Showing posts with label Websites. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Websites. Show all posts

Google Blogger / Blogspot Users: Beware Revert to Draft

Here's an important tech SEO warning for webmasters who use Blogger aka/ Blogspot. A true Blogger booby trap and minefield.

This happened to me.

If you revert a published web page or blog post to draft mode for whatever reason and then re-publish, Blogspot will change your URL and not tell you! At which point anyone arriving from a search engine or any other source will immediately get a 404-file-not-found. In other words, you've lost everything. That post (whether being used as a web page or a blog post) no longer exists to the search engines, social media, or anywhere else your former URL is listed. All gone, you are back to zero. Your former URL is gone and your new URL will have to be discovered and shared all over again.

To clarify, this is about what Blogger calls "posts"; I don't know if Blogger does the same thing to what Blogger calls "pages", nor do I intend to find out. Also, I'm not talking about the usual editing/updating routine we all do to our published posts (whether being used as a web page or a blog post). I'm talking about the reverting of a published post to draft mode and then republishing it. Don't ever do that. If you do, you have effectively just murdered your web page or blog post. If you have done it recently and been wondering why your traffic for that post suddenly cratered to zero, that is the reason.


Fortunately I found a way to at least partially salvage the situation. You can go to "Settings" and then "Search preferences". There you will find "Custom Redirects". You can put the former and new URLs there. So at least I got my traffic back, but I'm sure the search engines are thrilled, now that they will be thinking I've got duplicate pages on my website. And I'm wondering if my search ranking for that page is going to drop dead when the redirection is discovered.

Blogger needs to implement a warning prompt when a user is about to do something that will change an URL. I mean seriously, they are not idiots and know how serious an URL change can be.

Why couldn't this have happened to one of my low-traffic articles? No, it had to happen to one of my top performers. The life of an online writer..., where the adventures never end. Oh, well. At least I hope this post saves a few kindred souls from similar fates.

Help with Medical Bills Federal and State Websites

These websites will actually help you when a medical entity victimizes you with inflated or outright fraudulent medical bills and/or denied insurance claims.

This includes hospitals, general doctors, specialists, X-ray places, CT scan or PET scan centers, blood test places, and pretty much any other medical facility or entity that engages in illegal or unethical conduct. Emphasis is on illegal, unethical contracts and on illegal, unethical billing practices. Also includes resources regarding insurance company misconduct or for when a Medicare, Medicaid, or Medi-Cal case worker makes a mistake or acts in bad faith. Sooner or later, you will need the information on this page.

Medical Federal and California (and other) State Government Websites That Will Help You When an Insurance Company or Service Provider Victimizes You – Also Some Worthwhile Additional Information


Patients Rights Help and Support Resource List

A list of resources regarding the rights patients are legally supposed to have. Many provide complaint forms and will actually help you. All listed websites are government or other well-known, reputable resources. All links go directly to the website's patients rights page and/or patients help page.
  • MedlinePlus, from the U.S. Library of National Medicine.
  • HealthCare.gov, your rights under the Affordable Care Act.
  • Medicare.gov, your Medicare rights.
  • The Medicare Beneficiary Ombudsman. , a resource for filing complaints, grievances, appeals, etc.; in other words, a place to rat out medical service providers. The page also promises to provide information, help, assistance, and other services. The page is apparently also the starting point for when you need to deal with Medicare's own shenanigans.
  • CMS.gov, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. The particular link I provided has to do with Consumer Information & Insurance Oversight. The page may not especially look it, but these guys are your friend. Sometimes, out of the blue and without any action on your part, they will send you notices a particular medical bill from a medical service provider or insurance entity is not valid and that you don't have to pay it. This website is definitely worth prowling around when you have the time.
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH), the go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • Office of the Patient Advocate (OPA), another go-to page for filing medical complaints in California.
  • CDSS is another California site that my be able to help you, especially as applies to local office Medi-Cal screw-ups.
  • Google. For folks not in California, simply do a search for:
    "YourStateNameHere patients rights site:.gov" (without the quotes and be sure to include the exact "site:.gov" syntax).
If a link suddenly stops working, it means the website moved that particular page. Let me know in the comments section and I'll find and post the new location.

Some Tips for When Dealing with the Medical Bureaucracy

  • The Medicare 1-800-633-4227 number is open 24/7. They have always been friendly, professional, and helpful.
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time. Whenever possible make sure the medical treatment specifications match what the Medicare white book says. This is mostly applicable to preventive services. Not kidding here, make sure the doctor's instructions exactly match what the white book specifies. I've personally saved myself one financial disaster already by doing this.
  • Never walk into a medical service provider's diagnostic center without the proper Medicare COPD 5-digit code included on the referral paperwork. 
  • Referring doctors make paperwork mistakes all the time (did I mention that already?). Always call the Medicare number first and verify the accuracy of the Medicare code on the paperwork before going to the specialist's or medical service provider's office. Confirm with Medicare that the Medicare code number is valid for your circumstances and procedure(s) and that Medicare will approve and pay for the procedure.
  • When referred to a specialist, sometimes a COPD code isn't provided; the specialist adds the code after the fact. Your only defense against this is having diagnostic information showing the necessity of the visit to the specialist, e.g., CAT scan shows potential malignancies in lungs, thus being referred to a pulmonologist makes medical sense. If the specialists uses the wrong code(s) after the fact and the claim is denied, don't just give up. Work with Medicare and the specialist to get the mistake straightened out and resubmit the claim.
  • The referring doctor does not not always know if the referred specialist or medical service provider takes Medicare, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. When you walk into that referred specialist's office or medical service center for the first time and have identified yourself, always ask first:
  1. Does Medicare accept you and do you accept Medicare as full payment, secondary insurance covering remaining balance?
  2. Does Medicaid//Medi-Cal/Etc. accept you and do you accept Medicaid, Medi-Cal, etc. or whatever other supporting insurance applicable in your situation as full payment?
If any part of their answer is no, leave immediately. As a Medicare beneficiary, you have the right to go to any Medicare specialist or service provider center you wish. Tell your primary, referring doctor what happened and they'll take care of it.

An important note. If a medical entity financially victimizes you or is trying to victimize you happens to be a referral from your doctor, first check with Medicare via their website and/or phone calls and find out exactly what is going on. If that doesn't clarify or fix the situation, then tell your doctor's office all about it. They might be able to fix the problem with just one phone call to the offending medical entity; not so surprisingly, your doctor's office will often be quite successful at this.

A personal note. That medical contract you are always forced to sign is basically a blank check allowing the medical entity to do whatever they want. You've given them the right to do anything and everything their hearts desire and then to bill you for whatever insurance doesn't cover. For that reason, I always print directly above my signature the following in caps:

"ONLY PROVIDE INSURANCE COVERED SERVICES ONLY"

If the medical service provider then refuses you as a patient, immediately inform your primary physician that referred you. If that doesn't solve the problem, i.e., your doctor being able to find a different service provider in the area; I'd personally let Medicare, Medicaid/Medi-Cal, and any other involved insurance/government entity know all about it. I would think they would all want to know about a medical service provider that turns away patients simply because that patient only wants those services that are covered by insurance. Who knows? They might even be able to help you.

An update (Medical Hack(?)). Someone sent me this. I do not know if it is true or not. It sure would be interesting to find out:


I'm continuing to look for other government medical websites that help patients when it comes to money issues. If you happen to know of one, please mention it in comments. I'll be happy to include it on the list. Federal sites are preferred, but sites specific to your state are also welcome.

Google Privacy Issues and You - What It Is and Always Will Be

2018, the untold story... Warning, some humor may be present; as well as the political aspect. But also lots of informational items and resources. In truth, Google does seem to be one of the more benign corporations out there. And they certainly have answered every question I've ever thrown at their search engine.

I Love Google. Well, Maybe "Fond" Is a Better Word.

Google. All Seeing. All Knowing. All Powerful.


If you really are concerned about privacy invasion, be sure to read the last section of this page. What you are concerned about has been going on long before the internet and Google arrived on the scene. In other words, on the private-sector side, George Orwell's 1984 scenario showed up a long time ago. As for the public-sector side, more about that later.)

Wherever I Go, There Is Google...

No matter which website I visit, there's the Google API's scattered across my screen. Google knows I've been there.

Whenever I search for something, Google knows and Google saves. And then Google follows me around, telling me all about it for the next month (they really do).

Google knows where I've been. Google knows where I am. Google knows where I want to go. But wait, there's more...
  • Google knows my name.
  • Google knows my gender.
  • Google knows my age.
  • Google knows my ethnicity.
  • Google knows my education level.
  • Google knows what I do for a living.
  • Google knows what I do for fun.
  • Google knows what I buy.
  • Google knows the companies I love.
  • Google knows the companies I hate.
  • Google knows what financial institution I use.
  • Google knows where I live.
  • Google knows the YouTube song I listened to six times a a row.

We Are Being Watched...

Not only does Google want to know, and does know, everything about me; they want to watch me.

So much so, they even send driverless cars with cameras that follow me around wherever I go. Sure, they say it is for their Google Maps; but I know better.

And if the cars weren't bad enough, now Google is launching satellites to watch over me. I mean seriously, satellites!?! They claim it's for their Google Earth, but then they took a picture of me in front of my house. [Yes, they really did. The technology is that good. No, I'm not posting the link; I'm already paranoid enough as it is.]

And then, of course, there's the whole GPS thing...

Google Headquarters

But Wait! There's Even More.

Google isn't happy just knowing everything about us and where we are at any given moment.

Google is gradually buying up the entire planet. If you doubt this, check out acquisitions and partnerships. Not only is Google buying up everything in sight, they have even partnered with the NASA Ames Research Center.

The NSA certainly loved Google and what they do. So much so, they were busily stealing all of Google's information about us from the Google data centers; leastwise until Google wised-up and encrypted it.

The CIA certainly loved Google. Apparently, they've been stealing everyone's user data from Google's Chrome browser. Fortunately, Google announced in March 2017 that they've finally been able to put a stop to most of it.

Do you use web-based email? Someone is probably thumbing through your letters as we speak.

Do you use Google Docs? Best not to put anything there that some law enforcement agency or your spouse's divorce lawyer might be interested in...

It Gets Worse... Google Has a Sense of Humor and Can Strike at Any Time...

...and without warning.

Depending on which browser you use:
This is only the tip of the iceberg. You can find more at Google Hoaxes and Easter Eggs.

Where Will Google Be in a 100 Years? They'll Still Be Around.


Other companies that have survived over 100 years include ExxonMobil, IBM, General Electric, Chevron, McKesson, and many others.

IBM is the most notable of these. Even though they are in the cutthroat technology industry, and even though they have seriously messed up at times, they are still around. And even prospering.

Will Google still be around in a 100 years? Probably. As long as Google continues to keep hiring the smartest people on the planet; and as long as Google continues its company charter policy of "Do no evil", and thus avoiding perturbing the general population; the odds of Google's continuing prosperity are good.

When some new company does come along with a threatening new technology, Google will no doubt do the corporate usual; buy them or stomp on them. Capitalism is capitalism...

One of Google's Data Centers

Though this page is sometimes humorous of intent, it somehow also kind of turned into an informational article and a review of Google and of internet life in general. I'm fine with that. All in all, I am fond of Google. One really does have to admire what Google has accomplished since its inception. And as far as corporations go, Google really does seem to be less evil than most.

The Privacy Controversy


There has been a lot of media coverage concerning privacy issues. The thing is, all the other corporations and companies out there have been doing the exact, same thing. And not just tech companies; any company that has any interaction with the public is busily snooping into your private life in every way they can. Admittedly, Google is probably better at it than most.

It gets worse. This has been going on long before the internet came along. Try decades and decades and decades; probably somewhere between 50 to a 100 years or even longer.

If you really want an eye-opener as to privacy invasion, try checking out the Credit Report Guide for Beginners page; this has likewise been going on for decades and decades and decades.

As previously mentioned, the private-sector side of privacy invasion arrived a long time ago. As for the public-sector side of things, both George Orwell's 1984 and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 officially arrived the day after September 11, 2001.

How to Make Your Own Bookmarks Website

Make the Browser's Clumsy, Old Bookmarks List into an Online Document Page or Website.

A quick lesson on how to create your own bookmark manager. Setting up a bookmarks web page or online document is easy. You will be so glad you did.

No Technical Skills Required
And Much More Fun

If you can...
  1. Type text.
  2. Highlight text.
  3. Click a link icon.
  4. Copy/Paste an URL from the browser website address bar.
Then you can create your own personal template, bookmark webpage or online document.

Why Make Your Own, Homemade Bookmark Manager?

Quite simply, because it is incredibly convenient. Laying out all your links exactly the way you want them is so much more efficient than any browser bookmark list or app can ever be or do.

Plus, the bookmark manager web page or online document will always be there for you. Convenience factors include:
  • Always available no matter which or whose computer or mobile device you are using.
  • The ability to organize your links in rows as well as columns.
  • Never losing all your bookmarks, due to accidental deletion or browser corruption.
  • Never losing all your bookmarks, due to hard disk or other computer problems.
  • The convenience of grouped-by-type links.
  • The convenience of grouped-by-subdomain links.
  • The convenience of grouped-by-frequency links.
  • The ability to set the background and your link text to whatever color, size, and font, that is easy on and best for your eyes.
  • The ability of your bookmark lists to change as your needs and preferences evolve.

How to Organize Your Bookmarks. And Things to Include in Your Lists.



You will probably want to put your most frequently visited websites near the top. Only you can decide what those might be.

As for groups, some examples would be:
  • A row of the search engines you use.
  • A row of the news sites you regularly visit.
  • A row of your frequently visited social media sites.
  • A row of your blog websites.
  • A row of your email websites.
  • A row of your less frequently visited social media websites.
  • A row of utility websites, e.g., weather, calendar, etc.
  • A row of whatever doesn't fit somewhere else.
  • Subdomain rows of a website.
As for the last one, Facebook might be a good example. If you regularly go to certain accounts all the time, it would make sense to set up a convenient row of links to those accounts.

How to Make Your Online Document Bookmark Page

Here is a Demo Bookmark Template (opens in new tab).  Feel free to copy to your own document. The links are set to open in new tabs, which is a necessary feature. If that attribute fails to transfer when you copy, you will need to reset them to that option.

If you are not already using an online document app that lets you publish to the web, then I recommend G-Drive for your first cloud experience. They are owned by Google, so they will be around for awhile; it is free. It is as easy to use as any other word processor. Once you are familiar with it, you will probably use it for other projects as well.

Side note. Sometimes, copying from one app or format to another results in an unusable mess. If that happens, try copying into your document using the web page version below. In addition to the template, the next section also has additional, worthwhile information.

How to Make Your Own Website Bookmark Web Page - Website Building the Easy Way



Going the website/web page building route will give you considerably more design capability.

Here is a webpage version of the Demo Bookmark Template (new tab). Only highlight and copy the portion between the lines, objective being to omit as much unnecessary HTML and unwanted attributes as possible.

If you are not already using a website design app or software, then Blogger/Blogspot is free and easy to use; no degree in rocket surgery required. It is also run by Google and so will be around for awhile.

Since you are creating this template site for your own personal use, you will probably only have the one post. You will frequently re-edit it as desired.

Once you've created the blog and are ready to do the post, it's pretty straightforward. After copying over the template into your new post, just type in and arrange your additional destination titles as desired. You don't have to do all of them at once. Start with your most frequently visited websites. No problem leaving the post open in edit mode as you are visiting the other sites.Then, as you are visiting your sites, take a moment to copy/paste the URL into your titles.

Always set the link to open in a new tab. The planned routine, once you have everything set up, is for the bookmark page tab to always be open and available at the far left.

In layout mode, do enable (if it isn't already) the navbar you will see at top-right. This way, you have one-click access to re-edit your page whenever you wish to add another URL.

A Blogger/Blogspot editor note. When attempting to space from an existing link to add text in preparation for the next link in the row, the editor extends the hyperlink attribute into the space. To circumvent, don't do the space; hit enter instead. Then enter your space and text on the new line. Then go back to the end of the previous line and hit delete to bring your new line up to the existing line. It will then be as it should be.

Last, but not least, organize everything so all your bookmarks will fit on a single screen. Your objective is convenience, having to scroll all the time would defeat that purpose.

Once published, set the page as your new browser home.

Privacy Options

You can restrict public access to your bookmarks page to whatever degree you wish. You will find the privacy options under Settings on the left-side menu when in design mode.

No matter what privacy settings you use, do keep in mind the internet is the internet. So it would be wise to not include bookmark links to such things as your bank, credit card, or utility accounts. For that matter, such links should not be on your browser bookmark list either. Those links can be accessible to any malware that might happen along.

Other Blogger/Blogspot Options

For those who are not already familiar with Blogger/Blogspot, the platform has all sorts of other capabilities. Some of those capabilities include:
  • Displaying ads and earning part of the revenue
  • Adding 3rd party HTML/JavaScript
  • Images
  • Videos
  • News feeds
  • Lots more
And if you know basic HTML, you can create templates and bookmarks pages like this webpage example or this webpage example.

Some Final Thoughts...

Once the bookmarks manager page was set up the way I wanted it, my overall efficiency had a marked increase. Somehow, it caused me to become a real tab management pro. Projects involving repeated, multiple website access were not only easy and quick to do; they were fun again.

And besides, any bookmark manager webpage or website you create and customize exactly the way you want can't help but be:
  • 10 times better than anything Mozilla Firefox could come up with.
  • 10 times better than anything Google Chrome could come up with.
  • 10 times better than anything Microsoft Explorer could come up with.
  • 10 times better than Safari or any other prefabricated, standardized, generic website could come up with.
  • 10 times better than anything a third-party vendor could come up with, simply because only you really know what you want.


What Is and a Negative Review of the Nextdoor Neighborhood Private Social Network Website

 This is a regretfully negative review of the Nextdoor website for Years 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, the plethora of inquires from people on the search engines wanting to know how to close their accounts pretty much substantiates the conclusions drawn here.

"Frankly, I've never seen so many hate-filled people
in one place at one time."

I recently discovered a social network website known as Nextdoor. Despite the above quote, every neighborhood Nextdoor forum is different, so your results or experiences there could be good, extremely bad, or somewhere in-between. There's just no way of knowing in advance.

Posts to the site are made by you and your neighbors in the surrounding areas, sometimes even the police and fire departments will contribute. In addition to knowing what is going on, you might discover people with whom you would like to initiate contact. Unfortunately, there is also the possibility of immediately being subjected to unwanted contact.

Nextdoor has all sorts of customization settings available. You can control which nearby neighborhood posts you see. You can control which neighborhood posts you receive email notifications about; settings range from all, some, or none.

In some cases, the Nextdoor forums could possibly be a good social network experience. However, attempting to participate could also be a very risky business. It is unfortunate that this page has been forced to become a very negative review of the Nextdoor website.

Unfortunately, the Nextdoor Forums Have One Very Bad Flaw.

Bullies, trolls, and worse are not monitored nor restrained in the Nextdoor forums. They are free to launch personal attacks, make false accusations, and even try to do you real harm in the real world. Remember, these are your neighbors and real names and addresses are used. In most cases, they just want to humiliate and inflict as much emotional pain as possible for sport. However, the potential for real world spillover is also a major concern.

It all depends on what local neighborhood you happen to live in.

If you happen to live in a neighborhood where bad people haven't yet taken over the Nextdoor forums, good things might happen.

But if you discover you have been unknowing living in a neighborhood where there are a group of people who automatically want to hurt strangers in any and every way they possibly can just for the fun of it, it is best to depart before there are real world ramifications.


(The gun in the Clint meme is misleading. Extreme emotional pain, false accusations affecting real world situations, vandalism, or legal consequences are the actual, main dangers.)

Here's hoping your neighborhood and corollary Nextdoor forums are one of the normal ones. Take care.

Year 2017 and 2018 Updates

#1 In the event you are subjected to personal attacks and you attempt to defend yourself, you will be the one Nextdoor will ban. Nextdoor lets the lowest common denominator rule, reason being there are so many of them and Nextdoor really doesn't have much of a business choice in the matter. The banning might also be for your own protection, objective being to prevent escalation to the level of real world consequences. There are indeed people inhabiting some of the Nextdoor forums who will do or try to do you real world harm.

#2 Based on what I have personally witnessed and what the search engine results say, I wouldn't go there. Nothing of value is ever posted there anyway. And the possibility of negative consequences is just too great.

A Quote I Stumbled Across

History will have to record the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.

Social Security and/or Other Online Federal Government Accounts Again Requiring Mandatory Security Code Verification in Addition to User Name and Password

February 2018 Update

Nothing really new to report. The only thing I can think to mention is that one should sign up with their website, regardless of age. Never hurts to keep an eye on things. Side note: I'm not putting a link here. Never go to an important site via a link from another site; too many security issues involved. Only go to such sites via directly from your browser address bar or from a well-known, reputable search engine; and while you're at it, hover the link to see where it really goes before clicking it.

May 2017 Update

This time they are making an email option available along with the previously aborted text messaging option. This should indeed keep the poor people (of which I am one) from being shut out of their accounts. It is nice to see that Social Security is finally catching up with reality. Here's the informational email they are sending out:

*Start*
Social Security continues to evaluate and improve how we protect what’s important to you. We take this responsibility seriously, and we have a robust cybersecurity program in place to help protect the personal information you entrust to us. Adding additional security measures to safeguard your personal information — but making our services easy to use — is a vital part of keeping you safe and secure.

On June 10, 2017, we will add a second method to check your identification when you sign in to my Social Security. This is in addition to the first layer of security, your username and password. Right now, you don’t have to do anything for this new process. But you may want to sign in to your account to make sure you remember your username and password. Then, when you sign in on or after June 10, you will be able to choose either your cell phone or your email address as your second identification method. Using two ways to identify you when you log on will help better protect your account from unauthorized use and potential identity fraud.

Since my Social Security became available in May 2012, more than 30 million people have created an account. We have always offered a second layer of protection, but only for customers who opted to use it.

Last summer, we added a second way for us to check your identity when you registered or signed in to my Social Security. However, at that time, we only allowed the use of a cell phone as your second identification method. We listened to your concerns, and beginning on June 10, you can choose either your cell phone or your email address as the second way for us to identify you. Since an email address is already required to use my Social Security, everyone can continue to benefit from the features my Social Security provides.

Each time you sign in to your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1: Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2: Enter the security code we send you by text message or email, depending on your choice (your cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).
If you do not have a text-enabled cell phone, or you do not wish to provide your cell phone number, you will need to choose your email address as a contact method so we can send you a one-time security code to access your my Social Security account. To ensure you receive the email with the one-time security code timely and it does not go into your spam or junk folder, you can add NO-REPLY@ssa.ov to your contact list. 

We’re committed to using the best technologies and standards available to protect our customers’ data. This new security advancement is just one of the ways we’re ensuring the safety of the resources entrusted to us.

In addition to these security enhancements, we are also upgrading the look and feel of my Social Security, in an effort to create an enhanced customer experience. The my Social Security portal will automatically change its size based on the size of the screen and kind of device you are using – such as a tablet, smart phone, or computer. No matter what type of device you choose, you will have full, easy-to-use access to your personal my Social Security account.

*End*

For Those Who Are Interested, Here's What Happened Before...


2016 UPDATE The text-messaging requirement has been rescinded. Here is Social Security's latest email:

*Start*

On July 30, 2016, we began requiring you to sign into your my Social Security account using a one-time code sent via text message. We implemented this new layer of security, known as “multifactor authentication,” in compliance with a Presidential executive order to improve the security of consumer financial transactions.  SSA implemented the improvements aggressively because we have a fundamental responsibility to protect the public’s personal information.

However, multifactor authentication inconvenienced or restricted access to some of our account holders. We’re listening to your concerns and are responding by temporarily rolling back this mandate.

As before July 30, you can now access your secure account using only your username and password. We highly recommend the extra security text message option, but it is not required. We’re developing an alternative authentication option, besides text messaging, that we’ll begin implementing within the next six months.

We strive to balance security and customer service options, and we want to ensure that our online services are both easy to use and secure. The my Social Security service has always featured a robust verification and authentication process, and it remains safe and secure.

We regret any inconvenience you may have experienced.

There is no requirement that you access your personal my Social Security account as a result of the steps we are taking.  However, when you do access your account, we encourage you to sign up for the extra security text message option.  You can access your account by visiting www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount.

 *End*

Here is the original post that started it all:


Poor People Can No Longer Access Their Social Security Or Other Online Federal Government Accounts


I am one of the people who cannot afford the monthly, exorbitant cell phone fees. I just received this email from Social Security. Leastwise I can afford internet access (try landline DSL if possible, can save decent money); but for me and millions of others, I guess internet access to our federal government accounts is no more.

*Start*

Starting in August 2016, Social Security is adding a new step to protect your privacy as a my Social Security user.  This new requirement is the result of an executive order for federal agencies to provide more secure authentication for their online services. Any agency that provides online access to a customer’s personal information must use multifactor authentication.

When you sign in at ssa.gov/myaccount with your username and password, we will ask you to add your text-enabled cell phone number.  The purpose of providing your cell phone number is that, each time you log in to your account with your username and password, we will send you a one-time security code you must also enter to log in successfully to your account.

Each time you sign into your account, you will complete two steps:
  • Step 1:  Enter your username and password.
  • Step 2:  Enter the security code we text to your cell phone (cell phone provider's text message and data rates may apply).
The process of using a one-time security code in addition to a username and password is one form of “multifactor authentication,” which means we are using more than one method to make sure you are the actual owner of your account.

If you do not have a text-enabled cell phone or you do not wish to provide your cell phone number, you will not be able to access your my Social Security account.

If you are unable or choose not to use my Social Security, there are other ways you can contact us.  To learn more, please review the Frequently Asked Questions found here.

*End*

And that's the way it is...

A Review of Yahoo Mail, Including Updates – Extremely Negative Results

Why Is Yahoo Mail So Bad? Let Us Count the Ways...

This ongoing page is in reverse chronological order. Following the updates is the original review. Well worth the read

An Update, January 2018

Well, I just checked. Yahoo is still using highly animated, CPU clogging, memory clogging, bandwidth-clogging ads that slow your account and computer to a crawl or even freezes it altogether; forcing users to just give up and close the associated browser tab. The train wreck that never ends. Oh, well. Not my problem anymore. I'm finally rid of them and only check in once in awhile so as to update this page.

An Update, October 2017

Well, I am pretty much rid of them. I drop by the accounts maybe once every 2-3 months just to check on things. Nice guy that I am, I even clean out the spam to give their servers a break. Unfortunately, having had the accounts for over a decade, I still occasionally find a reference to them in my rolodex as to being the email address of record. Needless to say, I then go to the indicated website and fix that.

An Update, February 2017

There are now media reports the hackers are now getting into Yahoo user email accounts without even having to know your password. Apparently the Yahoo cookies are so simplistic that the hackers just make there own and use those to get into your account.

An Update, December 2016

Yep, Yahoo has done it again; this time to the tune of 1 billion accounts. And apparently they are going to force you to change your passwords this time, New York Times article. So you might as well do it now while convenient. Jeez, I am so fed up with those guys,. Fortunately, I am already pretty much rid of them.

An Update, September 2016

News excerpt: "Yahoo confirms 500 million user accounts had information stolen in 2014". Yep, happened over two years ago and now they're finally telling us. Yet another reason to not ever use a Yahoo email account. Oh, well. Then again, Verizon is much more professional than Yahoo has ever been. So maybe somewhere down the line, Verizon will do the necessary mass firings to clean out the incompetent and unethical managers around there. As for why it is my opinion the managers at Yahoo are both incompetent and unethical, see original review below.

An Update, July 2016

Verizon has purchased Yahoo. Will Verizon do something about Yahoo's barely functional email accounts? We can only hope.

Original Review – Basically, Yahoo Mail Is Useless Anyway. So Why Even Bother to Have Anything to Do with Them in the First Place?

To make a long story short, avoid having a Yahoo email account like the plague. The Yahoo ads they display on your email account page clogs up your CPU and/or ISP bandwidth so much, your account is barely able to function. This is especially applicable when trying to compose a new message.

Yahoo has always been famous for obnoxious ads, but this page isn't going to even bother complaining about that; millions of others already have done so to no avail. One would think after all these years, Yahoo would finally figure out how dearly this practice costs them; but obviously this is never going to happen.

This page is about Yahoo's high intensity, high pixel, highly animated ads hogging your computer and ISP resources and bandwidth to the point the Yahoo email app, itself, is barely able to function.

Switching between folders isn't too bad, the wait time is still tolerable. And in all fairness, I should mention Yahoo's email spam filter is pretty good.

It is when one tries to compose a message is where everything really falls apart. The computer starts beeping almost immediately. Sure enough, most of the characters typed never made it to the screen. Meanwhile, the ads are all gyrating to a fare-thee-well. I would imagine attempting to compose a Yahoo email message via phone would be even more impossible. On those rare occasions when one isn't getting slammed with highly animated ads, everything works fine.

Use an ad blocker? Yep, that did indeed solve the problem for a long time. Then one morning I clicked the mail app on Yahoo's main page and was duly informed the ad blocker must be turned off before I would be allowed access to my email account. This went on for awhile and then suddenly stopped. I don't know if there was some sort of user revolt, "official" complaints or violations, or what.

Things were once again ok for awhile...

But now Yahoo is pulling a new stunt. If one is using an ad blocker and visits Yahoo's homepage, the mail menu option simply isn't there. If one visits the homepage without an ad blocker, then the email menu option is there. Cute.

So there you have it. Can't compose messages without an ad blocker. Can't access email account with an ad blocker.

Are you using an ad blocker and not having access issues? Give it time, Yahoo simply hasn't gotten around to your browser/blocker configuration yet.

Yahoo Mail User

Just my opinion, though I have had none of these problems with any of my other web-based email service providers.

Bubblews.com Website Shuts Down - Domain Name Purchased Two Years Later by New Owner

February 2018 Update

I'm seeing posts in Google Search that seem to indicate that Bubblews has reopened. Frankly, I'm not going to attempt to go there to find out; am too concerned about what kind of junk advertiser cookies they might put on my machine. What is really interesting, if they are indeed open, is that Google appears to be unwilling to index and include that specific website directly in their search results.

October-November 2017 Update(s)

A possibly new owner has purchased the bubblews.com domain name. It can't be a coincidence; the new owner had to have known about the domain name's previous reputation.

Owner identity unknown, https://www.whois.com/whois/bubblews.com (opens in new tab).

 Registrar and server farm may have questionable reputations? Do search for: 2635 Walnut Street Denver Colorado

 It all seems just a little odd and a little off. For security reasons, am not going near that domain just yet. No doubt others will be landing there; we will hear soon enough as to site safety, owner intentions, etc.

Original Article About Previous Owner


The Shutdown of Bubblews.com

November 2015

Here's what they had to say for themselves...

[Start] "Greetings, After being up and running for almost 3 years now we regrettably need to inform you that we will be shutting Bubblews.com down. The climate for display advertising has drastically changed and made it impossible for us to sustain the business model and operations. We want to thank everyone that was a part of this journey. We wish you all the very best. –Bubblews" [End]

Contrary to what the Bubblews farewell post says, the shutdown appears to have been immediate and without warning. It is being reported writers attempting to retrieve their articles are greeted with a 404 message instead. In other words, it looks like the writers' articles are gone forever and cannot be retrieved.

I can't help but wonder how many lawsuits have already been and soon will be filed. I consider it highly probable Bubblews will be filing for bankruptcy. For that matter, they may have done so at the same time the website shutdown; unknown at this point. On a personal note, I am one of the many thousands of writers who also never received payment from Bubblews for what I was owed; and that is from over a year ago.

Update #1:

Most forum and blog posts across the internet about the Bubblews shutdown are celebratory in nature.

Twitter (#bubblews) is also busily engaged. Interestingly, along with the posts about the shutdown, there continues to be postings of links to Bubblews articles. However, clicking the link results in the expected 404-Not-Found message. Looks like those who set their tweets to automatic haven't gotten the word yet...

Update #2:

 #bubblews continues to be active at Twitter with the automated tweets still trying to send visitors to defunct Bubblews articles. As opposed to yesterday's 404's, all article links are now being redirected to the main domain and the displayed Bubblews-is-shutting-down message. Are all those auto-Tweeters really that clueless, or is it a deliberate attempt to bury/hide the posts about the actual shutdown?

Bubblews and the Better Business Bureau ( BBB ). Even though there  are media reports of thousands of people not being paid, there are only 107 complaints listed by the BBB. The BBB actually seemed pretty clueless about Bubblews at first, but eventually the BBB apparently woke up; though as of this post, the BBB is apparently still unaware Bubblews is now defunct. I guess the BBB can't really be blamed, they only know what people take the time to tell them. I'll drop them a note. [Update: I tried, but too many obstructions. Oh, well.]

As for my earlier lawsuits speculations, forget it. If only 107 out of 1000's of victims bothered to complain to the BBB, then probably zero would work up the energy to sue. Besides, what with Bubblews being an LLC and the bankruptcy backdoor, what would be the point?

Bubblews and Linkedin. As of this post, no acknowledgement yet as to Bubblews' now defunct status. At the moment, the venture capitalists who invested in Bubblews are still listed there.

Arvind Dixit (Bubblews CEO) and Linkedin. No updates yet there either. Arvind might want to delete the part of his profile that says, "CEO & Co-Founder Arvind “Avi” Dixit is responsible for the strategic direction and ex-ecution (sic) of the Bubblews.com company vision."

Arvind might be interesting to check on now and again in the future.

Bubblews and Facebook. Looks like Bubblews pretty much abandoned their Facebook account in July.

Their Twitter account appears to have been abandoned in August.


Unless something really interesting occurs, this post is now probably concluded.

Do Not Do an Online Search for Your Debit or Credit Card Account Numbers

Epic Fail!

MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express ( AMEX ), etc.

This website has discovered people are doing that. I'm guessing people do it in an attempt to see if their credit or debit card numbers have been stolen and are being posted online anywhere. Unfortunately, by searching online for your card number(s), you have just made your credit and/or debit card account number available to any website you then happen to land on; the website owner now has your card number.

What Happens When You Do a Search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, or Other Search Engines

Sequence:
  1. You do a search for your credit or debit card account number.
  2. A list of search results comes up.
  3. You click on one or more of the results.
  4. Now here is where the problems start... The vast majority of website owners automatically track what search terms bring people to their websites; they do this for perfectly benign and legitimate search-engine-optimization-related reasons. Your card number was the search term bringing you to the website and so is nicely displayed to the website owner along with all the other more usual search terms being recorded by the site. Now if you landed on an honest website, then your account number is simply ignored. But if you landed on a dishonest website who is looking for these kind of numbers...
Be wise, do not look for your credit or debit card account numbers online.

Online credit card account number searches are a bad idea...
Online credit card account number searches are a bad idea...

Netflix and YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts List


Here are the Netflix and some YouTube keyboard shortcuts, darned convenient they are. My mouse sent me a thank you note when I discovered "m" and the spacebar.
  • M = Mute / Unmute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Up arrow = Volume Up - Also works on YouTube)
  • Down arrow = Volume Down - Also works on YouTube)
  • Spacebar = Pause / Play (toggle) - Also works on YouTube in certain screen modes)
  • Enter = Pause / Play  (toggle)
    • F = Full-screen (double-clicking the screen also works) - Also works on YouTube)
    • Esc = Exit full-screen (or double-click again) - Also works on YouTube)
    • Left arrow = Rewinds 10 seconds each click (spacebar reinitiates Play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments)
    • Right arrow = Fast Forwards 10 seconds each click (spacebar reinitiates Play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments)
    • Shift+Left arrow = Rewind (keeps going until you hit spacebar)
    • Shift+Right arrow = Fast Forward (keeps going until you hit spacebar)
    • Ctrl (or some other random keys) = Displays the Progress Bar for a couple seconds

    As of February 1, 2018

    If interested, here are Netflix's Twitter, Facebook, G+, and Pinterest accounts. Netflix has over 4.66 million Twitter followers. Their Facebook page has over 42.87 million likes.  Their G+ page (US and Canada) has over 386K followers. Pinterest is apparently still warming at over 36K followers.
    A side note as to the keyboard shortcuts Netflix has defined. I've noticed the keyboard key assignment functions stop working occasionally. I'm guessing this is because I have other Window tabs open. When I go to those tabs, sometimes the website or application there resets the keys back to browser default; or maybe it is the browser itself doing it. Sometimes Netflix will reset the keyboard shortcuts back on when I return, but sometimes they apparently don't. Fortunately I noticed using the mouse once when I return usually resets the keys back to what Netflix wants them to be. Worst case scenario and if worth the bother, simply go back to browse and then back to whatever you were watching; this should reset the key shortcuts functions back on.

    Meanwhile, Netflix has recently announced they now have around 55 million US subscribers and over 118 million global subscribers.

    A Regretfully Negative Review of Indulgy – A Pinterest Clone

    Updated for Year 2018

    What is Indulgy?
    Sadly, a poor man's attempted Pinterest clone.

    Original Review (followed by updates)

    According to Alexa, indulgy.com traffic seems to be doing well. It is currently ranking as one of the top 20,000 websites globally and one of the top 10,000 sites in the US. The bad news is that traffic seems to be drifting downward, a year ago the stats had them in the top 10,000 sites globally. Not sure whats going on or why the drift downward. Still not bad, considering there are probably over 200,000,000 websites out there in internet land these days. [Side note. Be sure to read the updates. Things currently seem to not be going well.]

    Using Indulgy for Collecting Images and Backlinks

    Indulgy is a nice, simple, uncomplicated version of Pinterest. If you like Pinterest, Indulgy can be fun as well.

    As with Pinterest, you can include backlinks to the images you post on Indulgy

    Visitor traffic is still relatively low at this point, but Indulgy could have some future value as to and for backlinking purposes.

    As a low priority project, I've opened an account (the link above) and started posting some images there. We'll see how that goes; I'll report on any results every now and then.

    Ongoing User Review Updates

    March 2015

    For some strange reason, I am intuitively fond of this site. Probably because of the nice, clean interface and ease of use. I'll continue to add images and updates from time to time. I hope the site does well.

    Unfortunately, Indulgy does not enable enough text space when displaying the photo to include the title of the article where the image came from (see later update). This pretty much shuts down the prospect of generating a click-thru to your article from Indulgy. Hopefully, Indulgy will change this and emulate Pinterest.

    Went back again later in the month. I'm beginning to think Indulgy has become a mess. When right-clicking to post pictures, the box doesn't auto-fill and after filling out the box the picture doesn't show up in my collection. Also, earlier this week, the site locked up my computer.

    September 2015

    Yep, Indulgy is still pretty useless as to generating traffic to your linked article. As previously indicated, there's no text accompanying the image in the collection to indicate what the image or linked article is about (see later update). Clicking the image will bring up some accompanying text for the visitor, but how many visitors will bother to make that click to find out the details?

    February 2016

    Dropped by my account. Deleted some obsolete pics. Updated some links in others. Both tasks were intuitive and easy to do.

    Added a couple new images. Doing the add link to source page still does not work (direct link to image, not article, is required). Better to install the browser plugin. Then right-click on target image to use it.

    Indulgy has much improved since previous visit and is a worthy site.

    And I made a worthy discovery. Giving yourself a really short user name will then enable more descriptive text to be included with your image.

    After almost a year, I still have zero followers. This is no doubt because I never collected (re-pinned) anyone else's images or followed anyone. So I collected (re-pinned) a few images and followed three people. We will see how it goes...

    January 2017

    Visited my account for the first time in almost a year. Had to reinstall the plugin, understandable. To find the installed plugin, look in your browser bookmarks lists. Deleted some obsolete images and added some new ones.As far as I can tell, the account has had no visitors. As before, it is probably because of my lack of activity.

    Indulgy does have what I consider to be one very serious flaw. It keeps opening new windows as opposed to new tabs. That can very quickly become a real pain in the neck. Oh, well; to each their own.

    April 2017

    Dropped by the site and my account. They've changed things around. Frankly, that site is now a pain in the neck to navigate. They've also added a shopping section.

    Indulgy traffic has been steadily declining over the last year. A year ago it was globally ranked as one of the top 11,000 websites in the world; it's ranking has since dropped to around 21,000. In other words, it is back to where it was two years ago. Basically a two-year bell curve. Prior to the two years ago, it was once before globally ranked at around 10,00. A sine wave or two bell curves in a row? Due to the time lengths involved, the pattern doesn't appear to be seasonal.

    Whatever is going on, it doesn't appear to be driving any visitor traffic my way for the articles I've posted there.

    The way things are going, the site appears headed for extinction. It certainly wouldn't be the first. Then again,who knows? The site is certainly still salvageable. Maybe the site has a regular 2-year-trend pattern as opposed to the usual one year. Time will tell. Deleted one old image/article and added one new image/article.

    October 2017

    Well, the pictures do indeed display well and look nice. Deleting a couple of obsolete ones was easy to do; you'll need to refresh the page to see them actually disappear. Modified some outdated descriptions, again was easy to do.

    Still no visitor activity that I could see.

    What we have here is a plain and very simple site. If all you want to do is organize your pictures into various collections and don't care about having visitors or generating traffic, Indulgy is a useful website.

    There is one other use for the site that occurs to me. One could use it as a bookmarks-website, if you don't mind about the scrolling all the time. Just a thought. Come to think of it, you also can't organize, i.e., move the pictures around within each collection. If one does not have that many bookmarks, then Indulgy could be useful in this regard, otherwise going the bookmarks-website route would be the better way to go.

    Latest Update - January 2018

    Indulgy really is a mess. You can't even trust it.

    I clicked the setting icon on one of my images and was pleasantly surprised to find I could supposedly change the URL, which I did indeed need to do. So I changed it.

    When I tested it, the change had failed to take. So I edited and tried again. This time I carefully watched. When I clicked save, I saw the URL revert back to the old before the edit box then saved and closed. Tried it a couple more times before giving up.

    A glitchy mess and you can't even trust it when it claims to have saved your edit(s).

    Personally, I have given up on this site.

    List of Top 10 Reasons Why You Should Follow Me on Twitter

    1. You will get to see my spiffy avatar every time you drop by my page. 
    2. You will also get to see my beautiful background picture. 
    3. You get to discover the link to my awesome website. 
    4. I will dazzle you daily with my brilliant, personal thoughts. 
    5. I only share stuff from other websites that are truly interesting. 
    6. I sometimes come up with amazing photos. 
    7. I only retweet stuff that is as good as or better than my own. 
    8. You will never get a Direct Message from me. 
    9. You will never be inundated with hashtags. 
    10. I’ll follow you back (unless you are demented).
    What is my Twitter address, you ask? If I ever open an account, I’ll get back to you on that.

    Just an experimental photo of mine -  www.websitewithnoname.com

    Meanwhile, here are some memes.

    A Review of WeHeartIt (now called Whi)– A Pinterest Clone


    I originally didn't like this site. I felt that the site was clunky, obstructive, disorganized, and generally just a pain in the neck to use overall . And if there was a delete button to get rid of images I no longer wanted, I had yet to find it (see update below).

    My original opinion may have been in the minority however. According to Alexa, weheartit.com is one of the top 1000 websites globally. Out of a total of 180,000,000 websites in the world, that isn't bad.

    Then again, WeHeartIt's global ranking has steadily been getting worse since the beginning of the year (see update, trend has apparently reversed back to positive).

    As a side note, WeHeartIt has instructed Quantcast to hide their information.

    Using WeHeartIt.com for Backlinks

    For folks who just like to organize, share, and exchange pictures; Pinterest is better. Once experiencing Pinterest, one's enthusiasm for weheartit may wane.

    However, you can include backlinks to the images you post on weheartit (as with Pinterest). The backlinks aren't intuitive to visitors though. Unlike with Pinterest, there is nothing to indicate that clicking the image will take you anywhere.

    WeHeartIt may have some value for backlinking purposes, but this particular site should probably be one of your lower priority tasks. Though I do strongly suspect weheartit may be more productive than Twitter as to social media sharing. As far as I'm concerned, Twitter is just one great, big, spamming mess; because of that, very few links are followed there.

    Year 2014 Update

    First, rocket surgeon that I am, I finally discovered how to delete images I had previously posted and no longer wanted. Simply click the heart and it will unheart; at this point, the image is supposed to be removed. The image will immediately no longer be there for new visitors who drop by, but you still might keep seeing it until you do a browser refresh and/or clean your browser cache.

    Alexa says WeHeartIt.com's global ranking has improved during the last 3 months.

    I've started posting some new images there to see how weheartit is performing these days as a backlink and/or traffic driving resource. We'll see how that goes; I'll report on the results early next year.

    Year 2015 Update

    First, the good news. We Heart It is an active site. The members share the love all over the place. Hearts here. Hearts there. Hearts everywhere.

    But, there is some bad news. Hearting is somewhat equivalent to Pinterest Liking. In other words, it does not add (pin) your image to the Hearter's collection. If the Hearter wants to add (pin) your image to one of their collections, that has to be done via another distinct and separate action. Although I received hearts here, there, and, everywhere; pinning to collections was next to non-existent. In other words, essentially no new banklinks were created in other Hearter's collections. Then again, maybe I just have lousy pictures. Your results may vary. And I did notice that when I hearted someone's image from the weheartit homepage, it did show up on my homepage; and the link to the source of the image did work. So apparently a backlink is indeed created in that regard.

    There is a possibility of more good, but unknown, news. Some of the Hearters probably followed the image links to the source pages. Once at the link destination, they could very well have added images to their collections from there. If so, I'd have no way of knowing they did that.

    The bottom line. I am becoming increasingly fond of weheartit.com. Lots of nice folks. I'll continue to contribute images from time to time. I hope the site continues to prosper. I'm known as Worthy_Info there. And if I've posted any inaccurate information here, drop a note in Comments; I'll fix the error forthwith. Also feel free to add any additional information about WeHeartIt you may wish.

    Year 2016 Update

    WeHeartIt continues to make improvements and add functionality to their site. I continue to like them and recommend them.

    Year 2017 Update

    Oddly, WeHeartIt keeps refusing to Heart many innocuous images even though the images meet their specified criteria of:
    • A width that is greater than or equal to 240 pixels.
    • A height that is greater than or equal to 200 pixels.
    • A valid image extensions (jpg, png, gif).
    I don't know what's up with that, but I finally gave up. Presumably it is something that will be fixed in due course.

    Year 2017 Update #2

    Went on a major deletion spree of obsolete images. As previously mentioned, simply unheart it to delete it. When you then leave the site and return, the images will indeed be gone as desired. No problems.

    Still need to delete some more. Then planning on adding a whole bunch new ones. We'll see how that goes. Stay tuned. The site has been working fine and dandy so far.

    Year 2017 Update #3

    Finished the deletions, then started hearting/adding images. First two or three went fine, then the site suddenly started rejecting anything/everything I tried to add. I finally gave up and quit. Tried again the next day. Again the site refused to accept images. I've written WeHeartIt off for the time being, maybe you will have better luck. Personally, I'm not checking back until 2018.

    Year 2018 Update

    WeHeartIt have changed their name. Here's their announcement:

    "BIG NEWS! We are evolving how We say our name from We Heart It to Whi (pronounced ‘We!’)."

    I tried hearting an image and it was accepted without problem. However, the link went to the image library as opposed to the source article. Fortunately, I discovered you can edit the description and put the article URL there. WeHeartIt (now called Whi) keeps trying, but they just can't seem to get things right. Somehow I don't think the article is going to get much traffic from them. Oh, well.