Author: Jesse Mueller (Page 1 of 23)

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: New Number

In the USA, we have N11 codes that you may dial for important nation-wide services. Having run out of 3-digit numbers ending in -11, Congress has had to break the mold when declaring a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

On July 16, 2022, the new number goes live: 988. The old number, 1-800-273-8255, will also still connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

If you need suicide or mental health-related crisis support, or want to speak about someone else in need:

The Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement

If you’ve received an email or news about the Facebook Internet Tracking Settlement, please know that it is legitimate & true.

You may trust in the following and take part in the proceedings, to get your piece of the settlement:

The Lawsuit

Facebook is accused of collecting user data through outside websites, and selling it to advertisers. They allegedly did this through those Facebook Like buttons that used to appear all over the web. In doing so, Facebook may have violated privacy laws and unjustly profited from all of us.

Facebook is admitting no guilt in the matter, but they are settling. In order to put this matter to bed, they are agreeing to $90 Million settlement. It’s somewhat of a speeding ticket to a company worth $538 Billion, but so it goes…

How to Participate

You can get your share of that settlement, as long as you qualify. Consider yourself qualified if you:

  • Had a Facebook account between 4/22/2010 and 9/26/2011
  • Visited non-Facebook websites that displayed the Facebook Like button.

Don’t remember if that was the case? Those Like buttons were everywhere back then, so it is very likely you encountered them, while reading the news or checking out personal blogs or shopping online.

Here’s the website to sign up, just scroll down to the SUBMIT A CLAIM section and use the Submit Online link to get started.

Final Commentary

I notice that the Online Claim page may not load in the presence of an ad-blocker. I guess they are tracking who visits that page! If you can’t get it to load, try disabling your ad-blocker. Or, you can right-click the link and open the page in Incognito/InPrivate mode. That should bypass any adblocker woes.

And after all of that reading & signing up & waiting… you might get a dollar or two. Sorry, but the lawyers are going to take a big bite out of that $90M before it trickles down to us. There are 240 million Facebook users in the USA. It all comes down to how many people hear about this and sign up, I suppose.

The RV Giveaway Scam

No, you are not going to win a free RV! But when you see posts about this on social media, they are so tempting. Companies with names like Camping & RV World boast about “unclaimed RVs” that they have to give away for free, and the included photos show some beautiful vehicles. But this is one of those too-good-to-be-true situations. You will not win anything. And there is a lot of harm afoot, even if you click Like on the post.

Scam!

How To Spot the Scam?

This gets harder every year, as the scammers study Facebook and other platforms for ingenious ways to conceal their identities. But here are some clues:

  • When you visit a Business Page on Facebook, scroll down to find the Page Transparency section. Click “See All” to get the most details. This will tell you useful info, like the date that the Page was created, and possibly the country of origin. Scam pages often show a very recent date, while known trusted pages have older dates.
  • Regard the About section: Scam pages often have no info here, while legitimate pages will reveal a proper phone number, physical address and website. Do not trust any “tinyurl”, “bit.ly” or “google.sites” addresses!
  • Search on Facebook for the company in question. Take Camping World, for example, they show hundreds of thousands of Likes. Notice that the scammer’s page probably only has a handful of Likes.
Only 32 people? And most of them are other scammers…

The Hazards of This Scam

The first part of the scam is in the first interaction you have with it. If you click Like or Share the scam, Facebook will promote the scammy post to your friends & family, or to everyone else in your group. It will help it spread like wildfire, or a chain letter. And your endorsement will make the scam look more believable to everyone else!

Next, many of these scams steer you towards marketing websites that promise free money via CashApp. This nonsense will waste your time with survey after survey and form after form. You’ll never get the promised cash, but they will hoover up your information. And sell it to every spammer and telemarketer known to man. If you think you get a lot of spam and junk calls now, just you wait. Participating in these surveys will elevate your spam to nightmare levels!

Finally, these RV Giveaways will “select” you as a winner, and push you into Private Messaging or other non-public communication. And the scammer will prepare to deliver your winnings… but first, they want a delivery fee to be paid. Or some insurance. Maybe a “customs surcharge.” Whatever it is, they’ll make it seem like a trifle, compared with the value of the big thing you’ve just won. But if you pay that fee (through CashApp or wire xfer or gift cards), then you will never hear from them again, and you will not see any RV appear in your driveway.

What To Do

When you encounter this scam on social media,

  • Do NOT click Like. Do NOT comment on it.
  • Report it to Facebook or other social media, as a scam.
  • If posted in a Group, also report it to the admin(s), and ask them to take it down.

Scanning Without a Scanner

Not everyone owns a scanner. And sometimes, the scanner you have becomes difficult or impossible to use (I’m looking at you, HP). If you’re called upon to scan an important document or photo, you do not need a working scanner. You can create a great-looking scan with your smartphone or tablet.

Free PDF Scanning Apps

There are a variety of free apps you can download, that will repurpose your mobile device’s camera as a scanning tool. Using the app, you’ll scan with your device’s camera and create a PDF of whatever you point it at. As long as you have a decent camera and good lighting, this should work really well, even for full-page documents.

Right off the bat, I can recommend these apps:

There are many more apps out there like these, too many for me to vet. Most are safe to use, but check the reviews before trying anything from a developer you’ve not heard of.

Free Photo Scanning Apps

If you’re scanning photos, you might want a photo scanning app, for higher quality scans and retouching tools. Google has you covered with their PhotoScan app, available for both iOS and Android.

Point your phone and this app at any photo, and it will take a series (5) of shots of your original. It then quickly stitches them all together, and makes a superior composite scan. The software eliminates shadows, shines and other defects along the way. I expect you’ll be impressed!

Google Drive

If you use Google Drive, you already have a scanning tool on your mobile device. Drive is ready to scan a document and immediately put it in the cloud for you.

  1. Open Google Drive on your phone/tablet.
  2. Tap the + button.
  3. Tap Scan.
  4. Take a picture of your original.
  5. Use the on-screen tools to adjust, crop and rotate your scan.
  6. Tap Save when you’re ready, and set the name and location for your newly scanned file.

Other Methods

Scanning from a smaller device may not work in all scenarios. Perhaps you have a 200-page document to process, or your flip-phone simply isn’t up to the task. Please know that in a pinch, Staples and some other office-supply stores may have a service counter, where you can walk up and pay for scanning services. It should be quick and inexpensive, if they have a professional-grade multi-function printer back there.

And if you foresee doing a lot of scanning, then you’ll want a long-term solution: Investing in a dedicated scanner. Most printers these days have an adequate scanner built-in, but for daily scanning and jobs involving dozens of pages, you’ll want something with more oomph. I can recommend Fujitsu’s ScanSnap scanners. They can often devour scan jobs at 20 pages per minute (or faster) and can be found at decent prices on Amazon.

Windows 11 in S Mode

note to readers: this is a reboot/rewrite of the Windows 10 S Mode post from last year

Windows 11 comes in various editions: Home, Pro, Education, Enterprise and S mode. And that last one gives many people pause. Just what is S mode? What does the S stand for? Simple, Secure, Strict, Stunted? Microsoft is mum on that question.

S Mode Defined

S mode is a locked down version of Windows. S mode means that you may not install any software on the computer, unless it comes from the Microsoft Store. This means that you are protected from many types of malware and other nasties, but also cannot load Google Chrome, Adobe Reader, Quickbooks Desktop or any other software from a download or disc.

This may be acceptable, if you can live with only ever using Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Office. This may be an instant No for other computer users.

But Should You Avoid S Mode Computers?

In short, No! Many computers at Costco, Best Buy, Microcenter and other retailers boast Windows S mode, but don’t be deterred! S mode can be removed right after you boot the computer. Microsoft allows you to remove S mode and convert your license to Windows 11 Home, for free.

But it is a one-way trip. Once you switch from S mode to Home, there’s no going back. So be sure you want to make the change, and then:

Switch Out of S Mode

Once your new S mode computer is booted and connected to the internet, go to:

Start -> Settings -> Activation.

Here you should find a wodge of text about Switching to Windows 11 Home. Under it, click the link that says “Go to the Store”. The Microsoft Store will appear and you’ll want to use the “Get” button to remove S mode.

Microsoft may demand that you sign in to your Microsoft account a couple of times, but if you jump through their hoops, Windows will tell you that you have removed S mode for good! You are then free to install any programs you desire.

One Last Thing…

Sometimes, people complain: “Hey, I removed S mode and Microsoft still won’t let me install XYZ Program!” If this happens to you, go to:

Start -> Settings -> Apps -> Apps & Features.

Under the heading “Choose Where to Get Apps”, change the drop-down menu to one of the “Anywhere” options. Close this window and then go try your installation again!

Refund & Recovery Scams

Recovery scams are carried out by the worst of the worst. These guys prey on people who have already been scammed. Their claim is that they’ll help you recover what was stolen from you. But they’re just going to steal more money out of your pockets.

Scammers maintain lists of their potential and actual victims. And they will sell their most lucrative “sucker lists” to other scam companies. These companies are all too eager to phone up recent scam victims. They’ll pose as recovery agents, and tell stories of how skilled they are at chasing down the original scammers.

But their skills don’t exist. Even if they have a slick-looking website (broker complaint alert dot com, for example) and impressive company name, don’t believe in them! Recovery scammers are just looking to charge you more money, and then they’ll disappear, leaving you poorer and more disappointed than ever.

TL;DR: After any scam, don’t trust anyone except your bank, the police and the government, with regards to any reversal or recovery of funds. If they tell you that you’ve lost that money, please accept that news and move on.

McBroken

Someone actually devised this little website, to show on a map which McDonald’s restaurants have functioning ice cream machines. And which ones have out-of-service machines. How ingenious!

This tool came about because of the high frequency of breakdowns with Mickey D’s ice cream machines. And there’s a whole story and debacle to read about that, if you have an interest.

Otherwise, just sock away the McBroken website, it may save you a trip and stave off some disappointment someday.

Don’t Post That Privacy Notice to Facebook

For ten years now, people have been posting the following notice on Facebook:

Please don’t do that. Don’t post this or Share this if you see it. It is a hoax and it is misinformation. It accomplishes nothing.

I understand if you have privacy concerns over Facebook’s treatment of your information. Mr. Zuckerberg doesn’t have a great track record of protecting and respecting our user data. But this kind of post does not protect you or change how Facebook treats you.

Please read up about this on Snopes or other websites. When you first signed up for a free Facebook account, you agreed to a lengthy contract. You agreed to so many many things, including:

Specifically, when you share, post, or upload content that is covered by intellectual property rights on or in connection with our Products, you grant us a non-exclusive, transferable, sub-licensable, royalty-free, and worldwide license to host, use, distribute, modify, run, copy, publicly perform or display, translate, and create derivative works of your content (consistent with your privacy and application settings). This means, for example, that if you share a photo on Facebook, you give us permission to store, copy, and share it with others (again, consistent with your settings) such as service providers that support our service or other Meta Products you use. This license will end when your content is deleted from our systems.

Facebook Terms of Service

If you really want control over what Facebook does with your data, your options are few and simple enough:

  • Don’t post it in the first place.
  • Delete your info, posts or pictures from Facebook.
  • Delete your whole Facebook account!

I understand that those may not be the most helpful options, and for that, I can only apologize and sympathize. Remember: If you’re using something for free, you are probably not the customer, you are the product!

Microsoft Defender’s Offline Scan

Microsoft Defender Antivirus is part of every Windows 10 and Windows 11 computer. Whether you use Microsoft Defender or another antivirus, please know that you can use the Microsoft software to run a deep scan on your computer. This will not conflict with your current security software, and can be useful if you feel you may have a virus problem that is not being detected with normal system scans.

The “deep scan” is officially called the Microsoft Defender Offline scan, and here’s how you can use it:

  1. Click the Start Button and go to Settings. In the search field, type “windows security” and then click on Windows Security to open it.
  2. Click on Virus & Threat Protection.
    a. If you are using a non-Microsoft antivirus, click on Microsoft Defender Options and then turn on Periodic Scanning.
  3. Under the Quick Scan button, click “Scan Options”.
  4. Click the bubble next to Microsoft Defender Offline scan, and then click Scan Now.

This begins the Offline scan, and will reboot your computer to fulfill this action. So close and save your work before going through with this! Expect to see this sort of scan screen running for 15 minutes or more:

After the scan is over, you may not see much, other than your computer boots up to your normal wallpaper and icons. To see the results of the scan, follow the steps 1 & 2 from above, and the Virus & Threat Protection panel will tell you if it caught any baddies. Feel free to click on Protection History for more details on your scan history.

The National Baby Formula Shortage

Some info pertaining to the shortage of baby formula in the USA:

Scams abound! If you find an online vendor for baby formula that seems too good to be true, it may be. When possible, buy your formula from respected, large companies and not sketchy eBay auctions or brand-new websites.

Misinformation about buying from Amazon’s Canada website is circulating, and I want to debunk that before you try it. For the most part, you cannot buy baby formula from Amazon.ca, unless it is from one of their 3rd-party sellers. And those may be risky to use.

Another important resource right now is the Free Formula Exchange. If you have formula that you don’t need, please donate it through this website! And if you need formula, you can sign up and possibly connect with someone nearby who has unneeded baby formula.

And you should touch base with your pediatrician for other trusted resources that can help you get through this tough time.

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