WHO’S THAT DOWN THERE?

This is one of the weirdest cases we’ve ever heard of from a reader. A woman wrote to say that anyone replying to her emails was redirected to a hacker.

We tried writing her back, and sure enough, we saw her email address change before our eyes. An extra letter was automatically inserted. We didn’t put it there, we just hit “reply.” Off it went to the hacker. The next time, we hit “reply” we carefully erased the “send” address and put in the one without the extra letter.

This was beyond annoying for the reader. Friends thought she was getting their email but those messages all went to the hacker instead. She first tried getting help from “Geek Squad” from Best Buy. They worked on the problem for more than three hours, but couldn’t fix it. She next tried Verizon’s tech support, but they were no help either. We suggested she go to helphelpnow.com and talk to Kenny, who has helped us many times. He fixed it in seconds, she said, removing the fake account the hackers had set up. Of course one mystery remained: why would a hacker want to get her emails in the first place?

Over three billion Yahoo email accounts were hacked in 2013, which the company admitted in 2016. Most held onto their accounts for the convenience of it. We use  Gmail, as does most of the world.

Ad Blockers

Websites are full of ads, and without an ad blocker they can be slow to load. But ad blockers themselves can cause problems if they use too much computing power, thus slowing down your machine. The ad blocker, “Ublock Origin,” is a good one, because it blocks ads without getting in the way.

Ublock Origin is an extension for the Chrome browser and an add-on for Firefox. We Googled it, and the Chrome extension came right up. To test it out, we went to Yahoo.com and in seconds, it blocked 29 ads. On Firefox, we searched on the phrase “Ublock Origin Firefox” to find it.

TrueCaller

NBC Nightly News recently did a story about phone spoofing. That’s when a hacker calls someone you know and makes it appear the call came from you. In their test case, a hacker-expert called the interviewer’s mom, disguised his voice and got her social security number. He got it because a picture of her son’s face showed up on her cell phone screen. Naturally enough, she thought she was talking to him. We use the app “TrueCaller” to identify these kinds of fake callers. TrueCaller is kind of a fanatic about identifying spam; it labeled the Wall Street Journal a spam caller because they were asking us to renew our subscription. (Maybe “TrueCaller” was right, it’s an outrageously expensive subscription.)

How it works: As a call comes in, the app turns red if it’s a spam suspect. It’s up to you to accept, decline, or block it forever. We find it handy for receiving and making calls. But to check voice mail, we tap the regular Android phone icon.  For some reason, we don’t see any voice mail messages come up in TrueCaller.

Playing Android Apps in Windows

Joy lost her smartphone somewhere in the apartment. Is it just us, or do other people, somewhere in the world, also lose things in their own homes? For now, she’s having calls forwarded to Bob’s phone. But what about all those fun apps?

“Bluestacks,” a free download from Bluestacks.com, allows you to use Android apps on a Windows computer. It includes the Google Play store, making it easy to search for the apps you want. Joy downloaded her new favorite, “Aaptiv,” which brings her personal trainers for yoga, strength training, rowing, running, elliptical machines and a host of other categories (free for the first thirty days, $99 a year if you continue). She also downloaded “Word Chums,” a free app that’s like Scrabble on steroids and has better sound effects.

She also tried running apps on our Google Chromebook. Word Chums and Aaptiv worked fine. Another one she tried did not.

Internuts

  • Archive.org is famous for its “Way Back Machine,” offering old versions of current websites. But it also has free games, movies, audio and TV. Click “movies” for hundreds of free classics, such as “His Girl Friday,” and Charlie Chaplin silents. Click “audio” to get free audio books and old-time radio. Old-time radio programs include The Adventures of Philip Marlowe, Dimension X, Our Miss Brooks, and many other classics. Click “software,” then “Internet Arcade” for 607 retro games from Atari and others. They look clunky today but they were hot stuff in their time.
  • JoinAllofUS.org is the website for a million-person study being conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) over the next ten years. Joy just joined, which involved filling out an extensive health questionnaire. She’ll be contacted soon to make an appointment for a blood test and various measurements, for which she’ll earn $25. Later, she’ll have her genome sequenced. NIH is trying to create the largest health data resource ever, to better understand health and disease.  Partners include a subsidiary of Google and scientists from leading universities.
  • RRAuction.com has some unusual items come up for bids. Steve Jobs’ employment application sold for $174,757. At the time, he was an 18 year-old freshman at Reed College in Oregon and listed his major as English Lit. He misspelled “probable.” We don’t know if he got the job.

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