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I never thought I’d see the day.

PayPal Commits Suicide

As of November 18, consumers who use PayPal to make a purchase will have up to 180 days to return items for a full refund.

That’s nuts. Why would PayPal promise something — a six month return period — no sane person would think reasonable?

Two words: Apple Pay.

PayPal knows what the future holds, and it’s not pretty. They know that whenever Apple enters a new market — in this case, electronic payments — they tend to steamroller the competition. Just ask Motorola or BlackBerry what happened to them after the first iPhones went on sale in 2007.

So, how does this new policy effect you?

That depends. If you never use PayPal for purchases, you may decide to start. If you already use PayPal to buy things, you just got an early birthday present.

As a business owner, however, I will no longer accept PayPal. I believe many businesses will join me before November 18.

PayPal may just have committed suicide in order to stay alive.

Hard Drive Reliability Study

I use the Backblaze online storage service, which I find inexpensive, easy to use, and reliable. They just released an updated report on the longevity of the traditional, spinning hard drives they use in their storage pods; these results do not apply to solid state drives.

Please keep in mind that these are the drives Backblaze uses most often. If they don’t address your favorite brand, they just don’t use enough of them to have reliable data.

Considering the results of the original and updated studies are the same, I think there are some obvious conclusions:

(1) Hitachi’s are a safe bet, which is probably why there’s one in my iMac.

(2) A Seagate or Western Digital that is not 3TB is probably okay. I can vouch for that. My 1TB and 2TB Seagate drives are fine.

(3) If it’s either a 3TB Seagate or a 3TB WD, run in the other direction! (No experience with these, and I’m keeping it that way.)

https://www.backblaze.com/blog/hard-drive-reliability-update-september-2014/

To other drive makers, I’m just passing along Backblaze’s data. If you want to sue someone, sue them.

iOS 8 Upgrade Warning. Please read!

If you store documents in iCloud and use a Mac, be VERY CAREFUL when upgrading your iThings to iOS 8.

Apple has a new version of iCloud storage called iCloud Drive. During the iOS upgrade process, you’ll be given a chance to upgrade to it. Most people should NOT upgrade. You should only upgrade to the Drive if you are already running the new OS, Yosemite 10.10.

I’m not being an alarmist. If you are running Mavericks or an earlier version of the OS on your Mac, you will lose access to all the documents you have in iCloud until you upgrade your Mac to Yosemite. Keep in mind that older Macs may not be able to run Yosemite.

Apple is usually pretty good about stuff like this; it would be incredibly bone-headed of them to cause everyone to lose access to all their iCloud docs just by upgrading their phones and iPads. Still, the live stream last week was a mess, and they gave everyone U2’s new album whether they wanted or not…

Yosemite’s release is probably imminent; Apple just released the third version of the public beta yesterday. Just be careful, okay?

Battle For The Net

If you woke up tomorrow, and your favorite internet sites loaded at a snail’s pace, what would you do?

Imagine all your favorite websites taking forever to load, while you get annoying notifications from your ISP suggesting you switch to one of their approved “Fast Lane” sites.Think about what we would lose: all the weird, alternative, interesting, and enlightening stuff that makes the Internet so much cooler than mainstream Cable TV.

What if the only news sites you could reliably connect to were the ones that had deals with companies like Comcast, Cox, Time Warner, and Verizon?

Today, just a few days before the FCC’s comment deadline, public interest organizations are issuing an open, international call for websites and internet users to unite for an “Internet Slowdown” to show the world what the web would be like if Team Cable gets their way and trashes net neutrality.

Net neutrality is hard to explain, so our hope is that this action will help SHOW the world what’s really at stake if we lose the open Internet.

Get the code to join the #InternetSlowdown here: https://battleforthenet.com/sept10thEveryone else, here’s a quick list of things you can do to help spread the word about the slowdown: http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/96020972118/be-a-part-of-the-great-internet-slowdown Get creative! See you on the net!

via Battle For The Net.

Need Offsite Data Storage?

You know how you always hear that you should have multiple backups of your data? And that one of them should be offsite?

If you’re like 95% of the population – you may have a backup. Is it up to date? Is it outside of your immediate area? Having a backup at your office or the neighbor’s is okay, unless the disaster is a hurricane or tornado and they’re in the same boat as you.

Well, this is your lucky day.

If you surf on over to the Cult of Mac’s deals page
(https://deals.cultofmac.com/tags/apple-Mac) you’ll see that Backblaze is $24.99 today. That’s 50% off for a full year of offsite backups for either a Mac or a PC.

Backblaze is easy to use, and if you need help their support is first rate. So do yourself a favor already and get it before the price goes back up.

FYI, I don’t work for them. I’m just a (full price) happy customer.

Internet Security (Boring, I know. Please read it anyway.)

This is going to be a pretty dry topic, but do yourself a favor and read the whole thing.

With so many security breaches in the news, we all feel vulnerable. And I hate to say this, but we may be partly to blame. We like to be helpful, so when we get an email from someone requesting information, we send it. We also use the same few, easy-to-guess passwords all over the web, maybe with variations thrown in to make them more complex and safer.

We use certain patterns when creating passwords, and guess what: the bad guys know every single one of them. Even the common variations we come up with don’t make our passwords much more secure. It’s not that hard for a computer program to add a number onto the end of a basic password or substitute numbers for letters.

We want to protect ourselves online, but it seems too hard, what with all the different, difficult passwords we’d have to create to be safe. Guess what? It does not have to be complicated! It can be downright easy with the right tools.

Our identity and money (which is really the point of all this) will be a lot safer online if we just do a few things. This isn’t just about you, either; what about your Mom?

Here are some solutions to the insecure password problem; please consider doing one or all of them.

1. Use a good password manager. I use 1Password (www.agilebits.com/onepassword), and let it create and remember my passwords. And those passwords! They’re long, complex, completely random, totally wonky, and include letters, numbers, symbols, etc. I use at least 16 characters, unless the website doesn’t allow that many. My passwords are impossible for me to remember, so I don’t even try.  I’m on a mac, but maybe you aren’t? No worries; there’s a version of 1P for most desktop and mobile operating systems. If you use multiple devices, you can link them all together so all your passwords are available everywhere. 1P isn’t cheap, but it’s the best. Think of it this way: what’s it worth to keep the bad guys out of your bank account?

2. Set up two-step authentication for accounts where available. To log into a protected account from a new phone, tablet, or computer, you need to not only know something, you need to have something. Besides your user ID and password, you need to enter a specially generated code sent to you via phone or text. It sounds a lot more complicated that it really is; it just slows you down a little while you get the code and type it in. Two-step authentication is available for Facebook, Google, Dropbox, iCloud, and many, many others. This Lifehacker article has some good, basic information: http://lifehacker.com/5938565/heres-everywhere-you-should-enable-two-factor-authentication-right-now.

3. Use your head. There are a lot of really convincing phishing emails which look like the real thing, so be suspicious! You’ve heard it before, but it’s true – no legitimate bank or company is going to send you an email asking you to supply your password so it can be “verified.” The good guys do not do that. If you get an email from a company saying your computer is infected, ask yourself one question: how would they know? No email like that is legitimate, so delete it.

A phishing email is designed to get you to provide information that should remain secret, or click on a link that leads you to the bad guys. A good one seems legit; it has links and email addresses that look real, but aren’t. The differences can be as subtle as a .net when it should be .com. If you aren’t 100% sure that the link is genuine, don’t click on it! Call the sender to verify that they actually sent the email, especially if it’s a bank or credit card company. If you decide to copy and paste the link into a browser window to check it, look at the URL at the top. Are you where you expect to be? If you’re emailing Apple and the URL includes a foreign country, there’s a problem.

If you get what looks like a phishing email, you may be able to report it to the company being spoofed. Again, using Apple as an example, if you get a phishing email that appears to be from Apple, you can forward it to abuse@icloud.com. Their legal department wants to know about these so they can take action if necessary. Most big companies have a similar address, so look on their website.

Yeah, I know; boring. Sorry about that, but this really is that important.

PS – There has been an issue lately with (mostly) Australian iPhones without a passcode being locked by third parties who demand money to unlock the phone. If you get one of these emails or messages, do not pay. Contact Apple support or go to an Apple store and get it fixed for free. BTW, the simple way to prevent this from happening is to have passcodes on your iThings. This scheme can only work if the bad guys can create a passcode for your unprotected phone. Don’t give them the chance.

A lot of the technical information for this post is from the 1Password blog, http://blog.agilebits.com.

Things are looking up!

Now that my website and email are functioning again, I’ve turned my attention to my Etsy shop. Besides adding new images, I’m working behind the scenes, tweaking everything to be more Google-friendly. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been called a black art which only Google fully understands. All we poor artists can do is try to set things up so we can be found in search.

Website Progress…Such As It Is

After much fiddling around, I’ve finally got my home page set up and the blog entries where they belong. The about page needs fleshing out, but at least it exists.

The photo galleries, on the other hand, are tougher than I thought. I’ve been trying to set up the first one for a couple of hours, but I’m stuck. You know that point where the harder you try, the worse it gets? I’m there. I think it’s time to post this update and log out for the evening.

“After all, tomorrow is another day!”