Category Archives: TechTips

Tips to Protect Your Android Phone

Wondering how to safeguard your Android phone? You’ll want to read this blog entry!

Be sure to visit the TCEA TechNotes blog to read this entry.

Did this holiday season leave you with an Android device in your hands? If so, you’re not the only one. “Between them, Android and iOS accounted for 99.6 percent of all smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2016,” says James Vincent (Gartner as cited in The Verge). “Of the 432 million smartphones sold in the last quarter [2016], 352 million ran Android (81.7 percent) and 77 million ran iOS (17.9 percent).”According to Google, as cited by MacRumors, over two billion Android devices are in use around the world. Unfortunately, more Android devices means more opportunities for malware and hacking. Join me as we explore some of the apps that can protect you from malware, hackers, and intrusion. Don’t be afraid to pass these tips to your children/students as they begin to explore the wild, wild world of Android. After all, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD/BYOT) initiatives are ever-increasing in schools.

Note: One handy app that I used to get a list of all the apps on my Android phone is List My Apps. This app makes it simple to get your Android app list emailed to you with links.

#1- Anti-Malware Tool

While there are many anti-malware tools in the Google Play store, not all are safe. For example, some anti-malware tools may masquerade as helpful tools to capture your sensitive data. With an Android device, just like the Windows operating system, you may put yourself at risk without anti-malware tools. Tom’s Guide provides a list of tools. My favorite one, though, is BitDefender Mobile Security for $15 a year. The app offers a host of features, making sure you don’t let malware install itself or hitch a ride on existing apps. You can lock individual apps to prevent others from opening them; useful if you lose your phone while it is unlocked. This is quite important, especially if you decide to take foolish advantage of third party apps (e.g. GetJar) not approved in the Google Play store.

Did You Know?If you lose your phone, you can use Android’s Find My Device feature to locate it via GPS or remotely wipe the information on it. Wow! To turn that on, go to your phone’s Settings, then Google then Security. If you have not done so already, make sure to get the Find My Device app. Setup is a snap.

#2- Protecting Your Camera and Microphone Access

Did you know that the camera and microphone on your device can be activated remotely? Worse, once activated, you can be spied upon.

Researchers have discovered a design flaw in Android that can be used to remotely capture screenshots or record audio… without the user’s knowledge or consent. (Source)

Two apps that I use on my Android phone to protect against this include Camera Blocker and Microphone Block Free. Each offers a free version that will allow you to flip the ON/OFF switch on your camera or microphone. You can turn these off when you need to snap a picture or answer your phone.

#3- Prevent Robo Spam Calls

Finding yourself receiving an unending stream of robocalls and spam? Give Hiya a try. It features “spam detection and call blocking capabilities.” These help you “avoid unwanted and dangerous calls.” This app has blocked countless calls to my mobile phone. On Android, Hiya pops up with caller ID to let me know who is calling. This allows me to decide if I want to waste my time responding. For phone numbers not in the Hiya database, I have the option of adding new numbers.

Hiya Call Block Security identifies the calls you want to take and blocks the numbers and texts you want to avoid. Hiya is free (no ads!), and is incredibly easy to use. It offers the ability to block calls, blacklist unwanted phone numbers and SMS text messages, reverse phone search incoming call information, and receive spam alerts.

The best way to win an argument with a telemarketer or spammer is to avoid it. Younger phone users may not know how to say “no.” Get them Hiya so they can avoid a data-compromising conversation.

#4 – Virtual Private Network (VPN)

If you are using public WiFi, make sure to get a virtual private network (VPN) solution. You can find a great overview of why you should use a VPN over at Pixel Privacy. Here’s why a VPN is such a great idea:

A laptop and mobile device user visits her favorite coffee shop, connecting to the free Wi-Fi hotspot to access the internet. She uses the unprotected hotspot to pay bills, do her banking and shop on Amazon. Meanwhile, a quiet young man sits in the corner, sipping his latte and monitoring her internet connection, stealing valuable personal and business information.

Packet sniffing happens all the time. Use a free solution like Opera VPN or a subscription service like Private Internet Access (PIA).

#5- Password Manager

Keeping track of a million passwords can be quite a hassle. Two tools I have found helpful include Secure Space Encryptor (SSE) and/or KeePassDroid. Both work on your mobile phone. You can keep track of your usernames and generate more complex passwords than “password” or “dragon.” In future Android-related blog entries, we’ll take a look at additional tools you can use to safeguard your data.  

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Exploring @Spyrus_inc Windows To Go (Part 2)

A short time ago, I posted Part 1 of my review of SPYRUS Windows To Go live drive, which essentially gives you a computer on a USB stick with a LOT more “oomph.” I’m actually writing Part 2 of this blog entry on my Surfacebook, and it’s humming along without any issues.

Find out more at Spyrusnews

Here are a few takeaways:

Takeaway #1 – Consistent Across Win10 Devices

When I began the adventure with Spyrus, I started on a Lenovo W540 Thinkpad. I did a lot of configuration before saving my settings and shutting down the machine. I expected there to be a few issues when I hooked up the Spyrus Windows To Go drive to my Surfacebook, but, believe it or not, there wasn’t a one! The start up process worked flawlessly. All I had to do was click on SHIFT at Shut Down time, select USB Storage as my startup/boot, and Spyrus loaded without any problems.

As I type this, Windows 10 on Spyrus live drive is pulling down all the drivers for my connected devices, everything from my Apple USB ethernet Adapter (hey, I already had one laying around, why buy a Microsoft only one?) to connected monitors, Surface keyboard, mice, etc.

Takeaway #2 – Installing Apps…Easy

You might think that installing programs on a portable drive would result in a performance hit, but that was NOT the case! I was able to quickly copy my installer files onto the live Drive from my own Windows 10 machine, then once booted up, install the programs. The process was quick.

Takeaway #3 – Storage Capacity

You may not have noticed on the images I shared in Part 1 of the actual Spyrus I received, but the capacity is 32GB. Surprisingly, I wondered if this would be enough. Of course, it is. Even after loading more programs on the device, there seems plenty of room left over for files and more. I can just imagine that if I’m using cloud storage (e.g. OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox) I will be able to easily access content and save more online. Right now, I have about 5.92 gigs of space available. I’m sure I could lighten the load but 5gigs can go a long ways without cloud storage enabled.

Overall Takeaway

You know, this is pretty nice. I’m wondering what would be the easiest way to get a registered Windows 10 Pro loaded on the Spyrus Windows To Go live drive. This makes jumping from device to device so much easier!

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Managing Your Chrome Add-Ons

This is a test…the screen for this blog entry should be blank, but if viewed in an RSS reader, all the content appears. 🙂

These add-on managers not only allow you to disable or remove add-ons you may get while exploring; they may also work conditionally, meaning they work differently depending on the website you happen to be on.

Two fantastic Google Chrome add-ons that you might want to consider include the following:

  • SimpleExtManager: A simple menu to enable, disable, and access extension options
  • Extensity: Quickly enable/disable Google Chrome extensions

These image add-ons that can enhance how you interact with images via Chrome.

  • Unsplash Instant: Every time you open a new tab, you will see a beautiful “high-resolution Unsplash photo that you can save and/or use as you like.
  • Hover Zoom: Enlarge image thumbnails on mouse over while surfing the web. Works on many sites, including Google Image Search, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Reddit, Amazon, Tumblr and others. An alternative is Imagus.
  • TinEye Reverse Image Search: Find out where an image came from, how it’s used, or find resolution versions. This is a great one for projects where you or your students forget just exactly what the source for a internet-garnered image is.
  • Pixabay Image Search: Hoping to find great pics that are copyright friendly? Pixabay Image Search will take you straight to available images.
  • Image Downloader: Allows you to get and save all the images on a web page with many options.
  • Images On/Off: This allows you to turn images on or off when visiting a web page, which can be handy.
  • Save to Google Drive: Save web content or screen capture directly to Google Drive.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Anatomy of Tracking Links in Computer Science PRnewswire

As any blogger knows, you are going to get a few zillion emails advertising materials and information to share. Worse, you will get 2-3 follow-up emails in case you “missed” the first one (which you actually deleted but forgot to add to the spam list). Sometimes that works well, other times, it does not.

Note: The best thing to do if you are curious is to copy and paste the simple link…avoid clicking on it.

See the complete infographic

Embedded Tracking Links
So here’s one of those emails…you may find the resources handy, as well as the approach the PR person took, worthy of study. Notice that each of the links is actually not as it appears. There are hidden “trackers” in the link that appears.

For example, consider the first link in the resources, Guide to K-12 STEM Resources for Teacher by Norwich University. The link shown appears like this:

That’s pretty straightforward, right? But let’s look at the underlying HTML (code) of the actual link, rather than the text that is linked above:

Wow, you can see there’s a LOT going on behind the scenes. Instead of visiting Norwich Online website, which is touted as a “Norwich University,” we see that it’s a click-tracker offered by Cision’s

Cision distribution by PR Newswire empowers communicators to identify and engage with key influencers, craft and distribute meaningful stories, and measure the financial impact of their efforts. Cision is a leading global provider of earned media software and services to public relations and marketing communications professionals. Learn how to communicate like never before with the Cision Communications Cloud®. Follow Cision on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and on Cision’s blog.

But wait, there’s more to this first link! So, this is an online university. You can read a review about it here, as well as other places on the web. Whether these online university programs are legitimate or not, I’m not sure that their legitimacy is strengthened by an email campaign.

There’s a lot hidden behind that link, right?

The next link in the list is to an infographic. The infographic is hosted at the University of Cincinatti, again an online graduate program. Look at the difference between the link you see and the actual link you click on:

Simple Link:

Click-Tracking Link:

Learn how to avoid click tracking in your email from this blog entry. Those annoying emails and click-tracking links aside, you may find something of value from online graduate programs that are doing anything they can to get you to visit their site and get you to give them your money. 

Click-Tracking Email with Pseudo-STEM Links

Note: Below is the full-text of the email sent to me.

As you may know, Computer Science Education Week starts next week on December 4. This week aims to raise awareness of the need to bolster computer science education around the world by encouraging teachers and students to host computer science events throughout the week. These events can include teacher-guided lesson plans, participating in the Hour of Code, watching computer science videos, or using your own resources to help inspire interest among students. It is for this reason that I wanted to share a few computer science resources with you that were just published by renowned universities. I believe these resources can provide K-12 students with valuable information about different career fields that an interest in computer science can lead to, from education and health information management, to electrical engineering.

These resources are free to publish and share. I’m more than happy to work with you to publish these resources in a way that works with your site’s formatting as well. Please let me know if you are interested in publishing any of these resources, have any questions, or would like me to write custom introductions for the resources.

Thanks in advance,
Audrey Willis
Circa Interactive
PO Box 70207
San Diego, CA 92167

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Apple TV Grumblings

When I first bought my Apple TV (approx $100), I remember being excited about the possibilities. It was the same kind of feeling I had when I bought a Chromecast for small portion of the price. Although the excitement hope-filled, it soon gave way to disillusionment. I’m not sure where my Apple TV ended up (maybe I took it to work and lost it there in the obsolescence bin), but I don’t use it.

In fact, the Roku device I have is probably my best investment for home entertainment. I know others have been successful, but Roku was the easiest. Way to go, Roku!

Read my latest TCEA Responds

Still, in spite of this experience and others in trying to support Apple TV, I was pleased to write a response to a question sent in. My favorite part of the blog entry, in addition to the list of examples for uses with links, is the alternatives section:

If your school or district has not yet invested in an Apple TV, you might consider a software solution instead. Here are three software alternatives that cost less money than an Apple TV:

As you can see, I still have trouble recommending spending so much money on hardware when software will do the trick.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

AL DíA: Digital Flipbooks

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been having fun playing around with Animated GIFs. As a challenged artist (I’m still trying to draw stickmen well), animated GIFs seemed quite beyond me. Not the animation itself, but rather, animating some drawing that I had made. What joy to discover how to make tutorials.

An animated GIF is a series of sequential frames played in order with a delay between them to create the illusion of movement. Those frames are all contained within a single GIF file that holds all the still images along with instructions on how fast to go through them. It’s a little digital flipbook. Source: Popular Mechanics

I’ve included a link to some of my animated GIF resources in my blog entry at TCEA.

Read the blog entry

My go to tools for creating animated GIFs, an excerpt of the ones I mention in the blog entry linked above, include:

  • (Free): You can use this web-based tool to create animated GIFs. 
  • GIF Toaster (iOS; Free): You can take a series of photos (or screenshots on your iOS device), then arrange them as an animated GIF. 
And, when creating animations from Google Slides, I have found Slides to Drive add-on or Chrome extension worthwhile helper.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

Managing Multiple Accounts with Firefox Quantum Browser

Hoping that Mozilla Firefox browser had recaptured its mojo, providing a nice alternative from Google Chrome, I downloaded the new Firefox Quantum browser earlier this evening. I was prepared for a slow, clunky browser, barely able to limp along under the weight of taxing add-ons. One add-on that I promptly installed is the Multi-Account Containers add-on. It’s a life-saver for those of us with multiple email accounts, striving to keep personal, work, whatever separate at the browser cookie level.

What about Firefox Quantum?
I am pleased to share that the new Firefox Quantum browser zips right along, at least as fast as Chrome. My perception on my Surfacebook was that it was faster than Chrome browser. Get it online for your platform of choice, including mobile. You can read it’s main features on their website.

It’s zippy and that’s good enough for me. More importantly, the Multi-Account Containers add-on works great.

Multi-Account Containers
This awesome add-on makes it easy to create a variety of containers to house your stuff. What’s neat about that? It keeps all the browser cookies with one account separate from others. You could set one up to use just with Facebook (prevent Facebook spying of where you go), another with your personal Gmail, and yet another for work Gmail (prevent co-mingling of content, searches, etc.).

Firefox Multi-Account Containers lets you keep parts of your online life separated into color-coded tabs that preserve your privacy. Cookies are separated by container, allowing you to use the web with multiple identities or accounts simultaneously.

Isn’t that incredible? Here’s what mine look like right now:

Here are a few of the screens that pop up with Firefox while visiting Facebook:

As you can see, I have Blogger open. This allows me to also designate certain websites as “Always open in…” the appropriate account. I go to a work website, designate it as “Always open in Work” and never have to worry about it again. No more having to pick which Google account I want to use anymore. Pretty nifty, huh?

“A new study finds hundreds of sites—including,, and—employ scripts that record visitors’ keystrokes, mouse movements, and scrolling behavior in real time, even before the input is submitted or is later deleted.” As Steven Englehardt reports in the study, “This data can’t reasonably be expected to be kept anonymous. In fact, some companies allow publishers to explicitly link recordings to a user’s real identity.” via Stephen Downes

Give it a try, and keep those companies in the dark! And, here are a few other tools to protect privacy:

  1. AdBlock for Firefox/Chrome – Blocks banners, pop-ups and video ads – even on Facebook and YouTube and Protects your online privacy
  2. Facebook Privacy List for Adblock Plus – Enhances AdBlock Plus.
  3. Facebook Disconnect for Chrome and Firefox – Facebook is notified whenever you visit one of the more than one million sites on the web that use Facebook Connect and has a history of leaking personally-identifiable information to third parties. This turns off data flow.
  4. Disconnect.Me – Blocks ad-trackers, social widgets, etc. Although free, you will be asked to donate. Your choice.
  5. Priv3 for Firefox – The Priv3 Firefox extension lets you remain logged in to the social networking sites you use and still browse the web, knowing that those third-party sites only learn where you go on the web when you want them to. All this happens transparently, without the need to maintain any filters. Priv3 is free to use for anyone.
  6. Ghostery – Ghostery looks for third-party page elements (or “trackers”) on the web pages you visit and notifies you that these things are present, and which companies operate them. If you wish, choose to block the trackers they operate.
  7. Do Not Track Plus, and for fun,
  8. HTTPS Everywhere

If you really want to protect yourself, use The TOR Browser Bundle.

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure