30 April 2012

Have some fun with the scammers

Last week I mentioned about the latest version of the PC phone scam. Unfortunately, once you've received one of these calls, you're likely to receive more. Rather than getting frustrated and annoyed, why not have a bit of fun - and maybe just get yourself off their calling list at the same time.....

From George Abel - PC User magazine
On answering the phone, don't swear at the caller or mention scamming. Instead, sound a bit puzzled and suggest that you have been having some sort of trouble and could this (the alleged symptoms being 'it's been taking a long time to boot up') be the problem about which they are calling?  Ask if you should switch on the computer and they can advise on what to do next.

Of course, your computer will be in another room and you ask the caller to be patient while you make your way to it.  While on your way, indulge in some lighthearted banter to keep the conversation friendly.  When you get to it (you're on a walking frame remember), switch on the computer and the sound. This is important as the scammer can then hear the Microsoft start up melody. Yes, it will take a long time to boot up.

This can take as long as you like or are prepared to spend wasting their time. After five minutes or so, ask what to do next.  Whatever you are advised to do, don't! Just keep clicking your mouse or keyboard as if you are working the computer and sound bewildered. Then, make surprised sounds that you have never seen that before and tell the caller you have a pop-up reading: "They are trying to scam you. Tell them to "$@&* off" or words of your own choosing.

You will have the warm satisfaction of cheating the crooks as well as some great fun at the same time.
If my 2 year old son is home, I just say “Here’s someone more qualified to talk to you” and hand it to him. I don’t get why when I clearly get that it’s a scam that they keep calling.

Play along far enough to get the logmein ID code, then from that point whenever they ask you something just respond, “I like cheese.” When they finally hang up, report them to logmein with the ID number.  Last time I did that I got put onto the manager, then put back to the first person who firmly rebuked me for not taking them seriously.  The saddest thing was it ended up being the most fun I had that week, and I’m kinda hoping they’ll call again in this new spate…

Got a whistle next to the phone. I figure I should talk quietly for a little while, make sure they’re “all ears” before using it.
all from www.lifehacker.com.au

Have you ever tried having some fun with scammers?

27 April 2012

Free Stuff Friday - A life changing app

I like to be very organised, but lately I’ve been so busy with work that the home/family side of my life has been suffering.  So, seeing as I love technology, I’ve been researching all the different tools available that could help me get back on track.  I’ve already posted about Springpad, and there’ll be more tools appearing in coming Free Stuff Friday posts.  Today I have to tell you about the one tool that has made the biggest difference for me so far….

Wunderlist has been around for a while, but to me it was one of those things I’d heard good things about and thought I’d check out when I had time.  Oh why didn’t I do it earlier?

What is Wunderlist?

Wunderlist is an amazing task management tool.   You use Wunderlist to create lists and then you can add items or tasks to each list.  There’s no limit to the number of lists you can have, and within each list you can even attach notes to individual items on the list.  Your tasks can be prioritised, rearranged and deadlines can be added. 

Do you want it?

Wunderlist is available for iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, Windows, Mac OSX, WinPhone, and Linux.  Start by visiting the website and clicking on the platform you need.  You’ll then be automatically directed to the correct site from which you can download Wunderlist. 

It’s then your choice if you want to just keep it on your computer or phone or if you want to set up an account with Wunderlist so you are able to share it between devices – you’ll need to download it onto each device individually.  I’ve got it on my computer and my Android phone.  I can add, edit, and check-off tasks on my lists from either and they will be automatically synced with the other.  So when I’m out I can check my lists on my phone and ‘tick’ them off as a task is completed.  Next time I look at Wunderlist on my computer it has already been updated with the changes I’ve made to it on my phone.

How has Wunderlist changed my life?  

Until this week I’ve been using an A5 sized Filofax-style organiser, which I managed to cram into my handbag because it had so much in it that I thought I needed with me at all times to manage my home, family and business.  It only took me about 30 minutes of playing with Wunderlist to realise that the major contents of my organiser were lists – to do lists for today, this week, month, lists of what I wanted to do around the house, shopping lists for when I visited particular shopping centres, lists of what I wanted to get done this year, list, after list, after list!!!!!   And as I crossed a few things off each list (which did occasionally happen) I wouldn’t like the untidy look of my lists with lines all over the place, or a bunch of crossed off items making it harder to see what still had to be done – so I would rewrite my lists.  I was spending part of every week reorganising all my lists – what a waste of time! 

So, what’s changed?  Now that I don’t have to keep lists in my organiser I’ve reduced it down to the personal size - what a bargain buying it at this time of the year too – I already had the folder, the refill cost me $2, instead of $19.  So the first change is less neck aches from the reduction of hand bag weight.  But the best change of all, is no more rewriting of lists – the most I have to do is drag one item to another list or within a list if I want to rearrange them. I can even share a list if I need to – very handy at Christmas when I’m sharing the shopping with my sister – whoever finds an item first can tick it off the list and we’ll both have the latest list at all times.

Give it a go – it’s Free – and if you’re a list maker – you will love it – guaranteed!

24 April 2012

Microsoft Scam Update

Last year I wrote a post on my old blog about the Microsoft Scam.  I'm going to republish it here as it's still happening and if you're not aware of it you should be.  However, there's now a new version, so read below this first post for details of the newer version to watch out for. 

Originally posted 17 September 2011

You may have heard about the Microsoft Scam that's been around for about a year now. It's looks like it's heating up again and more people are getting caught out by it.

The scam starts with a call from India saying “I’m calling from Microsoft. We’ve had a report from your internet service provider of serious virus problems on your computer” or something like this. You are then told that your computer is going to fail, lose all your data or something will go very wrong if the problem goes unsolved.

If they’ve succeed in convincing you to keep talking, you’ll be directed to your computer and asked to open a program called “Windows Event Viewer”. To the average user, it looks like a long list of errors, some labelled “critical”.

The caller then offers to guide you through fixing the problems. You'll be directed to a website and told to download a program that hands over remote control of your computer and the caller 'installs' various 'fixes' for the problem. Then you'll be asked to pay for this service by credit card.

Of course, there was never anything wrong with your computer and the caller does not work for Microsoft. Microsoft does not know if you have a problem with your computer and wouldn't call you if you did. Unfortunately, anyone falling for this will have handed over enough personal information on their computer to enable identity theft -bank details, Internet site passwords and much more.

This scam has been going since 2008 and has grown hugely this year. It is being run from call centres based in Kolkata, by teams believed to have access to sales databases from computer and software companies, and also getting names to call from the White Pages.  

My father has received two of these calls in the past month, and he doesn't even have the internet connected- which he had great pleasure in telling them after they had told him that he had a problem with the internet!

The Microsoft website states that “Microsoft does not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer".

If you receive an unsolicited call from someone claiming to be from Microsoft Tech Support, hang up on them immediately.

The latest version of this scam may claim to be from Telstra, Bigpond, or another well known company.  However, they don't even need a recognisable name to try to catch you out....

You may receive a call from Windows Computer Management (this one is supposed to be based in Martin Place, Sydney).  They will tell you that they have detected viruses on your computer and that you should switch the computer on so they can talk you through the process to remove them.

This company even gives you a local phone number so you can call them back. If you try to check them out and use that number you'll be redirected to an overseas call centre, where you'll be told that the company is called Service Centre for Windows Operating Systems, located in Sydney.  You'll be given a very professional spiel about how they provide online technical support by connecting to the user's computer, after obtaining permission, and the average charge is $100 to $300.  They also sell software 'if the customer needs it'.  

No matter how convincing they sound, do not allow them to access your computer.  No reputable company will phone you unannounced to let you know there's something wrong with your computer or offer to fix it.  

If you are not sure about a company do a search for the company name for a web site (although having a web site doesn't guarantee it's legitimate).  I'll often do a search for the company name with the word 'scam' after it.  You could also check if they are listed in the White Pages www.whitepages.com.au.  

The Australian Government has a website devoted to scams www.scamwatch.gov.au.

You may be sure you won't get caught out by these scams, but if you have any older or less-tech-savvy family members or friends let them know what they need to look out for. 

19 April 2012

Office on the Go

Today Diana from PA on the Go wrote about taking the office outside, which often happens when I’ve got some time to fill in between appointments. The trouble is, there’s so much ‘stuff’ I carry with me to work and to training sessions that it makes it very difficult to just stop on the side of the road and get a bit of work done.

I use a big laptop bag with three zippered compartments and lots of pockets and slots for disks, cables, course manuals and notes, notebooks, and the laptop. It is very practical, but it looks so boring. It’s also really difficult to get to anything in it without opening up the whole bag. This makes it just about impossible when I’m trying to manoeuvre it on the car seat next to me – no hope of doing it on my lap. So, I’ve been looking for something smaller, lighter, more accessible, and definitely more stylish, that will still carry all my stuff.

There are some gorgeous bags around, but so far my favourites are the Kikki-K and the Coakley, purely because they'll go with more outfits……
Zafino Madison ladies laptop bag $199 - http://theluggageprofessionals.com.au

Kikki-K Norrmalm $450 www.kikki-k.com

Clockwise from top left:  Zafino Mia rolling ladies laptop bag $206 -http://theluggageprofessionals.com.auMaxMara leather portable tote $1140 -MaxMara boutiques, Bally-Hide laptop shoulder bag $136 - http://slappa.com.auCoakley Timeless Tweed Everyday Tote $295 -http://careerbags.com
Aya Laptop bag by Mamtak $200 - http://mamtakbags.com

Would you believe there is a laptop bag company solely devoted to pink - http://www.rainebrooke.com/

Take a look at www.beautifullaptopbags.com.au - a new Aussie company designing some really lovely bags and accessories...

What do you use to carry your work stuff around?

13 April 2012

Free Stuff Friday

Every Friday I will be posting about Free Stuff….  software, apps, gadgets, anything techie that doesn’t cost you a cent.

Do you love Pinterest?  Do you love lists and organising?  You have got to take a look at the updated Springpad.  Released on Wednesday, it is like a combination of Pinterest and an online organiser.  If you think of Pinterest as being mostly for images, think of Springpad as working similarly for everything else.

With Springpad you create notebooks, where you can add anything you want related to that notebook topic.  So, if you are researching a particular topic you can add websites, videos, books, and photos from your phone, to your notebook.  You can also make notes and create checklists within a notebook. So everything you need for a particular task is kept together.

Just like Pinterest’s Pin It button, you add a ‘Spring It’ button to your Favourites Bar for ‘Springing’ items you spot on the web. 

However, there’s some special features of Springpad which put it far above Pinterest.  Say you 'spring' a movie you want to see, Springpad will add a synopsis of the movie, reviews and session times.  If you ‘spring’ a local attraction, Springpad adds a map, opening times and reviews for you. 

You can keep your notebooks private, or you can share them publicly or just among those you choose.  For instance you could share a gift giving notebook with your family members at Christmas; or share the planning of an event with those you are collaborating with.

Similarly to Pinterest, you can follow other public notebooks related to your interests.

Springpad is also available for your iPhone, iPad and Android phone or tablet, so you have access to your notebooks wherever you are.

This video shows you a bit more of Springpad.

One of the notebooks I’ve created is for School Holiday Ideas.  Whenever I find something that I think my boys would like to do I add it to my notebook – movies, shows, events, museums, as well as a checklist of what I want to get done during the holidays (hair cuts!), and suggestions from my boys too.  Having this accessible on my phone means that if we’re out and one plan falls through I have the details of other options with me – opening times, entry fees etc.

How could you use Springpad? 

Get Springpad here

11 April 2012

My Old Blog

For those of you who have landed on this page from my previous blog, welcome back. I have decided to keep my business and my blog separate, which has resulted in the renaming of my Blog and its new location.

Anyone who tried to view my old blog will automatically be redirected to this address for the next month. After that the old blog address will not be accessible. So please add my new blog to those you are following, or change your favourites listing.

I hope you continue to enjoy reading about my tips and hints to help you get the most out of your computer.

09 April 2012

USB Hubs

You've got your lovely new laptop computer and you've decided to use a mouse instead of the touchpad - that's one USB port gone. Then you plug your mobile broadband dongle into another USB port - that's two used.  If you're lucky, you still have one left - so you can connect a printer. But what if you only have two, or you want to use a USB flash drive, or connect your camera to download some photos?

What you need is a USB hub. It's like a powerboard for your computer - giving you extra USB ports when you need them. You just plug it into one of your USB ports and then you can use each of the ports on the hub as you would the USB ports on your computer.

You can buy USB hubs at any office supply store, most larger supermarkets and discount department stores. They come in all sizes and shapes, but why go for something ordinary when you can have some fun....