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You Give Love a Bad Name: Valentine’s Day Scams to Avoid

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and that means you’re probably scrambling to get your significant other something nice. Or if you’re lazy, a great e-card. While Valentine’s Day tends to bring out the romantic in many of us, it also brings out the scammer is some of us. And while we all want that bouquet of roses or edible chocolates in the shape of the Eiffel Tower, there are some scams you should be on the lookout for. In 2014, 1.26 percent of online dating transactions during Valentine’s Day were fraudulent and the FBI received more than 5,000 romance scam complaints. Most scammers play into two things, our desire for love, and our trust in certain organizations. They do this by crafting emails or messages that trick people into believing they are a legit organization, like a greeting card company or a delivery company. Here are the top scams to be on the lookout for this year.

1. Fake E-Cards

This is one of the more popular ones around the holiday. If you get an email that sounds like it’s from someone you know, or from a legit looking card company, be wary. Sometimes the subject line will include something like “Someone special sent you an e-card,” which of course pique’s even the most cautious person’s interest. If you click on the link, it could load malware or other harmful viruses onto your computer.

2. Phishy flowers

If you are sending someone flowers or expecting flowers on February 14, be extra careful. Often scammers will send an email from a flower company saying they need you to re-enter your credit card information for the flowers to be delivered. This scam works more often than most because so many people order flowers for Valentine’s Day. Many people don’t take the time to check the origin of the email because they don’t want their flowers to be late - but scammers can get their credit card information. Call the florist directly to make sure the email is legit.

3. Fake deliveries

Similar to the flower scam, someone will create a fake delivery email that asks you to download a form or click on a link to another site in order for your package to be delivered. If you do either it could put a virus on your computer, or take you to a site asking for personal information. Before you click on the email or any of the attachments, call the shipping company to confirm they sent out an email.

4. Catfishing

A catfish is a scammer who creates fake profiles on dating sites to attempt to lure their matches into sending personal information or money. They create fake profiles on sites such as or Tinder and try to find susceptible matches. A few ways to spot scammers on these sites include:
  • Lack of photos
  • Poor English use
  • Lots of grammar and spelling errors on their profiles and messages
They also might ask for money early to help with a crisis, or are never be able to meet because they are always traveling or don’t have any knowledge of the area you live in. Love is hard enough without having to worry about scammers and online threats. If you think you might have been a victim of online scam, you can report it here: The Federal Trade Commission The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center



Buyer Beware: Online shopping scams and how to avoid them

Think you’re safe from online scammers? Think again. Last year, identity theft affected more than 13 million U.S. consumers.  According to the Insurance Information Institute, identity thieves have stolen a whopping $112 billion from U.S. consumers in the past six years. These days, online criminals are more likely to target you that criminals on the street. Online hackers and scammers want credit card information and scammer activity will spike during the holiday season. Here are a few easy steps to identify and avoid online scams as you scramble for last-minute deals.

Top 3 Identity Theft Scams

Gift-card Scams: A too-good-to-be-true gift-card offer is tough to pass up, especially with tons of people to buy for and shopping on a budget. An email offer that asks you to enter your banking information to claim it is a sure sign it’s fake. Trusted brands and retailers don’t ask for that kind of information. Coupon Scams: Following in the too-good-to-be-true vein, many online scammers use emails and website pop-ups claiming deals to top gifts and tech gadgets at a discounted price. Clicking on the links to these coupons will typically take you to a site asking for personal information. Thieves take the information entered to make purchases in your name, and steal your identity. Other ways to spot a fake coupon:
  • No expiration date
  • It doesn’t take you directly to the retailers’ site
  • The offer is too good- like over 50% off good
Bad Links: Online scammers who try to steal your information often do so via a method known as phishing. They use emails that mimic legit retailers, or with information that looks like it’s from your bank in the attempt to get you to enter personal information. These links can also often install malware onto your computer. Not sure you can spot a fake? This site gives you a few examples.

Ways to spot a fake:

Look for poor grammar and spelling: Oftentimes you can spot a fake email or coupon just by the amount of misspellings and over-the-top guarantees. Plus, if a link takes you to a site with tons of pop-ups, that’s another dead giveaway it’s not a legit offer. Look for safe payment systems: Apple Pay, Android Pay and Amazon Payments are all great examples of ways to safely pay online. Plus, if you are banking online, or doing anything involving a payment on the web, be sure the site has the lock icon in the link followed by http://. This indicates it is secure and that your data is private. Look for secure Wi-Fi networks: Never purchase something over public Wi-Fi. It doesn’t have the same kind of security measures in place that a home connection would, which means it’s much easier for hackers to access your phone or computer and steal personal information. Buying online can be quick and painless as long as you are taking steps to keep your information safe. Installing Anti-Virus software and Anti-Phishing software on your home computer is another great way to fight hackers and scammers. Plus, you can fight back. If you believe you have been a victim on identity theft, immediately report it here.



Find the Best Deals on the High-Speed Internet

Mobile & Wi-Fi

Heart, Smiley Face, High Five: Our love affair with emojis

This year, with the iOS 10 update, Apple users got new emojis – some long awaited, such as the middle finger or two-gender options for dancing twins and Sherlock Holmes – and others, upgraded, such as robot and cat emojis. Every day, worldwide, users send 6 billion emoticons on phones or mobile messaging apps. In 2016, on World Emoji Day, Twitter released data on which emojis are the most popular in each country. The U.S. uses the weary face most; France sends out the heart emoji more than any other. Where did they even come from? A guy named Shigetaka Kurita created the first emoji. He worked for a Japanese communication company, and wanted a way for mobile users to send pictures without using lots of data. Thus, the emoji was born. It became popular in the U.S., when Apple added it to their products. Did you know emojis are regulated? A nonprofit called the Unicode Consortium serves as the Sorting Hat for emojis, and they always get the final say. Wait, why do emojis need regulation? The consortium was established 24 years ago to develop standards for translating different alphabets into code. It also regulates and develops standards for software internationalization. They make sure tech products, services and codes can be adapted to different languages and cultures. The consortium gets hundreds of new emoji proposals annually. It reviews them carefully, and approves a few for the public. But some people don’t think it should be up to a high counsel to tell us what emojis we should use. They’ve discussed this at the world’s first ever emoji conference, Emojicon, in San Francisco in Q4 2016. But the consortium was like “Imma let you finish,” but here are 56 new emojis we’ve approved for 2017, and you don’t get a say. Why do we love emojis so much?     Aside from being adorable, they also help us express things we can’t always find the words for — such as during awkward or sad moments. Dr. Owen Churches is a professor of psychology at Flinders University in Adelaide, South Australia. He conducted research that found we react to emojis the same way we do to the human face. They also help make users more likeable, or soften the blow of what they might be trying to say, and make you more popular on Twitter. From NBA players who tattoo them on their arms, to bedspreads and pillows, emojis have become mainstream. Plus, you can also now read classic literature translated into emoji. (Emoji Dick and Yolo Juliet). Meanwhile, English majors everywhere weep.  



Halloween Inspired Tech Gadgets You Have to Try

Trick-or-Treat Tech

Skeletons, costumes and bags and bags of candy. Halloween is here. And while kids and adults alike are scrambling to pull together last minute costumes and party decorations, we’re here to tell you that there’s more to Halloween than killing it at the costume game—check out these tech gadgets for a spooky and safe Halloween.

Keep track of your tiny Trick or Treaters

Family Signal Want to give your kids the freedom to Trick-or-Treat with their friends, but still keep track of where they are? FamilySignal, a location sharing app, will let you do just that. Just check out the visual map to see where they are on their quest for candy and rest easy knowing they can hit a panic button to alert you and the authorities if anything goes wrong. Glympse Another location based app, Glympse lets your kids send you “Glymses” of where they are or you can request one from them as they are on-the-go. On Halloween night you can set the app to “active” for a certain time period, then have your child select you as a “check-in” recipient through their phone. That way you can see their whereabouts while they’re Trick-or- Treating.

Spice up your desk with these spooky skulls

Skullhub USB Make Halloween great again with the Skullhub USB charger. It’s creepy and effective and you can put candy in it. The skull has 4 USB ports for iPhones and other compatible devices. Skull Speaker This small blue skull packs a punch. Great for blasting beats at a Halloween party or at work, it has a rechargeable battery, 4 hours of playback and includes a USB charging cable and audio cable. Skull Stickers Keep Halloween going all year long with spooky themed computer decals. From a vampire Snow White to skull and sugar skull decals, you can keep the spirit of Halloween alive even after October 31st.

Take your Halloween high-tech this year.

Glowy Zoey LED costume You might have seen the video of the dad who turned his toddler into a glowing LED stick figure. Well now you too can be a Glowy Zoey stick figure and the hit of Halloween parties everywhere. Choose from adult, kid and toddler costumes that boast 150-190 LED lights that can be seen from a mile away. Order yours here, in various colors and throw in some LED slap bracelets to complete the costume. Spooky Lightbulb Decor A light-bulb that plays music and is also Bluetooth capable? The future is here my friends. The Sengled Pulse Dimmable LED Light Bulb can make your porch scarier than ever. Download a freaky playlist, screw in the lightbulb on your porch and hit play from your phone. The neighborhood kids will be running away in no time, saving you plenty of candy for yourself. Vortex Tunnel Absurdly expensive, but fascinatingly fun. Might be good for a corporate Halloween party, or if you own, say, a theme park. Walk into a literal tunnel across a bridge that makes you feel like you’re spinning through time. See if “The Ultimate Tunnel Experience” is right for you.



Why Switch to Fiber-Optic Internet from Cable or DSL?

Considering a switch to switch to fiber-optic Internet? You’ve found an excellent place to learn the basics. Fiber- optic Internet is growing as an option across the United States. It’s also extremely fast and reliable, too. Fiber-optic Internet has been called the Internet of the future. It uses different equipment and transfers data more efficiently than cable and DSL lines. Rather than copper coaxial cables, fiber-optic Internet travels on optical cables. These cables, made of hair-thin fibers that transfer data via light signals, aren’t subject to the same pitfalls of cable and DSL Internet.

Is fiber optic internet better?

Fiber-optic Internet differs from other options. What makes fiber-optics such a promising option? Speed: Fiber-optic speed is incredibly fast. Fastmetrics reports that fiber speeds are as much as 20 times faster than other broadband speeds. Bundling: With an Internet service provider that offers fiber, consumers can bundle services for super-fast Internet and TV options.

Does fiber-optic cable increase Internet speed?

Fiber-optic carriers deliver Internet via a fiber-optic cable. Subscribers won’t share this line with neighbors. The line isn’t susceptible to weather interferences or high Internet traffic times.

Who uses fiber optics?

According to an article from Business Insider, “The US ranks 18th among countries in the OECD, a group of the world's largest economies, in fiber-optic penetrations rates…” Americans are slow to get on the fast Internet train. Most Internet Service Providers already utilize existing cable and telephone lines. Implementing a fiber-optic infrastructure takes time and money. The service continues to grow, particularly in larger American cities. Expect to see more options appear, especially as the cost to maintain copper networks increases and fiber-Internet infrastructure and maintenance costs decline.

Does fiber optic internet require a phone line?

Nope! Fiber-optic Internet runs on cables that go straight to your home.

Is fiber optic worth it?

Fiber optic Internet offers tons of advantages. If you want to know “is fiber optic Internet good for my home?” here are a few benefits to consider: STRONGER SIGNAL: With fiber-optic Internet, there’s less signal degradation than with other delivery methods. Light doesn’t fade over distances. Once the fiber groundwork is in place, Internet service providers deliver Internet to a wider variety of homes and businesses, regardless of their distance from the hub. BETTER EFFICIENCY: Metal and copper wires can overheat over time ruin, making it impossible to transfer data. Fiber-optic lines transmit light without use of electricity, and won’t get overheated or wear down. MORE CAPACITY: Fiber lines will also be easier to upgrade. The lines can carry data over longer distances, which creates less overhead, making upgrades more cost-effective than they might be on other less-advanced networks. Fiber-optic networks are projected to grow significantly over the next few years as the demand for fast internet increases.




My Internet is Slow – Who’s On My Wi-Fi?

Has your Internet been running slow lately? Do you sit down to watch Netflix after a long day, only to have to pause to buffer? It’s the worst. For some of us, this might just be because of a slow Internet connection. What if you’re paying for one of the fastest connections around, though? This could mean someone is hacking your Wi-Fi. Oh, the injustice! Here’s a few ways you can know for sure.

The quick and dirty

Most wireless routers have an indicator light to show Internet connectivity and network connections. To see if any pesky neighbors, or, worse, hackers, are on your network, turn off all your wireless enabled devices. Check the router’s wireless light. Is it still blinking? This helps you learn something in the moment. If the light is still blinking, there are steps you can take, such as checking the devices on your router. Log in via your web browser. Once you’re logged in, look for a place where attached devices are listed. Check your devices’ IP addresses against those listed on the router.

Consider using network monitoring software

There are plenty of network monitoring tools on the market. PC Mag has compiled a list of the best. There is also a free tool from the Organizational Systems Wireless Auditor called MoochHunter. Law enforcement agencies have used it, and it works by letting you trace the hacker’s location. If you’re not into confrontation or triangulation, you could always beef up your network security.

Ways to secure your wireless network

  1. Log in to your router. Type into your web browser. If this is the right address for your router, it will ask you to log in. If you aren’t sure which address is …
  2. Created a strong password, especially if you didn’t change the default password when you got the router. Choose a password with a lot of letters and numbers with a few symbols thrown in for good measure. Make sure you don’t use common names or phrases, your name or phone number, or address.
  3. Change your wireless network name, also known as the SSID, to distinguish your network.
  4. Encrypt your wireless signal. For a step-by-step guide, check out this site.
The more precautions you have in place, the harder it is for anyone to mooch off your Wi-Fi. Having a secure network means you can rest easy knowing no one is slowing down your bandwidth or hacking important files on your devices.



A Brief and Sordid History of Wireless Internet

Who invented wireless Internet?

Let’s travel back in time for a moment. The year: 1896. Utah had just become a state, Henry Ford has just finished the first Ford vehicle and the first modern Olympic Games were being held in Greece. It was a time of discovery, gold rushes and technological leaps. It was also the year Guglielmo Marconi, a dapper man with a killer mustache, developed the first wireless telegraph system. A year later, he did something huge for his day – he sent the world’s first wireless message that read “Are you ready?” (It hasn’t been confirmed yet if the message recipient or the world was.) Guglielmo’s system helped pave the way for the Wi-Fi and Internet technology we use today.

When was wireless Internet Invented?

In 1971, after years of phone and wireless innovation, the University of Hawaii gave the world a glimpse into the Internet age. The school provided a public demonstration of a wireless packet data network. It used radio waves for different computers to communicate with each other. But it wasn’t until 1985 that wireless really began to take off.

How long has wireless Internet been around?

The year 1985 was a banner year for wireless Internet and for George Michael. This was the year wireless Internet became mainstream. The Federal Communications Commission decided to allow certain wireless frequencies to be available without a government license. The frequencies they allowed were: 900MHz, 2.4 GHz and 5.8 GHz. Who would have thought that because of cash registers we now have Wi-Fi standards? In 1988, the National Cash Register Corporation wanted to create a standard for WLAN, or Wireless Local Area Network. It wanted it for their wireless cash registers. The NCR asked Victor Hayes, a senior research fellow at the Delft University of Technology, to lead a committee to establish these data transfer standards. Hayes partnered with Bell Labs engineer Bruce Tuch to create a standard for WLAN frequencies. Their committee was called 802.11. Nine years after the committee convened, the standard was established, and transmitted data at two megabits per second. The technology continued to increase, and, in 1999, the standard 802.11b came into existence. It represented higher transfer rates than the original standard. That’s when Wi-Fi started to become mainstream- it was cheaper and had a longer range than wired connections. Engineers began to create technology and equipment to accompany wireless networks’ capability. In 1999 routers, came onto the scene, and ushered in the popularity of home wireless use. WI-Fi’s popularity also increased because of companies such as Apple and Starbucks. The first iPhone included Wi-Fi capabilities, and, in 2010, Starbucks started to provide free Wi-Fi to customers. From the very first discovery of radio frequencies to wireless enabled devices everywhere we look, Wi-Fi has come a long way.



What is a DSL filter?

We at Internet Providers often find ourselves pondering deep questions about the universe. Like, is there life on other planets, or how many grains of sand are there on the beach? For today’s deep question we’re asking ourselves, “What is a DSL filter?” We know it’s probably something you’ve asked yourself. Maybe you’ve seen it at your grandparents’ house. What exactly is its function? And, most importantly, are DSL filters necessary? A DSL filter is a small square with a phone connection at either end. It’s placed in your phone line’s wall connection, and connected to your home phone line. If you get Internet on a Digital Subscriber Line (DSL), your other devices, such as phones and fax machines, are likely share that line. These devices send Internet data back and forth on the same line. Normally, this isn’t a problem. Occasionally, when these frequencies travel on the same line simultaneously, they can interrupt or interfere with your Internet connection. This is why a DSL filter comes in handy. It’s designed to help field the different frequencies coming across your phone line. Imagine a highway system with three different lanes. The first lane, with the lowest frequency at 0-4 kilohertz (kHz), carries phone calls. Your voice sounds clear on this wave frequency, we might add. The second and third lanes on the highway are for your DSL Internet connection. The upstream lane, from which you download and access the Internet, is the most frequently used. This has a range of 26-138 kHz. The third lane is the upload or downstream lane, which operates in the 138-1,000-kHz range.  DSL allows these frequencies to coexist on the copper line that carries these signals to your home.

Are DSL filters necessary?

DSL works if you want both phone and Internet service. However, signals for those services don’t always stay in their lanes. That’s when a DSL filter becomes necessary. Subscribers get a DSL filter if they start to hear an echo on phone calls or resonance within their Internet connection. A DSL filter splits the frequencies to prevent them from interfering with each other and interrupting Internet or phone service.

Do DSL filters wear out?

If you have a filter installed, but have noticed spotty Internet connections, your filter might be worn out. This website gives a how to guide to test your filter. If, after testing, you find that it has gone bad, you can replace it easily and for less than $10 dollars at a local office supply store or online at



Gmail Hacks That Will Instantly Make Your Life Easier

Gmail’s self-explanatory right? We use it every day for work, to keep in touch with family, and to Gchat our friends while sitting in boring meetings. But did you know there’s so much more you can do with it? Whether you want to get organized or just learn a few new shortcuts, Gmail is a much bigger and more magical world than you might realize. We’ve found the best apps and shortcut hacks so you can up your email game, and reach master levels in productivity.

Apps to make email easier


Obsessive list makers: Here’s your calling. Sortd markets itself as a “smart skin that lives inside Gmail.” Although that sounds a little creepy, it’s a cool-looking organizational tool that layers over your Gmail, transforming it into practical and customizable lists. Create to-do lists, drag and drop priorities within the list, sort email, snooze emails and get more done.

Gmail Offline

Catch up on email, without worrying about more pouring in. Are you traveling with no access to email? The Gmail Offline Chrome extension lets you stay productive, even without Internet access, and will send emails out once you’re back online.


Mixmax, another Chrome extension, has lots of features to up your productivity. Schedule meetings with one click. Those on the meeting invite can indicate their availability right in your calendar, rather than the hassle of back-and-forth email. Customize email with built-in templates that let you create charts and polls. It also tracks who has opened your messages, and lets you schedule email.

Giphy for Gmail

Sure, sending gifs isn’t a necessity. Fun is a necessity, though, and Giphy is lots of it. When you download this Chrome extension, a Giphy icon will appear in your Inbox and you can spice up emails in no time.

Shortcuts to make your life easier

Preview Pane

If you like the way Outlook provides a preview pane for email, customize your Gmail to have one, too. Just click on the gear icon in the right-hand corner of your Inbox, select Settings, and scroll to the Labs tab. You’ll see a Preview Pane option that you can enable, and see email in a whole new light.


If you get email that includes a task or an upcoming event, select the More button in your menu bar, and choose Add to Tasks. A box similar to a Gchat window will appear, where you can create a to-do list.

Keyboard shortcuts

There are tons, and you can find them all here. You can also create your own. Find customizable shortcuts also under the Labs tab – start creating a shortcut for composing a new message or a calendar invite.

Canned responses

Writing the same type of email over and over? What a bore. Save time by turning on canned responses (under the nifty Labs tab). Create and save messages for future reference. These are just a few of the hundreds of hacks to customize your Gmail experience. Explore the array of options under the Labs tab. It provides a plethora of easy ways to make Gmail more fun and help you be more productive.