I’m Glad my Laptop Doesn’t Have a Built-in Camera

 

This is a detachable webcam

My detachable webcam

In George Orwell’s 1984, Big Brother—that is, the omnipresent government—uses hidden cameras inside residents’ homes to keep an eye on them.

Well, in case you were unaware, anyone who is proficient at hacking might be able to do the same to you if your computer is on and it has a built-in webcam.

Ergo I’m glad that my laptop uses a USB clip-on camera for the rare times I Skype.

Hackers who are so inclined can manipulate websites and imbed an invisible permission prompt for the use of the webcam. The nefarious no-goodniks place the prompt on top of a video’s “Play” button, or on another button or link, so that an unaware user gives the hackers permission to start taking pictures through the webcam.

The website www.MakeUseOf.com recommends that folks with webcams download the most recent security updates for their cameras. They also recommend that you regularly scan for malware (better yet, have a security program running on your computer). Of course, you should use a firewall. And just to be sure, watch your webcam’s external light (if it has one) to be sure it’s not on unless you are using your webcam.

If all of this is too technical for you, just place a piece of paper over your webcam when you are not using it.

Now, where the hell did I put my camera?

Easy Ways to Save on Electronics and Travel

Here are easy ways to track prices online that might enable you to compare for the best deals.

 

For electronics, Decide.com offers an app that you can download from the site. The will let you know when the price for the item you are interested in is likely to drop (it claims a 77 percent accuracy rate – so don’t blindly depend on it). You can check price alerts and compare what items will cost at brick-and-mortar stores.

 

If you are planning a trip, Bing Price Predictor (www.bing.com, then click “More,” then “Travel”) to find the best time to buy plane tickets.

 

After you buy your tickets, go to Yapta.com and enter your itinerary the price you paid. It will let you know if the price drops enough to qualify you for any travel refunds (travel refund policies depend on from whom you buy your tickets and what their policies are). If you didn’t buy your tix through a seller with a price-drop refund policy, at least you’ll know if the price dropped enough to cover the cost of changing you tickets.

 

Hotel room bookings can come with a low cost guarantee as well. If you reserve through Tingo.com you will automatically be rebooked at a lower rate if the cost of your room drops. This only applies to rooms with a “Money Back” designation. Just be sure that Tingo has the lowest price to begin with compared to booking though other sites.

Thanks to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for these tips.

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The Consumer Gal and I just had our book, Enough of Us – which deals with other subject matter – published. Now we have to focus on marketing our “baby.” So for thetime being, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  brief consumer tips..

If you would like to learn more about our book, which deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

 

 

 

Package for You? Yeah, a Pack of Pain

The US Postal Inspection Service reports a scam in which you receive an email informing you that the US Postal Service (USPS) had trouble trying to deliver a package to your address. All you have to do is click on the enclosed link arrange for delivery. If you click on the link you will download a

USPS Office of the Inspector General

An exact replica of your nonexistent package

malicious virus that can steal information from your computer. So…how can I put this?…Oh yeah, DON’T CLICK ON THE LINK! In fact, never click on any link in any email that resembles an email like this.What to do? Forward spam emails that involve snail mail to the USPS Inspection service at spam@uspis.gov. If there is a package waiting for you, the mail carrier will leave a notice in your mailbox.

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The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.

 

Ways to Spot an Emailed Virus.

Two types of viruses are contaminating the landscape. One is influenza. The other is all those email viruses concocted by mentally ill people who have no self-esteem and who want make an impact on society, no matter how useless and negative.

There are lots of folks who have had their email contact lists compromised and who are spreading viruses without knowing it, that is until their contacts tell them about it. Here are some ways to detect these insidious little buggers.

Be very careful about messages that are not truly personal even if they have your name in the subject line. The body of the email usually goes something like this:

“Hey Bob, you really have to check this out http://www.9dfkr.ibl-finance”

Notice, there really is no personal communication, except for your name.

Also, be careful of extensions in the email link like .exe, .scr, or .pif, which are the most common extensions of viruses.

If you click on one of these links, you compromise your contacts list and everyone in your list is likely to have the same virus sent to them.

If you receive such a virus, notify the person who unknowingly sent it to you and then delete it

 ******************************

The Consumer Gal and I are about to have our book, Enough of Us – which deals with another realm – published in a few weeks. In preparation for the big event we need to concentrate on that project. So for the next eight weeks or so, I will be suspending my semi-monthly Consumer Guy full-length blog posts and, instead, providing  a short consumer tip each week (I hope).

If you would like to learn more about our book that deals with issues of ethics and procreation, please visit our other website, www.enoughof.us. Many thanks for your interest.