How Can I Check My Email to See if it’s Spam?

Every day it seems there is more and more spam coming to us in our email. Some have links that we’re tricked into clicking on. Some have attachments we’re pushed to download and “view”. Most have a connection to viruses, malware, or worse. But they look like they’re coming from websites or companies we know and use or they look like they’re coming from a family or friend. How would we know they’re bad?

There are a few things to check in the email but you have to learn to question every email, and then check it. Learn to “hover” your mouse over items, meaning move the mouse pointer over the link or other item in the email without clicking. What you’ll see may surprise you.

Watch my video here to see what I mean.

Did You Know You Could Do This With Your Apple iOS 8+ Device?

Now that Apple seems to have gotten the bugs worked out of their 8.+ update, I started to find various changes that are pretty cool. The more I searched, the more I found. I’d like to share them with you here. Some you’ll find to be very useful, others you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them. All are pretty cool.

Hide photos

When you tap and hold a photo within the Photos app you’ll see a “Hide Photos” option. If you tap it, the photo will be visible in the Hidden Album but not in your Moments, Collections and Years. This is nice if you have people who want to see your pictures or videos and there are some you’d not like to see.

More text control

There’s a lot more you can do with the texts you send and receive with iOS 8, including deleting them one by one. By holding your finger on a text message, an option for More will pop up — from there, you’ll be able to forward it along to someone else or tap to erase individual messages.

The new “details” section of Messages is pretty great for one key reason: you can now review all of the attachments that have been exchanged in each of your conversations on a single screen. You’ll see both images and videos you’ve sent as well as those received. And the archive goes back a long way — assuming you haven’t previously deleted your message history. But if you do need to free up space, the details view makes it even easier because you can just tap and hold on any attachment to erase it from your device

Timed selfies

When you’re taking a selfie and you need to set your device down so that you can get in the shot, your camera will now allow you a few seconds, up to 10, to get ready for that next photo. Just tap the clock icon at the top of the screen within the camera, choose how many seconds you need, and start snapping.

Bring Back Deleted Photos

If you’ve accidentally deleted a photo, it’s possible to bring it back: there’s a new Recently Deleted album in the Photo app that stores deleted pictures for up to 30 days before they disappear for good.

Battery Usage

Wondering why your battery is draining so fast? There is a new option that gives a percentage breakdown of what apps are killing your battery life most. To see which apps you should close when not in use, visit General > Usage > Battery Usage. You can then turn off some of those apps. This small step could add a few hours of extra battery life to your day.

Email Drafts

If you’re in the middle of an email, but want to go back to reading your inbox, you can hold the top of the message and drag down (but don’t put your finger too high on the screen or the notifications tab will appear). You can do this with multiple drafts, too. Double tap the minimized draft at the bottom to see all of them at once — this makes them appear in a carousel view, similar to how it looks with Safari tabs in iOS 8 — and proceed to open or delete them with taps and swipes.

Swipe to Delete in Email

Instead of hitting the small trash can icon for each email, you can now save time by swiping quickly to the left to get rid of individual emails. Just be careful when testing this feature; it’s so easy to remove emails that sometimes it happens when want to do other tasks. Meanwhile, dragging your finger slowly to the left on an email will let you flag or archive it. Swiping to the right will reveal the feature to mark a message as unread.

Interactive Notifications

Interactive notifications is one of the best parts about iOS 8. You can respond to texts, email, calendar invitations, reminders and messages within apps such as Facebook from the notification banners that pops up at the top of the screen. It’s a good way to reply to incoming messages without leaving the app you’re in or stopping what you’re doing all together. You have to have “notifications” activated on your device in order for this to work.

Keyboards

Finally, you’re no longer restricted to the keyboard Apple gives you and can pick better options from third-party developers, like Swype. Available for $0.99 in the Apple App Store, there’s a reason why Swype is the number one paid app right now: instead of tapping letters, you can swipe your fingers across the keys, which I’ve been wanting on my iPhone and iPad for years.

The built-in keyboard now offers predictive text, giving you word suggestions before you even type anything, right above the keypad. It “reads” what you’re keying in and anticipates what the next word will be. You can select it from the options and continue typing.

You turn other keyboards on after downloading by going to Settings > General > Keyboard > Keyboards > Add New Keyboard; you access them by clicking the globe key on the on-screen keyboard. 

Key People Shortcut

If you press the Home button twice, you’ll not only see the webpages you have open but the faces or initials of people you’ve recently talked to. This makes it easy to call or text your favorite contacts right away. The down side, however, is that it highlights contacts you might not want others to know about too. For example, if you’ve deleted a conversation you recently had with an ex (and you don’t want to broadcast this to anyone looking over your shoulder), their name will still display on the top. To remove this feature, visit Settings > Mail, Contacts, Calendars > Show in App Switcher and switch it of Off.

What’s that song?

Siri is now integrated with Shazam, an app that recognizes music and other media playing around it. You are now able to simply ask Siri “what song is playing?” and the title and artist will show up on your screen.

Hey Siri

So long as your iOS device is plugged in, you can now launch Siri just by calling out “Hey, Siri.” Just visit Siri’s settings to switch this feature on. You then tell Siri what you need.

Search Websites Instantly

Now here’s a super useful thing that most people will probably never even know about. If you go into Safari’s settings, there’s a new “Quick Website Search” feature. Whenever you search a website (Amazon, IMDB, etc.), Safari remembers that. So from then on, you can just launch a Safari search, type out “amazon” ahead of your search term, and Safari will offer to (instantly) search the website itself.

Control Center

You can access Control Center from anywhere in iOS—including the Lock screen. To access Control Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen. To close Control Center, swipe down, tap the top of the screen, or press the Home button.

In Control Center, you can adjust these settings:

  • Turn on or off Airplane mode, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Do Not Disturb, and screen-orientation lock
  • Adjust screen brightness
  • Play, pause, or skip a song, and adjust playback volume
  • Connect to an AirPlay device or toggle between audio output
  • Adjust whether your device is discoverable for AirDrop

Control Center also includes quick access to these apps:

  • Camera
  • Timer
  • Calculator (iPhone and iPod touch only)
  • Flashlight (iPhone and iPod touch only)

If your device is not locked, you can also access the currently playing audio app by tapping the song title. 

Spotlight Search

Previously designed to search for items just on your iPhone or iPad, Spotlight has been a handy tool for finding emails, appointments, contacts, music and other locally stored items. But in iOS 8, the search universe has expanded way beyond just your local device.

Here’s how the new Spotlight works:

Trigger Spotlight by swiping your finger down from just below the top of your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch. The search field now says: “Spotlight Search” instead of just “Search iPhone” or “Search iPad.”

The screen also explains the types of items you can now find. Beyond searching your local device, Spotlight will offer suggestions from the Internet, iTunes and the App Store. It can also locate nearby locations, showtimes for movies, the latest news and even items from Wikipedia.

For example, I opened Spotlight and typed “Dracula,” the new movie that’s just opened. In response, Spotlight pointed me to a local theater where I could see the film, as well as to a Wikipedia entry on the movie. It also served up links to various Web sites about the film.

Asking Spotlight to track down “Mexican restaurants” showed me a couple such restaurants in my neighborhood, along with a few related websites. And searching for “Robin Williams” conjured up a Wikipedia entry on the late actor and comedian, an album that I could purchase on iTunes, and other items.

The new Spotlight is a handy way to delve beyond content that’s stored on your local device. But you can limit its capabilities through the Settings page should you wish.

Open the Settings app on your iOS device. Tap the General tab and then tap Spotlight Search. The results show you check marks in front of all the different types of items Spotlight will find in a search. To filter out a certain item from the search, simply tap it to remove the check mark. For example, tapping off Bing Web Results will prevent Spotlight from scouring the Web for information.

By default, your Spotlight searches and related information are sent to Apple. On its privacy screen for Spotlight, the company says it doesn’t store your searches and instead uses the data to try to make its search suggestions more relevant. However, those of you concerned about privacy may still wish to turn off the entry for Spotlight Suggestions to prevent your search queries from being shared in this way.

An Easy Way to Stay Safer on the Web, with OpenDNS

Since this post is going to be a little technical, I’m going to start by defining some of the things that will be discussed.

DNS – Short for Domain Name System (or Service or Server), an internet service that translates domain names into IP addresses. Because domain names are alphabetic, such as askbillfirst.com, they’re easier to remember. The Internet however, is really based on IP addresses. Every time you use a domain name, a DNS service must translate the name into the corresponding IP address. For example, the domain name http://www.askbillfirst.com might translate to 208.109.14.108.

Domain Name – A name that identifies one or more IP addresses. For example, the domain name microsoft.com represents about a dozen IP addresses. Domain names are used in URLs to identify particular web pages.

URL – Abbreviation of Uniform Resource Locator, the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web (www).

When you access the internet and type in a URL, the name you entered is sent to servers that translate the letters you typed into the corresponding IP address for that site. Generally, those servers are set by your internet provider. There is no filtering involved with these servers. Therefore, any website that you attempt to go to will pass back to you whatever it has on it, both the good and the bad.

Now, there is a way to set up your computer, or your network router, to protect you from visiting sites that may cause you problems. One company that allows you to filter web content, protects you from phishing sites, and other things is OpenDNS. OpenDNS is used for content filtering. It filters content based on categories of sites, such as gambling, pornography, social networking, humor, and more. These sites may not be malicious, but they could be considered unacceptable types of content. OpenDNS is often used in place of parental control software.

To set this program up you’ll need to modify your network adapter settings. If you use both wired and wireless connections, you’ll need to modify both adapters. If you want to set this up so it protects everyone on your network, you can make the settings in the router and they will filter to everyone on the network.

You can find the instructions for OpenDNS here.

These settings will work on both PC’s and Mac’s whether you set it at the pc level or the router level.

Do not use this in place of a good anti-virus, but use it along with a good anti-virus for an easy way to stay safer on the web.

UPDATE – Laura from OpenDNS informed me that ” OpenDNS actually works as a security filter as well. It protects you from phishing websites, as well as blocking Malware like the Conficker virus. We’re seeing a lot of users — both home and business — choose OpenDNS specifically for the security it provides.” Thank you Laura for that update.

Here’s One Reason Why You Need to Password Protect Your Wireless Router

Or if you’re using your neighbor’s wireless connection, you may want to reconsider.

To sum up, an individual in New York found himself facedown in his living room in the morning with federal agents all around him. They were accusing him of being a pedophile and pornographer. They ended up seizing his computer, his wife’s computer and iPad and iPhone. He claimed innocence and after a week, was cleared. His neighbor, however, wasn’t as lucky. Seems the neighbor was leaching off the non-password protected wireless router and trafficking child pornography.

Always, always, always password protect your router, or if you’re leaching off your neighbor, and they’re involved in something illegal, it could come back on you as well. Now here’s the article -

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Lying on his family room floor with assault weapons trained on him, shouts of “pedophile!” and “pornographer!” stinging like his fresh cuts and bruises, the Buffalo homeowner didn’t need long to figure out the reason for the early morning wake-up call from a swarm of federal agents.

That new wireless router. He’d gotten fed up trying to set a password. Someone must have used his Internet connection, he thought.

“We know who you are! You downloaded thousands of images at 11:30 last night,” the man’s lawyer, Barry Covert, recounted the agents saying. They referred to a screen name, “Doldrum.”

“No, I didn’t,” he insisted. “Somebody else could have but I didn’t do anything like that.”

“You’re a creep … just admit it,” they said.

Law enforcement officials say the case is a cautionary tale. Their advice: Password-protect your wireless router.

via NY case underscores Wi-Fi privacy dangers – Yahoo! News.

Shopping Online Safely

With the upcoming holidays, there will be many of you who will be doing your shopping online. It’s convenient, often times cheaper, and you can have items wrapped and delivered directly to the recipient. In fact, it’s estimated that 25% of holiday shopping this year will be online.

However, there are a few things to keep in mind when you’re shopping.

  • Start by making sure that your anti-virus program is up-to-date. If you do web searches and click on the results, you may find yourself at a site that doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Along those lines, make sure the site you are visiting is trustworthy by using WebOfTrust (WOT). Now when you perform a search, the results will have a green, yellow or red symbol letting you know if the website is safe or not.
  • Once you’re done selecting what you want to purchase, you’ll be taken to your shopping cart where you will be entering personal information: name, address, e-mail address, credit card information. It’s critcally important that before you enter any of that information that you are on a secured page. How can you tell? To begin with, check the web address in the address bar. It should start with “https:” instead of the normal “http:”. The s shows that you’re on a secured site. The other thing to look for is the golden lock.
    There is a de facto standard among web browsers to display a “lock” icon somewhere in the window of the browser (NOT in the web page display area!)  For example, Microsoft Internet Explorer displays the lock icon in the lower-right of the browser window.
    The Lock Icon is not just a picture! Click, or double-click, on it to see the details for the site’s security. This is important to know because some bad sites are designed with a bar at the bottom of the web page to imitate the lock icon of your browser.
  • Unless you’re planning on doing a lot of shopping at a particular site, if the site offers to save your information for future shopping, don’t let them. It may be convenient, but the fewer places that have your personal information, the better.
  • When paying for the items in your shopping cart, many people feel good about using their Debit Card as opposed to racking up charges on their credit cards. However, when it comes to fraud, debit cards fall far behind credit cards. That’s because your liability limit under federal law increases the longer you wait to report any unauthorized activity. Be sure to check with your financial institution for their policies on fraud protection.
  • Credit Cards – many credit card companies have $0 liability policies. This means you won’t be held accountable for any fraudulent purchases. You can dispute purchases that were either made without your consent or where the goods don’t match the descriptions. You’ll need to check with your credit card company for the specific steps to dispute a purchase and their policy on fraudulent purchases.
  • Single-Use Credit cards. Many credit card companies and banks will allow you to use single-use or virtual cards. You get a unique account number that can be used once, or for a short period of time. That way, if someone were to steal the account number, when they go to use it, it will no longer be valid.
  • Print out your receipt. You’ll have a record of the purchase to compare with the charge in case the vendor adds additional charges or charges you twice for something.
  • When giving your e-mail address out, check the page and read the privacy policy of the site. Many times there is text stating that they will or will not share your e-mail address with others. If you have the option to opt out of allowing them to share, do so. It will eliminate spam. Additonally, you may want to set up a free or additional e-mail address that you use strictly for online registrations so that any spam gets sent to that address and not to your main e-mail address.

Read the rest of my monthly newsletter for information on ways to comparison shop and links to Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials. AskBillFirst November Newsletter

 

Computer Security for Teens and Their Parents Too.

Ran across a nice, free, security e-book from Microsoft that is written for teens, to keep them safe while on the internet but it is a great e-book for parents to read as well. You can download it here.

“Help teens ‘own their space’ online. Whether you are a parent, caregiver, or educator, you can keep up with the latest computer and online safety issues and help kids learn to avoid them. In partnership with security expert and author, Linda McCarthy, we offer a free downloadable version of her new book, “Own Your Space – Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online.” Written for computer and Internet savvy “tweens” and teens specifically, this book is also a useful resource for the adults they rely on.”

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/details.aspx?FamilyID=87583728-ef14-4703-a649-0fd34bd19d13&displayLang=en

Recuva – Remarkable

What a day. In front of me was a computer that was booting to nowhere. It was just a continual loop back to the statement that there were not boot files available. Then, as I got closer, I heard the tell-tale clicking of the hard drive. The good news was that it was still spinning. The bad news was that there were some critically important files on the drive that hadn’t been backed up (no, it wasn’t my drive). Option #1 – call in a data recovery company to recover the data, at a cost of about $1000. Option #2, plug it into an external enclosure and hope. The first couple of computers I plugged the drive into didn’t see it at all. Not looking good. Finally found one that recognized the drive. Looking better. Looked at the properties of the drive. 120 GB drive, 120 GB available. Really not looking good.

Enter Recuva. Recuva is software from the same company that puts out ccleaner, one of my favorite clean-up programs. So, I downloaded Recuva and ran it against the drive. Well, lo and behold, after a couple of hours, I was able to recover the critical files. Not all files were recoverable, but it did a great job, was easy to use, and did I mention that it is free? Some the features of Recua:

Undelete files on your computer

Deleted a file by mistake? Recuva brings lost files on your computer, USB drive, camera or iPod.

Recovery from damaged or formatted disks

Even if you’ve formatted a drive so that it looks blank, Recuva can still find your files on it.

Recover deleted E-Mails

Emptied your email trash and need it back? Recuva’s got you covered with full support for Microsoft Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird, or Windows Live Mail.

Recover deleted iPod music

Deleted music from your iPod or MP3 player? No problem, Recuva will get this back for you along with any additional track data.

Restore unsaved Word documents

Did Microsoft Word crash or did you forget to save that important Word document. No problem with Recuva! As it can intelligently rebuild Word documents from their temporary files.

Quick-start Wizard

If you need your files back right away without fiddling with options, Recuva’s Quick-Start Wizard is the answer.

Deep Scan

Recuva can find most files within a minute. Or, set the Deep Scan to look for more deeply-buried results.

Securely delete files you want to erase forever

Want to protect your deleted files? Recuva also allows you to permanently erase any traces of deleted files.

Portable Version

Take Recuva with you wherever you go with the portable version.

Full OS support and many languages

Recuva has support for every modern version of Windows and 37+ languages.
Download it here – http://www.piriform.com/recuva
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