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Google How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis

How to opt-out: Google to use Email Addresses for Ad Targeting

We all know, When we search for any product, google lists out ads from all potential brands who are related to the product. However, you will likely see more ads soon from companies that already count you as a customer, and not only when you search.

Well, This isn’t too new. Facebook and Twitter have been doing this for a while now.

Reports say, Google is beginning to let advertisers upload lists of their customers’ email addresses in order to target those people with ads when searching on Google, watching videos on YouTube or checking email on Gmail. Thereby, brands may be able to target people that Google identifies as having similar characteristics to the people in their email lists.

To accomplish this customer matching, Google will be cross-referencing email lists from brands with the email addresses tied to people’s Google accounts (considering the number of Gmail users).  Google will use a process called “hashing” to disguise the email addresses on both sides of the match and prevent any personally identifiable information from being exposed.

There is a way to opt-out of their new third-party email address ad targeting system.

How to Opt-Out:

You can do this by switching off Ads based on your interests on the Google ad settings page (for logged-in Google users) at: https://www.google.com/settings/ads. This page gives you direct control over how your interests are used when displaying ads via Google-associated sites. Though the descriptions on this page do not currently explain that the new third-party email lists case is included,  turning off the interest-based ad preferences will also turn off the use of the third-party email address lists for your logged in account.

controlads

Thanks for the opt-out tip, .

 

Categories
How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Learning

How to Setup & Configure Handoff on OS X Yosemite and iOS8

One of the highlights of the Apple WWDC 2014 has been the announcement of the Handoff part of the Continuity features of OS X Yosemite. With OS X Yosemite and iOS 8, devices recognize when they are near each other, enabling new features that let them work seamlessly together. You can move back and forth between devices without having to stop using any application.

One can even make and receive iPhone calls right on their Mac. When the iPhone rings, you will see a notification on the Mac showing the caller’s name, number, and profile picture. Click the notification to answer, and your Mac becomes a speakerphone. You can also decline the call or respond with a quick iMessage. Making a phone call from Mac is just as easy.

With OS X Yosemite and an iPhone running iOS 8, you can send and receive SMS and MMS text messages right from your Mac; regardless of the phone they have, the message would toggle between an iMessage and normal SMS/MMS.

Verify if your Mac supports Handoff:

Handoff work only on newer Macs that support Bluetooth 4.0 and the Bluetooth LE (low energy) technology. Not all Macs support this. To check if your Mac supports Handoff, check for the Bluetooth’s LMP version. Go to the Apple Menu, choose About this Mac, then click More Info, and then click on the System Report Head to the Apple Menu, then go About This Mac > More Info > System Report > Bluetooth. Look at the LMP Version. The version needs to be 0x6 for Handoff to work.

Alternatively, you can also run this command on terminal
system_profiler SPBluetoothDataType | grep LMP

How to Activate Handoff:

Step 1: Go to System preferences > General and then click on the allow handoff box at the bottom.

Step 2: Now, on your iOS 8 powered device, go to Settings > General and enable hand off.

Step 3:  On your Mac and open FaceTime > preferences and check the allow iPhone calls box.

Once you have set all things up, you are all set to use HandOff.

Categories
Featured How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Learning

How to keep your Passwords and Online Accounts Safe?

Internet has provided us with some amazing ways to do our day-to-day tasks better; sharing content and even getting in touch with friends have never been so awesome. As easy as it sounds, it is equally vulnerable to attacks. Most hackers either take control of your account for malicious activity or are just mere stalkers. I did hear about a couple of stalking cases from my friends recently and that’s when I thought of writing this piece. I even had a discussion with my friends online and they shared few commonly used methods in this regard.

Here are some of the best practices. The first tip is a very obvious one; using a strong password.

1. How to Keep Passwords Safe:

  • A strong password is generally referred to a key which has over 14 characters with at least 1 special character and numbers. There are online tools which can help you with suggesting some passwords. Random and Secure Passwords to name a few.

  • Do not use consecutive letters or numbers. For eg: abcd, 9876 etc.
  • Do not reuse old passwords; change your password regularly, at-least once in three months.
  • Do not use your family members name, the place you work, Anniversary and Birthday dates as passwords which is commonly known to others.
  • Do substitute numbers, symbols, and misspellings for letters or words in an easy-to-remember phrase. Passphrase as some would refer. Again, partial substitution is a good idea. For example, One Step Closer can be One$tepCl0sEr.
  • Do not use long words, quotations or phrases in your password; anyone around your desk or the key logging tools can always track the possibilities.
  • Do not use the same password for all your email accounts.
  • Do not write down your passwords on a paper near your desk; or even as a saved note on your Phone.
  • Do not sharing password information on Emails and Instant Messengers etc.

2. Social Accounts:

  • If you use your Gmail address to sign-in to your Facebook Account, use unique passwords for the same. Your Gmail account and Facebook’s password doesn’t need to be the same.
  • Similar to emails, do not have the same password for all your social accounts.
  • Having a base password mixed with a prefix or suffix created using the name of each website can be a good idea too. So, for example, Facebook, the password is H!Th3r3Face. For Google, H!Th3r3Goog.
  • If you have synced your email / Facebook accounts with your Phone, try enabling a passcode/pattern/finger print for your device.
  • It is very easy to impersonate your profile these days. A hacker, generally takes the relevant details from your profile and your display pictures and create a new profile with your exact name. These fake profiles further send out friend requests to all your contacts claiming that, your old account was hacked and this would be your new profile. In such a scenario, it would be great idea to talk to your friend over phone, before you confirm the friend request.
  • If you abandon an old email address associated with any of your social accounts like Facebook, Apple ID, Dropbox etc. Be sure to update them with your current email address.

3. Two-Factor Authentications and OTPs

Two-Step Verification adds an extra layer of security to your online Account, drastically reducing the chances of having the personal information in your account getting stolen. To break into an account with 2-Step Verification, a hacker would not only have to know your username and password, they’d also have to get a hold of your phone.This can be a turn off to many people considering that, some of the providers send you a code via SMS, and you will need to wait for the SMS code before you log-in.

Google also introduced an USB Security Key; one does not need to look or wait for codes on the phone and then re-type it; rather he/she can simply insert the Security Key into computer’s USB port when asked.

However, Google’s 2 Factor authentication doesn’t need a SMS too; you can use their mobile app for the secondary token. It is quite similar to those RSA token generatorsDo find the detailed steps for Google Accounts.

Apple has introduced this option for the iCloud users as well. In order to set up the two-factor authentication on Apple’s cloud storage service, users must login to the Apple ID account, click on “Password and Security” and find “Two-step verification.” Once activated, a unique four-digit verification code is sent to the registered mobile number via SMS or Find My iPhone. The unique code will be asked every time there is suspicious account activity, like login from an unfamiliar device. This way, unauthorized access to the accounts can be blocked.

Facebook calls it code generator; Once you login, you can then get to the security settings and enable this feature. As a review, you can also check on the logic notifications, and trusted browsers to verify if those are the machines/connections you used in the past.

Read these official notes from LinkedIn and Twitter for detailed steps. Enabling an OTP before making a fund-transfer or payment is considered safe in online banking; Most of the banks do this by default now.

4. Email Attacks:

  • Phishing scams – Do not click on links in suspicious email messages, and never provide personal information on any websites. Think before you click or download anything. Some deals may be too good to be true; for eg: A free Airline ticket or a 100,000,000 GBP lottery price.
  • Manage your subscriptions; clicking on the ‘Unsubscribe” option in the spam mail is usually a bad idea. As most email providers these days do not send back “read-receipts”, hackers/spammers send you email from mailing list and wait for you to unsubscribe to confirm that its an email id “in use”. It’s best to just mark them as spam and leave it. You can also create some smart filters which moves emails like these straight to archives or deleted items.
  • Always have a secondary email configured for password-reset instructions. Preferably, a secret email address which you haven’t shared in public forums.
  • For a password reset request, choose security questions and answers that cannot be easily guessed by someone else. For eg: Do not choose a question like, what is your favorite color? and even if you end up choosing this question, Answer does not need to be black or blue always. You can even answer as weird as a cow or an elephant. But yea, do remember what you enter.

5. Keep your browser and other apps up-to-date.

  • Generally companies like Adobe, Microsoft, Google, Apple and few others release software updates and hotfixes and make it available to the end-users for download. These may not be just for new features but also to fix newly identified vulnerabilities with the software. Always make a point to run an up-to-date browser. Ensure your Java and Flash Player are updated to the latest available versions. Likewise, do not ignore OTA (On the Air) software updates on your smart-phone as well. Do update them.
  • As much as possible, do not auto-save your passwords on your browsers.
  • I personally do not recommend a password saving programs as well. However, if you still want to try these softwares, 1password can be a good option. 
  • If you are installing any 3rd party applications to access Facebook or Emails, understand the level of access these applications have on your phones. Well, Mobile and Cloud Security are totally new areas, let us look at them later.
  • When using a public computer, always sign out when your session is complete to prevent other people from accessing your account.
  • Use incognito / Private Browser window while accessing your bank accounts.

Summary:

Your online experience totally depends on how secure your accounts are. For many of us, businesses run on Internet and compromising them will result in a huge impact. Hopefully, this article has helped you with some inputs. Always remember to report when your account is hacked; not just to your friends but most importantly to your service providers like Google, Facebook, Banks etc. They can further block your account before it can be accessed by anyone else. Of Course, the most obvious thing remains, Do not share your password with anyone..!

Categories
How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft

How to Activate Cortana on Windows Phone 8.1

Cortana, a smart voice assistant is a fantastic feature that was announced along with Windows Phone OS 8.1 few months ago. Cortana on Windows Phone is similar to an Apple’s Siri or Android’s Google Now. Cortana uses Bing for most of its searches/stories and currently works only in the US. Microsoft have announced that, it will roll-out Cortana to other countries as early as possible. This is a simple how-to article on how can you activate Cortana on your device running Windows Phone 8.1 even if you are not based in the US. Changing the language on your phone to United States English is the first step. I am listing out these steps from my Nokia Lumia 930, which I imported from the UK. So I have to first change the language from English (United Kingdom) to English (United States).

Step 1: To do the same, click on settings on your phone and reach out to the region options. You can then click on “Add language” and select US. Remember, the phone may restart while configuring the region options. After the reboot, ensure that, the Phone Language, Regional Format and Speech are all enabled. If not, then click on the language, and reboot the phone again.

language-settings

 

Remember, it will take sometime to download the language packs, and configure the same on your phone.

Step 2: Now Tap on the region, and change the same to United States. Ensure that the, Regional Format is enabled to ‘Match Phone Language’ or English (United States). Its better if you override the settings and change it to English (United States). You may have to reboot the phone once you make this configuration.

region-settings

 

After the reboot, you wont see a Cortana in any of the applications or in the hot search key. You will have to go to Settings, Applications and then Enable Cortana. You can also change your name and make other speech and battery settings for this app.

enable-cortana

Cortana is now enabled on your phone. You can click on the Search icon to start the application or rather conversation.

search-button

cortanaEnglish diction can be an issue at the beginning; however, the phone learns you well as you start using it more often.

If you are wondering what to talk to your new digital assistant, this article would come handy.

PS: Now that you have changed your default language of the phone to United States English, you may not have the default currency icon of pound on your keyboard. However, you can long-press the currency icon and it will display all the other available options.

Deactivating Cortana: If for some reason you would like to disable Cortana from your phone, you can go to Settings -> Applications -> Cortana and turn it off. Reboot the phone and then delete the Phone Data to clear the logs.

Categories
How-to Microsoft

Planning to explore Windows 8? These links will definitely help.!

The capabilities introduced in the upcoming Windows Server “8” go well beyond virtualization to deliver a dynamic, multi-tenant infrastructure and provide users with flexible access to data and applications while simplifying management and maintaining security, control, and compliance. Check out all the Windows Server 8 resources on this page, including download links for the beta, evaluation resources, what’s new and related resources such as:

Categories
Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

How To Enable System Boot Time Logging using Process Monitor Tool

How many times have you faced issues with slow or longer boot time in your PC? Does it happen only on your computer? There could be many reasons for this. It could be too many Startup process, Run Keys, and sometimes even malware executables as well.

It would make your troubleshooting job easy, if you get to know what really happens when your PC boots. Process Monitor tool from SysInternals will exactly help you in doing the same. This tool can also be used for other process snapshot and access informations. however, in this post we will look at its Boot Logging capabilities.

First download the executable from SysInternals Site, If you face issues with Security Warning message, check this tip to fix it.

Step 1: Execute the procmon.exe; Goto Options menu, and Click Enable Boot Logging.

Enable Boot Logging

Step 2: This will further give you this below Boot logging options. You can choose to Enable the Profiling Events, if you need.

Boot Logging Options

Step 3: You can now reboot your PC. When the machine restarts, the process monitor will start monitoring all the processes and applications which gets invoked during the system boot and generates a dump file.

Step 4: Execute procmon.exe again. You will see this below dialog which tells you that, a log of the boot-time activity was created by the previous instance of process monitor. To save the collected Data, press the Yes Button.

Boot Time Activity Logs

Step 5: The file will initially be saved as a dump file in C:\Windows, you will need to convert it to Process Monitor Log (pml) log files. Save the Log file using this below dialog. This will start converting the dump file to pml file.

Saving Procmon Log - Dump to Log File

Converting Boot-time Event Data

Once the Log is converted, it will open in the Process Monitor tool.


Here you can get an idea on all the applications and processes which was executed during the system boot. This report will help you identify, which process was invoked by whom and how much time did it take to for its complete execution. You can also identify if any malwares are running in your PC, which is affecting your system boot.

Logs for System Boot

Step 6: You can choose to filter these reports; when you click on any entry you will get the below dialog which will give you a complete snapshot on the process attributes, Who invoked it, its architecture, the Parent Process Id, along with information on when did the process transition from User mode to a Kernel mode through the Stack.

Event Properties

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –

Categories
Enterprise Tech How-to Microsoft Tools

How to Remove Security Warning Message – Files Downloaded from Internet

How many times, have you seen this dialog when you execute a file which was downloaded from Internet?  For example, this Process Explorer message box below. This would come-up, every-time you run this executable. Also, when you open any of the help file from the downloaded suite you see this ‘Navigation Cancelled’ dialog.

Issues because of the Security Zone Information

The problem is that, when you download any of the files from the internet, using internet explorer, it gets tagged with metadata in alternate data stream, and says what IE Security zone did it came from. and even though, when you are running it from the local file system, windows remembers that it came from the internet.

Methods to resolve this –

1. Easiest way is to remove the zone information using the file Properties. Before you extract the zip file, Right-click on the file, select Properties tab. Click on the un-block button to remove the alternate data stream – Security zone information.

Unblock - File Properties

2. The other option, is to use a Sysinternals tool called Streams. Streams will examine the files and directories you specify and inform you of the name and sizes of any named streams it encounters within those files. Streams makes use of an undocumented native function for retrieving file stream information.

Using this parameter, streams -d will remove the Zone identifier information from a file and you will not see the security warning message/dialog.

streams - Sysinternals Tool

Also read about the other SysInternals Tools here  –

Categories
General How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis

How to Insert and Trim Videos in a PowerPoint Presentation

PowerPoint 2010 provides us a a very easy option to import and use videos in a presentation. In this article, we will look at how to Insert YouTube Videos and other media files into a PowerPoint Presentation. We will also learn how to Trim and customize a video.

Step 1: Open a PowerPoint Presentation, When you add a new slide (or change the slide layout), you will see the below screenshot. Select the Media option as shown below.

Insert Media Clip onto a PowerPoint Presentation

Step 2: Browse through your local folder and select a video to insert. Once the video is imported. You will see the same on the slide.  In this demo, let me add a Windows Phone 7 Demonstration video. (video courtesy – Chris Pirillo)

A point to note – You will also see the media button and options below the video. This can be used to control the Playback and other Media options.

Media Options by Default - Import Video in PowerPoint 2010Step 3: You can look at a preview of the video by right-clicking on the video file. If the video is a long one, and you do not want to show the entire video in your presentation, then you can trim and show just a section.

Invoke Trim Video Options in PowerPoint 2010Step 4: You can basically, choose the section which you want to show in your presentation. Once the selection is made, Just hit the OK button.

Trimming a Specific Section in a Video - PowerPoint 2010

and Bingo.. the trimmed video will be as a part of your presentation!

Insert Videos from Web Site (YouTube, MetaCafe, BlipTV etc..)

Somes times when you see a nice video and want to include it in your presentation, you dont really want to download it and import. Rather, there is a need to add it directly. Office 2010 provides you an option to import a video from any website. In this example, lets import an YouTube Video.

Step 1: Goto Insert Menu -> Select Video -> Video from Website (as Shown below)

Insert YouTube Video onto a PowerPoint PresentationStep 2: This will give you a dialog to insert a link of the video. You can copy the embed code from YouTube (or any other websites) and paste it into the textbox below (as shown)

Insert YouTube Video Embed Code - PowerPoint 2010On clicking the Insert Button, you will find the YouTube video inserted in the Slide. You can resize it as per your need..!

YouTube Video gets Embedded in a Presentation - PowerPoint 2010You also have options to change the Video Styles, Correct the brightness and Contrast etc..

Video Correction Options in a Presentation - PowerPoint 2010

You would also be interested in reading –

Categories
General How-to Microsoft

How to Set Default Programs for File Extension Associations in Windows

When you have multiple browsers or media players on a single machine, the latest software you installed takes all the Default Program file Associations.  For instance, when you install Winamp Player on Windows, the .mp3 files by default will play on Winamp and not Windows media player. Basically, the File extension associations gets over-ridden when a new software is installed.

Some of the programs do prompt to the user, however most of the programs do not. For eg: If you have installed another web browser in addition to Internet Explorer, you can specify that you want to use that browser as your default program for opening web based content instead of Internet Explorer when the program is launched for the first time. You usually get the dialog ‘Do you want Chrome to be your default Browser?’

Now when you face a similar situation like this and want to change the default associations back, here are few of the methods you can use –

Option 1: Set Default Programs in Control Panel

Open Control Panel, and select Programs. Here you will find option to set the Default Programs (as shown below)

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

When you open the Set Default Programs, you will see the list of all the softwares installed and you can choose which Program you want to set as default. In this example, let us choose Internet Explorer and Set this program as default for all the internet shortcuts,  HTML files and other files normally viewed on a browser.

Set Default Program in the Control Panel

You can also choose, selective application types or file extensions to associate with a program. For example, in this below screenshot you will see, how specific a file type can be assigned a program.

Set Default Program for Specific File extension

Option 2: Associating a file extension Using the right click menu Option

Select the file which you want to associate, right-click on it, and select the Open With Menu Item and Click on Choose Default Program.

Choose Default Program - Right Click MenuThis will list all the available softwares/programs for this program. You can choose a program here and click on OK button. Ensure that, you select the Check box “Always use the selected Program to open this kind of file”.

Set Default Program - Right Click Menu

Option 3: Registry Key Association

If your application uses special file extensions, you might want to register them so that the application gets started when the icon associated with the file gets double-clicked. Read this article to know more – How to register a File Extension in Windows? (This is for an advanced User)

You will also be interested to read –

Categories
General How-to IT News, Tech Information and Analysis Microsoft

Remove the Background of an Image using Office 2010

Few of us use images in our daily lives. It could be for creating an invitation, writing a blog post, preparing Lab records/Instruction Manuals etc. We often Google for images and use them. However, sometimes the background of the image doesn’t blend so well with our document/invite and adding them does not give a good feel. There comes a need for removing the background of the image using any of the photo editing softwares available.

Office 2010 has an excellent image editing feature, which would help us do a lot of stuffs on images, including the remove background option. In this example, we will see how to do the same.

Step 1: Insert the image into any of the office Suite products. In this example, I will use the Word 2010.

Step 2: Double-click on the image; this will give you a separate picture Editing Menu Bar (as shown below)

Step 3: Select the Remove Background Option. This will give you a work area to play with. Here you can select the ‘areas to keep’ and ‘areas to remove’. Its as simple, as selecting the option and clicking your mouse cursor on that specific area.

Step 4: When you are done with the marking the areas, Click on the Keep Changes Button to save. This will give you the image with removed background.

Now you can use this image, for any purpose. This would be a transparent image (png) and hence, can be used on any background color!

To know how to add Artistic Effects to the image, do read this article!

If you have not tried the Office 2010 Version yet, Download it and Give it a shot. I’m sure, you would love it!