Shortened URLs: The good the bad, and the ugly

By now, everyone knows that a URL is basically an internet address.  There are many different examples of URLs like:

  • http://helpmeclayton.com
  • ftp://mozilla.org
  • mailto://help@claytonrandall.com
  • https://aol.com

each one shows you where your destination you will get to when you click on them.  When Twitter came along and had a 140 character limit, people turned to URL shortening to be able to send links of pages where the URL was too long.  People also got tired of typing in extremely long URLs and started using the shorteners to send to friends.  Then the scammers took notice that people would click on URLs that made no sense, so they started using them to send out URLs for sites people would never click on if they were revealed.

SO WHAT SHOULD I DO?

There are services now that you can copy a shortened URL into it, and it will tell you where it is going.  like

You should use one of these sites to verify if you feel a shortened URL might sound fishy.

Update your Flash Player today

Another zero-day exploit in the wild.  If you didn’t update it yesterday, do it today

http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer

To verify the version of Adobe Flash Player installed on your system, access the About Flash Player page, or right-click on content running in Flash Player and select “About Adobe (or Macromedia) Flash Player” from the menu. If you use multiple browsers, perform the check for each browser you have installed on your system.

Updates on this page

After some great feedback, I have made a couple changes to the page.  My phone number to contact me is now prominently displayed.  Seems I was making people hunt me down, now it should be easier for new clients to find me.

Reviews – The Apple Consultant Network Reviews Page requires an Apple ID to post a review.  As many of you know, I am not limited to only Apple products, and a few people have asked how to submit a review without an Apple ID.  You will now see a button to submit a review on every post and page.

The value of simplicity

I often tell people who are looking for a cheap computer that there are numerous costs beyond the purchase price to consider.

This week on 3 separate occasions this point has popped its head up.

Episode 1: A woman asked me for a recommendation for a new computer – she is an octogenarian that uses it only once or twice a year when she can’t use her Kindle to make travel arrangements.  She was unaware that she could go to websites on her Kindle Fire and be able to make flight reservations.  Instead of showing her an array of computer options, I showed her how to navigate on her tablet.  She breathed a sigh of relief that she would not have to learn a new computer operating system (her old computer was still running XP).

Episode 2: A gentleman that I helped purchase a mac mini about 3 years ago called with a problem that AppleCare had tried to help him fix but couldn’t.  In the interest of saving money at purchase time, we had gotten an inexpensive monitor from CompUSA to pair with his MacMini.  On hearing him describe his symptoms, I knew the solution was to change the input on the monitor, but he had no idea where the button for that was, and I had no idea without being in front of it to hunt for it.  He asked why he got that monitor and not an Apple one, and I reminded him that he (his daughter) didn’t want to spend as much as an Apple monitor would cost.

Epsiode 3: A coworker recently moved to an iMac and was wondering how she was going to be able to back up her computer – a matter of 3 clicks later, TimeMachine was enabled and she was impressed to learn that it would keep hourly backups so in case she accidentally deleted or modified a file, she would have access to recent changes in a very intuitive interface.

It is vitally important to consider the value of your peace of mind when looking at the cost of your new machine.  How much is your aggravation worth?

It’s super FREAKy

You may have heard about the FREAK exploit that has been talked about lately, and you might think you are secure using the bank app, or medical records app that you downloaded directly from the Apple Store or Google Play.

A new study just released has shown that isn’t quite the  case, as the FREAK exploit is based on the encryption keys that the server you connect to, not the App on the phone alone.

Ars Technica has an article about the study, and points out that users of apps should contact the vendors to inquire wether they have corrected the app to prevent FREAK attacks.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?

1 – Upgrade your phone to the latest versions, as they have tried to prevent a vast majority of FREAK attacks in the latest versions.  The study found that even after the update on iOS, there were still 7 apps that were vulnerable.

2 – Don’t trust public wifi for secure transactions – you never know when the guy or girl next to you at the library is actually trying to hack your bank account.