Jun 3, 2015

May - 27 2015 | By

Doing business over the Internet? check for previous problems
Bust if this is a NEW business– it won;t be listed– YET!

New Firefox offline mode, Will also talk about BookMark SYNC


Additional notes


Notifications of new show notes and edits are tweeted at: twitter.com/ddhart.
– They’re tagged with #Zentech.
– When what’s said is unclear to me (or I’m unfamiliar with a topic) I tend to quote (” “) verbatim.
– Editor’s comments are delimited by < >


Next show will be on 6-10-15 and no more shows this month. See Jane Do will be on 6-24-15 instead of Zen Tech.


Paul was in the studio and Glenn called in from Richmond, CA.

Paul said last week that WordPress, which runs this website, hooks into KVMR’s Google Calendar to display the upcoming schedule for this show. That’s no longer true. Because it’s been unreliable, he’s made some changes to the website and now we’re back to the way it’s been for years — go by the date in the title of each show. <If I remember, I’ll also note any changes to the schedule in the show notes, as above.>

Paul reminded listeners that they can leave comments on this website. You’ll have to create an account and login first.

Paul next talked about Freedom Pop. When he signed up for it about a year ago, he received a mi-fi unit for $19. When he first looked at their webpage, he signed in but didn’t think the price was attractive so he didn’t go for it. They kept sending him offers, each time lowering the price until they got to $19.

The mi-fi unit connects to the internet using a cellular <phone> network up to 5mi away from a tower — in this case the Sprint network. He liked the idea of having wi-fi when he’s on the go. The service provided 500 megabytes free <per month, I assume> and there weren’t any other charges. He assumed they made money from overage fees when people go over the 500 megabytes.

Since there was no 4G service in his area, they charged $3.95/mo to make it 3G. When he signed up, he unchecked a box so as not to be charged the $3.95 automatically every month. Several months later he checked his credit card statements and discovered he was being charged $10 & the $3.95 every month.

The lesson is don’t assume the webpage where you sign up won’t change, he said. <Apparently they changed the terms of service without notice.> Do a screen capture of the page to document exactly what you sign up for. Use your camera to take a picture of the screen if you don’t know how to do a screen capture. To their credit, he said the service worked fine, it’s just that they were deceitful about the charges.

<Freedom Pop was mentioned in the show notes for 2-11-15, 10-9-13 and 9-25-13>

The steps to take in a case like this is to first talk to the company. If they won’t resolve the issues, talk to the credit card company to dispute the charges. His credit card company was willing to reimburse past charges but for no more than 6 months in the past.

Paul then mentioned Ripoff Report. It’s one of the better places to go to spot potential problems with shady companies, he said. Of course, new companies won’t have a history of complaints.

Ed called to ask about internet providers in the Nevada City area besides Comcast & AT&T. Paul suggested Spiral Internet, which provides service via terrestrial wireless.
Spiral Internet
416 Broad Street Nevada City

Nick called to espouse the value of local internet providers and suggested Smarter Broadband. He also mentioned xwire.com, which is not very local but still in the general area and their customer service is not as good as some of the others. They have offices in Forrest Hill & Colfax. Paul added colfax.net and, out of Chico, Digital Path. Nick then remembered naactel out of Marysville.
<Xwire looks like a hardware company rather than a service provider>
<I didn’t come up with anything for naactel>

Paul talked about the ads that come up when people search for help on Microsoft products (try to google: outlook problems). They look like toll free numbers to Microsoft when, in fact, it’s typically some place in India that will want to charge you on your credit card. Paul’s heard nothing but bad reports about these places. There’s nothing especially sinister, it’s just that they never fix the problem or make it worse. Paul suggested using social media, like Facebook, to find people who’ve had good service and take their recommendations. Paul said there are at least 3 local companies with a good reputation, including his own.

Glenn said he’s never seen a phone number or email address to get in touch with Microsoft directly. Even for a new product under warranty you may be asked to pay for technical support.

Glenn he likes to use Firefox for his web browser but on his iPad he uses Safari the most. He rarely uses Chrome.

Paul noted that Firefox has had many updates in the recent years and that they are at version 39 now. Firefox has traditionally been a ‘slim’ program with functionality enhanced by addons <or plugins> that you can get by going to Tools -> Addons. The latest incarnation of Firefox as added a couple of functions to the task bar in the upper right — Save To Pocket (saves a page for off-line viewing) and Share This Page.

Paul has had many people ask him about Chrome popping up a warning when accessing the Chase Web Bank, saying that the ‘security certificate is only 64bit encrypted’. It turns out that Chrome is being conservative. The warning, though significant, it’s not very significant, he said.

Paul asked Glenn if he’s seen the warning ‘your security certificate is not valid’? Glenn said not very often but restarting the browser or the computer takes care of it.

The other thing that causes this certificate warning is if your computer’s clock goes wrong and reverts back to an earlier time & date. It’s likely the battery on the motherboard has run down and needs to be replaced. You can test it by <setting the correct time/date> and turning off the computer and then back on again. See if the time/date is wrong.

Paul said he takes responsibility for the way the Zen Tech website looks now. He makes no claim of being a great web designer. He said the site works the same, it’s just that he changed the theme.

Paul said his brother, who still uses FTP websites, rightfully claims that there have been many breakins into content managment websites — most run the popular WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Consequently, Paul’s been getting notifications that the WordPress he’s using needs updating. There have been 4 updates since Easter.

Firefox, like Safari on the Mac, has a feature called ‘sync’ that synchronizes your tabs, bookmarks and passwords. It saves these items to the cloud so that when you use the same browser on a different machine, you get the same bookmarks and passwords while using the same account. In Firefox go to Tools -> Setup Sync to get started.

Paul has thought about what it takes to kill a facebook account. He said if you don’t want to lose all of the stuff you’ve posted there, you can download it before closing the account. In Europe you have the right to your own data <that the company has>, so any company that provides a service in Europe has this feature, Paul said.

Paul said that even if you kill your Facebook account, if someone has the links to your pictures, video or other content that you’ve posted, they can still access that content for some time after you’ve killed your account.

Glenn said he uses his iPad but rarely uses the iMac — he uses his PC laptop instead. Paul then said, that if you want to run PC software on the Mac, he would avoid installing any version of Windows. Instead consider a piece of software called Crossover <works for Linux too>. He’s had a fair amount of success of copying software directly from a PC to the Mac without having the original installation disks. This is on a MacBook Pro running the latest version of Yosemite. Crossover facilitates running the PC programs without any version of Windows installed.

Nitiom called. Using Firefox and clicking on a link, sometimes the page she gets has no menu at the top. But entering the link address manually into the address bar doesn’t cause the problem.
– Bruce, on a previous show, had a similar problem and the guys suggested he uninstall and then reinstall Firefox.
– At the top of Firefox the 4th menu item is ‘History’, use that to clear recent history.
– Backup the bookmarks. One way is to use the sync feature mentioned above. To test if the data synched properly, use a different machine running Firefox, login to your account and see if the bookmarks show up. After the test, turn the sync off and delete the bookmarks.

When you uninstall Firefox the application is deleted but the data is left behind. Next time you install Firefox, it should be able to use the old data. If you want to delete the data as well as the application…
– either “Create a new profile in Windows because it will then get nothing of the original install. That’s a little extreme”
– or use Revo Unstaller. It deletes the data, files created by the application and registry entries as well, It’s the only thing that reliably does a complete uninstall.

Last updated 11:49 PM 6/3/2015

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