- Direct dial phone calls to to any telephone in the USA and Canada for free!
- Direct dial phone calls to to any telephone in other countries at very low international rates.
- Use a regular telephone, along with an Analog Telephone Adaptor-type VoIP device (such as those described later in this article). There is no need to wear headphones, you can use any standard telephone.
- many cool features, including voicemail transcription, on-line voicemail, contact management, international calling, etc.
Security Problem at DropBox
I love DropBox and use it daily, usually several times a day. I have also written often about the need for online security so I was disappointed to read that DropBox had a major security problem yesterday. The company installed a software update and nearly four hours later discovered that anyone could log into any DropBox account without a password. As soon as the problem was discovered, the company reverted back to the previous software version and tested the process heavily. For those four hours, anyone who was aware of the glitch could have accessed your data stored on the DropBox servers without restriction. Details may be found at http://goo.gl/wdJuM.
While inexcusable, the problem isn't rare. Errors will happen anywhere. This problem happened at DropBox but it could have happened most anyplace else.
The quick reaction will always be, "I won't give my data to anyone. I'll keep it safe and secure on my own hard drive." Of course, that is about as effective as an ostrich sticking its head in the sand. In fact, data stored on your own computer's hard drive is probably as much at risk or even more at risk than data stored on a remote online service.
Have you heard of BitCoin? If not, you probably should learn about it now. BitCoin possibly is going to be the currency of the future. Then again, possibly not. Whatever its future, BitCoin certainly is interesting.
BitCoin operates on a vast peer-to-peer network which is currently comprised of thousands of systems. Your computer could become a part of the BitCoin network. You could even earn a tiny amount of BitCoin currency for doing so. BitCoin’s aim is quite ambitious: to solve many of the issues with currency today, such as:
As predicted last week, Apple CEO Steve Jobs today announced the official release of a new digital storage and syncing service, called iCloud, at Apple's annual Worldwide Developer's Conference. The new service is not a general-purpose cloud to compete with Amazon's S3 or Rackspace's cloud services that allow customers to configure servers and run applications in the cloud. Instead, the iCloud service is restricted mostly to data storage and is customized to integrate with several products found on Apple's handheld computers as well as on desktop and laptop systems. A few of the new services will also work with iTunes on Windows.
Apple's iCloud appears to be a modern service designed to replace the aging and over-priced old cloud service, called MobileMe.
I have written before about the handheld VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand scanner. It is a great tool for use in libraries and archives for scanning documents and even pictures up to 8.5-inches wide (A4 size) and any length. I wouldn't use it on any fragile and delicate documents, however, as the rollers built into the scanner do exert pressure on the item being scanned.
I paid $99.95 for my handheld Magic Wand scanner a bit more than a year ago and I have used it a lot since then. I scan not only things of genealogical interest, but also most of the bills I receive in the mail, owners manuals (after checking the manufacturer's web site to see if the manual is already available as a PDF file), and much more. It is portable and easily slips into a backpack, briefcase, or even the smallest suitcase.
Now I see that the same units are on sale on eBay, listed as "manufacturer refurbished," for half that price: $49.99. That price even includes free shipping. Customers located in New York will pay 8.675% tax but the item will be tax-free in all other states. At this price, it only ships to U.S. addresses.
Do you ever have a need to delete all the information on your Windows computer's hard drive? For instance, if you are about to sell or give your old computer to someone else, you might first want to remove all your personal information.
If you search on Google, you can find a number of stories about private data being retrieved from computers purchased on eBay and elsewhere.
Don't let that happen to you!
Many people are surprised to hear that Microsoft Windows doesn't delete very much when told to delete files. Windows simply marks the space as "available for reuse." In other words, when you tell Windows to delete a file, your old information remains on the hard drive for an indefinite amount of time. It remains available until the operating system eventually writes new information in its place. In fact, even reformatting a disk with Microsoft's format command will leave much information behind. This is true of hard drives, floppy disks, flash drives, ZIP disks, and other storage devices.
One of the neatest new gadgets for the Apple iPhone 4 is the NUU MiniKey - Qwerty Bluetooth Keyboard. To be sure, other companies have earlier created add-on-keyboards for the iPhone but the NUU MiniKey is the slickest implementation I have seen to date.
The physical sliding QWERTY Bluetooth keypad attaches to an iPhone 4. It provides tactile feedback to your typing. It is much easier to type on this keyboard than on the iPhone's built-in "glass keyboard." The keys are also backlit.
(Click on the image to the right to see a larger picture.)
The following is for Gmail users only. Do you receive email messages from spammers or even from legitimate companies that apparently are using mailing lists? You know the type: you get a message or two most every day. It is full of advertising, probably ads you could care less about. At the bottom of the list, there is a statement of "click here to unsubscribe" or something similar.
Personally, I’m always leery of clicking “unsubscribe” from spam emails I receive, because I’ve found they typically end up creating even more spam. It also irritates me to think that these folks expect me to take action to unsubscribe from their junk when, in fact, I never asked for it in the first place.
Now Google has invented an "automatic unsubscribe" feature for Gmail users. It requires very little work to unsubscribe: one mouseclick when reading the unwanted message.
According to the Gmail Auto-Unsubscribe instructions at http://mail.google.com/support/bin/answer.py?hl=en&ctx=mail&answer=80405:
…we’re providing you with an unsubscribe tool for some messages. You’ll see the unsubscribe tool when you mark a message from particular types of mailing lists as spam. If the particular message is a misuse of a mailing list you like to receive, you can Report spam as usual. But if you never want to receive another message or newsletter from that list again, click Unsubscribe instead. We’ll send a request to the sender that your email address be removed from the list. It’s that simple!
I am not sure this works on 100% of the unwanted messages. In fact, I don't know how it works at all and Google apparently is keeping the inner workings a secret in order to keep the information away from spammers. However, I'll settle for even a percentage reduction in unwanted email.
You can learn more at http://goo.gl/Rn0Q1
Are you aware that modern-day thieves can read the numbers of some of the credit cards in your pocket or purse without your knowledge? You do not have to remove the credit cards, and the thieves do not need to see the cards. They certainly do not have to tell you that they are collecting the credit card numbers. All they have to do is walk past you in a crowd.
Take a close look at your credit cards, especially the newer ones. Do they have this radio waves symbol? See the image to the right for one example. The symbol on your credit card might be smaller. The symbol might also be on the reverse, as shown in this second picture. Not all vulnerable credit cards have that symbol, however.
The days of paying extravagant fees just to stay in touch with scattered family members are just about gone. The tools for calling around the country or even around the world for pennies per minute have been available for several years. Now those tools have reached a state that simplifies the use and makes this just about irresistible for anyone who wants to stay in touch with anyone else, anywhere.
I have written a number of times about Skype, an online VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service that allows you to make free voice calls to other Skype users all over the world. There is no monthly charge for basic Skype service.
For a small fee, you can also call regular telephones all over the world as well. I have used Skype for several years, and I love it. I typically place all my long distance calls on Skype or on Google Voice, either free of cost when calling others who have Skype accounts, or (when using Google Voice) free of charge when calling old-fashioned telephones in the U.S. and Canada, or prices ranging from two cents to five cents per minute when calling regular telephones in most other countries. Calls to some third world counties can cost more.
Several people have told me, "But I don't want to wear a headset and be tied to my computer when making phone calls. I also don't want to leave my computer on all the time." In fact, you don't need to do any of those. You don't even need a computer to use Skype! You will need a broadband Internet connection, however.
Here is a proposal that makes sense to me. In fact, it seems so obvious and so simple that I am sure the telephone company executives will never understand it: Install a mini cell phone base station on every telephone pole or perhaps on every third telephone pole up and down every street in the country. Then tear down those ugly towers that ruin the appearance of neighborhoods.
The result will be better coverage for all cell phone users, lower costs for the cell phone companies with the savings passed on to customers (that will never happen!), and fewer ugly towers in our neighborhoods. Better coverage? Lower costs? Improved appearances? No, the telephone companies will never do this!
There are at least a dozen methods of carrying emergency information with you. In these high tech times, I would recommend carrying that information with you electronically, as well as on a piece of paper or in a medical ID bracelet. The electronic method allows for storage of more information.
In this case, I am talking about medical information, next of kin, and other information that you might want emergency responders to find. While my mother convinced me to always have clean underwear, it's probably more important to make sure you have easily-findable information on your body as well.
For those with significant medical problems, such as diabetes or heart problems, a medical ID bracelet is a great idea. Medical personnel always look for those. However, the amount of information you can include in a normal medical bracelet is limited.