Posted - December 16 2011 : 07:38:35
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Question: I am often asked, "How do you know if an email is a scam?"
Answer: This is a great question, what with the prevalence of such things on the Internet. OK, there are a few red flags you can look for, but nothing will help like reading your email with a critical eye. Suspect everything, even stuff that appears to be from folks you know. One red flag is bad grammar. Using the wrong word is often a sign of someone who doesn't speak English as their first language. Bad grammar will not (or should not) appear in business communication. Some scams are seasonal, around tax time, look for scams from folks claiming to be the IRS. Currently, there's a scam going around to businesses where the email purports to be from the BBB. Another red flag is logical inconsistencies. If you didn't enter a sweepstakes, how could you have won it? One such email I got recently said I had won the MSN-something or other. I beta tested MSN and for almost 15 years had an email address that ended in "@msn.com". Thus, it stands to reason that any legitimate email from them would also have an "@msn" address. So, when the contact address for this message was a gmail address, owned not by Microsoft, but by Google, I automatically thought, "Danger Will Robinson". So, be suspicious, don't open attachments or click links in emails without first verifying that the link actually goes where it claims to go.
Cool Site: WatchKnowLearn.org: There are so many online video sites. YouTube is the most famous, but there's a SchoolTube and TeacherTube as well as a whole raft of others. This week's cool site is WatchKnowLearn.org. What this site does is to aggregate educational videos found on video sharing websites. The videos are classified according to the lesson they teach about and then give you a directory or search engine for finding them. I was able to find, for instance, several of the old Schoolhouse Rock videos. This site has indexed and linked literally thousands of educational videos. The search can be filtered by age range so you can easily find age-appropriate material that won't go over your kids' heads. You can embed the videos on your own website, blog, whatever, but if you set up an account on the site, you can rate the videos, add your own comments to them, as well. WatchKnowLearn.org: educational videos on demand.
Cool Gadget: InstaSnow Powder: This week, Vat19 comes through again. We're not likely to get a white Christmas, so fake snow is about as close as we’ll get. InstaSnow powder is a polymer powder that makes mounds of fake snow that's reusable, doesn't melt, and lasts for weeks. You just put a few scoops into a bowl, add the right amount of water (instructions are included) and watch the snow erupt. It really does. This fake snow can be molded somewhat, and always feels cool to the touch. You can clean it up with a vacuum cleaner, but if you leave it out, it'll eventually dry out and become and fit back into the jar or bag. By the way, the jar can make up to 2 gallons of fake snow, and the bag can make up to 8 gallons. Vat19 has an InstaSnow estimator to help you decide how much you need.
Cool App: Garmin StreetPilot: Give-a give-a give-a Garmin. I like those commercials. Well, Garmin makes apps for iPhone, for Android, and for Windows Phones that help you use the GPS features of your phone. This week's app is called StreetPilot and is for Windows and iPhone. It gives you turn-by-turn spoken directions, shows points of interest along the way, and for Christmas, the Windows version of the app is reduced from $40 to $30. You know, looking at the pictures, it looks like this app even knows what the speed limit is where you are. That's great, especially on those long stretches of road where the speed limit isn't posted regularly.
It's All "Geek" To Me: Taskbar: Today, we’re going to talk about the Taskbar. It's been with us since August 24, 1995 when Windows 95 was released. I don't know why I remember that particular date, but I do. It's been with us ever since, but just in case you know how to use it but not what it's called, the taskbar is that band at the bottom of your Windows desktop. It runs from the start button to the clock. It includes buttons for all open programs that you can click to bring that button into view. The taskbar has been extended over the years to include toolbars like the Quick Launch toolbar, and others you could add. Vista and Windows 7 include real-time thumbnail images when you point at the program's button.
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