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.

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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.

Android 9 Pie is finally here for everyone who own Pixel devices. Then all other eligible Android devices will get the update. I have been running Pie on my Pixel 2 XL for over a week now and here are some of the new features Android 9 Pie bring to your device.

1. Adaptive Battery

Google has been working hard at maximizing battery usage for Android for some time now. The latest step in maximizing your battery is Adaptive battery. Android will learn over time which apps are most important to you and prioritize battery usage for them. This means apps you rarely use will not hog as much battery as they used to in previous versions of Android. With this feature on, low priority apps will see a delay in notifications to your phone. And yes, Battery Saver is still a part of Android, which helps squeeze out as much battery life as possible when your already low on battery power.

2. Adaptive Brightness

Android has always had an auto brightness control, but it only used the phone's light sensor to make adjustments.  Adaptive Brightness is another smart/learning feature for Android 9. Over time, the feature will use ambient light levels, you brightness adjustments, and the apps you use to help build better brightness profiles tailored to your phone use.

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Image - Google

3. App Actions

Android will start creating customized shortcuts, for you, in the app drawer. The customized shortcuts are based on how you use your home. For example, over time Android 9 will learn that Tuesday morning around 8 am you typical use navigation and listen to an audio book during your morning commute. This will in turn prompt Android to start providing app shortcuts in your app drawer for for those two options. Android will also provide a shortcut to a favorite artist on Spotify, or favorite music application, when you connect headphones to your phone.

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Image - Google

4. Slices

Coming later this fall Android 9 will start including app shortcuts in search results whenever you start a search on your phone. Let's use Lfty as an example. If you search for Lyft you will see app quick links for ordering a ride to work or home, depending on the day and your location. You will also see estimated costs in the shortcuts too.

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Image - Google

5. Screenshots With One Hand

For most people, taking screenshots on Android phones involves press the Volume Down and the Power button at the same time. This feature has always worked well for most. Android 9 Pie has introduced a new way to take screenshots. You can now just long press the Power button to bring up the power options. Included in those options is an option to take a screenshot. With this feature, you can now take screenshots with one hand.

6. Gesture Navigation

Android 9 Pie introduces some additional gesture controls for users. The newest is the ability to swipe up on the Home screen to see recently used apps, versus using the square overview button. If you swipe up a second time the app drawer will appear. In practice this makes navigation a little bit more intuitive with one hand. Depending on your phone you can adjust this from Settings > System > Gestures menu.

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Image - Google

7. Rotate Screen Confirmation

Prior to Pie, users had two options for screen rotation: Auto and Fixed. Those options are still present, but if you have the option set to fixed, Android 9 Pie will prompt you  with a rotation button. This button's location is where the square overview button used to be. This rotation button will appear anytime the system notices the phone's rotation has changed from portrait and landscape.

8. Per Bluetooth Device Volume Memory

One thing I personally struggle with is managing the volume of my media when switching between the Bluetooth headphones I wear at the gym and the Bluetooth audio connection in my car. With Android 9 Pie the device will remember the volume settings last used for each Bluetooth device. It's a simple feature but a powerful one.

9. Smarter Notifications

Over time Android 9 will start to learn which notifications you tend to dismiss relative to the number of notifications you get from an app. If the system determines a certain app is spamming you with a lot of notifications, and you are just dismissing them, then Android 9 will ask if you want to mute said notification. Now you will not see that particular notification anymore. Additionally, under Settings > App > Name of the App > Notifications, you will be able to see a notification count and options to change app notification preferences to mute or on.

10. Improved Do Not Disturb

In addition to silencing incoming alerts, Do Not Disturb mode will now silence all visual alerts as well. This means your phone's display will not light up anymore either. But fear not, any starred contact will still ring your phone, making sure you miss nothing important. Check out Settings > Sounds > Do Not Disturb for all the additional options.

11. Digital Wellbeing

Digital Wellbeing is Google's commitment to Android helping to improve your life and not distract from it. These tools are still in the beta phase, but Pixel owners can try them out now. One of the best benefits is being able to see how you spend time on your phone. You can see which apps you spend the most time with and you can setup limits on usage. Obviously, these limits are easy to disable. But, this is a step in the right direction to help curb phone use and focus on you.

12. Wind Down

An extension to the Digital Wellbeing section is a feature called Wind Down. Many people tend to be on their phones late into the night. Phones screens have a nasty affect on your sleeping habits. With Wind Down you can setup a bedtime schedule. As your bedtime approaches your phone will begin to fade your phone's screen to grey scale, reduce the color temperature (make the screen less blue), and enable Do Not Disturb. This helps prepare you for sleep. When you wake up in the morning, those settings will revert for you.

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Image - Google

On June 11, 2018 the net neutrality laws repeal went into effect by the Federal Communications Commission. This will now give internet providers, like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T free reign to throttle speeds and block websites as they see fit. This also allows them to create internet fast lanes.

A lot of people still do not understand net neutrality. Why it is important? Here the key points you need to 10understand.

1. The Internet Could Become Like Cable TV

This is the easiest way to explain net neutrality. If you have had cable TV, then you understand that many cable providers will force you to pay extra for hundreds of channels you do not want, just so you can have HBO or Starz or some premium sport channel.

Internet services providers can now adopt a similar business model. Providers can now block Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, Instagram, etc. if they like. You want access to those services? Then you need to pay for an internet package that includes those services. For example:

  • Social Services Basic - $20/month - Includes access to Snapchat, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare
  • Social Services Plus - $60/month - Includes access Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit and all services in Social Services Basic
  • Streaming Services Basic - $30/month - Includes access to Sling TV, Pluto, LiveLeak
  • Streaming Services Plus - $80/month - Includes access Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and all services in Streaming Services Basic

Note: Packages only allow customer to reach services. Customer still needs paid subscription to access the service, if applicable. 

2. The Internet is a necessity, like electricity and water.

You might not physically need the internet to survive, but for most of us it’s become an absolute necessity. We rely on the internet for work, to communicate with family and friends, and to organize our lives.

Just like electricity, natural gas, sewage and water, the internet has become an necessity in everyday life. Companies and people rely on the internet for communications, organizations, automation, and work.

Internet services providers, the majority of them, are companies that care about profits, not you. Everyone has the basic right to water, electricity, and natural gas at their homes. Because of this there are regulations for the  price of those utilities. Given the importance of the internet, it has become a utility as well, shouldn't it be regulated like the rest of our utilities? Control should not be with companies that are more concerned about their profit margins.

3. Protections from Online Censorship

The one key point of net neutrality is that it stopped internet providers from blocking websites the provider disagreed with. Since the repeal of net neutrality, internet providers can censor anything on the internet they like.

When censorship is in place, this can slow innovation. AT&T had Apple blocking VOIP services because they did not want users using more data to make phone calls customer otherwise could not make, like international calls. Internet providers could also censor websites that compete with any of the media properties they own. Or they could censor websites that review their service poorly.

4. Internet Investments increased since 2015's Net Neutrality Laws

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai makes statements all the time that the 2015 Net Neutrality laws stifle innovation and made it hard for companies to invest in their internet infrastructure. The FCC's repeal is in direct response to those statements.

Here's the problem with Ajit's statements, Free Press had reported that investments for internet infrastructure have indeed increased since 2015. The report shows that internet services providers had spent more money expanding their networks since the Net Neutrality laws than any of the years prior to those laws. Even the majority of internet providers saw their revenues increase, outpacing the U.S. economy revenue growth rate.

The point is Ajut's statements are flat out lies. The net neutrality laws gave internet providers clear standards they needed to meet.

5. Net Neutrality Did Not Start With Obama

Obama may have been president with the 2015 net neutrality laws were passed. Net Neutrality practices and laws started development back in 2003. An example of this was when rural phone company made an attempt to block customers from using Vonage to make phone calls. This company received a fine from the FCC for anti-competitive behavior.

It's because of this that Ajit Pai and Donald Trump are not destroying something Obama did, but something that has been growing, for over a decade, into the free and open internet we all rely on.

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