Category: E-Mail

E-mail authenticity

Was that e-mail really from you?
I got asked this question by a client recently.  And it makes me think about trust in e-mails. We all have the right to question whether e-mails are authentic. I seek the same answers. I take the security of my e-mails and client contact information very seriously.
I guess I could start by saying that my business e-mail account has never been hacked.  With that said, this fact would not stop a bad actor from an account pretending to be me.  With the right e-mail program you can make the “From” address anything you want.  However, they would need my address book.  I send all of my group e-mail out as BCC (which means that you don’t see all of the recipients).  That address book is stored in the cloud in an account protected by two factor authentication (something you should have enabled on your iCloud, Google, and Microsoft accounts used with e-mail / contacts).  Further enhancing security, my second factor is not my phone number, meaning I authenticate by something more secure than a text message.  My contacts are locally stored on 3 devices – a laptop, a smartphone, and a tablet.  All three of those are locked with encryption.  Considering all of this, it would be pretty hard for a bad actor to send an e-mail to all of my clients.   I should also add that I almost always use one of three salutations in my e-mail updates:   Dear Clients and Computer Students (for all clients), Dear Mac Family, and Dear Windows Clients, depending on the group I am addressing.  Great question!  Thanks for asking.
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Technology Update 8/15/18

Preview
It’s the middle of August already and the busy season in the world of technology is almost upon us.  In short snippets let me cover everything that we can expect to see over the next couple of months:  new iPhones, new Pixel phones from Google, new iPads, new Macs, new Surface computers from Microsoft, a new version of macOS, a new version of iOS, a new version of Android, and a new version of Windows.  It will be a busy time for us.
Small Laptops
I admire small, highly functional laptops. Back in the day, I fondly recall owning both a 12 inch PowerBook and 12 inch iBook laptop.  Ten years ago “netbooks” were a thing.  Do you remember these $300-ish Windows laptops in 9 or 10 inch flavors?  The problem was, they were very under-powered and after a year we got tired of them.  Apple basically killed the netbook when they released the iPad in 2010 and updated the Mac Book Air later that year, with a design that in my mind became one of the greatest laptops of all time.  Apple offered 11 inch and 13 inch Mac Book Airs until the 11 was killed off in 2016.  I have clients who still love their 11 inch Mac Book Airs.  The best sub 13 inch Windows laptop in my eyes is the Thinkpad X280 (12.5 inch). However, it is a $1300 machine.  Microsoft has just come out with a small portable, the Surface Go, that aims to bridge the gap between premium portable and the netbooks.  It’s $650 for a usable configuration, which includes the keyboard.  It may not be a primary computer for all, but it’s worth checking out if you want to go small.  https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/surface-go/8v9dp4lnknsz
Privacy Package
Google isn’t making a lot of friends lately.  They are facing a huge fine in the EU for their practices.  This week we found out that even if you had “Location Tracking” set to off in your Google apps and services, THEY ARE STILL TRACKING YOUR LOCATION.  This is true even on Apple devices.  Another setting has to be turned off called “Web & App Activity”.  This is really shameful.  I’m not trying to single Google out for punishment either.   These concerns and others I have shared in the past have prompted me to offer a Privacy Package to clients for the first time.  At a bare minimum I will
– Install a VPN for you ($40 to $60 per year), so that all of your internet activity is hidden from your internet service provider and  your internet location is hidden the websites you visit.  It can be automatic, no complex configuration for you to mess around with.  It will work on smartphones and tablets as well.
-Set you up with a private search engine that does not collect and sell your personal information (Don’t worry, you can still use Google occasionally if needed).
Optional Services
– Another option I can set you up with is a “as private as possible” cell phone service.  You can use your existing iPhone or Android.  I will set you up on ATT.  You will have to take a new number.  However, they will not know your name or address.  $45 a month for service.
-For Gmail users only:  I can make sure you are checking your e-mail in a e-mail program instead of Gmail.com in your browser.  After all, when you are signed into Google services in your browser — who knows what they are collecting on you.  I think as pure e-mail they are fine, but can’t be trusted beyond that.
Support the Free Software You Use
My final thought for today is, we need to support the small time developers who provide free software that we use all the time and take for granted.  It would be terrible if these small operations were gobbled up large entities (and radically altered) or ceased to exist because the developer didn’t feel like the project was worth continuing.  I would suggested donating at least $5-10 once or twice year to the developers of this software that you rely on so they can stay in the game for years to come.  Most of you use one of these apps that is freely provided, but please ask me if you are not sure.   A few common apps that come to mind are
NAPS 2 – scanning software for Windows (https://www.naps2.com/)
VLC – media player for Mac and Windows – (https://www.videolan.org/)
Libre Office – alternative to Microsoft Office for Mac and Windows (https://www.libreoffice.org/)
Maintenance – system cleanup utility for Mac (https://www.titanium-software.fr/en/maintenance.html)

ATT Yahoo Account Changes

For those of you who have ATT Yahoo accounts, you should take note that your ATT Yahoo account (including snet.net, sbcglobal.net, and att.net) will not work with most Yahoo services after June 30, 2017.  With some of these services, the ATT Yahoo account will need to be converted to a regular Yahoo ID.  In other situation, it will be necessary to create or use a different Yahoo ID.  Take a deep breath, the one major exception is Yahoo Mail.  There will be no changes to how you access e-mail at this time.  Please read this update from ATT

https://www.att.com/esupport/article.html#!/email-support/KM1181338

Connecticut residential internet customers should keep in mind that they have no connection with ATT anymore.  The ATT e-mail accounts were not absorbed by Frontier.   I want to reiterate my plea for ATT Yahoo e-mail customers to migrate to a Gmail or independently owned e-mail account.   Yahoo is now owned by Verizon, a major ATT competitor.   Further restrictions on Yahoo services, including mail, may be around the corner.  Be proactive.

Fieldston Software – gSyncit – Sync Outlook and Google Calendars, Contacts, Notes and Tasks

Fieldston Software – gSyncit – Sync Outlook and Google Calendars, Contacts, Notes and Tasks.

 

Need to sync your Google contacts, calendar and tasks with Outlook?  Even with Outlook 2010 and 2013?  Even in Windows 8?   Using Windows?   Buy Gsyncit!!

Remember, your ability to sync with Outlook and a free Gmail account will forever change in Jan. 2013.   You will either need to update to a paid GApps account or use a tool like Gsyncit.

Your Questions Answered

1.  Capturing a screen shot:   sometimes you’ll want to do this.   Perhaps you want to show me whats on your screen in the process of getting help.  You might want to take a screen shot to compare notes with another person, for example if you both have the same program open and they claim you are not seeing the same thing.   Perhaps you want to capture what is on your screen exactly as it looks for some type of evidentiary or archival reason.   This is easy.   I will cover both Windows and Mac scenarios.

Windows:     traditionally on most Windows computers — there has been a Print Screen button on your keyboard.    Press it.  Then open up a program like Microsoft Word (or equivalent) and then   Paste from the Edit menu (or Paste Special).   Your screen image will appear in the document.   You may want to print in Landscape mode (wide) to get the screen shoot to appear all on one page.     In Windows 7, there is a an additional way to capture a screen shot.  On your start menu — look for Snipping Tool.   If it isn’t obviously its in All Programs >> Accessories.    This allows you to drag a window around what you want to capture.  It then saves the image as a picture file on your screen.   You can then save that image and do what you want with it.

 

Mac:   There is a great utility baked into the Mac called Grab.  I use it often; in fact I keep it in my dock for easy access.    To open Grab for the first time, open Finder >> Utilities >> Grab.    Click on the Capture menu at the top and then chose whether you want to capture just a selection (of your choosing), a window (a particular program’s window), or the whole screen.    After the screen shot is taken, a picture file opens on your screen.  From there you can save it, e-mail it or print it.

 

2.   Dealing with a troubling spam e-mail message:    it happens.   Someone told me they received an e-mail telling them they had ordered something and a tracking number was even provided in the e-mail.  It wasn’t even a valid tracking number with the shipper.    So what’s the deal?    The senders of this message are likely located in Jamaica, Nigeria, or perhaps an eastern european country.  They would like nothing more  than for you to engage them in discussion.   DON’T.   Doing so will expose you to financial harm and possibly harassment.    Just as there is troubling postal mail from time to time or chain letters asking for money to be sent to the next link, there are even more sophisticated e-mail scams.   It isn’t a good idea to respond to the postal mail and it isn’t a good idea to respond to the junk e-mail.

 

A couple of tips:   Use one e-mail address for real correspondence and another e-mail address for online shopping, newsletter subscriptions, and other things you sign up for.     It would be wise to use the personal correspondence e-mail for secure things like banking as well.      Your real e-mail account should be one that you pay for or have a high degree of control over.   This could include one connected to your internet service or one that you pay for separately.  If you are looking to establish a new personal (or business) e-mail address that has some accountability associated with it, consider Google Apps ($5 a month / $50 per year) or PoBox.com @ $50 per year.

 

3.    I believe I’ve touched on this once before — but it bears repeating because at different times we are all shopping for something.    THERE IS NO MORE WHITE APPLE MAC BOOK LAPTOP FOR $999.  It’s been off the market for one year.  It came in a “standard” screen size of 13.3 inches and was not some cut rate starter model.  It was a great deal.    Apple phased that out and replaced it with the 11.6 inch Mac Book Air  for $999.       In my opinion, this is more of a toy than any thing else.  It might be a laptop for OCCASIONAL USE but not for getting work done on.   The screen is too small and without a laptop stand there will be some serious neck strain.    So you really have 2 choices for a standard sized Mac laptop — at 13.3 inches:

 

Mac Book Pro   13  – $1199 to $1499

Mac Book Air 13  –  same pricing

 

4.   Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit:     Apple scored a major victory against Samsung on Friday for patent infringement.    Interestingly enough Samsung’s tablets were judged not to have violated patents related to the iPad.     For those of you who are out of the loop on this — Samsung is the #1 seller of Android phones — an iPhone rival.     The lawsuit did not cover Samsung’s latest blockbuster phone – the Galaxy S III  which has sold over 10 million units since it was released in June.    Again for those of you who do not know — Android is the software on the phone and was designed by Google.    The software on an iPhone is called iOS.   Why didn’t Apple sue Google (yet) ?    Google actually provides the software to companies that make Android phones like Motorola, Samsung, and HTC — for FREE.  However, Google does profit from it in other ways.  If you have an older Samsung Android phone — Samsung may be pushing a software update out to you to ensure compliance with patent law.    Do I still think some people should consider an Android phone?   Yes.   Especially if you are connected with many Google services — you will probably like a GOOD Android phone better.   Keep in mind there are many bad Android phones on the market.   If you were the type that liked to tinker with a car in your younger days — you’ll like an Android.   If you want the best deal out of the box with no tinkering — you’ll prefer an iPhone.  If you want a phone with a physical keyboard — you’ll want an Android phone.

Google’s new privacy policy takes effect tomorrow

http://rss.macworld.com/click.phdo?i=3ed590f531bf051c3e86256adda572c3 

Just wanted to let clients know once again that Google is changing their privacy policy, effective tomorrow.   The company claims that this actually gives customers more privacy.  In a nutshell they are simply collecting non-identifiable data from all the Google services you use into one profile for use in internal improvements and to help them better market advertisements.

So for example — instead of them knowing we have one customer, age 35, male, from Hartford, CT who watches You Tube videos on Michael Jackson  and a customer age 35, male, from Hartford who subscribes to the New York Times news feed in Google Reader …..

Google will now see that oh yes, we have a customer, age 35, male, from Hartford who likes Michael Jackson videos and subscribes to the NY Times news feed.

PERSONALLY,  this new privacy policy is not changing how I use Google services at all.    However, the above article from Mac World (applicable to both Macs and Windows) will tell you how to tidy up your Google services or delete them entirely.

I’ve said for a while now that I believe Gmail is the best free e-mail account on the planet.

I believe that for those of you who want to own a custom e-mail address  ie.  yourname(at)yourowndomain(dot)com,  Google’s Google Apps option ($10 to $60 per year) is one of the best ways to do this as it gives you the same Gmail experience.