Let Us Fix Your Problem: Latest Internet Scam

Apple logoWaking this morning to a splendid 3G signal in the desert from my iPhone’s Hotspot, I finished up my previous night’s review and uploaded it. As I went to publicize the piece I got an “alert” from applemac.us saying that a porn site “pornjizz” was attempting to hack my system. It warned that stopping my browser or restarting my computer would cause valuable information to become more accessible and to stop what I was doing immediately and ring the support number – 1-844-608-4612.

Alarm bells ringing in my mind, I did indeed cease and desist my publicity efforts and rang the number. The first clue that told me something was wrong here was the lack of Apple-ness by the chap who answered the phone. Indian, as in from India or Pakistan, he was polite enough but answered as technical department and not with his name.

I read off the message on the screen and he immediately informed me that they could take care of my problem with little fuss and I did not need to do a thing. Okay, I responded slowly, what happens next, the technician then read me off a url which I needed to type into my search engine, it was: www dot fast support dot com.

The second alarm went off because there was an obvious lack of Apple anywhere in the address provided. The third and final alarm, which by this time sounded like a fire alarm on steroids, was the next thing out of the technician’s mouth.

“We will take control of your computer and fix the problem in minutes.”

*Freeze Frame.*

I thanked the chap for his help and told him that my phone signal was fading and needed to ring him back. He offered to ring me back within the next 10 minutes. I thanked him and when he rang back, explained that I could not use my laptop and my phone at the same time and would ring them later.

Ringing the real Apple support number which is a 1-800 number…always…I got the familiar Apple answer where I was informed how long my wait would be, asked certain questions, sent to the right department and when the technician came on the line she gave me her name. The lovely lady informed me that yes this was a scam where they could charge you for the amount of time they took to “fix” your problem.

I pointed out that they also wanted to take control of my laptop which would have given them access to all my information. She congratulated me on recognizing that it was a scam and for calling them to double check.

Speaking earlier to the fake technician at no time did he ask for my serial number or what Apple product I had. He also zoomed in on the “let us take control of your computer” bit. With nothing but an on-screen alert, which claimed to be from Apple, and a 1-844 number he expected me to let him access my computer.

Not happening mate.

Looking at the site later the thing looks genuine enough but it is not, just as the real Apple folks.

So be advised there is a new scam in town. I assumed it was a Chrome issue but Stephanie at Apple assured me that the message was showing up on Safari as well. So consider yourself warned, if you see a message from applemac.us with the following number attached 1-844-607-4612 disregard the information and do not bother to call the number. Completely ignore the fast support dot com instructions, if you do ring, and do not let anyone you do not know or trust take control of your computer or laptop.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, the above urls have been spelled out since I could not get WordPress to stop putting a link to the fraudulent site in my article.

10 June 2015

Michael Knox-Smith

An Open Letter of Gratitude to Apple

Marketing shot of MacBookPro
Dear Apple,

Firstly I have to say that I was a reluctant convert to the MacBookPro. My daughter got one for her studies at University, and the run-up to Uni, College. Her, now aging, MacBookPro stood her in good stead during her time learning about the video game industry and still does quite well considering it is now several years old. She talked me into purchasing a Mac when my old PC bit the big one.

Amazingly enough, the big reason I decided upon the MacBookPro was the iMovie editing capability which, having watched my youngster edit her video reviews on game, looked infinitely easier than anything Microsoft had on offer.

I bought my Pro in 2013. I edited quite a number of videos in the UK, before you went and changed the way iMovie works. Still, I do not do videos that much anymore so that is not a real big issue, plus I’ve gotten used to the changes now so I forgive you for making it that bit more difficult.

So far my MacBookPro has survived being taken to South Africa on a whirlwind fact-finding tour where I had to interview several sources who claimed that Nelson Mandela died in June 2013 and not December as official sources insisted. It made a trip across the ocean to Las Vegas unscathed in 2014 and even managed to escape damage at the many conventions attended at Vegas. From The Amazing Comic Con to the Star Trek Convention, my MacBook resisted all my clumsy handling to stay scratch and dent free.

Later on at the start of 2015, while in the Southwest desert of Arizona, my MacBookPro has managed to keep working after being transported via backpack all over the hardpan floor and the local “one-horse” town. It still performs admirably despite it’s carrier falling down a wash while walking across the desert.

MacBookPro 11.4"
My trusty MacBookPro

It has also survived its owner being knocked off his bicycle by a hit and run driver in Love’s Truck Stop car park. An incident that resulted in my going airborne and landing on my back. The backpack with my trusty MacBookPro clunked heavily on the hard ground and 5 weeks later, when I could finally ride my bike again, I fell off the same bike outside the local Burger King and once again my poor MacBook hit the ground hard.

Despite all these tumbles and falls, the only real damage seems to have been on the case itself. A few scratches and dings that are superficial at best. This “cosmetic” damage has not interfered with the workings of my “laptop” and it still labour effortlessly as my only blogging and vlogging device. On top of being the instrument I used to write nearly 2,000 articles for the newspaper I worked for, it still functions as my main source of news from the outside world via the Internet.

MacBookPro
My Survivor, you have to look close to see those scars…

I mention all this because I’ve never felt the need to write any sort of letter to any company, open or otherwise, about any of their products. My MacBookPro has proven to be the best purchase ever made by this consumer. Sadly, my iPhone 5 has not had quite the same track record, for some odd reason the display screens in my phone go off and I’ve had replacements twice now, but I am not complaining, as your customer service is head and shoulders above the competition.

In closing, let me just say thank you Apple for continuing to make such a workhorse of a laptop. I am writing this open letter of gratitude, admiration and praise about my MacBookPro, the one that I call survivor, and the dependable tool that I plan to use for a long, long time.

A most impressed customer,

Michael Knox-Smith

6 May 2015

Gabrielle Union Nude Leak Says She Did Nothing Wrong

Gabrielle Union Nude Leak Says She Did Nothing Wrong

Gabrielle Union has finally spoken about that nude leak and she says she did nothing wrong. In an essay she wrote for the December issue of Cosmopolitan the Being Mary Jane star points out that if the stolen photos had been of non celebrities then the media and the Internet would have been full of outrage. She may well be correct in her assumptions. Certainly the hundred celebrity women who were targeted by the hacker were all famous and the vast majority received the helpful advice that they should not have taken nude photos of themselves.

Jennifer Lawrence Nude-Gate Not Down to Apple Says Company

Jennifer Lawrence Nude-Gate Not Down to Apple Says Company

With all the fuss about Jennifer Lawrence and her “nude-gate” issues flooding the net, along with the other hacked celebs, Apple have come forward to say that the leak is not down to their company. Supposition early on in the whole Labor Day Weekend affair was that the culprit was iCloud or the Apple app “Find My Phone.”

Jennifer Lawrence Nudity iCloud and Apple Who is Zooming Who

Jennifer Lawrence Nudity iCloud and Apple Who is Zooming Who

While the current headlines are screaming about Jennifer Lawrence and her personal nudity being stolen from iCloud and the fact that Apple may not be safe as it should be, the big question here is, just who is zooming who. Points will be given for those who can spot the obvious pun in this thoughtful query. The business of stealing celebrity’s personal images is booming and while there are teens, prepubescent males and the older curiosity seeking man or woman who want to know just what Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks like in her birthday suit, hackers will attempt to provide.

Jennifer Lawrence Nudity iCloud and Apple Who is Zooming Who

Jennifer Lawrence Nudity iCloud and Apple Who is Zooming Who

While the current headlines are screaming about Jennifer Lawrence and her personal nudity being stolen from iCloud and the fact that Apple may not be safe as it should be, the big question here is, just who is zooming who. Points will be given for those who can spot the obvious pun in this thoughtful query. The business of stealing celebrity’s personal images is booming and while there are teens, prepubescent males and the older curiosity seeking man or woman who want to know just what Mary Elizabeth Winstead looks like in her birthday suit, hackers will attempt to provide.

New Toys

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As I drag myself kicking and screaming into the 21st century, I find the collecting of new technical toys makes the journey less fraught and more enjoyable. That is not to say that this act of self dragging is not without its more stressful  moments. I have been trying to change the password on my new iPhone server for most of the day with no success.

But the culmination of all these new toys: MacBook Pro, iPad, and iPhone is that all my files (and therefore my “work”) are within easy access to me. I now have at my finger-tips, all the information via the internet or applications that utilise the internet that I could possibly use.

The photo at the top of this blog post was taken two days ago in a Norwich Starbucks with my iPad. It was an experimental gesture, which explains why I have such a bemused look on my face. I have “played” with all my new “toys” and found that in some cases that they are very user-friendly and in others, downright hostile.

I am fairly computer literate. Or at least, I once was. Years ago I got in on the ground floor of these “new-fangled” home computers, of course these new home computers were just practice for the office machines that we would soon be getting in our workplace. The “jump” was deemed necessary because we didn’t want to appear stupid. (or at least too stupid)

I remember the first ever work-related computer conference that we were required to attend as part of our foray into this new world. The chap running it initially addressed the crowd with the  words, “And if all else fails? Control, Alt, Delete.” The room exploded into laughter. We’d all been there, done that and had the various tee-shirts. Soon after, we got past the ctrl, alt,del stage of our knowledge, but we never forgot that “newness” and the feeling that we were heading for territory that, once entered, could never be left.

I have, over the years, sort of ‘dumbed” myself down. Many of my peers (and this amazes me) are not computer literate nor do they wish to be. They have the novice’s mistrust of the machine. They still fear that they will do something that will cause it to blow up or crash. This explosion or “death-knell” will be costly and complicated to fix. Better to not depend on these new-fangled gadgets than to waste all that money on something that little Timmy or Ellen can use in their sleep.

I am not sure where this idea came from. This belief that computers and electrical gadgets are for the young only. Sure kids pick it up quickly, it’s in their very nature to pick up new things quickly. Schools teach kids everyday and rely on computers to help handle the modern curriculum.

In the Norwich Apple store today, while I was getting my new phone charged up, I noticed a huge amount of what can only be termed as geriatric’s learning how to use iPads and MacBooks. The average age around that table of learning was about 65 or 70. Old ladies with blue-rinsed hair and old men with canes and comfortable shoes were learning about the intricacies of these modern 21st century toys.

They were, I might add, apparently doing very well. I do know that Apple pride themselves (quite rightly) for their after sales customer service, but I do believe that if the old folks being shown these new (to them) products were having too much trouble, I would have seen the smiles of the staff start to slip. I saw not one smile threaten to disappear nor slide into an exasperated frown.

After today, I don’t feel like “The Lone Ranger” in search of a computer loving Tonto. I feel like more folks my age and older are embracing the computer age right along with me. Of course some of the more arthritic ridden won’t opt for the iPhone, I think that if they had nimbler fingers that they would be joining me there as well.

I tried out my new phone’s camera today, and although my photographic skills leave a lot to be desired (Lord Snowdon has nothing to worry about) I can at least capture the image I am aiming at. Even if I am sharing the shot with my subject via my reflection.

Scary gorilla and some shadowy chap taking his picture.
Scary gorilla and some shadowy chap taking his picture.