet security cop, but that’s the job the company has now. So far, phishing attempts have been clumsy, often marked by broken English and silly-looking URLs. One recent message urged recipients to click on a link with arcane labels like “Check 121.im.”

But this weekend, a more sophisticated version included a link that looked like this:
http://www.facebook.com/l/;http://XXXXX.ru/?video_id=1319924″

(We’ve altered the link so it doesn’t work)

Notice how believable the link is. It appears to link users to Facebook.com, when in fact it sends clickers to a Web site in Russia (Web browsers ignore all the characters before the semicolon in a link). Expect a steady progression in phishing techniques during the next few months.

Facebook is taking some actions to ward off disaster. It hired security firm MarkMonitor, which has experience in getting phishing Web sites removed from the Internet. The firm says it’s already removed 240 phishing sites since the beginning of the year. When it discovers an ongoing phishing attack, Facebook reaches into users’ inboxes and removes the harmful messages. Because it’s a closed system, that technique is effective at preventing a large outbreak, at least on messages from within Facebook.

But the technology is limited and reactive. Facebook can only shut down an attack after it has started. And it can’t remove notification e-mails that are sent outside its systems, leaving users who get those e-mails still vulnerable.

Facebook is hardly the only social networking site with a problem. Twitter, which was hit this weekend by the same Russian video phishing note as Facebook, also makes things easier for crooks. Last week, security firm Trend Micro said that 13,000 Twitter users were hit by the so-called Twittercut phish, which promised to help clickers quickly gain 1,000 new followers.

Because there are multiple domains that can be used to log in to a Twitter account, Landsman points out, users are less likely to be skeptical of a link to an unusual Web site.

But Facebook is the 800-pound gorilla with the 200 million users. It should set the tone for a new set of social networking security standards. It should stop pushing users to share information with third-party applications, stop using e-mail links as a main tool of communication, and work harder to educate users about the risks they’ll encounter while using the site.

RED TAPE WRESTLING TIPS

The oldest of all Web security advice still applies. Never click on a link you didn’t expect, even if it comes from an old friend. Always type in Web addresses manually. Think before you click. Count to five if you have to.

Landesman also says that social network site users should avoid what she calls “promiscuous friending.” The wider your network of friends, the more likely one of them will get hit with a virus and their computer will attack yours. Limit your friends and you’ll limit your exposure.


This article was completely taken from MSNBC Red Tape Chronicles / WHY PHISHERS LOVE FACEBOOK by Bob Sullivan http://redtape.msnbc.com/2009/06/my-entry.html#posts

May 022009
 

Pets on the interwebs. Search any social network on the internet these days and you will most certainly find a bunch of pet lovers. Search MySpace, facebook or Twitter just a little harder and you will find the pets that belong to those very same pet lovers. Yes, there is a growing number of pets who blog or have their own web pages, and they connect with each other on these social networks.

Take my big boy Boris for example. I blog about him quite often, what is he does, his new toys, etc. When we first got him I even started a blog about his care and growth. Then we both got sick and the blog fell to the wayside. Recently I started dealing more with facebook and Twitter (as MySpace is yesterdays news) and found myself one night setting up accounts for Boris. So now you can follow the exploits of this kitty cat across the web via his blog (he took it over how), twitter and facebook.

I will continue to write about him here, as he is just too darn cote not too (besides he tends to ignore the fact that he has three older sisters who don’t play on the web — you know how it is for us older folks).