6 Simple tips to AVOID email phishing scams!

Recently a colleague at my day job fell for a scam email that appeared to be from PayPal. She clicked and entered all the info they requested and at the very end realized she had been taken for a ride. This post will cover some of the things you can look for to help identify a scam “phishing email” .Many of you are able to identify a phishing email in seconds, but if I can help one person identify a scam its worth the effort to write this post.

1. English as a second language

A good portion of attacks originate in non-English speaking countries. The hackers generate a phishing email that may be grammatically correct in their language, however when translated using google translate some of the message is lost in translation.

Continue reading “6 Simple tips to AVOID email phishing scams!”

Turn On Your “Pi Hole” and say hello ad blocking on all your devices!

We are bombarded with Internet advertisements all day long. They have become such a part of the landscape most of us don’t even notice them anymore, let alone click on them. Marketers have become ever more clever to get noticed on both our desktops and mobile devices. This is when the advertisements become obnoxious! Pop-ups, video ads with auto-play, even adds on our mobile devices that are ridiculously intrusive and  hide the “X” to exit.

Enough is enough already!

This is where Pi Hole fits in! What is a Pi Hole you say? Think of the Pi Hole as an open source advertisement blocking network appliance for your entire home.  The developers of the Pi Hole software found an easy way to block most advertisements from displaying on all your devices. When you boil it down the Pi Hole is simply a DNS black list joined with the inexpensive Raspberry Pi computer. Continue reading “Turn On Your “Pi Hole” and say hello ad blocking on all your devices!”

Want To Turn Back Time? How To Make A Clock Tick In Reverse! (Counterclockwise)

To turn back the hands of time, its something we all wished we could do at some point in our lives. Well this project won’t help you punch a hole in the space-time continuum, but it will help you make a cool desk or wall clock that has a counterclockwise movement.

We begin with the Q80 clock movement from Quartex they are readily available on the internet and I have a good stock of them if you would like to purchase one. (just email me at ideas@webcommand.net)

 

 

STEP 1 – Remove the back cover

  • To begin we need to remove the back cover of the movement. There are two plastic latching clips on each side of the movement. To remove the cover insert a flat small screwdriver, or pocket knife and gently pry the clip up slightly. Then wiggle the back cover off. Repeat this procedure on the other side. At this point the back cover should slide off easily. Don’t worry about any of the internal components as they are all self contained  within a clear plastic case. However do note the battery terminals can fall out. They are easy to reinsert so just put them on the side for now.

Continue reading “Want To Turn Back Time? How To Make A Clock Tick In Reverse! (Counterclockwise)”

I guess its back to passwords for our smart phones!

I have enjoyed the convenience of simply placing my thumb or index finger on my iPhone’s finger print scanner and having the phone quickly unlock. Apple has convinced me and many of you that the fingerprint scanners are secure and almost impossible to hack.

Well the honeymoon is over folks. According to a new study published in the journal IEEE Transactions on Information Forensics & Security researchers from Michigan State and NYU have created what they dub a “Master Fingerprint”. This new finger print composite was made by compiling patterns found in real fingerprints and is said to be able to unlock about 65% of phones. Continue reading “I guess its back to passwords for our smart phones!”

How To Partially Cut The Cord With HDHR by Silicon Dust (Part 2 of 2)

In my previous post  “How To Partially Cut The Cord Part 1″ I explained the ease of reducing your cable bill by purchasing an HD Home Run from Silicon Dust. I have been a huge fan of their tuners for the last 10 years and in this post I’m going to give you an idea of how my setup works.

I am a Verizon Fios customer and subscribe to one of their silver packages. I have two HD Home Runs. The first is a dual tuner HDHR Connect $93.00 at Amazon and the second is an HDHR Prime $119 at Amazon.

TUNE IN – My tuners:
The HDHR Connect will allow you to tune 2 channels of unencrypted QAM or over the air digital TV. I am lucky since FIOS has all OTA channels in clear QAM on their line. The HDHR Prime has a Verizon supplied cable card (mcard) installed for $5.00/per month and can tune 3 channels of encrypted signals. This gives me a total of 5 tuners to play with.

WATCHING TV – Live:
Once the HDHR tuners are setup on your home network, you can easily stream HD content to a ton of devices. I have tested mine with a Windows 7 & Windows 10 pc, Android tablet, XBOX One, Amazon Fire Stick, and a Raspberry Pi 3 running Kodi. All are able to keep up with HD content over my wireless N network. Continue reading “How To Partially Cut The Cord With HDHR by Silicon Dust (Part 2 of 2)”

How To Partially Cut The Cord With HDHR by Silicon Dust (Part 1 of 2)

In the United States the cable companies have close to a monopoly on the market. There is very little choice in which provider you can select and there is not much flexibility in the packages and equipment offered.

In recent years there has been a lot of talk about cutting the cord and tossing the cable company, but its harder than you may think. You could simply use OTA (over the air) antenna to receive the major broadcast networks, that’s providing you can still receive the digital signal. Maybe sign up for Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Sling TV, HBO GO, search the web for On Demand,  ETC. There are many digital providers to choose from but most don’t provide the full cable experience and offer every channel you may want to watch.

How can we reduce our cable bill while still maintaining the package of channels that we want to enjoy? EASY! Give all their equipment back! Don’t rent their DVR’s or cable boxes. If you currently have four TV’s and your providers equipment you are most likely paying over $40 per month for equipment rental, close to $500 a year. What if you could reduce that rental cost to $5 or $10 per month and a few one time charges to purchase your own equipment that you would OWN!

This little box called the HD Home Run (HDHR) Prime was one of the best investments I have made to reduce my cable TV costs without loosing programing. Continue reading “How To Partially Cut The Cord With HDHR by Silicon Dust (Part 1 of 2)”

Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Doorbell Is A Real Ringer!

The Video doorbell by Ring has been on on the market for quite some time now. So I bet you’re wondering why I would blog about this now so late in the game. Well I treated myself to one for Christmas last year and here we are 5 months later and I am enjoying the doorbell very much!

$199 at Amazon.com

From the second I opened the box I could tell that the unit was very sturdy and built to handle the elements. The construction looked good and according to the manual installation was going to be a breeze. After letting the unit charge overnight and a brief setup pairing the Ring to my WiFi, I was able to mount it to my front door in under an hour. Since the device has an on board battery the unit can be installed with or without full time power. I decided to use the existing doorbell wire and indoor chime which was attached to a 20v AC transformer in my basement.

Ring comes in 4 colors to match your home – 2 types of brass, nickel and bronze. You can pick one up at Amazon for under $200.00

INSTALLATION
Mounting the doorbell was extremely easy. After removing the old doorbell simply attach the included mounting plate to your home with the included hardware. They even included the screwdriver and a handy level in the box. On the mounting plate there are two screw terminals for you to connect your existing bell wires. Since most doorbell transformers are AC the positioning (polarity) of the wires does not matter.

Now your ready to attach the Ring unit to the mounting plate. At the very bottom of the unit there are two “security” screws that need to be loosened first. No worries, once again the screwdriver is included. Next, slide the unit onto the bracket and tighten the screws to secure. If you chose to install the unit without external power keep your security screwdriver handy, you will need it to remove the ring for charging every 6 months or so.

Now its your turn to watch the UPS driver throw your Amazon packages, or freak out the Girl Scouts selling cookies! Remember you can add all your family members to the app so everyone can be on the lookout! Continue reading “Ring Wi-Fi Enabled Doorbell Is A Real Ringer!”

Data you don’t have two copies of is data you don’t care about!

As a life long IT professional I have seen it happen over and over again. A friend, relative or co-worker stops by my office with a broken computer that will no longer load Windows. Maybe they have a virus, maybe the hard drive just decided to give up, or maybe they just clicked the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Whatever the reason my first question is do you have a current backup? I can immediately see the blank stare on their faces as if the word “BACKUP” was in some foreign language.  “Umm Backup.. I was meaning to get around to that but umm.. umm NO.” At this point they tend to run through a few stages of grief. Some denial, followed by some anger, and then fear, fear that all the pictures of Johnny’s birthday and every other family event for the last ten years is gone forever.

This article will give you some tips on how to keep that data safe and secure for as little money out of pocket as possible.  Your files may be lost this time, but if you keep reading maybe I can help you preserve your data for next time, and trust me there will be a next time.

If your computer will not boot, and you need some ideas on how to pull the hard drive and attempt a recovery ,this may be a good read for you

Continue reading “Data you don’t have two copies of is data you don’t care about!”

First portable Solid State Drive (SSD) Released By Western Digital

Solid State Drives continue to gain traction in the computer industry. I personally have been ordering all of the workstations for my office with SSD drives for at least a year now. The slight premium in cost and reduced capacity is well worth the performance increase.

I was baffled to find out today that Western Digital released their first SSD portable drive. I was thinking to myself “Wasn’t this already a thing?” I already have my own portable SSD. Well I actually made it myself with a stock SATA SSD like this one from Amazon, and a cheap USB 3.0 enclosure. My total cost was about $160 for around 525GB of storage.

I have been using Western Digital’s rainbow of drives (black, green, blue, red, yellow, gold ETC.) in my devices for decades and for the most part they have always performed well. Their new portable SSD is part of the newly redesigned My Passport line of drives and will come in three sizes 256GB for $99, 512GB for $199 and 1TB for $400. All drives support USB Type-C and Type-A (adapter included) with speeds up to 515MB/s Continue reading “First portable Solid State Drive (SSD) Released By Western Digital”