I rarely, if ever, promote anything political. However, this is something I feel very strongly about. Our bees are dying. Some species are recently extinct, while others are at 4% of their previous population. Bees are key to the health of global agriculture production. Many scientists believe neonicotinoids pesticides–among others types–are killing them. The EU has placed a temporary ban on some of these pesticides, as has Russia. Unfortunately, the US has been dragging its heels. Our leaders have a 5 year plan to review the spiraling bee deaths. Did I mention that 50% of California’s bee population died, last year? How many will die in five? Big business and agriculture are, of course, lobbying hard to prevent a ban. They’ve lined up their scientists for the contrarian view–as has been done with global warming science. But that’s part of the freedom of this country, which I love and support. Here’s the other free part:

I’ve just signed this petition calling on the US Congress to save the bees, and I would like you to join me:  Petition Link.

I think a temporary ban on these pesticides would be prudent, in the least, while more research is conducted. Google the science. Read through the below links. Then make up your own mind. I hope you sign. Thanks.

Link source:  AVAAZ.ORG

Mystery Malady Kills More Bees, Heightening Worry on Farms (NY Times):

Bee protection: US in spotlight as EU bans pesticides (The Guardian):

Legislation to restrict pesticide use proposed by Rep. Blumenauer (Oregon Live):

Some US bumblebees see 96% drop in last decades (Treehugger):

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Beware tech support fraud.

A client of mine–an elderly retired accountant in her 70’s–was scammed out of $280, yesterday.  Not through an online scam or a social phishing expedition which mines unsuspecting, trusting individuals for user names and passwords.  No, this was an old-school, retro type of scam… via telephone.  It did involve a computer, however.   Read more after the jump…

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New iPhone and Google Voice…

Briefly… I’ve been happily using a Google Voice (GV) number in place of my mobile number for the past year or so–for calls, texting and voicemail.  One of the features I like about GV is that I can forward missed calls on my mobile to their voicemail, giving me voicemail transcription and email/SMS notification.

Until this past Friday, I’ve used the same iPhone 3GS with GV.  Now that I’ve upgraded to the new 4S, I’ve discovered that my calls are no longer forwarded to GV–AT&T’s visual voicemail must get reset with each phone upgrade.  So, for anyone finding themselves in the same boat, here’s what to do:

Bring up your mobile phone’s keypad, then enter and call *61*your-mobile-number#This will re-forward everything back to GV.  (This is completely wrong for GSM phones.  On GSM networks–like AT&T in the US–the code for conditional forwarding is *004*.  So, to forward your mobile’s unanswered calls to GV, call *004*xxxxxxxxxx*11#, where X is your GV number.  Thanks to kbart’s guide for the correct way.)

For more info on Google Voice, follow the link:



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Beware Traffic Ticket E-Mails

Watch out for malicious traffic ticket e-mails.  They may contain a nasty little virus.

A client called me today saying he couldn’t launch any of his Windows applications.  All application icons had a red circle with a slash through it.  When he tried to open one, he’d get a warning message along the lines of the following:

“Your computer is infected!  Possible harmful infection was dected on your PC.  The system will now download and insall the most efficient spyware removal program to prevent private data loss and your identity theft.  Click here to protect your PC from the biggest spyware threats.

Everything had gone kablooey after clicking an email link regarding traffic tickets he thought was from the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.  Unfortunately, it was just another in a long line of malicious emails sent to the unsuspecting masquerading as legitimate.

For those interested, this was a standard user logged into a Windows 7 Professional machine with the latest updates of Symantec’s Norton Antivirus for SMBs.  So, even though the more recent versions of Norton Antivirus frequently wins Editors Choice and top marks for virus and malware protection, and Windows 7 is supposedly the most secure Windows OS yet, no computer is safe from attack.  To be secure, we have to pay attention to what we’re doing on the internet and develop good identity and computer safety habits.

Luckily, I was able to easily clean the infection with one of my malware go-tos–the free version of Malwarebytes anti-malware.  I recommend it for added protection to all my friends, family and clients with Windows computers.

So if you get an official looking email regarding traffic tickets…don’t open it!

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Timbuk2 – Excellent Bags… And Great Customer Service

I like to give credit where credit is due.  Especially for a vendor working in this modern world of marginalized customer service.  I’ve been using a Timbuk2 Commute laptop messenger bag for a while now–about four years.  I purchased it at the brick & mortar location of the The Bag House in Manhattan (excellent selection, people and prices) and have been using it pretty hard since.  Just recently, one of the strap swivels connecting the strap to a clip popped off.  I could click it back in, but it would no longer bear much weight–it was worn out.  I took a picture of it, sent it to Timbuk2 with a polite query regarding warranty and within the hour, they shipped me a new strap free of charge.  Wow.  Customer loyalty?  Yup.  The next bag I buy… will be a Timbuk2.  Great bags and great customer service.

UPDATE 10/12/11:  They sent me TWO straps.  Very cool.

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Shock and Awe, AT&T!


I just received a credit from AT&T for our wireless bill.

I am in shock.  I am awed.

Mysteriously, our AT&T bill went up $5.  Yeah, I know, five bucks, whoop-dee-doo.  But it adds up.  So, I compared an earlier bill to this month’s and found two sneaky, little line-item increases:


Credits/Adjustments/Other Charges   


Government Fees & Taxes   



Credits/Adjustments/Other Charges   


Government Fees & Taxes   


I called AT&T…

Me:  “Yeah, okay, so AT&T, what’s the deal with these Other Charges?”

AT&T:  “Um, you have added a $4.99 iPhone text messaging plan?”

Me: “Nope, always had a $4.99 text messaging plan.  Check the Other Charges.”

AT&T:  “Oh, I know!  You had insurance for your cell phone!”

Me: “Nope, haven’t had cell phone insurance for years.  And, you don’t offer insurance for the iPhone.  Check the Other Charges.”

AT&T:  Hmm.  Let me put you on hold and check the Other Charges.”

Me:  “Sigh.”

So, I was told these Other Charges/Taxes/Fees  can increase without warning.  I complained that we should at least receive a notification.  The customer service rep commiserated and gave me a $10 credit.

Other Charges:  Suck.

Commiseration and $10 credit:  Very Cool.

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I didn’t know you could do that!


Yup, there’s always something new to learn.  That goes double for computing.

Current Internet browsers have tabbed browsing–multiple web pages in multiple tabs, all in one tidy  browser window.  Click a tab to view.  Ctrl-click to open a link in a new tab.

But… if you have a mouse with a clickable scroll-wheel, aka  Mouse Button 3, (or an old mouse with three buttons sans scroll wheel), just click that–keyboard not needed.

I discovered this on the Google Chrome Blog.  I’ve been testing out Chrome as an alternative browser–have to say, very fast.  Of course, the rest of the popular browsers–IE, Firefox, Safari–do this, I just didn’t know!!!   (Man, it hurts to admit that.)

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A Conundrum of Cutting the Cord…


Nirvana for wireless network providers has to be when subscribers start using their network for all their communication needs.

I have many friends who exist, sans a land line, with only a cell phone.  And I think that’s just fine until you have to troubleshoot a problem with said cell phone–particulary a smartphone.

Let’s use AT&T Wireless for an example (currently, my favorite whipping company)…

They MUST do snoopy dances every time a subscriber picks them over a landline.  It probably goes something like this…

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Switching to iPhone – Day 6

syncerrorSync Errors…

If there ever was an example of the colorful acronym, SNAFU (Situation Normal: All F—-D Up), Technology would be the poster child–at least when it gets into my hands.

My wife is frequently telling me that for a guy who makes part of his living as a personal technology consultant, I sure have a lot of problems (we’re only talking tech problems here, you know). I personally think it’s bad karma–I might have been a cylon in another life.

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Camera Envy


Yes, I admit it. I have a terrible affliction. Some call it genetic, others, a blight upon the soul. Whatever it is, I will acknowledge and take responsibility for it. It is called… dun-dun dunnh!… Camera Envy (notice the caps).

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