Showing posts with label Tech. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tech. Show all posts

How the Google Search Algorithm Works and Decides Rankings

Now for fellow webmasters and writers, that is indeed a catchy title. Unfortunately, it is also a true title. In fact, maybe the title of this article should be, The Google Algorithm and the Future of Online Writing - It's Not Pretty. This has especially become applicable since my latest update.

Obviously Google uses several parameters for determining the search ranking of a website or article when displaying results. I shall not belabor those, plenty of other websites already do that. This page will only cover the main, overriding factor that Google uses when the algorithm makes its "decisions". Other search engines no doubt do the same.

Writers and web designers are not going to like this and as far as I know, there is not a thing we can do about it nor a way we can circumvent it.

Description of Google's Main Parameter Used by its Algorithm

There are two websites. Both websites are identical in all parameters such as keywords, quality, quantity, HTML design, navigation design, format design, font size, average bounce rate, average duration of visits, incoming links, keeping content updated, compatibility with mobile devices, and every and all other factors that Google uses (both known and unknown). However, the two sites have one very significant and devastating difference.

Site "A" is owned by a real world, brick and mortar, physical entity with name recognition that is associated with and dedicated to a specific field or topic of endeavor and/or interest. Such sites are automatically bestowed much more credibility than sites not meeting this criteria. The credibility factor is paramount to Google and other search engines. It is the main factor enabling an article or website to be ranked on the front page of the listed search results. There's that old Q&A: "Where is the best place to hide a body? The second page of Google." Credibility makes or breaks a website, no matter how good all the other rating factors may be.

Site "B" is just an unknown website competing with the other billion unknown websites. Due to the site's anonymity, credibility is basically non-existent; not positive or negative, just non-existent. In other words, even though your Site-B, relevant article is much better than the corresponding Site-A article; your Site-B article will have the lesser ranking.

There are still plenty of exceptions to the above, but the number of exceptions will continue to dwindle over time as more and more site "A" websites come into existence and/or expand their presence.

There Are Some Silver Linings

Successful niche hobby "Site B" websites can eventually be bought and absorbed by the "Site A" websites. Along with the exorbitant purchase price, the Site "B" owner might even be offered a full-time job to maintain the site.

There are millions of successful small business websites. Needless to say, a lot more is required than just the website.

Non-business websites specializing in specific topics can have some degree of success. However when one does the math, the compensation usually is significantly below the minimum wage.

General topic websites are usually given a lesser search ranking than the others. As for this general topic site you are now reading, it is forever doomed to obscurity and poverty; as are most of the other general topic websites. I'm fine with that. This site still gets plenty of search engine traffic to accomplish its stated goal mentioned on the homepage. A general topic site can gain credibility over time, but it usually takes years.

Some Final Thoughts

Do only get involved with website design and article writing if you enjoy it. If your main motivation is making lots of money, you have about the same odds as buying a lottery ticket. And if you want to get any visitor traffic, you will have to learn about SEO and all the other factors and parameters previously mentioned.

May 2019 Update

Writing any sort of medical or medical-related article is generally a lost cause, even when the article clearly states it is from the patient's point of view. Google and the other search engines invariably put the .gov sites on the front page when it comes to anything medical. These are then followed by medical research centers and other actual brick and mortar medical facilities. Articles written by patients and other individuals are then always buried in the secondary search results where the searchers seldom visit. Basically, Google and the other search engines are adamant in the classifying  of medical articles by non-medical entities as having zero or very low low credibility. Forgo your time and labor on writing anything medical. Google is intractable on this and it is not going to change.

June 2019 Update

Google is beginning the process of pretty much dealing a death blow to many how-to and other explanatory text articles. Google is now presenting their YouTube videos above the text version of the same topic in the search results for many subjects. So if one is considering writing a how-to or explanatory article, it would be wise to see what YouTube videos you will be competing against. Depending on the topic, doing a well-written article on particular subjects may be a lost cause. Which do the searchers generally prefer, a text article or a relevant video? At minimum, the competing and above-ranking video will severely reduce the amount of visitor traffic and the resulting earnings your written article should be receiving.

In other words: what text did to cursive and what calculators/converters did to math, videos will and are beginning to do to text articles.

August 2019 Update

Beware the topic-over-saturation syndrome. This is happening with more and more topics. You can literally write the best article in Internet Land for a given topic; but if Google is already buried in articles for that topic, yours will never see the light of day. It's not fair and it's not right; but it's the way it is.


Internet Threats Apocalypse Survivalism


What with the internet being intertwined with just about everything, e.g., military infrastructure, electrical power infrastructure, water supply infrastructure, transportation infrastructure, houses, cars, appliances, and other networks we don't even know about; all of it interconnected and just waiting for a cascade collapse, sooner or later an internet-originated apocalypse is going to come along. Technology always fails, that's why there are repairmen. And in this case, there is also the neverending hacking/malware/viruses onslaught. It really is just a matter of time.

The event will be destructive enough to disrupt society for months, including shortages of food and other necessities. It is not a case of if; it is only a case of when. It will probably happen sometime within the next 10 to 20 years. Then again, the societal infrastructure is already pretty much dependent on the internet in more ways than we can count. Wouldn't hurt to have the same survival attitude as was prevalent during the cold war scare of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962; though one can probably skip the bomb shelter aspect, most of us don't have the resources to do that anyway.

As opposed to making this just another article with a list of survival kit necessities, here is a list of three government or organization resources that will tell you everything you need to know. Needless to say, the three sites duplicate each other somewhat.

URLs go to the specific, relevant pages. None address the internet vulnerability issue directly, but the lists of needed supplies would certainly be the same. Besides, what with all the other potential disasters out their, both man-made and nature; having a survival kit is not a bad idea.

About a Blogspot / Blogger Editor / Editing Alert

  • Beware Blogspot Traffic Drop Revert-to-Draft Pitfall
  • Important Tip on How to Use Blogger aka Blogspot: Beware Reverting to Draft

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

This happened to me.

Did Your Traffic Suddenly Drop?

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.

The Google Blogspot/Blogger has other problems as well; particularly as to spacing and headings. Oh well, it's free. And there is the saving grace of being able to go into the HTML to clean things up.

How to Make Your Own Bookmarks Manager

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

A quick lesson on how to create your own bookmark manager app. 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

How to Make Your Own Bookmarks Manager App

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 App?

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 pre-made app can ever be or do for you.

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 Bookmarks Manager Online Document 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 Manager 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.


A Review of the Computer Chess Lv.100 Game App Published by Unbalance Corp

To make a long story short, it's a fun chess game app for Windows 10 with more settings and options than you can shake a passed pawn at.

There are two versions, a free version and an ad-free version priced at a couple dollars and change. I found the free version to be fine. The single ad displayed at the lower left of the screen has so far been unobtrusive and unobnoxious. If you later decide you do not want any ads, you can return to the Microsoft Store and have them removed for $2.49 (last time I checked). Side note: The Chess Lv.100 game app is available all over town, not just the Microsoft Store.

The board and pieces are pleasant to look at and cause minimal or no eye strain. And while we are on the subject of eye strain, you show me any chess or other game with a bright white background and I will show you my rapidly departing shadow. Such games are murder on the eyes and you could very well pay the price 20 to 30 years down the road in the form of adult macular degeneration.

There are 100 levels of difficulty. When you install the game, it will start you at level 30 as white. I found the game beatable at this level, however it didn't rollover and play dead either. It did make an occasional non-advantageous move for itself now and again

As for all the settings and options, I still haven't discovered or figured them all out yet; haven't found much in the way of a help menu or instructions. It's kind of a trial and error sort of thing where you click whatever to see what happens and figure it out from there.

When you start a new game, you are given the usual choices and more. I noticed there are recording options and settings as well

During the game you can click the settings button for more options. You can highlight the last move, legal moves, threats, etc. You can change the graphics and even tell it to play music.

If the game makes a move where you are not sure what just happened, you do not need to click the Undo button. Click the back-arrows button to see what happened, then click the forward-arrows button when ready to resume the game.

If you are quitting for the day and it's an unfinished game, simply close the app. When you reopen the app, the game will resume where you left off.

Level 31 and it's definitely not rolling over and playing dead. This image is from the free version; you are not seeing the usual ad at lower-left below where it says "Normal Mode" because it was changing ads when I did the PrtScn.

I'm having fun with it and plan to gradually work my way up the levels. I must win playing both black and white before I'll allow myself to move up to the next level. And I won't allow myself to undue blunders; already did a couple of those as a matter of fact, but managed to fight my way back and win. I consider it a virtual certainty it will be regularly shutting me down long before I get anywhere near level 100, but it's going to be fun getting to that point.

If level 30 turns out to be a walk in the park and actually causes you to be bored, then a larger incrementation may indeed be in order; only you can decide. Personally, I haven't played in years and am rusty; after a few games I still haven't gotten that all-encompassing "flow" back yet. May all your chess games be stimulating, enlightening, and fun.

Alas, I must make a rather sad update...

I see that I posted the original review around six months ago. Just recently, a new ad function has been introduced. When you win a game, a full screen ad suddenly bursts upon the scene with full audio. Clicking the usual "x" makes it go away. Then you can still go back to the completed game to admire your handiwork, leastwise that's what I do.

December 2016 Update

Though beating Level 40 isn't exactly a barn burner in the awesomeness department, I'm rather proud of this one,  It certainly made me work for it.

Checkmate

The adventure continues...

October 2017 Update

Once you are in the 40's range, the darned thing really makes one have to think. The good news is the game will still sometimes make opening moves that are downright insulting. The "bad" news is from that point forward, there are very few "gifts".

If you overlook something or otherwise make a mistake, the game will immediately nail you for it. Also at this range level, the game plays somewhat aggressive offense as well as defense. One really does have to think ahead a few moves for the entire and every part of the board.

Personally, now whenever I see a mess developing: I'll study it for awhile, then sign off for awhile; then sign back on after a few hours or even days and study it some more, then maybe sign off again. I might do this several times before finally making a move. Needless to say, my games have now turned into long term adventures. Totally fine with that and loving it.


January 2018 Update

They've started using animated ads. Not good.

February 2018 Update

They may have stopped with the animated ads. Leastwise there weren't any last time I was there.

February 2018

Animated ads still in play, but somehow not as obnoxious.

February 2018

Now they are doing announcement ads even when you lose.

September 2018

They are doing now doing motion ads and and constant ad changing.

September 2018

I have loved this game, but there are now freezing problems and worse.

September 2018

Found a minor tech error. Rare, most players probably won't notice it. Meanwhile, continuing to enjoy the game. Still rating the game extremely positive.

January 2019

They don't do the full-page announcement ads when you resign; don't know if they do it when they checkmate you. And the last time I looked, the lower-left ad was innocuous. Meanwhile, I've noticed I've been doing this ongoing review for almost three years now; this app has certainly passed the test of time. Am still enjoying it and still happily giving the Chess Lv.100 Game App by Unbalance Corp a positive review and recommendation.

February 2019

The freezing problems I mentioned six months ago are long gone, just thought I'd mention that.

June 2019

Amazing how much I have improved.

September 2019

I remember last millennium when the computer chess games consisted of eight levels. I regularly went to level 8 and slaughtered them; I was a true legend in my own mind. Those days are long gone. The Chess Lv.100 Game App by Unbalance Corp regularly shreds me into little pieces every time I play at the higher levels. In other words, the game is doing exactly what it is supposed to do. Can't help but still give this game the best recommendation possible. Looking over this review, I see that I've now been at this for 3-4 years; yep, this game still certainly passing the test of time.

How to Do Screenshots and Create Windows 10 Shortcuts

Making Screenshots and Shortcuts in Windows 10

How to do, take, make a screenshot or print screen with Windows PC. And how to create shortcuts in Windows 10. By doing the one-time shortcut creations, it makes the screenshot procedure about a 15-second task going forward.


How to create WIN10 shortcuts and how to quickly and easily use the PrtScn key and MS Paint to make and save Windows PC screenshots. The secret is to make some shortcut icons. Then it really is just a matter of PrtScn, Paint, Ctrl-V, and save or print. Here's how.

How to Create Windows 10 Shortcuts

First, one has to find the Paint Program. Microsoft for some reason decided to be cute and put "Accessories" under "W" instead of "A".
  1. Click the 4-square, lower-left, Windows 10 start icon. Or tap the same-looking keyboard key.
  2. Scroll down, if necessary, and select "All apps"
  3. Scroll down and select "Windows Accessories".
  4. Scroll down and right-click "Paint". Select "Pin to taskbar".
  5.  Right-click again and select "Pin to start". Drag it on your graphic menu to upper-left or wherever else is convenient.
  6. Drag it from your graphic menu to your desktop, this will create a shortcut there as well.
You now have three easy-access shortcuts to the Paint Program.

How to Do a Print Screen aka Screenshot

  1. Press the "PrtScn" key, probably located near upper-right on keyboard.
  2. Open Paint Program using any one of your new shortcut buttons.
  3. Do Ctrl-V. The image will display in the Paint Program.
  4. The Paint Program side menu options enable saving in various formats and locations, etc. And you can print.
  5. As a side note, the "Crop" and "Rotate" functions listed in the across-the-top Paint Program menu options are highly convenient. So is the "Resize" function, but beware resolution degradation.

Reference page for:

  • How to make the three Windows 10 shortcuts
  • How to capture and save screen shots in Windows

Online Internet Searching Techniques Warning

Do not do an online search for your debit or credit card account numbers. Actually, the following description of what happens applies to any and all search terms you may happen to enter.

Epic Fail!

MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express ( AMEX ), etc.
This website has discovered people are doing that. I'm guessing people do so 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, 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.

Here's 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 (or anything else for that matter).
  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. And as a side note and needless to say, the same applies to your social security number and all other sensitive data.

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

Please share this page so as to help others. The more people who are knowledgeable, the better off we all are.

List of Netflix and YouTube Web Browser Keyboard Shortcuts and Some Tips

Routinely Updated


Here are the Netflix and some of the YouTube keyboard shortcuts. Darned convenient they are. My mouse sent me a thank you note when I discovered "m" and the space bar.

Netflix and YouTube Keyboard Shortcuts

  • M = Mute / Un-mute (toggle) - Also works on YouTube)
  • Up arrow = Volume Up - Also works on YouTube)
  • Down arrow = Volume Down - Also works on YouTube)
  • Space bar = 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 (space bar reinitiates Play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments)
    • Right arrow = Fast Forwards 10 seconds each click (space bar reinitiates Play) - Also works on YouTube, 5 second increments)
    • Shift+Left arrow = Rewind (keeps going until you hit space bar)
    • Shift+Right arrow = Fast Forward (keeps going until you hit space bar)

    Netflix Video Stuck?

    On occasion, I've experienced the video suddenly just stops playing. The computer, modem, and internet are all still fine; but for whatever reason, the video has stopped and most of the icons and keyboard shortcuts have become unresponsive. For me, clicking the 10-second-forward icon kick starts things back to normal. The keyboard right-arrow key will probably do the same. Much more convenient than closing and reopening the tab/window.

    Netflix Keyboard Functionality

    I've also noticed the Netflix 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 to click something 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.

    If there is more information about the Netflix keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Netflix.

    If there is more information about the YouTube keyboard shortcuts, here's the latest from Google.

    Netflix Access Tech Note

    Netflix has served me well for years. Amazingly, it also works just fine when using landline DSL; broadband not required. However, be forewarned that a telephone company technician told me such is not the case for everyone. Apparently, it all depends on how close the telephone company substation is to your place of residence.

    Netflix Social Media Accounts

    If interested, here are Netflix's Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest social media accounts.

    Netflix Random News Item(s)

    As of August 2019; news media reports that Netflix has over 150 million global subscribers, but that major competition is afoot. Apparently, there will be four or five major competitors who will come upon on the scene within the next year. This can be both bad and good for subscribers:
    • Good: more competition is always better for the consumer.
    • Bad: some of the video programming that has been available to Netflix will be withdrawn and and only be available exclusively from competitors. This means that consumers may be forced to subscribe to more than one video streaming service. In other words, multiple subscription fees may lie ahead.

    The RFID Microchip Tag Society - Forget Privacy

    RFID technology. Welcome to your future. The future is now.



    What Is, About, and How RFIDs Work

    RFID is the acronym for Radio Frequency Identification Device. In other words, it is a small microchip that broadcasts whatever information is put in it. These devices have been around for years.

    Las Vegas casinos put them in their higher denomination chips. So when you walk around the casino, show up at a blackjack table etc.; casino personnel know about those chips in your pocket.

    Retail stores randomly hide small, button-sized RFID’s or their equivalent in their merchandise throughout the store. So if you pick up an item and “forget” to pay for it, when you try walking through the scanners at the front door; you are dead. A word to the wise.

    As far as I’m concerned, so far so good as to the above uses for RFID’s. Nailing shoplifters is always a good thing. And as for Las Vegas, I haven't been there in decades.

    Unfortunately, it’s not going to end there.Welcome to your future (actually, it's already here).

    RFID microchips have arrived on credit cards, debit cards, passports and drivers licenses. In many cases, all one has to do is just wave their card at the point-of-sale (POS) machine to complete a transaction, or maybe even just stand in front of the thing.

    Unfortunately, there is also a very deleterious offshoot to this technology. Namely, anyone with a scanner can just stand close to you and instantly acquire your card account number and possibly all your personal information. ID theft is entering a whole, new realm.

    And if you happen to have a specific store credit card when you visit that store, the employees will instantly know everything you ever bought there, the last time you visited, your home address and telephone number, etc.

    All of this is not a good thing…

    How to Block RFIDs and RFID Scanners

    However, there are ways to combat this vulnerability. There are already metal cases and such that you can buy online to prevent this kind of ID theft, simply place the cards in the metal envelope to prevent information access. The store thing doesn’t bother me that much, but a person standing close to me in the checkout line is an entirely different matter, or someone "accidentally” bumping into you on the street, etc.

    Personally, the first one of these cards I'm forced to use, I’ll try wrapping it in aluminum foil and see if that works.

    Hopefully this post will prevent an ID theft or two.

    Year 2019 Update: Past, Present, and Future

    As everybody knows, RFID chipping in pets has been going on for years. Mandatory RFID chipping of humans has now become a major privacy concern; so much so, that many states have actually passed laws against it.

    Personally, I see the future clear as a bell here. Within 50 years or less, it will be standard practice to implant RFID chips in newborns; just as it has been standard practice for decades to fingerprint. And you will need that RFID to function in society, e.g., going to school, getting a job, medical care, driving a car, all monetary transactions, you name it.

    And it will all be considered no bigger a deal than getting a passport, drivers license, credit card is now. For that matter, all forms of paper and plastic identification will be a thing of the past.

    How to Dial and Use a Rotary Phone

    The instructions are accurate, but beware the double entendre humor that may be present.

    Rotary Telephones
    How to Dial and Use a Rotary Phone

    The rotary part of the telephone is the translucent, plastic circle part with the 10 holes in it. Next to each hole is the corresponding letters and numbers assigned to it.

    As with push button telephones, each digit is dialed in sequence.

    To dial each digit of the phone number:
    1. Pick up the horizontal, top part of the telephone. This part of the telephone is called the handset or receiver (though it is actually the sender as well).
    2. Place the flat part of the round part of the handset farthest from the cord next to your ear.
    3. Wait for dial tone.
    4. Starting with the phone number's first digit, place finger in appropriate hole.
    5. Rotate hole clockwise until finger is touching the metal hook.
    6. Release hole. The hole will automatically relocate back to its former position. Do not attempt to manually force hole back to its original position. Let it happen naturally.
    7. Repeat steps 4 through 6 for each succeeding digit.
    8. After the last digit, listen for the usual ringing sound.
    9. If someone answers, speak into the flat part of the round part of the handset closest to the cord.
    10. When conversation is completed, place handset back into the cradle as shown in the above picture.
    There are no mute buttons.

    There are no ringer on/off switches.

    In fact, excepting for the two, little plastic buttons in the handset cradle that are the connect and disconnect buttons, there are no other buttons or switches whatsoever.

    And that is how one uses and dials a rotary telephone. May all your rotary experiences be good ones.

    Beware the 801 Area Code Phone Number Scam

    Includes information about other phone scams; it's not just the 801 number being used. Other area codes and phone numbers are also being used as well for all sorts of telephone solicitor and phone scams. Updated through 2019. These days, it is unwise to call back any unknown number, this page will explain why. As an example, everyone knows that the 900 number charges exorbitant fees if you call that code. Turns out that other numbers or codes that look like regular area codes will also do the same thing to you.

    Is 801 a toll free number? No, it is not.
    Area Code 801 Scams

    Everyone knows the 800 number is a toll free call (there is a list of other legitimate toll free codes further down the page).

    There are media reports companies are using the 801 number in place of the 800 number in their advertising. The apparent intent being to deceive people into thinking the 801 phone number is a derivation of the 800 phone number and would therefore also be a toll free call. It is not.

    The 801 number is the area code for a part of Utah. Don't know if the companies are actually putting call centers there or just having the number forward to where the company's call center really is. Either way, your next phone bill will include full long distance charges for your call to Utah.

    Any company unethical enough to pull this stunt is more than likely routinely doing other unethical things as well. If you see an 801 phone number and the company isn't already known to actually be located in Utah, it would probably be advisable to avoid that 801 number and company altogether.

    Update, 2013

    The 801 area code phone number is also being used in text message scams.

    Update, 2014

    Beware emails having the 801 number listed in their message.

    Update, 2015

    The 801 area code phone number is also being used as a fake caller ID number for phishing and outright fraud and other scams. If receiving a call from this number, simply do not answer. If you see an 801 area code in your voice mail list, do not activate the message; simply delete it. Malware can as easily be sent to a phone as to a computer.

    [This sure is a heck of a note for the folks who live in the 801 area code part of Utah. Wouldn't be surprised if the State of Utah were to eventually have the number changed to one that wouldn't be mistaken as toll free. Not to mention the fact the number's reputation has been completely ruined anyway. (An update regarding the affected areas of Utah... The 801 area code area now has an overlay area code of 385. In other words, residents can choose which area code to be associated with.)]

    Updates, 2016

    The scams continue. In fact, they are getting worse. And not just the scams involving the 801 number. There are media reports all other phone scams are being ramped up as well.

    There Are Seven Legitimate 800 Number Toll-Free Codes

    (Date last reviewed and updated by FTC: Monday, May 13, 2019). Just a side note; though this list was originally posted in 2016, this list will be updated as new toll-free 800 numbers come along. According to the FTC, the current toll-free codes are:
    • 800
    • 888
    • 877
    • 866
    • 855
    • 844
    • 833

    Updates, 2017

    I've noticed I haven't always been notified when comments have been made and need to be moderated for publication. So if your comment doesn't show up right away, that is the reason. Going forward, I will regularly check the unmoderated comments section whether notified or not.

    Please do keep posting suspicious 801 numbers. The search engines eventually index those numbers and will continue to point future potential victims here to be warned.

    Three Worthy Resources to Read and Share at Your Leisure


    Update, 2017, October

    Do you get phone calls that when you answer, it just disconnects? It is highly unlikely you are being stalked. It is just a robocall machine ascertaining at what days and times you usually answer calls. It then duly reports that information to the telephone solicitor boiler room. The telephone solicitors then know on what days and times to call.

    Well, actually you are being stalked; but it's just by telephone solicitors.

    Update, 2017, December

    New scam. Got a robocall informing me my IP connection had been compromised and would be disconnected within the next 24-48 hours. It then asked me to press "1" for help. I immediately hung up.

    How did I know it was a scam? Simple, they did not identify themselves. Whether automated call or real human, a legitimate caller would have first identified themselves, e.g., "This is XYZ support", etc. Also, I highly doubt such a call that was legitimate would be a robocall. It would be a human who would first identify themselves and ISP  and would then ask for me by name. What a farce; it just never stops. In fact, it just keeps getting worse.

    Be careful out there.

    Updates for 2018

    #1 An addition to the October 2017 update. Never call back an unknown number out of curiosity that called you and then hung up. Not just the 801 area code, but any area code. Turns out that the 900 number isn't the only premium code number where you are billed major fees for calling. There are other numbers that look like area codes that will do the same thing to you.

    #2 Got the well-know, phony IRS robocall claiming to be from IRS collections or whatever. Instead of hanging up, I set the phone down so as to tie up their line as long as possible. Probably caused at least three fewer people from getting that call today. Depending on my mood, I do that with most of my landline robocalls.

    #3 This is off topic, but still the perfect place to include it. From Census Bureau:

    [Quote]
    Census Bureau - April 5, 2018
    Someone is at your door and claiming to be from the census bureau. Legit or scam? Turns out it is probably legit. Here's how to tell:
    - They will be wearing an identification badge.
    - They will be able to provide you a verification phone number.
    - They will not ask you for money, credit card numbers, or your social security number.
    [Unquote]

    If interested, here's a census bureau podcast about it.

    Come to think of it, I wouldn't interact with anyone calling and claiming to be from the Census Bureau. I don't even think they make such calls.

    And since am off-topic today; here's a short, non-census-bureau At Your Door Leaflet Scam Alert you might want to quickly scan.

    #4 "Is Pat there?" Yep, appears to be another scam resurrected from year 2016. Back then they used the name "Miguel". You will receive repeated calls, I've gotten 5-6 already. He always says, "Is Pat there?" Your reply should be, "Pat is at area code (xxx) xxx-xxxx." As for "(xxx) xxx-xxxx", it can be:
        A.  Your local police non-emergency phone number.
       Or
       B. Select a number from the FBI alphabetical list of field offices near you at https://www.fbi.gov/contact-us/field-offices.

    Needless to say, you forget to mention where the phone number you gave actually goes. Hopefully, the hint will be taken and the calls will stop. If they are actually stupid enough to call the number without checking first; with any luck, the caller's phone number and physical location will automatically be trapped. You've certainly done nothing wrong, you were just trying to help them find "Pat". After those previously mentioned  5-6 calls, I opted for option "A". If that doesn't work, I will then do option "B". If that doesn't work, then it's just immediately hanging up as I normally do with all telephone solicitors and scammers these days. [Update.  I never heard from them again after doing option A.]

    #5 June already. Telephone solicitor activity actually seems to be on the decline. However, telephone scammer activity seems to be on the increase; and they know your name. So if a caller knows your name, it still doesn't necessarily mean it is a legitimate call. Always ask who is calling. And if they start asking for personal information, then it is hanging-up time.

    #6 Telephone scammers are also using the survey technique. They will tell you they are doing a survey and then ask an innocuous question for your opinion, but then they follow up by starting to ask you questions about your personal information.

    #7 The usual charity scams abound this Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season. Needless to say; never, ever donate via phone call.

    Updates for 2019

    #1 Media reports say robocalls will increase and calls from humans will decrease.

    #2 Well now; hopefully, all carriers will do this: Verizon will give subscribers free access to anti-robocall tools. There is other worthwhile information there as well.

    #3 A very worthy, informational, and entertaining read from Wired Magazine About Robocalls. After reading it, I've gone back to not hanging up and just setting the phone down to tie up the robocaller's line as long as possible. Needless to say, don't do that if your phone service plan makes you pay for the length of incoming calls.

    #4 Another worthy article. There's now an FCC scam going on. And a reminder to never call back an unknown number. And a reminder about scammers and spammers using your own number to call others: NPR.

    #5 The FCC has initiated another, new, legitimate, toll-free 800 number. Toll-free number, 833, added to previous list.