The Norton Auto-Renewal Scam

Many people get annual emails that announce upcoming antivirus auto-renewal charges. So this scam tends to works well, because it lines up with people’s expectations:

There is nothing true about this message, yet it still grabs people and compels them reach for the phone. The urge to undo that $500+ charge almost blocks out other thoughts. But if you receive this kind of email, take a deep breath and realize that it is just a ruse. It is a variant of the Thanks for Your Purchase scam. It is a purchase that never happened.

The phone number in that email will not connect you to Norton, but a scammer. S/he’ll gladly pretend to be with Norton or McAfee or whatever company you mention. And they will cheerfully agree to get you your money back. But what they will actually do is pretend to process a refund for you, while covertly making off with your cash.

Don’t ever call these numbers, and don’t email the senders. Even knowing that it’s a scam, reaching out to them in any way may encourage them to share your contact info with other scammers. And that just means more scams in your inbox. It’s always best to just delete these emails. And if a scammer cold-calls you with this sort of scheme, just hang up on them without another word.

Shentel Email Scam for April 2021

Shentel Email users, beware the latest email scam coming to your inboxes!:

Phishing Email that shows the Shentel name

This message is not from Shentel! If you look closely, you’ll see it came from an odd address ending in “buckeye-express.com”. DO NOT CLICK the Update button, as it will take you to a deceptive website.

I’ll show that website here, without putting you at any risk:

Phishing Website that uses the Shentel name and logo

At a quick glance, this site looks legit, because they’ve stolen the Shentel logo, as well as the new Shentel Webmail icon. And the URL (web address) even has “Shentel” in it. It all feels very familiar…. But a Weebly.com address is something anyone can create, so this website was created by a bad actor. A true Shentel website would end in “shentel.net” or “shentel.com”.

If you received this message and went to this website, I hope that you didn’t fill out the fields. Anyone who types in an email and password on that site is actually delivering their logon credentials directly to some scammers. They will immediately log into your Shentel email at their true webmail site, and start abusing your address. I don’t yet know what these guys are up to, but email phishers often start emailing everyone in your address book with other ploys and lies.

If your email has been compromised, call Shentel immediately at 1-800-SHENTEL, and ask their tech support to change your password and inspect your account for other nefarious changes. And if you need any extra help, consider BlueScreen Computer as your backup option!

Unify Your AOL Inbox

AOL users may be used to a bifurcated inbox, that shows New Mail and Old Mail. Not everyone is happy with this inbox behavior, because as soon as you view and close a new message, it vanishes. The now-closed message automatically hops from New to Old, and you’ll have to switch folders to find it again.

AOL allows you to unify your inbox, so that it shows all of your mail in one Inbox, just like most other webmails. Here’s how to turn that option on:

  1. Go to your AOL Mail in any browser.
  2. Click Options in the upper-right corner, and then click Mail Settings.
  3. Scroll down to find Inbox Style, and select the bubble for Use Unified Inbox Style.
  4. Scroll to the bottom and click Save Settings.

With one folder for all your inbox emails, every message will now stay put in the list, after you close it.

File History – The Windows 10 Data Backup Tool

If you want to backup your data on your PC, I recommend File History. It’s included in Windows 10, it’s free, and you can use it with any external hard drive or flash drive. And once you set it up, it runs automatically whenever your backup drive is connected. You can even leave the drive connected all the time for continuous data backup!

Finding File History

You can get to File History via two routes under Windows 10:

  1. Click Start -> Settings -> Update & Security -> Backup -> Backup using File History.
  2. Press Windows + R on your keyboard, type control and press Enter, change the View to Icons if necessary, and then double-click File History.
Making Shortcuts to File History

On your desktop, right-click on a blank area, go to New -> Shortcut. Where it asks for the location of the item, type/paste in:

ms-settings:backup

On the next screen, type Microsoft Backup or File History or anything else that makes sense to you. After you click Finish, you’ll have a shortcut that takes you directly to the Microsoft Backup settings, as per 1) above.

If you enter the Control Panel, per 2) above, you can right-click the File History icon and choose Create Shortcut. The shortcut is automatically placed on your desktop. The right-click menu also allows you to Pin File History to the taskbar or Start Menu.

Setting up File History

Connect your storage device to your computer. Open File History and then click Add a Drive. Select your storage drive and then just make sure that the switch for File History is set to On.

If you’re going through the Control panel to File History, just select your drive and click Turn On and then Run Now.

Once File History is turned on properly, you can count on it to run whenever you connect the drive. It will back up your Desktop, Documents, Downloads, Music, Pictures, Videos folders, as well as some other miscellaneous app folders. By default, it will run and update your backup every hour. And it is perfectly fine to leave your drive connected all the time, for continuous backups.

Recovering Data using File History

You can start recovering files via two routes under Windows 10:

  1. Click Start and search for “Restore your files with File History”.
  2. Open File History in the Control Panel, and then click Restore Personal Files on the left.

The window that appears will show you your files and you can drill down into the folders to find what you want. Also, use the controls at the bottom to pick the time and date to restore from. Because File History backs up multiple copies of your files, you can resurrect your data from a variety of different dates.

When you’ve selected what you want to recover, click the big green button at the bottom middle. File History will bring those files back from the past and place them where they were originally on your computer. If you want to restore your files to somewhere other than their original location, use the cogwheel button in the upper-right corner. Click that cogwheel and then use the Restore To option, to choose where the restored data goes.

Using File History to Bring All of your Files Back

If you bought a new computer, or if you had to wipe your old computer and start over, File History can restore an entire backup of files for you. But the process is a little clunky, so I’ll write out the exact steps:

  1. Connect your backup drive to the computer you want to put your backed up files on.
  2. Press Windows + R on your keyboard, type control and press Enter, change the View to Icons if necessary, and then double-click File History.
  3. Check the box next to “I want to use a previous backup on this File History drive.”
  4. In the box below, click to highlight the appropriate, named backup.
  5. Click the Turn On button.
  6. File History will begin backing up your files. Don’t Panic, this is OK, just wait for it to complete.
  7. Click the Restore Personal Files link on the left.
  8. Click the Previous Version button at the bottom, and you should be looking at the latest backup from the previous computer. Select any or all files/folders, and use the big green Restore button to bring them onto the computer.
Making Sure File History Doesn’t Run Out of Room

File History will back up your files until the end of time, or until you run out of room on your drive. If this is a concern, you can have File History guard against that.

  1. Click Start -> Settings -> Update & Security -> Backup
  2. Under Backup using File History, click More Options.
  3. Find the drop-down menu called Keep My Backups, and change it to “Until space is needed.”

Now File History will automagically delete your oldest backup files, when necessary, to make room for the newest backup data.

File Manager on Windows 10

These days, we use File Explorer to navigate the files and folders on a PC, but back in 1990, Windows 3.0 offered the first tool for organizing your data: File Manager.

If you want to relive a small part of Windows 3.0, you can get File Manager for your modern computer, for free, from the Microsoft Store. It runs separately from File Explorer, so you can use both without any conflict.

Paywalls & Private Browsing

Last month, I posted the basics about Private Browsing, but I skipped mentioning one of its important uses: Bypassing paywalls. When a website insists that you pay up before entering, Private Browsing can sometimes get you in without a payment or logon.

This most commonly works for news websites and other pages that offer you “5 free articles this month” before requiring you to sign up and buy a subscription. If you really need to read an article behind a paywall, you can try to right-click the link to the article and open the link in a Private Browsing/Incognito window. Or, you can copy the URL to the article, open a separate Private Browsing window, and paste it onto the address bar.

This works based on the cookies and other temp files placed on your computer by the website in question. When you switch over to a Private browsing window, the website cannot see or place cookies on your computer. Having no cookie access, the website cannot know if you’ve viewed 1 or 5 or any number of its articles. So it may treat you as a new visitor & just let you in.

I have hesitated to broadcast this, as I don’t want to encourage Not Paying For Journalism. Many news media companies are suffering financially and going under, and I don’t want to add to their financial woes. So I would like to ask that you consider using this tip as comparable to taking a free sample at Costco. If you find yourself returning again and again, for many free samples, please consider paying for what you are viewing. That company you are taking from needs your support!

The V-Safe After Vaccination Health Checker

The CDC would like to hear from you after you get your COVID-19 vaccine. Specifically, they want to monitor any vaccine side effects, and they’ve created a free tool for all to use. It’s called V-Safe and you can read all about it here.

Once you’ve gotten your first shot, get your vaccination record card in hand. You’ll need it as you sign up at the V-Safe registration website . Afterwards the CDC will send you texts to check in with you about how you feel after your shot(s). V-Safe will also remind you when to get your second vaccine shot, if needed.

The FCC Wants to Hear from You!

The Federal Communications Commission offers a broadband map website, where you can research internet offerings in your region. But there’s a problem with it. It’s based only on self-reported ISP data. This government tool is only as good as what the ISPs tell the feds about themselves.

To improve the situation, the FCC has just announced that they want public input on internet availability and quality. After collecting info from us regular folk, they will update their map-search-tool and decide better where government funding may be used to help expand internet access.

Please consider using this website to submit comments on your broadband experience. Be as detailed as you can be when naming companies or describing internet speeds/choices. Your commentary may eventually help improve the broadband map website and bring internet subsidies to areas that need it!

The Cricut Debacle

If you have a Cricut device or are thinking of purchasing one, you should definitely be aware of this news:

Recently, Cricut made a change to their product, and it angered a large part of their user base. Cricut users learned that they would soon be subject to a 20-file per month limit, unless they opted to pay for a subscription. Currently, all Cricut users are allowed unlimited usage of their cutting plotters. The news that they might have to pay $100/yr or more to keep using their Cricuts was an unpleasant surprise.

But the community outcry was sufficient enough that Cricut has backpedaled a little. The Cricut CEO has recently made a statement, rolling back this change for current users of the Cricut machines. In short, Cricut now states:

  • If you have a Cricut account and Cricut device, you will be allowed unlimited uploads, going forward, with no requirement for a paid subscription.
  • If you create a Cricut account during the 2021 calendar year, that account will also be allowed unlimited uploads, just like existing free accounts.
  • Starting in 2022, all new “Free” Cricut accounts will be subject to the 20-file per month limit. Those users will have the option to become paid subscribers if they need unlimited file uploads.

That statement also quashed the rumor that Cricut machines cannot easily be resold. The truth is that you can sell your Cricut to anyone else, and the new owner will still be able to use it. That person will just have to create their own Cricut account for the machine, and they will be beholden to the Cricut rules, based on when they make the account (this year, or beyond).

T-Mobile Home Internet Service

T-Mobile now offers internet service throughout the USA. And it appears to be a viable and solid option for getting broadband internet in your home.

The Basics:

T-Mobile Home Internet Service works wherever the T-Mobile/Sprint Cellular network reaches. Anyone can sign up, and it does not matter if you have cellphone service with another provider.

TMHIS is simple to use. When you enroll, they send you a Wi-Fi router/femtocell. You plug in its power cord, install their app on your smartphone, and run through a few simple setup questions. Then you’re done, and you have wireless internet throughout your home.

And it is fast. They make no speed promises (so far), but users report getting between 25-50Mbps through this service. The cost for their service? $60/mo, flat rate, all equipment included.

Other Winning Details:
  • Contract-free, pay month to month, cancel anytime with no penalty
  • Unlimited data! No data caps, no throttling speed after high data usage
  • No equipment fees or rental charges
  • All taxes and other fees are included in your flat monthly rate
  • Low latency, works well with online gaming and streaming
  • No installer needs to visit for setup, no drilling holes, no running cables through tight spaces
For More Info:

Check out the TMHIS website for more options and an order form. Or consider this other T-Mobile website.

TMHIS will bring affordable broadband to areas that have never had ISP options before, so I expect this program to become extremely popular. T-Mobile is already having to pace their new customer sign-ups, to make sure their network can handle the demand. If the TMHIS website won’t let you immediately sign up, just get on their waiting list!

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