#Windows 10 updates – #Metered Connection

This how-to is for all non-US users of Windows 10 who have capped broadband plans – i.e. only get XX gigabytes of data per month.

Pre-Step A

Go to:

  1. Start
  2. Settings
  3. Update & Security
  4. Windows Update
  5. Advanced Options

Now make sure ‘Choose How Updates are Installed’ is set to ‘Automatic (recommended)’ as shown below:

update auto is on

[Note: if this option is set to ‘Notify to reschedule restart’ at this point, Windows becomes…confused and could go into a perpetual loop. Mine did and I had to do a hard shutdown to get it to stop].

Step 1 – Finding the ‘Metered connection’ option

Click on the Start button and then select:

  1. Settings
  2. Network and Internet
  3. Wifi
  4. Advanced Options

Under ‘Metered connection’, click the slider button to show ‘on’:

metered connection

Step 2 – changing how Windows 10 updates are scheduled

Now go back to:

  1. Settings
  2. Update & security
  3. Windows update
  4. Advanced options

and under ‘Choose how updates are installed’, change ‘Automatic’ to ‘Notify to schedule restart’.

Now, Windows 10 will notify you of:

  • available updates, and
  • how much broadband they will use

but it will not download and install them automatically. This is what my laptop now shows:

new update option

My heartfelt thanks to The Opening Sentence for showing me where the ‘Metered connection’ option was hiding! I feel a lot better now.🙂

cheers
Meeks


#Windows #10 – security and #privacy

I don’t normally review operating systems – I’m not that much of a geek – but I’ve decided to make an except for Windows 10. In a series of posts aimed at the ordinary user, I hope to answer the question – is this free upgrade worth it?

In my first post I ranted about the data-mining options I switched off during the initial setup of Windows 10. I wasn’t happy about those, but I thought that would be the worst of it. Wrong. In this second post, I’m going to talk about the lamentable Privacy options of Windows 10.

So, to begin. After finally getting Office 16 downloaded and setup on the new laptop, I decided to customise a few things, such as the display. It was while I was exploring the Windows 10 Settings that I took a good look at the Privacy options…and was shocked by what I found. By default, all the Privacy options are set to enable the Windows 10 apps to access all sorts of private information…to provide a better experience for the user.

Nothing wrong with that, right?

The answer depends a lot upon your age, memory and level of trust. I’m old enough to remember the spate of global computer virus epidemics of the early 2000s, most of which involved Microsoft Windows and Office products so I have no trust to spare.

To see what I’m talking about, check out the wikipedia link below. It details a timeline of computer viruses from the earliest to those happening right now. In particular, have a look at 2003-2004.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_computer_viruses_and_worms

The reason there were so many infections during that period was because hackers discovered the backdoors and sloppy code behind the pretty Windows GUI. If you’re my vintage, you probably remember what a thrashing Microsoft received for its poor design back then.

Given the speed, and dare I say it, desperation with which Microsoft threw Windows 10 together, I fear that sloppy code is once again a genuine possibility. Now, if you add to that the design of Windows 10 itself, the potential for security meltdowns increases exponentially.

Why? Because Windows 10 comes pre-loaded with ‘apps’ which are ALL given blanket security permissions…by default. The reason for this is that Microsoft is trying to position itself as the go-to place for all your internet needs. For those who don’t know their way around a computer, there are all these convenient apps that allow them to do pretty much whatever they want to do…from within Windows 10.

Need an email application? Forget about checking out Gmail or other webmail clients, just go with whatever Windows provides. Want to keep track of your Contacts? Again, there’s an app for that too, right there behind the Start button. And so on ad nauseum.

Meanwhile, for those who do know their way around, there’s a new browser and a new search wizard [make no mistake, Cortana is just a search bot].

Unfortunately, the price users pay for all this convenience is that Microsoft and its apps can monitor just about everything they do. More importantly, they have access to the internet so if Microsoft’s security is not as good as it should be, each app. is a potential entry point for some form of hacking.

But wait, there’s more. Even if nothing can access users’ data from the outside, that data is still available to Microsoft, and Microsoft makes no attempt to hide that it shares that data with other third parties. Don’t believe me? The following screenshot is taken from their own website:

ms and our data

Or read it for yourself here:

ms url

Now, let’s have a look at what kind of data is collected and used by Microsoft:

  • Click the Start button in the bottom left hand corner of your Windows 10 task bar,
  • Click the option called ‘Settings’,
  • Select the option called ‘Privacy’.

Please note that in the following screenshots, I have changed ALL the options to off. The default mode for every option, bar one, is ‘on’. If you have not looked at the Privacy section before, all of your options will be set to ‘on’ as well.

The first screen you will see under Privacy is ‘General’ but I want to skip ahead to camera:

camera

My new laptop is the first [and only] pc I have owned with an inbuilt camera. I almost didn’t notice it until the Offspring pointed it out. That camera is handy if you want to make a video conferencing type call, and if I were into that sort of thing, I might be pleased to have that camera ready to go. But look at all the apps that can use that camera. I assume the apps would not use the camera without my knowledge, but what if someone with malicious intent hacks one of the apps with access to that camera? ‘Nough said.

Next up is account info.:

account info

Call me a conspiracy theorist but wouldn’t this make life just so much easier for those who make a living from identity theft?

There are far too many Privacy options to go through each one individually, but in each one, apps are given access to personal and private information as well as the means to report on it. To whom? when? I don’t know, but if you look carefully, some of the options include warnings about broadband use. To me that means the apps are accessing the internet to talk to…who knows?

I can’t leave the topic of Privacy without looking at something Microsoft euphemistically terms ‘Feedback’. By definition, feedback is something I give. In Windows 10, Microsoft redefines feedback as ‘take‘ without choice:

feedback

Please note that even with the ‘Feedback’ option set as ‘never’, there are only 3 options under ‘diagnostic and usage data’, and not one of them equals ‘none’ or ‘off’.

In earlier versions of Windows, when some glitch occurred, you would get a message asking if you wanted to send details of the error to Microsoft. Given the extent of the data included in those details, I’ve always said ‘no’. Now, apparently, that choice is no longer mine. Moreover, even the most ‘basic’ of data is more than you would think.

Adding insult to injury is the fact that Microsoft uses our own internet connections to send itself the data it has taken from our computers without asking. In the US, data is not an issue. Here in Australia, we have to pay for every KB of data we use.

I know that last point was petty, but I’m feeling vindictive and outraged, the more so because I know that millenials will find no problem with any of this. They are so used to handing over their privacy via their mobile phones, they won’t think twice about doing the same with Windows 10. Yet the security issues are just a hack waiting to happen, and I suspect Microsoft is aware of that.

When I bought my laptop, it came with Windows 10 pre-loaded. The box also came with a great big yellow and black warning sign to the effect that ‘this computer is not protected by anti virus security’ or something to that effect.

I raised an eyebrow at the ‘overkill’ represented by that warning, but now I’m not so sure. Could it be that Microsoft is relying on third party anti-virus software to stop its OS from leaking like a sieve?

Not happy Jan,

Meeks

p.s. UPDATE: For those who do want to use some of the Windows 10 apps, here’s a video that shows which Privacy options are the most critical to turn off.

http://www.pcworld.com/article/2971725/windows/how-to-reclaim-your-privacy-in-windows-10-piece-by-piece.html

It’s a short video and includes what I would consider the bare minimum for safety.


#Amazon, US #Tax and #Australian Citizens

meeka thumbs upAnything sold on Amazon – including self-published books – is subject to a 33% withholding tax.

This is a tax that Amazon must take out of the sale before you get your share.

This tax is applicable across the board and non-US citizens are not exempt.

 

Unless………..:

  • their country of origin has a trade treaty with the US
  • and they apply for an exemption under that trade treaty

As an Australian citizen, I am lucky enough to meet the ‘trade treaty’ criterion but until today, I did not apply for the exemption because:

  • I was not making enough money for it to matter, and
  • the process was just TOO HARD

I’m not sure what changed, or when exactly, but suddenly the process of applying for an exemption is so easy I’m still pinching myself in case I’m dreaming.

So what’s needed?

  1. Your country of origin must have a trade treaty with the US
  2. You must have an account with Kindle Direct Publishing [nah..really? lol]
  3. You must have a tax file number [or equivalent] from your country of origin

Seriously, that’s it. With those three things you can log into Kindle Direct Publishing and fill in a very VERY easy online form and you’re done.

  1. Log in to your KDP account
  2. Select My Account
  3. Select the option for Tax Interview
  4. Have your tax file number handy
  5. And start filling in the questions.
  6. When you get to the page that asks if you want to do an electronic signature* – select YES
  7. The electronic signature is nothing more than your typed name, email address [same as for logging into KDP] and ‘Submit’.
  8. Be sure to print off a copy at the end and you’re done.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll sit there scratching your head and wondering how you can send an electronic signature. Is there a special program you have to invest in to create such a signature? Or do you have to print the page off, sign it manually and then post it off? Hah!

The answer to all those questions is a big, fat NO. There appears to be no valid reason for doing things the hard way, so don’t.

Having procrastinated for years, literally, I am so relieved to finally have this Sword of Damocles removed from my halo. Thank you IRS and thank you Amazon! Now if only I could be paid via PayPal or EFT I’d be delirious with happiness…

-smack- Don’t be greedy, girl!

Much happy dancing,

Meeks


From biscuits to Viagra?

I rarely go into my spam folder, but I did today and discovered that the keywords ‘New’ and ‘Improved’ [in the title of a post] can attract some interesting spam.

The post in question was my rant about Arnotts BBQ Shapes biscuits which are marketed as ‘new and improved’…and are anything but. I stand by my comments about the biscuits, but I may to think twice about my titles in the future. Then again, just including viagra in the title of this post may bring even more spammers to my door. I’ll keep you posted.

This is a screenshot of one of the viagra ones:

blog spam1

The kinky porn ones I’ll leave to your imagination, other than to say they seem to be attracted to the word ‘sexy’ in my post ‘Villains – what is it that makes them so sexy?‘.

On a brighter note, I’m immensely relieved that only 11 of my comments are from spammers. That’s not bad over four years and almost 12,000 comments.😀

cheers

Meeks


The Methuselah Grove~

The world truly is full of wonders and these thousands [yes – MULTIPLE thousands] of year old trees are amazing. They make our technological world and everything in it feel…irrelevant.

DSC00666
The Great Basin Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in The White Mountains of California/Nevada have the world’s oldest living non-clonal organisms, ancient bristlecone pine trees. Non-clonal means these trees are not genetic duplicates of a parent organism, but are in fact, original organisms.
DSC00646
The oldest known tree in the basin is 5,065 years old and was germinated in 3051 BC. This tree started growing before the first pyramid was built-in Egypt.

DSC00754
Another, Methuselah, is 4,848 years old.
DSC00756

The White Mountains run parallel to the Sierras in the west and Death Valley in the east.

DSC00679
White Mountain is a sister peak to Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental US. When you hike here you look to your left at almost eye level with Mt. Whitney, and to your right at the lowest non-submerged place in North America, Death Valley.

DSC00710
In the dolomite covered White Mountains these ancient organisms continue to…

View original post 168 more words


#Cicret wrist projector/smartphone

When I began writing Innerscape, I had a lot of fun dreaming up the kind of tech I, personally, would like to use.

One of those wanna-have gadgets was something I called the ‘chrono’. Essentially, my idea was that a truly useful wearable would be able to project an image or a holo above the wrist so that short-sighted people wouldn’t have to squint all the time. Well….

The Cicret bracelet [pronounced ‘secret’] literally projects an image of your smartphone onto your wrist. You can then manipulate that ‘image’ exactly as you would a real, physical smartphone.

Not exactly as good as my chrono but…in Innerscape the chrono isn’t invented until about 2060. Colour me egg-on-face. But also happy. My thanks to the Offspring for this tip.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. Sorry, you can’t buy one yet, but one day you’ll be able to select a bracelet from ten gorgeous colours, including fire engine red. Get in the queue behind me.😉


This Incredible Wooden Book Is a Series of Puzzles That Have to Be Solved to Continue Reading

Oh now this…this is so wonderful I’m having trouble picking my jaw up off the floor. I WANT!!!!!!!!!!!

ALK3R

Merging two of the ultimate pastimes books and puzzles the Codex Silenda has to be physically solved in order to read it. And no, these aren’t simple word games and math problems, but rather deviously complicated mechanical puzzles crafted from laser-cut wood

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I’ve just written the Epilogue to Innerscape…and the story isn’t even finished yet!

meeka thumbs up

As a pantster, I rarely outline, but as I’ve mentioned in the past, StoryBox has changed the way I write. Instead of writing every story as a long, linear progression, as I used to do in Word, I now write in chapters and scenes. What this means is that when I get a flash of inspiration, I can bung it in a new chapter without worrying about all the bits in between that still have to be written.

In the case of the Epilogue, I still have about 3 critical chapters to write before the story actually reaches ‘the end’, but the ideas I had this morning were too good to just note down for future reference.  Dot points really don’t allow the nuanced feelings of a scene to come through, so I thought ‘why not’ and went for it.

Whether this out-of-sequence writing turns out to be useful in the end, I don’t know, but I have a funny feeling the 1600+ words I wrote today will not end up on the cutting room floor.🙂

-happy dance-

Meeks


#amlistening to Gift of Life by Thomas Bergersen

I’m on a roll with Innerscape today so I thought you might like to share the music that’s fueling the writing :

The song is ‘Gift of Life’ and it’s from the Album ‘Illusions’ by Thomas Bergersen. For those who don’t know this incredibly talented composer, he’s one half of the amazing duo behind the music of Two Steps From Hell.

If you’re not a classical music fan please be patient until about 1:20. That is when the theme kicks in and it is GLORIOUS!

Vaguely [very vaguely] reminiscent of Massenet’s Meditation deThais :

[Just by the by…the conductor is my favourite tenor of all time – Placido Domingo!]

and Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings [used in the movie Lorenzo’s Oil] :

the theme from Gift of Life is intensely emotional yet uplifting at the same time.

Okay, back to work,

Meeks

 


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