October 27, 2017 – Tech Talk

It has been awhile since I have posted about tech items, and I was having difficulty knowing what to write about today, so I thought this would be a good time to update my advice.  A lot has happened in tech this year.  With ransomware and other threats on the rise, there seems to be no end to the trouble we can get into and the neat things we can now do.  Kicking off my list of advice is…ransomware

Ransomware is fairly easy to avoid if you follow some simple rules.  First, don’t open attachments from unknown sources.  Second, keep up to date with patching your devices.  Third, try to avoid Adobe Flash if you can.  It is hard to do, but that is a prime vector.  Fourth, back up your important pictures and documents regularly.  I recommend a cloud storage location like Google Drive or iCloud.  Fifth, if you are going to browse the web, either harden your browser (email rhaleii@gmail.com for a file with step-by-step instructions for Firefox) or use a service like Authentic8’s Silo.  They have a free 30-day trial if you are interested.  All your browsing is through their servers, reducing your browsing risk.

VPNs!  I wrote earlier about using and configuring VPNs for privacy and I still think they are the right solution.  At the time I recommended PrivateInternetAccess, but I have found some pretty good lifetime deals on Citizen Goods where you can buy a lifetime VPN subscription for a very reasonable one-time fee.  Of their offerings, I prefer the PureVPN one, but all of their offerings are pretty good deals.  VPNs allow you to look like you are coming from a different location than your physical one and encrypt all of your traffic end-to-end.  I am a big fan of using them and, for those of you wanting to watch content not available in the US (e.g., British TV not yet airing stateside) you can set your location to the UK and watch it as if you were there.

Unchecky – This app is fantastic for those of you who download and install apps only to find that you are now using Bing as your search engine.  Unchecky unchecks the boxes that installers try to sneak by you so that you reset your search engines, home pages, etc.  It is a great little app and free!

Ninite – This handy web site lets you select a bunch of software that you may want and creates a custom installer so that you can automatically download and install all of the apps at one sitting.  It is designed more for those setting up a PC, but it can also work for adding key apps without having to track them down one by one.  On the other end of the spectrum the PC Decrapifier scans your machine for bloatware and lets you select all of the apps you want to deinstall all at once.  Between these two, setting up and restoring machines is pretty simple.

Finally, there are a couple of interesting web sites I’d like to introduce you to.  First, there is Humble Bundles, where you can pick up interesting deals for whatever price you want to pay on video games, mobile apps and books, plus the money can be sent to a charity of your choice.  Second is digg, which is a site with lots of different articles, columns, etc.  It can be a real time sink, but there is generally something interesting there to read.  Finally, the YouTube channel Home Science is an excellent source of interesting experiments you can do at home.  Sure, you may not need to, but isn’t it cool to know that you can create a fire tornado?

Have a great weekend and don’t burn down the house!

 

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