Tech Talk #44 – February 4, 2017

Microsoft went back to the drawing board and built Microsoft Edge to replace the aging and vulnerable Internet Explorer (IE.) Here are some of the best reasons to use Edge instead of IE:

  • Cortana integration: You can use Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana inside Edge. Use the address bar to ask Cortana to ask questions and get the information you need. If you right-click on a picture in a web page, you can choose Ask Cortana from the menu to identify the image and bring up related pictures and links from the web.


  • Touchscreen support: If you’ve got a touchscreen all-in-one, laptop, or 2-in1, Edge supports touch gestures like you have on your phone. You can swipe forward and back in your browser history, tap on the screen to open links, and more.


  • It’s easier to share web pages: Find a web page you want to send to your friends? Now there’s no more hunting around for social media sharing icons on web pages. Click the Sharebutton at the top of the screen – you know, that three dots joined by a bendy line thing. Now you can share that page by email, Facebook, Twitter and more, depending on the apps you’ve installed on your computer.


  • Read it later: Apps like Instapaper and Pocket have been around for a while: they let you save a web page to, you guessed it, read later. Now Edge has the same functionality built-in. Like the other apps, Read Later saves the web page in Reading Mode that cuts out the clutter of the web page and doesn’t interfere with your existing bookmarks. To save something to your reading list, click the star in the address bar and pick Reading list and Add. To get back to your Reading List, click the Reading List icon and use the Reading View to simplify the page if necessary.


Computer security threats you might not be thinking about

I know you’re running an anti-virus program and probably an anti-malware program too, but here are a couple more computer security threats to think about.


Webcam monitoring

You and I are normal people. We don’t even think about hacking into someone’s webcam – but there are people out there that do. Why? Hacked webcams can give criminals incriminating photos to use for blackmail or social media shaming. The easiest way to prevent this is to tape over the webcam on your laptop, tablet, or all-in-one computer.


You don’t have to use duct tape, though; a Hello Kitty Band-Aid or a fun sticker works fine, too. If you want to blend in, there’s always black electrical tape.


Even if you’ve taped your webcam, go to Start > Settings > Privacy > Camera and turn it off there, too.


If you never, ever, ever, use your webcam, you can always completely disable it. In Windows, open Device Manager, then right-click on your webcam (under Imaging devices) and choose Disable.


Disabling your webcam isn’t quite as easy on macOS. One unofficial way is to delete a file called QuickTimeUSBVDCDigitizer.component from Macintosh HD > System > Library > Quicktime (just back it up first).


If you do use your webcam, you might not want to disable or cover your camera. You can use webcam monitoring software to alert you when someone is using your camera. Try OverSight for Mac and Who Stalks My Cam for Windows. They both run in the background and warn you whenever a program tries to make use of the camera.



USB drive infections

In studies conducted by whoever it is that conducts studies, more than half of the people studied are willing to plug in random USB drives to see what’s on them. And that’s how USB infections happen, kids.


Your antivirus program may have USB scanning built in. If so, make sure it’s active and configured correctly. If not, always thoroughly scan any stray drive you pick up before opening any files on the drive.


There are also plenty of third-party tools available for Windows to help combat USB attacks: Panda USB Vaccine is probably the best known.



Moms say the funniest things

A 10-year-old asked his Mom: “Why are computers so smart?”


Mom replied: “Because they listened to their motherboards!”


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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