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You are here: February 2020

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Lots of evasion techniques including geoblocking and IP addresses

I recently read an article dealing with geoblocking and IP addresses. This is a phishlabs article, and it was quite interesting at what criminals can do. Evasion Techniques: Geoblocking by IP is the article and I think it is worth the read.

The post was posted on the 20th

In order to increase the lifespan of their campaigns, most threat actors implement evasion techniques to keep their activity from being detected by defenders
and their intelligence tools. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at how geoblocking by IP is used.

This was quite an interesting blog post, and it is definitely something to think about. Do read this one.

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AI having a help in cyberattacks?

Lastpass has an article talking about AI having a hand in protecting the user in regards to Cybercrime. I think this could be utalized in many different ways from password mitigation and saying that you can’t use such passwords or even in some way that you or I haven’t thought of. Using AI to Protect Your Business from Cyber Attacks is the article, and I don’t think I read the article yet. I was just contemplating it since I saw the title and I’m going to open it up for commentsto see what you guys think.

I’ll make sure to give this one a read.

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Pay up, … Google will ban your web site if you don’t pay

This is extortion at its best. In an article entitled Pay Up, Or We’ll Make Google Ban Your Ads Krebs On Security pens a tale of crooks who are trying to extort money by telling you that if you don’t pay the extortion, your web site will be banned by Google.

A new email-based extortion scheme apparently is making the rounds, targeting Web site owners serving banner ads through Google’s AdSense program. In this scam, the fraudsters demand bitcoin in exchange for a promise not to flood the publisher’s ads with so much bot and junk traffic that Google’s automated anti-fraud systems suspend the user’s AdSense account for suspicious traffic.

I’ve never used add sense, and if I had thought about using it, I definitely am not going to utalize it now. Thats going to ask for trouble. I don’t honestly know what sites are using now, I know that Blind Bargains may have used them at one point, and they may have moved away from it now. I honestly don’t know.

If you use this program to make money, you aught to watch out.

The article does go on to talk about someone who did have a spike in traffic from their account, and people may look in to this and determine that it may be legitiment.

Welcome to the Internet! This can’t be good.

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Los Angeles Metro reports Crime is down

In a non-tech posting turning tech posting, Los Angeles Metro reported that crime is down on the Metro system. Crime down on Metro system over past five years gives the stats on this.

Some things tech related:

  • We’ve been asked to test out transit watch, an application to report incidents
  • The app can be found on the app store and in google play
  • you can report numerous types of things like ADA assistance and even particular crimes
  • I’ve tested it by using it legitimently to report an esculator and they went and fixed it.

For those people who have other disabilities, you can now text the metro folks right from the app. If you provide an email or cell phone, they will communnicate with you when the issue is resolved. I did this and even verified things were reported correctly.

If you create an account, you can track their progress and your reports.

If you’ve used the older or newer transit watch, please let me know how you enjoyed it.

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Have you heard of Crooks encoding credit card data on bar codes? Not until I read this article

I sat this article in my brain for awhile coming up with a catchy title for something I’ve never heard of before. Apparently, crooks will not stop at nothing to get their wares out, or even use the wares they have. Krebs on Security penned an article entitled Encoding Stolen Credit Card Data on Barcodes and I found it facinating. I don’t believe I’ve heard of this one before, and its definitely clever.

Crooks are constantly dreaming up new ways to use and conceal stolen credit card data. According to the U.S. Secret Service, the latest scheme involves stolen card information embedded in barcodes affixed to phony money network rewards cards. The scammers then pay for merchandise by instructing a cashier to scan the barcode and enter the expiration date and card security code.

This is quite clever, and I don’t know how we could stop this one. Scanning bar codes is common in today’s technology, I do have to give them propts on a good one.

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This week in security news: Feb 21, 2020

I haven’t read the article yet, but I did want to post about the fact that Trend Micro put out their article for news, notes, and things of interest for the week of February 21, 2020. This Week in Security News: LokiBot Impersonates Popular Game Launcher and DRBControl Espionage Operation Hits Gambling, Betting Companies is the article title.

I think the biggest news is the bot activity which I covered on this article entitled: LokiBot is back, and its not getting better for users and it is probably the highlight of this news week.

I’m sure that I’ll find more, and only time will tell on what exactly happens with the bot and any other news that you, the reader, may want me to cover on a future podcast.

Find something? Get in touch. Enjoy!

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Using Social Security online

A lot of people use Social Security for living, because lets face it, getting a job is aweful when we have a disability.

My Social Security contact sent me this article from the blog: 10 Powerful Ways to Use Social Security Online which might be helpful. It all sounds interesting, and they do have great security. I’ll talk more about the security in an up coming podcast.

Have experience with the web site? What did you think?

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Android VS IOS, who wins?

In a thought piece The One OS to Rule Them All – 33 Android vs iOS Market Share Stats which was sent to me by email, it is looking like Androit is winning in most places but yet IOS wins here in the United States. Its interesting to see this because we know by reading numerous articles that Android has a big security problem which they’ve started to work on via Android Q and later.

If you read this article, what did you think of it? Its facinating to read how the breakdown is by country, or even as a whole just thinking about the various aspects of this debate.

The biggest stat?

1. Android and iOS jointly account for over 98% of the global smartphone operating systems market share.

That generally means that Windows phone is pretty much done, but yet, it may still be used in some aspect and in certain places. It isn’t mentioned however, but the two major ones are Android and IOS, so where is the other 2 percent world wide?

Read more in the article, and let me know your thoughts on it.

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Anatomy of an attack: Trend Micro February Webinar

John sent an email from Trend Micro about the webinar for February. Want to learn about the anatomy of an attack? Its not too late to post this link to the webinar and fill it out for you to join. My info may be populated and I just signed up.


In this webinar, I’ll share with you an example of an actual cybersecurity attack that occurred a while back. After taking deep dive into the cause, effect,
and aftermath of the attack, I’ll also share some hands-on information and best practices to follow.

Join my
monthly threat webinar and live Q&A
session to learn:
list of 3 items
• How the attack was achieved, alongside the ways in which the victim responded.
• Takeaways and best practices surrounding this and similar attacks.
• Valuable insight into how you can minimize your risk of compromise.

Come join me, I hope I can make it. It sounds like its going to be fun!

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Got a strong WIFI password? No? Better think about it

There has been a threat called emotet (emote t) that has been out there since 2014. The latest with this threat is taking advantage of weak, insecure wifi passwords.

When I got my Internet here, I was given a strong password, and I’m glad for that.

This article from Threat post Emotet Now Hacks Nearby Wi-Fi Networks to Spread Like a Worm goes in to detail on this evolving security threat that is probably not going to ebate any time soon.

Better catch up on this one!

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Can you bank on backups for ransomware? Article says no

While I’m catching up on news from across the security landscape, I saw this article. It is entitled Why you can’t bank on backups to fight ransomware anymore and it goes in to really good detail on why backups aren’t the solution anymore.

Several different operators of ransomware are posting the dumps of their attacks because they are not getting paid. The places being targeted had backups and one still hasn’t put their web site and other services back online since they were attacked in November of last year.

This is a wake up call, I’d say. Wonder what we should be telling people now if we can’t tell them to make sure they have a good backup if possible?

Lets discuss!

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Hackers inside networks? You bet! Multiple articles showing what has been up

In recent more up-to-date news, I’ve been reading various articles about threat actors being in multiple high profile places.

Hackers Were Inside Citrix for Five Months is one article, but I know I’ve read a few more hat I can’t spot off hand. If this is any indication of whats happening now a days, we’ve got more problems than your typical computer or telephone device of choice.

Have you seen anything like the article I’m putting out here and what did you think? Sound off!

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Is google starting to do the right thing in blocking http downloads over https?

There are multiple articles in the Sans News Bites in regards to Google blocking by October the mixed content aspect of web sites. Say you are downloading a file, and it says its mixed content. The site is https but your download is http. So far it has worked, but this google blog Protecting users from insecure downloads in Google Chrome gives an overview to Chrome and what is expected.

Google has a lot of resources, and applying them to make the Chrome browser more restrictive on unsecure downloads is a good thing. However, I’d really like to see more Google posts about improvements in pre-release security and privacy testing of apps in Google Play. Google’s Vulnerability Reward Program bug bounty payouts almost doubled from 2018 to 2019, which is kind of like a restaurant saying, “Our volunteer food testers removed twice as many glass shards from our food!” Google’s Play Protect was ranked at or the near the bottom of malware detection by AV-TEST in 2019 – it would be good to see many fewer glass shards in published apps.

One of the reasons why I don’t recommend android is because of this insecurity of their apps. The blind community may not get hit with these types of apps, but as shown way back in podcast 3 of the podcast, it can happen.

I recently sent podcast 3 to someone, and while the technology used in that podcast isn’t the greatest, the fact is, that it is still valuable today to have this podcast available. It was the reason why I got started in this business.

If Google is starting to do this protection in Chrome which they should be commended for, than Google needs to start fixing their store and making their apps more secure for everyone. No more apps that act one way in one country, and do something completely different somewhere else. NCSAM: Do you think Android is as secure as they claim? This Android app says not so much! talks about an app that did this.

You can definitely find articles on the topic of google and their insecurities in the play store. I’m not saying that IOS is any better, they all have their issues, but Google’s problems are well known because of the fact its more open.

What are your thoughts on this latest development on Google’s end to be able to blocked the mixed content and whether they could take this to their app store and finally boot these apps and make policies to only allow good apps there? Is it possible?

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Once wary of feds, state election leaders now welcome help

Sans News Bites covers lots of stuff, and reading this article entitled Once wary of feds, state election leaders now welcome help was quite interesting. We’ve really got to solve the cyber security problems that the government may or may not have in their election systems.

I used the article post as the title for my post, because I feel it just fits. Lots of great info here that people might find of interest. It can only get better.

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IS TLS 1.0 and 1.1 really ready to go?

Livewire says yes, and articles out there have more

The last several days on Livewire have been quite interesting. Last week, I experienced a technical issue which has since been resolved. On top of that, I was notified that the site was upgraded to only work on 1.2 or higher TLS connections. Sans News Bites talks about this in one of their segments and this blog post entitled: It’s the Boot for TLS 1.0 and TLS 1.1 is one post and it comes from Mozilla themselves.

After the technical issues were resolved in live wire, someone recently reported running Windows 8, Firefox, and Jaws 16.

  • Windows 8, to my knowledge is not getting any updates
  • Firefox may be old, and unable to understand the TLS infrastructure
  • Jaws 16 isn’t supported with bug fixes
  • Chrome can’t run on 8

In the next podcast, I talk about Live Wire a little bit, what it is, the basics on the LTN (Livewire Telephone Network) and that while I did have an issue, it was my own doing.

The person behind Live Wire understands the security well, and I believe more sites will be moving toward this aspect. I said this before reading this article, and this is Sans News Bites from February 11, 2020. If I had the chance to read this before that discussion, I’d be more up to date!

Browsers negotiate to the highest common denominator which can mask the presence of less secure connection options. Make sure you’re regularly scanning the encryption settings on your web servers to ensure older, less secure connections are disabled, or monitored and documented where enabled. Monitoring may show the need to support older less secure operating systems and browsers may not be as significant as thought, or worth the risk.

Livewire is the first site to my knowledge to have taken this step, and I believe we’ll have more.

There are other articles around the web that covers this, and I’m running 73 of firefox now and have no trouble with connecting to Livewire since my own technical issue was resolved.

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Apple releases watch OS 6.1.3

Apple on February 18th released 6.1.3 to fix something specific with irregular heartbeats and something in Iceland. Applevis has a blog post on this and you can click through.

They also released an update in the 5x series for those who can’t upgrade to 6x because of phones.

Click through to read more from Apple Vis if you’re interested.

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Poetry, lists, and outlines: How Braille2000 has assisted me in the endeavor of braille transcription as a blind person

The combination of B2K and percent codes is wonders

Welcome to another article here on the technology blog and podcast web site. I’m not here to give any spoilers, however, I’m here to talk about assignment 18 and how I’ve learned to do poetry, lists, and outlines.

One caveat: this assignment is still in progress, and its not completed yet.

Please do not take this verbatim. This is a blog post on how something like this may be done. Always consult your instructor or person helping you if you need help.

My goal of this blog post is to show how a blind person can use Braille2000 in conjunction with WordPad, Word, or Google Documents to be able to produce good quality braille.

You’re welcome to play with the samples to see how it works, but please don’t call this assignment complete.

The assignment has many more parts to it other than poetry and outlines, and they may be presented as examples on how this is done later.

  • The page numbering sampled here is in conformance to the assignment
  • Typical percent codes such as %1-3 are used
  • Braille2000 and the style of the paragraph is used
  • Detailed non-speed braille keys will be given on how to do this

According to the lesson book, poetry and outlines are written in list format. Nested lists are used more for outlines, and some listed items like the lists found on the Braille Transcription done as a blind person web site. The outline here was very confusing because the braille is showing each item in the margin with no assistance. I read it carefully, and a mentor named Mrs. Taylor advised what the outline should eventually look like.

Again, I want to stress that the majority of this work was done alone, and understanding the structure of the outline and my understanding of it took some time. Since I’ve not done poetry or outlining, but read some through my life, this was definitely a learning experience for me.

I’m doing this assignment in pieces, because it is so lengthy. At the time of writing, I’m done with the poetry, the outline, and the paragraph list section dealing with CPR. The CPR section won’t be discussed here, but there are still several items yet to do.

The Percent Codes

No matter what you’re using, you’ll have to format it. Braille2000 can be adjusted by importing the entire file, and then adjust it upon looking at it. To do this, you’ll need different strategies.

Paragraphing

Paragraphing is done by adjust, paragraph style. Tab to the radio buttons, and select the option you want. Jaws and NVDA should read these dialogues and the info within them just fine. There are also preset options within that like indent1, block1, and many more which has set options that B2K will use.

The Running Head

The running head is needed on each particular portion of the assignment where the title of what you’re doing should go. To do a running head, select Do, Running Head. Note! It is important for the blind reader to understand that if you tab around, the default edit box will never be found in the tab order. You’re placed in to that automatically. Type the Running Head, and press enter. The radio button “text above” is automatically set once typing in to this edit box, and it can be changed throughout the file if needed. To edit it, just go to do, running head again.

New Paragraph Style

The New Paragraph style is found in the adjust menu, and works similar to the paragraph style. The difference between the two is dependent on the cursor. The Paragraph style fixes the current paragraph or highlighted text, while the new paragraph changes the way the enter key behaves.

So Lets get started

Lets get started. The assignment takes a page of assignment 17 where they use the hyphenated page numbering. To do this, The page numbering code has been adjusted to give you this capability. This is shown as a vertical bar, which on your computer keyboard, is shift and your backslash key. (|)

When you use the print page numbering scheme, the braille page number is not necessary, unless you change the braille page number as discussed in lesson 19 for transcribers and preliminary pages. For assignments 17 and 18, the page numbering is only print which asserts a braille page number 1 which is all you need.


%pn=18|12


Assignment 18 also gets a new twist, each portion of the assignment is given a running head if it goes on to a separate page. The first poem in this assignment does this.


%head
RECUERDO
%runhead
RECUERDO


I use the head tag for the heading for this one, as the first page doesn’t have a running head. A new percent code page with no running head (pager) is put at the top of the file, to indicate that this page should not utalize the running head. This is very important when we get to the second poem which is only a page, but we do not know this until transcription importing. This is why I have decided to assert the running head in case it does. I do this with the first one, and it does run in to a new page, only by a few lines.

There are also attributions, and the rules on them were studied in assignment 17. Those are done with the %x-y tag (examples: %1-3 %5-7) but I choose to do it as the same cell as %7-7 even though it should not run over.

The formatting of poetry is done in the nested list format which is discussed in the lesson book. They point you to read more if poetry includes other attributions or things that I’m not too familiar with.

Braille Formats Principals of Print to Braille Transcription 2016 Section 13: Braille Authority of North America

If my understanding of this is correct, here is how I coded the first poem. Remember! Your milage will vary, and since this is ungraded, I can only tell you how I did it, based on my understanding of it, and nothing more.


%head
RECUERDO
%runhead
RECUERDO
%1-3
We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
It was bare and bright, and smelled like a stable —
But we looked into a fire, we leaned across a table,
We lay on the hill-top underneath the moon;
And the whistles kept blowing, and the dawn came soon.
%space
We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry;
And you ate an apple, and I ate a pear,
From a dozen of each we had bought somewhere;
And the sky went wan, and the wind came cold,
And the sun rose dripping, a bucketful of gold.
%space
We were very tired, we were very merry —
We had gone back and forth all night on the ferry.
We hailed, “Good morrow, mother!” to a shawl-covered head,
And bought a morning paper, which neither of us read;
And she wept, “God bless you!” for the apples and the pears,
And we gave her all our money but our subway fares.
%7-7
Edna St. Vincent Millay


The space command (%space) allows Braille2000 to insert a blank line. This is important in many different formatting chores, not just the poetry aspect of this assignment. It is also used in the lists format which is discussed in this assignment, and it may be used elsewhere. The poem sample above taken from the assignment was my interpretation of it, and you are welcome to play with the codes to see what it can do if you changed it.

The pager command I gave you earlier becomes very handy here, because the assignment talks about each section starting on a brand new page. The running head, must be the same as the title you’re working on. So, with the background in mind, we introduce you to the next page command (%np) and it goes to the next page number automatically.


%pager
%np
%head
THE WIND
by Robert Louis Stevenson
%runhead
The Wind

%space
%1-5
I saw you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies’ skirts across the grass–
%3-5
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
%space
%1-5
I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all–
%3-5
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!
%space
%1-5
O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me?
%3-5
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song!


This was a little more complex because I’m going from the first level of list to the second. The braille clearly shows this. This portion took a little bit to understand, and I feel by giving you the assignment in full will not be productive. Instead, the samples should be used as a general guide of how to use percent codes to do an assignment like this. There is plenty more in this assignment that won’t be covered here, and so far I’m 10 pages in. I’ve got no idea how many pages it’ll be, and I have not asked.

What about the outline?

The outline is more challenging. The braille I think was put in 1-1 to force a braille reader to figure out the spacing on that. If I knew better and I tried this, I’d fail! Thanks to Mrs. Taylor for assisting with the basic concept of the outline. This outline should be shown in full, as it trumps the third poem’s 1-5 three-level aspect. Keep in mind, that when I did this, I kept looking at the B2K program asking for style info, and comparing it with what I had understood. Overall, I got it, and I’m looking forward to getting the last of the assignment done with a story and a recipe to go if I remember it correctly.

What has tripped me up is the fact that the titles are bolded and in braille, we don’t have the titles of these things in any emphasis. Remember that there may be words or other aspects that need their emphasis, so watch for that. This is true for the poetry aspect, as the third poem which is not shown may have words that have emphasis. As the student, you alone, need to check for these. The sampling here may or may not even include said emphasis, which is why I say that it should be used as samples of how I ended up doing things.

Here’s how I coded the outline.


%pager
%np
%head
NEW SCHOOL NEEDED
%runhead
NEW SCHOOL NEEDED
%1-11
I. Structural deterioration of existing Wilson High School building
%3-11
A. Damaged roof covering and rotting roof timbers
%5-11
1. Three major leaks during last year
2. Dust problem caused by termite damage
%3-11
B. Crumbling stairwells and broken handrails
C. Insufficient fireproofing and safety protection
%5-11
1. Four fires during last year
2. Denial of safety rating by city fire marshal
%7-11
a. Antiquated sprinkler system
%9-11
(1) Not enough outlets
(2) Not enough water pressure for sustained operation
%7-11
b. Inadequate electrical wiring
c. Insufficient fire-escape routes for current enrollment
%1-11
II. Inadequate education plan for current and projected enrollment at WHS
%3-11
A. Shortage of physical space
%5-11
1. No laboratory facilities for science students
2. Lounges and closet areas currently used for classrooms
%7-11
a. All tenth grade English classes
b. Three eleventh grade French classes
c. Two twelfth grade hygiene classes
%5-11
3. No gymnasium or locker-room facilities
%3-11
B. Shortage of equipment
%5-11
1. No ranges or ovens for home economics students
%np
2. No lights or bleachers on outdoor playing field
3. No spare athletic uniforms
%3-11
C. Shortage of money
%5-11
1. For new programs
%7-11
a. Cancellation of planned state workshop in teacher education
b. Curtailment of new art program
%9-11
(1) No money for supplies for sculpture students
(2) No money for demonstration lectures by local artists
%5-11
2. For teachers
%7-11
a. No money for much-needed additional general science teacher
b. No salary raises for WHS teachers in three years


This was quite complicated, and I know that people will want to see something like this. If you copied the text and put it in to braille2000’s editor, you can use the talking edition to be able to check the formatting and see if thats what you intended. When Miss Taylor indicated fixes because I miscalculated where I was and how it was memorized, it turned out that I could verify this through speak style and it tells me. I am glad Bob taught me speed braille, because I have 4 defined including that one.

The others are page, line, cell (speak as) read the line, and read the paragraph.

The purpose of this is not to have the discussion of what the speedbraille keys are, but to show you what I have done to make my work better.

The poetry and outlines aspect of Braille2000 and the transcription course makes this product work well for me. Even with Mrs. Taylor’s help with the understanding of transcribing poetry and outlines, I pretty much figured it out on my own. With checking with B2K and also a brailleout of the first poem, I’m sure that my assignment as a whole will be something I’m proud to be able to percent code and check, all on my own.

I’m still going to rely on a braille out of the assignment, because you can catch something that speech may not be able to tell you. You may be tired, and you may have made a mistake, so its better to also read it, especially with an assignment as complex as this.

Other transcription software packages rely on templates. B2K relies on its own editing tools, percent codes which can be used in Word, Wordpad, or Google Documents, or other compatible Rich Text editor(s) out there. The talking edition can be used to be able to check a portion of your work to determine if you the transcriber are doing it correctly.

There’s more than one way to possibly do work like this, and you may find a better way with the percent codes. I’m happy I have a choice, should you give this a try?

Why do you not want to try Braille2000 yet? The power I’ve given you just with these examples of the assignment still being done can show you what you’re capable of. Can the transcription software you chose do this?

If it does, I’d love to learn more! Templates in word may be good for some, but some don’t have word like me. Would those templates work within something like Google’s documents? Only you can decide, not me. I’m happy I have the choice on how I want to work on these documents, and I am sure that others may do theirs differently than this.

Thanks so much for reading, and do contact Bob or I through the B2K or transcribing as a blind person web sites and ask us questions on how this powerful software can work for you!

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Tech podcast 339: News, notes, Tmobile and Sprint merge, and Social Media Insites with Phishing

The RSS feed has the show notes which is short, but also the podcast.


Sprint and Tmobile murge, blog updates news notes and more, and Phishing insights and social media scams from a bebinar. Contact info at the beginning and end of the program.


Mixcloud will be getting the cast soon, and thanks so much for reading, listening, and participating! Its much appreciated!

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Social Security launching new campaign to fight scammers

I know someone who works at Social Security. They do different work there, and they sent me some things. This time, a newsletter full of things, an this one talks about fighting the scammers. Social Security Launches New Campaign to Fight Scammers is the name of the article. Letsspread the word!

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Nvda Version 2019.3.1 released, bringing support for new braille displays, screen curtain, more

Blind bargains is reporting the update of NVDA version 2019.3.1.This breaks some addon functionality as addons may need to update themselves, but screen curtain is braught in by default as part of this update.

Also, several braille displays from the Handitech corporation are introduced.

If you’d like to learn more, please check out the Blind Bargains posting about NVDA by clicking on the link.

Do you Use NVDA on a consistant basis and want to tell me all about your experience? No problem! Just contact me at and I’ll be happy to receive your report! Thanks so much for reading!

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