A reader innocently called a tech support phone number he saw on the Brother printers website. It turned out to be a scam. Unlike "click bait," which leads users to fake news stories or other websites, this one goes after your wallet.
When our reader called the supposed tech support number, he was told the call center needed to take control of his Macbook Pro to fix a major problem. They said he had a lot of "stuck" and "sleeping" files (whatever those are), and added he needed to pay $299 a year for a firewall. Fortunately, he said "no."
He added: "They told me there was no way that I would get the printer to work without their firewall!" But he did after watching a tutorial on YouTube.
The same thing happened to our friend Ida last year. She went to the Brother printers site, called a number listed there, and was scammed. Joy used Windows' System Restore to get her computer working again. Remember: If it seems fishy, it probably is.
We like Brother printers OK, but this is a bad situation. We notified them about the problem more than six months ago. A spokesman wrote back and told us they were aware of everything and were working on it. Slow going; apparently they take a lot of coffee breaks.
PICK YOUR STATION
A reader said that when he asked his Google Mini to play music, the voice in the box said he didn't have a music plan. What is that? Well, you can turn on and tune in to any station in the world. And you can do it from one of the new home helper devices or your computer.
In the Google Home app on your phone, which you're asked to install after getting a Google Home device, you can set your music to the free version of Google Play Music, Spotify or Pandora. We subscribe to YouTube Red for $10 a month, to improve the range of music we get. Tap "Google Home," then the hamburger icon (three stacked lines), then "Music." Tap the service you want to use.
You can also say, "Hey Google, play KLRE radio," or your favorite station. It comes in from TuneIn Radio. Google isn't good at calling up radio stations from other states, however. But you can do that easily on your computer or phone. Search on "sports radio in New York," or whatever category and state you like.
If you have an Amazon Echo or Echo Dot, you get more choices including Amazon Music, Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, TuneIn, Gimme Radio, and Sirius. For a change, instead of asking Alexa for a favorite tune, we browsed the library on our phone in the Alexa app to get ideas. When we saw something we liked, we tapped and it started playing on the Amazon device. You can also listen to Amazon Music on your computer through the free "Amazon Music" desktop app.
But, the world is, if not your oyster, certainly your armchair traveler. You can tune in Afghan Radio just by searching Google. It comes right up -- very jazzy. For more meat and potatoes, try BBC Radio. This station alone can fill your entertainment budget for free; comedies, drama, books out loud, music, and 500-word bedtime stories for children.
We don't have the patience for video editing. What we like are programs that do all the work, like Fast Flick in the new Corel VideoStudio Ultimate 2018.
The $100 program finally makes it simple -- three clicks and you're done. Click to choose a template, click to add pictures and videos, click to add text. The result is amazingly professional. Our movie had fast dissolves, picture-in-picture, nice transitions and so on.
You can show multiple video streams simultaneously, remove distortion from wide-angle or action camera footage, create a video in 360 degrees, and create a stop-motion animation. Some of the tutorials are great, but the one on stop motion left a lot to be desired. You can get a free trial at videostudiopro.com.
If you just want a simple slideshow, try the free Google Photos at Photos.Google.com. Click "Create" and choose from nine templates, such as "They Grow Up So Fast," "Selfie Movie," "Doggie Movie," "Meow Movie," "Mother's Day Movie," and "In Loving Memory." For a Valentine's Day movie, Joy clicked on Bob's face, then hers, on a page that showed all the faces of family and friends appearing in previous photos. Google Photos automatically found photos with us in them and put them into a romantic slideshow with music. Can't beat the price.
Netflixhiddencodes.com takes you to a long list of very specific categories on Netflix that you might otherwise never find. For instance, what if you want ... "Alien Sci Fi," "Basketball Movies," "Movies for Ages 11 to 12," or "Quirky Romance?" Joy counted 221. How about "Steamy Thrillers?"
Medigo.com recommends medical care in clinics and hospitals abroad. Current estimate is that 1.5 million Americans have made these trips, sometimes called "medical tourism." Savings are huge. Bob's doctor said he is worried about the trend.
InformationIsBeautiful.net presents ideas in pictures. We liked the infographic on common fallacies, like thinking something must be true because an expert said it. This reminds Bob of Will Rogers' definition of an expert as "Someone who lives more than 50 miles from you and has a briefcase."
Bob and Joy Schwabach can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.
Business on 03/03/2018