Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Automatic Android App Updates

How to Disable Automatic Updates of Android Apps

By default, most apps you install on your Android device are set to update automatically. There are a whole slew of Google apps that you may not even use, but they were default apps that cam installed on your phone. If you are set to update apps automatically (again, the default), periodically these things start to download and install. If this is going on when I try to do something on my phone, the operation slows to a crawl or even becomes completely unresponsive.

After some poking around, I found how to change the settings so automatic updates don’t happen. I can now choose the updates I want and when I want them to occur. Continue reading

OneDrive – More Than Just a Name Change

Recently, Microsoft changed the name of their Skydrive cloud storage to OneDrive. That change was prompted by a copyright lawsuit that they lost.

But today, Microsoft changed more than just the name. And that’s good for consumers.

Previously, you got 7 GB of cloud storage for free or 20 GB if you are an Office 365 subscriber.

Today’s announcement ups that to 15 GB for free and a whopping 1 TB if you are an Office 365 subscriber. The incentive to get your Office software by subscription just got a lot bigger. With 1 TB for documents, photos, whatever, you’re not likely to run of of cloud storage space soon. You can now save your stuff to OneDrive without worrying much about the quota.

“Malvertising” – Be Careful What You Click On Even on Reputable Sites

Malicious advertisements on reputable and popular Websites like Facebook, Disney, and even The Guardian newspaper have been detected to redirect clicks to sites that will infect your computer with Ransomware. Many other reputable Websites are undoubtedly also involved. This is what makes this kind of malware so sacary, since you expect Websites like those mentioned above to be trustworthy. The Website owners may not even know their site is making their users vulnerable, but you are vulnerable none-the-less.

If you click on one of the malicious advertisements, you may be led to malware that encrypts a computer’s files and demands a ransom before you can recover your files.

There’s no sure fire way to detect such advertisements on a Website. Just don’t click ANYTHING out of curiosity alone. Be darn sure your interested in what you’re clicking on. And backup – backup – backup just in case you become a victim.


Popular Encryption Software TrueCrypt Unexpectedly Shuts Down

TrueCrypt Is No More??? A shocker!

I have relied on TrueCrypt for at least a couple of years now, as have so many others, to encrypt sensitive files on my computer. It’s been a highly regarded standard for keeping private and sensitive information away from potential prying eyes.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, those behind the TrueCrypt software have shut down their download page,, and redirected it to with this message…

WARNING: Using TrueCrypt is not secure as it may contain unfixed security issues

This page exists only to help migrate existing data encrypted by TrueCrypt.

The development of TrueCrypt was ended in 5/2014 after Microsoft terminated support of Windows XP. Windows 8/7/Vista and later offer integrated support for encrypted disks and virtual disk images. … You should migrate any data encrypted by TrueCrypt to encrypted disks or virtual disk images supported on your platform.

The page goes on to give step-by-step instructions on how to migrate from TrueCrypt to Microsoft’s BitLocker.

This mysterious action caught everyone off guard, especially since the open source TrueCrypt recently passed an independent security audit. The developers of TrueCrypt have not responded to queries about their sudden abandonment of the project.

See this article for alternatives to TrueCrypt.

Surface Pro 2 / Now Surface Pro 3

  • Is it a tablet?
  • Is it a notebook?
  • Is it a desktop?

I’ve been intending to write about the Surface Pro 2 for so long but never quite got around to it. Now, my procrastination has resulted in me being scooped by the next generation Surface Pro from Microsoft, the Surface Pro 3. Finally, putting fingers to keyboard, I’ll review them both here.

Continue reading

Watch Out for Emails with These Subject Lines

Email “phishing” scams are down in number but apparently up in effectiveness, according to this article.

Phishing emails, posing as a message from a reputable company or organization, attempt to lure you to click through to a legitimate looking Website. Once on the site, you may be asked to complete a form requesting personal and financial information. In addition, serious malware may be downloaded to your computer by the mere act of going to the malicious Website. Just the act of clicking on the link in the email may set you up for all kinds of troubles.

It’s a little bit long, but if you’re concerned about your privacy and security, this article is worth a read.

More >>>

Serious Malware Alert – Ransomware Locks Your Files

CryptoLocker … SERIOUS BAD NEWS!

One of the nastiest pieces of malware in a long time is striking computers all over the world. You could be next.

CryptoLocker belongs to a family of malware known as “ransomware.” But unlike other forms of ransomware, which lock up your computer and prevent you from using it until you pay the criminal’s ransom demand, CryptoLocker leaves your computer functional. Instead in locks up all your files with military-grade encryption. The only way you can recover you files is to pay the ransom (reportedly $300.00) within 72 hours. If you don’t pay within that time period, the encryption key is destroyed and your files are gone for good.

CryptoLocker locks up everything: your word processor files, spreadsheets, financial records, music files, all your treasured pictures. Everything … it’s all gone, lost forever, unless you pay up.

This one is really scary. No computer repairman is going to be able to solve this for you. An antivirus program should be able to remove CryptoLocker from your computer, but it cannot recover your files. Once your files are encrypted, you have no recourse but to pay off the cyber criminals and then HOPE they respond to release your files. At least one victim reports that once the ransom was paid, the files did begin to decrypt.

How You Get Infected

The only good news, if you can call it that, is that the malware is delivered in kind of an old-fashioned way, as an attachment to email. The attachment usually looks like a common zip file or pdf document. If you click the attachment, an executable file is launched, and you are toast!

In my computer security class I preach, “Never open an email attachment unless you have personal knowledge of what is being sent.” YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

 How to Protect Yourself

The only way to recover your valuable files if you become infected with CryptoLocker (other than by paying the ransom) is to have a current backup. First you must remove the CryptoLocker malware with a good anti-virus program; then restore your files from a recent backup. Your backup must be a stand-alone snapshot of your entire computer system. Backup systems that constantly make synchronized copies of your files won’t work, because the synchronized backup will have overwritten your good files with the encrypted ones before you know you have a problem. Also, to prevent access to your backup files by CryptoLocker, backup drives should be disconnected form your computer and your network when not in use.


For more information on CryptoLocker, see the online article: Nasty new malware locks your files forever, unless you pay ransom.