Tech Talk #29 – July 9, 2016

The more time we spend on the internet, the more advertisers and search engines know about us. But what do they know? And what, exactly, are they tracking?


When we use Google to search for something or use Gmail, or watch videos on YouTube or conduct any other type of activity through a Google product or service, Google collects data and establishes a personal profile which it uses to distribute personalized ads. Google has always provided us with tools so we can see what they’re tracking, but you’ve had to look for those tools.


To make it easier to see what’s in your profile, Google has a new My Activity tool. A timeline of data that lists in great detail all the stuff it knows about you; from your web searches to YouTube views to Google Maps activity.


To find out what Google ‘knows’ about you, go to Your activity page has a timeline of websites you visited, searches you’ve done on Google or Google Maps, and videos watched on YouTube. Since it’s Google, you can search your MyActivity page and there are filters for narrowing in on a particular product or day.


If you want Google to have amnesia about where you’ve been and what you’ve been doing, you can delete some or all of your profile. Click on the three-dot menu on the right side of each activity group and choose delete to delete those items from your profile. If you’d like to get rid of everything, click on the three-dot menu way up at the top right side of the My Activity page, select “Delete activity by” and click “All time” and instant amnesia!


Once deleted, Google won’t use that data as part of your profile. Of course, the next time you use Google for anything, the profile begins building again.


Password advice

Is he going to talk about passwords again? Yes. Yes, he is.


You need to have strong passwords. Why? Because there are about 600,000 logins on Facebook every day trying to get user account data. Because about $1 billion dollars are taken from small- to medium-sized banks in Europe and the U.S. every year. And because it’s not that hard. I’ll show you how.


A strong password needs to 1) be longer than eight characters, 2) contain upper and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols, 3) not use complete words, 4) use made-up phrases.


Here are two ways to create a strong password:

#1 – Look around the room. Pick three random things you see, like stapler chair window. Change one letter of each word to a number, like this: 5taplercha1rw1ndow. Throw in a symbol or two, like this: 5tapler!cha1r+w1ndow and you’re done.


#2 – Make up a phrase. Something like, I don’t know why the roof is over there. Take just the first letter of each word and then spell out the last word of your phrase, idkwtriothere. Change a few of the letters for numbers and add a couple of symbols like this: @1dkwt#ri0there and you’re done.


Pretty pictures! Or not, if that’s your thing.

We’ve always been able to choose the Windows wallpaper or background. Since Windows 7 we’ve had Windows Themes to download from Microsoft. But what if neither your own photos or art or Microsoft’s themes are what you’re looking for?


Try The Paper Wall website for choosing just the right art for your desktop. It’s organized into reasonable categories, has good search capability, and high-quality images. Here’s the URL:


If you want something simpler and less distracting for your desktop, try Simple Desktops here:


Take a break

Remember magnetic letters on the fridge? Lunchtimers is a site where you can play with magnetic letters on a virtual refrigerator. You play with other people at the same time and can see their words, too. Oh, and all the Es won’t mysteriously disappear into a kitchen drawer. Here’s the URL:


Clean your screen

If your screen is looking a bit dusty or is covered with finger-pokens, have this Pug lick your screen off. Here’s the URL:


Do you have a computer or technology question? Greg Cunningham has been providing Tehachapi with on-site PC and network services since 2007. Email Greg at                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

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