Painless Backup

If you’re like me and don’t fully automate backing up your computer, it doesn’t get backed up for weeks, months or maybe a year.  It is easy to do these days and it is only getting easier.  Here’s a great article from Walt Mossberg, formerly of the Wall Street Journal and now with Re/Code, on how to easily automate the process.

If you have a Mac, Time Machine should be a no brainer.  In addition, he recommends adding a cloud backup service.  Up until now the problem has been that the services for this have been expensive, if you have a large amount of data, and many services do not backed up external hard drives.

Enter BackBlaze, a cloud based service that cost $5/month with unlimited storage (Yes! Unlimited!)  and the ability to backup all your hard drives.  You set it up once, it works in the background and that’s it (until you need to restore a file or all your files.)

Check out the article here.

Update Apple Software – Now!


Apple has released an update to their OS X operating system for Macs and to iOS for iPhones and iPads.  These updates fix a serious security flaw that opens the door for your devices and your personal data to be compromised.  You should update everything now.  You can read about the security problem here.

On your Mac, click the Apple icon on the left of your menu bar and select Software Updates.

On your iPhone or iPad, go to the Settings app, select General and Software Updates.

Update on the One RIng Scam

As I previous wrote, the One Ring scammers  steal your money by calling you, letting the phone ring once, and hoping you’ll call back.  The problem is that the numbers are pay-per-minute numbers.  The FTC has updated their information on this scam with the most used area codes.  They are: 268,284,473,664,649,767,809,829,849, 876.   Calling back one of these numbers could cost you $20 or more.

Bottom line:  if you get a call from a number that you don’t know, don’t call back.

Scam Alert: Don’t Call Back that Unknown Number

There’s yet another new scam out there:  You get a call to your phone and it rings once.  You don’t recognize the number but you think, maybe it’s a business call or something important, you call it back just to check.  This could cost you money.

The number may be a premium number, meaning that you will be charged a fee for every minute you are on the line.  Remember the 900 numbers for dating services, etc. that use to be advertised on TV.  This works the same way. Now the numbers are no longer so obvious as to begin with 900.  You can find a full explanation by the BBB here.

Bottom line:  if you don’t recognize the number, don’t call back. If it was really important the caller would have let it ring more than once, or they might have tried to call back, or they would have left a message.  If you still  think it might be legitimate google the area code, that should tell you if it’s coming from a real place or if it’s a premium number.

Goodbye Good Old Phone System

In 2003, 90% of American’s had an analog landline phone.  These phones communicated using a twisted pair of copper wire that required no external  power source to operate.  Today, only 26% of homes use this type of landline.  Most phone service now is digital over the internet, cable system or wireless cellular network.  The FCC  has basically declare that the old system is dead and will be phased out.

This decision was all but inevitable given the trends.  However, there is a big downside.  The phone system is highly reliant on the internet.  If the internet goes down, the phones won’t work.  And, all of it is reliant on the power grid.  I certainly remember times in the past when we’ve lost power but rarely did the phones stop working.  Now your phones will work as long as your back batteries last.

On the plus side, this will require reliable internet service be brought to every nook and cranny of the country.


Cut the Cable Cord

aereo logoAre you tired of paying huge cable bills?  Are you looking for alternatives?  Aereo is a good place to start.

Aereo streams to your TV all the local over-the-air broadcast stations like ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, PBS plus a few other stations like Bloomberg TV without needing a cable subscription or TV antenna.  The base service cost $8 per month and includes 20 hours of cloud based DVR space.  Aereo can run on your computer or directly on your TV with a Roku or Apple TV.

Another option is to get a digital antenna for about $50.  This will also allow you to view all broadcast stations but if you live in an area like New York City, the quality of your signal will depend on  your exact location.  The best option here is to purchase one that is returnable;  you’ll want to verify that you get a decent signal.

If you’ve purchased a Roku or Apple TV then you’re all set for streaming Netflix.  A basic streaming plan is $7.99 per month.  You can add a DVD plan for as little as $4.99 per month (not all movies and TV shows are available for streaming.)

Finally, there is Hulu Plus also available with Roku or Apple TV.  It’s free for the first 30 days and then $7.99 per month.  Hulu Plus has lots and lots of TV shows from broadcast TV and cable available for streaming.  You can see what networks, shows and movies they stream here.

HBO has been hinting that they are going to offer a subscription to HBO GO that does not require a cable subscription.  This service would most likely be available through ROku and Apple TV.

If you want to learn more about your options or how you can reduce your huge cable bill give us a call.

A New Phone Scam

I’ve received calls about having to refinance my mortgage;  press 1 to accept the First Alert system that someone bought for me; a Nigerian prince left me money; and a friend is stuck in Istanbul and needs money to avoid jail.

The call I received today was a new one to me:  “Hello, Sir.  My name is ________.  I’m from the International Computer Monitoring service and we’ve received automated reports from your Windows computer that it is not functioning correctly.”

“Really,” I said.  “When do you receive this report?”

“Just today.”

“Wow.  I haven’t had the computer on for a few days.”

“Oh, well, the reports can take up to five days to get to us.”

And on this went until he hung up on me.

Bottom line, total scam.  He wanted access to my computer probably to install some sort of malware and to charge me money for the experience.

TV Guide Mobile App

TV Guide Mobile App

Hundreds of cable channels, dozens of great shows, constantly changing schedules – how to keep track of it all?  The TV Guide mobile App is how I do it.  Install it on your mobile device.  When you start it, you’ll be asked about your cable provider.  This will allow the app to display a complete schedule with channel numbers.  The best part is how you can customized it from there:  you can select your favorite channels to view, eliminating the clutter of all the stations you never watch.  You can also highlight your favorite shows.  The app will inform you when the shows will air, when they’re available for streaming, and on DVD – for your binge watching pleasure.  If you watch TV, this app really simplifies your life – and it’s free.

TV Guide Mobile on the App Store on iTunes.