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Identify Suspicious Email Messages

I have family members who are sharing concerns with me about alarming email messages they receive from time to time. They’ve even admitted interest in messages that congratulate them for winning unexpected prizes.

Oh, boy…

I’m hoping this post can help people examine these messages and avoid negative consequences. Please share or discuss this matter with your friends and loved ones who could be vulnerable to these sorts of exploits.

As a seasoned email user, I can usually spot a suspicious message quickly. Poor grammar. Choppy sentence structure. And poor quality images of company logos.

Recently, I received a phishing message that impressed me with its design. It wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t the usual mess, either.

Let’s examine impressive parts of the message:

  1. The message begins with a decent PayPal logo image.
  2. The overall design layout looks professional. The white message body and gray footer area are typical of professional designs.
  3. Most of the text reads fairly well, especially if you are skimming because you’re alarmed.
  4. The last paragraph encourages the reader to seek assistance by clicking Contact on PayPal web pages. This is subtle. You might drop your guard if the message clearly states you can seek assistance in a way other than clicking links inside the message.

Let’s look at the suspicious parts of the message:

  1. The “Your Payment Processed Has Been Declined” is the first indication of a bogus message.
  2. I am addressed as “Dear Client”. This is not immediately suspicious, but if you look at the footer, you’ll see that my correct email was used. If PayPal had my email, then they probably know my name and would use in the message greeting.
  3. The first paragraph has odd sentence structure.
  4. The second paragraph includes a capitalized “Please” in the middle of a sentence.
  5. The blue button reads “Review Your’s Accounts”. And it is not properly vertically centered between the paragraphs.
  6. The third and fourth paragraphs do not have white space between them like that between the first and second paragraphs.
  7. The salutation “Sincerely” seems more personal than professional given the message’s subject matter.
  8. Here’s the biggest clue for me: I don’t actually have a PayPal account.

Don’t fall for this stuff. Think twice or even three times before you take an action on a message designed to frighten you.

HP PageWide Printer Error

I recently purchased a Hewlett Packard PageWide 477dw printer. This product offers interesting new, more efficient printing technology with output every bit as good as a LaserJet.

But concerns emerged literally right out of the box. I plugged it in, and it immediately displayed an error message.

Perhaps “Hide” Should Read As “Run & Hide”

Printing functionality is disabled. Please contact HP.
Error code: 0xc6fd0802

I researched a found only a single abandoned HP Support forum thread. So I unplugged and replugged, and that seemed to fix the issue.

Or so I thought.

I kept coming back about every 10 to 15 days. Solving always required unplugging and replugging. And web searches only ever found that one abandoned thread I mentioned earlier.

Cringingly, I called HP Support. And I was pleasantly surprised. They gave me a few pointers that I knew wouldn’t work (I suspect they felt the same way). But at the end of the call, they did not close my support ticket. They promised to call back after a few days. And they did. On that call, I confirmed the error had not returned, and I asked them to keep the case open. And they did. A week later, they called, I said there had been no error, and they asked if they could close the case. Hesitantly, I agreed.

The next day, the error returned! Figures.

I called HP Support, gave them the closed case number … and they immediately agreed to send a replacement.

I am impressed. HP came through for me.

I hope anyone suffering through this problem can find this page and get to a similar satisfactory resolution.

Keyboard and Mouse Utilities For macOS That Windows Users Will Love

Finger at Keyboard

A year ago, I decided to move from Windows to Mac. As an iPhone user, this made sense. My mobile and desktop computing resources integrated very well and solved a lot of workarounds and incompatibilities that plagued me as a Windows user. And to be brutally honest, I got tired of fixing my Windows machine. Macs are not perfect (by a LONG shot), but they’re predictable which makes them more dependable.

Problem

Being a long-time Windows user, I brought a lot of muscle memory problems and habits with me as I started the Mac. Since I must use Windows for work, I have a KVM to share keyboard, mouse, and monitors. So I use a Windows keyboard and PC mouse with my Mac.

Here were my biggest problems:

  1. I like using the Forward and Back buttons on my mouse, especially for navigating websites. (On Macs, these mouse buttons are dead.)
  2. I prefer natural scrolling on the MacBook trackpad and directional scrolling on the mouse wheel. (On Macs, you are prevented from configuring these differently. It’s bewildering.)
  3. I like to press the Home and End keys to go to the beginning and end of a text line, respectively. (On Macs, these actions take the cursor to the top or bottom of the message body.)
  4. Closely related to the above, I like to press Shift+Home and Shift+End to select (aka, highlight) text to the beginning and end of a text string respectively. (On Macs, these actions take the text selection to the top or bottom of the message body.)

As any Windows user will tell you, Macs don’t work that way.

Solutions

I tried to get used to it. I really did. But in the end muscle memory won, and Mac lost. But not without some help.

Scroll Reverser

Scroll Reverser Preferences Panel

This utility is simple, and it’s free.

Scroll Reverser breaks the connection between the mouse scroll setting and the trackpad scroll setting. It allows me to have directional scrolling when I use mouse, and natural scrolling when I use the trackpad. Perfect!

Learn more about Scroll Reverser.

BetterTouchTool

BetterTouchTool Configuration Panel

This utility is a fairly simple power user’s tool, and it costs $4.99 (or more if you wish) with a 45-day trial period.

BetterTouchTool (BTT) allows you to override default actions on your keyboard, mouse (including Magic Mouse), trackpad, MacBook Pro TouchBar, and even the Siri Remote. I leverage the keyboard and mouse functionality. My mouse navigation buttons work in any application with a navigation history (web browsers, Finder, etc.). My keyboard brings familiar behavior to the Home and End keys. What a relief!

Quick Tip: Like any power user tool, the interface could be confusing to some. When adding a new shortcut or key sequence, click into the text fields and then press the keys. BTT will record the key or key combination. As you click into the text fields, you are also offered commands in a pop-up list. At first, I thought those listed commands were the only ones available.

Learn more about BetterTouchTool.

Degraded Sound Quality on CarPlay When Using Waze

Waze, a Sad Face Emoji, CarPlay, and Music

Waze recently updated its app with several new features including a nice new feature where you can get the app’s attention by saying “Okay, Waze.” But it might have a downside.

I have a car stereo with Apple CarPlay, but I still prefer to use Waze rather than Apple Maps. Unfortunately, Apple does not allow third-party apps to draw graphics on the stereo’s screen via CarPlay. So I have a setup that allows me to see Waze on my phone while playing music or podcasts over CarPlay.

One day, I noticed that when I switched the phone to Waze, the music sound quality tanked. If I switched back to any CarPlay-enabled app, the sound became noticeably better. Finally, it occurred to me that I had updated Waze and enabled it to listen for “Okay, Waze.”

I turned off that feature, and the sound degradation issue ceased. I could switch to and from Waze without the sound quality suffering.

Granted, this is a fairly unique circumstance, but it might save someone somewhere a frustrating headache.

Allow Certain Contacts to Reach You During Do Not Disturb

Do Not Disturb icon above a starry night sky with the Phone app icon in a thought bubble

You probably want a some people to reach you even when your iPhone’s Do Not Disturb is on. You can easily set your Phone app’s Favorites to have this privilege, but it might not be the most efficient method. Each entry in your Favorites can hold only one phone number. So if one person has two numbers (for example, a mobile and land line), then you need two entries in your Favorites. This can quickly clutter your Favorites list.

There is a better way: Create a Contact Group and then allow calls from the group.

Doing this allows any phone number from that contact to call through. No more separate entries from cell and land line numbers. And adding a new contact to the group at any time means that contact can reach you even when Do Not Disturb is on.

The only catch here is that you cannot create Contact Groups on your iPhone. Sigh!

The setup process is not too difficult. You can use the Contacts app on your Mac or you can use the web-based iCloud.

Using Your Mac

  1. Open the Contacts app.
  2. Click the File pull-down menu from the Task Bar.
  3. Click New Group.
  4. Type the name of your new group. I chose to use “DND Allow”.
  5. Drag and drop individual contacts from All Contacts to your new group.

Contacts on Mac

Using iCloud

  1. Log into your iCloud.com account using your web browser.
  2. Click or tap into the Contacts app.
  3. Click the plus (+) symbol at the bottom of the left pane.
  4. Click New Group.
  5. Type the name of your new Contact Group. I chose to use “DND Allow”.
  6. Drag and drop individual contacts from All Contacts to your new group.

Contacts on iCloud

Remember: You will need to maintain the Contacts in this group using iCloud.com or your Mac.

Configure Do Not Disturb on Your iPhone

  1. Open the Settings app.
  2. Swipe down and tap on Do Not Disturb.
  3. Swipe down to Phone and tap Allow Calls From.
  4. Under Groups find your new Contact Group and tap it. A checkmark should appear to the right.

Do Not Disturb on iPhone

That should do it. Best of luck!

Freeware: Scroll Reverser

Scroll Reverser Logo

There’s a difference when you want to use your mouse scroll wheel and your MacBook’s trackpad. I use my MacBook Pro as my main computer, connected to dual monitors and external keyboard and mouse. When I disconnect from all that, I use its keyboard and trackpad. And I want to use the trackpad different(ly).

When I spin the mouse’s scroll wheel down, I prefer the window contents to go downward. When I use two fingertips and swipe upward, I prefer the window contents to also go downward. It’s just natural to me, and it keeps my muscle memory in line with my required usage of Windows.

Apple disagrees. If you set the trackpad for natural scrolling, it also sets it for your mouse. You know, for convenience… In other words, macOS prevents you from mixing these settings even though they are separate settings. Grrr.

Scroll Reverser Settings

Scroll Reverser is the solution. The settings are simple. Then use your mouse the way you want, and then use your trackpad the way you want.

And Scroll Reverser is free.

Add Outlook.com Email to macOS

Outlook and Settings Icons

The process to configure a connection to Outlook.com in macOS is not intuitive for whatever reason only Microsoft and Apple know. I found several outdated and unhelpful articles that had me going nowhere.

So here’s the magic solution: Use App-Specific Password. Create that first, then configure macOS.

To generate an app-specific password:

  1. Go to account.microsoft.com and log in
  2. On the Account bar (or tap Account on you mobile device), and click or tap Security & privacy.
  3. Find the link titled More security settings and click/tap it.
  4. Under App Passwords, find and click/tap Create new app password.
  5. An app password will be generated. Use this to log into Outlook.com email service from within macOS Mail.

How do you do that? This is how:

  1. In macOS Mail, click Mail in the task bar.
  2. Click Add Account…
  3. Click Other Mail Account and click Continue.
  4. Enter the Outlook.com email address and then enter the app-specific password you generated in the previous steps. Click Sign In.

After a few moments, you should be good to go.

PS: Why is it a breeze to set up an Outlook account in iOS but such a mystery in macOS?

Quick Tip: Mute/Unmute a Call When Your iPhone is Locked

Phone App Icon

Phone ControlsIf you’re like me, you participate in conference calls with your iPhone. I frequently use headphones or a bluetooth headset during such calls. I hate when the screen locks, then it’s my turn to speak, and I fumble to get to the screen where I can unmute myself. Oddly, the iPhone doesn’t lock when the speaker phone is enabled, but using headphones will lock you out after a bit.

Here’s a tip to get to the mute toggle much quicker:

  1. With a call active, wake the screen on your locked iPhone.
    1. Owners of iPhone 6s and later phones can pick up the phone.
    2. Owners of iPhone 6 and earlier phones can press the Home button.
    3. Owners of iPhones with Touch ID (iPhone 5s and later) can press the Home button with a fingernail or a finger that is not programmed for Touch ID.
  2. Tap the phone number and timer area near the top of the screen.
    The phone call controls will appear without the need to unlock the phone.

Told you it was quick.

Missing Messages in the iOS Mail App

Missing Email MessagesAre you seeing an email message in your web-based email services, but you’re not seeing it on your iPhone or iPad’s Mail app?

Well, the solution is pretty simple but kind of a pain. You’ll need to delete the troubled account on your iPhone, and then re-add it. Here’s how:

  1. Open Settings.
  2. Swipe down and tap Mail.
  3. Tap Accounts.
  4. Tap the account name with which you’re having trouble. For example, Outlook or Yahoo!
  5. Find and tap Delete Account.
  6. A confirmation will pop up from below. Tap Delete Account to confirm the action.

After a moment, the account will disappear from your iPhone. Now, add that account back to the iPhone.

  1. Go back to Settings.
  2. Swipe down and tap Mail.
  3. Tap Accounts.
  4. Tap Add Account.
  5. Tap the name of the service provider.
  6. Follow the prompts. Depending on the service provider, signing into the service will differ.
  7. Once that has been completed, tap the service’s name from the Accounts list.
  8. Tap Mail Days to Sync. Choose an option that fits your needs. I generally choose No Limit, but you might not need this.

You should be good to go.

App Pick: AnyList

AnyList

I heard about the AnyList app on the Daily Tech News Show podcast during the Today’s Pick section. I’d been looking for an updated app for syncing shopping lists for a while. I was skeptical, but AnyList’s features and its freemium model won me over. We’ve been using it for a while, and it’s working well.

Note: Currently, there are no Android or Windows Phone versions of AnyList.

Free Features

The basic features of AnyList should work for most. You can create and edit lists and synchronize them among your own devices. You can also share individual lists among other user accounts. This allows you to share with your partner without having to also share your account. Meanwhile, your partner can maintain her or his own separate lists.

The same list on two devices

The built-in database contains most grocery items, and you can add items if you prefer specific brands or product types (like Vanilla Oreos). As you type, autocomplete offers quick, tappable suggestions.

AnyList manages categories in groups. So Dairy, Meat, and Product are in the Grocery Category Group. And you can add categories and sort them as you see fit. For example, I added Coffee and then sorted it so it would appear after Breakfast & Cereal. And this edit is available to anyone with whom I share the list.

Thoughtful convenience features are also available. You can keep your device from powering off while AnyList is open. You can set to double-tap to cross off a list item which can prevent accidental cross-offs when your finger mindlessly touches the edge of your screen. And you can tweak the colors of individual lists to help visually differentiate them.

AnyList Complete: The Premium Features

The premium features are not overpriced. Individual accounts are $7.99 per year and Family accounts are just $11.99 per year for everyone. And the renewal is not automatic, so you stay in full control.

The cost entitles you AnyList for the Web (a nice web-based app) and a Mac app. You can use the iOS mobile app and desktop browser extensions to import recipes from popular websites. This allows you to manage the ingredients in your lists including recipe photos. There’s also recipe scaling and meal planning.

In case you just gotta have the exact item, you can add item photos to remove potential confusion.

Your lists, recipes, and associated photos are all backed up to the cloud. This helps get the premium elements onto new devices by just logging into your AnyList account.

You can configure badge counts and protect lists with passcodes. And if you’re wild about themes, you have more options with the premium services.

More Than Groceries

While I’ve gone on and on about the features for groceries and recipes, AnyList can manage, well, any list that you can think of.

Find out more at www.anylistapp.com.