Stories and Free Advice
- Disaster Planning
- Do You Know Where Your Password Is ?
- Funny Money
- Listen to Your Car (or Water Heater)
- Tis the Season
- Phone Call from "The Windows Support Center"
Recent news stories have us thinking about disaster planning, around here. We start with simple things: cat box, dog leash, car keys, passports . Do we know where they are, can we get to them in a hurry, if we need to?
Then we start looking at our computer data. Everyone knows that we should do backups, but we forget to do them, or we don't do them regularly. If your computer files are critical to your business, and anything happens to them, you can be in big trouble. If all your photos are stored on your computer, you might be devastated to lose them.
There are three rules to remember about backups.
1. Scheduled: If the program you use to do backups doesn't allow you to automate your backups, then set up a reminder on your Google Calendar, or use some other appointment software to remind you to do it. I use the calendar function in Thunderbird. If you use Outlook or a Blackberry, get it to remind you to make backups.
2. Redundant: If at all possible, you should have your backups in two places. You can have 2 portable hard drives. You can also do a periodic backup onto DVD's, as well as a portable hard drive.
3. Off Site: In the case of fire or theft, it is a good idea to store one backup somewhere other then in your house or office. If you have 2 portable hard drives, store one at the home of a trusted friend or relative. Offer to store their backups at your house, in exchange. Store your office backups at home and the home backups at the office. You can also store your backups "in the cloud" (a third party remote server). Just check to make sure that the servers are in Canada, so they are not subject to US regulations. Also, be warned that if these companies have a disaster of their own (like bankruptcy or flooding), your data will be lost or unavailable.
None of us like to think about bad things happening. However, it is wise to take a bit of time to plan for a big disaster. It can really save you when a little disaster (like a bad hard drive) occurs.
So why am I writing this, instead of Ed?
Well, he has a little problem: the other day he updated his operating system to a newer version, and it didn't go very well. He is currently busy recreating his system from the backups!
Kate Jul 9, 2013
We've recently gotten spam email from a friend, which seem to come from her webmail account, using her contact list. You might be wondering how this was done.
The immediate fear is always that the home computer was hacked, but this was even easier -- her webmail password was easily guessed. Passwords like "secret123" are just too easy and succumb quickly to robot attacks. Yahoo webmail (and therefore Rogers webmail) seems to be a popular target for the robots. Once the robot finds one, the robot's owner can log in and send out a lot of "Look at this Russian Niagara Site" email.
In July, an electronic break-in at a Yahoo game site netted thieves 400000 user email addresses and passwords. There were 55555 unique passwords. The popular passwords included qwerty, abc123, welcome, password and (most popular) 123456. Don't use these.
Similar break-ins at other sites have given similar content. From the break-ins, the thieves acquire lists of user names (often email addresses) and lists of passwords. Even while my friend's email address was not on the list, each break-in gives the hacker community a list of email addresses, and a list of popular passwords that can be added to their try-a-password robots.
You might say "My email password isn't very important" but this isn't really true. This is often where you've told the bank's computer to send email after you click "I forgot my password" on their web site.
Ed Mar 12, 2013
I was in a store, buying about $16 in merchandise. I reached into my wallet to hand the clerk a twenty dollar bill, and he handed me the keypad and told me to put it into the slot at the bottom!
I was trying to figure out what exactly he was expecting me to do, when he finally figured out that I was holding cash in my hand, not a plastic card. I guess I was the only person through the store that day, that used cash.
Kate Oct 13, 2012
During a visit to a friend's house, I said "Um, your (rental, gas) water heater is making a funny noise."
It sounded like the barbecue does on a windy day, when the wind is blowing the flames out, and the burner is re-igniting down its length.
I thought "That can't be good."
The gas company was quick to provide a new one.
The moral of the story is that we should all listen for changes in the normal sounds from our machines. It could be a life saver.
Ed Jan 21, 2012
For example, I have been buying books lately, from Amazon, and sending them as gifts (why not get Amazon to pay the postage). I got an email the other day, saying that someone had sent me an Amazon gift card for $250. How exciting, just what I would want! But, just a minute...when I hovered my cursor over the link to the "gift card" it was going to take me somewhere very different from Amazon. Sadly, I deleted the email, and went on with my day.
I guess if it looks too good to be true, it probably is!
Check this link for more seasonal scams:
Kate Dec 10, 2011
When I ask him to repeat where he is calling from, he gets flustered, and hangs
I thought nothing of it (except that it was probably a scam) until I heard
about others getting these calls.
In one case, someone paid the caller $500, while not really sure what they were
I checked online and found this item on the Microsoft webpage:
More recently, the Ottawa Citizen carried a story about it, saying the calls now account for 70 per cent of all fraud complaints in Canada.
My first instinct was right, and I hope yours is too. Microsoft will not call you to tell you your computer is sending them messages. Think about it. How would they get your phone number? It has been said that you should never do business with someone who calls you. If they were really good, they probably wouldn't have time to call you.