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A selection of relevant products available direct from Amazon. You'll find lots more practical info in various articles on my website.

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Sunday
Sep272015

How to cancel BT Caller Diversion

BT offers several features that you pay extra for (of course!). If you try to cancel any of them online, you might sleepwalk into signing up for another 12 months of line rental. I tried cancelling Caller Diversion online and 1571 by phone, and ended up being sold another 12 month line contract that I did not want. Here's what to watch out for, to help you avoid this trap.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Sep072015

Dremel 3D Idea Builder lands in UK

Look what Dremel have sent me to play with! Their 3D 'Idea Builder' Printer which is launching in the UK on 1st September.

I'm looking forward to taking it for a test run so watch this space for any updates and news.

 

Monday
Sep072015

Beware spearphishing mail 'Apple-ID login suspended'

I just received a highly authentic-looking mail supposedly from Apple to say that my Apple ID had been suspended due to an unusual number of failed log-in attempts.  I’m supposed to log in and change my password. It's perfectly formatted.

Phony junk mails like these are commonplace but unlike most spam mails this one contained both my ‘work’ Email address and my name, so it’s likely a spearphishing attack caused by someone else’s PC and address book being hacked, or a database has maybe been stolen from somewhere.

However the click-thru 'verify' link goes to apple-verification2.co.uk  (it’s rare for a .co.uk domain to be used this way) and a quick check on Nominet reveals the domain is registered in the USA - but not to Apple!

http://www.nominet.uk/whois/?query=apple-verification2.co.uk#whois-results

Anyway, it almost had me fooled. Crooks are getting ever more sophisticated as they continue to hone their techniques, and clicking on a phony page like this could infect your PC with a serious virus that could steal your ID, bank logins or even damage your hard disk. It just goes to show how vigilant you have to be.

Thursday
Aug202015

Life after Clearmymail

I must say that life without Clearmymail hasn't been bad after all. Seems my ISP (or the network in general) filters out most of the spam before it reaches my mailbox, and in truth I am only seeing maybe half a dozen spam messages a day.

The free version of Mailwasher handles one POP3 mailbox and lets me screen out any junk before it is fetched onto my PC, and I can also bounce back any unruly mail.  It does a very good job of analysing incoming mail. The paid-for Mailwasher Pro ($29.95 per year, 3 machines) handles multiple POP3s and enables the Message Preview pane. It also syncs to mobile devices. A lifetime licence, though, is about £60 / US$100 which is pushing it a bit.

If you like to manage mail the traditional way - on your PC - Mailwasher is worth a close look.

  • Clearmymail is still in business and their website is here.
  • Check my earlier Clearmymail blog entries here
Monday
Jul272015

My Hermes and how to phone them...

An item on the Royal Mail's scandalous parcel rates, details of My Hermes as an alternative carrier that's much cheaper for heavier parcels, and how to phone My Hermes as you won't find their phone number on their website!

Click to read more ...

Friday
Jul172015

View your Credit Rating for free

There’s been a gradual move in the UK credit reference market towards getting people to subscribe to a service that monitors their credit rating. One pretty tenuous justification behind selling this idea is that if someone impersonated you in order to make a dodgy loan application, or they perpetrated an identity theft scam and defaulted on some finance deal, then this would damage your (genuine) credit rating – so by monitoring your rating, if it plummeted suddenly then you would know something was wrong.

Hence the two mainstream agencies Equifax (£14.95 a month) and Experian (£14.99) offer subscription services to help monitor your rating or check out anything untoward on your credit file. A Statutory Report is available at £2 a time. However a third UK agency called CallCredit has been a gamechanger in this field. Instead of trying to tie you in to nearly £170-worth a year of credit monitoring that I would suggest you don’t really need, Callcredit offers a consumer-friendly service under its Noddle brand to give you basic checking and a view of your history all for free, as I wrote back in 2012 here.

Noddle has now gone a stage further by offering users a chance to see their credit rating, again for free. Now anyone can log into their Noddle account and see their credit rating instantly. A 3-digit value is displayed.

I did notice the values don’t seem to tally with those provided by e.g. Experian http://www.experian.co.uk/consumer/experian-credit-score.html  For example the values for a Good or Excellent rating on Noddle equate to Poor on Experian. But it’s still officially ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ as far as Callcredit is concerned.

Noddle also offers a range of credit rating monitoring, protection and improvement services that are far cheaper than their rivals so log into Noddle now and see what your rating is for free.

Everything you need to know about credit reference agencies will be found at the Information Commissioner’s office website at https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/credit/

 

 

Tuesday
Jun092015

Basic Soldering Guide by Alan Winstanley.pdf.exe – Torrent Malware warning

It’s come to my attention that a pirated copy containing malware is starting to circulate in the Torrent network. As always, this is fuelled by people’s greed, fools trying to download something for nothing and coming unstuck in the process.

A phony copy of my book has been disguised as a PDF but it's actually a small executable (.exe or program) file called The Basic Soldering Guide - Alan Winstanley.pdf.exe. I have nothing to do with this file. It points to an illegal, pirated version of my original ebook, presumably hacked from Kindle. The .exe tacked onto the end should immediately cause alarm bells to ring. When you try to fetch this file for ‘free’ from Torrent websites, it tries to drop a suspiciously small .exe onto your system that will then install Malware, tricking you into thinking that it’s installing a pirated PDF.

Torrent malware tries to drop this small "PDF" as an executable program file [click to see]It should not be run under any circumstances or it will install harmful malware onto your system that may prove very difficult to get rid of, or could cause permanent damage.

Downloads folder (IE11) shows filename and signatory [click to see]A programmer named as Yuriy Drachev has been associated with this malware. That name also popped up when I analysed the .exe – see screenshot above. It is possible the name is false or spoofed but see FreeFixer which identified the same issue at  http://www.freefixer.com/b/yuriy-drachev-virustotal-detects-the-download-as-multiplug/

and Herd Protect  http://www.herdprotect.com/.pdf.exe-6a2826f148db59af2f210c66facf85642fbe5b0a.aspx

The good news is that Kindle sales of my 'BSG' are higher than ever. The only way to get a clean, malware-free copy of the Basic Soldering Guide by Alan Winstanley is via your local Amazon site. A hardcopy paperback is also on sale, and a spiral-wirewound layflat version for education and benchwork is sold on Magcloud.

Don’t be fooled by innocent-looking files fetched from the dark web. Some downloads and file attachments could even destroy your system completely – such as the deadly Rombertik virus that arrives in a small screensaver (.scr) file but will try to smash your hard disk MBR and render your PC useless.  See Cisco’s log at http://blogs.cisco.com/security/talos/rombertik if you don't believe this.

Monday
May182015

How to store a spare car battery at home?

I had a spare car battery that's good enough for running 12V accessories or maybe an inverter, the problem was how to store it safely at home. I found the solution in a battery box used in the caravan and marine sector. More details...

Friday
May012015

Full list of constructional projects

I've posted a page of web links to the article PDFs of all my constructional projects. You can access it here.

Thursday
Apr302015

Teach-In 93 Mini Lab gerber files

Teach-In 93 Mini LabAgainst all the odds the PCB design files for the EE Teach-In 93 Mini Lab have been found and offered by its designer and co-writer Keith Dye. I have zipped them up for free download here. It's all there is and I can't help with any design questions, sorry.