It is time to take a moment for a good old fashion Public Service Announcement. The New York Times posted an article a while back about fake tech support scams. These are not new and something we, here at QCTechJunkie, have been very much aware of. But, the article in The New York Times did provide some very interesting insights into the evolution of fake tech support scams. We strongly suggest you take a moment to read it. If you are pressed for time, here's are basic run down of fake tech support scams:

The "Classic" Routine

Everyone has experienced this routine. A window pops up onto your computer screen, usually while browsing the web. The screen tells you that your computer is infected and offers up some technical support to help resolve the issue, "just click here."

Over time this routine has evolved into various other routines. A chat window on a web page, an email, a phone call, a text message, and the list goes on. Everyone has or will experience one of these "alerts." We are here to tell you that 99% of the time, there is nothing wrong with your computer. Customer support or technical support will never, ever, call/email/text/pop-up you first. They will only contact you once you have contacted them first.

tech support scam message box 2
Image: Microsoft

Take a moment to think about it, please. For example, Microsoft and Apple are huge companies with millions of customers. There is no financially sound, ethical, and, most likely, legal solution to monitor, report, and resolve issues of each individual customer's device. It is just just not possible. If something is wrong with your device, you will most likely know. And if you want help, then you will have to do the work to get help. Calling tech support, waiting on hold, explain the issue, explain your troubleshooting steps, and work through their troubleshooting steps.

Take the above photo from Microsoft. The scammer cannot even take the time to imitate Microsoft properly. It's a generic windows with a ton of "Scary" sounding words. That's a big red flag all in it's own.

What to should you do?

This is the most simple section for us to write... Just ignore it. Mark the emails as spam so it get's reported. Also, ignore unknown number phone calls, delete unknown number text messages, close the browser tab, the list goes on. Doing nothing and ignoring them is the best thing to do.

A wireless network is something most people take for granted. When it is working, no one notices. The moment it starts to act up, usually slower speeds, you notice and get upset. Thankfully, there are a few things you keep in mind when setting up, or updating, your wireless network to help provide the best experience possible.

There have been times where friends and family members have asked:

Which WiFi band should I use? 5Ghz or 2.4GHz? What difference does it make? How many devices can I connect to my WiFi?

Friends

What is a dual band router?

The easiest way to explain this is that most modern day wireless routers feature dual band wireless networks. One band operates at 2.4GHz and the other at 5GHz. During setup, the router will ask you to create a network name (SSID) and password for each band. Some WiFi routers will allow you set one name and password for both bands, but we do not recommend it. Having two names allows you to manage which devices connect to the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands.

What's the Difference?

The 2.4GHz WiFi band has been a standard for a while, it offers up decent speeds but allows for a lot of coverage and range. The 5GHz WiFi band and allows for really fast WiFi speeds, but the coverage and range is weaker. Simply put 2.4GHz is for range and 5GHz is for speed. Since 2.4GHz WiFi band is so widely used, it's a heavily congested band. This will cause issues with all devices on your network, because that band is used by other wireless routers too, so they all compete in that space. 5GHz is way less congested making it ideal for speed and more stable connections.

Which WiFi Band Should I Use?

As we stated before, when setting up your WiFi network, name 2.4Ghz and 5GHz different names. For example, wireless-2.4 and wireless-5. Now to answer the question, which one should you use? The answer is both. Having the different names, this allows you to customize which WiFi band your devices use. Giving you more control over your WiFi network and how it is used.

Examples

Now lets take a look at some examples of devices you might connect to your WiFi network and which WiFi band you should use. This list is not comprehensive. It will give you a better idea on determining which WiFi band works for your devices. The one rule we are using is the bandwidth needs of the device in question. Some devices will not support 5GHz, at which point, you have no option.

Use 2.4GHz for low bandwidth devices, such as:

  • Smart Devices
    • Speakers
    • TVs
    • Thermostats
  • Fitness devices
  • Printers & Scanners
  • Scanners

User 5GHz for high bandwidth devices, such as:

Laptops, streaming devices, security cameras, and tablets are heavy bandwidth users. But, because of range issues, those devices may need to connect the 2.4GHz WiFi band to be usable. Check out how streams or video feeds or downloads perform with these devices on both 5GHz and 2.4GHz bands. This will help determine if range is an issue. Use the WiFi band that provides a more stable connection.

Why Not Just Use 5GHz?

When speed is a concern, then you should use the 5GHz WiFi band. Not many devices will benefit from the speed 5GHz offers.

A more technical explanation is that the more devices you connect to the 5GHz WiFi band, means the more devices that are attempting to hog more of your internet bandwidth. Say you have 10 devices connected to your 5GHz WiFi band. Now, say they are all actively transmitting and requesting data. In the end, your connections will most likely result in slower speeds for all your devices across all WiFi bands.

According to the Experts

Whenever a device connects to your Wi-Fi network, it has to fight with other devices for bandwidth (internet speed). A TV streaming Netflix, a laptop downloading, an Xbox Live gaming session — they all want the fastest connection. But there’s only so much bandwidth to go around. Your bandwidth is stretched thin, resulting in a slower connection.

Google 

However, since the router’s wireless channel is shared between all the wireless clients, adding clients will inevitably result in slower network access for all clients. This will be particularly noticeable if some of the clients are using a lot of wireless bandwidth, for example by watching a video or doing a torrent download. Therefore, the maximum number of wireless clients that will operate satisfactorily while connected to the same router will vary depending on what the devices are used for. It will also vary depending on how much wireless congestion or interference are present in the location where the router is installed.

Netgear

Final Thoughts

Not all WiFi routers are created equal. Most WiFi AC routers will have more bandwidth capabilities than WiFi N routers. You will still end up seeing slow down issues on AC devices, but the effects will be much less than that of WiFi N routers. If speed is a concern, then manage which devices use your 2.4GHz and 5GHz WiFi bands. If you still see some issues, look into updating your WiFi router to an AC1200 or better device.

At some point in your life, you will need or want to save an important voicemail. Maybe it's the last message you received from a loved one or important information. Regardless, you want to make sure you do not lose that voice mail.

All voicemails are stored in your voice mail box, but storage is limited by space and age. So, your voice mail box is not a good long-term storage option. Additionally, getting a new phone or switching phone providers will most likely result in voice mails getting deleted as well. Thankfully, we will go over a few options for storing voicemails that are important to you.

iPhone Voicemails

iPhone users can export a voicemail message with the iPhone's share function.

  1. Go to Phone > Voicemail
  2. Tap the voicemail message that you'd like to save, then tap Share icon.
  3. Choose Add to Notes or Voice Memos. Then save your voicemail message. You may also choose Messages or Mail, and send your message with the attached voicemail. You can also share the voicemail by tapping an AirDrop contact.
ios12 iphone x phone voicemail share
Image: Apple

After you have exported your voicemail, make sure to backup the file up to a couple of locations, such as iTunes backup or cloud storage like Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.

Android Voicemails

Android users can also save their voicemails too. But, the process is a little bit different. The differences depend on your service provider, the voicemail application, and the model of Android phone. Because of this, we will go over some general steps on saving your voicemail on Android phones. This should get you pointed in the correct direction.

Most stock phone and voicemail apps, from major phone providers, will include an option to save copies of your voicemails. Simply open up your phone's voicemail app, locate the voicemail you wish to save, tap or tap and hold the message. This should open up a list of options for the voicemail message. Select the option Save or Save to phone or Archive, the option should be similar to those words. After selecting your preferred option, select a storage location, if prompted, to save your message. Once again, after the voicemail message has been saved, make sure to back it up to additional locations.

You also have the option of using third party apps as well. The only problem here is that all voicemails received prior to installing the app will still be unavailable to save. Google Voice, for example, has an option to send your voicemail messages as MP3s to your email. The other issue, is some third party apps require to buy them to get all the features for your voicemail messages.

Use Your PC to Save Voicemails

If you are still having issues saving your voicemails from your phone, you can always record the message through your PC. This option takes a little work, some software, and some additional hardware. However, this option will work for Android and iPhone.

audacity
Image: Audacityteam.org

You will need a microphone compatible 3.5mm male-to-male audio cable or an attached microphone for your PC. If your phone does not have a headphone jack, you will need an adapter as well. Lastly, you will need the software to record the voicemail as it plays back. A great, free and open source, option is Audacity. Other programs, such as Adobe Audition or Garageband will work as well. Now just follow these simple steps:

  1. Plug your phone into your computer's microphone jack with the audio cable. If you using using a microphone, make sure the microphone is working on your PC.
  2. Open Audacity and change the recording source to Line-In Mic from the Options menu. This is located in the drop-down menu next to the microphone icon.
  3. Go to Edit > Preferences > Recording and check the box for Software Playthrough. This is a step that can be skipped if you're using an external microphone.
  4. On your phone, select the voicemail message you wish to record. Click the red Record button in Audacity, then play the voicemail message on your phone. As the voicemail plays, you should see it being recorded on Audacity's timeline.
    • Note: If you have to use an external microphone, make sure your phone is set to speaker phone and the sound is directed at the PC's microphone.
  5. After the voicemail has finished playing, click the yellow Stop button in Audacity to stop recording.
  6. Save your recording by going toFile > Export. Audacity will then export the recording to the location you choose.

Lastly, take those Audacity recordings and back them up to additional locations as well. The last thing you want is to lose the recorded voicemails you just created.

Deleting your personal data, like web searches, can be a daunting activity. You need to take it seriously. If you do not, then other people have the potential to find that data. Below, we break down how to better delete your personal data.

Smartphone or Tablet

We have all been here, you're selling an old phone or tablet, or donating it to someone or some place. Regardless, the device is will no longer be in your possession. Because of this you want to be 100% sure everything is gone from said device. No body wants to find out their Facebook account was accessed from an old device being used by someone else.

Thankfully, most smartphones have made it relatively easy to securely wipe data from them. As long as your data has been encrypted, your data is protected. Most Android and iOS devices are encrypted right out of the box. Because your data is encrypted, factory resets make it almost impossible for any data to be recovered. Here's how your factory reset your devices:

Android

  1. Go to Settings > System > Advanced > Reset >  Erase all data (factory reset)
  2. Tap through each confirmation prompt to confirm the factory reset.
androidWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie

iOS

  • Navigate to Settings > General > Reset > Erase All Content and Settings
iosWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie

Note: For either device, make sure you have all of your photos, music, or anything else backed up and securely stored somewhere.

PC or Laptop

Windows and macOS make securely wiping your pc or laptop easier, and more secure, than it used to be. By default, Windows 10 does not encrypt your data. The upside, Windows 10 can securely erase your files during a reset. Meaning that recovery programs will not be able to grab any data after the reset.

Windows 10

  1. Go to Windows Settings > Update & Security > Recovery
  2. Click Get Started, under Reset this PC, and choose Remove Everything
windowsWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie

macOS

By default, OS X Yosemite and newer will encrypt Mac's with a tool called FileVault. Make sure this feature is running via Apple > System Preferences >Security & Privacy > FileVault. Enable this encryption if it is not already enabled. Once encrypted your data will be impossible to recover after a full reset.

macosWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie
  1. Go to Apple > Restart
  2. Hold CMD + R as your computer restarts
  3. Choose Disk Utility from the options list and select your drive
  4. Click Erase
  5. Select Mac OS Extended (Journaled)
  6. Click Erase

Web Accounts

Going through every web account and how to delete it is an impossible task. Therefore, we can provide you with some general guidelines on what you should do though. Most websites will maintain your data, post delete, for 90 or more days.

Example Web Account: Facebook

  1. From your Facebook account, open Settings
  2. Click Your Facebook Information
  3. Optional: Click Download Info
  4. Click Delete Account
facebookWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie

Example Web Account: Google

Google maintains a lot of data about you. Thankfully they provide you that data via your My Activity page. From this page you can adjust various data logging levels by clicking Activiy Controls. Lastly, clicking Delete Activity will take you a page where you can choose what data you want deleted from your account. If you choose to delete everything, make sure to get a copy of your data from Google Takeout.

googleWipe
Image: QCTechJunkie

Example Web Account: Apple

Apple also makes things pretty painless for deleting your data they have collected. Simply go online, sign into your Apple ID account, click Request to Delete Your Account, read through the disclaimer, and confirm your choice to delete the account.

Other Personal Data

PCs, laptops, phones, tablets, and social media accounts are not the only areas that have collected personal data from you. For example, smart home speakers, like Amazon Echo or Google Home, collect data on you as well. The data Google Home collects can delete be delete from the same My Activity page we wrote about earlier. Amazon will allow you to delete your Echo's voice recordings from your Amazon Devices page.

Cloud Storage services, like Dropbox, will probably keep copies of deleted files in case you need them at some point in the future. Features like this are great when you need to recover something you realize you still need. However, this feature is not great if someone gains access to your account, because they can easily go digging around and recover those files as well. In the end, if you have something sensitive that you need to delete, especially from cloud storage, you need to make sure it's actually deleted.

Example Cloud Storage: Dropbox

  1. If you haven't already, delete the files you want to permanently delete.
  2. From the file browser, click the trash can icon to show deleted files.
  3. Once you find the file or folder you’d like to permanently delete, hover your mouse pointer over the file or folder name, and check the checkbox that appears.
  4. Click Permanently delete.
  5. Click Permanently delete in the pop up that appears.

Example Cloud Storage: Google Drive

Unlike Dropbox, Google Drive allows you to permanently delete multiple files or all of your deleted files.

Empty your entire trash

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Make sure there are no files you want to keep.
  4. At the top, click Empty trash

Delete an individual file forever

  1. On your computer, go to drive.google.com.
  2. On the left, click Trash.
  3. Click a file.
  4. At the top, click Delete forever .

Example Cloud Storage: OneDrive

OneDrive, like many cloud storage services, will store deleted files in a Recycle Bin. From there you can restore files, if you need to. You can select Recycle bin in the OneDrive left side navigation

oneDriveRecycle
Image: Microsoft
  • To permanently delete specific files or folders from the recycle bin, select those items, then select Deletein the top navigation.
  • To permanently delete the entire recycle bin at once, select Empty recycle bin in the top navigation.

Regardless of the device or web account or service, it is always a good idea to make sure your data is deleted properly. We have only listed a handful of examples and how to delete your data properly. A simple web search should help you figure out the best route for deleting your data from whatever device, account, or service you use. If anything, you will learn more about the data you leave behind, something you do with out realizing it. Trust us, it's worth the extra effort to protect yourself and your data from leaking out into the wrong hands.

SplashData compiles over 5 million passwords, that have leaked online, from 2018. From that data, they are able to build a list of the top 25 most used passwords of 2018. The sad part? The top two passwords have been the same top two passwords for five years now. No one should ever use "123456" or "password" and yet millions of people do.

We will note that several of the top 25 passwords are repeats from previous years, though their use has varied from year to year. One upside to all this data? There are a few new passwords on the list.

Sorry, Mr. President, but this is not fake news – using your name or any common name as a password is a dangerous decision. Hackers have great success using celebrity names, terms from pop culture and sports, and simple keyboard patterns to break into accounts online because they know so many people are using those easy-to-remember combinations. Our hope by publishing this list each year is to convince people to take steps to protect themselves online,” Slain said. “It’s a real head-scratcher that with all the risks known, and with so many highly publicized hacks such as Marriott and the National Republican Congressional Committee, that people continue putting themselves at such risk year-after-year.

- Morgan Slain, CEO of SplashData

This list is to help raise awareness for internet users on adapting better security measure, like stronger passwords. Strong passwords do not guarantee better online safety, but they do increase it. If you use a password that is on this list, you are just asking to be hacked.

2018's 25 Worst Passwords

 1. 123456    - Unchanged
 2. password  - Unchanged
 3. 123456789 - Up 3 from 2017
 4. 12345678  - Down 1 from 2017
 5. 12345     - Unchanged
 6. 111111    - New for 2018
 7. 1234567   - Up 1 from 2017
 8. sunshine  - New for 2018
 9. qwerty    - Down 5 from 2017
10. iloveyou  - Unchanged
11. princess  - New for 2018
12. admin     - Down 1 from 2017
13. welcome   - Down 1 from 2017
14. 666666    - New for 2018
15. abc123    - Unchanged
16. football  - Down 7 from 2017
17. 123123    - Unchanged
18. monkey    - Down 5 from 2017
19. 654321    - New for 2018
20. !@#$%^&*  - New for 2018
21. charlie   - New for 2018
22. aa123456  - New for 2018
23. donald    - New for 2018
24. password1 - New for 2018
25. qwerty123 - New for 2018

No matter the reason, having people gather around your laptop or computer to show off a video or photos can be a pain. Below are six ways to get your laptop or computer displayed on your TV. The best part? Minimal effort, hardware, and cash required.

1. Chromecast

By far the easiest option is using Google's Chromecast. Any tab from Google Chrome can be cast to your TV. And you have three ways to accomplish this too:

  1. Cast Enabled Website
    • Open up any cast-enabled website, i.e. YouTube.
    • Click on the 'Cast' icon in the bottom right hand corner of the player.

video cast

Image: Google

  1. Chrome Settings Menu
    • Select 'Cast' from the Chrome's settings menu, located in the upper right hand corner of your browser.

menu cast

Image: Google

    • Select the casting device you wish to use:

cast menu

Image: Google

  1. Right Click on Webpage in Chrome
    • Right click anywhere on a webpage and select "Cast"

rightclick cast

Image: Google

Note: You can continue to browse the internet by using another Chrome tab. Casting will only occur from the tab you start the cast from.

Casting from the browser can result in some lag on certain websites. With this option, we recommend casting just websites and photos over videos.

2. Roku

All Roku devices come with the ability to Miracast. With this option, you will find it easiest to mirror Window devices vs Mac. Using miracast through Roku is very similar to Chromecast.

From your Windows device:

  1. Open Action Center by clicking the notification icon, on the right side of the taskbar.
  2. Select Connect
  3. Select Roku from the list of available devices.
    • Your Roku device should be powered on and on the same WI-FI network as your Windows device.

rokuMirroring

Image: Roku

Roku will prompt you for approval of any device that is attempting to connect and mirror content to it. You can learn more about approved devices here.

3. AirPlay

AirPlay is Apple's version of casting/mirroring. You will need an Apple TV to accomplish this as well. All things considered, this is the best solution for Apple users.

Configure your AirPlay device and ensure the Apple device you wish to mirror is connected to the same WI-FI as your AirPlay device. If everything is configured properly then you will see the AirPlay button in your menu bar. From the AirPlay menu, select the device you which to mirror your screen to.

appletv icon

4. Plex

Plex does not actually have any mirroring capabilities, it is a media server. All videos, music, and photos on your computer can be served to your TV via Plex. Plex is a great solution for many people because of support for so many streaming devices.

In order to get yourself up and running, you need to download and install Plex on your computer (Windows or Mac). Thankfully, the team behind Plex have this handy guide to get your up and running. Once you have everything setup, anything you tell Plex to index on your computer should be available on your TV.

5. AirParrot 2

AirParrot 2 requires an Apple TV or Chromecast device in order to work. You will also have to pay for the software, though there is a free trial available. I would recommend giving it a try before you purchase a license.

Once you have the software installed on your computer, it will find all available devices that support mirroring. You also have the option to steam videos, music, and photos to your TV. And you can do so without the need to see the whole computer screen, similar to Plex.

The biggest draw to AirParrot 2 is the ability to mirror to multiple devices at once, high quality streaming, and you can mix and match streaming devices. So, your Windows PC can now stream to your Apple TV or your Mac can stream to your Chromecast.

6. Cables

This is the easiest solution for most people. Take an HDMI cable and connect your laptop or PC to your TV directly. The connection is fast and stable, guaranteed. Once you connect your computer to your TV, your computer should prompt you, almost immediately, with an option on how you want to use your TV. Treat the TV as an additional monitor? Check. Duplicate your computer's screen to you TV? Check.

Both of the above options are available for Windows and Macs. If you have any issues or would like to switch between extending to your TV or duplicating your computer screen, just look below:

  • Windows
    • Right click on your Desktop and select 'Display Settings'
    • Scroll down to 'Multiple Displays' and select the display option you prefer
  • Mac
    • Go to Apple menu >System Preferences, then click Displays.
    • Select 'System Preferences' from the Apple menu.
    • Click the 'Displays' option
    • Select the 'Arrangement' tab and select the display option you prefer

One thing to note is that many ultra thin and small laptops will have limited or no HDMI ports. If that is the case, then you will need to buy an adapter for your USB/Lighting port. In the end, if you need to keep the lag between what you see on your computer and your TV low, then this is the best option.

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