Microsoft Store — some free services

 Computer, General, Site  Comments Off on Microsoft Store — some free services
Jan 242018
 

I received an email message from the Microsoft Store recently reminding me of services available there, some of which are free. While these retail stores are scarce, if you’re near enough to one, you might consider that an option or a place to get general help — Answer Desk. Or if you’re thinking about a new PC, eh. Here’s a link to the local store in the LA area: Microsoft Store – Westfield Century City.

email snipemail snipemail snip

Caller ID spoofing — electric company warning

 Computer, General, News  Comments Off on Caller ID spoofing — electric company warning
May 072017
 

I’ve written about this before: whether it’s at your front door or on your phone or on your computer, scammers use the same tricks. In this case, spoofing their identity. Southern California Edison send out this email notice last week.

***

Subject: Important message from SCE: Beware of caller ID spoofing

That ‘Southern California Edison’ phone call may not be legitimate.

For your security, never give out your personal information, such as your SCE account number, Social Security number, credit card information or PIN number.

We have recently experienced an increase in reports of caller ID spoofing, a practice in which special phone equipment falsifies information on your caller ID display. Calls may appear to be from SCE, when in reality the caller has no association with SCE and may try to sell you products, collect personal information or say your electric bill is past due when it’s not.

Common red flag warnings related to spoofed phone calls:

  • Calls were made multiple times per day
  • Callers asked about customer’s usage, meter or other personal information
  • Customers were provided recommendations for purchasing alternative energy products

Tips to help protect yourself from caller ID spoofing scammers:

  • SCE will not send solar representatives to your home, nor do we have solar companies contact anyone by phone.
  • SCE will never ask for credit card information, a prepaid card such as Green Dot or electric usage information over the phone.
  • Do not use a call back number provided until you confirm it is an SCE number listed on your bill or the Contact Us page on sce.com.

Please know that we take your privacy seriously and make every effort to protect your information. For additional red flag warnings and tips to protect yourself, please visit sce.com/scamalert.

If you believe you are the recipient of a spoofing call, contact SCE Information Governance at csinfogov@sce.com.

Sincerely,

Marc Ulrich
Vice President of Customer Programs & Services
Southern California Edison

***

We all need to be careful. The fact that these scams continue to occur is a sign that they work. Caller ID is not perfect but still can be useful.

Ad blocking — Heinlein, Friedman redux

 General  Comments Off on Ad blocking — Heinlein, Friedman redux
Oct 012015
 

Well, the game’s afoot. Are you using ad blocking?

PC World’s “The price of free: how Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google sell you to advertisers” article summaries how four major companies handle collection of personal data when you use their products and services.

Because the latest version of Windows is always asking for information in the guise of being helpful, it’s easy to think that Microsoft’s the poster child for the collective attack on your digital privacy. But it’s not.

Now that Apple’s iOS 9 supports ad blockers, are you going to try one on your iPhone? The Washington Post summaries some choices in their “Here’s how some of the top iOS 9 ad-blockers stack up” article.

From a consumer standpoint, it seems like a good deal — particularly on a smartphone, where even a small ad can take up a lot of screen space. Ditching ads makes sites load faster and easier to read. And blocking tracking software may give those worried about privacy some peace of mind.

And the Washington Post continues with a cautionary perspective in “How our love affair with ad-blocking risks giving Internet providers even more power.”

If you often feel that the content on webpages you visit is overwhelmed by ads, this article notes that:

The New York Times took a look at this Thursday. It found that for many online news sites, it takes longer to load the ads than the news content visitors are presumably there to see. On an LTE connection, the Huffington Post loaded in 5.2 seconds with all its ads, for example, but with an ad blocker, that time was cut to just 1.2 seconds.

So, what could go wrong with all of this? Re/code discusses the topic in “Ad Blockers: Unwitting Arbiters of Consumer Preference.”

Deploying ad blocking is not the fight consumers want. But neither the pay-for-access model nor the advertising-in-exchange-for-free-access model works well enough today. … Opting in to the advertising experience is also broken. Consumers en masse should not be expected to choose to view ads when blocking them is both easy and consequence-free. … It is a tragedy of the commons.

What about Heinlein and Friedman? See Wikipedia’s article titled “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”