Techie Stuff for Members April 21st

7 minute read

Stay Safe

You are probably spending more time on your computer than you thought possible, but so are the bad guys! In the past few days, I have received a number of emails that are tempting to open - but don’t. For example: From a Bike Store - We received an unusual order for parts, and were just wanting to verify it. Attached was an Excell spread sheet. Yes I was curious, but just deleted the message without further opening anything.

If you are unsure, delete. Your REAL contacts will surely find another way to get a hold of you when necessary.

Shared by Graeme Wallace

This from David Eaman

Have been experiencing some technical challenges recently (printer died - waiting for a new tablet battery) that lead me to dusting off an old mini laptop. Works fine for ebooks but web activity was brutally slow.

The following really helped:

  • Clear cache (all browsers, all entries) - expect a lot of our guys don’t know how
  • Run some “clean up” tools
    • Bell web subscribers can download free McAfee that (in addition to real time virus protection) offers a good one. Pissed at Rogers, so I don’t know if they have a similar offering.

    • Ccleaner helps too (run the “Health Check” feature and registry repair (never had a problem from running it)). If you’re lucky, they will offer a 14 day “Pro” trial that does an even better job.

    • AVG is free too and I somehow got their tool “AVG Tune Up” without paying for it.

Still slow but much better.

Dave

Keep in Touch (but not physical touch)

I miss our monthly Computer Group meetings, even though the attendance could have been better. Nevertheless, I would appreciate some feedback and suggestions for these Blogs and meetings to come in September. Just drop me an email or better still, pick up the phone. It’s not as if I have somewhere else to be.

Are you Zooming?

Group meetings online are all the rage, facilitated by an application called “Zoom”. Zoom can be Free for up to 100 participants, limited to 40 minutes at a crack. More features are available for $20 to $27 per month.

There have been a number of security issues associated with Zoom. Zoombombing, where hackers bombard Zoom participants with slurs, mockery and pornographic images, is a chief concern — the practice has been reported in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, synagogue services and doctoral dissertation defences. The F.B.I. issued guides to make online meetings more secure:

  • Do not make meetings or classrooms public. In Zoom, there are two options to make a meeting private: require a meeting password or use the waiting room feature and control the admittance of guests.
  • Do not share a link to a teleconference or classroom on an unrestricted publicly available social media post. Provide the link directly to specific people. -Manage screensharing options. In Zoom, change screensharing to “Host Only.”
  • Ensure users are using the updated version of remote access/meeting applications. In January 2020, Zoom updated their software. In their security update, the teleconference software provider added passwords by default for meetings and disabled the ability to randomly scan for meetings to join.
  • Lastly, ensure that your organization’s telework policy or guide addresses requirements for physical and information security.

Now that you have the Time

You know what’s coming - BACKUP your computers! The cost of Storage devices is really low, so you can afford to make backups at home onto external hard drives. You can store only “valuable” information, “all” your data, or “your whole hard drive” including (or not) all your “programs” and operating system. Alternatively, you can use the “cloud” to hold copies of your stuff. This may take a while, since upload speeds are significantly slower than downloading. The advantage is the secure redundancies built into the cloud provider’s systems.

Once you are done, run a test to make sure that the backups did what you expected. Keep a record of your software licences should you have to reinstall them at a later date. Don’t forget to backup your tablet and smartphone as well.

Updates

The best and easiest way to keep your computing life safe is to install updates to the Operating System and to your favourite programs. First do your Backups in case anything goes wrong, then do the updates. Most updates fix bugs and close security holes that the developers have found.

5G

Well no, it is not causing Covid-19, but some crazies are burning down 5G cell towers to prove a point, that point being that they are nutbars.

It appears that my favourite company, Apple, will delay releasing 5G products until 2021, in part due to the impact of Covid-19. The biggest hurdle will be coverage. Rogers 5G
Rogers is building out Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal to start, (no mention of Collingwood), so to actually use 5G, some travel may be in order. When it does arrive, the experience will no doubt be phenominal, providing user experiences not yet dreamed of. All in due course.

Photo Editing

If you or your family members are into photo editing, i.e. Photoshop, you may want to take advantage of an offer by one of Adobe’s competitors - Affinity Photo. Affinity is a full featured alternative to Photoshop and is available on a 90 day Trial or purchase for $34.99 CDN. One of the benefits (in my oppinion) is no subscription - you own it. You can refer to my Post for a demonstration under Photography > Affinty Photo on this site.

Contact Tracing

Apple and Google are developing apps to allow tracing of others with whom you have come in contact. The apps are to be available to public health authorities only rather than app developers. The issue of personal privacy is the biggest stumbling block. If you are suspicious of government surveillance in general (Big Brother is Watching), you may well wonder how far this type of monitoring would go on in the future, long after we are past the Covid-19 pandemic. Judging from online article, neither POTUS nor Dr. Fauci are fully understanding what the apps will do nor how they accomplish the task. Further Details

The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) says that any electronic contact tracing needs to respect six principles.

The ACLU’s six principles are:

  • Voluntariness — Whenever possible, a person testing positive must consent to any data sharing by the app. The decision to use a tracking app should be voluntary and un-coerced. Installation, use, or reporting must not be a precondition for returning to work or school, for example.
  • Use Limitations — The data should not be used for purposes other than public health — not for advertising and especially not for any punitive or law enforcement purposes.
  • Minimization — Policies must be in place to ensure that only necessary information is collected and to prohibit any data sharing with anyone outside of the public health effort.
  • Data Destruction — Both the technology and related policies and procedures should ensure deletion of data when there is no longer a need to hold it.
  • Transparency — If the government obtains any data, it must be fully transparent about what data it is acquiring, from where, and how it is using that data.
  • No Mission Creep – Policies must be in place to ensure tracking does not outlive the effort against COVID-19.

Not sure this will ever fly. BB

Podcasts

If you are involved in the many online Podcasts and Webinars being offered, you may find that using headphones instead of your computer’s regular speakers, will help with unwanted feedback. Just listening - turn off your microphone and camera. Put yourself in a good light if you are presenting, and consider a proper microphone vs the built-in one on your laptop.

More Scams

Scams
Just DELETE - do not even open. Curiosity got the Cat!

On the Who Knew side

As you know, I am fascinated with numbers. On the small end we have chips with huge numbers of transistors being lithographed on ridiculously small pieces of silicon. For example, the newest iPhone chips are being made by TSMC using 5 nanometer technology, that is the gap between transistors is only 5nm. 5nm equates to 0.005𝝻 microns, so to put this in perspective to the size of a virus: Small Sizes
Why do we care? Smaller distances mean lower power requirements, better battery life, and faster computing. Speaking of small as in viruses, the efficacy of your facemask may not be perfect, but it really cuts down on the chance of you infecting your neighbour rather than filtering out bad virus particles aimed at you. Get used to it. We may have to adorn our handsome mugs for quite a while.

That’s all folks

If you got this far, thanks for reading. Please send some feedback so that I know I am not just blogging to myself. Keep safe until we can once again get together. Need tech help? Give me a shout.

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