Feel Like a Sports Star

Written: June 16, 2017

A kind word goes a long way, and I can still remember words of encouragement from my Little League coach from decades ago. So why not make your favorite sports person feel even more special with their own photo on a package of gum? Well, that’s the great idea of My Big League Chew company, located in Chicago. I’ve helped them setup their web presence and e-commerce system so that parents from around the USA can treat their sports hero to a fun gift.

Go ahead and show some kindness to the children in your life, it will pay dividends in the years to come.

Google Docs Phishing Scam

Written: June 1, 2017

I have been using Google Docs (aka Google Drive) for several years now, and it’s another easy to use, cloud-based storage where I can keep important documents for my own business or documents to share with clients and other freelance professionals. Today I received the following email message:

Google Docs scam

Email

At first glance it looks like a legitimate email message, however the subject line includes an email address that doesn’t exist although the domain name is from my own web site.

The big, blue button for View Document links to a phishing web site that has nothing to do with Google:

Google Phishing link

Phishing Link

S0 now I know for certain that this is yet another phishing scam that wants me to click a bogus link and end up at some web site that will steal my username and password. The second clue that this email is a phishing scam is the From address:

Google phishing address

Phishing address

So, be safe today when you receive an email like this one purporting to be from Google Docs, when in fact it is really a phishing scam trying to steal your username and password instead. When in doubt about an email check for these signs:

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That isn’t Dropbox

Written: May 9, 2017

This morning in my email was an official looking message from Dropbox stating, “You have a new document sent to you via Dropbox due to the large size of the file.

Dropbox email message

Email message

So the grammar looked OK, the Dropbox logo was included, a pleasant line border made it look pretty, but still there were a few things odd about the message that caught my attention:

The clincher that this was a phishing scam and not to be trusted were two points:

From address

From Address

from address

PDF link

So please don’t trust every email that you receive from Dropbox, do a little detective work like checking the From address and the PDF link, along with trusting the Subject line. Don’t be fooled by these latest phishing scams because they want you to download an attached file that is either going to infect your computer or direct you to some shady web site.

Nest Thermostat – Not So Friendly

Written: April 30, 2017

My wife exclaimed, “Our thermostat won’t do what I want it to anymore. It’s time to replace it.”

She was referring to our 20+ year old Honeywell thermostat that came with our home. I agreed and had already researched the new crop of “Smart Thermostats”, deciding to go with the chic Nest unit, now owned by Google. My local Home Depot store had it in stock, although I had to visit the Service Desk to actually get the unit because they don’t keep them out in the open, just in case a thief wants to walk out of the store with one.

Nest Thermostat

Nest Thermostat

Removing the old thermostat and mounting the new Nest was straight forward, however during the setup process the Nest device tried to connect or our WiFi called PAYNE. First attempt to connect was met with the error message, “Failed to connect”. OK, so I re-type the password, still no connection. Next I tried a second network named PAYNE-5G, same issue of “Failed to connect” for two attempts.

I visit the Next web site, find the support page, and give them a phone call. The recorded voice says that I have to wait about 10 minutes. No problem. On the web I visit their FAQ section and click around on WiFi issues, where they have six recommendations, none of which helps my unit to connect. After 10 minutes my support phone call is abruptly disconnected, having never reached a live person. Huh, this is not going well today.

Then I started to wonder why the Nest device couldn’t connect to WiFi, maybe I could change something on my WiFi router to make it all better, so I login to my router and notice that I can choose which Channel my WiFi is using. So I change from channel 3, to 4 to channel 5. Bingo, because now I could finally connect the WiFi on the Nest device to my home network. No thanks to the Nest phone support system or their web site FAQ, I had to figure it out myself and that took about 60 minutes of sleuthing and trying various combinations of settings.

Now that the new thermostat is installed and working I’m supposed to achieve some energy savings as this system learns our heating and cooling habits and preferences. I also applied for $50.00 cash back from the Energy Trust of Oregon, so that will help sweeten the deal a bit. Our family can also use an App on our Android phones to view the thermostat settings and control it remotely, kind of cool. We have officially started to build our Smart Home, so let’s see where this journey takes us.

Eco mode for energy savings

Eco mode for energy savings

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