Stop thief! Software lets stolen laptops speak up by AP: Yahoo! Tech

Stolen laptop? Now you can tell those thieves exactly what you think of them.

Front Door Software Corp.’s Retriever program displays your contact information as your computer boots up. There’s even space for a plea to a Good Samaritan — “$50 for my safe return,” maybe.

In most cases, that’s enough to help an honest person return the machine, said Carrie Hafeman, chief executive of the five-person company based in Evergreen, Colo.

But in the darkest scenarios, Retriever takes off the kid gloves.

You can log on to a Web site and check a box indicating the computer is missing. Now during start-up, a big yellow and red banner appears on the screen, boldly declaring the laptop lost or stolen. This message is set to reappear every 30 seconds, no matter how many times the thief closes the window.

You can remotely switch on a second password prompt if you fear the thief has also stolen your regular Windows, Macintosh or Linux login.

Behind the scenes, Retriever uses built-in Wi-Fi to sniff out nearby networks, then suss out what Internet service providers power them. With that information in hand, Hafeman said, you can file a police report and get help locating the criminal.

While waiting for law enforcement to come through, you can even let off steam by sending new messages to the nagging “Stolen Computer!” screen.

“You are being tracked. I am right at your door” was one, Hafeman said, adding that she could not bring herself to say others that came to mind. Customers have also tried to induce fear or guilt by switching their contact info to “Secret Service” and “Catholic church.”

The latest version of Retriever, which costs $29.95 for three years of use, is even more aggressive.

Now, when the “stolen” screen pops up, the laptop cries for help. Use a canned message (“Help, this laptop is reported lost or stolen. If you are not my owner, please report me now.”) or record your own.

“You can say, ‘Get your hands off me, you S.O.B.'” Hafeman said.

via Yahoo! News – Stop thief! Software lets stolen laptops speak up by AP: Yahoo! Tech.


ID thieves go phishing for GTalk, GMail passwords | Zero Day |

If you use Google’s GMail or GTalk services, pay special attention to random e-mails or instant messages requesting your login credentials.

There is a major spam run underway with a phishing scam using social engineering techniques to snag Google Account usernames and passwords and, according to multiple reports, the attack appears to be very effective.

This image shows a GMail message that purports to be an account termination warning from Google but, if a user is tricked into clicking on the link, he/she is redirected to a fake GMail page requesting the login credentials.

via ID thieves go phishing for GTalk, GMail passwords | Zero Day |

Internet Explorer compatibility in Firefox or Chrome

If you use Firefox or Chrome as your primary browser, you may have run into an internet page that works best under Internet Explorer, or actually requires Internet Explorer. I ran into this the other day when I was helping someone with a problem they were having in Yahoo Mail, in which the right-click copy/paste function wouldn’t work in Firefox but worked fine in IE. In researching it, I found that this problem has existed for quite a while. A day or so later, I was logging onto a site and it wouldn’t load, only to find out that Firefox wasn’t a supported browser.

The answer to these problems is a Firefox plug-in that you can find here ( It allows you to right-click a tab and render it as an IE tab. You can designate certain sites to open under the IE tab whenever you need to open them. Most importantly, it allows me to stay in Firefox for all of my other browsing. Really comes in handy.

In Chrome, this extension works wonderfully – (ignore the link to Firefox on this page). With this tool, you right-click on the page to have it rendered in Internet Explorer. Under IE Tab Options, you can set which version of IE you want to emulate, from versions 7 to 9.

Have you heard of UPromise? The easy way to save for College.

Turn everyday spending into money for college.

Nearly a decade ago, Upromise was launched based on the philosophy that everyone should be able to afford a college education. Today, with more than 10 million members, Upromise is making that a reality for many Americans.

Simple Idea:

  • Create a college savings service that harnesses the purchasing power of parents, extended family, family, and students to make it easier to pay for college.
  • Members direct their spending to Upromise partners—including more than 600 online stores, 8,000+ restaurants, thousands of grocery and drugstore items—and earn money for college.

Powerful Results:

  • Everyone can earn money for college—parents with young children; family and friends that want to contribute; students and graduates with eligible student loans to pay.
  • Many members have earned hundreds even thousands of dollars for college with their everyday spending, and have been able to use those earnings to contribute toward college tuition, expenses, or loans–quicker and easier.

All your earnings are automatically saved securely into your Upromise account. Then, you decide if you’d like the potential to grow them tax-free in a 529 plan 1 to pay for college, use them to pay down a Sallie Mae student loan, or receive a check for college expenses.

How do you know if you got the best price on an item?

Have you ever purchased something only to wonder if you could have gotten it cheaper if you’d only waited a little longer? There is a great tool called PriceWatch that can be used to monitor the price of an item you’re shopping for through Amazon and notify you when it reaches a price you want to purchase it at. If you use Internet Explorer, PriceWatch has hooked up with Price Protectr to track prices of things you’re thinking about buying, and save money even after you buy at over 150 stores. PriceProtectr will warn you if the price of a product that you recently bought online is reduced, so you can claim a partial refund under the store’s price guarantee policy.

Verizon adds ‘friends’ plan for unlimited calls to 5 people – Alt+Save with the Gadgetress –

Jealous of T-Mobile’s Fave 5? Now, Verizon Wireless has its own version of the favorite-friends calling plan, called Friends & Family, an uninspired moniker that the company has trademarked.  Verizon users can pick any five numbers — including non-Verizon friends and landlines — and call those same 5 numbers anytime without using up monthly minutes. Family plans get 10 numbers.

To qualify, customers need either an individual Verizon plan with at least 900 minutes or be on a family plan with at least 1,400 minutes. Users can add the plan for free at any time and the numbers can be changed at any time without penalty. New numbers will go into effect the next day.

The phone numbers must be regular 10-digit U.S. numbers and can’t be directory assistance, 900 numbers or customer’s own wireless or voice mail access number.

The Friends & Family plan, which is available beginning this Sunday, is definitely not as catchy as T-Mobile’s ‘Fave 5′ name, which has inspired some entertaining commercials. But Verizon’s is more flexible. T-Mobile’s Fave 5 lets you change each of your “friends” just once per month.

Hmm … is Verizon becoming a me-too company? Today’s friend plan comes a day after Verizon began offering unlimited plans for its prepaid users, a feature smaller players like Boost Mobile and Cricket Communications already offer. What’s next? Verizon rollover minutes? Let’s hope!

To add numbers to the Friends & Family list, visit My Verizon to set up your Friends & Family numbers, and change them online whenever you want. If you are not already registered you will need your cell phone number, your cell phone and your billing system password, if you have one.

On the My Services Tab in My Verizon, Account Owners can activate the Friends & Family service, and add and remove numbers from the Friends & Family list.  Account Members may view the list, but may not edit the list.

You can find more information on Verizon’s FAQ page.

Fake Parking Tickets link to Malicious Download Site

Since email links aren’t working very well any longer, they’ve moved off-line to get you to download viruses/trojans.

In a scary online-offline Internet scam, hybrid cars in North Dakota have been tagged with fake parking citations that include a Web address hosting malicious software that drops a Trojan onto the computer.

The yellow tickets found on the cars in Grand Forks, North Dakota, read “PARKING VIOLATION This vehicle is in violation of standard parking regulations. To view pictures with information about your parking preferences, go to” and gave a Web site, according to a blog posting on the SANS Internet Storm Center site.

The site referenced shows photos of cars in parking lots in that town and prompts the visitor to download a toolbar to see purported photos of the ticketed car. Downloading the executable installs a Trojan and displays a fake security alert when the system is rebooted. The fake alert prompts the computer user to install a fake anti-virus scanner, SANS said.

Have you ever needed to share someone’s computer?

Have you ever been speaking with  someone and they describe what’s going on their computer but you’re just not understanding what they’re saying, or they’re running a program and have a question about something but can’t really express in words what they need?

There’s a great program that I use that allows me, with the permission of the other user, to gain access to their computer to see what’s going on. I gain control of the mouse and keyboard, or let them keep control so they can show me what’s going on. Did I mention that it’s free?

Crossloop is a free remote assistance program that allows you to run programs, open documents, download drivers, alter settings and even delete files on the remote computer.

The program works by connecting via the CrossLoop server. The server has 128bit Blowfish encryption, making it  safe from hackers and other ne’er-do-wells.

It’s easy to setup and run and it has saved a lot of time in troubleshooting issues. You can download the program from here (

They also have a service with support people online from all over the world to assist you when you have a problem. The helpers set their own rates and if the Helper was unable to solve your problem or your problem continued after the session and within 48 hours of your final payment, CrossLoop will refund the payment you made. The rates for Helpers vary by many factors depending on the type of issue and experience of the Helper you choose.

A nice program worth looking into if you’re constantly called on to help others, or if you need help yourself and don’t know who to turn to. – Crossloop