Amazon Intercom

A new feature for Amazon’s Alexa devices has been enabled in the UK today. You can now use them to call other devices through your contacts. So if friends and family have Alexa devices you can call them, for free. They need to have that feature enabled (and the Alexa app up to date).

If you have more than one device in your home, you can also use them as an intercom system. Simply say ‘Alexa – Drop In Kids Bedroom’ and their device will ring. I’ve tested it and it works pretty well so long as you’ve got your devices with unique names.

It’s a bit of an update on the home intercom systems of the 60s and 70s!

Read more on how to set it up here.

https://www.cnet.com/…/how-to-use-drop-in-with-your-amazon…/

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Breaking News Checklist

When big events happen, the early reports are often sketchy and sometimes downright untrue. The flames are fanned by well-meaning people sharing information from any source they can find, despite that source’s credentials. It’s a fake news creator’s dream when these things happen.

Here’s a handy guide called “The Breaking News Consumers Handbook” – some very useful tips and suggestions on finding the truth amongst all the crap. Share it with your friends, especially those who are prolific ‘big news posters’.

HANDBOOK

 

Don’t Make The Same Mythstakes

We all know someone that continues to fall for hoax after hoax. Facebook will start charging you, like-farming pages, false celebrity deaths and more. Here are a few of the big ones that just will not go away. How many of them have you seen?

http://www.thatsnonsense.com/6-internet-hoaxes-just-wont-go-away/

 

 

 

No such thing as a free RV, flight, holiday…

Big companies such as British Airways, Air Canada, Tesco, Disney etc. do not go around giving free things to every single person to celebrate something. That’s a “too good to be true” thing and should immediately raise concerns.

DO NOT CLICK LIKE. DO NOT CLICK SHARE. DO NOT THINK ‘OH JUST IN CASE IT MIGHT BE TRUE’.

At the very least you will look a bit silly and you might have friends like me who are more than happy to tell you off for doing it. Worst? Facebook could shut down your account for sharing spam posts and the people behind these posts could steal your personal details.

If you see any of your friends doing this, give them a virtual smack around the head and tell them to read this story:

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/free-spam-scam-facebook-1.4285985

Taking the Mickey…

As the saying goes “On the internet, nobody knows you’re a dog…“.  It’s far too easy for people to pretend they are someone or something they are not.  Sometimes, that’s a good thing, but more often than not, it’s bad.  Anyone can create fake profiles on social media and use them to fool people into parting with their money.

This is why social media sites like Facebook and Twitter created ‘verified’ profiles. You can be sure if someone has a blue tick beside their name, they are who they say they are.  This is very important if you’re going to share a post, provide personal details or enter into a financial transaction.

These fake sites will often use a legitimate business name to fool people.  Let’s use Disney as an example.  Everyone knows the name, Disney. It’s a worldwide brand with a certain degree of trust associated with it.  This is how fraudsters take advantage of people.  They create a fake page and get you to share its post or provide your personal details. Then you wonder why you’ve never one a holiday or a cruise or free tickets. Disney isn’t the only victim, there are well-known pages claiming to give away RVs or cars, all using the same tactics.

In almost all cases, these big companies will never ask you to share a post to win something.  If they do, be sure the page is the real one.  Look for the blue tick beside their name.  Please note, the tick mark should NOT appear as part of their profile image.  Anyone can put a tick in an image using simple graphics software.  The tick will be beside their name only.

In the image below, you can see a common trick fraudulent pages use – a full stop (or period) after their name.  Both fake Disney pages on the left have one, and in addition, the bottom one shows irrelevant category.  These are common tricks used to fool people.

disney-tick

Both Facebook and Twitter have a process that allows you to request verification.  This isn’t available for every page but is very useful for big brands, business and celebrities.

If you see your friends sharing these sorts of fake pages, let them know they are scams and likely to compromise their personal information. And of course, tell them about this blog, and Phil The Geek on Facebook!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your “ICE”?

The incident in Westminster, London, today is a good reminder to have your “ICE” contacts set up on your phone. “ICE” stands for In Case of Emergency. If you’re in need of help and unable to use your phone, emergency responders will know your ICE contact should be contacted. You can create a new ICE contact in your address book and you can also add this information to your ‘lock’ screen – see this link on how to do it.

http://uk.pcmag.com/productivity-products/70260/feature/how-to-add-emergency-info-to-your-phones-lock-screen

 

Those IT guys always say ‘turn it off and on again’ – why?

If you’ve ever used a computer in an office environment, at some point you will have called IT support. It’s almost certain your IT support staff suggested ‘turning it off and on again’ – otherwise known as rebooting or restarting.

Have you turned it off and on again” was turned into a catchphrase thanks to the “IT Crowd” comedy series.  When  IT staff ask clients to do this, it’s usually met with a roll of the eyes and an exasperated comment such as “you guys always say that”!

wpb597024a_1e_06

It is true, it’s a common request from IT support, but why is that?

I would often ask my clients how often they restarted their computer during the week.  I’d say about 75% never did.  Some simply logged off, some locked their computer, and others just left their desk and relied on the computer to “lock itself” after a set period of time (that made our IT security people freak out!).  Ideally at the end of the day you should restart your computer so it’s  in a ‘fresh state’ for the next day.

Most computer problems have a known cause and a known solution.  However, it’s when a computer does very unexpected or weird things that, in my experience, a good place to begin troubleshooting is with a restart.

Cranky Computers

A computer that has been “on” for a week is essentially “tired” and getting cranky.

Imagine if you were expected to stay awake for 24 hours, or 48 or 72, or an entire week.  You’d be a total mess and unable to perform even the most basic tasks effectively.  Once you’ve had a good nights sleep, you’ve ‘reset’ your body and you’re good to go again for the day.

A computer is the same – as time goes on, more and more resources are used.  In a perfect computer, all the resources or “memory” used to run a piece of software should be released and available again when it’s closed.  That isn’t the case.  Eventually these ‘leftovers’ start to slow down your computer and eat up memory.  It becomes sluggish, and does odd things.

A full restart (NOT just logging off) will release those resources, reset everything and give it a fresh start, just as if you had a nice long sleep and woke up refreshed.  All those resources are now free to be used again.

It’s a very quick solution to most problems which is why your IT staff often suggest this as a starting point.  If the issue goes away then great. If not, then of course they will investigate further and do their best to fix the problem for you.

Restarting can be used to fix almost any piece of IT or electronic equipment as they all have some sort of operating system running software.  So if you find your smart phone, e-reader, cable box or router acting slow, a restart should be the first thing you try.

If you found this article helpful, share it and give me a follow!  Thanks!

 

Instagram – “Hide” Your Hashtags

Do you have an Instagram account?  If you do, no doubt you’ve seen many photo descriptions ‘lost’ amongst the hashtags.

Header-HashTag-100214While hashtags are an important part of Instagram, there’s a better, more tidy way.  Place your hashtags in a comment, immediately after you post your photo and description.

It will look much better.  Here’s how:

Open ‘notepad’ on your iPhone (or similar app on other smartphones).

Type a full stop ” . ” or dash “-“then press return.  Do this four more times, then type your hashtags on the sixth line.   You’ll get something like this:


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#hashtag #hashtag #hastag #hashtag #hastag #hashtag #hastag #hashtag #hastag #hashtag #hastag #hashtag


 

Then copy all that and paste it into a comment.  If you use the same set of tags often, save your note and reuse it the next time you post.

When someone looks at your Instagram photos, it will appear less messy but the hashtags will still be there to do their job!

Keep in mind you’re only allowed 30 hashtags per post and they should be relevant to your photo.

If you really want to have them in your photo description, only use a few, then put the rest in a comment.

If you’ve found this tip useful please share it below!

 

 

A domain by any other name…

Happy 32nd Birthday symbolics.com – they were the very first company to have a domain name registered on the internet! Now there are over 325 million domain names.

Why are domain names useful? It saves you having to know the actual computer address (known as an IP address) of the website you want to visit. When you use your mobile phone to call your friends, you never enter their actual phone number, you just look up their name in your phone book app. A domain name works in a similar way.

The ‘phone book’ for the internet is known as the DNS – the Domain Name System. It translates the ‘human language’ of www.philthegeek.com to a computer readable IP address and sends you on to the site.

Now you know!

Share or Copy/Paste?

Just about everyone on Facebook will have a seen a post from a friend which is clearly not original but rather like a chain letter.  It’s often called a ‘viral message’.  Often they have included the phrase “in honour of someone who has…” or “I’m doing this for a friend to show…“.

In almost all cases, it asks you to ‘copy and paste this as your status and NOT share it.’

So why is that? Why don’t they want you to click the share button?  It’s certainly much easier to share a post then copy the text and create a new post of your own.   I bet if you asked your friend why they don’t want you to click share, I bet they won’t be able to tell you why.  Today’s blog post explains why.

Sharing The Post

If you click “share” on your friend’s post, the only ones who will see it are those people with whom your friend shares posts.  Your friends who are NOT friends with person whose post you are sharing will NOT see it. Confused?  Think of it this way:  if you have 100 friends but you only have 15 common, then only those 15 will see the post when you share it.  In addition, if the original post is removed, then ALL the  shares from other people are deleted as well.

If you’re trying to spread a message far and wide (regardless of the content), it’s not a very effective way of doing it. copypaste

Copy and Paste

If you copy the text and paste it into a NEW post on YOUR profile then ALL of your friends have the potential to see it. We say ‘potential’ as there’s no guarantee they will, due to other factors (their timeline settings, the ability to be a ‘friend’ but not follow’ etc. but that’s a subject for another post).

If you have 100 friends, that’s a potential 100 people who will see it.  If all those 100 friends then did the same as you, then all their friends could see the post. It’s easy to see how quickly the number of duplicate posts will spread.  If you delete your post, the other 99 who copy and pasted your post will still be there.

If the post is a scam or just simply untrue, then it is very hard to find out who started it in the first place.

Remember the advice your parents gave you? If your friends jumped off a cliff would you do it too?  It’s exactly the same here.

Stop and think before you copy and paste a viral message.  Is there any actual positive effect of sharing it in the first place?  If not, then don’t. You may be doing more harm than good.

Of course, you are more than welcome to SHARE this post.  You can do so by clicking the buttons below.