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11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet (Part 2)

Hacked accounts in the news, endless robocalls, online ads that eerily seem to read your mind. Do I hear Alexa and Siri gossiping about your secrets? It almost feels like paranoia is a totally appropriate reaction.

Last month we posted the first 5 tips that will help make you more secure. Here, we will post items 6 through 11. Let us know if you have any questions about how to keep yourself and your data safe. We are always here to help! Read on…

6. Stock Browsers are Bad Browsers

At least if you’re very serious about privacy. Safari sends data to Apple and you better believe Chrome sends info to Google. If this is part of your threat model, ditch them both and go with Firefox, which is the most secure of the mainstream browsers.

For super-duper security and privacy, here are some recommended extensions:

  • HTTPS everywhere: This is a must for everyone. Forces sites to encrypt your connection whenever possible.
  • Ublock Origin: Great, customizable ad-blocker. Do not install if you love ads.
  • Cookie Autodelete: Prevents tracking. Not for everyone. Very secure, not-so-convenient.
  • Multi-Account Container: This makes each tab operate as if it was a separate browser, preventing those eerie recommendations that seem to read your mind. Not for everyone.
  • Track Me Not: It runs random Google searches in the background to bury your real searches in a haystack of noise. Only needed if you’re very privacy conscious and have a puckish sense of humor.

For your smartphone, it’s Firefox again, unless you want super-security and don’t mind a convenience hit; then go with Firefox Focus.

And at the super-extreme outer edge we have the “Deluxe Snowden Package.” You’ll need Qubes and Tor (Pro tip: be careful with those exit nodes.) And you cannot afford to be tracked by your phone. Get a Faraday bag — or put it in a martini shaker. Yes, seriously.

Browser secured. But that’s not going to help much when the data leaves your computer and heads out there into the big bad internet. How do you keep your online activities secure and private when they’re out of your hands?

7. Dig a Tunnel

Your ISP can see every site you visit when you’re online at home. And so can the marketers they sell that info to. If a connection isn’t secure, hackers can intercept your traffic and mess with you. And using public WiFi is like making your poor little phone have unprotected sex with very unattractive strangers. How the heck do we stay safe from all these prying eyes and barbarians at the digital gate?

It’s called a VPN and I’ll go so far as to say everyone should have one. Basically, it creates an encrypted “tunnel” between you and your VPN provider, protecting your internet activities from visibility and attacks. Your ISP now only knows you’re connected to the VPN, and nothing more. Hackers can’t break through the encryption to monkey with your data. And public WiFi gets a much-needed condom.

Note that some sites don’t play well with VPNs, because many bad guys use them. VPNs are pretty cheap (roughly $5 a month) and they’re simple to set up on both computers and smartphones. PIA and NordVPN are recommended providers.

So far we’ve discussed a lot of attack scenarios you’re probably familiar with. But here’s one most people aren’t. And if you’re not protected, it could lead to someone emptying your bank account…

8. The Phone Number is the New Social Security Number

What do you do whenever you get a new phone? Call your cellular provider and have them move your number to the new device. Easy peasy. But what if I called your cellular carrier and pretended I’m you? They move your phone service to my phone. And when I log in to Bank of America with your password, guess who gets the text with that 2FA code? Yup, moi. Shopping spree time. (Hacking the password was easy; it’s was “123456”, right?)

This is called “SIM swapping.” These days people are signing up for 2FA more often, so SIM swapping is happening more often. If you’re doing 2FA with an app like Authy or a hardware token, you’re covered. But some sites (*cough*, *cough*, Bank of America) only offer 2FA by SMS. Ugh. What to do?

Many of the phone companies are now offering to secure your account with a password, so go to their site or call them to get one. People won’t be able to port your number without the code.

And what’s the ultimate-privacy-Jason-Bourne-level-security-tinfoil-hat-conspiracy-theory solution? That’s easy: make sure nobody knows your phone number — not even you. This will prevent both SIM swapping attacks and shady dudes from selling your GPS location. But how the heck do you do it?

Move your current phone number to Google Voice. (You can do that here for $10. Instructions here.) Sign up for a pre-paid mobile plan. (Mint Mobile is dirt cheap and reliable. Join here.) They’ll give you a new SIM card with a new number. You now get all your calls, texts and voicemail through the Google Voice app. And you never give the new SIM card number out to anyone. Yes, this works. You can’t be SIM swapped, you can’t be tracked… and anyone you tell about it will probably assume you’re a fugitive, a drug dealer or utterly insane.

While we’re driving down paranoia lane, SMS text messaging is fundamentally insecure. Switch to an encrypted free app like Signal. But the people you’re contacting need to have it as well. So now you’re an insane fugitive drug dealer who is also having an affair. Remember what I said about security vs convenience..?

We’ve covered a lot of technical stuff, but one of the most important things to do when dealing with online security threats is to change your attitude…

9. Be More Skeptical
Phishing
 attacks don’t always come in the obvious form of emails from Nigerian royalty. Increasingly, these attacks appear to come from close friends, leading you to click links without hesitation. Using a site like this I can send you an email that appears to be from, well, anyone. And this site lets me do the equivalent with my phone, spoofing my caller ID. Yes, it’s that easy.

Don’t log in to anything important using a public computer or public WiFi without a VPN. Turn WiFi off on your phone to avoid being tracked in retail stores. And sign up for notifications here to find out if any of your personal information has popped up in data breaches.

If giving out personal info is an overwhelming concern for you (everybody say it with me now: threat model) you might want to check out MySudo. Ever wanted a secret identity? MySudo offers you multiple “aliases” — each with their own working phone number and email address. For when you have to give the hotel a number but don’t want marketing calls, when you’re not sure about that person on Tinder, when buying things online, or if you just want to pretend you’re Stringer Bell from “The Wire” carrying a burner phone.

10. Be Wary Of The Cloud And Social Media

Most of us see free iCloud backup as an awesome service. And it is… but also look at it through your security lens: any time you backup in the cloud you are putting all of your data on a computer you do not control. 

The cloud is great for convenience and data loss protection but anything you put on someone else’s computer is subject to data breaches or nosy employees. For most people, the cloud is probably fine. But if you plan on becoming a political dissident or an international celebrity (no, I’m not going to link to the hacked nudes of Jennifer Lawrence but I can’t stop you from Googling them) keep your data on your devices. There’s also a middle path: encrypt files before uploading them.

11. Convinced “They” Are Watching You? Set Traps.

If you’ve got a stalker, an abusive spouse, or live in a country where having unpopular political opinions tends to make people vanish, you’ve got a legit extreme threat model. And I’m here to help.

Whether it’s a despotic government, your boss, or the henchmen of the Illuminati, how do you know if someone already has access to your computer? What if you had a “canary in the coal mine” to warn you?

Canary Tokens allows you to create, for free, files that send you an email when they’ve been opened, along with the IP address of the intruder. Throw one on your desktop with a too-good-not-to-click-on name like “passwords”, “finances” or my personal favorite, “stuff to discuss with therapist” and then never touch them. If you get an email from Canary Tokens, somebody’s looking at your stuff — and it ain’t you.

Barker, Eric. “11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet” Barking up the Wrong Tree – Blog March 2019

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Windows Logo Keyboard Shortcuts: The Complete List

The Windows logo key, which is common on most keyboards these days, can be a powerful tool if you know the right shortcuts.

One of the more powerful, and probably least used, set of keyboard shortcuts involves the Windows logo key, which is common on most keyboards packaged with a Windows-based personal computer these days. Table A offers a rundown of these productivity-boosting shortcuts.

Posted in: MS Office Tips and Tricks

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If You’re Not Texting With Android Messages for Web by Now, You’re Doing it Wrong

Google’s answer to iMessages for typing texts on your laptop will save you time.

Nothing is more irritating than bouncing back and forth between your computer and phone while trying to work and text someone. For years, Android phone users had no choice but to use other messaging apps if they wanted to chat with friends from their desktops. But if you didn’t know, you can use Android Messages on your desktop browser to type. Google calls this Messages for Web.

It’s important to note that your phone has to have service and your computer needs to be connected to a Wi-Fi network. (It doesn’t necessarily need to be the same network, though.) If your phone is off, your computer doesn’t have Wi-Fi or your using airplane mode, you won’t be able to use Messages for Web.

Messages is the default texting app for Pixel phones, but there’s also a dedicated app anyone can download from the Google Play store to use instead of the default texting app on non-Google Android phones. It’s easy to use and there’s no penalty from your carrier to switch apps.

As with Apple’s iMessage, Messages for Web lets you carry on conversations from your computer screen. Note that you might have to re-pair your phone with your desktop from time to time.

Make sure your phones’s Messages app is up to date before getting started.

Let’s do this!

How to set up Messages for Web on your computer

  1. Open a new browser tab or browser window on your computer (we recommend a window) and navigate to messages.google.com/web. A QR code will appear.
  2. Open the Messages app on your phone.
  3. In Messages, tap Settings (the three dots in the upper right corner).
  4. Tap “Messages for web.”
  5. Hold your phone a few inches from the QR code you see on your computer screen, making sure it fills the viewfinder on your phone screen.
  6. After you scan the QR code, your contacts will automatically populate on the screen, ready for you to start texting.
This is the QR code to scan with your phone.

A few important tips

Note that the computer you’re texting from won’t save your information unless you toggle on Remember This Computer under the QR code before scanning. If you don’t, you’ll need to pair your devices every time. You’ll only want to save your contacts if it’s a personal laptop or desktop to protect your privacy.

If you do text on a public computer (which is not recommended), make sure to sign out afterward. If you forget, you might get a notification on your phone letting you know that you’re still logged in. You can also bookmark the website so it’s easier to text when you need to.

More than texts

Once you have Messages fro Web set up on your computer, there’s a lot you can do with it. Start by typing in the name of a friend or group and begin texting. You can also add a phone number. You’ll receive texts on Messages for Web just as you would on your phone, and you’ll see a notification banner in the upper right of your screen (and hear a ding) when a new message comes in.

Messages for Web supports much of what you can see and do with Android Messages on your phone. You can send your friends dozens of emojis, GIFs, photos, videos and stickers. You can also enable Dark Mode.

You won’t be able to share your location, send or request funds with Google Pay, use voice-to-text, share contacts or attach a file. You also won’t see predictive text suggestions. However, the time you’ll save typing on your desktop while you work is well worth these few omissions.

Brown, Shelby. “If you’re not texting with Android Mesages for Web by now, you’re doing it wrong” CNET May 1, 2019

Posted in: Android, Mobile Computing, Technology

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12 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know

Searching the web for information is a skill. Yes, you can enter a term into Google and find information, but by using a few simple tricks, you can quickly and easily whittle down your results to get exactly the information you’re looking for.

1. Find new stories

In general, putting a year or date in your search term will help limit results to more recent entries. However, if you want to limit your results, Google lets you search by the past hour, past year or create a custom date range. You’ll see this option when you click on Tools.

2. Search for a specific phrase

When you’re looking for search results for a specific phrase, put your search term in quotes. For example: “Internet privacy.”

3. Search a specific site

Most websites have their own search function, but it’s often not as good as Google. To limit results to a particular site, you can add “site” and then add the Web address. To exclude a site, put a minus sign before the word site

If you want to find something you’ve already read. Go to Settings> History and then re-enter the original search term.

4. Eliminate a term from search results

If you want to find information about Donnie Wahlberg but you are getting a bunch of results containing Mark Walberg, you can put a minus sign in front of any term you want to eliminate. So type, “Wahlbreg -Mark.”

5. Limit results to search terms in a title

If you want to make sure you’re returning results that focus on a topic, you may want to limit results stories that include the term in the title. Simply put allintitle: ahead of your search term.

6. Using an image to search

Click on Camera in search bar to use a saved image
choose upload or paste image

See a recipe you’d like to make but don’t know what it’s called? If you have the image saved on your computer or open in another window of your browser, you can use it to search using Google’s image search. Select the image and drag it into the search bar on the Google image search page and Google will find similar images and make the best guess or upload from your image files.

7. Searching for local results

Most of the time your search engine will know where you are. If it doesn’t, or you want to search in another location, you can add a zip code to the end of your search. Or, under Search tools, you can select your location

8. Finding appropriate content for children

Turn on SafeSearch, which you can find under the settings button. This will filter out explicit results. You can also lock on SafeSearch with your Google ID and password.

9. Finding a product

If you’re looking to purchase a product, type in the product name or type and click on Shopping. On the left side, you’ll be able to sort by price, whether the prodcut is available nearby, the color, brand and more. You can also add a price range to your search term by adding the minimum price followed by two periods and the maximum price. For instance, you’d type: Laptops $200..$350.

10. Solve a math problem

Kids checking up on their math can type a numeric equation into the search bar and get their answer. You can also get quick number conversions by inputting the conversion factors, like liters to cups or dollars to Euros.

11. Get immediate results

Google prepackages relevant information on frequently searched topics. So, you can simply type in a flight number to get flight status, a tracking number to track a package, the name of a sports team to get the score, a stock ticker symbol to get the current stock price and weather to get the forecast.

12. Get help in a natural, manmade or humanitarian disaster

When a crisis occurs, Google creates SOS Alerts. These special search results make emergency information more accessible by listing resources (Emergency phone numbers, mas of affected areas, etc.), showing updates from local, national and international authorities, and providing links for donation opportunities, among other listings. If you’re using the Google app and turn on location sharing for the app you’ll automatically receive SOS alerts in your area.

Kantra, Suzanne. “12 Google Search Tips Everyone Should Know” Techlicious, April 17, 2019

Posted in: Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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Top 5 benefits of the OneDrive Mobile App

In an era of rapid digital transformation, how we work is changing. Work does not solely revolve around an office space. Tech-savvy millennial and information workers expect to be productive even when they are working remotely- be it at a client’s location, a cafe, their home (on the porch in the sun preferably 😉), or while traveling. This means that they need to stay connected, updated and access and share their corporate content especially when beyond the walls of the office.

Install for iOS and Android and try each benefit as you read.

Let us look at the 5 key benefits of the OneDrive mobile app – especially when on the go:

1. All your files at your fingertips

Stay connected to all your files from anywhere and any device, with the OneDrive mobile app. You can upload, preview, edit and co-author in native Office apps, share, delete and recover files directly from your mobile devices.  You can even mark files and folders for offline access to make them available when you do not have an internet connection; when you are on a flight and need to work on your files on your iPad or Android tablet.

The OneDrive mobile app serves as an interface to access your individual work files and team files across Office 365. You can also keep tabs on file activities and manage multiple accounts in the same app – be it for work (business) and life (consumer).

Finally, with automatic camera backup, OneDrive ensures that critical business media captured on a mobile device stays backed up and secured within your organization.

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Stay connected to all your files from any device. Edit, share, access photos and take files offline while on the go.

2. Scan to boost your productivity and capture 
A major “wow factor” of the app is undoubtedly the built-in scanning capabilities that allow you to digitize content, while on the go. The power of Microsoft Office Lens is built right in to assist with dynamic image correction for whiteboards, documents and business cards along with converting them to easy-to-read PDF format. This enhanced capture experience with multi-page scan capabilities allows you to crop, add filters and annotations directly to the image.

Scan multiple pages with OneDrive mobile app.

Real life usage scenarios could include scanning and sharing interesting print articles or marketing research at trade shows or resumes at recruiting events and job fairs as well as capturing business cards and expense receipts when traveling to customer conferences. It’s fast, clean and if associated with a meeting, you’ll be prompted to share the scan with all or select attendees.

In the words of Cox Automotive , “Someone from the marketing team was out at an event and used the scan feature in the OneDrive mobile app to quickly upload photos direct to the right folder for the event. Team members back in Atlanta, GA, were able to grab those pictures in real time and use them to create content immediately.”- Lynee Willison, Senior Manager, Cox Automotive

Also, if you save a scanned document or image to a shared library in SharePoint, you can choose metadata properties as you upload. An example being, a Firstline worker can photograph a piece of equipment while on field inspection, enter the condition, equipment id, and other important attributes – all from their phone.

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Capture metadata for the scanned image.

3. Collaborate and share on the go with OneDrive + Office

Need to collaborate on files while travelling to work or to a client’s location or flying to another city for a conference? Don’t worry! The OneDrive app has your back.

You can easily create, annotate, edit and co-author documents in real-time with your colleagues. You can also securely share these files with your peers, across departments or an external vendor outside your organization – directly from the app, with a seamless in experience with respect to web or desktop.

Note: To edit and co-auth, simply use the Office Mobile apps; the file remains in OneDrive so you are working with others on the single source of truth.

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Share within or outside your organization. Edit, annotate and co-author directly from your mobile.

To quote Chevron ,“I can have 10 people distributed around the world, all working on mobile devices, editing a PowerPoint presentation in real time, without worrying about losing data. When you show people how easy it is to collaborate and share from anywhere, including their trusted mobile devices, and they ask, ‘Where has this been all my life?’ it’s very fulfilling.”- Jeff Jones, Productivity Champion, Chevron Corporation.

4. Save time “intelligently”

Like the main Web interface in Office 365, Microsoft Graph powers the OneDrive app to help you to find files that matter the most to you. Be it, discovering personalized recommended content in “Discover” view or surfacing files that you have recently accessed or shared.

This intelligence also improves the overall search experience within the OneDrive app. Machine learning automatically categorizes and indexes images unlocking additional content “inside” the pictures. So, whether you have scanned and uploaded a bill for a client dinner to expense or a business card, you need not remember their file name and location for future access. All you need to do is search with the text in the images- say “latte” or the information on the business card.

Search-v2.gif

Intelligent search with OneDrive.

With a recent update to the app, now when you take a photo during a meeting, maybe a scan of notes you wrote down or a snap of a whiteboard where you brainstormed project plans with your colleagues, the OneDrive app will automatically prompt you to share the image with the meeting attendees, based on your Outlook calendar.

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Automatic promo to share captured notes during the meeting.

5. Protect and manage, by policy, with ease
Admins, this one is for you! We understand how important data governance is to you- which is why you will have the peace of mind with Microsoft’s trustworthy enterprise grade security and compliance. OneDrive encrypts all data, not just on the device and in the cloud but also the data in transit. Also, from the OneDrive admin center, you have the ability to control all aspects of all employees’ OneDrive from storage quotas, to internal and external sharing, to device access.

Admin controls on device access in the OneDrive admin center.If your organization has Intune, you can enforce further controls to manage the app and its respective data.

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Mobile application management with Intune and OneDrive.

To summarize, the OneDrive app lets you easily work with your personal and work files when you’re on the go – without compromise to productivity or data security and privacy. Our goal is to make your experience ubiquitous no matter what platform – from Mac and Windows to iOS and Android.
One experience to rule them all! 😊

Pro Tip:

1. For iOS devices, a long-press on the app prompts options like share, scan and access recent files. OneDrive for iOS also supports scan centric Siri shortcuts.

Note: Siri shortcuts only show up after you’ve used the scan feature once.

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OneDrive shortcuts for iOS. Scan or take a photo with Siri.

2. OneDrive is natively integrated with the Files app on iOS allowing you to access, upload, edit, and save your content to OneDrive or SharePoint Libraries from apps that support Files app integration. You can also tag and favorite your OneDrive and SharePoint files from within the Files app.

Files App ODB integration.png

OneDrive integration with iOS Files App

Kirti, Ankita. “Top 5 Benefits of teh OneDrive Mobile App” Microsoft Support, April 24, 2019

Posted in: Cloud Computing, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet (Part 1)

Hacked accounts in the news, endless robocalls, online ads that eerily seem to read your mind. Do I hear Alexa and Siri gossiping about your secrets? It almost feels like paranoia is a totally appropriate reaction.

In 2018 alone, data breaches exposed four-point-five billion records to hackers. Three months into 2019 and another two-point-seven billion are already illegally available for sale. But hackers aren’t the only problem…

We’ve all read about the 50 million Facebook accounts involved in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. And another 30 million were exposed in October of 2018. Oh, and in September another 7 million had private photos revealed. Of course, Google knows every search you’ve made (yes, even in incognito mode) and tons of other stuff about you. And in 2014, hackers released a lot of not-so-clothed pictures stolen from celebrities’ Apple iCloud accounts.

Oh, and don’t forget that your internet service provider has a list of every website you’ve ever visited at home – and they sell that info to marketers. Some retail stores now track how often you visit and which aisles you spend the most time in. Three-hundred bucks to the right shady individual can buy me your exact location at any time. And nobody wants their credit info leaking. But it already has. Multiple times.

Feeling a bit “1984” over there, Winston Smith? Okay, let’s take a breath. Don’t start folding your tinfoil hat just yet.

There is one ironclad rule on our side: Nobody can abuse information about you that they don’t have. Which is why we need to take security and privacy more seriously. Because it’s on us. And so I present you with what could be titled: Internet Security and Privacy: The-More-Than-You-Care-To-Know Edition.

I’d like to single out Michael Bazzell for his fine work that I drew a fair portion of this info from. He spent years at the FBI’s cyber crime division and was a consultant on the first season of Mr. Robot. His incredibly thorough books are, The Complete Privacy & Security Desk Reference and Hiding from the Internet: Eliminating Personal Online Information.

We will cover everything from fundamentals like good passwords all the way to the paranoid level of aliases and burner phones.  

So what’s the first step?

Know your “Threat Model”

Security and privacy are different. Security is somebody breaking into your online accounts. Privacy is someone having personal details about you.

And then there’s the “security/privacy” vs. “convenience” trade-off. It’s pretty much axiomatic that more secure means less convenient.

The answer is to think about your “threat model.” Ask yourself (non-rhetorically): “What am I afraid of? And how much am I willing to do to prevent it?” Are you more concerned about security or privacy?

Know what you want to defend against and you’ll know what measures will be vital.

1. Get Frozen

No, not the Disney movie. You need to get a credit freeze. It’s the best defense against identity theft. The best time to get one is yesterday. Or sooner.

Many of you are saying: “Yawn. I did that a long time ago with all three credit agencies.” To which I would reply, “Actually, there are 6 credit agencies.”

So fill out the forms for Equifax, Experian, Transunion, Innovis, NCTUE and Chex. There’s an excellent overview of the whole deal here.

And if you have young children get a credit freeze for them too. Kids are a big target because their credit is not only “clean” but also their reports are unlikely to get checked for, oh, about a decade or so. It would be awful for little Jimmy to be $300,000 in debt by age nine. More info on credit freezes for kids here. 

2. Full Disk Encryption, Firewall, And Backups

This trio is critical for your computer. Full disk encryption keeps your data safer and a firewall protects you from some online attacks.

Backing up means if anything happens to your computer you won’t lose your data. You have to do this regularly, but it’s easy to automate. Think of it like homeowner’s insurance for your digital life.

The most important part of smartphone privacy is limiting app permissions like location data, contacts, etc. And don’t download sketchy apps.

Important point: This is something that comes up again and again and we tend to put it off. But it’s vital. In fact, many experts say it’s the single most important thing you can do to increase security…

3. Updates Are Annoying. Do Them Anyway.

Don’t put those updates off.  Most of them are security-related. Apply updates ASAP. It often feels like
it’s doing nothing but you’re forgetting that when it comes to security, “nothing” is a wonderful thing and “something” is very bad.

Routinely update all your devices. Desktop, laptop, smartphone, firmware on routers, etc.  Enable automatic updates on any device that offers it.

After any update, check your settings. When new features are added they often default to the least secure options. And sometimes updates even turn on options you turned off.

Additionally, there’s a way to increase security and make updates less cumbersome at the same time…

4. Apps Are Not Pokemon. Stop Collecting Them.

If you don’t use something regularly, delete it. Smartphone apps, computer software, browser extensions, etc. This reduces “attack
surface.” The more software you have, the more points of failure you have. More things that can have vulnerabilities. More potential rogue software doing things it shouldn’t do.

That said, this does not appy to your antivirus and malware protection — especially if you’re using Windows.

5.  Your Passwords Bring Shame Upon Your Family

The most common passwords are embarrassing: “The top two slots have been left unchanged for the fifth year in a row. They are, maddeningly,‘123456’ and ‘password.‘

Learn how to create great passwords. Check it out! “How to create Passphrases

Guard your primary email account with your life!  If I can get into that, I can go to most every site you frequent and request a password reset. Hacking one account gets me all of them. And I’m not speculating here. This is exactly what happened to Wired reporter Mat Honan.

Wherever possible, use two-factor authentication (“2FA”) But it is best to use an app-based system instead.  If SMS is your only choice, it’s definitely better than nothing. A helpful list of all major sites offering 2FA is here.

And finally, what if you want ultimate security (but not necessarily privacy) for that precious primary email account? Try Google Advanced Protection. Then nobody can get into your account without a password and a physical USB key. And it works. Google instituted it for all employees. How many phishing-based hacks have they had since then? Zero.

Barker, Eric. “11 Secrets That Will Make You More Secure on the Internet” Barking up the Wrong Tree – Blog March 2019

Posted in: Tech Tips for Business Owners

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How to Unsend Email Using Gmail

Imagine this scenario. You just finished up a meeting with your coworker Claire, and it didn’t go well. You are writing an email using Gmail to another coworker expressing your frustration with Claire and her lack of intelligence, and you hit the send button.

As you watch your email being sent, you realize you copied in the entire company. Beads of sweat swiftly pool on your brow and your heart begins palpitating. You are overwrought with worry about sharing your thoughts with everyone in the office, including Claire.

Don’t panic, as this scenario is unlikely to occur if you adjust the Undo Send setting in Gmail before you send out the email.

Enabling the Undo Send feature when using Gmail on the web

The ability to unsend an email is a matter of adjusting one setting prior to writing your email. Retrieving an email sent in error will prevent you from having an embarrassing situation with Claire. This recall of a message will also allow you to modify spelling errors, incorrect recipients, subject line and even append forgotten attachments. Once you are satisfied with any editing, send the email on its way.

The catch to unsending an email is you must adjust the setting to a higher number than the default setting of five seconds. Let’s face it; five seconds isn’t even enough to realize you made an error, let alone hit the unsend button. Thankfully, Gmail settings provide the option of pausing an email delivery up to 30 seconds. So, let’s get to it.

Open up your settings in Gmail, then select settings:

In the Undo Send section, the default will be set to five seconds. Select the range and choose an option. It is recommended you opt for the 30 seconds as this allows a few extra moments to contemplate your email.

Once you have made your adjustment, scroll down the page and click Save Changes for it to take effect.

Done. Couldn’t be any easier. Now, it’s time to try out this potential job-saving feature.

Testing the Unsend feature

If you have an additional email address, here is your chance to test the unsend feature out. If not, send the email to the address from which you are writing your message. Here are a couple of methods for recalling your message. First, the Undo option notification.

After clicking the send button on your email, a message box will pop up in the lower left corner with the Undo option, select it and your email is instantly retrieved for you to make any corrections.

Your second method of recovering your email is using a digital trick called a keyboard shortcut. Pressing the Z key after you send your email will result in its prompt rescue. This technique is faster than selecting Undo notification with your cursor.

How to Unsend an email using the Gmail mobile app

This Unsend feature is available in the Gmail app, regardless of your device’s operating system. As with the web version, you will notice an Undo message at the bottom of your screen. Clicking the button will retrieve your message and display it for editing.

If you choose not to resend your email and return to your inbox, a message will appear at the bottom of your screen notifying you a draft of the email was saved along with the option to discard. If you decide not to delete it straightaway, the draft will be kept in your draft folder for later review.

The bad news is you probably wish you had known this tip before you sent out the email that caused a ruckus. The good news is now you are privy to this setting you will be able to save face when sending out your emails.

Geraghty, Chrita. “How to unsend email using Gmail” March 21, 2019. Komando.com

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Revealing File Explorer’s Hidden Treasures

As every Windows user knows, File Explorer is the workhorse utility for managing files and folders – whether they’re stored locally, on external drives, or in the cloud.

But sometimes we forget the many ways we can manage File Explorer itself, making it an even more useful tool. Here’s a reminder of some simple ways to bend Windows 10’s file manager to our will.

File Explorer’s basic file/folder interface hasn’t significantly changed since the halcyon days of Windows XP — though there has been a steady series of enhancements along the way. The app formerly known as Windows

Explorer acquired Libraries in Win7 — a feature that initially earned a lukewarm reception. (Many of us still haven’t tapped the power of Windows libraries.) The Ribbon was added with Win8 — much to the annoyance of many longtime Windows users. And there have been numerous other, less visible, improvements.

But the basic Explorer window still sports essentially the same layout. The Details view, for example, shows the same default column descriptors: Name, Date modified, Size, and Type (Document, PDF, File folder, and so forth), as shown in Figure 1. (Note: The Ribbon is an overlay; when enabled, it covers the column titles. To show/hide it, click one of the toolbar tabs.)

Figure 1: File Explorer’s default column types provide basic information.

Want more info about your files? Right-click any of those column titles, and you now have access to hundreds of other column types, thus providing a customizable power-keg (pun intended) of app-specific details. And that’s just one of various ways you can tailor File Explorer to your needs. Here are some more.

Filter and customize file properties

We all know that clicking a column title will reverse the sort order, be it alphabetical or numeric. But clicking the down arrow immediately to the right of the title pops up a list of simple filtering tools. You can, for example, quickly set a date range for filtering the Date modified column. In the Type column, the drop-down box lets you filter by file extension — e.g., JPEGs and Word documents.

Swinging back to those additional column heads, right-clicking any title pops up a short list of column categories or types. Clicking More at the bottom of the list brings up the Details dialog box with a menu of around 300 descriptors. To add new columns in File Explorer, simply put a check mark next to those you want displayed — and leave unchecked those you don’t (see Figure 2).

Figure 2. File Explorer makes it easy to select the information it displays about files.

Obviously, most of these column types are application-specific. For example, if you have music files, you might want to add columns for Length or [track] # (see Figure 3). Likewise, if it’s a folder of screenshots or photos, consider adding Dimensions.

Figure 3. Make File Explorer more useful by adding length and track number for music files.

Obviously, neither Length nor Dimension is of any use for a folder of Word and PDF documents. But column types can give you worthwhile information when matched with a folder containing the appropriate type of file — provided that information is contained in a file’s metadata. Just because you add Video Compression to a folder of videos doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily see that information.

Again, you can use the column-management boxes to uncheck columns you don’t need. There’s no point in having the Type column in a folder full of JPEGs. But you can also use the Details box to change the order of columns — or re-order them by simply dragging and dropping them around the title bar.

You most likely know how to resize column widths by grabbing a column’s right edge. But you also have two options in the first column-management box: Size column to fit or Size all columns to fit. That’s standard Windows: multiple ways to solve the same problem.

Modifying an individual file’s metadata

Information about a particular file is contained in its metadata — common stats such as date created, author, permissions, etc. plus information you might not know is kept. There may be times when you want to change, add, or remove elements of the metadata. Some of this information is locked; some isn’t — such as adding additional authors or editing a file’s read/write security settings. You can even clear most of the embedded metadata — removing, for example, personal information before sharing a file.
Customizing a file’s metadata starts by right-clicking a file’s name in File Explorer and selecting Properties from the drop-down menu. The Properties dialog box sports anywhere from four to six tabs, based on file type, but for this discussion, we’re looking at the Security and Details tabs. Figure 4 shows the former.

Figure 4. If you’re sharing a file, you might want to prevent others from changing it.

Note that managing file permissions is another whole article in itself. A WikiHow article gives the basics, but — in short — to limit access to a file, you can click Edit in the Security box and then select Add. Enter a new group called something generic such as “Users” to the list, and Windows will automatically limit the group to read-only rights. You can then click the Permissions boxes to give them more or fewer rights.
The Details tab provides more customization, though with some limitations. Moving your cursor down the Value column will give you a quick view of what can and can’t be changed. Editable fields will display a box where you can add, change, or remove metadata.
For example, in Figure 5, Joe Schmoe contributed to the target document, though well after it was created by Michael Lasky. Via the Values column, I easily added his name to the Authors field — and I removed mine.

Figure 5. It’s easy to change the metadata in any editable field. Here, I changed the name in Authors.

Digging out the details

As mentioned earlier, there are metadata fields you can’t change in Details. For example, you can’t edit Date Created or Date Modified — even if your lawyer thinks it might help to change that data before trial. However, there are perfectly legit reasons to change a file’s create/modify dates, and some third-party utilities will let you do so.

On the other hand, there are no restrictions on adding Tags, which are basically notes or subject categories that can group similarly themed documents. The primary reason to use Tags is to produce faster searches. (Reportedly, there are some instances where File Explorer doesn’t allow tagging files with AVI, BMP, MPG, or PNG extensions.)

Finally, File Explorer offers a more-powerful method for eliminating most — or partially removing some — of a file’s metadata. At the bottom of the Details box, click the Remove properties and personal information link. The Remove Properties dialog box will appear and offer two choices

The first is the nuclear option: File Explorer makes a copy of the file and clears all properties that can be removed. The second option lets you selectively remove properties from the original file. Note that the second choice doesn’t always work — you might get an exception error, probably due to some type of hidden permissions violation.

If you’ve been using Windows for a long time, you might have forgotten more than you now remember. Take some time to refresh your working knowledge of Windows’ less-obvious tools.

Lasky, Michael. “Revealing File Explorer’s Hidden Treasures” Ask Woody & Windows Secrets, Issue 16.12.0, 2019 April

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11 Gmail Tips That Will Save You Time

While you may have been using Gmail for years, there’s a good chance you aren’t aware of all of the new time-saving features. Follow our 11 tips and you’ll find yourself spending a lot less time on email.

1. Choose your Inbox style

One of the best things about Gmail is how easily you can organize. The easiest way is to enable all of the tabs: Primary, Social, Promotions and Updates. Google will attempt to sort your email for you, but you can always drag and drop an email to a tab and Gmail will remember going forward. 

In addition to tabs, you can choose to organize your inbox so you see “Important first,” “Unread first,” Starred first,” or Priority first.” 

For “Important emails, Gmail will attempt to flag anything it thinks is important, but you can also step in to unflag messages that aren’t important or flag ones that are. You’ll find that Gmail gets better over time. When you’re in a hurry, you can just look at the “Important” folder.

For starred emails, it’s primarily a manual process. As an email comes in, you can star it. The default is a yellow star, but you can enable up to 12 different “stars.” Just go to Settings > General and then scroll down to stars. You can drag and drop the ones you want to use from the “Not in use” section into the “In use” section. Just remember to scroll all the way to the bottom to save your changes.

The Priority Inbox shows you your “Important,” “Starred,” and “Unread” emails. 

2. Label absolutely everything

Instead of folders, Gmail uses labels. Each email can have as many labels as you’d like, which can determine what shows up in your inbox or help you find things later.

One of the best uses of labels is for automatically storing email that you don’t want showing up in your Inbox. Right click on the email sender and select “Find emails from _____” When the search results show up, click the downward pointing triangle in the search bar.

In the box that open, select “Create Filter.”

Using the filter you can then “Skip the Inbox” and send the email to a labeled folder. This is great for emails that aren’t very time sensitive, but that you may want to read later.

Any search can become a filter — just type in a search and then click the arrow on the right-hand side of the search box to create a filter based on your search.

On the web, you can set up labels in Settings > Labels or do it directly from an email by clicking the label button above the email and typing a new label name. (The same buttons also let you apply existing labels to emails.) In the Gmail app, click the more button in the upper right, then select change labels

3. Find exactly what you want with search

Searching in Gmail is just as easy as searching with Google. All you have to do is click the search box at the top of the screen and type whatever you’re looking for.

But just like with Google, there are ways you can improve your searches to get the email you want more quickly. A tap on the arrow on the right-hand side of the search box pulls up advanced search options, letting you search on who the email is to or from, as well as words it has or doesn’t have. You can even narrow down the date range, selecting particular dates to search around. (This is also where you create filters that can automatically apply labels to your incoming email.)

If you prefer to type, these search options (and a lot more) can be done with a few keystrokes, too — plus, as we’ve already mentioned, typing can be quicker than clicking. Searching for “from:jack” will pull up emails from Jack.  Searching “subject:dinner” will pull up emails with “dinner” in the subject field. Review this list of search operators that work in Gmail to make the most of your searches.

4. Preview and respond to an email without opening it

The standard Gmail view isn’t exactly great for multitasking. After all, when you click on an email, it takes you to the message, but you can’t see any of the other messages in your inbox. The preview pane view takes your email game to a whole other level. To turn it on, click on the downward arrow to the left of the Settings cog. You can choose from “Vertical Split” and “Horizontal Split.” It makes it much easier to digest all of the info in your inbox and you even reply without opening the emails.

5. Use Smart replies and autofill

Gmail tries to anticipate what you’re doing to type and suggests it for you as you write. So if you’re replying to a message sent by Suzanne, you’ll see “Suzanne” pop up in grayed out letters after you type “Hi.” To accept Gmail’s suggestion, you just hit the Tab key.

Another way Gmail is helping is through Smart replies, suggested email responses that you can add with just a couple of clicks. Smart replies offer three options that are generated based on the email content: just click the option you want at the bottom of an email and hit send. You can also customize your message by editing it. This is a really fast way to fire off short email replies — and Gmail’s automatically generated responses are better than you might think.

6. Snooze emails that you need read or reply to later

If you want an email to reappear at the top of your Inbox, you can choose to “Snooze” it. To Snooze, move your mouse over the email and you’ll see four options pop up (from the left): Archive (the box with the down arrow), Trash, Mark as Unread and Snooze. You can also Snooze with the Gmail app by opening the email and selecting the top menu (the top set of three dots).

You can also turn on reminders to 

7. Get things done faster with keyboard shortcuts

When you’re at your computer, navigating applications by pointing and clicking takes time, but sometimes a simple keypress can do the same thing. It might not seem like it shaves a lot of time off your daily emailing, but those seconds add up.

First, you’ll have to turn on keyboard shortcuts by clicking settings in the upper right of the Gmail window, scrolling down to the keyboard shortcuts section, clicking keyboard shortcuts on, and then clicking save changes at the bottom of the screen. Then review Gmail’s keyboard shortcuts and start typing rather than clicking.

8. Make Gmail work with Dropbox, DocuSign, Google Calendar and more

One the computer version of Gmail, you’ll find a narrow window to the right of your Inbox. There, you can run your Calendar, Tasks, Google Keep and a variety of other programs. Most of the programs are business oriented, including Dropbox, DocuSign, Any.do and Trello. When you want to use on of the programs, you click on the inco and a wider window opens for use. 

9. Don’t waste time on annoying email and spam

Getting bombarded with email spam can be a huge nuisance, and Gmail has a lot of tools to help you get rid of spam for good. The biggest help is Google’s automatic spam filters, which files suspected spam messages under a spam label so they never show up in your inbox. (If you suspect emails are getting mislabeled as spam, click “more” in the lower left of your inbox and the spam label. If you see anything that isn’t spam, open the email and click “not spam” above the email.) If any spam messages do get through, click the exclamation mark button above the email to report it as spam — emails like that shouldn’t show up in your inbox anymore.

If a specific person is bothering you, you can also simply block them. Just open up an email from the person you don’t want to hear from, click on the arrow to the left of the reply button, and select “block.” You’ll never see another email from them.

And for the equally annoying, reply-to-all email threads that never seem to end, Gmail lets you mute them. Just click on the box to select the email and select More > Mute. The conversation will vanish from your inbox — and won’t reappear no matter how many replies it gets. However, you can still find it with by searching or, if you’ve labeled it, under a label if you need to.

Whether you intentionally create a new account or simply give a retailer your email address when you buy something, chances are you’re going to be stuck on a mailing list. And those mailing lists can fill your mailbox up fast.

While most mailing lists will have an unsubscribe option hidden somewhere in the bottom — that usually requires you to fill out a form — Gmail can make It faster. For most mailing lists messages, you’ll find an “unsubscribe” option to the right of the sender’s email address at the top of the message. One click and you’re done.

10. Send a canned response

If you frequently have to send the same email over and over again, a canned response can keep your wrists from the unnecessary copy-and-paste strain. Go to the gear, Settings, then the Labs tab. Then enable “Canned Response.” To create your own, Compose a new email, then click the downward arrow at the bottom right corner of the message box. Click “Canned Responses” and then enter its name. Write the email and send it. Then, whenever you create a new email, that particular response will be ready to go.

11. Fix your email errors

Have you ever clicked “send” on an email only to immediately remember you’ve forgotten something or made a terrible typo? Gmail has an undo send function that gives you a short window to change your mind after you’ve sent a message to take it undo the action. The notification pops up in the lower left corner of your Gmail menu after you send an email. Go to Settings and scroll down to “Undo Send” to chose a cancellation period (between 5 and 30 seconds), and then click save at the bottom of the page. 

Kantra, Suzanne. “11 Gmail Tips that Will Save You Time” Techlicious March 5, 2019 Time Savers, Tips & How To’s

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How to Import Excel Data Just by Photographing a Spreadsheet

  • The technology doesn’t work perfectly, but it can save you some time.
  • A version of the technology is coming soon to Excel for iOS.

Microsoft just launched a new tool inside the Excel app for Android — it’s coming to iPhones soon — that lets you take a picture of a spreadsheet and import it right into Excel. When it works, it means you don’t need to manually re-enter data into Excel, which is huge if you have a lot of printed data and can’t copy and paste the spreadsheet you’re looking at.

We tested it out and found it could be hit or miss. When we took pictures of really big spreadsheets, the kind that you’d probably most likely want to use this tool for, instead of having to re-enter all of that data, it didn’t work. There were sometimes hundreds of errors that had to be cleaned up.

But, when we took a picture of a smaller spreadsheet, like one with a few columns for a grocery list, it worked just fine. Our guess is this will improve over time, but it’s worth trying since it’s a free add-on feature for Excel anyway. Even if it’s not perfect, you can get some of the data imported with just a picture.

Here’s how to take a picture of a spreadsheet and import it into Excel.

Get the new Excel app for Android

  • Download the Excel app for your Android phone or tablet. It’s available on the Google Play Store. If you already have the app, make sure it’s up to date.
  • Create a new spreadsheet, or open up an existing one.
  • Tap on a cell in the spreadsheet, and you’ll notice different icons pop up in the row on the bottom of the screen.
  • One of the new icons shows a black and white spreadsheet in the background, and a little blue camera in the foreground. Tap that one.
  • Accept an alert that says Microsoft needs to run a cloud service to import the spreadsheet.

Take the photo

Now the app will open a camera viewfinder, which you should use to snap a picture of the spreadsheet you want to import into Excel. If you already have a photo, there’s an option to select a picture from your gallery, too.

It’s OK if the spreadsheet you’re taking a picture of is on an angle — the app will pick up on the borders of a table, or the entire piece of paper, by drawing a red box around it. Feel free to tap on the text printed on the paper in order to focus the camera.

Next, tap the circular shutter button to snap your picture.

Check the data

On the top half of the next screen, you’ll see a bunch of cells that are essentially a preview of the digital version of your data, and below that, you’ll see your photo. The performance can be hit or miss. Sometimes spreadsheets are imported without an issue, while other times they were jumbled messes of data.

Excel will let you know if it suspects there are errors, which you can move through and edit accordingly. Expect to have to make a few edits. While it’s not perfect, this will still save you a ton of time compared to having to enter in all of the data manually.

Posted in: Android, Mobile Computing, Tech Tips for Business Owners

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