Follow-up On “The Quietness of the Library”

Many years ago, in “The quietness of the library”, I made mention of java apps that you could run on the Library’s computer. Since then, I have found an easier way to use their computers with applications not available on their computers.

The library computer has 3 different browsers on them, the default windows browser, Firefox & Chrome browser. If you have a sign-in account for the chrome browser any chrome applications that you have installed on your account will be available to you via the browser.

I have used file manager to view files on the computer, ssh, sftp, developed web pages, and edited documents using chrome apps. Much better than using the limited applications found on the Library’s computers.

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Hackers, Virus Makers, & Shape Shifters

In the television series, “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”, there is a character called Odo. He is a member of a shapeshifting race called changelings.

Shapeshifting?? What is that?

According to Wikipedia, “In traditional mythology and folklore, and in modern fantasy fiction, shapeshifting is the ability of a being to physically transform into another form or being, either as an inherent faculty of a mythological creature, or by means of magic.”

Magic – not entirely – How about a computer program that appears as something simple and Innocent and once it is installed in your computer shape shifts ( morphes ) into a program that searches your computer for private data such as bank accounts, your personal information ( social security, etc )?
According to some sources on the internet, that is the future of viruses. Which means that future virus checker using the checking methods of the day will be useless.

According to one site, original viruses were mainly for bragging rights among hackers. A hacker would brag about the number of sites he had infected, etc. Today, most hackers seek data they can sell. An increasing number aren’t looking for a broad strike on thousands of computers, but want to gain access to a precise number of users or machines that hold the data they want.

So what’s a computer user gonna do?

One of the things I get to do is fix home computers. I see all sorts programs which could easily be somewhat similar to what I describe earlier. How do individuals get these programs? They do a search of the internet based on a problem they are having and MUST believe that if a program says it can solve that problem and it is a free download, then it gets installed on their computer. These programs usually cause more problems than they fix.

What should the user do?

Be very careful! Ask computer gurus or at least some friend who knows computers to aid in selecting the software. Don’t install something without investigating it. Virus checkers are a good help, but they can’t handle some of the new ideas of hackers that are coming their way.

Good Luck.

Checking my Spam box

I occasionally check my spam box in the unlikely event that the spam filter has placed something there by mistake.

Today, I saw what I thought was a spam filter mistake and started to open it. A message popped up. “Be careful with this message. Our systems couldn’t verify that this message was really sent by verizonwireless.com. You might want to avoid clicking links or replying with personal information.” Below this was the incoming message in preview mode. It appeared to be the usual notification of my upcoming cellphone bill — except the amount I owed was listed as 2905.01!

Now if I had received that email in my inbox without any warnings, would I have clicked on a link within it to contest the amount? That is what the sender is hoping for. My actual bill is less than one tenth of that amount which I verified by logging in to my verizon account.

The spam filter continues to explain that “Spammers can forge a message to make it look like it’s sent by a real website or company that you might trust. To help protect you from such messages, we try to verify the real sender using email authentication.”

A review of the 26 emails within my spam box found 4 which could not be verified as coming from it’s listed source.

Be careful with your email.. It is a sneaky world out there!

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The Adventures of a Novice Traveler

Recently my brother needed my technical assistance on his computer located in Florida. He was out of country, but invited me to take advantage of a “vacation” at his home near Orlando.

Part of this adventure was my first trip on Amtrak from Cary, North Carolina to Winter Park, Florida. That will be a later post.

This is the story of my first car rental in more than 20 years. I did the reservation on line with Enterprise Rental and when I arrived at Winter Park, I found that my reservation had complications. With these complications, I wondered if I would even be able to get to my brother’s home.

I knew NO ONE in Winter Park.

Luckily, Enterprises branch manager Tiffany Sias was able to straighten out my complications and I had the use of a Chrysler SUV for my week in Florida. While she was working on my problems, she was also helping several other customers with unusual situations.

When I return to Florida, I plan on setting up a rental with Enterprise once again. You can’t go wrong with that location ( 511 W, Fairbanks Avenue, Winter Park, FL. )

Thanks again, Tiffany!!!

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Don’t Go Anywhere without a Knife

If you watch CBS’s “NCIS”, you know the title of this article is based on Jethro Gibb’s Rule Number 9. Not a bad rule!

As a matter of planning ahead, prepping for disasters, or just for every day chores — Having a knife is good strategy.

In my pocket, I carry a multi-tool Swiss Army knife. It includes scissors, blades, screwdrivers and even a toothpick.

No matter what a person may ask for, screwdriver, nail file, etc — I can answer — Yup! In my knife! There are some items within the knife that I would not suspect a knife to include. Toothpick and tweezers.

Think about it — Two knife blades, screwdriver ( small and large ), corkscrew, scissors, etc.

If I am going to a function where such a knife might be frowned upon, I carry a much smaller knife ( about half the size of my normal knife ). It has knife blade, nail file, and scissors. This swiss army knife is carried in a flash drive case with a couple of flash drives, a heavy duty paper clip and a couple of safety pins.

I do have other knives but they are located in fanny packs for True emergency situations ( but that is a story for another blog. )

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An unexpected visit

Our son recently became un-employed and as an economy measure has returned to the nest.

With an enormous amount of clothes and other items to store, we quickly ran out of closet space. To keep his and my clothes easily accessible, we needed some sort of temporary closet space.

U-haul to the rescue!

Their Grand Wardrobe boxes make for excellent temporary closet space. A local self storage facility who also rents u-hual items had these in stock. I picked up two of them.  Price is reasonable. And the boxes are super sturdy.

And … When he gets ready to leave, the boxes will make a quicker move 🙂

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When your printer fails you

Office Depot sent me an email this morning. It included a coupon for 10 dollars off of a $50 ink cartridge purchase. Wow! I can save money!! I need to replenish my supply of ink – both Black & Color. Let me print out the coupon!!!

Arrgh!!! No ink to print out the coupon!

What to do?? What are my options?

I could go to Office Depot and plead with them to accept my word about the coupon.

How about printing the coupon to a file on a flash drive and taking it to the store?

There is a library near my home, I could take the file there & print it out, or just use their workstation to access my email and then print it out!

Store the coupon on my google drive – then at Office Depot, access the coupon on my Droid RAZR smartphone for the sales person to view.

Another option I have is a portable printer in my Road Warrior kit. Unfortunately, the ink cartridge has dried out from many days in the sun baked vehicle.

The coupon was for HP Cartridges only so, I didn’t have to use the above printer options. Next is a real life example of the predicament and use of the above options.

My brother was visiting in Raleigh, NC at a motel. He needed to print out his train boarding pass from his flash drive. The lobby printer would not recognize the flash drive for some weird reason. I gave him the above options and we decided on using the printing capabilities of a nearby library.

No Problem… A few minutes and a few coins and he had his boarding pass.

Retain this list for your next printer emergency.

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Blood Letting

No, Not really.

Recently, I was diagnosed with diabetes. So far, I am managing it by dieting and that is working pretty good.

My Doctor sent me to a diabetes educational class at a nearby hospital. Very informative plus they provided me with a “high dollar” kit to check by glucose levels each day. When I went to purchase new strips for the meter, I had not reached my dollar level for the insurance to kick in. 73 dollars!!!

Recently, I ran out of strips and still haven’t reach my deductible. Instead of hitting my bank account for strips, I decided for a lesser meter.

Walmart sells blood glucose meters in their pharmacy. One brand is Relion and model is the Confirm. It might be called a “house brand” although I don’t know that for a fact. The price originally was only 9 dollars for the meter and although I believe that it came with a few strips, the latest ad for the meter does not mention inclusion of strips. The price has risen to about 15 dollars for the meter. A 20 pack of strips is slightly less than 10 dollars.

If you have a need for a blood glucose meter, consider this one. It works. It’s accuracy is acceptable. Check it out on Walmart’s website and read the reviews.

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The King of Backups!

The church of Christ that I attend appointed me in year 2001 to be the “Audio Man” with the main task of making certain that our pa system worked well to provide sound re-enforcement for the assembly and record and deliver to the internet the sermons, plus make them available on CD or tape for shut-ins..

As the needs progressed, I now have 3 assistants. They all joke that I am the “King of Backups”. I consider the backups that they refer to as “Alternate solutions” when a piece of audio gear fails to function properly.

With the above in mind, I am getting ready for a week at one of the North Carolina Beaches.

Frolicking in the sand, letting the waves wash over my feet is NOT for me. The isolation from everyday activity is enough of a break.

To while away the hours, I take along several electronic projects to “play” with. Some of this play requires computer communication. To that end comes my laptop and it’s BACKUPs!

My normal laptop is a Toshiba Satellite…. It came with Windows Vista on it. It didn’t take long for me to repartition the hard drive giving half to a Ubuntu ( Linux ) operating system. I rarely go to the Vista side of the laptop. I am seriously considering installing a larger hard drive since I have stored so much on the linux side that I am bumping the space limit.

If for some reason, the Toshiba should fail, I do have backups! My immediate backup is a Google CR-48 netbook running the chrome operating system.

Last but not least is a small 7 inch netbook which has both wifi & wired network capability and is running natively, windows CE. To make it more user friendly, I can boot to a flash drive that has a Debian ( Linux ) operating system on it.

As a final alternate method, I have my DROID cell phone which has the ability to run an SSH client terminal, an FTP client, and a vnc viewer, plus other entertaining goodies.

If all should fail – I can still visit the local library and use one of their workstations.

Check out my post on Library computing.

The Quietness of the Library

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My English Teacher — How we “hated” her!

Over fifty years ago, in my high school years, we had a unique english teacher. No one seemed to like her. When you had papers to do, she would praise you verbally and ripped the paper apart when grading it. You were never sure of what your grade would be. I had two or three years with this same teacher. Each year, I would shake my head with some degree of exasperation when I found out who my English teacher would be. “I will be glad when I am out of High School and away from Mrs. …. “. I know that I said that more than once while still in high school. After high school, I went off to technical school in western North Carolina. It was really surprising to me that I felt that I knew more than our English teacher at that school. Yes, once I was away from high school, I realized how well my high school english teacher had prepared me ( and most of the rest of the class as well ). I need to look her up and tell her “Thank you”