Why You Might Want to Turn Off Your Phone’s Location Services

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 Tim - phone location blog - 2

How well do you know your Facebook friends? Would you want any — or all — of them knowing where you are, at any given time? Chances are, they can. Your smartphone logs everywhere you go, via location services. These are usually defaults in applications. If you don’t manually turn them off, others can find out where you are. Or where you’ve been. Common ones are Apple’s “Find My Friends” and Android’s “Locate My Friends!” apps. Your Facebook friends can use these to track you. Additionally, there are so many sub-services to location services that there are many, many more apps like these, which can “find” you and invade your privacy. (Note: this is different from the GPS tracking services used by maps, or methods the Feds can use to track criminals, etc.) Here’s how to turn off location services (and any sub-service) on Android, iPhone, and Windows phones.

Android/ Google Users:

If you’re an Android user, Google’s location services is broken down into two features:

  • Location Reporting is the feature that gives apps like Google Now, Google Maps, Foursquare, Twitter, and even your camera app access to your position. Whenever an app shows you something nearby, suggests local businesses, or helps you find the closest gas station, it’s using Location Reporting.
  • Location History is the feature that keeps track of where you’ve been, and any addresses you type-in or navigate-to. It’s how Google figures out where “Home” and “Work” are, so Google Now can estimate your commute time or give you traffic information for those places. Turning it off will still give you traffic information, but it means Google won’t try to guess where you’re going based on your previous searches.

To disable Location Reporting or History in Android:

  1. Open the App Drawer and go to Settings.
  2. Scroll down and tap Location.
  3. Scroll down and tap Google Location Settings.
  4. Tap Location Reporting and Location History, and switch the slider to off for each one.
  5. To delete your phone’s location cache, tap “Delete Location History” at the bottom of the screen under Location History.
  6. Repeat this process for each Google Account you have on your Android device. 

iPhone Users:

To disable location services in iOS:

  1. Open the Settings App.
  2. Scroll down to Privacy, and select Location Services.
  3. Disable all Location Services by swiping the slider at the top, or scroll down to disable location services for specific apps, including Google and Google Maps.
  4. Select System Services to deny location data from specific features, like location-based advertisements, turn off Frequent Locations, or disable the “Popular Near Me” feature

Windows Phone users:

This is for Windows Phone 8.1. If your phone is running Windows Phone 8, some options and features may not be available.

To turn Location Services on or off

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Turn Location services on or off.

To turn the Location icon on

You can see when an app is accessing your phone’s location information by looking for the Location icon. To make sure this icon is turned on:

  1. In the App list, tap Settings –> Location.
  2. Select the Show icon check box.

For more help with your smartphone, or for other computer help with your small-to-medium business, please contact us at Everon: 888-244-1748 or info@everonit.com. We are your virtual IT department.

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Internet.org, Net Neutrality, and Your Business

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Mark_Zuckerberg_TechCrunch_2012

Photo by TechCrunch [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this week Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s venture, Internet.org, was scrutinized, amid claims that it does not support net neutrality. Various Indian companies  have withdrawn support for the project. Zuckerberg responded, saying that the two principles “can and must coexist.”

If you’re not familiar with it, Internet.org is an interesting concept where unmanned drones are being tested to provide Internet access to users on the ground in developing countries, where access otherwise wouldn’t exist. The service allows users to connect to specially-created apps, such as health sites, Wikipedia, and Facebook. The drones have already been tested in the UK. The goal is to expand to 100 developing countries, giving Internet to some of the world’s poorest.

The catch (here’s where the net neutrality debate comes into play) is that this venture only allows users to connect to apps that are specifically designed for this package — they can’t go just-anywhere on the Internet. Furthermore, Zuckerberg is hoping that by bringing on large companies, such as Microsoft and Samsung, they can provide a premium service, where users pay for more content.

Net neutrality is a fairly new term, but it is something every business should be aware of. The idea is that the Internet should be free, in the sense that Internet Service Providers should allow access to all content, regardless of where it comes from. They should not allow any favoritism, even to someone willing to pay a higher price. However, if net neutrality fails, and ISPs are allowed to block content, or if they provide favoritism, then your business could have its bandwidth throttled in order to allow service to your neighbor, who might be able to pay a better fee.

The ACLU notes:

“In the past, telecom companies were always forced – formally or informally – to adhere to net neutrality principles…. All that changed in January 2014 when a major court decision stripped the FCC of its power to enforce network neutrality protections under the regulatory framework it was using. This decision provides an opening for the telecom companies to begin exploiting technologies by monitoring and controlling data sent via their networks.” -source

So Mark Zuckerberg’s comments that he would like to see premium services added to his Internet.org package seem to contrast with the concept of net neutrality. Zuckerberg’s idea would not only prevent unlimited, unfiltered access to the Internet for the developing countries’ users, but it would put a price on the content he allowed to be delivered to them.

Net neutrality is something businesses cannot ignore any longer. The decision will come to a head soon and it will affect every single Internet user in the US and all over the globe. (Global ISPs are starting to take note of what is happening in the US.)

For a further overview of net neutrality, visit: http://www.pbs.org/moyers/moyersonamerica/net/neutrality.html. 

And if you need tech support for your small-to-medium business, give us a call at Everon: 888-244-1748, or info@everon.com. We’re here to help you, 24/7, no matter your company’s needs.

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Tech Tips for Techs: Outlook Signature Creation

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I recently had a client ask me how to input photos and hyperlinks into  his Outlook signatures, to make them stand-out better. I realized this is an often-overlooked art that should be well-known.

In order to recreate the steps necessary for this blog, I am using an Exchange account with Outlook 2010. Your results might vary.

In order to edit and create signatures, in Outlook 2010 you can browse to:

File –>Options –>Mail –>Signatures. 

This opens a window that allows you to create and edit your signatures. Let’s start by creating a new signature. 

Set up the normal text you need in the signature. As you can see, the options you are given is very similar to Word. You can modify the color, font and size of all text. Input everything you need and, once done, you are ready to insert hyperlinks and really take your signature to another level.

The first step is to download all of the photos you need in your signatures. Many professional social media sites give you links that they prefer you to use. Microsoft also gives you links and a brief tutorial here as well.

Once you have the photos downloaded, you can insert them into your signature. Click on the “insert picture” link, navigate to your photo, and insert it into your signature.

Sign1Once your picture is in the signature, click on it (you will see blocks appear around the picture) and click the hyperlink button.

Sign2

This opens a new window that allows you to type the hyperlink you need to input.

sign3The middle area does not matter what it is set on. You just to have to ensure you are choosing the first option on the left “Existing file or Web Page,” and then type the address properly in the address bar. Once you do that, you will have a clickable link in your signature!

A couple of things to note about Outlook signatures: The type of signature creation I am reviewing with you is only for users who can read HTML emails. If the client to whom you are sending an email cannot read HTML for their email (i.e. if they are using Outlook Web Access), then they can only see Plain Text.

Plain Text is a type of view that does not allow for pictures, or any editable features, such as colored, specialized fonts. I would also recommend creating a signature that you can use for Plain Text, should you need it. This is just a standard signature with no color, no special fonts, no pictures or hyperlinks. You can then pick and choose what signature to use. This is convenient to ensure any formatting you create always stays current with your brand.

Also, once you input the pictures, you do not need to save them on your machine, as once you input them into Outlook, Outlook takes the pictures and saves them into their AppData. If you set up your signature and test, be aware that if you are testing with an account that cannot send the email back in HTML, it will break the links.

One example is if you set up the links, then send to your Gmail account, and respond via Gmail on a smartphone, it will send the email back and the formatting will show the name of the picture, and NOT the picture itself (hyper-links will still work, but you won’t see your photo)

See below for an idea of what this looks like when you receive a reply that is not formatted in HTML:

sign4

 

Pictures can be in any format that is acceptable for pictures (.gif, .jpeg, .png), and when you add them to your signature, it really enhances the look and marketability of your brand!

Sign5

 

 

How I broke my phone, got it fixed, and why I might stick with Windows OS the next time I phone-shop

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spotifyFor about a month Spotify hadn’t been working properly on my Samsung Focus. I couldn’t “search” for songs via my phone; I had to wait until I got onto my home computer. So last Saturday I finally decided to take matters into my own hands. Big mistake.

Uninstall? Click-click. Done: Spotify uninstalled. Easy-peasy.

Reinstall? Go to Spotify on the Web. Click “Download.” Easy—. Wait.

There was an error message saying that Spotify wasn’t compatible with my phone and that I needed an update. I went to my phone’s settings, but there were no new updates. I tried to login to my Spotify account manually, but it said my username and/or password were wrong, and that I needed to login via Facebook. So I went to FB and was told that it wasn’t compatible with the iE browser on my phone (which is weird, because I already have a FB app on my phone), so I tried to download Chrome, which stalled out and hung…!

I repeated this vicious cycle of attempting anything and everything I could think of to try to get Spotify back on my phone. (Because without tunes, how was I going to do my workout? Amiright?) I wished I could call one of my tech colleagues from Everon, but it was the weekend; I hated the idea of bugging them with work. By Saturday night I was dreading the thought of tackling a 35-minute powerwalk without Iggy Azalea telling me to “Work!”

A sick feeling began to develop in the pit of my stomach. I knew I was going to have to visit a phone store. Maybe the pros could fix what was wrong. Or maybe my 3 year-old Samsung Focus was just too old, too antiquated. Maybe I’d have to crack and change. I was facing the possibility of having to readjust my life to a new phone. Probably an Android.

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

Samsung Galaxy Note 4

The hot trend that stormed the market this month is the phablet—like Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 (which pioneered phablets four years ago; Android), Apple’s iPhone 6 Plus (iOS), and Motorola’s Moto X (also Android). I’m not sure how I feel about handling the oversized devices or whether they would fit into my purse-pockets, but the idea of being able to write and text more easily is starting to grow on me.

However, I’m used to Windows, and I’m not a heavy-duty app user. I can organize my schedule and sync it with Outlook. I can take notes and upload my photos to OneDrive. I recently learned how to utilize the GPS-thingy so I can navigate to new places in Boulder. And I absolutely love my Spotify. But all of Microsoft’s latest bells and whistles, like Cortana (Microsoft’s Siri), and its forthcoming, universal Windows OS, are getting ready to be overhauled into the new Lumia (Microsoft is dropping the Nokia brand name) sometime in 2015. So I’d like to put off a purchase for as long as possible.

Sunday morning, shortly after the mall opened, I put on my game-face, strode past Old Navy, H&M, and even White House Black Market—without wavering—all the way to the AT&T store. (Yup: I didn’t stop. Didn’t even look at the storefronts. Music is that important.) Fortunately, my exposure to the funny, friendly techs here at Everon has rendered me uber-comfortable dealing with techs. It was pretty easy for me to hand my phone to the guy behind the counter, Alex, and explain the problem. Alex frowned, going through the same vicious cycle of error messages I’d been through earlier.

One of the friendly techs, and fellow bloggers, here at Everon: Tony Cooper.

One of the friendly techs, and a fellow blogger, here at Everon: Tony Cooper.

“Sorry this is taking me a while,” he apologized. “We don’t get a lot of Windows phones in here.” Yeah, I figured. I’m in a minority of cell phone owners. I’m sure my game-face morphed into reluctant resignation as I began glancing at the displays along the wall, wondering which one would be hard-sale-forced upon me.

Alex went to confer with a colleague. I wandered over to the wall and cradled the weird, curved shape of the LG Flex with its Android OS, the giant Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (the Note 4 won’t hit stores until October), and the Windows-based Nokia Lumia 1020, with a near-professional-grade camera and a hefty price tag. They all felt foreign in my palm. Alex came back; I returned to the counter.

“I know it’s really old,” I sighed, gesturing at my Focus. “I probably just need a new one.”

“But does this one work for you?” Alex asked.

“Well, aside from now, yes,” I shrugged.

“Well, then, that’s all that matters,” he said. “Let’s see if we can fix it.”

Wait—what?

I blinked. Yes, he’d just said that. He wasn’t going to hard-sell me on something I didn’t need; he was genuinely going to try to help me. Come to think of it, it’s the same attitude my guys maintain at work. Heck, it’s our motto: “People first, technology second.” Hope rose in my chest.

Alex proceeded to go to the Windows Marketplace on my phone and download Spotify from there. It worked, without error messages. From there, we had a bit of trouble trying to correctly login (for some reason it wanted my old username), but suddenly—voila—music!

He handed me back my phone. I gushed thank yous at him as he smiled, nodded, and turned to the next customer. It wasn’t until I’d practically danced out the door of the shop that I realized not only had I not had to buy a new phone, but I’d just had my phone fixed… for free… just because I have a monthly plan with AT&T.

Now I know what our Everon customers feel like when they rave about “dealing with true professionals” who fixed their machines. Ah, happy endings!

More friendly Everon techs: L2 Engineer Tim Woodworth and L1 Engineer Jay McGuire.

More friendly Everon techs: L2 Engineer Tim Woodworth and L1 Engineer Jay McGuire.

 

Will Ransomware Cell Phone Attacks Reach the U.S.? (And what to do if you get infected)

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cell phone attackTwo weeks ago they hit iPhone users in Australia and New Zealand. This week the reports came in that they’d hit Android users in Eastern Europe, specifically Ukraine. We’re watching, waiting to see if-and-when one of them will hit Western Europe and the U.S. — Oleg Pliss and his kin, Simplocker. They’re not people; they are a new round of cell phone viruses, and the difference is that they’re ransomware. Pay them money, or they threaten to hold your contacts, pictures, or even your whole cell phone hostage.

Sound familiar?

No, viruses for cell phones aren’t new. In fact, there’s a whole slew of mobile device virus protection software (Lookout, AVG, Avast, etc.). Trouble is, ransomware is notorious for getting around anti-virus protection.

Early reports indicate that, at least in the case of Ukraine’s Android virus, Simplocker, the level of encryption isn’t as complex as Cryptolocker. That doesn’t make it any less annoying, though. And according to some reports it does no good to try to pay Oleg’s ransom because the payment is linked to a PayPal account that doesn’t exist.

So, being a bit freaked out about this (even though my phone is a Windows platform, which hasn’t yet been affected), I asked my guys, the techs here at Everon, what I should do if my phone were hit by ransomware.

“The best thing you can do is to just wipe your phone,” Jeff Woods, one of our experienced L2s, said.

“And then reload all of your info from your backup,” Frank Lindsey, the L1 Supervisor added.

Um, okaaaay…? I felt like a kindergartener in college. Wipe my phone? And… is it automatically backed up? How do I do that if it’s not?

“Well,” Frank said, “if your cell phone is registered with us, at Everon, you could call and we can do a factory wipe for you. Or most cell phone providers can also do that, if you just call Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, or whomever.”

“Alternately,” James Schaffer, another of our L2s, said, “you could perform your own wipe in your phone’s settings.”

I checked my phone’s settings and couldn’t find where to do this. James told me to go to “Settings” –> “About,” and then click the button that says “Reset Your Phone.” (Of course, this only works if your phone isn’t locked by a virus.)

As far as doing backups, it turns out most phones do have automatic backup features. But iPhones, for instance, have to be plugged into your computer to perform their backups – something many iPhone users never do (they only charge the battery). And then there are the settings on the backup. If you’ve only told it to back up your contacts, you run the risk of losing any pictures you haven’t manually saved. (Or already posted to Facebook.)

There are programs you can use to do your auto-backups, too. Google Drive will automatically backup your mobile data. Dropbox, Picassa, Facebook, and Google+ are other sites that will also perform auto-backups on your data and/or photos if you adjust their settings correctly. (Ah, more settings. Good thing I have tech support here!)

So if your mobile data is all backed up, and you do get infected with something evil that needs last-resort measures, like ransomware, all you have to do is wipe and restore. (One site I found estimated this process would take no more than an hour.) Easy-peasy. If you’ve backed up your data.

Sometimes the best defense is just the ability to recover.

Wolverine