Archive for the ‘Reviews’ category

Job scams

September 9, 2010

Looking for a job is hard enough these days without being taken by some shady people just looking to take your identity.

But that’s how it is in the Wild West, isn’t it? You just have to be real careful about who you are giving that sensitive information to.

But it’s not easy is it? Especially if you’ve been out of work for a long period of time. Then one day you check your email and there is someone who is offering you a job, probably a really good one. What do you do? Not jump on it?

Nope.

Of course you’re going to be excited. Of course you’re going to shout and dance around your room. You need money, and the economy is less than generous these days. In your excitement though, you forget to actually look at the email. You forget to notice certain things about what is written. You forget that maybe, in our particular economic climate, there may be people out there posing as companies just to get your information.

It’s not really a stretch of the imagination, is it? It’s easy enough in a climate of desperation. That’s gold mine territory for scammers.

So what I thought I’d do here is point out some of the more obvious things I’ve noticed along the way that scammers do, but people who are too excited to notice, may neglect.

As with any advise from anyone you read on the internet, please remember to exercise common sense and think about what is being asked of you. Think about how realistic the offer is, and what hoops you are being asked to jump through. A blood sample and ex girlfriend/boyfriends reference of you is a clear signature that this isn’t right. I only write this article because the things I’ve personally seen and been in contact with. This is by no means a full list of every scam out there today. Please use common sense when reading this, and use common sense when accepting anything over the internet. It is still virtual and people can still claim anything they want on it.

In no particular order:

+ the tiny url:
If you get an email from a small mom and pop company, and they need you to fill out an application on their website and the link reads http://www.tinyurl.com/website (website being another name), this is a scammer. No reputable company out there will be using tiny url. Why? Because companies pay for their websites, therefore they prefer to use their own websites. So the url will have something about the company name in it, definitely NOT tinyurl. http://www.comcast.com or http://www.directtv.com or something. They want to make it obvious that the website is for their company. Scammers count on you being too excited and overlooking these small details. It’s even happened to me, that’s why I’m posting it here.

+ Any company that requires sensitive information from you, better have a secured website. Meaning that in the lower right hand corner of your web browser (all web browsers have this) there will be a privacy lock. This is an indication that the company has at least taken some measures to encrypt the sensitive information that will be floating through the internet. If you see no such lock or indication, I would personally not bother with the offer. That’s just me though. But all of the reputable companies I’ve dealt with have this. They pay for web certificates and keep them up to date. Once again, they wish to remain reputable, and these are just issues of trust. It’s not difficult for a company of any kind to purchase and keep up web certificates, so they better have them. If they don’t, there is not reported security on the website, meaning your information could be okay, or could be going elsewhere.

+ My favorite. The rush jobs. Hearing about super opportunities that must get processed immediately. They need all of your sensitive information today and will be hiring you on the spot tomorrow. This one is pretty obvious to me, but the way you can tell this is a scam is usually they want all your information in an email. I don’t know any company who is reputable that wants Social Security numbers and the like in an email. Simply because emails are the most unsecured way of transportation. Normally companies need a resume first, then an application filled out, followed by an interview, and perhaps a seconds interview. That’s the norm. I’m not saying there will not be a rush, but the information normally follows a standard procedure, the one noted above. Be careful who you give that sensitive information to, ID theft is real people!

+ Phone verification. This is one I’ve run into recently.  I can’t remember any company checking up on you based on phone records. I don’t know the deal with that scam, but it is a scam. I was very happy to aviod it. Online applications shouldn’t ask you off the wall things like phone verification. It sounded shady to me at first, and then I found out it was in fact a scam. So remember to avoid that.

+ Investors scam. They offer you a great job, problem is you must invest in their operation. Soon you find out it’s a pyramid scheme. They are really sappy salespeople, like used car salespeople. They tell you they have a wonderful opportunity for you. When you arrive to hear about the job, they instead lecture you on how you could be doing in life, and with a small fee towards them, you could be managing lots of people. Yes, they even throw in cars and houses in the pitch as well. Stay away from too good to be true schemes.

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Some common and internet scams

March 26, 2010

With anything on the market and available to a wide audience, there are going to be scams. It happens. With anything. Cars, Home buying, Donations, etc.

For people who are new to computers and the wide world of the internet, mass produced scams can be a new thing. They are not used to people knowing their email addresses or IP addresses, or pop-ups that alarm them about virus warnings and the like.

All of us, myself included when we first started out with computers were new to the “scam per second” world of email spam. So if you are new to computers and someone makes fun of you for not seeing what they consider an obvious scam because they pretty much live on the internet, remember, no one was born with an ethernet cable hooked to their viens. We all had to learn by doing.

That being said, I’d like to quickly go over some of the more common mistakes I’ve seen people make regarding scams on the internet. There are many scams on the internet, and I’d have to have a blog dedicated to just that if I was going to go into great detail on every single scam the internet has ever pulled.

But, I don’t like writing that much and I’d have to do a lot of unnecessary research. So I’m just going to give you some of the ones I’ve seen that maybe people aren’t aware of.

Scam #1: The outdated Microsoft Windows scam:

You’re on the internet and a pop up appears that your copy of Microsoft Windows has expired and you either need to buy a new one or renew it via said pop up.

Fact: Microsoft Windows doesn’t have an expiration date. It never expires. It gets outdated, needing windows updates now and again, but those are completely FREE and available 24/7 on the microsoft website. But your OS never runs out.

Scam #2: Virus alerts

You are alerted by a popup that you have a virus on your computer and to scan your computer via said pop up.

How to tell that this is a scam is to look at the pop up. If it is NOT the anti virus anti spy ware brands name you have installed on your computer, then it is a scam. Usually these virus warning pop ups don’t have company names like Norton or McAfee or ZoneAlarm or the like. They may have a red dot or red sheild or some generic symbol to that effect, but they definitly won’t have a brand name in the pop up.

Anti Virus and Anti Spyware software will pop up windows to alert you that they found a virus. However, if it’s legitimate, then when you close your internet browser the pop up should still be there and linked to your virus software on your computer. Close the pop up and open your virus software. It will tell you upon launch there is something it caught. If not, then it’s a false alarm.

Thing to remember here is, NEVER REPLY TO THESE THINGS. the worst thing you can do is confirm to the pop up that you acknowledge it. This actually is designed to send a message to the virus servers about your computer. Same goes with email scammers. Never reply back. It’s confirmation that the email account is valid, then the real scamming begins.

Scam #3: Email Scams.

These come in all shapes and sizes. From dating scams to donation scams. Some of the more popular ones are emails about helping people in foreign countries and children asking for money. It usually involves money. And people have been taken on these.

Normally the rule is, don’t answer or reply to anyone you don’t know. Most scammers are pretty obvious in that they leave a lot of links in the email, or the email addresses are the opposite of what they are claiming to be. For example if someone is asking for money to move out of their country, and they need you wire them money, and the email came from somewhere other than the country they are referring to. Someone in Haiti, yet the email is from the UK or Berlin or China or something. Obvious scam.

Scam #4: Email Prize Scam

This one is an old and obvious one. You’ve just won a large sum of money due to being automatically enrolled in our contest. They need your personal information to confirm that you are who you say you are and so that they can personally deliver said sum of money directly to your door. It’s your lucky day. Or is it?

Same old scam, different technology.

Rule of thumb, NEVER give personal information over the internet. But NEVER EVER give it to people you don’t personally know. That’s how identity Theft happens.

Scam #5: Internet Hottie Wants To Talk To You:

This scam is designed to get your personal information and being signing you up for all kinds of stupid websites. They get a picture of some young attractive female and email her picture with a tag line of, I’m bored let’s talk. Or some other provacative statement. She may want to go to a bar, or show you her very personal side quickly because she just broke up with her boyfriend, etc etc.

When you reply back, they email you a form to fill out saying that they don’t know you and need to be safe because they’ve been hurt in the past, etc etc.

The form is usually a fake questionaire that they photoshop their IM or email service too. For example AIM, Yahoo! Messenger, Craigslist, etc. Whatever looks official. The questionaire has a blank for your email address and your address where you reside. They will claim it is detailed so they can look you up and make sure your not a sex offender or something.

It’s detailed so that they start signing you up for websites or get your account number or sell your information to mail a thons and the like.

The thing to remember here is that there is no company authority to check you out without a company paying them. In other words, no one has the right to go into your bank account, social security or other personal information without authorized permission by you. When you fill out an application and sign the background check section, you are giving that company your personal go ahead to check that information out. Which is why they make you sign it. But for free services like Gmail, Yahoo Messenger, AIM, etc, there is no authority other than the police or government that has the right to see your personal information. So it’s a scam.

Those are just some general scams that I’ve seen in my time on the internet.

Just remember to use common sense, be careful who you converse with and never give out personal information to just anyone.

Be safe out there, Identity Theft is a real pain to have to deal with.

Podcast on Today’s Internet Terrorists

January 27, 2010

When I do listen to the radio nowadays, it’s usually not the pop music stations. It’s normally the news stations or college radio, if I’m lucky enough to come into range of their horribly lacking reaching airwaves.

Well, today while driving to the Post Office, I happen to turn on the radio (a rare event indeed) and WMFE was on.

Figuring there was some noteworthy news or chatter today I stayed tuned in, and was pleasantly surprised by an interview I heard.

The interview was a segment from Terry Gross It was about Internet Security in today’s world.

It’s an interesting interview and I liked how Terry Gross tried to get some of the lingo more comprehend able.

http://www.npr.org/templates/player/mediaPlayer.html?action=1&t=1&islist=false&id=122958695&m=122984893

For those of you who care about internet security.

Music software for those stuck on Windows

January 9, 2010

Long has it been my dream to own Garage Band. Mac users know what I’m talking about.

Garage Band is the easiest to use, most flexible and dynamic digital music software available today. There is a catch though. It’s only available for the MAC operating system.

Windows doesn’t really have anything that compares to the ease of use of Garage Band and the vast libraries of instrument samples.

There are programs for Windows out there that are for making music or simply sequences different sounds.

Reason, Frooty Loops Studio, Cake Walk, Hammer Head software. Just to name a few.

But these software programs, save Hammer Head, are not very user friendly. And they can take a while to get used to their interface and operation.

Definitely not for beginners.

But Garage Band was different. It was the first music maker software that really had normal people in mind. The interface was very easy to see and read, the controls were left simplified, the feel of it was way more user friendly. I mean in that
anyone could use this software right out of the package, it didn’t require any training or sitting in front of it for six months before you got it type of thing that the windows programs are kind of notorious for.

Also, these other programs had a lot of restrictions and what not.

I remember using Fruity Loops for about a day. Having never used Fruity Loops or many other music makers before, I was kind of new to it. The interface and complexity of the program did not make things any easier. I got overwhelmed
and uninstalled it and decided to hold out for Garage Band (which I will be obtaining soon, btw.)

I tried Garage Band a long time ago. Probably when it first came out. I think at school. It was easy to use, accepted samples that I had, and saved easily enough as well. Although you had to have iTunes to convert it.

But since then, I figured software programmers would have come up with an equivalent for Windows by now. Surely some type of generic music making program, probably similar to Garage Band for those of you stuck on Windows.

Apparently no one in Windows world is concerned about this.

Because it hasn’t happened yet.

However,

My sister in her ongoing pursuit to find some type of music maker for Windows has come across what she hails as a decent enough music maker for Windows.

Behold, I give you MIXCRAFT 4! http://www.acoustica.com/mixcraft/download.htm

MixCraft is a music program like any sequencer program I’ve ever seen. Except for the fact that it’s designed for the rest of us. Us simpletons who don’t want to earn a degree to use this crap, just want to use this crap.

I was shown a tour of this program, briefly, but nonetheless, and it is easy to use.

She uses it more than I do, presently, so she wrote a review on her blog. http://dweebcentric.wordpress.com/2009/11/30/new-toys/

I recommend checking it out, and even trying the program out It’s a 14 day free trial and I believe it’s $75 for a year long license.

No, I’m not trying to push anything on here, but I was looking for some alternative for Windows users that wasn’t total rocket science.

The YouTube DJ

December 31, 2009

So with the invention of the multiple tabs options in browsers now, I found that I can play two songs at once.

Just like a turntable. Two records at once.

So I started playing around with it and started integrating tracks. I haven’t scratched on it, because it doesn’t make the sound because it’s not playing it from a needle.

But I can integrate two or more songs into one.

Take samples and stuff just like on a turntable and put different elements into it from different videos.

But it was fun to do.

If you can do it, you can do mash-ups of songs

It’s just fun to do really.

similar to this,

If you have skills, it’s fun to try to integrate the songs like a DJ at a party.  Maybe you could bring it to a party and start YouTube DJing.

Google Chrome, the faster way to cruise

November 26, 2009

I’m all about checking out and trying new things. Especially when it comes to computer stuff.

But, I was hesitant on Google’s version of a web browser.Why do I need another browser?I already had Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox. Both of which campaigned on faster internet cruising, which were less than in practice.

And really the only reason why I had two at the time was because most web site applications hadn’t yet adopted Firefox compatibility.  So I was stuck with IE for certain things. Like Netflix for example. Their Instant Watch option on their website only used to be compatible with IE But that has thankfully changed since.

But it takes time to migrate things. I understand.

So at this particular point in time, I have two we b browsers. Why do I need a third one for?

Well curiosity killed the cat. And I had some time on my hands so I finally gave in and downloaded Google Chrome to see what all the hype was about. Because at that point it was all hype.

I downloaded and installed it and was getting ready for disappointment. So I fired it up.  It was fast.

I had IE and Firefox on my computer and neither could start like this. I often takes IE a couple of seconds to fully load. Same as Firefox. In web browser world a couple of seconds is noticeable.But not Google Chrome. It was fast. It loaded the web browser almost instantly. A dramatic speed faster than both my current browsers.

So I picked a website and began cruising.

The speed was noticeable. And appreciated.

Simple to use, nothing fancy interface. Appreciated by minimalist like myself. Chrome apparently chose performance over flash. Software companies take NOTICE! Despite what the media or some people tell you, performance is MORE important than a fancy interface….Vista.

It is however not ready for the world yet. Netflix definitely doesn’t recognize it for Instant Watching on their website.

But the performance more than makes up for that. And besides, in time everyone will adjust and it will be compatible just like Firefox. So in conclusion, I would recommend Google Chrome for those of you who are in a hurry. It’s not a purse browser, meaning that, you shouldn’t and can’t load it down with the bookmarks and options that other browsers have. Which is essential for it’s performance and better if you’re asking me. Like I said, it’s not fancy, but I’m sure you can change the skin. I’m sure someone will mod it out to be super groovy given time.

But the point is speed. Consider IE and Firefox like MAC trucks. Google Chrome would be a Miata. If my car analogies are anywhere near accurate, which I’m sure their not. In short, it moves. Quickly. So if you’re in a hurry and don’t need all the baggage of your other browsers, consider installing Google Chrome on your computer. If for nothing else than to simply take it for a test spin and see for yourself how fast the internet can really be.

Tech Tip #1 maleware can hide in system files

March 9, 2009

what is a virus, trojan horse, bot, etc.?
simply code written or modified for malicious purposes.

a virus doesn’t have to be an originally written piece of computer code. nor do the other infections that have the potential
to do damage to your computer. simply put, they can be a piece of totally legal code, modified. To every
positive is a negative. even in computer world.

these codes can be modified inside your computer as well. or hide as a file extension. for example, .dll files and .doc files are
notorious for getting hijacked by malicious code.

today’s more popular anti virus and spyware programs are aware of this and do scan these files and other system files for corruption.
in fact it’s the most scanned files on your computer, because they are so popular to hijack and keep low.

so today’s tech tip is this,

code and files in your computer are not always what they appear to be. *.dll files can be safe to download or a trojan horse. just be careful what you download and make sure you have the latest updates for all your protection software.

even the free ones are good at stopping most before they enter your computer.

some free approved anti virus anti spyware programs:

spybot seek & destroy, AVG, Trendmicro.

You can download these for free, without any expirations and they will scan and protect.