Tech – for Everyone

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

STEMs toy ideas

Amazon’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math gift toy ‘category’ might be of interest to a few of you. If you are, click here

Copyright 2007-2015 © “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.

December 4, 2016 Posted by | shopping for | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Stanford Courses – Free, and for Everyone | More

I apologize, Dear Reader, for the lack of a post yesterday. (I’ll make today’s a little longer to make up for it.)

First item: Recently, an alert reader (you know who you are) brought to my attention the fact that Stanford University’s Engineering department had made available – to everyone – some online classes. And three of them are free.
These courses can be taken on two ‘levels’, which I think of as “very casual” and “has homework”.

• Stanford Engineering Everywhere

For the first time in its history, Stanford is offering some of its most popular engineering classes free of charge to students and educators around the world. Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) expands the Stanford experience to students and educators online. A computer and an Internet connection are all you need. View lecture videos, access reading lists and other course handouts, take quizzes and tests, and communicate with other SEE students, all at your convenience.

SEE programming includes one of Stanford’s most popular sequences: the three-course Introduction to Computer Science taken by the majority of Stanford’s undergraduates and seven more advanced courses in artificial intelligence and electrical engineering.

Stanford Engineering Everywhere offers:

  • Anytime and anywhere access to complete lecture videos via streaming or downloaded media.
  • Full course materials including syllabi, handouts, homework, and exams.
  • Online social networking with fellow SEE students.
  • Support for PCs, Macs and mobile computing devices.

Find out more here.

Next up; New tech could – one day – let you see through walls..

MIT Develops New Radar Technology: Military Could See Through Walls

“Looking through walls is no longer something we read about in comic books or watch in Superman movies. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory has presented new radar technology (link to video) that would allow humans to see through a solid wall.Read more..

And, what the hey..

For consumers, finding competent PC support is a challenge

What happens if something goes wrong with a Windows PC? Good luck finding honest and competent help. Right now, somewhere in the world, an incompetent support professional is performing “repairs” that make things worse and suggesting useless “upgrades” that line their pockets and slow down PCs.” Read more..

[shameless plug: or, they could just call me.]

Netflix’s big collapse: Do you believe in streaming, international expansion?

In the long run, Netflix’s focus on streaming and international expansion makes sense. Today, those decisions are causing a world of hurt.Read more..

For some reason, I am finding it hard to believe it’s Wednesday already..

Today’s quote:Depressed? Of course we’re all depressed. We’ve been so quickly, violently, and irreconcilably plucked from nature, from physical labor, from kinship and village mentality, from every natural and primordial anti-depressant. The further society “progresses,” the grander the scale of imbalance. Just as fluoride is put in water to prevent dental caries, we’ll soon find government mandating Prozac in our water to prevent mental caries.” ~ M. Robin D’Antan (I think it should be “cavities”..?)

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

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October 26, 2011 Posted by | advice, computers, Internet | , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

A rocket scientist falls for “social engineering” ploy

…and managed to render his machine unbootable. Today I got a call from a person I know very well,  who had lost his Internet connection (all of a sudden) and he wanted my help. I asked him what changes he had made recently?

He told me that when he ‘woke’ his new laptop this morning [an HP Pavilion running Vista Home Premium] he was greeted with a dialogue window “from Netscape” that informed him that he was usings Windows Firewall, and asked, did he want to “disable Windows Firewall and use Netscape firewall instead. Yes/No?” He, of course, clicked “Yes”. He is a Netscape user (the browser), and has been since Netscape’s browser was the #1 browser of choice.

This window/dialogue was a ploy. The click disabled Windows Firewall and allowed some kind of nefarious script to run. It caused major damage to his machine. I spent hours trying to recover his system (which I was able to do, without any data loss, but it was a near-thing). System Restore and even Safe Mode did not function.

I want to stop here, Dear Reader, and remind you of the title of this post: this man is not dumb. He started his career as a rocket scientist for Lockheed (technically, as an aeronautical engineer), and went on to get his PhD (from Stanford) in molecular physics. He has invented lasers. No. This man is not an idjit.

So why did he answer yes? For a product that doesn’t exist? Perhaps, as a long-time Mac user, he simply doesn’t trust anything Microsoft. Perhaps, he has become so conditioned to answering “yes, I want to continue”, “yes, I want to download that”, “yes, I want to view the “unsecure items” in the email I sent myself”, “yes, allow that program I just launched to run,””continue,””allow,””next” that he just automatically and without thinking hit the Yes button. I’m sure these things were factors, but his answer was (and I quote), “It looked official…and it was from the people I go to the Web on.”

I think there’s a few things in this tale that are worth meditating on. And yes, there’s a moral to this story, which is my Tip of the day: If you are presented with a pop-up, and/or a dialogue box that you have never seen before, please look it over…and think about what it’s asking you. In this case, a Google search would have revealed that there’s no such thing as Netscape Firewall.

The fact is, the bad guys out there have become incredibly adept at mimicking websites, corporate logos, and send very legit-looking emails…and more. They are very good at using us as our own worst enemy. Be cautious out there my friends. Be carefull. Do not click on links you receive in emails; instead, manually enter the URL in your browser. Learn what phishing and pharming are.

Today’s free link: Netcraft toolbar This anti-phishing protection is highly recommended, and works with both IE and Firefox. It clearly indicates “safe” websites (with a green indicator bar), suspicious sites, and blocks access to known Phishing sites. Get it today.

Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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June 11, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, how to, networking, PC, Phishing, security, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | , , , , , | Leave a comment