Technology Tips

SophosHome
Free commercial-grade security for the home. Sophos Home (currently in beta) protects every Mac and PC in your home from malicious software, inappropriate websites and viruses.

It uses the same award-winning technology that IT professionals trust to protect their business systems. Best of all, you can manage security settings for the whole family from any browser.

* Please note that this free version of Sophos Home is for private and non-commercial use, letting you protect up to ten computers per account

Simple Setup

Log in to our ridiculously simple web dashboard from any browser. In no time every PC and Mac in your home will be protected.

Malware Protection

Sophos Home keeps nasty viruses at bay, stops malware from slowing down your computer, and helps prevent unwelcome hackers from gaining access to sensitive personal information.

Web Filtering

Sophos Home protects you from online threats and unsuitable content. With just a few clicks, block access to sites that may contain inappropriate content or malicious software.

Get your FREE copy here: https://www.sophos.com/en-us/lp/sophos-home.aspx?cmp=70130000001xHGaAAM

Windows 10 is getting its first mega-update on Thursday

After updating your Windows 10 PC, your computer will boot faster, your photos will be clearer, reminders will be easier to set, and your PC will perform more smoothly. But Windows 10 won’t look any different — most of the improvements are under the hood.

It’s essentially Windows 10’s first “service pack,” the term Microsoft had used for its occasional major updates that squash bugs and add new features. Just don’t call it a service pack. Microsoft is touting its new “Windows as a service” model with Windows 10, by constantly upgrading the software. “We’re just calling it the November update,” said Yusuf Mehdi, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and devices group. “We’re signaling that we’re moving away from that service pack idea — but in truth it is every bit a service pack.” Windows 10 will continue to evolve over time as customers provide feedback.

Microsoft says the new update will make Windows 10 boot 30% faster than Windows 7 PCs. The Edge browser will get a Chrome-like feature, allowing people to sync their favorites across all Windows 10 devices. You’ll be able to use handwriting to set reminders in the Cortana virtual assistant app. And a host of driver updates will help make Windows 10 PCs take better photos and run more smoothly.

The update is also huge for corporate customers. Microsoft is giving Windows 10 a host of new features that make it ready for broad deployment in business environments. For example, after the update, IT managers will get control over how their Windows 10 devices get updated within their organization. This “feature” or lack thereof, was a major stumbling block causing many corporate customers to avoid the Windows 10 upgrade completely.

Currently, more than 110 million PCs are already running Windows 10, which only debuted on July 29, making it the fastest adoption for any version of Windows in history. Now that it’s ready for the corporate world, Microsoft is expecting Windows 10 to be the fastest-ever upgrade for businesses as well. Xboxes will also be getting Windows 10 upgrades Thursday.

Microsoft’s goal is to have Windows 10 running on more than 1 billion devices by 2018.

Microsoft Tweaks Windows 10 Upgrade Process


Only 3 months into the Windows 10 release and Microsoft is changing the process for upgrading users. Windows Update will soon be showing Windows 10 as an “optional update” for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. However, Microsoft plans to bump it up to a “recommended update” sometime “early next year,” according to the announcement.

The operating system could automatically install as a recommended update, depending on an organization’s Windows Update settings, Microsoft warned. However, it will be possible to roll back these Windows 10 upgrades within 31 days if wanted.

Media Creation Tool
Another change is that Microsoft plans to enhance its free Media Creation Tool to facilitate upgrades to Windows 10 Home and Pro editions. It’s not clear exactly what will be enhanced, though, based on Microsoft’s announcement. The tool can be downloaded and used to create 32-bit or 64-bit Windows 10 ISOs, either for upgrades or clean installs across multiple machines. The ISOs get created using DVDs or USB drives.

Reservations Going Away
It seems that this scenario is changing. Microsoft explained today that it is now dispensing with the reservation system for Windows 10 upgrades. That system let people sign up to get Windows 10, but they’d still have to wait months for the installation to actually happen. Now, if the upgrade invite is accepted, Microsoft’s Windows Update service will install Windows 10 right away.

Upgraders will get a notice when the downloaded files are available to install Windows 10. Once installed, users will have 31 days to roll back to the old Windows, if they want to. The rollback is possible because Microsoft now keeps “a full copy of your previous operating system on your device — including apps and settings,” over that 31 day time period.
Those Windows users who are eligible for the free upgrade but who just don’t want Windows 10 have a new option. They can use the Settings control in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 to decline getting future Windows 10 upgrade notices, Microsoft’s announcement indicated.

‘Non-Genuine’ Upgrades

Microsoft’s corporate goal is to get Windows 10 on 1 billion devices by its fiscal-year 2018. Its free upgrade offer bumped Windows 10 use to 75 million devices back in August. This month, Microsoft is claiming there are “more than 110 million devices” running Windows 10. To prod more upgrades, Microsoft is planning an experiment in the U.S. market for so-called “non-Genuine” Windows users.

Non-Genuine Windows users will get a “one-click” Windows 10 upgrade opportunity. It will allow them to change the device’s product key on the fly via a link to the Windows Store allowing them to buy a legitimate Windows 10 product key. If the experiment proves successful in the U.S. market, Microsoft could expand it to other markets.

Windows Blog:
| http://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/10/29/making-it-easier-to-upgrade-to-windows-10/

WinBeta Blog:
http://www.winbeta.org/news/non-genuine-windows-users-will-get-one-click-upgrade-windows-10

Apple faces $5 Million Dollar Lawsuit Over WiFi Assist


Apple is facing a lawsuit over a new software feature that lets iPhones switch to cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal is weak.

Wi-Fi Assist has provoked complaints from customers since Apple introduced the feature in mid-September with the latest version of its iOS software for iPhones and iPads. Many have complained that Wi-Fi Assist is switched on by default in iOS 9 without them knowing it, causing them to run up large data bills while they think their iPhones are relying on Wi-Fi.

A couple who has been on the receiving end of such a bill on Friday filed a complaint, first spotted by AppleInsider, in US District Court in San Jose, California. William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips, both of Edgewater, Florida, say that because they didn’t know about the feature, Apple should be responsible for picking up their bill, as well as the bill of any others like them. The plaintiffs are seeking class action status for their lawsuit. Their filing contends that the overuse charges top $5 million for everyone affected.

Wi-Fi Assist lets iPhones automatically switch to using data when Wi-Fi signal drops. It was designed to give iPhone users the smoothest and most consistent experience possible when using the Internet. Some Apple customers are pleased that Wi-Fi Assist allows them to stay online even when their Wi-Fi signal drops. Others, especially those with low-usage data plans, have complained about unexpected charges on their phone bill.

The mixed reactions to the feature led the Cupertino, California, company to publish an online guide to Wi-Fi Assist in early October.

“Because you’ll stay connected to the Internet over cellular when you have a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might use more cellular data,” it explained. “For most users, this should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage.”

For the plaintiffs, though, the explanation is too little, too late. The lawsuit claims that the couple only found out about the potential for extra charges when articles and tweets started appearing about Wi-Fi Assist. They also say that video and music streaming consumes high quantities of data and that Apple’s “corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”

The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and its False Advertising Law, as well as of negligent misrepresentation. Despite rival smartphone manufacturers, including Samsung, LG and HTC, offering similar features on their own devices, only Apple is on the receiving end of a legal complaint.

AppleInsider: http://appleinsider.com/articles/15/10/23/lawsuit-accuses-apples-ios-9-wi-fi-assist-feature-of-burning-through-5m-in-data

WAZE Finally Gets An Update

I’m always happy when one of my favorite FREE apps gets a major update. Even though I have built in navigation in my car, I always use and actually prefer Waze when I travel. I don’t worry about renting a car with a GPS to get around in an unfamiliar city or state – I simply plug in my iPhone, fire up Waze and type in my destination. Long gone are the detailed state highway maps and TripTik’s of my youth.

Waze, the navigation app that uses crowdsourced data to warn drivers about incidents on the road has just completed its biggest update since being acquired by Google over 2 years ago.

Yesterday, Waze launched a major update for its popular turn-by-turn navigation app. The entire user interface has been revamped for “higher visibility and clarity,” while still retaining the colorful, almost cartoonish appearance that has become its signature. It’s still bold and bright, but is noticeably less cluttered than before. Version 4.0 also adds a new ETA panel that puts traffic reports, alternate routes, and other useful options just one tap away.

Waze will also now give you a heads up about certain accidents before you even get in the car. The “smart calendar” feature will alert users when road incidents are likely to impact the day’s schedule, giving you the chance to leave earlier and minimize delays.

And last, Waze claims to have made significant improvements to battery consumption; the app will now use less of your phone’s charge to get you from place to place. Most people probably have their phones plugged in when driving around, so this is one change that may go unnoticed by many of Waze’s users.

And there are still a lot of Wazers out there, even after Google acquired the app and rolled almost all of its best functionality into Google Maps. Maybe it’s the social element of the app (sharing your ETA with friends, etc.) or the perception that Waze’s traffic alerts are more timely than those in Maps. Either way, it’s good to see a major update that’s a bit more substantial than simply adding yet another celebrity voice. Waze remains a free download, and the latest version is available on iOS now and will hit Android very soon.

Hello Alexa


Amazon Echo, also known as Alexa, is a voice command device from Amazon.com with functions including question answering, playing music and controlling smart devices. It’s a tall cylinder with a seven-piece microphone array and speakers that include a woofer/tweeter and a remote control. The device responds to the name “Alexa”, however this “wake word” can be changed by the user. Amazon had been developing Echo inside their Silicon Valley and Cambridge, Mass labs for at least four years. The device, codenamed ‘Doppler’ or ‘Project D’, was part of Amazon’s first attempts to expand its device portfolio beyond the original Kindle E-reader.

The Echo, previously available to Amazon Prime members or by invitation only, became widely available in late June, 2015. Additionally the service behind it (Alexa Voice Service) is now available to be added to other devices and other companies’ devices and services are encouraged to connect to it (using the Alexa Skills Kit).

Cloud-based processing
Amazon Echo runs on Amazon Web Services. In the default mode the device continuously listens to all speech, monitoring for the wake word to be spoken. The device also comes with a manually and voice-activated remote control which can be used in lieu of the ‘wake word’. Echo’s microphones can be manually disabled by pressing a mute button to turn off the audio processing circuit.

Echo requires a Wi-Fi internet connection in order to work. Its voice recognition capability is based on Amazon Web Services and the Amazon common voice platform it acquired from Yap, Evi, and IVONA. Echo performs well with a ‘good’ Internet connection which minimizes processing time due to minimal communication round trips, streamable responses and geo-distributed service endpoints.

Natural voices
Echo’s natural lifelike voices result from speech-unit selection technology. High speech accuracy is achieved through sophisticated natural language processing (NLP) algorithms built into the Echo’s text-to-speech (TTS) engine.
Services Available

Echo offers weather and news from a variety of sources, including local radio stations, NPR, and ESPN from TuneIn. Echo will play music from the users Amazon Music accounts and built in support for the Pandora streaming music service was recently added, as was support for IFTTT (If This, Then That).

Echo can also play music from streaming services such as Apple Music, and Google Play Music from a phone or tablet. Echo maintains your voice-controlled alarms, timers, shopping and to-do lists and will respond to your questions about items in your Google calendar. It also integrates with Philips Hue, Belkin WeMo, SmartThings, and Wink. Additionally, integration with Echo is in the works for Countertop by Orange Chef, Scout Alarm, Garageio, Toymail, MARA, and Mojio.

Privacy Concerns
There are concerns about the access Echo has to private conversations in the home, or other non-verbal indications that can identify who is present in the home and who is not—based on audible cues such as footstep-cadence or radio/television programming. Amazon responds to these concerns by stating that Echo only streams recordings from the user’s home when the ‘wake word’ activates the device. However, remember Echo is always be listening to detect that a user has uttered the word.

Echo uses past voice recordings the user has sent to the cloud service to improve response to future questions the user may pose. To address privacy concerns, the user can delete voice recordings that are currently associated with the user’s account, but doing so may degrade the user’s experience using voice search. To delete these recordings, the user must visit the Manage My Device page on Amazon.com or contact Amazon customer service.

Echo determines its location in the user’s home by the collection of networks detected including Wi-Fi routers, the signal strengths of these routers, the type of security the routers use, and the registration information provided by the broadband carrier of these devices. Amazon and third-party apps and websites use location information to provide location-based services and store this information to provide voice services, the Maps app, Find Your Device, and to monitor the performance and accuracy of location services. For example, Echo voice services use the user’s location to respond to the user’s requests for nearby restaurants or stores. Similarly, Echo uses the user’s location to process the user’s mapping-related requests and improve the Maps experience. All information collected is subject to the Amazon.com Privacy Notice.

Limitations
Purchasing merchandise or digital media such as songs, by commanding Echo to buy the song, does require manual intervention—through an alternate user interface—to complete the purchase. Echo has demonstrated hit-or-miss results when asked common questions that users would expect better answers to.

The current location of the device is set to Seattle (Amazon headquarters) by default and must be changed manually, and can only be set to a location within the USA. This is different from smartphone-based voice assistants that can get the actual location via built-in GPS locators. This restriction can lead to undesired or seemingly “wrong” results for questions that imply the location such as “What is the weather” (around here) or “Set an alarm for 1000am” (local time here).
Echo is currently available on Amazon.com for $179.99 Prime and you expect much more functionality in the future as Amazon just dropped another $100 Million in the developers pot.

Amazon Echo Video:
http://www.amazon.com/Amazon-SK705DI-Echo/dp/B00X4WHP5E

Check out another Echo Video here:

OpenDNS Internet Parental Control

Here’s another tool in the never ending battle against malware, drive-by and infected webpages – and this one is FREE

CISCO is currently in the process of buying OpenDNS to the tune of $635 million. That means very little to most people who probably haven’t even heard of OpenDNS until today. What’s important here is that even with that market valuation – YOU can still get this valuable service absolutely FREE!

OpenDNS is a company and service which extends the Domain Name System (DNS) by adding features such as phishing protection and optional content filtering to traditional recursive DNS services.

The OpenDNS Global Network processes an estimated 70 billion DNS queries daily from over 65 million active users across 160+ countries connected to the service through 24 data centers worldwide. Previously OpenDNS was an ad-supported service showing relevant ads when they show search results and a paid advertisement-free service. The free service has since evolved to no longer showing advertisements.

DNS services for personal/home use Back on May 13, 2007, OpenDNS launched a domain-blocking service to block web sites or non-Web servers visited based upon categories, allowing control over the type of sites that may be accessed. The categories can be overridden through individually managed blacklists and whitelists. In 2008, OpenDNS changed from a closed list of blocked domains to a community-driven list allowing subscribers to suggest sites for blocking; if enough subscribers (the number has not been disclosed) concur with the categorization of the site it is added to the appropriate category for blocking. As of 2014 there were over 60 categories. The basic FREE OpenDNS service does not require users to register, but using the customizable block feature requires registration.

Other free, built-in features include a phishing filter and a service called Phish Tank for users to submit and review suspected phishing sites.

The OpenDNS service consists of recursive nameserver addresses as part of their FamilyShield parental controls which block pornography, proxy servers, and phishing sites as well. The service works with any device connected to a single home network after the user makes a simple DNS change in their router. Instructions for making this change in all the popular routers and modem can be found on their support forums link below.

How does OpenDNS work?

  • Instantly blocks access to adult websites No complicated configuration FamilyShield is pre-configured to block adult websites across your Internet connection.  Just turn it on and go.  The filter is always up-to-date, adding new sites 24/7.
  • Flexible parental controls that protect every Internet-connected device in your home, instantly. When you set up FamilyShield on your router, every device in your home gets protected. That means everything: your kids’ Xbox, Playstation, Wii, DS, iPad, and even their iPhone.
  • Built-in anti-fraud and phishing protection Take the guesswork out of identifying fraudulent sites. FamilyShield automatically blocks phishing and identity theft websites.
  • Makes your Internet faster and more reliable Setting up FamilyShield frees you of frustrating, intermittent Internet outages and makes Web pages load faster, which makes your overall Internet connection faster.

Visit the following links for additional information:

The best tool for protecting your kids (or employees) from malware and porn: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/the-best-tool-for-protecting-your-kids-or-employees-from-malware-and-porn/

To get more information or get started protecting your family from internet challenges visit: https://www.opendns.com https://www.opendns.com/home-internet-security/

Getting Started Forums and FAQ’s https://support.opendns.com/home

Meet The World’s Smallest PC



Intel has released the world’s smallest Windows PC, a tiny thumb-drive-sized device that converts any television or monitor into a functional computer. IntelComputeStick
Similar to the Google’s Chromecast or Amazon’s Fire Stick, the Intel Compute Stick can be plugged into an HDMI port. Though Intel says the Compute Stick can be used for streaming video, it can also do much more than that. The four-inch Compute Stick comes installed with Windows 8.1, 2 GB of RAM and 32 GB of storage. It connects to the Internet via Wi-Fi, and it has a microSD slot for additional storage if you need it. “It’s everything you love about your desktop computer in a device that fits in the palm of your hand,” says Intel.

Well … maybe not quite “everything”! Your desktop computer probably has a keyboard, a mouse, a lot more storage and RAM, and a much faster processor. But point taken, it is a full-fledged computer that’s the size of a pack of gum. That’s pretty neat. Intel suggests that the Compute Stick be used for “light productivity, social networking, Web browsing, and streaming media or games.” It also said small businesses might use it as an inexpensive computing solution. Microsoft has confirmed that this device will be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade as well. Originally it was projected to sell for $149.00 but the market is looking like $169.00 right now via Amazon.com.

If you’re looking for a Windows 8 computer experience on your living room TV then the Intel Compute Stick just might be the answer. Just don’t plan on firing up memory and processor hungry 3-D games or animation programs. Get additional information from Intel: http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/compute-stick/intel-compute-stick.html CNET Video Review: http://www.cnet.com/products/intel-compute-stick/

Popular Password Security Company Hacked

LastPass, the Fairfax, Va-based company behind one of the most popular password management tools, announced Monday that it had suffered a security breach. Email addresses, password reminders and authentication hashes were compromised.’

CEO and co-founder Joe Siegrist said on the company blog that the LastPass team detected an intrusion on its systems last week. “We want to notify our community that on Friday, our team discovered and blocked suspicious activity on our network,” he wrote. “In our investigation, we have found no evidence that encrypted user vault data was taken, nor that LastPass user accounts were accessed. The investigation has shown, however, that LastPass account email addresses, password reminders, server per user salts, and authentication hashes were compromised.”

LastPass lets its users store encrypted versions of their passwords for all their online accounts on servers in the cloud, sealing them off behind one master password. The tool offers people the ability to rely on one super strong passcode, rather than having to remember dozens of such codes of across the web.

The LastPass team has urged the users of its service to change their master passwords as soon as possible. It also recommends that its users strengthen their authentication procedures by adding a device-specific step: “We are requiring that all users who are logging in from a new device or IP address first verify their account by email, unless you have multifactor authentication enabled. (Recently, the photo sharing app Snapchat announced that it would adopt two-factor authentication. And the car service Uber is reportedly exploring new verification measures, too.)

LastPass said that “encrypted user data was not taken,” and that “you do not need to change your passwords on sites stored in your LastPass vault.” For those who have reused their master password on other sites, however, the company recommends replacing those passwords.

“We are confident that our encryption measures are sufficient to protect the vast majority of users,” Siegrist wrote in his blog post. “Nonetheless, we are taking additional measures to ensure that your data remains secure, and users will be notified via email.”

Currently, the website is flooded with inquiries related to the breach. “Sorry, but we are currently experiencing an extremely high volume of support tickets due to our recent security announcement,” its contact page reads. “Please be patient while we try to respond to your questions and issues as quickly as possible. Anticipated wait times for non-critical issues are currently 3 days for Premium and over 5 days for free users.”

To recap: If you use LastPass, go change your master password immediately and set up two-factor authentication. And if you happen to use the same password to lock your LastPass account that you use to secure, say, your personal email or other online account, you should change that immediately, too.

HP program provides users a huge discount on ink!

Most everyone would agree that the most expensive part of color printing is replacing the spent ink jet cartridges. It’s even more expensive than originally purchasing the printer over the long term.

Hewlett Packard has developed a program to dramatically reduce the cost of ink based on the number of pages you and your family print on a monthly basis.

Say hello to HP Instant Ink which states on their website that they can save you 50% on ink costs. HP Instant Ink is an ink cartridge replacement service. Your HP printer orders original HP Ink when you’re running low and they ship it straight to your door so you never have to worry about running out of ink again.

1: Check to see if your HP Printer is eligible or you could purchase a new one: To enroll in HP Instant Ink you need to have an eligible printer, which tells them when you’re low on ink and automatically orders it for you.

2: Enroll in a plan Pick one of three plans designed to fit your printing needs. You can change or cancel your plan online at any time and there’s no annual fee.

3: Start saving Print high-quality photos or text – your cost is the same. Unused pages roll over and you can add additional pages for just a little more.

The plans start at $2.99 per month for up to 50 printed pages  and if you don’t print 50, the remaining pages roll over to the next month – an additional 15 pages is only $1 more. There are 2 higher level plans that get you more printed pages for even less money.

So…stop fretting about the high cost of ink. With HP Instant Ink you can print full, color saturated pages for just the page print cost.

There’s a calculator on the site that will indicate how much you can save with this program – simply enter the number of pages you normally print and you’ll see the total annual savings you could enjoy.

Check out their website for a list of support printers as well as a video of just how this whole thing works.

HP Instant Ink website: http://www8.hp.com/us/en/ads/instant-ink/overview.html?jumpid=ps_3vjp7uynw8&gclid=CIProq7Cy8UCFVgYHwodwYYABg

Money Saving Madness Article: http://www.moneysavingmadness.com/2014/03/save-printer-ink-hp-instant-ink-hp-envy-5530-e-one-printer

Small Biz Technology Article: http://www.smallbiztechnology.com/archive/2014/04/fridge-ordering-milk-onstar-calling-police-printer-ordering-ink-hp-printers-order-ink-before-you-need-it.html/

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