Virtual Private Networks

Tech Talk #159–July 31, 2021 What is a virtual private network (VPN), and why would you want one? If we break it down starting from the back, a network is a bunch of computers and devices with similar addresses that can "see" and interact with each other. Private means you need to be a member or have a key to get in. Having a private network means you need to be connected to the network

Computational photography and location services

Tech Talk #158–July 17, 2021 Computational photography Whether you use a traditional digital camera or the camera app on your smartphone, it takes two steps to take a digital picture: the physical step of capturing an image and the image processing step. Digital cameras have bigger sensors and better lenses and take better initial images, while smartphones, with their smaller sensors and slower lenses, have better software for manipulating images. Image manipulation software uses computational

Saving voicemails

Tech Talk #157–July 3, 2021 Saving voicemails Some voicemails are too significant or sentimental to trust Verizon, AT&T, or whoever your cell service provider is, to keep them safe for you. If you get a new phone, migrate to a new voicemail app, or change providers, there is always a chance of losing a saved voicemail. Here's how to back up your important voicemails from Apple or Android phones. iPhone On your iPhone, tap on

Not Secure and “initialism”

Tech Talk #156–June 19, 2021 Remember when there was a little green lock in your browser when you went to a secure website like your bank or a store? That little green lock meant you had connected to a secure website. But what did that mean, a secure website? And whatever happened to that green lock? A secure website uses the HTTPS protocol for connections. So you don’t have to go look it up, HTTPS


Tech Talk #155–June 5, 2021 Ransomware is one of the biggest and fastest-growing threats online. 2020 saw a massive spike in ransomware attacks and the amount of money paid out to criminals. Quick refresher: Ransomware is malware or malicious software. Malware can damage your computer or your files. Computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, and spyware are all considered malware. I think any program that advertises itself as free and then makes you pay for it

Changing passwords

Tech Talk #154–May 8, 2021 Yep, passwords again. Once upon a time, say a whole two or three years ago, “they” told us to change our passwords regularly. The thinking was that if someone had your Facebook or email password, they could log in to your account to, I don’t know, check up on your posts and emails? If they had your bank or credit union password, they could transfer money. The theory was that

Chip shortages, Windows tools

Tech Talk #153–Apr. 24, 2021 No, not delicious tortilla chips. I'm talking about semiconductor microchips. We have a global shortage of chips. These are the chips used in cars, laptops, refrigerators, gaming consoles, microwave ovens, smartphones, and even toys. There's no shortage of wires, circuit boards, or the other parts the chips need, just the chips themselves. So, why is there a shortage of chips? Few manufacturers have enormous warehouses full of the parts they

How to abbreviate online

Tech Talk #152–Apr. 10, 2021 It started with shortening words to type faster by using fewer characters but has spread to Twitter, Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and whatever the latest thing is. Since abbreviations and acronyms can make it hard to communicate if you don't know, or can't quite work out, what people are saying, here's some help. AFAIK: As far as I know. Use it when you're not sure or are guessing. Who can tell?

Scammers pretending to be Amazon or Apple

Tech Talk #151–Mar. 27, 2021 The calls started during the holiday shopping season when lots of people were shopping online. Scammers counted on people being in a daze about what they had ordered, for whom, and the delivery date for it (whatever it was). The scam calls tapered off for a few weeks but have been ramping up lately. Here's how the scammy Amazon calls work: The phone rings, and you hear an automated message

Covering your webcam

Tech Talk #150–Mar. 13, 2021 Video conferencing, whether we’re using Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Skype, BlueJeans, or another tool, has become a big part of our lives since you-know-what-that-must-not-be-named. Webcams have moved from a nice-to-have feature to pretty darn indispensable for lots of people. They’re how we go to meetings, attend classes, and hang out with friends and family far away. Whenever a critical mass of people uses a device or a technology, criminals figure out