ISPs Have to Issue Refunds for Service Problems

Tax Bill

Don’t you wish we had this in Lawrence, KS?  Every time Midco or AT&T had an outage, they’d be required to give us money.

In the UK at least, companies have to pay if they don’t deliver on service.  Not only do they have to compensate you for outages, but if they miss appointments or don’t fix a problem in a timely fashion.  So cool!

What’s stopping us from having these rules in Lawrence?  Absolutely nothing, except our city commission.  We as voters can ask our legislators to enact these laws on a local level.

That is, unless you like these delays and paying for service you’re not getting.  I thought so!

Photo by Images_of_Money

Safely Cleaning Your Tech Items

keyboard

Have you looked at your screen and keyboard lately?  Yuck!  It’s probably time to clean them.  Not all household products are good for electronics. We’ve got your covered though

This slideshow from Cnet is one of the best guides I’ve seen out there.  It includes the less-than-obvious stuff like routers and your TV.  One thing they mention is a microfiber cloth.  We give those away free to our clients during a service call.  If you’d like some extras, just give us a call, send us a text, or drop us an email.  We’re glad to give them out because they have our logo and phone number on them!

Photo by divadsci

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

When A Local Business Gets Hacked, It Hurts More

Hack

The past few years we keep hearing about the big companies like Equifax and Yahoo getting hacked.  That hurts us all.  The local businesses though get hacked much more often. The pain is a little different from them.

This article explains some of those risks.  While I can’t tell you whom in Lawrence has suffered security breaches, we’ve had several clients face them. Some are due to lack of electronic security while others are through physical security problems like stolen laptops.

In particular, small businesses are being targeted instead of large corporations. One unfortunate example I read about recently was a funeral home of all places being used to attack vulnerable customers.

Over the years I’ve learned the most important thing is to get a professional involved.  We’re experts on cyber-security and can help remediate the problem.  Too often we get involved later in the process – after a client tried to fix things themselves.   The security problems continue at that point and we’re in the difficult position of telling the client they made it worse.

At the first sign of trouble, or even if you’re not sure, give us a call.  We never charge for phone consultations.

Photo by Ben Chun

Yes, Macs Get Viruses (and We Can Help)

The End of an Old Mac

Clients are commonly under the misconception that Macs don’t get viruses, or at least not PC viruses.  That was true back in the days of the “I’m a Mac” ad. In 2018, that simply isn’t true.

In 2016, Mac malware (the general category for things like viruses, trojans etc.) grew by almost 75% according to this article.  I suspect 2017 report will show even more growth in that area.  One unique way Macs can get infected is through an iOS app.  This article explains one unique attack vector:  a free app.  It’s getting so dangerous, that companies will write custom Mac malware for you.

We recommend Malwarebytes for the Mac to prevent these problems.  As a reseller, we get a special discount on the first year.  Give us a call, send us a text, or drop us an email.  Mention this ad and we can sell you the software at our discount rate and install it for free.

Photo by mikecogh

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Have You Set Up Facebook Trusted Contacts?

Trust

With all the hacks out there, including stolen passwords, getting locked out of Facebook is almost inevitable. Fortunately Facebook has a way to get back in through trusted contacts.

Some people think it’s needlessly complex, but this guide as well as this one are excellent walk-through.  Even if it isn’t 100% effective, every Facebook user should set it up.

To prevent getting locked out in the first place, always set up a unique password for Facebook. It’s hard to create and track all these passwords, that’s why we recommend password managers.  One password to track them all.  We also suggest setting up two-factor authentication.  That means if someone has your password, they can’t get into your account without your mobile phone.  Give us a call, send us a text, or drop us an email.  We can help you with all of that!

Photo by Lars Plougmann

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Posted in Tips by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Smart Locks and Safety

GOJI Smart Lock

One hot gift for the 2017 holiday season was internet-enabled locks, often referred to as Smart Locks.  I have these both in my home or office.  When I tell clients I have one, they often express security concerns.  They’re legitimate but easily minimized.

This blog post does a good job of explaining the security while this post is in my mind a bit alarmist. Security on a smart lock is just like security on any device.  Sure, there are risks, but the rewards usually outweigh them. What do I like best about our smart lock?  I never worry if I locked the door before I left the house.  I can check my locks remotely anytime I want.  That includes in the middle of the night when I’m in bed.

While you’ll need a locksmith to install one of these, we can help you secure it. That includes not just the lock, but making sure when your phone is stolen, someone can’t use your phone to get into your home.

Photo by pestoverde

Posted in Uncategorized by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Rural Douglas County Needs This for Internet Service!

We love Internet

Even as we push for better broadband in the city of Lawrence, our community is bigger than that.  People in rural areas have a tough time.  They’re stuck using mobile hotspots that have severe data limits or expensive satellite connections. These don’t always work, especially if you live on a large property.

Microsoft is coming to the rescue here.  Mashable reports on the Rural Airband Initiative.   They’ll be working in Scott County over in Southwest Kansas to bring faster internet to them.  Maybe if we ask nicely, they’ll try it on the other side of the state.

Until then people face an unfair choice of expensive, unreliable, and sometimes inaccessible internet … or move to the city.  Internet access is as essential as water or electricity today and shouldn’t be dependent on where you live.

We have the technology and resources; we just haven’t made it a priority.  That’s where citizens like us need to lobby to make the change.

Photo by Kalexanderson

Some ISPs Give you Mandatory Ads

Vintage Ad 426 Coming to a Phone Near You

When you go to some websites, you expect ads.  That’s what pays for the site.  Just like commercials on TV.  Some Internet Service Providers add their own ads to your browsing experience.

Comcast was caught doing this last year.  They were adding information to web pages you visited encouraging you to upgrade your cable modem. This hijacking was before the recent change by the FCC to repeal Net Neutrality.

Now it could be a completely acceptable and encouraged way of giving you web pages. That’s kind of how TV works now with cable.  Cable companies add their own commercials to shows — even though you’re paying them for service.  They get money both ways.

Photo by jbcurio

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Posted in Business by dgreenbaum. No Comments

Your iPhone Can Block Spam Text Messages

Spam text messages about debt consolidation

The only thing more annoying than junk phone calls is junk texts.  I don’t know why, but they seem like the biggest violation to me.

Fortunately, Apple heard our cries and introduced the ability to block spam messages on your phone.  The tricky part is you need to download a program to help you do it.

This link explains how to use a popular program called Hiya.  Hiya is the best out there, but isn’t the only one. This link explains some others you can use.  Considering most of these programs are free, you might as use something. Hiya already blocks spam phone calls

Privacy advocates will point out that some of these programs upload your contact list to know who is a spammer.  This fact doesn’t bother me because pretty much phone numbers are everywhere.  If I had a bunch of celebrity phone numbers in my iPhone, I might worry.   Paid versions of these programs protect the privacy of your callers a bit more.

Photo by Karen V Bryan

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The Digital Divide is Growing (Thanks AT&T)

ATandT Store

Most people know, I’m a strong advocate for bridging the digital divide.  That’s why I work with great organizations like Connecting For Good that help make sure everyone has equal access to technology.  While there are problems in Kansas City and Lawrence, this report shows AT&T is making it worse.

What that link states is things we’ve seen for a while:  richer areas get better internet at the expense of lower-income areas.  This is precisely what we’ve seen in Lawrence, KS.  The west-side of town gets the latest internet advances, including Google-like speeds.  Meanwhile, our clients in the Eastern and Northern parts of Lawrence see the quality of their internet decline.  We have some clients on AT&T DSL that get speeds below that of our average mobile phone.  AT&T declines to invest in keeping up the technologies.  Some clients try to switch to MIDCO, but the nature of that technology makes it difficult to get in some multi-family dwellings.

What can we do about it?  First, let AT&T know they should invest more in all of Lawrence.  Second, be sure to let the FTC and FCC know of your disappointment.  Finally, and you guessed it, I’m going to suggest the City of Lawrence assist by supporting municipal broadband.

Photo by JeepersMedia

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