Browser notifications and about: blank

Tech Talk #200–March 18, 2023 I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time, letting websites show notifications about new messages and emails, even when the browser is closed. But somehow, websites started abusing the notifications feature somewhere along the way. For example, if you visit a web page just once to read an article or check on a sale, that site can send you notification messages. Honestly, it can be, best case,

Recovering accounts, random sites

Tech Talk #199–March 4, 2023 Recovering accounts In most cases, when suddenly your password won’t work with a website or email address, there is a “Forgot password” link, and this is where it can get scary. The site may want to send you a code to your phone or your recovery email address, or you’ll get asked for answers to your security questions. What if the site has an old phone number for you? Or

Not a robot, slow phones

Tech Talk #198–February 18, 2023 Not a robot There you are, entering your information into a form on a website when suddenly you have to check a box that reads "I am not a robot," and then there's a visual thing you need to do to continue. So, what's that all about? Computer programs are great at doing repetitive tasks quickly, even robotically. Indeed, we have specialized computer programs called bots, which is short for

Phone sensors, why Android, and Super Bowl

Tech Talk #197–February 4, 2023 Phone sensors Smartphones have replaced desktop and laptop computers for many people. Checking and responding to emails, taking photos, shooting videos, playing games, watching movies, shopping, texting, and making phone calls. All from a device that fits in your hand. But, when you're looking at a photo or watching a movie, how does your phone "know" to rotate the screen when you turn the phone sideways? Sensors. Smartphones have many

Clearing caches

Tech Talk #196–January 21, 2023 In its widespread non-technical use, a cache (pronounced cash) is a collection of items of the same type stored in a hidden or inaccessible place. In the technical world, a cache can be hardware or a specific software location that stores recently used data. As a result, programs can quickly access data from a cache. Clearing your caches can help troubleshoot problems with specific websites, free up disk space, remove

What is Web3?

Tech Talk #195–January 11, 2023 Have you heard of this new thing, Web 3.0, also known as Web3? It’s the future of the internet, they tell us. But what is Web3, and whatever happened to Web1 and Web 2-if there were such things? We refer to the first publicly available version of the internet as Web 1.0. In this version of the internet, web pages were collections of read-only pages, and there was almost no

Getting spam from yourself

Tech Talk #194–December 31, 2022 Have you ever received an email that looked like it came from you, but you didn’t send it? Self-spam is happening a lot now, and it’s usually tied to a blackmail or shaming scheme. Forging or faking an email address is called spoofing. And it’s easy. Most email systems don’t have security checks to ensure the person in the email’s “From” line is who they say they are—with billions of

Guest-friendly Wi-Fi, Google search tips

Tech Talk #193–December 17, 2022 Guest-friendly Wi-Fi You’re all set: you’ve updated your Wi-Fi router’s firmware, changed your router’s default password, and added all your computers, printers, phones, and tablets to your new, secure Wi-Fi. Here’s how to make it easy for your friends and family to connect to and use your home Wi-Fi network: Wi-Fi If you haven’t already, make your Wi-Fi network name easy to pick out from your neighbors’ Wi-Fi networks and

Unlocking locked-out devices

Tech Talk #192–December 3, 2022 We all use devices (smartphones, tablets, or computers) that contain information we don’t want strangers or thieves to access. Therefore, we lock them with a username/password combination to protect our privacy. However, since we will unlock our device 5, 10, 15, 20 times a day, we use fingerprints, faces, passcodes, PINs, or lock screen patterns to unlock our device instead of our username/password. But what if you’ve got bandages on

Blocking and reporting spam calls

Tech Talk #191–November 12, 2022 Are you tired of getting spam and scam calls on your cell phone? You know, those calls about elections, solar panels, IRS problems, dubious charity donations, energy retrofits, health insurance, and all the rest. Current cell phone technology offers ways to block these calls. But, of course, the spammers know this and have adapted. Almost all scammers and robocallers use “number spoofing” to make it hard to block them. Just