Menus and Clarity

Written: December 3, 2015

Web site menus can be very helpful or extremely frustrating to visitors, so let’s take a minute to think about how your menus are arranged. Here are some general best practices for menus to consider:

I was working on a web site at www.tualatinlife.com and had a chance to step back and ask myself these same questions. We were having too many menu choices across the page width, so I make the simple decision to group related menu pages under a common top-level menu called Sections. This is a newspaper site, and I knew that visitors were familiar with the concept of newspaper sections, so now there are three drop-down choices under Sections:

tualatin life, menu

 

Another usability issue is that for drop-down menus, visitors do not click the top-level menu, in this case the menu called Sections, because they see the three drop-down choices and intuitively click only the drop-down menus.

The end result for this web site is that we have a cleaner top-level menu structure, and have grouped common pages under the Sections menu.

Another Phishing Scheme, Not Really PayPal

Written: November 30, 2015

I first started using PayPal along with eBay over a decade ago and found that the combination of online payment with shopping was convenient, fast and secure. There’s only one problem with online payment systems, they are a constant target of hackers trying to steal our identity and money. A phishing scheme is something that looks on the surface like a legitimate request from a trusted vendor, like PayPal, but in fact it is really a disguise for the bad guys trying to gain your username and password. Just this morning I received the following official-looking email:

PayPal scam

The logo is an official PayPal logo, but then again anyone can copy and reuse a corporate logo and insert it into an email. Taking a closer look by clicking on the From field in the email I noticed right away that this wasn’t a legitimate message from PayPal:

PayPal from address

PayPal doesn’t use an email address of mcaji8@suddenlink.net, ever. They would use something like security@paypal.com. PayPal does recommend that when you receive a suspicious email to simply forward it to them at spoof@paypal.com.

PayPal does know my real email address, so that should appear in the To field, but in this phishing email it doesn’t:

PayPal to address

See how this fake email is using the same address in both the To and From fields? That’s another give away that this is not a legitimate email message.

The final proof of this malicious email is in the big blue button for: Check it Here. By just hovering my mouse over that button I can tell where it links to, and that shows the bogus address:

PayPal button

Certainly PayPal doesn’t use web addresses like www.uptownpaint.com to ask for my login credentials.

Summary

Be very hesitant to reveal your username and password for any online account, unless you are 100% certain that it is legitimate. By just checking the email fields like To and From, or the action Button you will protect yourself from a phishing scam trying to steal your identity.

Windows 10 – November Update

Written: November 19, 2015

Like many other businesses I use Windows 10 and right about now your PC should be nudging you to upgrade with the latest update. When you do agree to update, then expect that the download will take at least one hour, so just let that start in the background. During the actual update you may want to go to lunch, or plan to do this at the end of the business day so that you don’t lose any time during working hours.

windows 10 november update

Changes

Microsoft has an official list of the changes here. On the Start menu the columns go from three to four, and you can resize the tiles. You can now cram up to 2,048 items in the Start menu, which is way too many for my taste. Microsoft will now start to suggest apps for you.

Find My Device is useful if your laptop has gone missing, look in Control Panel, then Security.

Boot times could be up to 30% faster now with this update.

Glitches

Some people have found that their installation gets stuck at 44%, especially if you have an SD card inserted.

Other users found out that default app choices got reset with this update.

There are reports that several programs may be removed during install, like: CPU-Z, speccy, 8gadgetpack, a Cisco VPN client, SATA drivers, SpyBot, F5 VPN, Steam, Origin and Adobe CS, ugh.

updating windows

all your files, windows 10

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If At First You Don’t Succeed

Written: November 3, 2015

My previous blog reported on a defective HP printer after only 5 months of very light use, so today after a bike ride I returned home to find my replacement HP Officejet Pro 6830 printer all ready to un-box and setup. I was giddy with excitement, because who doesn’t like receiving a free gift in the mail? The old printer was unplugged, cartridges removed, then the replacement printer was plugged in and I re-used my previous cartridges. Setup went along only so far, and then I received a warning page about my cartridges telling me to, “Install the Setup Cartridges”.

HP 6830 printer

I tried a second set of cartridges that I had bought last week and used on my defective printer, but these weren’t accepted by the replacement printer. I phoned¬†HP tech support and spent the next 54 minutes following inane instructions from a person living in a far away land where English was not their first language. Out of curiosity I took the brand new cartridges sent with the replacement printer and tried those, suddenly my setup screen advanced a few more steps until it reached Printer Alignment. At this step out came a page in pretty cyan colors, but not other colors, followed by a dialog, “Alignment Failed”.

Tech support promised to send out yet another replacement printer to replace the first replacement printer. My oh my, how can a major company like HP stay in business when their consumer printers seemingly don’t quite work as advertised? After buying HP products since the 1970’s I’m not sure why I would ever buy anything from HP for the rest of my adult life. How can such a great brand like HP have so much trouble making their printers work, out of the box?

No more HP ever

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