Discover Offers Security Advice Regarding Equifax Data Breach

[Source: The following announcement from Discover was sent to customers via email on 5 Oct 2017.]

What you can do with Discover:

  1. Check your Social Security number and New Account alerts. You’ll get an alert if we find your Social Security number on any of thousands of risky websites, or if any new accounts show up on your credit report. [View Page]
  2. Track your FICO® Credit Scorecard for free. [View Page]
  3. Switch your account on or off with Freeze it® to prevent new purchases any time you misplace your card. [View Page]
  4. Keep your mobile phone number and email address up to date so we can alert you of any suspicious activity.

And remember—no matter what—you’re never held responsible for unauthorized purchases on your Discover card account.

Additional steps you can take:

1. Order and review your free annual credit reports. [View Site]
2. Update your passwords. [View Resource Page]
3. Use alerts and other security benefits on all your current accounts, not just Discover.
4. Restrict access to your credit file with the credit bureaus. [View Resource Page]
5. Learn more about identity theft and other ways to protect yourself at IdentityTheft.gov or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

AT&T Offers Security Advice Regarding Equifax Data Breach

[Source: The following announcement from AT&T was sent to customers via email on 28 Sep 2017. Links to agencies and sites were created and confirmed when reposting here.]

On September 7, 2017, Equifax announced that it suffered a data breach. There was no breach of AT&T systems or the data we maintain, but we have been working with Equifax to learn more about this event and understand there is a possibility that your personal information might have been exposed.

We encourage you to take the following steps to help protect your identity:

  1. Visit EquifaxSecurity2017.com/consumer-notice to determine if you are potentially affected and to sign up for credit file monitoring and identity theft protection.
  2. Contact major credit reporting agencies to place a fraud alert and/or credit freeze on your credit report, and to learn about identity theft programs offered by the Federal Trade Commission. Details on how to contact the credit reporting agencies and FTC can also be found at Consumer.ftc.gov

If you believe you were the victim of identity theft, here are some steps you can consider for additional protection:

  1. Close the accounts that you believe may have been tampered with or opened fraudulently. Use the Identity Theft Report, which can be found at Identitytheft.gov
  2. File a police report and get a copy to submit to your creditors and others who may require proof of the crime.
  3. File your complaint with the FTC (the Federal Trade Commission). The FTC maintains an identity theft database that law enforcement agencies use for investigations. Filing a complaint also helps the FTC better assist you, as the commission learns more about identity theft and the problems it creates.

Your privacy and data security are paramount to us. If you have any questions about this issue we strongly encourage you to visit EquifaxSecurity2017.com/consumer-notice

Siri – Apple macOS User Identification Issues

If you use Siri on an Apple computer, and share an iCloud account with someone, including contacts, it’s possible that Siri will incorrectly identify who you are based on what is set for “My Card” in contacts.

To clarify, we’re talking about having an additional shared iCloud account in System Preferences > Internet Accounts. Not, System Preferences > iCloud.

So, let’s say you share a list of contacts through iCloud with someone in this way. Even if you subsequently disable the shared contacts, Siri may still remember your name based on that original “My Card” information.

To repair this, make sure the Contacts are activated under Internet Accounts. Then select another contact as “My Card” in the shared Contacts. Test Siri by saying “Hey Siri, What’s my name?” Siri should tell you the name you selected as the My Card contact. Then change the My Card to a contact in your own personal iCloud contacts. This should fix the problem.

iOS 11 iPhone Battery Drain from Weather App Location

The Problem

After upgrading to iOS 11 on the iPhone, you may notice the location information is being shared perpetually. This is evident because of a compass needle icon in the upper right corner of your screen as shown in the image above.

How to Fix It

This could be due to the Weather App having access to your weather even when it’s not visibly in use. If you have the Weather widget in your Notifications screen, the app could perpetually be checking your information. Instead, manually add your current location — and any future locations when you travel.

You should also check for other apps that may be continually using your location. Some apps, such as those that track your auto mileage, need to be tracking your location all the time to automatically know when you’re driving. So, reconsider whether or not there’s a better alternative such as MotionX-GPS track recording on demand.

Location Services

Go to Settings > Privacy > Location Services and review the list of programs. It’s best to have apps configured to use location services only when the app is in use, or never.

A few examples are below. At the bottom of the the applications list you’ll find a key explaining what the location services icons mean.

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Q: My AirPods Aren’t Showing on My Apple Computer

If you use Apple’s new AirPod earbud headphones, you may have noticed that they will show up as available on your Apple iCloud connected devices, including your Apple computer. You’ll see them as an available audio output device under the volume control.

However, sometimes the AirPods won’t show up in the dropdown menu under the volume control.

In such cases you’ll need to click on the Bluetooth dropdown menu. If the Bluetooth menu isn’t showing, go to System Preferences > Bluetooth and check the box that says “Show Bluetooth in menu bar.”

From the Bluetooth menu bar there’s an option to Connect to the AirPods.

Also, in System Preferences > Bluetooth, you’ll notice the ability to configure options for the AirPods such as selecting what tapping on the AirPods will do (activate Siri or play/pause audio). You can also set how the beam forming microphones will work (left, right, or automatic). Automatic Ear Detection can also be turned on or off. This is the feature where the AirPods automatically sense when they have been put in your ear and they can start or resume playing music automatically.

Disable Windows Media Center

If your Windows computer starts up and shows the Windows Media Center interface instead of the normal Windows desktop icons, you can follow these instructions to correct the problem.

STEP 1 – Settings

From the main screen, scroll down to the settings icon.

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STEP 2 – General

From the Settings menu choose General.

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STEP 3 – Startup and Window Behavior

From the Settings > General menu, choose Startup and Window Behavior.

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STEP 4 – Disable at Startup

From the Startup and Window Behavior menu, remove the checkmarks next to “Always keep Windows Media Center on top” and “Start Windows Media Center when Windows starts.”

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Image and Document Scanning Resolution Selection 300dpi

When scanning most documents, 300dpi is an average setting that would work adequately for most work. Note that dpi stands for dots per inch. Here are some other considerations and factors that might require a different scanning resolution.

  • Big Fonts. If you’re scanning a document that uses large fonts, then you can scan at a lower resolution such as 200 or 150.
  • Fine Text. If you’re scanning a document that has very small fonts, such as a legal contract or terms and conditions, you may want to use 600 dpi to ensure the text can be easily enlarged and also for better optical character recognition (OCR).
  • Quality. Consider the ultimate use for the scanned image. If you’re planning to reprint something later, you may want a higher resolution. If you are scanning a document that’s going to be made into a PDF for public viewing, you’ll want to use 300dpi or higher for the best visual quality. Keep in mind that it’s always best to use an original digital file rather than a scanned image of a printed document.
  • Quantity. If you have a lot of pages and materials to scan,  and quality isn’t an issue, then using a lower dpi will speed up the process.
  • Slides. If you are scanning photography slides, you will want a much higher resolution. This is because the slide itself is quite small, but you’ll likely want to be viewing it on a computer display or printing it to a larger format. In order to have a quality resolution image later, you’ll want to scan at a higher resolution such as 1,200 dpi or even 3,000 dpi. For slide or negative scanning, you would need a special photography scanner with a backlighting capability.
  • Small Images. Smaller photos of about 2 inches by 2 inches should be scanned at higher resolutions so they can be enlarged without loss of quality.
  • Speed. Using a lower dpi setting will typically speed up the scanning process. If you have a huge document that you want to get scanned, try using the lowest resolution setting that produces the results you need. Do this by running a test scan.

Scanner Model Types

  • Double-Sided. Some scanners with page feeders can flip a page over and scan the back, while other models can scan both sides of the page at one time which is much faster.
  • Flatbed. When scanning a book or odd shaped documents, it helps to have a flatbed scanner.
  • Legal. When buying multi-purpose printers, you’ll notice that some have a letter-sized flatbed scanning capability. Others will be slightly larger in size to accommodate a legal-size (8.5″ x 14″) flatbed scanning capability. This is very helpful if scanning large receipts.
  • Receipt. Some scanners are designed for receipts. They are usually smaller and have a feeding mechanism. Rather than scanning a large flatbed area, these pull the receipt through and scan only the image area needed which could possibly save time when scanning small pieces of paper.

Color or Black and White

Use color scanning only when necessary. Scanning in grayscale or black and white should be faster and will result in smaller file sizes. If you have black text on a colored background, for example, you may find that black and white or grayscale works better. With receipts and other documents that are hard to read, experiment to find which scanning mode works best.

Page Size Setting

If you’re scanning standard size 8.5″ by 11″ pages on a flatbed scanner, you can set the page size accordingly. If you’re scanning smaller pieces of paper, then scanning at 8.5″ x 11″ will scan more of the scanner bed than necessary. This takes more time. Experiment with using the A5 and A6 sizes. This should speed up scanning because the unit won’t need to move across the full scanner bed.

Avast Antivirus Removal

Background

For years, Avast has been a good choice for antivirus software. In 2017, Avast began using their software to broadcast somewhat misleading pop-up messages in an attempt to scare consumers into buying computer performance cleanup software and privacy VPN services, or upgraded versions of their security software. These messages were disruptive and caused confusion for some consumers who weren’t sure if the purchases were required or not. As a result, many tech consultants began suggesting other antivirus solutions.

Also in 2017, Microsoft released numerous security updates for Windows 10, including an improved version of Windows Defender — the free built-in antivirus software included with Windows. So, many people decided just to use the Microsoft security measures.

For those wanting more security, Malwarebytes released the 3.0 version of their popular software in recent months and it’s considered to be a good solution.

Avast Removal

If you’ve removed Avast using the Add/Remove programs option in Windows, it will no longer be listed as an installed program and won’t be listed in All Programs. However, like a virus, Avast software leaves remnants of itself hidden in the computer so that many months later, you’ll see a pop-up message from Avast encouraging you to purchase their software.

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There seems to be no simple way to remove this annoying message.

To remove the annoying Avast pop-up ads, you need to use the Avast removal tool found on their website Avast.com/uninstall-utility.

If you run this utility software, it will fully remove Avast.

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How to completely backup and restore your Facebook account.

In these two videos, you’ll learn how to completely backup and restore your Facebook account — even to another user account — using Acronis software. This is important in case your account gets hacked, suspended, or content is mistakenly deleted. For those wanting to shut down their Facebook presence, it provides a way to keep your content accessible.

Facebook Account Backup

Facebook Account Restore

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Source: Acronis (19 May 2017)

Creating a Windows PE Bootable USB Drive

Windows PE is a light version of Windows that you can startup on just about any computer with many benefits and uses such as:

  • Diagnostics. It’s very handy to have for basic diagnostics on computers that are having issues.
  • Linux Computers. If you have a Dell laptop with Linux OS installed, and the BIOS updates for the computer are only available as Windows .EXE program files, you can startup with Windows PE, install the BIOS updates, and then restart to Linux again.
  • Data Recovery. With a computer that won’t startup because of corrupt system files, you can startup with Windows PE and access the hard drive.

Creating a Windows PE Startup Disk

To create your own bootable Windows PE USB flash drive, follow these instructions.

Install the Windows ADK

Install Windows PE

  1. Start the Deployment and Imaging Tools Environment as an administrator.
  2. Create a working copy of the Windows PE files. Specify either x86, amd64, or arm:
    copype amd64 C:\WinPE_amd64
    
  3. Install Windows PE to the USB flash drive, specifying the drive letter:
    MakeWinPEMedia /UFD C:\WinPE_amd64 F:
    
    Warning
    This command reformats the drive.

Creating a Visual User Interface

The Windows PE boot disk described above starts up to a command prompt. You’ll probably want a familiar user interface. A popular one is FreeCommander.

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Source: Technet.Microsoft.comTechnet.Microsoft.com (12 May 2017)

Training and Support for Computers, Tablets, Smart Phones, Cameras, Printers, and More

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