Google Takeout - its not a food delivery service

Can you afford to lose your email? Most consumers take for granted that email access in dependable and always available.  Most of these services live in the cloud and we need a reasonable internet/mobile connections to reach them.  Hypothetical scenarios Travelling abroad using a local SIM card - google doesn't recognize the number and for your security requires that you reauthenticate and validate your account.  If you happen to visit China and the great firewall blocks you. You need to lookup a hotel reservation on email.  What would you do if a scammer tried to hack your gmail or google account and you get locked out.   Do you have a plan B ? We should all look at having a backup of our data. Hopefully, we may never need it.  Start with Google Takeout Login with your google credentials, if not already logged in and then select the services you use and want to export. You might be surprised how many are listed. Click the Next button at the bottom. A n

Google My Business Phone Scam

  What is Google My Business ? A listing service from Google to provide customers with information on a business. The business owner can manage their business listing and provide customers with hours of operations, specials, restaurant menus and more. During these trying times, owners can update changes in hours of operation or special announcements like mask requirements. The process is meant to provide customers with relevant, complete and quality info. Anatomy of the scam I recently updated a google business listing and almost immediately noticed a significant spike in the number of calls to the business phone number. Almost all the calls did not have a known callerid or name attached. Most did not leave a message. Almost all the numbers could not be called and had a message saying that the number was not in service. The calling number is being spoofed to appear as if the call is coming from with the area code to appear more legitimate. Today we received a voicemail stating that a g

Instagram Analytics

Instagram shady business practice Any business today, has to engage with its customer on social media platforms to stay relevant. It's easy to create an account and post pictures of your business, food, art, decor, menu.... To engage with an audience, you need to appropriately tag your post with relevant hashtags. Simple enough, but are you reaching your audience and how do you measure your efforts? Most other platforms have an analytics tool to view metrics and data. Instagram requires a business account to get access to the analytics. Sounds reasonable and a google search will give you the basic steps to switch a personal account to a business account. Completely reasonable, as you may have started promoting your business with a personal account and realized that it makes sense to separate the personal and business identity. Going through the Instagram help pages, we soon realized that the features and functions were not available on the web page. We tried using the  workar

Should you get a Vera Controller ?

Vera Zwave Controller Review We found the Vera solution around 2010, looking to solve the problem of performing some basic functions to close the blinds and switch on a light. During our research, there were already competing platforms and standards and we choose zwave as the protocol to tie them together.  Zwave connectivity graph All the devices that we purchased have performed flawlessly over the past decade in executing their scheduled tasks. Over time, as we added more devices, the zwave mesh network became stronger and more redundant, due to there ability to discover their neighbors and use them to relay commands to the controller.  Zwave device history The platform had significant potential to improve through firmware and software updates. It has been stable and there was definitely a desire for improvements or nice to haves. Some of there were fulfilled through add-ons and they filled the void, in the short term. Over time (well a decade), it has become clear that the company h

The Social Dilemma

The Social Dilemma  Watched the documentary on Netflix . We all know the disadvantages of social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). Even Linked-in, which was a professional connections platform, is swamped with endless doom scrolling noise. This is deliberately designed to hold a users attention and interaction with the platform. The echo chamber and ad machine is in full operation.  We stopped using Facebook in late 2019 and have probably missed a few birthdays and family announcements, however we all have to choose not to engage. A simple phone call or personal interaction is more meaningful.  We should all watch the documentary and take action Ads and misinformation targeting Anyone can create a Facebook page and an Ad. Below are the steps.  1. Select a Goal  We chose get more website visitors 2. Choose your audience We chose, women, aged 32-37, living outside of Seattle within a 1 mile radius of the pin. 3. Narrow down the audience further We selected a random set of demographic

Dynamic links

Ongoing updates Holding page for ongoing updates on topics that may have interest to subscribers Podcast This link works fine on Android. Apple users sometimes get prompted to download and pay for an app. Did we mention we don't like Apple's monetization policy. If that happens, search for the podcast by name on your favorite and free podcast player. It's an additional step, but worth it.  Our Listening Statistics Privacy Personal Data Removal Workbook  & Credit Freeze Guide Security Everybody should use a VPN

Home Assistant Review

Home Assistant Review If you have been thinking about making your home smart, with automation and have experienced the frustration of switching apps to perform simple tasks, its time to take a look at Home Assistant. Home Assistant (HA) has come a long way, since we first looked at it many years ago and has become exponentially better over the past year. To date it has been rock solid and stable as any production system. At the time of writing this blog, the released version is 0.116.4. While setting up and using the system can seem overwhelming, the platform provides a blank canvas that can be customized to your individual needs. Comparisons We have been using a home automation system for a decade now. The system has been operating flawlessly and has scaled well over the years, however there are limitations that HA helps to overcome. There a many competing products in the marketplace, and some that no longer exist or changed their business models (e.g.  Lowes Iris ,  Wink ). Other lar