The Microsoft tech support scam

This scam begins with a person calling or emailing you pretending to be a member of “Microsoft Support.” They will try to alarm you by saying your machine is compromised by a virus or other malicious malware. The scammer will then ask you to join a remote session in order for them to connect and fix your machine. Don’t fall for it! This is an attempt by them to access your machine to steal documents, install key loggers, or even install ransomware. These things will eventually give them access to your passwords and entire machine. At the end of this they may request for payment for their “services” or for software that they say you need to protect your machine against other threats. This is all part of their scheme to make money, not protect your machine.

How to avoid a scam

  • Do not supply your personal information by phone, email, Instant Message, chat, or over a remote session
  • Use caution when answering emails or calls from support agents that you have no prior history with. Remember that unsolicited calls or emails rarely occur even for valid reasons.
  • Trust your instincts. If the person on the other end seems even a bit suspicious, hang up the phone or delete the email.
  • Research! If someone you don’t know calls or emails you try searching who they say they are/work for, it may be that you see reports right away that it’s a scam. If the business exists, make sure to check the numbers listed to the one that called in, if applicable. You could also simply hang up or the delete the email and reach out to them to make sure the reason for contact is true.
  • Know what a product is and what it can do before you install it on your machine

Breathe New Life into your Slowing Computer

Did you know that after optimizing the amount of memory in your computer (PC or Mac) a relatively simple SSD upgrade can breathe new life into your slowing computer? You paid good money for that machine that you rely on every day but it’s starting to run a bit slow.

Often the cause of this is the sheer amount of data that you have loaded, the applications that you are concurrently running and the operating system updates.

The slowest component in your computer is the hard drive. It’s an electro-mechanical device with motors that spin and arms that have to move back and forth to keep up with what you are currently working on.

A number of years ago solid state drives (SSD) started dropping in price. Think of them as a really large thumb drive/USB stick.

What size drive should I get for my SSD upgrade?

That depends on how much space you are currently using on your existing HDD (hard disk drive).

To save money on the SSD upgrade you could get one closer in size to the amount of space you are currently using plus say  25% extra or you could just get one the same size as is currently installed assuming it’s not already quite full. Before I upgraded mine, I took the opportunity to do some housekeeping by removing backups of backups and by moving a lot of the space hogs like photos and videos to cloud storage. I then based my size decision on what the usage was after the cleanup exercise.

If you are a doing an SSD upgrade on a desktop computer then you can keep your current drive as a mass storage device and then install a smaller SSD as your boot drive containing the operating system and all of your applications.

Is it worth doing an SSD upgrade?

On the one hand you look at your 3-5 year old computer and think I really don’t feel inclined to buy another one but an increase in performance would be great.

On the other hand you wonder if spending any money on an older machine is worth while and if the money you would need to spend on the SSD upgrade could be put towards a new SSD based machine instead.

Power consumption of the SSD is quite a bit lower than an HDD so you can expect some improvement in battery life as well

Considering upgrading your current computer standard hard drive to a Solid State Drive (SSD)

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BlockTower Capital a Cryptocurrency Hedge Fund

Steve Lee, a former portfolio manager and trader at Goldman, is one of the most recent hires by the Connecticut-based hedge fund, which was co-founded by a former Goldman vice president.

Lee, who worked for Goldman in Asia as part of its asset management unit, joined BlockTower in early April as a director. He has been leveraging the relationships he made in Japan, South Korea and Singapore to improve BlockTower’s strategic partnerships and business development in Asia, the person said. Lee also is involved in researching and identifying investment opportunities at the firm.

Lee will work out of BlockTower’s office in Connecticut.

The move follows two other Goldman hires by BlockTower, including Elizabeth Ralston, a former vice president at the bank. Ralston joined BlockTower in February as the firm’s legal and compliance director, but the move had not been previously reported.

Earlier this year, BlockTower said it hired former Goldman vice president Michael Bucella as head of strategic partnerships and business development.

Matthew Goetz, who founded BlockTower alongside Ari Paul in 2017, previously worked in Goldman’s asset management division.

BlockTower Capital is among the best-known crypto hedge funds in a booming space that now includes over 200 such firms, according to the fintech analytics firm Autonomous Next. The firm, which launched in August, raised $140 million from family offices and venture capital firms, Bloomberg News reported.

The moves from Goldman to BlockTower are just the latest departures among Wall Streeters hoping to chase bitcoin riches.

Deploy MSI’s through your network with GPO

Step 1: Download your MSI

If you already have an MSI, great. If not, go to the website of the product that you want to deploy and download one.

Step 2: Put the MSI in a file share

You need to create a folder somewhere on your server that you can remember and find, like the documents folder or the desktop. You need to put the MSI file in this new folder, and then right-click the folder, and go to “Share with” –> “Specific people”. Type “Domain Computers” in the search box, and then give the “Domain Computers” account read permissions and click “Share”.

Step 3: Open or install Group Policy Management

Open Group Policy Management from “Start” –> “Administrative Tools” –> “Group Policy Management”. If it is not installed, go to the “Server Manager” (also in Administrative tools) and go to the “Features” tab on the left hand side and then click “Add Features” in the pane on the right. Check the box in the new window that says “Group Policy Management”, and then click through the next few screens. It will install and then you can open it like described before.

Step 4: Go to the existing policies

Navigate to “Forest: YOURDOMAIN” –> “Domains” –> “YOURDOMAIN” –> “Group Policy Objects”. This is where your GPO’s are stored.

Step 5: Create a new GPO

Right click the folder “Group Policy Objects” and click New. Type in a name for your GPO. Once you create your new GPO, it will show up under the “Group Policy Objects” folder. Click on the new GPO with the name that you just assigned. In the right pane on the bottom, there is a box that says “Security Filtering”. Click on and remove the “Authenticated Users” entry. If you want this program deployed on certain computers, add all of the specific computer names that you want the software to be deployed on. Otherwise, if you want it on all computers, add the group “Domain Computers”. Go back up to the “YOURDOMAIN” folder (in the navigation pane) and right-click it. Click “Link an existing GPO”. Click your new GPO’s name and click OK.

Step 6: Add your MSI

Now go back to the GPO under “Group Policy Objects” folder, and right-click it. Click on “Edit”. A new window will open. Navigate to “Computer Configuration” –> “Policies” –> “Software Settings” –> “Software installations”. Right click inside the empty pane on the right and go to “New” –> “Software Package”. In the new windows that pops up, Navigate to the share that you created earlier (\\YOURSERVERNAME\FOLDERNAME), not the physical folder on the server (C:\FAKEPATH\FOLDERNAME), and select your MSI. Click the “Assigned” bubble and then click OK.

Step 7: Close and make it happen

Your almost done. Just close all of your windows on the server and reboot all of your workstations. When they start, they will install your program before the computer allows a user to logon. As it sits there and says “Please wait…” for the longest time, it is installing the program, not being slow. (Note: It may take 2-3 restarts for the server to update the GPO on the workstations.)

 

New update for Windows 10

Microsoft will start to push out the April 2018 Update to Windows 10. It’s a free upgrade to the operating system that makes lots of small tweaks and adds a bunch of new features.

Timeline – a nifty way to keep track of what files you were working on, when you were working on them, and from what devices.

Focus Assist – makes it so you see only the notifications you want to see while you’re working.

You can manually download the update straight from Microsoft through the Windows Update tool on Monday. Otherwise, Windows 10 will start bugging you to upgrade beginning on May 8 and pushing it out as part of the regular update process.

 

The flagship new feature is Timeline that lets you go back as far as 30 days to see what file you were working on and when you were working on it.  It also works with Microsoft’s mobile apps. If you read a website on the Microsoft Edge browser on iOS or Android, it’ll appear in your Windows 10 Timeline. Of course, that means you’d need to use Microsoft Edge.

Focus Assist, which gives you lots of settings to customize your notificationsl.

Nearby Sharing, which lets you quickly share photos and videos to other Windows 10 computers that are, nearby.

The Edge browser on Windows 10 is getting a handful of upgrades too:

• You can now mute and unmute sound coming from browser tabs, as you can with Google Chrome.

• Books and PDFs in Edge can now be viewed in full-screen mode.

• For online shopping, Edge can save your address to quickly fill out forms.

• Most intriguingly, a new grammar tool will help younger readers — or anybody who just needs a little help — make sense of the web by breaking the words into syllables and highlighting nouns and other parts of speech.

Someone transferred $99 million in litecoin — and it only cost them $0.40 in fees

$99 million worth of litecoin was sent in a single trade on Thursday.
The transaction took just two-and-a-half minutes to clear and cost only $0.40 in fees.
Crypto bulls are pointing to the trade as evidence that cryptocurrency is better for sending money than traditional payment systems.

A huge litecoin trade is turning heads in the cryptocurrency community.

$99 million-worth of litecoin was sent between two cryptocurrency wallets in a single trade on Thursday, attracting attention on Reddit. The identity of the parties involved in the transaction is not known.

A thread about the transaction was the third most popular post on the litecoin sub-Reddit on Friday afternoon. Reddit users were impressed by data showing the transaction took just 2.5 minutes to settle and cost only $0.40 in mining fees.

“Worth surfacing up here that the $99 million transactions cost just $0.40 and took 2.5 mins. Holy moly,” Reddit user b30, who authored the thread, wrote.

Other users pointed out that similar transactions in traditional finance would take days to clear, multiple parties to sign off, and carry hefty fees.

Some proponents of cryptocurrencies such as litecoin and Ripple’s XRP say it has the potential to provide a cheaper, quicker, and more reliable alternative to the current payment rails, particularly when it comes to international transactions.

Litecoin is the sixth largest cryptocurrency by market value, with $8.4 billion-worth of LTC in circulation as of Friday. The cryptocurrency was created in 2011 as a quicker and cheaper alternative to bitcoin.

JPMorgan tests issuing financial instruments on the Blockchain

JPMorgan Chase & Co has tested a new blockchain platform for issuing financial instruments with the National Bank of Canada and other large firms,  seeking to streamline origination, settlement, interest rate payments, and other processes.

The test mirrored the Canadian bank’s $150 million offering on the same day of a one-year floating-rate Yankee certificate of deposit, they said in a statement. The platform was built over more than a year using Quorum, a type of open-source blockchain that JPMorgan has developed in-house and is in discussions to spin off.

Participants in the experiment included Goldman Sachs Asset Management, the fund management arm of Goldman Sachs, Pfizer, and Legg Mason’s Western Asset and other investors in the certificate of deposit.

Banks have poured millions of dollars to develop blockchain, the software first created to run cryptocurrency bitcoin, to streamline processes ranging from cross-border payments to securities settlement.

“Blockchain-related technologies have the potential to bring about major change in the financial services industry,” David Furlong, senior vice president of artificial intelligence, venture capital and blockchain at National Bank of Canada, said in a statement.

JPMorgan is considering spinning off Quorum because the technology has attracted significant outside interest, Umar Farooq, head of blockchain initiatives for JPMorgan’s corporate and investment bank said in an interview. He said it was taking too much time to field requests for help from users at other companies.

Charging for assistance is not an option because software support is not the bank’s business.

The spin-off discussions are in the early stages and the bank has received interest from financial institutions and large enterprise technology companies, Farooq added.

JPMorgan plans to beef up the Quorum team with dozens of engineers from the bank’s other divisions who have become familiar with the technology, he said.

Blockchain is in the early stages of development in the financial industry, but JPMorgan is optimistic about its potential, Farooq said.

“We haven’t really seen a lot of really large scale things go into production yet. There are few cases where blockchain can really shine.”

 

Google is banning ads for cryptocurrencies

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Google plans to ban all cryptocurrencies and binary options adverts, and is cracking down on ads for other speculative financial instruments.

Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads, said in a blog post on Wednesday that the company has “updated several policies to address ads in unregulated or speculative financial products like binary options, cryptocurrency, foreign exchange markets.”

The new policies, which come into force in June, ban adverts for binary options and “cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, cryptocurrency wallets, and cryptocurrency trading advice).”

Google follows Facebook in banning concurrency related advertising on its platform. Spencer said in his blog post that the crackdown is part of Google’s efforts to protect consumers from “online scams.”

Cryptocurrencies have exploded in popularity over the last year thanks to a surge in the price of bitcoin at the end of 2017. This coincided with a boom in so-called initial coin offerings (ICOs), where startups issue their own cryptocurrency in exchange for money to build their business.

But the entire space is unregulated in most markets and has attracted scammers looking to make quick money. Business Insider reported last year on the proliferation of “pump and dump” scams in the market, while sham ICO projects have become commonplace.

Make Sure Auto Play is working Windows computer

Making sure AutoPlay is set.

If AutoPlay is set to take no action when discs are inserted, or if AutoPlay is not enabled, nothing may happen when a disc is inserted. Even though you may want to open discs through File Explorer or other software means, use the following steps to make sure AutoPlay is enabled so that discs can be more easily tested in future steps:

  1. In Windows, search for and open Control Panel.
  2. Click Hardware and Sound, and then select AutoPlay.
  3. Make sure Use AutoPlay for all media and devicesis selected. If not, select it.
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Auto Play Windows

4. Click the drop-down menus and select Ask me every timenext to every DVD, Blu-ray, and CD item, and then click Save.

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Auto Play Windows Ask Me Every Time

How to switch your Windows 8 log-in to a local account

Using a Microsoft account does have some advantages over using a local account. For example, using a Microsoft account log-in lets you sync your settings across different Windows PCs. You can also use Microsoft’s integrated cloud storage, OneDrive. Downloading apps from the Microsoft App Store for the Modern interface (Start screen) requires a Microsoft account as well. But if you don’t use any of these features and would still prefer to switch to a local account, and you have not upgraded to Windows 10, here’s how:

Step 1: Go to Settings > Change PC Settings > Accounts > Your Account, then under your name and Microsoft account e-mail address, click on the “Disconnect” link.

Step 2: When prompted, enter your Microsoft account password to verify that it’s your account.

Step 3: Now enter the local username you want to use, your password, and a password hint.

Step 4: Click or tap on the “Sign out and finish” button to complete the switch to a local account.