Smart speakers: how to protect your privacy

Tech Talk #62 – Oct. 14, 2017 Smart speakers: how to protect your privacy Smart speakers are voice-controlled WiFi-connected devices that are used as virtual assistants. They can look like a hockey puck, a large air freshener or a regular speaker. Amazon started things off with their Echo line and was successful enough that Google has entered the market with their Google Home devices.   The speakers work by listening for their wake word (Alexa

What’s important when you’re shopping for a computer

Tech Talk #61 – Sep. 30, 2017 What’s important when you’re shopping for a computer So, the time has come to replace your computer. You’re ready to start looking at the Best Buy ads and checking out Costco and Amazon for deals. But deals on what? Computer descriptions often include something like Intel Core i5 - 8GB Memory - NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 - 1TB Hard Drive which can be confusing. Here’s what you need

How does my phone do that?

Tech Talk #60 – Sep. 16, 2017   How does my phone do that? Sure, your smartphone can count your steps, show you which way is north, and point out your location on a map, but how does it do that?   Sensors.   Your smartphone is a sleek slab of plastic, aluminum, and glass that’s packed with sensors. Here are some of the sensors in your phone and what they do.   Accelerometer. An

Passwords – the bad news and the good news

Tech Talk #59 – Sep. 2, 2017   Passwords - the bad news and the good news   First, the bad news.   Back in 2003, Bill Burr, a manager at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), wrote a paper about computer passwords that eventually became the password mess we find ourselves in today. Burr’s eight-page password recommendation document, titled NIST Special Publication 800-63. Appendix A advised people to use irregular capitalization, special

Time to replace that computer? Used might be the way to go.

Tech Talk #58 – Aug. 19, 2017   Time to replace that computer? Used might be the way to go.   But not a used computer like you’re probably thinking. I’m talking about a refurbished computer.   You can buy a refurbished computer direct from the manufacturer, e.g., Dell, HP, Apple, etc., or you can buy one from a company that specializes in refurbishing computers.   The refurbished computers that come directly from the manufacturer

Backing up your online accounts offline

Tech Talk #57 – Aug. 5, 2017 Backing up your online accounts offline   The internet is a weird and wonderful place and has become something way beyond what anyone thought it could be and something no one could have predicted. From email to videos, to messaging, to images, most people have a lot of their life posted on the internet.   All of your internet content is stored on servers, and mostly everything is

Let’s talk about cookies

Tech Talk #56 – July 22, 2017   Let’s talk about cookies   Mmmm, cookies.   Unfortunately, I’m not talking about the delicious cookies you make in the kitchen. I’m talking about the cookies stored on your computer.   Wait, what? How do these cookies get on my computer? What are they for? Should I be worried?   Whoa there, pardner. We’ll get to all your questions.   Technically, when we talk about cookies on

Ransomware – what is it and how do you protect yourself against it?

Tech Talk #55 – July 8, 2017   Ransomware – what is it and how do you protect yourself against it?   We’ve heard and read the word ransomware a lot lately, but what is it and how can you protect yourself against it?   Ransomware is a form of malware or malicious software.   Malware is software designed to damage or do not-so-nice things to your computer. Computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware

Passwords and security questions

Tech Talk #54 – June 24, 2017   Passwords and security questions   Again with the passwords? Yes, because passwords are important and how we reset passwords has changed.   In the old days (a couple of years ago), if you forgot your password for your email or social media account, you could prove you were you by answering some security questions. Then you could reset your password.   But there were problems with that

Do you hate websites that autoplay audio and videos?

Tech Talk #53 – June 10, 2017 Do you hate websites that autoplay audio and videos? Here’s how to stop them: • For Chrome: Get the Disable HTML5 Autoplay plugin • For Firefox: Use the FlashStopper add-on • For Safari: there isn’t a plugin, but you can do it using Terminal. Quit Safari, go to /Applications/Utilities and open Terminal. Type this command into the window: • defaults write com.apple.Safari IncludeInternalDebugMenu 1 • Press Return and