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Sunday, February 19, 2017

1787. Computer Virus scam

We got an email from a listener recently, and it was very upsetting. Can you tell the story and provide some information?

So here's the tale of woe. This person had gone to visit a website, a normal website, but instead of getting to the website what they saw instead was a dialog box that said "Call this number you've been infected with a virus". 

They called the number, they gave their credit card to the person on the other end of the phone who told them they would fix the problem and then, granted remote access to their computer to this stranger. 

First of all all the red flags should go up at this point you should never give your credit card number to someone you call over the phone unless you know who they are and certainly you should never give a credit card number to anyone who calls you over the phone. In addition you should never grant remote access to your computer to anyone unless you know them well. 

In this case the person they gave remote access rights to just actually did infect their computer with a virus. Until that point all they had done is lost money. Now they were actually infected with the virus that was put there by this criminal at the other end of the phone. 

The moral of the story is if you see a dialog box that says "you've been infected call this number to get fixed" just turn your computer off, end of story. When you boot it back up everything should be fine. Don't fall for this scam. Don't call anyone, don't give me your credit card number. Don't give them remote access just turn off your computer.

1788. Router slowing down?

My home network's router works pretty well, most of the time. Occasionally, it seems to run really slowly and a reboot fixes the problem. Is there an easy way I can cause it to reboot at a regular interval, perhaps during the night when no one is accessing the internet?

In a perfect world, this wouldn't be necessary your router wouldn't get slow and it wouldn't need a reboot. But it's just a little computer and like any other computer can get itself into a state when it might need to be rebooted. 

You would think there would be something built into the router software that would say reboot me every day or two but there's not not in any home router I've ever seen. 

The alternative is really simple you go to the hardware store you get one of those electric lamp timers that has little buttons you can choose to indicate when you wanted to be on and off and you just set it to be off for a few minutes once a day by moving the pegs the right way. It seems like a really low tech solution but it really works.

That way if your router is off for a few minutes every day it comes back on it reboots, and it gets a chance to reset itself so that it never turns out to be slow because it needs to be rebooted.


When I’m working at home, I use my MacBook with an attached mouse, and never really use the track pad. When I’m on the road, I do use the trackpad. When I’m at my desk, I’d really like the trackpad to be disabled. Is there some way to convince the Mac to turn off the track pad when I’m at home, but enable it when I’m not.

It would be some kind of magic, if your mac could tell when you were home and set things up differently just based on the proximity to some location in the world but that's not the way it works. 

On the other hand you can tell the Mac to behave differently when there is a mouse attached and when there's not. To do this -  Go to System Preferences and you'd think you'd look under trackpad settings but that's not where it is. It's under accessibility. Go figure. 

And under accessibility. There's a mouse and trackpad option. There you can choose the "ignore built in trackpad when mouse or wireless trackpad is present". It's a checkbox. Just check it and then when you have a mouse or external trackpad attached the built in trackpad will be disabled. That way you can have it both ways. 

When you're home you can use an attached mouse and the trackpad won't work. When you're on the road and you've left your mouse at home your trackpad built into your MAC will work. It's a simple setting. 

It's just in a funny place. It's in the accessibility settings not in the trackpad settings.

1789. Roku crashing?

I use a Roku box for streaming video from Netflix, and unfortunately sometimes it crashes. I can crawl in the closet to unplug it to force it to reboot, but that's a serious pain. Is there some way to force it to reboot once it has crashed?

Yes I have Roku and I use it and occasionally it does crash. In my case I just have to reach behind it. Unplug it for a few minutes and plug it back in but if yours is inaccessible that can be difficult to do. 

There is an answer you would not believe the answer you lead to write this down. First of all the remote control is still active. Even after it's crashed. So to get it to reboot. Here's what you do:

1. Press the home button five times 
2. Press the up arrow one time. 
3. Press the rewind button two times 
4. Press the fast forward button two times. 

It kind of makes sense home five times up arrow once rewind twice. Fast forward twice and it will reboot. 

Now you're not to remember all that you're probably in your car listening to this. So you can't write it down. It's on our website and it's also available on the web just by searching for "reboot Roku". You'll find the same set of steps. In any case it's possible you don't have to crawl behind your home entertainment system to reboot you're Roku.

1786. Chrome a memory hog?

I use Google Chrome as my browser. I really like it, but it seems to be a memory hog. Occasionally, I want to restart it to clear out its huge memory footprint. The only way I’ve found to completely restart it a system reboot. Is there an easier way to restart Chrome?

We love Chrome but good grief. It can chew up a computer's memory. The more extensions you have loaded and the more tab pages you have open the more memory it uses. In addition Chrome starts up a large number of background processes that can themselves take up a lot of memory. If you find your computer slowing down as you use Chrome you may find that you want to restart the whole application and the easiest way to do this is to just reboot. 

Chrome supports a set of internal pages that you can use and you can access by entering a web address like Chrome://About - That lists all the internal pages. You want to be careful using these internal pages. Some can take actions you may not expect but in order to reset chrome on demand, you can try out the Chrome Restart page.

You get there by typing Chrome://restart - When you do that Chrome will completely restart clearing out its memory and act as if you had rebooted your computer. 

There are other built in Chrome pages as well. For example like Chrome://bookmarks and Chrome://apps. Those are both benign and can be useful. Try them out and see what you find but the restart page will restart Chrome for you.

1785. Hate the Facebook APP?

Sue asks: I spend more time on Facebook than I would like to admit, and I often check my Facebook feed from my phone. I enjoy Facebook, but I really hate the Facebook app. I’m just used to the Facebook Web site, and I’d prefer to use that instead. Is there some way to get rid of the Facebook app and use the Web site instead, on my phone?

Certainly the Facebook app on the iPhone is or has been an unmitigated disaster in terms of the amount of resources it uses. It's a big pig and you can easily remove it and  use the website instead. Now I can't say that for all Android phones some of them come with the Facebook app installed and you may or may not be able to uninstall the Facebook app. 

But in any case you can always use the web browser to browse to the Facebook website. Now if you want to make it easier, you'll want to create a bookmark for that website and on the iPhone and on the Android phone you can take that bookmark and place it on your home screen. 

So all you have to do is tap on that icon and it takes you to the correct website. That's probably the easiest way to use the Facebook website, instead of using the Facebook app. You should be able to delete the app just like any other application and use the web site instead.

1796. More iPhone battery saving tips

More iPhone ways to save the battery. Ken you came up with a great way to save some iPhone battery by putting the iPhone face down. Are there others?

You can do a search for "ways to conserve your iPhone or Android phone battery".

One interesting suggestion is you will save battery if you remove the application from memory. This is actually not going to help and in many cases it will cause additional battery use because if you need the app again it will have to go through the efforts to reload the app and this will most likely use more battery.

Another suggestion is Turn on Low Power Mode" available on iOS 10 and iOS 9. This suggestion is a way of identifying a bad application causing significant battery usage. You can then decide if you want to use this application.

Go to Settings > Battery and wait for your Battery Usage report to load up. This will let you check your Usage and Standby times. To test your battery, make a note of the usage and standby times and then put the device to sleep by pressing the on/off switch at the top. After five minutes check the change in the times. If your device is working correctly, the usage time should have have gone up by less than a minute, while the standby time should have gained five minutes. If you see more than a minute increase on the Usage time, something is stopping your phone from sleeping and you have a battery drain problem. Check the applications currently loaded by double clicking the Home button and look at the windows open.

There are many more. Do a search or look here.