Thursday, November 29, 2018

Article by Cal Thomas "The Matrix at 20"

The Matrix is one of my all time favorite movies. I agree with this article in that it seems to have been especially prescient at predicting the future.

Cal Thomas: The Matrix at 20

Published: Tue, August 7, 2018 12:00 AM

[Thinkstock images]

Next year marks the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi movie classic "The Matrix," which depicts powerful machines attempting to subdue the human race.

Sometimes art imitates life, and sometimes it's the other way around. On occasion, art can be prophetic. "The Matrix" is such a film. It warns of a future in which the power and worth of the individual is subsumed into one giant interconnected world run by a tiny elite, who rob individuals of their liberty and ability to think freely.

In his new book, "World without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech" (Penguin Press), Franklin Foer, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and former editor of The New Republic, expands on the film's warnings. Foer asserts that technology is replacing thought and relationships. He specifically warns of the goals of Google, Facebook, Amazon and other corporate tech giants, charging them with being "monopolists who want access to every facet of our identities and influence over every corner of our decision-making."

Sometimes employing language that recalls ancient biblical prophecies and the end times foreseen in Revelation, Foer warns these companies eventually want to insert devices in our bodies to allow others to think for us. "Google Glass and the Apple Watch," he says, "prefigure the day when these companies implant their artificial intelligence within our bodies."

How will this be "sold" to the public? Foer writes it will be sold just like any other product or service: "...they justify monopoly with their well-articulated belief that competition undermines our pursuit of the common good and ambitions."

There's more, much more. "The tech companies are destroying something precious, which is the possibility of contemplation. They have created a world in which we are constantly watched and always distracted. Through their accumulation of data they have constructed a portrait of our minds, which they use to invisibly guide mass behavior (and increasingly individual behavior), to further their financial interests." This, he believes, is a threat to thought and democracy.

Foer says these tech giants have a vision that supersedes their financial goals. That vision, he says, was hatched in the 1960s (though conceived by the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes in the 17th century) and includes a world without borders. It is their view that only they can save the world by concentrating all power in a select few. They see themselves as saviors of the world. In technology they — and we — must trust.

Students of Scripture will immediately think of the "anti-Christ," who rises to power with the ability to perform miracles and who wins the allegiance of the Earth's inhabitants; except he might not be a person at all. "He" might be a machine.

In his sobering prologue, Foer writes: "The time has arrived to consider the consequences of these monopolies, to reassert our own role in determining the human path. Once we cross certain thresholds — once we transform the values of institutions, once we abandon privacy — there's no turning back, no restoring our lost individuality."

We have been warned before and are now being warned again in Foer's excellent book. The tech giants openly state their goals. How many are listening?

In the final scene of "The Matrix," Neo, the lead character and redeemer figure, says: "I don't know the future. I didn't come here to tell you how this is going to end. I came here to tell you how it's going to begin. ... I'm going to show them ... a world without rules and controls, without borders or boundaries. A world where anything is possible. Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you."

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Maybe Not So Lucky After All

I received several of these emails recently. The problem is, I don't have that kind of money so I'm not going to do anything. Besides, the password they list is one that I've never used. If you search for this type of threat, you'll find that the sender usually doesn't have any information or access to your computer. If you wait the 48 hours, you'll see that nothing happens.

However, there are a lot of bad guys out there and it is possible that at some point you've been to a web site where your email address (and possibly other information) may have been compromised in a data breach. If you want to double check if you've ever been hacked, go to 

Have I Been Pwned? (HIBP) is a website that allows internet users to check if their personal data has been compromised by data breaches. The service collects and analyzes hundreds of database dumps and pastes containing information about billions of leaked accounts, and allows users to search for their own information by entering their username or email address. Users can also sign up to be notified if their email address appears in future dumps. The site has been widely touted as a valuable resource for internet users wishing to protect their own security and privacy. Have I Been Pwned? was created by security expert Troy Hunt on 4 December 2013.


I'm a hacker who cracked your email and device a few months ago. 
You entered a password on one of the sites you visited, and I intercepted it. 
This is your password from  (email address removed)  on moment of hack: xyz123

Of course you can will change it, or already changed it. 
But it doesn't matter, my malware updated it every time. 

Do not try to contact me or find me, it is impossible, since I sent you an email from your account. 

Through your email, I uploaded malicious code to your Operation System. 
I saved all of your contacts with friends, colleagues, relatives and a complete history of visits to the Internet resources. 
Also I installed a Trojan on your device and long tome spying for you. 

You are not my only victim, I usually lock computers and ask for a ransom. 
But I was struck by the sites of intimate content that you often visit. 

I am in shock of your fantasies! I've never seen anything like this! 

So, when you had fun on piquant sites (you know what I mean!) 
I made screenshot with using my program from your camera of yours device. 
After that, I combined them to the content of the currently viewed site. 

There will be laughter when I send these photos to your contacts! 
BUT I'm sure you don't want it. 

Therefore, I expect payment from you for my silence. 
I think $826 is an acceptable price for it! 

Pay with Bitcoin. 
My BTC wallet: 1JTtwbvmM7ymByxPYCByVYCwasjH49J3Vj 

If you do not know how to do this - enter into Google "how to transfer money to a bitcoin wallet". It is not difficult. 
After receiving the specified amount, all your data will be immediately destroyed automatically. My virus will also remove itself from your operating system. 

My Trojan have auto alert, after this email is read, I will be know it! 

I give you 2 days (48 hours) to make a payment. 
If this does not happen - all your contacts will get crazy shots from your dark secret life! 
And so that you do not obstruct, your device will be blocked (also after 48 hours) 

Do not be silly! 
Police or friends won't help you for sure ... 

p.s. I can give you advice for the future. Do not enter your passwords on unsafe sites. 

I hope for your prudence. 

Friday, November 16, 2018


I received an email yesterday (It actually went into my spam folder- glad I happened to look) from a cloud backup provider named IDrive I've used them in the past with some clients but wasn't too impressed- I found their interface to be somewhat confusing and difficult to use.

Anyway, the email said the offer was good for only 1 day but when I looked today at their web site ( the offer still appears.

$6.95 for 5TB for a whole year is an amazing offer! But, after installing the software and trying it out, the regular price of $69.95 a year is also an amazing offer. They're really cleaned up the interface and made it quite easy to use. In addition, here are a number of the features I've found very nice:

  • First, if you click on the menu Tutorials you'll find a number of short videos that show just how to get the most out of the software. It doesn't matter how good the software is if it isn't easy to use.
  • The scheduling interface is very intuitive so scheduled backups are easy to configure- I've always been a big fan of "set it and forget it".
  • You can use 1 license to backup every computer in your house, as long as there is sufficient space. With 5TB, this shouldn't be a problem for most people.
  • The software automatically saves the previous 10 versions of your documents and makes it easy to recover different versions.
  • You can also perform local backups as well as cloud backups.
  • There is also an option to create an image of your entire drive- A really nice feature in case of a hard drive crash or unrecoverable file corruption.
Of course, in the fine print they state the following:

 The 90% offer is applicable for the first year only. 90% offer is valid only if you are currently using a paid competing cloud backup service. You need to provide proof of your existing paid service provider’s account. Competing services include Carbonite, Mozy, CrashPlan, Backblaze, SOS Online Backup, Dropbox and Google Backup and Sync.
Note: The special discount offer applies only to the plans listed here. Upgrading to a higher storage plan will negate the promotional pricing, and the full price of the higher plan needs to be paid.

While it says you must be subscribed to a competitor's paid account, I'm not sure that's true. One of the computers that I installed it on did NOT have any other backup software currently installed.


Their marketing worked! I've been a fan of a couple of competitor's products, I've come to the conclusion that this is a superior product and I plan on using them for years to come.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wow! Am I Lucky!

...Received this email recently:


We the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) noticed through our Intelligence Monitoring Network that your compensation funds which has been paid a long time ago, have not been remitted to you due to bad and corrupt offices. This Email is to enlighten you of a very important information which will be of a great help to redeem you from all the difficulties you might have been experiencing in getting your long overdue payment due to excessive demand of money from you by scammers and both corrupt Bank officials and Courier Companies, Diplomatic agents and fraudulent barristers after which your fund/payment remain unpaid to you.

I am Deputy Director David Bowdich, a highly placed official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have been assigned to take responsibility of your funds remittance to you without further delay. It may interest you to know that reports have reached our office by so many correspondences on the uneasy way which people like you are treated by Various Banks and Courier Companies across Africa to Asia and even here in USA and we have decided to put a stop to those nightmares, which is the reason I was appointed to handle your transaction. You are among the list of individuals and companies whose unpaid funds have been approved for payment under the stipulated guidelines of the United Nations Economic and Social Council. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other member countries of the United Nations. After releasing out this information to all lucky beneficiaries, any amount of money that will be found in the International Financial Database waiting to be transferred without claims.

It is our pleasure to let you know that your compensation worth US$7.500,000.00 (Seven Million Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars) has been verified and processed by the Funds Remittance Unit (F.R.U) in your name and its ready for pick up. For your notice; the management held a meeting today in regard to your choice of remittance and your time availability to receive the funds. This is to let you know that your funds would be coming to you via an authentic Bank Of America (BOA) ATM CARD, if coming down to the paying bank will be difficult and stressful for you. After depositing the funds of all lucky beneficiary into different bank accounts with the BANK OF AMERICA using your details in our database, We the Federal Bureau of investigation decided to award the contract of bulk delivery to the DHL Courier Service for them to give us their procedures on how to send the parcels without any delay.

Endeavor to listen to me carefully so that we can arrange and submit your paper works and files holding your funds release. The insurance and security keeping fee has been taken care of by the International Compensation Head Office payment Scrutinize unit. All I need now is your personal information and details;



Meanwhile you have been offered an official invitation to kindly travel down to the BOA Headquarters: Washington DC, United State of America to visit the paying bank and personally collect/claim your cash sum of Seven Million U.S Dollars (US$7M) after undergoing some due verification and clarification procedures. Alternatively, if you cannot visit the paying bank for collection of your COMPENSATION FUNDS as at when due, you must therefore apply for your merited funds to be sent/delivered to you via DHL Courier Service, which is at your own expenses. We have inquired from the DHL management about the cost of packaged ATM CARD smooth delivery and were told that the delivery will take only 48 hours to arrive and will cost the beneficiary US$575.00 only with no extra charge i repeat with no extra charge my word is my bond.

So if you are seriously interested to claim and collect your over-due payment, I will advise that you contact your corresponding directing officer with the official confidential contact details below and endeavor to comply with simple directives from his office.

SPECIAL AGENT: Mr.Joseph Scott
PHONE NUMBER: +1 (347) 812-0958. 

My guess is that they'll want me to give them my bank account information so they can deposit my funds directly into my account, which should make it super convenient!

Since I've been so fortunate, I'm sharing this with everyone so that maybe they can call and get in on this action- Just Kidding!!!! Please NEVER, NEVER, NEVER fall for this type of scam. This one, of course, is a dead giveaway because of the dollar amount quoted. However, I've seen similar scams with much lower amounts and they do sort of appear to be legit. But, I can assure you that anyone you don't know who contacts you out of the blue to tell you that you've come into money is only trying to relieve you of your hard earned savings. Don't fall for it!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Important Error Message from Microsoft Regarding Windows 10

I've had this happen twice now- All of a sudden, Windows reports that it is no longer activated. Thought it was just a fluke, but I guess it's becoming more of an issue.

Here's the text of an email I received from a vendor:

Please take a moment to review this briefing from Microsoft:
Many users of Windows 10 systems are suffering from an activation error that causes their systems to be listed as inactive. In the company's post supporting BBS, user Daniel Randy revealed that Microsoft support had confirmed to him that this was a problem that was common in multiple countries. Microsoft engineers advise users to wait up to two days until the solution is resolved, and contacting support now may not help. Microsoft just released a new issue bulletin on the current activation issues related to the Windows 10 Pro version. This is happening in Japan, South Korea, the United States and many other countries, "a Microsoft support engineer posted on community BBS. "I regret to inform you that Microsoft currently has a temporary problem with the activation server that some customers may encounter, where Windows appears to be inactive. Our engineers are working overtime to solve this problem and it is expected to be corrected within one or two working days. "The number of people reporting problems is growing every minute, which may indicate that this is a serious problem worldwide. Some users also reported that their copy of Windows has been downgraded from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Home. However, this seems to be a relatively rare behavior. Microsoft has yet to provide any other details and expects the number of users to continue to grow in the coming hours.”
Hopefully this issue will be corrected in the next 48 hours, we will keep you updated with any other news.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Goodbye Facebook

Here's an interesting article from Ced Kurtz at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

Recent events have convinced TechMan to do something I have been mulling over for a while — quitting Facebook.

There are good things about Facebook.

Since I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, the social media site allowed me to stay in touch with friends from high school and former co-workers from the newspaper there. It allowed me to commune with college friends in far-flung locales, to see pictures of their grandkids.

But three recent events have put me over the edge.

First is Facebook’s own report that says in the first three months of this year it disabled about 583 million fake accounts, many of those established by bots, Russian or otherwise, used to spread fake news. Cnet points out that the California-based company estimates about 3 percent to 4 percent of accounts on the website still are fake, which with Facebook’s huge user base is about 66 million fake accounts.

The social media site also took down 837 million spam posts, 21 million pieces of adult nudity and sexual activity; 3.5 million pieces of violent content; and 2.5 million pieces of hate speech. Talk about draining the swamp.

Then Facebook last week put out the “good news” that it was just 30 million accounts that were hacked recently, not 50 million as originally thought.
That broke down this way: 15 million users had their name and contact info (phone number and/or email) compromised while another 14 million lost that and their gender, Facebook username, location, language, relationship status, hometown, religion, current area of residence, birthdate, devices used to access Facebook, work, education, and more. The final million lost no data.

This is in addition to the site selling or giving access to your personal information to outside groups -— data that could be used, among other things, to try to influence elections, as shown by the now famous Cambridge Analytica case.

Finally, a New York Times report this week said that Myanmar military personnel were responsible for turning the social network into a tool for ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya Muslim minority group, 700,000 of whom fled the country in a year. United Nations officials have called it “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing.”

The military’s social media campaign has been spreading fake news, fake pictures of massacres by Muslims and rumors of pending jihadi attacks for half a decade. Facebook has taken down some accounts but use of the site is extensive in Myanmar and has far reach, the report said.

So because Facebook is a conduit for fake news, plays fast and loose with my personal information, and is used for heinous purposes by renegade governments, I no longer wish to be a member.

I am disabling my account at first instead of killing it immediately. Turns out deleting your account can cause problems with apps that use it and places where you sign in with your Facebook credentials.

So I feel more virtuous now. But how will I wish happy birthday to that kid I haven’t seen since third grade?

Now, if you want to deactivate your Facebook account, here are the steps:

  1. Click the account menu down arrow at the top right of any Facebook page in your web browser.
  2. Select 'Settings'
  3. Choose 'General' in the left column.
  4. Click 'Manage your account'
  5. Press 'Deactivate your account', and then follow the steps to confirm your decision.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Windows 7 End of Life

Microsoft's official support for Windows 7 ends on January 14, 2020. Last week, the US company announced that it would continue to support the popular operating system for business customers until 2023 - for money. But even private customers who do not want to invest any money in a support contract can hope to be able to use Windows 7 beyond 2020.

Firewall and virus protection are crucial. Even today, Avast still offers free protection for the long-expired Windows XP operating system. If you don't store sensitive data on your hard drive and don't use the device for online banking, you can not only work well offline, but occasionally even go online, but you should only access websites that are known to be secure. The best browser for this is the latest XP-compatible version of Opera.

Windows 7 still runs on around 40 percent of all computers worldwide. As long as the market share is above 10 percent, providers will be found who provide the latest browsers and protection software. The real end of Windows 7 usage is therefore not expected before the second half of the 2020s.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Another Phishing Attempt

Here's an email I recently received:

The things to note are:
  • The email address of the sender is "" Sounds similar to, but certainly NOT the same.
  • While the privacy statement indicates my "account information" is included, nowhere in the email does it name me personally.
  • Any attachment that looks this odd just isn't to be trusted.
I'll post more examples as I receive them. This one was pretty basic and some are quite impressive in just how closely they'll mimic legitimate sites.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Here's an interesting article by Adam Lovinus on the purchase of refurbished equipment. I sell brand new, refurbished, and used equipment. If purchasing from me, I differentiate between refurbished and used in the following manner:

Refurbished- Has been re-conditioned and thoroughly tested for proper performance by either my company or a reliable vendor that I deal with. Refurbished equipment always comes with a warranty of some sort that may vary in length between 1 month and 1 year.

Used- Anything I sell as used is typically not tested and may or may not be fully functional. Some used items may work just fine and I just don't have the means or time to test it, others may be good for parts only and still some may be just scrap. However, unless specified as "for parts only", any used item I sell online carry a full money back guarantee as to functionality.

Personally, I've purchased many refurbished items over the years and have not been disappointed. In fact, the digital camera I own was refurbished and I've been using it for 5 years now with no problems whatsoever.

Here's the article by Mr. Lovinus:

Anyone who has ever shopped for tech items knows that buying recertified or refurbished products can mean big-time savings. But there is something about the word “refurbished”—as if it connotes a rejected product that might not work, or is somehow inferior to something purchased new. Everyone likes to save money, but does not want to risk getting burned by a faulty item.
Historically, the difference between “recertified” and “refurbished” is that the former is covered by a warranty whereas the latter is sold “as-is.” For our intents and purposes, the terms are interchangeable. NeweggBuisness products called either recertified or refurbished come direct from manufacturers, and are guaranteed for a 90 day period.
There are other points of confusion as well. Let’s take a look at some of the other misconceptions about refurbished products to sort things out.
Myth #1: Refurbished hardware was at one time defective
Anyone who has ever worked in retail will tell you that devices are returned for a slew of reasons unrelated to defects. Retailers commonly have a 30 day return policy for electronics, and returns often happen as a result of buyer’s remorse, or the customer found a better deal after the purchase was made, or didn’t like some arbitrary feature about the product. Other reasons for a product being labeled as refurbished include:
  • The product incurred minor exterior damage from shipping;
  • The product served as a demo unit on the floor of a storeroom or tradeshow;
  • The product is an overstocked item not sold by the time the next generation becomes available.
We are not saying products are never returned due to defects—of course it happens. When it does, manufactures put them through a rigorous re-building process before placing them on the refurbished market. This process involves replacement of broken parts if needed, thorough testing of the product, and re-verification of the test results.
In any case, the best advice is to shop from a reputable authorized dealer that gets refurbished products direct from the manufacturer. This ensures that appropriate quality assurance measures were taken in restoring the product.

Myth #2: Refurbished computers are not guaranteed
On the contrary—manufacturers and authorized dealers commonly guarantee their refurbished products in writing. For example, NeweggBusiness includes a 90-day product warranty upon purchase of a refurbished product. Customers can further protect their refurbished item with an  extended warranty of up to three years for notebooks and desktops.  Should the refurbished product fail, the warranty guarantees free replacement of your item within five days, carries zero deductibles or shipping fees, and covers full parts and labor for any repairs. Buying an extended warranty comes highly recommended when dealing with refurbished products.

Myth #3: Refurbished computers are only for schools, libraries, and other public use places
There are plenty of feel-good stories about school districts saving taxpayers’ money by purchasing refurbished computers in bulk, and that’s great—saving money is the whole point of buying a refurbished item. But plenty of enterprise users are helping their bottom line by stocking up on refurbished equipment as well. The value-per-performance aspect of refurbished equipment is a solid bet for non-profits and small businesses, especially if the machines fit their performance needs. Even in larger scale enterprises and software development labs, it is not uncommon to find development environments comprised entirely of refurbished gear.
Myth #4 Refurbished PCs do not come with a Windows license
This all depends on where you buy the PC. Manufactures and authorized retailers like NeweggBusiness sell refurbished PCs that meet the Windows licensing requirement. If you buy a refurbished PC from Craigslist or some other third party source, you must ensure it meets certain criteria—and you must be careful with this to avoid a software piracy situation. A new Windows license is not required for a refurbished PC that has:
  1. The original Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for a Windows operating system affixed to the PC, and
  2. The original recovery media or hard-disk based recovery image associated with the PC. In most other instances, a Windows license must be purchased.
Myth #5 All refurbished items come at a deep discount
This is true a lot of the time, but some items—especially current generation, high-demand tech gadgets and some models of LED and plasma televisions—are discounted as little as 5-10 percent. It always pays to exercise due diligence as a consumer and double-check the price of a new item before pulling the trigger on a refurbished deal. New items will often have a longer warranty than a refurbished one, which could tip the scales in favor of buying new.