Royce Eddington

Nothing to see here. Move along people.

Category: Tech! (Page 2 of 16)

If you’re using AVG anti-virus, you need to uninstall it ASAP

AVG antivirus was a decent antivirus application for Windows. Decent as in “there’s nothing else free that doesn’t stink quite so bad”.

The application did an OK job of keeping viruses out, but it’s main strength was the 100% free price tag.

Earlier this month, though, AVG announced that if you continue to use their application on your PC, they NOW have the rights to “sell your search and browser history data to advertisers” if you’re using their application.

In very plain English, if you are currently running AVG antivirus on your PC…

  • AVG antivirus is ACTIVELY WATCHING WHERE YOU SURF
  • AVG antivirus is ACTIVELY WATCHING WHAT YOU SEARCH FOR
  • AVG antivirus is collecting ALL METADATA in your web browsers (cookies, history, etc)

AVG said it doesn’t matter what browser you use on your PC. If you’re still using their product, you automatically agree AVG can take your personal information and sell it to whatever advertisers they can find to do whatever they want with.

AVG said, quite bluntly, they’re doing this to make money.

Such a nice buncha people. So super nice. I wanna take a nice baseball bat to these nice people’s heads they’re so nice.

The other BIG problem is even after you uninstall their antivirus application, AVG has not provided a way to delete the data they already collected on you, and they’re not providing any way for you to look up what they took from your PC.

There’s a big story on both Wired and SMH about this mess.

If you have AVG antivirus on your PC, it’s time to uninstall it and find a replacement. I currently recommend ESET for “premium” antivirus and the built-in-to-windows Microsoft Defender for “free” antivirus.

Some observations on the Amazon Dash buttons

The Amazon Dash buttons are interesting little creatures. You can order them directly from Amazon.com, and depending on what model you get, you can order your favorite pantry-or-cleaning item with just the touch of a button.

Setup is easy. First, launch the mobile app on your Apple or Andriod phone and go to the DASH DEVICES – MANAGE DEVICES in the app options.

01 Amazon Dash IMG_7725

The next step is a basic greeting and tells you what’s about to happen.

02 Amazon Dash IMG_7726

The next step is the part that made me ring the BLOOOOG POOOOOOST alarm. You proceed by searching for your local WiFi and selecting it like you would from any WiFi selection screen and then key in your password for the WiFi. But under the password box is an option for Amazon to REMEMBER your WiFi password by saving it to Amazon.com. Not locally… TO AMAZON.

03 Amazon Dash IMG_7727

In the hopes this wasn’t really as bad as I thought it was, I looked at the brief legaleese embedded in the app.

04 Amazon Dash IMG_7723

According to #1, saving your WiFi to Amazon is for Dash devices now, but they plainly state it will roll out to other devices “soon”. On #3, Amazon says they intend to save your WiFi password on their servers in an encrypted file and “won’t share with third parties without your permission”.

Wait, why are we even talking about sharing my WiFi login and password with third parties at all?

The next part is even better… cherry on top with whipped cream better!

05 Amazon Dash IMG_7724

Rule #5 states in the event you change your WiFi password or want to completely delete your WiFi information from the Amazon servers, you CANNOT DO IT FROM THE APP. You must CALL IN to their toll free number and ask for this to be done.

How’s them apples?

Back at the setup window, if you leave the “save the WiFi password” option unchecked and proceed with the setup, the next window will tell you to press and hold the dash button until the light on the dash button turns blue.

06 Amazon Dash IMG_7728

Easy enough. Hold down the big button and the light sure does turn blue!

07 Amazon Dash IMG_7733

After the light on the dash button turns blue, you are instructed to place the dash button near the SPEAKER of your phone to complete the setup.

08 Amazon Dash IMG_7737

Once you do that, your phone emits a combination of R2D2 sounds meeting the old modem screech sounds. After just a few seconds of that, the app will say the dash button is ready to use.

09 Amazon Dash IMG_7741

You can then proceed to order the specific button-click action that happens when you click the Dash button. In this example, these are the options on what to order when you click the Gatorade button.

10 Amazon Dash IMG_7739

Once you pick what the default button action is, you’re finally done.

OK, now hold on a second. The dash button relied on AUDIO feedback from the phone to activate. The dash button had to be near the phone speaker for the setup to work. Not just on the same WiFi network or in Bluetooth range… right next to the phone’s speaker.

That means there’s a tiny microphone in every dash button.

A microphone that is always on and connected online, regardless of whether you are ordering anything or not.

Hmmmm. So to sum up…

* Amazon has your WiFi information on their servers that you can’t delete yourself
* Third parties are mentioned specifically in the section about your WiFi password and WiFi name
* There’s a live microphone always connected to the internet on every one of these things

Neat.

Right off the top of my head, I think a better option for clicky-ordering in the pantry would be something like the Jetson’s cartoon – a app for a tablet that allows the consumer to specify a field list and what each button will order. Something like an “open” slate app for the Kindle or iPad where we choose what products fill each individual button slot. Make it as 10×10 grid, add some solid artwork, and done!

As for the Dash Buttons I just ordered, since I can’t think of a single reason for a microphone to be embedded in a device that orders Gatorade and Mac and Cheese, I think they’re going in an aluminum foil lined tupperware bin until further notice.

How to fight unsolicited texts if you have AT&T iPhone service

Have you ever received an unsolicited text on your iPhone from some scumbag trying to sell you something?

01 Text Scumbags IMG_7701

There’s a great way to fight this if you have AT&T. Forward it to their unsolicited legal department! When AT&T receives enough notices about a specific phone number or text block, they will take action on behalf of their subscribers!

First, PRESS DOWN on the original scumbag message until a pop-up appears and choose COPY.

02 Text Scumbags IMG_7702

Now to back to your main text listing and make a NEW TEXT MESSAGE to the number 7726

03 Text Scumbags IMG_7703

Click and HOLD DOWN in the field you usually type things and choose PASTE and then SEND the message. In a few seconds, you will receive the confirmation AT&T has received this message and needs just one more thing to apply the big boot of justice to these internet roaches.

04 Text Scumbags IMG_7704

Now go BACK to the scumbag text message and choose DETAILS in the upper right corner.

05 Text Scumbags IMG_7705

Once this window opens up, click on the I icon in the upper right corner.

06 Text Scumbags IMG_7706

Press and HOLD DOWN on the scumbag’s phone number and choose COPY when the pop-up appears.

07 Text Scumbags IMG_7708

Go alllll the way back to the message sent to 7726 and PASTE the phone number.

08 Text Scumbags IMG_7709

That’s it!! You have just helped take one more dirtbag off the internet!

On a related note, since I have started doing this about three weeks ago, my unsolicited text messages on my AT&T cell phone have gone from about three per day to ZERO.

How to remove the Windows 10 upgrade icon in the taskbar

If you have the big Windows icon for the upcoming Windows 10 upgrade in the lower right corner of your taskbar and want to get rid of the icon…

  • Press CONTROL-ALT-DELETE to pull up the Task Manager
  • Click on the PROCESSES tab
  • Highlight GWX.EXE and press the END PROCESS button. 
  • If you have GWXUX.EXE in the process list, highlight that as well and press the END PROCESS button.
  • Close Task Manager

Dear Microsoft : In the future, add a simple right-click EXIT or REMIND ME LATER option. People didn’t take too well to forced U2 albums, and I expect this wont go over any better.

A suggestion for White House drone security

On the FCW Federal Technology website, there’s a story about Congress looking for inter-agency cooperation on drafting a drone policy. 

The reason for this sudden concern on drones is because a few weeks ago, some idiot crashed their drone on the White House lawn. The best part is that the secret service had no idea it happened and had nothing in their tactics to prevent it from happening again.

So now congress wants the Department of Homeland Security to come on down and make a “comprehensive strategy to combat the potential threat of domestic drones” and pull in “the Defense Department and, perhaps, the Energy Department” into this mess as well.

Here’s my favorite part of the article…

Todd E. Humphreys, an assistant professor at the University of Texas Cockrell School of Engineering, offered one possible remedy.

“For especially sensitive sites like the White House, we could deploy a network of infrared cameras set up to detect and track an incoming drone by looking for the thermal signatures of its warm batteries and motors,” he said. “And this network of sensors could be used to guide an always-ready squadron of interceptor drones that could capture the intruder in a net and carry it off.”

Seriously. Capture a flying object. In a net. That’s the plan.

All we need now are a few Scooby Snacks and we’re good!

How about this real cheap and slightly more-effective three-step solution… First, bring in a dozen more Secret Service agents with military sharp-shooter backgrounds specifically as White House perimeter security. Give them all VEPR-12s. Have them WALK around the White House lawn with these 10-12 round semi-auto AK-style shotguns and the standing authority to shoot down anything that flies near the White House. As an extra bonus, they can double as ground support to prevent any fence-jumper from making it all the way into the FRONT DOOR of the White House. You know… that whole “protect the president” merit badge the Secret Service gets to wear every so often.

Second, infrared isn’t going to pick up diddly-squat in the DC summers. They need to go with sonics – set up a wide perimeter “gunfire locator” around the White House. These things are pretty cool and are already in place in DC. Add to the gunfire detectors the RPM of drone engines in the list of things to report and triangulate. Once the system picks up the sound of a drone engine, the exact location and direction can be relayed to the ground security and the target can be eliminated if necessary.

Third – since that one particular drone made it all the way to the White House lawn, GPS and WiFi blockers need to be set up as well. I’m talking zero WiFi and GPS signals in a very VERY wide area around the White House to keep drones out and/or confused long enough to take them down.

Runaway drones are a high-tech problem with a very low-tech solution. A decent drone costs anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000. A single 00 buck round costs $1. Make it permanent “drone season” around the White House, get the serial numbers from any of the parts left intact from a downed drone, track the purchaser through those serial numbers, and once they’re found, pop them with a $2 million “idiot” fine.

Of course there’s an option “B”… hire a buncha good old boys, set them up with some federal duck blinds and a couple of cases of beer around the White House and offer them a reality TV series… “Drone Dynasty”.

CloudOn merging with Dropbox

In a midnight press release, CloudOn announced they are merging with DropBox.

CloudOn was one of the earlier iPad apps for cloud storage, but it never really caught on like their competitors did. In the press release, CloudOn stated they are starting off 2015 by “joining the Dropbox team”.

The bad news is that effective immediately, no new accounts can be created on CloudOn, and on March 15th, “the CloudOn app and service will no longer be available.”

In an email sent to existing CloudOn subscribers there are two links intended for “any inconvenience caused by the discontinuation of our service”. One link is for activating an additional 1GB to DropBox storage for free, and another link is for 3 months free and 1 TB of space for DropBox pro accounts.

I chose the additional 1GB option and immediately saw my existing DropBox storage space increase.

CloudOn Dropbox Boost

 

Thanks CloudOn!

You can see the full press release on their website. If you are an existing CloudOn subscriber, check your email for the offers to switch to DropBox.

iPhone 6 not pairing with vehicle Bluetooth? Here’s one fix…

If you have a Tahoe, BMW, Mercedes or other vehicle that isn’t pairing over Bluetooth with your new iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 plus, there’s a workaround I found that can get them connected.

1. On your iPhone, go to SETTINGS – GENERAL – ABOUT – NAME.

2. Rename your iPhone something equal to 8 characters. Try your initials + “iPhone” (for example: REiphone).

3. Back out of that area by pressing ABOUT – GENERAL – SETTINGS

Now try pairing your iPhone with your vehicle. It should work fine now.

How to block “extra” installs on PC java updates

Have you noticed when java installs an update on your PC, it always tries to throw in an “extra” application? Unless you uncheck that “don’t add this extra application” option every single time java updates, your PC winds up getting loaded down with a lot of junkware.

There is an easy way to stop these constant “extra” installs.

First, if you’re using Windows 7 or 8, press the windows key on your keyboard and type in “configure” (no quotes). In the list of applications that appear, you will see one that says “Configure Java”. Click that.

JavaConfigure

In the new window that opens, go to the last tab titled ADVANCED. Scroll to the very bottom, and in the “miscellaneous” section is an option for “suppress sponsor offers when installing or updating java.” Put a check in that box to prevent any future “extras” from sneaking in during your java updates.

JavaPreference

Easy and done!

Where you can download Microsoft Office with an activation key card

Have you ever received in a bundled laptop package a piece of paper that says…

“DO NOT DISCARD – MICROSOFT PRODUCT IDENTIFIER. The manufacturer of your PC has licensed the Microsoft products listed in this document.”

…and a few paragraphs later…

“This card includes the ACTIVATION KEY for your MICROSOFT OFFICE product.”

It seems straightforward enough, right? There’s the serial number at the bottom (strategically covered by my “apparently plays in the dirt for a living” thumb), and a website link at the bottom to go download and register the software.

SerialCard

 
So here’s the happy happy joy joy part – the website listed on every one of these rat-bastard product cards say to go to microsoft.com/office

You go there, you swim in the abyss.

Microsoft.com/office takes you straight down into the “light don’t reach here” depths of Office sales, where you will be offered every iteration of Office 360, Office online, Office a-la-carte, Office with Cheese and dozens of other suites in every combination possible. Links to links to links to links, but nothing to take you to download your software or point you out of the maze.

Here’s what you need to do. If you have one of these activation cards for Office, go straight to Office’s other website…

office.com/setup

Once you’re there (and it automatically redirects you to officesetup.getmicrosoftkey.com) just type in the product key on that piece of paper in the “Enter Your Product Key” box and press GET STARTED.

That’s it.

You will then be prompted to download your Office Suite and tie it into one of your email accounts.

Just like that.

Who knew instructions on how to download and install your software should actually have a link so you can, oh I don’t know, ACTUALLY DOWNLOAD AND INSTALL YOUR SOFTWARE?!

Qik, one of my favorite apps, is gone as of April 30th

Qik was on the short list of apps I immediately loaded on every new iDevice I got.

Not only could I make audio or video calls to anyone I wanted, but whenever I saw something I wanted to capture on video, all I did with Qik was open the app and shoot away. I could choose anywhere from 320 to 720 resolution, shoot from either my front or back cameras, and as soon as I was done, I could edit the video right there.

Qik1

As soon as I was done with the video, it would appear on my own Qik page (private or public), I could send that video to anyone in my contact list, or I could send it direct and private to any other Qik user. Straight from my i-device.

But the best part? The best best best part? Live video.

Qik2

I could choose whether the videos would be for private or live viewing. I could shoot live video that I would immediately stream to a set of trusted contacts to let them know what’s up right then and there, stream live video my YouTube channel, and even send live video streams straight to this website!

Qik was a true “breaking news” app that was horrifically under-appreciated, so it was inevitable that one of the big 500 pound gorilla tech companies was going to notice it.

Unfortunately for Qik, and for all of us consumers, it was Microsoft that bought them out.

Pushing back all the fantastic design and technical progress Qik  had made, Microsoft announced Qik was just going to be shut down, and only their own rusted and busted Skype offering would remain.

If you can’t Innovate, Stifle-ate.

Qik was so much more than a call-another-user or send-a-text-message app. Did Microsoft bring any of these brilliant live-video abilities into Skype? BWA HA HA!! Please.

Now I’m going to have to get four or five other apps to do the job that Qik did perfectly all the time.

I’m gonna miss you Qik. Big time.

The official announcement on Qik’s shutdown and how to get anything you have left in their system out is here.

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