Google Drive is Out of Support in December 2017

If you don’t have Google Backup and Sync, you better get crackin’…

Google drive

In July of 2017, Google announced that it was introducing a new file synchronization product called Google Backup and Sync. The desktop and smartphone/ tablet app is meant to replace Google Drive, as Backup and Sync does nearly everything that Drive does.

However, Google has stated that its going to stop supporting Google Drive in December of 2017 and will stop working entirely on 2018-03-18. This delay in the overall transition plan between Drive and Backup and Sync is designed to make the transition to the newer service a bit easier on folks who are really invested into Drive. The changes to the service allow users to sync files and folders on your Desktop as well as making all of your photos part of Google Photos as well.

The differences in the service is revealed when you enable its broader file synchronization abilities. Until then, it does the same thing as Google Drive. If you area G Suite user, you can also take advantage of File Streaming. This lets organizations store files solely in the cloud, allowing laptop users to stream them to their local hard drives when working on them, otherwise keeping local storage free and unused.

If you’re interested in getting a jump on the required update to Google Drive, you can transition over to Backup and Sync now. All you have to do is install the software.

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Is Pokemon Go Really Malware?

The application does some things that are setting off all kinds of alarms over here…

pokemon goWhen you have young kids, it’s hard to keep them away from all of the latest fads and trending stuff. They hear about from a friend who’s either tried it, got it or seen it, and then they feel they have to try it too, or be left out of the fun. This is the lure of Pokémon Go, and its taking the country and perhaps the world, by storm.

The game was released a few days ago as of this writing, and it’s become very popular. Scores of players are walking around, head down in their smartphone’s screen, searching for Pokémon to collect and for other players to battle. When players come to a monument, statue or other type of local landmark – called a Pokestop in the game – they can meet up, battle and play together thanks to the app using geolocation and a local GPS map of the area. Players can also drop a “virtual beacon” to attract and draw other players to their location.

Many people are doing just that… and then robbing players at gunpoint. It’s been all over the news.

But let’s put that aside for a moment… the game has a much larger problem and poses what I believe is much more real and more serious threat than bumping into “Bonnie and Clyde” at a Pokestop near you. The game poses a serious security threat to users who log in with their Google Accounts.

The game seems innocent enough. It’s a free download from the App Store or from the Google Play Store and uses in-app purchases to generate revenue. It’s a common enough model that’s proven profitable for a number of different game developers. However, the biggest problem I’ve seen is with the way the app handles Google Accounts.

Every time I’ve tried to create a “Pokémon Go” account on the developer’s website, it says that the website is overloaded and that users should try again in an hour. This is a condition that hasn’t changed since the game was released. The other option you’re given is to log in with your Google Account. That will usually get you in and to chasing Pokémon up and down the street. However, you need to understand a few things about what happens with you log into Pokémon Go with your Google Account.

  1. You Give it Full Access to your Google Account
    This means it has access to EVERYTHING in your Google Account. It has access to and can read all of your email. It has access to all of your passwords. It has access to all of your credit cards stored in your Google Account. It can even change the passwords and security settings on that account, with the full access you give it. It can take your credit cards, with the CVV’s and go on a shopping spree if it wants… And YOU authorized it, just to get access to the game. Nice, huh?
  2. The Game’s Privacy Policy Considers Your Personal Data a Business Asset
    The privacy policy explicitly states that the data it collects, including PII (personally identifying information – like your credit card or other sensitive data) is a business asset. This means that it can sell the data, and that if the company goes under or is acquired by a third party, your PII goes along with the sale. You have no control over this, since you gave the game full access to your Google Account.

There is one thing that you can do to “protect” yourself. I found this in a ZDNet article, and the procedure outlined at the end of the article works; but there’s a catch. I’ll get to that in a moment…

If you wish to play the game and don’t want Niantic (the game manufacturer) to have full access to your Google Account, you can revoke that access by following these steps:

  1. Log into your Google Account and go to the Apps Connected to Your Account page.
  2. Find “Pokémon Go” in the app list, and click on it.
  3. Click the Remove Access button.
  4. When prompted, click the OK button to revoke full access.

Please Note: After you do this, Pokémon Go won’t have ANY kind of access to your Google account; but there’s no guarantee that they didn’t ultimately mine out all of your intimate PII (personally identifying information) out of your account before you revoked its access.

However, this is where that catch comes in – I’ve noticed that when you do this, the app stops working.

You’re fine for the one session you’ve got, but if you quit the app, or push it to the background, you lose access to the game. The only way I’ve been able to get it working again is to either delete the app and set it up again; or to wait for the app to fault and then present you with the game setup process, including logging in with your Google Account, again. Game play and progress appears to be preserved across reaccessing/ resetting up the game. You don’t have to REcatch ’em all.

Niantic says that the iOS version of Pokémon Go erroneously requires full access to your Google Account. However, I haven’t seen anything about them correcting the problem with a new version of the app. Strangely, the Android version doesn’t do this. Logging in with a Google Account there, provides Pokémon Go with an appropriate level of access to your Google Account.

This whole situation really bothers me… Many times, iOS users don’t seem to have a way to create a Pokémon Trainer Club account. The game says that the website is overwhelmed and it won’t let you create an account or play the game. What you don’t see, is that the rest of the site doesn’t act like it’s on an overloaded web server. Its performance is really very good.

Stranger still is that after you log in with a Google Account, performance of the game is very good, too. If the game’s website and web servers were overwhelmed with as many new account requests and game play as is being alluded to, it would show up in game performance. It doesn’t.

I think Pokémon Go is the biggest Trojan horse in the world…and everyone is giving it exactly what it wants – all of your credit card info, all pf your PII, and access to your entire (Google catered) life, which it can sell to the highest bidder whenever it wants. And we’re doing it on purpose. Game players are either completely duped or just don’t seem to care…

I am deleting the game from my iPhone. I don’t need to catch ’em all… and honestly, you don’t either, especially if you don’t want your identity stolen. Prove me wrong, Niantic…! I dare you. Prove me wrong.

UPDATE: Several hours after submitting this story for publication, Niantic posted an update to the application that reduces Google Account, account access to the Basic level, only wanting to know your name and your email address. This is definitely a step in the right direction…

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Smartphone 101 – Retrieving Voice Mail

Retrieving Voice Mail

Voice mail is a wonderful tool and can be a huge help, especially if you have a busy schedule. Getting it and managing its contents can be a challenge for the busy individual. This section assumes you’ve set up your voice mail account and it’s all good to go.

iPhone

  1. Open the phone app
    VM-ios-01
  2. Tap the voice mail icon on the bottom right of the app screen
    VM-ios-02
  3. Tap the voice mail message you wish to hear. It will expand to show a progress bar, representing the audio length of the message.
    VM-ios-03
  4. Press the play button on the left side of the screen. The message will play.
    VM-ios-04
  5. If you wish to save the message for later, do nothing. If you wish to delete the message, tap the Delete button.

Note: the iPhone uses Visual Voice Mail, which brings a more tactile voice mail management system to the device as opposed to the more traditional voice mail systems (like Windows Phone, below).

 

Android

Please note that voice mail systems on Android devices can vary from device to device, even on the same carrier. Some have Visual Voice Mail, like the iPhone, above. Others have more traditional voice mail systems. The following demonstrates voice mail retrieval on the HTC One (M8) on Verizon Wireless.

    1. Open the phone app.
      VM-and-01
    2. Press and hold the “1” button. Voice Mail will be called.
      VM-and-02

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Smartphone 101 – Making a Phone Call

OK… now that we have everything synching between your phone and your email account, let’s figure out exactly how to use it.

If you remember I started this series a few weeks ago and had one article about setting up your email account and address book and then one about synching that data to your smartphone. At this point, any changes or additions you make to either your email account via your computer or on your smartphone, to any of that data, will appear in both places.  It’s really pretty cool.

Integration, remember..? It’s all about integrating your data into the places where you will make the most use of it. That’s what makes your smartphone smart. It puts your data where you want to use it most – meaning your phone – and even anticipates how you want to use it, sometimes.

Your address book can hold listings for friends, family, businesses and the like. You’re likely going to want to call your parents on the weekends, your children’s pediatrician when they’re sick or need a checkup, and your dry cleaners to make sure that your clothes are read to be picked up, among many, many other things.  You may just want to yack your head off with your best friend.  Who knows…

Here’s the best way to do all that in all three major mobile operating systems. There are a couple-three scenarios here.

  • Making a Call

  • Receiving a Call

  • Retrieving Voice Mail

Let’s run through all of them quickly.

Making a Call

There are a few different ways to make a call – you can dial directly, search for a person in your address book or dial from a Favorites – or frequently called numbers – list.  I’m going to try to make this easy and have screenshots from all three operating systems in each section so we only have to do this once. Please note that the instructions here are going to reflect calling numbers here in the United States. If you live in another country, please sub in your country specifics for direct dialing numbers.

Dialing Directly

  1. Open your device’s Phone app and switch to the dialing pad screen

    DD-ios-01 DD-and-01 DD-WP-01
    iOS Android Windows Phone
  2. Dial the 10 digit phone number:  (area code) phone-number and press the (usually green) Phone button on the dialer to initiate the call.

DD-ios-02 DD-and-02 DD-WP-02
iOS Android Windows Phone

Please note – in the US, you do not NEED to dial a “1” in front of the phone number as you do on your land line phone.  While your call will still connect if you do, it’s not required on the cellular network like it is on the land line network. In most cases, unless you’re going to do any regular, international travel, you should NOT store your phone numbers as +1 (area code) phone-number.  Leave the “1” (or “+1”) off unless you DO travel internationally; and then it’s a good idea to have the “+1” prefix.

    1. Conduct your call.

      DD-ios-04 DD-and-03 DD-WP-03
      iOS Android Windows Phone

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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with iPhone

I’ve been working with mobile devices since 1996. I’ve had nearly every kind of mobile device from near every manufacturer on nearly every mobile OS…ever. The iPhone is by far the easiest to setup and configure. Like the other two mobile OS’ in use today, we’ll run through the default configuration and then see about adding another sync account to your iDevice. Apple makes this pretty easy…

Please note that these instructions were done using and iPhone 5 running iOS 7.1.1. As I don’t have an iPhone 5S, you won’t find instructions on using Touch ID, here. However, as you will see from the screenshots below, the configuration process is very easy. You shouldn’t have any problems configuring it if you simply follow the process and then work with the device when it wants to read your finger prints.

1. Turn on your iPhone for the first time. After the device boots, you’ll be greeted with a welcome screen. Place your finger just to the left of the greater-than sign (>) and slide it over the top of the words, “slide to set up” to begin the configuration process.
IMG_0001

2. Select a wireless network to connect to. If you have Wi-Fi in the house, using it over your mobile broadband bandwidth is preferable. Select your network from the list and tap it.
IMG_0002

3. The wireless network password screen appears. Type the password to your Wi-Fi network and then press the join button.
IMG_0003 IMG_0004

4. Turn on Location Services. You’ll want to make certain that they are configured correctly later, but for now, you’ll want them turned on so things like Maps and local search work correctly. Tap “Enable Location Services.”
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Smartphone 101 – Prerequisite 2: Setting up a Sync Relationship with Android Phone

Android+Google Account

There are a BOAT LOAD of different kind of Android devices, from numerous manufacturers running about 35 or so active versions of the Android operating system. As such, there simply isn’t a standardized set of instructions for setting the device up. Android versions may also differ on the SAME device on a DIFFERENT carrier (adding to the confusion… I know.)

These instructions were done on an HTC One (M8) on the Verizon Wireless Network. As such, it’s going to have Verizon specific screens in its setup routine.  If this is your phone, then you have the exact instructions you need to get going. If you have, say, a Samsung Galaxy S4 or other Samsung Android device on Verizon, these instructions will be close, but not spot on. Unfortunately, there isn’t ONE single way to deliver Android; AND the way its implemented differs from device to device, mobile carrier to mobile carrier, so, if something in the instructions doesn’t line up for you and the store you purchased the phone can’t give you immediate assistance, leave a question in the comments.  I’ll answer it ASAP.

1.    Turn on your Android phone for the first time. After it boots and displays various splash and logo screens, it should stop at a welcome screen. This should be the beginning of a setup wizard or other setup app.
Android_ss_0001

2.    The HTC One (M8) uses the Verizon Cloud to back up your phone’s important information. If you want to use Verizon Cloud, click the “Next” button. Otherwise, click the “Skip” button.
Android_ss_0002

3.    Choose the data that you want to backup to Verizon Cloud. By default, all data types are selected.  Click the “Next” button when you’re done.
Android_ss_0003

4.    Choose what wireless networks are used – cellular and Wi-Fi or Wi-Fi only – when backing up data to Verizon Cloud.  Click the appropriate radio button and then click the, “Done with Cloud” button to go to the next step.
Android_ss_0004

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