Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Privacy, Your Data, and Who Has Access to It (video)

This video may be an opener, and you may already know (most of) it, but IMHO it is worth your time.

It doesn’t take a top-secret government spy agency armed with the latest surveillance gear to gather information about you.

[ Note: if you do not hear sound, hover your cursor over the little speaker icon to expose the volume control slider, and ‘slide’ it to the right. ]

Today’s quote:Common sense is not so common.” ~ Voltaire

Copyright 2007-2013 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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All we really have, in the end, are our stories.
Make yours great ones. Ones to be proud of.

October 4, 2013 Posted by | advice, cloud computing, computers, Google, Internet, privacy, tech, Web 2.0 | 4 Comments

Syncing Your Devices – Calendars, Email, Contacts, oh my!

My job as a support and repair technician is evolving — which is only natural, as tech itself is evolving. At an exponential rate.

Years ago, my job consisted mainly of trying to cure non-booting Windows installations (remember “Error: ntldr.exe is missing or corrupt”?), getting a recalcitrant printer to ‘install’, crawling in attics and under houses “pulling” Ethernet cable, and removing the occasional virus.

Around 2007, the explosion of cybercrime forced me to become a virus removal specialist, and accounted for the majority of my hires. Affordable Wireless G networking gear pretty much ended my need for coveralls and flashlights, and I had to learn about (and master) RF ‘spectrum’, interference, and wireless security. Plug and Play’s finally maturing to functionality greatly reduced my printer install calls; but now there was “home entertainment centers” (with Dolby Surround Sound!) and “nanny cams” to install.

Today, the call coming into my shop – it seems – has a 50/50 shot of either being a nasty virus, or something like “I just synced my iPhone, and now I have three copies of each of my Contacts.” (or, “I just synced my iPhone, and now my Inbox is empty!“) We are transitioning to “cloud computing” – like it or not – and “mobile computing”.

People used to know better than to mix Apples and Windows (for one thing, it didn’t work), but today.. well most people seem to have at least one iGadget, maybe an Android phone (perhaps a BlackBerry), and their PC at home is Windows. And they expect them all to play together in some Utopian sense of “I paid for it, it should work.” Like.. the folks at Apple and the folks up in Redmond like each other, and go on picnics together.. and join hands and sing kumbaya, and the folks at Google just show up and join in. One big happy family. (I just made myself “lol”.)

People are no longer tied to any specific location or device as they roam about getting work done on laptops, tablets, or even smartphones. The challenge is to keep everything synced so you can access the same data from each of those platforms.

Well, here’s the real truth: it is not in Apple’s or Microsoft’s best interest to play well together, and in fact it profits them to try to “lock you into’ their products. Google? Yeah, it profits them to play nicely (and move you into the cloud) as their purpose is -> they want to learn every-single-thing they can about us, and then show us ads we don’t want to see.

Okay. So it’s 2011, and you want to keep your Outlook, iPad, and Blackberry all in “sync”, and you want it so, when you enter a new phone number for a Contact on one device, the Contact ‘merges’ seamlessly on your other devices with no errors, duplications, and do it in real time.
Good luck with that.

This is fledgling technology (learning to crawl), and everyone under the sun is selling some product which they claim can do this. But know this, (and I quote) “No perfect, seamless solution exists yet”.
Of course it doesn’t: this is all too new. This stuff isn’t even to version 1.0 yet, it sure seems to me. And there’s other agendas and cross-purposes in play as well (think “sales”).

But there are methods. Imperfect methods. But.. better than none, right?

For Outlook user who want syncing with iPads and/or iPhones, my (admittedly limited) experiences tell me you have two routes, really. And probably the best one is a $100/yr MobileMe account. Which, guess what? Is now closed for new sign ups (as of today?)(again, I made myself ‘lol’). But, coming this Fall, if you can wait that long, there will be a new version – called “iCloud“. Which probably will work.. and probably will stick around longer than MobileMe did… The other route is to ‘go Google’.. basically installing things so you can use Google’s (“cloud”) servers and services as your ‘middleman’. (So they can learn all your habits..)

What I suggest – if this topic is relevant to you – is you read this great PC World article: How to Keep Your Data in Sync Across Platforms and Devices

Keeping your contacts, calendars, and other data synced across all your mobile devices and PC platforms isn’t as difficult as it seems.

One thing about tech.. you have to constantly keep learning.. it isn’t sitting still! (TCP/IP v6 is here..)

Today’s (other) reading reco: Here is a Very Nice and Useful Firefox Add-On and Chrome Extension That Will Save You Paper

“Here is a nice Firefox add-on and Chrome extension, called iWeb2X,  that is engineered to convert a web page to a printer friendly PDF, image snapshot, or high resolution wallpaper. What sets this iWeb2X apart from the other PDF utilities out there is that no sign-up account is required and you get the following features: […]”

Today’s quote:Do what you can, with what you have, where you are!~ Theodore Roosevelt

Copyright 2007-2011 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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June 7, 2011 Posted by | advice, Apple, cloud computing, computers, Google, how to, Internet, iPhone, Microsoft, mobile, MS Office, PC, Portable Computing, Simple File Sharing, software, tech, Web 2.0, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How To Turn Off Hotmail ‘Active View’

Earlier this week I got a bit of a surprise in my e-mail – my Hotmail, specifically – kind of a nice surprise.

Now before you start writing me about using Hotmail, I want to say in my defense, I signed up for it long ago. Back in the days when “google” was something an infant might say, okay?

Anywho, back to the topic: my ‘surprise’. Microsoft is constantly “improving” their free webmail service (including renaming it to “Live Hotmail”) in small ways, to modernize it, and keep up with the times… as we advance into “Web 3.0”.
[Dear Microsoft, the improvements I would like to see are: more servers, better load balancing, and fatter pipes into those servers. Why am I seeing “server is too busy” and “we are performing maintenance” errors? You think I am going to trust your other ‘online’ services (aka Office Live Online) when I’m seeing that in a light-weight service like e-mail??? Right.]

Anywho, back to the topic: my ‘surprise’. As I said, Microsoft is constantly updating Hotmail, and this week I noticed a change when I happened to get, and open, an email which had several photos included as attachments. Along with the newish “view”, and trusty old “download” menu options was “view as slideshow” Huh? Yup.
So I clicked on that choice, and an ‘overlay’ slideshow viewer opened, and darned if I couldn’t back and forward and ‘play’ all the photos in (attached to) the email. Kinda kewl.

This is part of something Microsoft is calling ‘Active View’ (others are calling it “previews”, “peeks”, and whatnot) — “mini-websites in your inbox.”

How do Hotmail Active Views work?
You probably have links to other websites in a lot of the e-mail you get—friends share photos and videos. Maybe you get links to track packages that you’re shipping, too.

Active Views are a way to preview information right in Hotmail, so that you don’t have to go to another website to see the photos, watch the videos, or find out where your package is.

Hotmail and Microsoft are committed to keeping your information private. Since we’re really concerned about privacy, we want to tell you exactly how Active Views work.
When a message comes in, we scan it to see whether it’s junk, partly by looking for links to suspicious websites. With Active Views, we detect good links so that we can show you previews. If you’re sent a link to Flickr, we use the link to show a thumbnail of the photos inside your message. The link itself contains information—for example, it identifies a particular photo album—the site will only know that the link was selected by Hotmail. We don’t identify you or send any personal information.

The other type of Active View comes from websites that provide you up-to-date information and content that you can interact with. These messages are like mini-websites in your inbox. So when you open these messages and interact with them, it’s like you have gone to their website. If you don’t click anything inside the message, they’ll only know that you opened the message and what your browser settings are (for example, the browser version and language).”

Here is the How To: (Again, I quote.)

“We’ve designed Active Views so they respect and help protect your privacy. But if you aren’t comfortable with them, go to Options any time and turn Active Views off.

Follow these steps to turn on/off Active View:
1.  Sign in to your Windows Live Hotmail account.
2.  Go to OptionsMore Options.
3.  Under Reading email, click Active View settings.
4.  Under Do you want to see previews?:
Choose Always show photo and video previews to enable Active View or Hide photo and video previews to disable Active Views.
5.  Under Do you want to get interactive updates from web sites you have accounts with?:
Choose Yes to get interactive updates or No to not receive them.


.. now, I am not saying you necessarily want to disable this “interactive”-ness; nor am I saying that there are any attacks exploiting it (at the moment). Even I admit it (slideshow previews) is awfully convenient. But there is the info so that you have choice.

Have a great weekend everybody!

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved.

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November 13, 2010 Posted by | computers, e-mail, how to, Internet, Microsoft, privacy, security, tech, tweaks, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Just Say “No” To


Everyone in my address book received an e-mail from me asking them to join MyLife. To each and every one of you, I apologize. Please, just delete it as the spam it is.

How that happened was, I was asked to write a review of a “new” social networking site, and so I had to ‘enroll’ and become a member.. which involves building my “profile”.. which involves importing “who I know” (aka “contacts”).

The site/service in question is called mylife, which appears to me to be a mashup between the professional Linkedin social networking site, and PeopleFinders Reunion, the “locate long lost friends” site. logo Banner Logo

“Find Everyone & Stay Connected
across the web’s most popular sites”

Of course, you need to sign up, and of course, it’s “free to join”.

The first thing you’ll see is a full page ad for contact lenses (which you’ll need to find the teeny-tiny “no thanks” link). Then you’ll see another full-page ad.. and then you’ll be provided a form to fill in your personal details and build your MyLife “profile”. And you’ll be asked to import your contacts by providing your e-mail addresses and login passwords.

Please read that last sentence again.

Presuming you do so, and allow mylife to vacuum up your contact list (which is sent via unencrypted HTTP) it will then go through the Web and find any mention of them on the Web (such as, finding their Facebook page, Linkedin profile, etc.). It shows you some results, and

If you spend more than 20 seconds on MyLife, you’re going to see this page. If you want to click any of the links this service provides, you’re going to see this page. You’re going to see this page a lot.

Because this page is what MyLife is all about.

If you have ever used (or..tried to use) a free “people search” type website, you know how they work. You enter a person’s name, and they produce a list of results.. usually including the person you’re looking for. So you click on the “details”, or “contact”, or “more” button/link, and you’re told that access to this data requires “membership”. Same with mylife only worse.


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a site nag you to buy like MyLife does. Incredible.

Let’s say there was a case of “user error”, and it was my fault that all my contacts got spammed (with my name on it), I still could not find one thing to recommend MyLife.
Two big thumbs down.

[update: MyLife is the same folks who brought us Reunion. David Lazarus of the Los Angeles Times has accused social-networking site of abusing e-mail contacts. The company’s aggressive marketing tactics require you to surrender your address list to join up, in most cases. The site then sends out invitations in your name to all your contacts.]

[further update: for those of you with concerns about how your personal information is used (and sold), I strongly urge you to read, A new tool for bargain-seeking stalkers. ]

LinkedIn is the only “social networking” thing I do. It is free and it is aimed at professionals (everyone I have ever talked to who has “looked ip old friends”, has done so on Facebook.). And if you really do a lot of looking up people (say, for genealogy), use You can get it free at your local library in most places.
And, oh yeah! Try Google. Put the person’s name inside quotes for exact matches.

… doubt I’ll be asked to do another review.. but I call ’em as I see ’em.

Addenda: I have received several e-mails asking how you remove mylife from a computer…

I don’t understand this. MyLife is a “service” you sign up for.. sort of like Facebook, or Twitter, or.. a webmail. It isn’t a program you install, or a malware infection like a virus. If you signed up, you have to log in to MyLife and unsubscribe. To stop receiving e-mails from them.. well, about all you can do is add a rule to your spam filter (sometimes called a “blacklist”) and block them. [for webmail, see Managing your email: eliminating the junk, and in a mail client see, Managing junk mail in Outlook/Thunderbird .]

* For those of you who want to learn about the proper way to un-entagle yourself from social networking sites: How To Remove Your Name From Search Engines and Social Networking Sites

* To see real life complaints (other than in the comments below), click here.

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 6, 2009 Posted by | advice, Internet, networking, social networking, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , | 117 Comments

Second rogue Facebook app spams ‘friends’

Scoundrels have created another rogue Facebook application, the second to hit the social networking site in less than a week.

In the second attack, Facebook users receive notices that they have supposedly being reported for violation of the social networking site’s terms of service by someone in their friends list. A link on the notification leads to an application called “f a c e b o o k – – closing down!!!” which, post installation, spams all the affected user’s friends with the same message…

Read the rest of this article here.

* Thanks to Lee at Technibble

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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March 1, 2009 Posted by | advice, cyber crime, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The "Live" Line*

Microsoft’s *New* Product Family

In my ongoing, relentless effort to be simply the Best Tech Writer on the Web, big changes are happening. HUGE changes. Gi-normous changes. (I mean.. really big.) These changes will alter the way I do everything. I am undergoing a metamorphosis of epic proportions. I am going to have to unlearn the ways I have been doing things for.. well, forever. Which isn’t easy. I’m too old to be learning new tricks without a grumble.

One change is that Tech–for Everyone is now being co-hosted on *another* blogging site. This is due to my research into the GigantiCorp known as Google, and my exploration of their ever-expanding array of services, some of which I have reported here.

(What this means for you, Dear Reader, is.. well.. not much– except, if you have grown tired of the “look” and layout of this site, you can read my articles at the other site, which uses a different “template”.)
When you acquire a ‘G-identity’, you gain access to much more than just a Gmail account (which, IMHO, is the best free Webmail service going right now), and one of those things is access to Blogger. Google is continuing to grow even as we speak… who knows what service they’ll be offering next.
I want to have a good relationship with Google, as it is my primary way of advertising my online Help & Support business.

[Addenda: for those of you whose favorite feature of this series is the daily download, you will definitely want to be aware of the “Google Pack” of free downloads — Spyware Doctor being of special note — and you can find out more here, in case you missed it]

What this means for me is, I now have to publish twice (six times a week!) each day– once here, and once there. Yuk. Fortunately for me, I have been doing intensive, in-depth explorations of the other GigantiCorp known as Microsoft.. specifically their competing array of services offered under the title “Live”.
(Have you noticed? Everything is “Live” now. It’s not “Hotmail”, it’s “Live Hotmail”; “Messenger” is now “Live Messenger”, and the security tools are “Live One Care”..)

I am now writing this article in a completely different way.. one that makes it easy to write-once, post-twice. I have downloaded and Installed a MS program called “Live Writer“, which is a tool for bloggers. The way I had been doing things (all this time) was through my web browser. I would navigate to here, login, access the writing tool, and when finished, hit the “Publish” button.

The other Big Change to my routine is caused by “Live Mail“, which is also freshly downloaded and installed. This is a program very much like Outlook Express and Vista’s Mail, only it allows you to access webmail accounts.. such as ‘Live Hotmail’. (Why don’t the other Microsoft mail clients??? Hmmm?)

It’s about time they did this. My usual routine was to open my web browser and open a tab for each webmail account. It is the way I’ve been doing it for.. well, forever. I have several webmail accounts (as you may have as well) and so this made for several open tabs and much clicking back-and-forth. Live Mail allows me to combine them (sorta) into one collection of folders.
A big plus– it handles encryption certificates well (see, Simple E-mail Encryption).

If you use, or have ever used, an e-mail client (Thunderbird, Outlook, Outlook Express, etc.), then you will have a zero learning-curve with Live Mail, as it’s basically the same.. with one vital exception: it allows you to access all your mailboxes.

As you can imagine, my web browser had reached the point where I simply had too many tabs open (three Inboxes, WordPress, and now Blogger, plus a few of my favorite blogs..) and so I have “gone Live”. I am breaking my browser habit. I am trying New Things. No longer will I launch Avant and start Ctrl+T-ing. No! From here on out, I’ll launch a “Live” something-or-other.
Wish me luck. I think I feel the withdrawal symptoms beginning…

Today’s free download(s) and link(s): Well, gee, Folks… I count five of them sprinkled throughout this one little article.. ain’t that enough for one day? But, if you’d like to see the *other* version of this website, click here.
And if you write a blog (or, for a blog, or.. are thinking about starting your own blog) see what a new comer to the blogging game has to say about the free Windows Live Writer (or, “WLW”) as well as the new Live services here.

* Originally published 3/18/08

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

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November 20, 2008 Posted by | advice, blogging, computers, e-mail, encrypting files, how to, PC, software, tech, Web 2.0, Windows | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Dangerous Links, Phishing, and WOT

A recent article of mine has proven very popular. It discussed the recent epidemic of “rogue” antivirus and anti-spyware programs that is plaguing the Internet these days — such as Virus Response Lab 2009, Antivirus XP, and — literally  — hundreds of others.

These programs are really the tools used by cyber-criminals to infect your machine with malware… not clean it up, as you’re led to believe. (The article link [above] has a video demonstrating a rogue program.) As a bonus, you’re asked to provide your credit card number to buy the “full” (or, “Pro”) version.
What do you think criminals do with those cc#’s????

Regular readers are aware that I frequently post ‘alerts’ to the latest scams arriving via e-mail. Spam.

Here the latest, a classic phish:
Subject: Notification of e-gold account update
What I’d like you to notice is the red circle next to the hyperlink .

That is the WOT (Web Of Trust) toolbar’s (now automatically integrated into Gmail, because I’m viewing it in a browser) website rating.
I’m no rocket scientist.. but I am pretty sure red means “bad”.. and/or, “stop”.

This website rating — with its easy to understand color code — tool can really save you a lot of pain and loss from phishing and poisoned websites; because the criminals are going to tremendous efforts to make their scams look legit (and to poison truly legit sites).
I’ll say it again– the Internet today is a very insecure and dangerous place!

There are many anti-phishing tools and plug-ins and filters to choose from (some are built into your browser, if you enable them) but if you want a quick, clean, easy to understand warning tool– give the WOT toolbar a try.

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

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October 10, 2008 Posted by | advice, anti-spyware, antivirus, computers, cyber crime, e-mail, hackers, Internet, Internet scam, PC, Phishing, phraud, security, software, tech, Web 2.0 | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments