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Need for a second, ‘throw away’, phone number

Back when e-mail was new, I learned that a second, ‘throw away’ email account might be of some value. Share your ‘real’ email address with friends and family. Share your ‘throw away’ email address with businesses that may become ‘spamy’.

Trash can with lid_md

In a similar vein, a recent article in the New York Times, “A 10-Digit Key Code to Your Private Life: Your Cellphone Number”, has prompted me to consider getting a ‘throw away’ phone number for security/privacy reasons. The article notes that two sets of digits may well be with you for life: your Social Security number and your cellphone number. “The cellphone number is more than just a bunch of digits. It is increasingly used as a link to private information maintained by all sorts of companies, including money lenders and social networks. It can be used to monitor and predict what you buy, look for online or even watch on television.”

With that in mind, I went snooping around the Internet for a free/cheap app that could provide a second phone number. AppCrawlr has a robust selection of apps, as well as ratings, for both Android and Apple phones. Neat! So, now it might just be time to get a ‘throw away’ number.

Have you used a second phone number app? If so, what did you select and what’s been your experience?

Credit Card Skimmers

Last weekend my bank called to say that they detected some fraudulent charges on my debit card.  The most frustrating part about this is that it's impossible to know how the crooks got a hold of my card number. 

Today I read an article on channel3000.com about credit card skimmers and it got me thinking that maybe this could be the method used to get my card information.  I've heard about skimmers but never really looked into them until today. I just assumed that a skimmer is something that someone puts inside a gas pump....I was wrong. It turns out that skimmers could be anywhere and we need to be vigilant before swiping our cards.  Skimmers have been found on gas pumps, self-checkout lanes at Walmart, many ATM's (in many forms), and even ATM enclosed vestibules that require a card swipe at the door.  Most skimmers use Bluetooth technology to wirelessly transmit the data to the thieves.  Here is a great article that will make you think twice before you swipe: https://krebsonsecurity.com/all-about-skimmers/

Here is an example of a skimmer that was placed over the ATM to look like it was part of the device.

On the left you'll see the skimmer in place and on the right you see the skimmer removed.

Image cred: https://www.engadget.com/2014/07/28/credit-card-skimming-explainer/

Downloading your Facebook account data

Note: Pat first wrote about this topic in 2010. Some things have changed since then, so I'm writing an updated post. 

I'm thinking about cleaning up some of my Facebook data (remove old photos, posts, etc.). Although I'm pretty sure that any photos I have posted on Facebook are also backed up somewhere else, I want to be sure that I don't lose anything. After some Googling, I discovered that you can download the data from your Facebook account.

To get started, click on the arrow in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and choose Settings.


From your General Account Settings page, click General on the left side of the screen.


At the bottom of the General Account Settings, click on the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.


A new screen will appear. Click the green Start my Archive button. You will get a pop-up noting that it will take a little while to gather the archive data. Follow the prompts to continue - clicking another Start my Archive button and entering your password. You will get a confirmation message pop-up when this is complete.


Check the email account for the email address associated with your Facebook account. You will receive an email from Facebook stating that a download has been requested. You will get a second email when the download is ready. For me, the second email came one minute after the first email, but my Facebook account is not that large (not that many photos and no videos).

To download the data, click on the link from the second email stating that your download is ready. (Note that you can also go back into your account and click the Download a copy of your Facebook data link.) A new screen will appear. Click the green Download Archive button. You will get a pop-up asking you to re-enter your password. 


After you have re-entered your password, the archive will download as a .zip file. Save the file on your computer and unzip the file to access the contents. Keep in mind that your Facebook data is private information. For more information on what information is included in your Facebook archive, see the Accessing your Facebook data help page

You will be able to download your archive for a few days after you receive the email with the archive link. I was able to download my archive three days later but Facebook does not state exactly how long it keeps the archive available. If your download link has expired, you can start the process over to generate a new archive.

The downloaded archive can be challenging to navigate. The index.htm file is a good place to start (you can open this file with a web browser). For some additional information on navigating the archive files, see http://www.idownloadblog.com/2016/01/18/how-to-download-facebook-archive/

Note to Self

A couple of weeks ago, I was able to listen to the final keynote session of The Digital Shift 2016 online conference* which featured Manoush Zomorodi. I hadn't heard of her or her podcast, Note to Self, and after her presentation, I immediately signed up and started listening.

What I found fascinating about her talk and her podcast is the focus on the human side of technology. A quote early in her talk captured my interest: "If we understand more about how we use our technology, we can understand ourselves better..." I like the focus on us as humans and how we can utilize technology to live better lives and not letting technology rule our lives.

BoredBrilliantAs part of her podcast, Manoush has done two projects - Bored & Brilliant and Infomagical - about the effect technology is having on our brains and our lives. For each project, she enlisted the help of her listeners and they really helped! 20,000 for Bored and Brilliant and 30,000 for Infomagical. Next fall, a book titled Bored and Brilliant: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Spacing Out will be released.

When I talk about building relationships as part of leadership or customer service, I often share an example of how we use our phone. Many of us use our phone as a watch and have it in our pocket or in our hands all the time. However, the perception of others when we get out our phone is that we're not engaged or present in the conversation. Listening to this keynote and reading about Manoush's book and projects reinforced this idea. It's a good reminder that our technology is a tool to help us and it's up to us to be purposeful in the use of it.

I love my phone and use it a lot and it's scary to think about changing how I use it on a daily basis. I'll be trying out the Infomagical challenges to see if I can get a handle on my information overload. Join me!

*If you missed the live broadcast of the 2016 Digital Shift conference, you can view the archives by selecting View Archive and registering. There's no cost to register and you can watch the archives at your convenience.


SnapchatHave you used Snapchat? Pictures, short videos, captions, and filters for fun/silly pictures make it great for keeping in touch with friends and family.  It's especially helpful for keeping up with a teenager I know who isn't so keen on TALKING, but who is very willing to send me quick snaps of her pets and recent activities. 

As a slightly-older-than-teenager adult, Snapchat was not intuitive to me. I had to have a lesson from the silent teenager's older sister, but how glad am I that I did -- it's a fun little program!

In August, I told you about TechBoomers.com, a free educational website that teaches people how to use popular websites and apps. This recent TechSoup for Libraries post discusses using TechBoomers as resource for library staff and patrons to quickly learn how to use things like Snapchat, Vine*, Pinterest, and Instagram. The full list of TechBoomers' social media courses can be found here. All of the TechBoomers content is Creative Commons licensed, and you are free to reuse it in your own technology training for patrons or staff.
*Did you hear the news? Twitter has announced it will be shutting down Vine in upcoming months.

Build a Font Using Your Own Handwriting

I stumbled upon a fun website last week.  It is called MyScriptFont.com.  The site allows you to build a font using your own handwriting.  It is pretty simple and quick.

  1. Go to MyScriptFont.com using your favorite web browser.
  2. Print off the pdf or png template.
  3. Use a medium-thick, black marker to fill out the template
  4. Scan the template.  You can save it as a jpg, png, pdf, jpeg or tiff file, but make sure the scan is less than 6,500 x 6,500 pixels.
  5. Upload the file.
  6. Name the font.
  7. Select TTF for the output format.
  8. Click Start.
  9. After the font is generated, click it and you will be able to save it to your PC.
  10. Install the font by double-clicking the font you just downloaded then click Install (Note: On SCLS PCs, you would need to call the Help Desk to have the font installed.)
  11. The next time you open Word or other supported product, you should see your font in the fonts drop-down box.

Here is how my font turned out.  Click to enlarge.

Andrew Font







My former co-worker, Michael, also created a font.

Michael Font




What is USB type C?

USB-C_Reversible_ picture came from BelkinA small 24-pin connector called USB type C will soon be replacing most if not all the connectors on your personal devices and laptops. Apple has already made the switch to USB C, they call it the lightning plug (remember the uproar recently when they got rid of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. Don’t worry; you can purchase an adapter for your headphones if I caught you by surprise there.)  What I like about this new cable is that it’s reversible and both ends are the same, so no more guessing which end goes where and which end is up.  The USB C port will be able to transfer audio, video, data and power.

This is just a quick post to let you know this is coming. I will have more information on it and how it will affect us coming up in January or February 2017.