Archive for the ‘Internet’ category

Two Factor Authorization

May 5, 2017

I thought that today I would write a post about protecting our online data. Many online providers have adopted a security protocol called “Two Factor Authorization”. This is how it works. Up until recently, all one needed would be your username and your password to gain access to your account. You account could mean access to your email provider or perhaps your bank or maybe an E-Tail provider like Amazon.

Here’s how it works. When you attempt to login to your bank, the bank will ask for your username and password. So far so good. Then it will send a text message to your mobile phone. The text message will contain a 6 digit cypher that you will need to plug into your login screen. The cypher is good for only 10 minutes. So the reasoning goes that you need to have two pieces of information to gain access your account, a password and the code. Thus making unauthorized access less likely.

Recently Gmail (run by Google) adopted 2 factor authorization. I don’t know about other email providers. Protecting your email access is particularly important because if a hacker can get access to your email, he/she would be able to reset passwords to your other accounts. When you request a password reset, the provider just sends a “reset password” link to your email.

For this reason, protecting your primary email account is of utmost concern. So at this point in time, I know that Bank of America and Wells Fargo have implemented two factor authorization.

Click here for a Wikipedia article on the subject.

Hoaxes

December 23, 2015

snopeslogoJust in time for Christmas, yet another hoax pops up on Facebook. This one is that Mark Zuckerberg is going to give away tons of money to common folk like you and me. Here’s the text that I saw. Remember, this is a HOAX.

 

Can’t wait to see who the lucky recipients are…According to Good Morning America, Not a hoax! Mark Zuckerburg has announced that he is giving away $45 billion of Facebook stock. What you may not have heard is that he plans to give 10% of it away to people like YOU and ME! All you have to do is copy and paste this message into a post IMMEDIATELY. At midnight PST, Facebook will search through the day’s post and award 1000 people with $4.5 million. Each as a way of saying thank you for making Facebook such a powerful vehicle for connection.

So do you for even a minute believe that Mark Zuckerberg is going to give you $4.5 million? The first clue is that paragraph says it “Not a hoax!”. What makes people get the urge to forward this baloney along? Actually, Zuckerberg did talk about giving away $45 Billion of his fortune, but he doesn’t say how or to who the money will be going. Here’s the link to what Mark Zuckerberg actually wrote. Click here.

So I have written about hoaxes before, but it doesn’t seem to be sticking. So, I guess I need to do it again. Here goes.

You have just read a story that seems to be too good to be true. Perhaps, someone is going to give you a ton of money. Or, something wonderful will happen if you post this note.

There has been a saying for a long time in the computing world, Garbage In, Garbage Out, or as I like to think of it is, Garbage In, GOSPEL out.

So before you go and post that message, I would encourage you to check it out before you blindly pass it on. So how do I do that, you say? There is a great resource called “SNOPES.COM

Snopes.com was created in 1995 as a Usenet newsgroup by David Mikkleson. The name Snopes originated from the family name of unpleasant people in the works of William Faulkner. For more information about snopes.com, go to the Wiki pages. (Click here)

I would recommend browsing the current top 25 internet hoaxes and rumors. It is amusing reading. Click here

COIN V2

August 26, 2015

IMG_2281Well COIN pushed an update to their app on iOS today. Part of the update was to add a feature to add a nickname to each credit card stored on the Coin device. Okay, to refresh your memory, Coin is a device that allows one to store up to six credit cards on the device. It has the same form factor as a typical credit or debit card. The deal is that you can reduce the thickness of your wallet from six credit cards to one.

The problem was that one had to remember the last four digits of each credit card so that one could select the one that you wanted to use. So for example, now you could assign a nickname like WF for a Wells Fargo card or BA for Bank of America. A feature that would be welcome and useful.

They also announced that would be a V2 version of the device. Current owners/users could upgrade for free. Well that’s nice. The V1 device seems to have some issues around acceptability at some merchants. ie. not everybody accepts it. That’s a big problem because it means that you have to have a real backup credit card in case the store can’t read the COIN.

The V2 COIN is also supposed to support NFC (Near Field Communication). This allows one just to wave the card on top of the POS terminal. This is the same feature that is used by ApplePay or GooglePay. If stores start supporting NFC, why would I need a card? I could just use my iPhone, Most stores aren’t anywhere close to accepting NFC,

Here’s the main problem. The V2 COIN won’t start shipping until Q1 2016. What they mean by that is the end of Q1 2016. Corporations often have a weird way of telling time. If I told my wife that I would be home by 9 pm and I walked in the door  at 9:55 she might be justifiably be upset. I said I would be home by 9. It’s still 9 o’clock. Time to duck. That’s seven months from now by my math.

Anyways, back to the update. I installed the update. I registered for the update. no problem. I am now aware of their method of keeping time. I managed to set one nickname. But I was unable to set another. At the same time my COIN seems frozen. No sync, Won’t turn on. I can’t prove that the update screwed up my COIN but it seems likely that it’s the culprit.

Time for another email to COIN support. They say to repeatedly push the on button until it unfreezes or let it sit for 24-48 hours. Sigh. My COIN is real close to being thrown in the back of the drawer with all of my other electronic gadgets that promised to change the world but didn’t.

If you’re thinking of buying one of these gadgets. Don’t.

Internet 101

August 25, 2015

Okay, I’ve worked on IT support for a long time. And one of things that I have learned is that the Internet is forever. That’s rule number one. There is also a corollary that states that “Stupid is forever”.

The only was to make sure that data is safe from hackers to put the server in a room, cut the cable and lock the door. And even that has risks.

So I’ve been reading about the Ashley Madison Hack. What you haven’t heard about this web site? Stop reading right now and Google “Ashley Madison Hack”. I’ve saved you the trouble, click here.

Okay everyone up to speed? Good. So here a few interesting points. Ashley Madison is site for seeking adulterous hookups. The hack contains data from some 32 million users of which 15,000 users had email addresses in the .GOV or .MIL domains. First, that means that people in our government and military are trying to carry on adulterous affairs. Second, they are too stupid to get a private account from Yahoo or Gmail. (which proves my point that “stupid is forever”.). I would bet that a lot of other users with .COM addresses were using their work accounts. STUPID, STUPID, STUPID. The idea of an affair is not to get caught. Duh.

Using your work email is just asking to caught. Storing illicit files (ie. naughty bits) on your work computer (or home computer, for that matter) is also just asking to get caught. All it takes is a trip to the IT support specialist or the help desk at Office Max or whatever. Then the fecal matter hits the air mover.

A few years ago I was asked to delouse a friends computer that had been infected by a nasty virus. The first thing I looked at after removing the virus was the browser history. To quote George Takei, “Oh my…” Needless to say, there were some unhappy folks in that household.

Even teenagers who use text messaging to exchange naughty pictures have discovered the dark side. Even the app SnapChat is not completely safe from malicious use. Maybe we need a course taught in junior high school on internet safety. Probably wouldn’t work. Some people just have to learn the hard way.

Moving on. Many politician are learning the hard way that what they said a long time ago can come back to bite them. The internet makes it easier to look up what a politician said long ago. Twitter has become both the blessing and the curse of modern politics. But what they say doesn’t go away. Ever.

Feng Shui, My A**

August 3, 2015

I think that I will scream. So I saw the attached image posted on FB this morning.

  
Okay, how many of you believe it to be true? Probably a lot because it keeps popping up in various forms. This is one of those things that obeys the basic law of the internet. ie. “Garbage in, Gospel out.”. By the way, one of the other basic laws of the internet is “The Internet is forever!”. I suppose “Stupid is forever” too.

It is categorically not true.  The five Fridays, five Saturdays and five Sundays happen about every 5, 6 or 11 years depending on when leap year occurs. The most recent time that August had five long weekends was 2010. If you don’t believe me go look it up on an old calendar

I have tried to get to people to check with the snopes.com web site to check out internet/urban myths. But somehow I get tired of continually repeating the idea.

So for umpteenth time people go to snopes.com and browse. For straight dope on the five fridays myth, click here.  Indeed, bookmark the site so that you remember to check it before you post something really stupid.

There, I feel better.

If I Read it on the Internet, It Must Be True

March 4, 2015

snopeslogoSo listen up ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls. Everything that you read on the internet is not necessarily fact. Alas, it is true.

It seems that almost every day one of my FB friends share a post from one of their BFF’s, an article of great importance that is utterly and completely false.

So how do I tell whether or not the post is fact? First clue, is it outrageous? Have I seen it on a reputable news site like the NY Times or LA Times? Journalists are expected to do due diligence when they write a story.

Was the post from a friend of a friend of a friend? In other words can I discern where it came from?

There is a really good web site for Internet rumors and myths called “Snopes.Com“. Here are some of the latest rumors that are trending on Snopes: (note: all of the rumors listed here are false, except for the last one.)

There you have it, some of the current rumors and news for today. So do me (and all of your FB BFF’s) check the post out before you send it on.

Kindle Unlimited Isn’t

August 23, 2014

I wrote a few weeks ago about Amazon’s “Kindle Unlimited” subscription service for books. Well, yesterday I discovered a limitation of the service. It seems that you can only download 10 books at a time. When you try to download book number 11, Amazon tells you to delete one of the previous ten books.
 
 Now this limit is probably buried in the fine print of the terms and conditions document that you accepted and if you are anything like me didn’t bother to read.
 
 Also, my guess is that when you cancel, Amazon will reach into your Kindle or Kindle App on your iPad and delete all of the free books. I’ll find out when I cancel later after I finish the book about Ernest Shackleton’s adventure at the South Pole.
 
 The service is just not worth it. The book selection just sucks. in the two or three weeks I have had the service, I haven’t seen any improvement. Most of the books would normally be selling for under $5, some under $3. Just not worth it.
 
 
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